The boy and I took a spontaneous (and expensive) trip to London this past weekend for my birthday. And being London, we had a thousand and one things to accomplish before leaving! Nadeem and I made a long list of places to see, food to eat, and things to do while we were there.
And to be completely honest, London was on the top of our list of possible destinations solely because it’s one of three cities in Europe with Chipotle. IHADTOHAVEIT. Just kidding, no, that wasn’t it at all. We were just ultimately tired of pizza and pasta everyday, twice a day, so we wanted flavors that we couldn’t find in Rome (which is a lot more flavors than you think). We went to Chipotle twice before the weekend was over, and we ordered Starbucks every day. I needed that pumpkin spice for fall.
A little bit on the differences between Italy and London. First and foremost, not everyone is of the same culture in London. Almost everyone in Italy is Italian, so London really reminded me a lot of New York in the sense that people from all over the world inhabited the city.
Also, English is the main language. They created it. So it was nice to ask a question and receive an answer that I could actually comprehend and follow (somewhat) completely (the accent is tough to get through). However, with that, I thought everyone would be more willing to answer a question. Or say “excuse me.” Except they weren’t. Just like New York, London is a city where no one really cares about you. And just like NYC, they wear nothing but dress pants and briefcases, and they speed walk right behind you creating an anxiety you only feel in crowded spaces.
Another difference is that people in London eat dinner at an earlier time than Italians do. In Italy, if you’re at a restaurant by 7pm, you will be the only one there. However, in London, most restaurants stop serving food around 9:30/10pm. And depending on the area, you’d be lucky to even find a restaurant in the middle of all the businesses.
Another thing is that I’ve never been anywhere that had a norm of tiny sinks. Maybe half the size of an average bathroom sink and zero vanity/counter space.
And on the topic of size, the city is a giant. I never realized how large London is. I expected it, of course, but it never ‘hit me’ until we spent the first day mixing tube rides with marathons of walking, and we still didn’t cover all that we wanted. In Rome, you can live without public transportation. I can get from one end (of monuments) to the other and not have wasted my entire day (or lunch’s energy). In London, the tube is a necessity.
They drive on the other side of the road. I saw a Porsche with the steering wheel on its right side. Passengers were driving. And drivers were taking photographs out the window.
Lastly, it finally felt like autumn in London! We had sun and a light breeze for three out of the four days we were there with light rain on the day we spent mostly indoors anyways. In Rome, it’s still summer. It was nice to have a weekend away wearing pants, scarves, and boots bothered by zero mosquitoes nor a drop of sweat.
Overall, my birthday weekend was a huge success. I got my fix of home (and a new purse), and I only responded with “Si” once. Who else gets to say they spent their 23rd birthday in London just because they wanted to?
One of my favorite things had to be the Queen’s rose garden in Regent’s Park. Probably only because my middle name is Rose.
And because the Beatles.