As a tourist city, London is amazing. We came across so many of these maps, which were super helpful. Not only were they oriented in the direction that you were facing, but they had both a close-up view, and a further away view, which made it really great for orienting yourself.
Since we didn’t have access to the internet outside of our hotel, we didn’t have the help of Google maps, so these maps helped us a lot when it came to finding the Monopoly streets. Unfortunately, we found that they’re mostly in the central part of London. The further out we went, the harder it was to find one of these. We never really went out into the suburbs (unless you count going to visit the Harry Potter studio the suburbs), so I can’t really say if they are in the suburbs at all. Huge lifesavers though, as it saved us a lot of aimless walking.
As a food city, I would have to rate Melbourne higher. Sure, we went to a lot of great places, and since we knew we were going to Italy, we really limited ourselves by saying we weren’t going to eat any Italian food here, but I felt a bit like in terms of value for money, the food wasn’t that great. Well, I guess part of that is because of the weak Aussie dollar at the moment, so something that was worth 10 pounds (which became 20 AUD) wasn’t as great as something I knew we could get for 10 AUD back home. And it was a bit unfair comparing things, as we were going out of our way to eat traditional English meals – and I don’t think traditional Australian meals are considered amazing food back home. I have to say that Brick Lane lived up to its reputation. I know it has become a bit of a tourist trap, but the food we had there was amazing. The other Indian restaurant we went to was also very good. Far better than anything we could get back home. Even though I love fish and chips, I know that’s not really something that’s good to eat every day – and I’m pretty sure the fortnightly fish and chips during our fortnightly roleplaying sessions were a large contributor to the weight MrFodder and I gained.
It’s also a bit unfair to compare food when some of the places we tried to go to were so packed. There were a couple of pubs near our hotel, but almost every time we went to them for food, there were no seats available. The only time we managed to get in was because one of the patrons made room for us on his table, so we managed to order food – and it was great. I have to say that portion size in London was incredible. I had forgotten what it was like to feel hungry – I just knew that it was time for lunch/dinner, and that I should be eating. We rarely ordered dessert at dinner, as nothing really caught our attention, and we were just so full.
I don’t think we did all that much sightseeing, so we didn’t learn all that much about the history of London. We did see some cool stuff at the Tower of London – if you’re interested in medieval weaponry, and things like that. Getting around was incredibly easy though. We kinda lucked out by staying near one of the big stations in London (Paddington station), but changing lines, or catching buses is really straightforward if you know where you want to go. The trains come fairly often, so we never found ourselves having to be somewhere at a certain time, it was really lax in terms of planning to go places. Getting up early definitely helped though, as we found that the one time we had to catch a train during peak hour meant that the trains were somewhat cramped, but nothing compared to home.
Overall, I enjoyed our time in London, but it didn’t really feel all that foreign, possibly because everyone spoke English, and a lot of the things were just like being back home. It’s a great city, and I’m glad we went, but if we were to have to fly so far in the future, if the Australian dollar is as weak as it is, I think I’d rather skip London.