Tuesday, April 29, 2014

London vs NYC

I originally intended for this to be a comparison between the US and the UK, having lived in a several places in both countries. However it then dawned on me that these are pretty big and culturally diverse countries. Comparing the two would be widely inaccurate so I decided to narrow it down to just NYC and London.
I should also probably admit that I am somewhat (ok, fairly) biased towards NYC. Not only am I currently living in the Big Apple but I have never fallen in love with London in the same way. Quite frankly, my heart belongs to New York. I would also note that I am specifically referring to Manhattan. 
With this being said, London may not be for me but I do recognize it is a fantastic city. And there are of course things that I miss. So here goes my London vs NYC list.

      1. Food
Ok so this has to be a tie. The UK has a reputation for having awful food and whilst I do see where this comes from (pot noodles and awful greasy spoons, I’m looking at you), the UK is home to a huge number of Michelin starred restaurants. NYC is a melting pot of a million cuisines, famous for its pizza and pastrami and bagels, there is always somewhere new to try, some pop up restaurant, some incredible and mind boggling fusion. But London is equally a melting pot of various cuisines, from China Town to Little Portugal, you can find everything and anything under the sun. And boy do I miss British chocolate. 
      2. Drinking
London takes this. Purely based on the pub scene. Yes the swanky NYC bars are fantastic, but you can find equally swanky bars in London. A good British pub? You have to go to London for that. Next!
3. People
NYC you got it. Londoners are renowned for being a tad moody. Cold, distant and reserved, Londoners are not a fun and friendly bunch to strangers and the general public (of course they are lovely to their family/friends/acquaintances, but on the streets you will not catch them cracking a smile). I find New Yorkers to be a genuinely friendly, down to earth and approachable bunch.
     4. Weather
Now I have yet to experience an NYC summer so I appreciate that voting NYC at this point is most likely extremely na├»ve of me. But so far, I am not missing the continual London drizzle. I am enjoying the sun on both warm and cold days. Granted, I am likely to change my tune when the oppressive summer heat and humidity hits. Watch this space. 
     5. Layout
London is obviously a much older city with a rich heritage and stunning buildings. However, I found the sheer scale of London to be pretty overwhelming. I never quite managed to get my bearings and certainly not as quickly as I did in NYC. Maybe it’s the grid system. Maybe it is the fact that I live and work in Manhattan and that I don’t venture off the island all that often, but I seem to have made sense of NYC faster.
6. Public Transport
It had to be said, NYC is just generally more convenient a city than London. Nothing embodies this more than the subway system. It is open 24/7. London's underground kills me. Aside from the fact that it is extortionately expensive, ridiculously overcrowded, consistently late/delayed/not working.... the underground shuts down around midnight. This baffles me. Say goodbye to drinking past 10.30pm. Taxis are unbearably expensive and the night bus is terrifying. NYC seems to have understood that a city that never sleeps needs 24/7 subway service. And you know what? Taxis are so affordable that if you can't bothered (and you're not going too far), hop in a cab! Sorted. 
So I give the win to: NYC. 
However, this is not to say London is without its many merits. London, I'll tell you what: I miss your good British TV, cadbury chocolate, pubs and sunny afternoons on the common. But no I do not miss your weather. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Guest Post: Interrailing Around Europe

Annie has kindly offered to write about her time spent traveling Europe a few summers ago. 

"In the summer of 2011, I went inter-railing in Europe and got to visit some cities I had always wanted to go to. It was only two of us who took the trip which was great because it meant we could truly suit ourselves. The first destination was actually my hometown of Paris so we stayed at my parents' apartment and planned the entire trip from there. As I grew up in Paris and he had visited the city many times we didn't feel the need to do tourist activities, apart from of course Disneyland

After Paris we headed to Amsterdam which was a city I had always dreamed of visiting and I was not disappointed. My favorite part of Amsterdam was how condensed the city was and how easy it is to get around. I really enjoyed visiting the Anne Frank Huis Museum, eating pancakes and the culture of the city. The people of Amsterdam are incredibly open minded and friendly and it really is a place I would love to go back and visit again sometime. We then headed to Berlin, here we spent most of our time visiting World War 2 related locations. 

Berlin was not my favorite place we visited as I felt like it wasn't the easiest city to get around so we wasted a lot of time getting lost! 

The third place we visited was Prague which was a really beautiful place and the weather was great. Prague is a great place to walk around because it is generally very pretty and there are plenty of interesting shops and building to visit, notably the clock tower. 

After Prague, we went to Italy. We went to three cities: Venice, Florence and Rome. I had visited Florence before and it's the best place in the world for a romantic stroll and a nice refreshing ice cream. Italy is one of my favorite places in the world (namely because Italian food is my absolute favorite) so I loved visiting Rome as well but Venice really was a dream come true for me. I got to go on a gondola, eat the most amazing pizza I have ever tasted and walking around the city at night really is magical.

Overall the highlights of my trip were Amsterdam and Venice because those were two places I was really eager to visit and I completely fell in love with the layout of both cities. I love the idea of strolling along the canals at night and taking a little boat trip down the street if I feel like it. 

Inter-railing was a fantastic way to visit Europe, we managed to see so many amazing places in a short space of time and traveling by train gave you a real sense of distance and freedom."