I feel that all those articles' attempts to match up London against New York are so frustrated because comparing the two cities is like comparing apples with oranges -- or, more accurately, comparing fish & chips with hamburgers. The comparison is simply a matter of taste and preference, and the one you prefer at any given time is subject to change. Sometimes you want the satisfaction acquired from eating a ground beef patty smothered in melted cheese, and sometimes you want a battered chunk of cod the size of a child's leg.
I'm sure the debate about which city is superior will continue until the zombie-squid apocalypse.
Until that inevitable day of devastation, I'm not going to engage in the debate. I love New York after living there for eight years, and I'm just now acquainting myself with London. Therefore, I'm simply going to recount the very personal observations I've made about London since moving here in May. I've divided them, not surprisingly, into likes and dislikes.
1. Richard is here!!
Yes, just when you thought we were past all that mushy crap about my gorgeous boyfriend, you were wrong! His well-spoken British self is the number one reason I am in London and, therefore, the number one reason I like London.
2. Expat Americans
My transition to a new country has been made infinitely easier because of all the wonderful expatriate Americans whom Richard and I have met.
3. Our Apartment
If our apartment in London were an animal, it would look like this:
4. Double-decker Buses
I can not help it, but double-decker buses really bring out the kid in me -- and Richard, for that matter. I'm almost embarrassed by how much we enjoy sitting in the front row of the upper deck as the bus careens down winding London streets.
5. The History
London is obese with history, it's everywhere. I honestly feel that with almost every step I take my shoes are passing over some wedge of land where something interesting and consequential happened. Discovering the history of my surroundings in London makes even the most mundane tasks come alive with stories.
6. The Food
Despite all the negative flack that Britain gets for its food, I have had some of the most amazing meals of my life in this city. In the past five months, I have had only two meals that were sub-par, everything else has been utterly amazing.
7. London is not Svalbard
I'm so relieved that since I moved abroad for love, I didn't do it for someone who lived in the ass-end of nowhere. Essentially, all I've done is trade one major metropolitan center for another -- which is great! Although an arctic barren waste may be a cool place to visit, I doubt I could ever live in one.
1. The Tube
London's Underground is usually very fast and trains come regularly, however, it is also blighted by tiny train carriages, completely swamped with people, and not even remotely air-conditioned.
This may only be a symptom of having moved to London during the Summer, but London is ridiculously lousy with tourists -- slow moving, confused, and obnoxious. Back in New York, if you avoid Times Square and the Empire State Building you don't suffer too much from tourists. In London, however, they are EVERYWHERE. At first, I thought Londoners didn't know how to walk with the same purposeful gait as New Yorkers, but then I realized that the dopey individuals who were plodding along without any regard for the people trying to walk around them were not Londoners, but tourists -- thousands, upon thousands of tourists. If there is any place in London even remotely interesting, I assure you, it is hideously overcrowded with this swarm.
Once, while waiting to meet friends at Piccadilly Circus, Richard and I decided to play a game:
At one point I thought I had heard English being spoken, but it turned out to be Dutch. Neither of us won.
3. It's Freakin' Expensive!!
Over the past few months, I have had to get used to a lot of minor changes from living an American life to living a British one. However, there is one seemingly minuscule difference that really gets under my skin. It is a uniquely British problem and, therefore, not confined just to London, but I'm so irked by it that I'm counting it as a mark against this fair city. I'm talking, of course, about paper towels. That's right, paper towels. Called "kitchen roll" in the United Kingdom, paper towels are sold over here roughly half the size of paper towel rolls in the USA. They are short, skinny little rolls that barely last a couple of days. This wouldn't be so terrible if it weren't for the fact that they have the gall to name these towels, without even being remotely aware of the irony, Plenty. Seriously, they are branded as Plenty -- as though calling the product something that it most certainly is not won't actually just highlight its glaringly obvious short-comings.
I'm sure these lists of likes and dislikes will grow the longer I live here, however, I take it as a good sign that the dislikes list is smaller than the likes list -- in much the same way as Plenty is smaller than it's American cousin, Bounty. Yup, I really do have a chip on my shoulder about that one.