This is part two of my “Things that I noticed about London.” If you did not read part one please click here .
The contrast of old and new architecture is beautiful.
London is an extremely old city, and it is not uncommon to see well preserved buildings that are 300, 600, 900 years old (significantly older than the United States)! The city continues to develop, creating modern skyscrapers that are so creatively designed (such as the ‘Shard’ which reaches a shattered point at the top, imitating shards of glass). Walking around the city one won’t find themselves in a strictly new section or a strictly old section. Both new and old architecture can be seen mixed throughout the city. One of my most humbling experiences was when I was standing at the Tower of London (nearly a thousand years old) looking across the river at incredible skyscrapers).
There isn’t any organization to the way the streets are laid out.
Back to the fact that London is an extremely old city, the streets are all intertwined; laid out in various directions. Due to the fact that the streets were incorporated over hundreds of years, the English did not lay them out in a strategic grid pattern like those in New York City. Although this can make traveling a bit confusing for tourists and newcomers, it also adds a bit of charm and incorporates a sense of adventure.
Delicious pastry is sold everywhere.
I’m not sure if the English have always had delicious pastry or if it’s because the Chunnel has provided a lot of French influence, but one can easily satisfy their sweet tooth in London. If you’re in London and you suddenly have a craving for something sweet, considering stopping by an outdoor market, a cafe, a quick stop restaurant (such as Pret A Manger), or even a grocery store (they all have a section with a variety of freshly baked goods; from baguettes to doughnuts and everything in between).
One must remain rather quiet on public transportation.
This does not mean you have to be silent, but locals expect their ride on public transportation to remain peaceful. If you’re having a conversation with your friend, keep your voices low unless you want to receive dirty looks from those around you. Once I even witnessed a man telling a younger man to be quiet while on the bus.
Walking 30 minutes to and from school or work is quite common.
During my semester abroad, I chose to walk to class everyday rather than spend money on the tube. I quickly realized how common it was to walk long distances to get around the city, and I grew accustomed to it quite easily. People in London are quite fit, as walking easier than driving and cheaper than taking the tube. I often saw business people walking with small suitcases and students carrying large bag packs in order to hold everything they would need for the day. Of course at 8:30 AM on a Monday morning I would have to convince myself to step outside and endure the walk, but once I looked up I was reminded how lucky I was to be there and enjoyed the view all the way to class.