so i've been asked repeatedly just what it is i love about london/the uk, usually with a laugh that it must be the accent. and while i do find the accent charming (of course when i'm there, i'm the one with the accent), here is a list of 10 things i love about the uk. there are more, but this will be a good start.
10. broader world view: the national news there consistently carries more stories that are global in nature and considers the story's impact on the globe.
9. public transport: with an oyster card, you can go anywhere in london by tube or by bus and you can catch a train to anywhere else you want to go in the country. also, love that it's easy to walk most places in the center of london.
8. the history/age: i'm completely fascinated by the history and how old things are. in the states, 200ish years is old. in the uk, i think it has to be at least 400 years old to start being old.
7. going to the cinema: i went to see a movie in theatre in leicester square. it reminded me of what it was like to go to a movie in a 50's movie in a way; it was somehow more elegant. first, choice of popcorn--sweet or salty--brilliant to have the option. second, assigned seats. i'm sure not every theatre was like that but i really did like it.
6. the authors: i know this next bit is geeky of me, but i'm okay with that. i love shakespeare. jane austen. chaucer. and then there are modern authors there i love: katie fforde, marian keyes & maeve binchy (technically irish, but closer to english than american), nick hornby. one of the trip highlights was picking up marian keyes' new book in paperback & katie fforde's new book, both before they were available here.
5. manners: the vast majority of everyone i encountered in the uk were terribly polite. well-mannered. and chivalrous. men opened doors. lifted my luggage up stairs in tube stops. i hear people complain about the british being stiff and reserved, and i think that while that can be true, more often than not it's just people being very polite and proper.
4. the museums: i hate to admit it, but i'd never seen a da vinci painting, a vermeer, van gogh, picasso, or botticelli or reuben in person until i visited the national gallery. totally amazing art that has literally endured centuries. this trip i also went to the national portrait gallery and the churchill museum and cabinet war rooms. all incredibly fascinating and places i look forward to visiting again.
3. the food: americans complain about not finding good food in london & i have absolutely no idea where they're going. whether it was curry take-away, wagamama, paella from a street vendor, sandwiches at pret, or nutella & banana pancakes, or traditional fish & chips, everything i ate was yummy. oh, and then there was the chocolate. galaxy bars, rose & violet creams, vodka truffles. and then the food halls. for someone who loves to cook & bake, the food hall at harrods is a bit like heaven i think. if it hadn't been for the walking, i'd have gained 20 lbs.
2. fairtrade products: along with being a little more environmentally sensitive (all the grocery stores charge for plastic bags & encourage the use of reusable bags), there is also a higher demand for fairtrade products at reasonable prices. tea, coffee, chocolate, and clothing seem to have a particular demand by consumers on fairtrade. for example, cadbury dairy milk, the uk equivalent to america's hershey bar, will be made from fairtrade cocoa by the end of the summer. and you can purchase fairtrade t-shirts at marks & spencers 2 for 8 pounds (us 2 for $12). okay, if m & s can offer that deal, surely old navy or target could offer it here in the states.
1. the people: the dry sense of humor, the propriety, the warmth paired with reserve, the "stiff upper lip", i could go on and on, but i do love the brits.
editor's note: i wonder if the uk tourism board is hiring. i might be really good at marketing the uk. :)