Saturday, July 16, 2011

Differences v3

The 3rd edition of the top differences between living in London vs. Phoenix (read the first one HERE  and second one HERE):
London Eye (obvs)
1. The restaurant experience: Dining out in a London restaurant (along with other UK / European locations for that matter) is much different than in the States. It’s a more relaxed experience, which in many cases to Americans, can translate as: SLOW. I however, think it’s lovely and makes for much more of an “experience” versus simply going out to eat. In London, if you order water then next question you’ll be asked is “sparkling or still” and if you reply with either option you’ll be brought a lovely bottle of the H2O of your choosing, which you will then find you’ve been charged for. This has prompted me to get into the habit of proactively ordering “tap water” when I’m out. (Side note – the tap water in London is delish). Speaking of beverages, if you order lemonade it’s actually lemon-lime soda (Sprite), and if you order a soda there generally are no free refills. Ordering 2 or 3 courses seems to be much more the norm here than at home – which is true of restaurants at all price points. Starter? Main? Dessert / Pudding? End of dinner coffee or tea? It’s rare that you’d have just a main course and nothing else, my waistline is proof. Likely the biggest difference of dining out in London is you are never brought the check. You always have to ask for your bill which means there’s never a time you’re feeling rushed, or as though your server is more concerned with turning over the next table than he or she is with helping you. My absolute favourite thing that happens is once you’ve requested the bill if you’re paying with a card the server comes back to your table with a hand held credit card machine. THIS IS GENIUS. It’s efficient, they have no trouble splitting up the bill between several cards, and your card never leaves your site. I’m going to miss those handy machines. Why everywhere in the US doesn’t have them too is beyond me!

Near Westminster
2. Transportation: Phoenix is nearly 100% a driving city – we have the light rail of course, but it doesn’t get you everywhere you need to go . . . at least not yet it doesn’t. The HOT weather in Arizona also has an affinity for not allowing people to be outside too long in the summer, meaning walking places isn’t always practical. London however, is the opposite. I’ve loved taking public transportation and figuring out my own tips for getting from place to place. It’s easy to navigate, and that means A LOT coming from me as I have the worst sense of direction in all the land. I’m going to miss the tube, double-decker buses, overground trains, DLR, and even riverboats! (Except when it comes to grocery shopping or carrying loads of stuff, I will then be very pleased to have my vehicle back)

Camden Town

3. Holiday Time: This little ditty I’m going to keep brief as I’m attempting to stay in denial about it. Coming over to the UK meant an increase of 6 extra days vacation, and 10 extra days for sick time. In the states, vacation and sick time for me was all the same allowance. If the flu hit it meant paid time off was coming out of the same balance as if I was at the beach! This is going to be tough to go back to.
Portobello Road

4. Tips: It didn’t take long to realise once being here that the US culture is one that LOVES to give tips for everything! Here, not so much. You rarely tip cab drivers (maybe a couple pounds if they carried luggage), hairstylist = no tips, service at restaurants is almost always either included in your bill or you can leave a few pounds and call it square. There are of course exceptions and tipping is far from frowned upon, but it’s nice to have whatever you leave to be seen as generosity and appreciated instead of expected.

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