England is not Europe, and other thoughts on living here for three weeks.
Greetings from the Canadian. The Texan (aka, your usual blog poster) asked me to write a post about how the first few weeks in London have gone, to share with you all. While most of my time has been at work (I’ve been working 55 or so hours per week), I’ve definitely had time to get out and explore a bit, and here are a few things that I’ve noticed:
Whenever I travel somewhere, it’s in my nature to compare it to other places: New Orleans reminds me of the Caribbean. Buenos Aires reminded me of Paris, and for that matter, so did Vienna. London’s a bit of a weird one, mostly reminding me of Toronto and Ottawa – this is unsurprising, considering that York (Toronto’s original name) was settled by Loyalists, and Ottawa is full of Westminster-style parliament buildings. But there’s one thing that’s for sure: London’s nothing like the rest of Europe.
Sure, only 21 miles separate Calais from Dover, but England is worlds apart from the Continent, socially and culturally. This is a good thing, and a bad thing.
On the downside, for example, Londoners tend to work more typically American hours. While I’d prefer a 35 hour French-style work week, with 8 weeks of vacation, that ain’t happening in London. And while the Victorian era was over a century ago, the British stuffiness of that time is still evident in a lot of ways.
On the upside, there’s breakfast. “Breakfast? Seriously?” Yes, seriously. Americans (and Canadians) will often pride themselves on having the best breakfast in the world. As a kid, I grew up eating gigantic breakfasts daily, and while I can skip lunch or have a light dinner, I still have a ravenous appetite within minutes of waking up.
If, as an American, your travels have been to Asia, Latin America, and Continental Europe, it’s easy to see why you’d feel your breakfast back home is superior: Breakfast in Central America, for example, is generally rice and beans, maybe a little egg. In France, it appears to consist of an espresso, a croissant, and a cigarette. But before you declare victory for the American breakfast, hold the phone, Tyrone: Behold, the full English Breakfast.
And with all that said, I’m going to get breakfast.