I’ve only been in London for a few weeks, but I already noticed some differences that I didn’t expect.
Just as a disclaimer, for the most part I only hang around central London and this may be different across the city, and definitely across the UK. Similarly, my home in California is going to have a different atmosphere then other places in the US.
First of all; bikes. And their lanes.
Apparently, a cyclist’s wheels should remain within the red lines. That is appalling to me, as in California the bike lanes are large, and could easily span two bikes’ width in some places. And when the bike lane isn’t enough, bikers have the option to “act as a car” and use the main lines on city streets.
Here in London they can do that, but the sheer number of cars and turns and lights make it exceedingly difficult. And when there are more than a few bikers? Well, they end up clustering behind the bus, stopping and going, stopping and going with the traffic. I would love to bike here, but frankly don’t think I have the courage or UK street savvy to do so (yet!).
The other thing I noticed regards the poor. Where I’m from, the homeless and poor are usually drugged out and more aggressive when begging. Nothing crazy, but it isn’t odd for them to yell or ask multiple times, maybe call out. In other words, not usually polite.
Here in London, I swear, the most stereotypically British thing occurred. I was walking and there was a man in front asking everyone who passed him for change. As I passed him, I heard his exact words which were:
“Excuse me ma’am may I have some change for a cup of tea?”
I kept moving with the crowd but was in minor shock of how polite he was. And the rest who are on the bridges or elsewhere usually just have a cup in front of them, and are bundled up (I feel bad, it’s so cold) waiting. Not asking usually, definitely not yelling, and not obviously drugged out or drunk.
The other part is that there just aren’t as many of them around as I expected of a big city. Granted, again I’m in central London, so perhaps this is different across the city, but there are definitely less to me compared to in say Los Angeles, San Francisco, or New York City, even central.
There are a few differences I’ve thought to write of so far, but there will definitely be more.