web analytics

Postcard From London

By Phantom On January 21st, 2019

Two things that you don’t see much anymore – postcards and travelers cheques.

I loved postcards, still do. I’ve sent some over the past five years. The main reason I rarely send them now is that you rarely see them for sale anymore.

Travelers cheques had a good run, in the days when easily stolen cash was king. You’d buy them in the American Express office. The last time I bought them was when I went to Japan. I bought many more than I needed, cashed them in upon return, never bought new ones. A young person wouldn’t know what a travelers cheque is now.

Credit and debit cards have become widely accepted now, in all but the smallest businesses. I hardly ever spend cash when in London now. I have about £70 in notes now, that I may never spend. Credit cards make everything so easy now.

The UK gummint tried to rob me, though. I had £14 in one pound coins that were no longer good. The Theresa May regime withdrew them from circulation after some date in 2017, and I didn’t hear about it. So I was pretty much stuck with them. But I brought them to London last week, in my little plastic bag, and a kindly woman at Lloyds Bank exchanged them for shiny new coins for me.

Traveling economy on business isn’t living the lifestyles of the rich and famous by any means. But I made it better by taking the day flight from JFK out. You leave early, you arrive late, you minimize the jet lag by adjusting to the local time right way, after going to bed at the local time. I took Virgin Atlantic, still a cheery and pleasant British airline.

I can take taxis anytime i want, but I am a subway geek and took the London Underground into town. It’s an old but good subway system, linked well with the local buses. You can now pay your fare either with an Oyster Card ( London version of NYC’s MetroCard ) or you can pay for the train directly from your phone ( Apple Pay etc ) or contactless credit card.

Britain has a thriving craft beer scene. I had a burger and chips at a restaurant in Shepherd’s Bush owned by the Scottish brewer Brewdog, whose beer is highly recommended.

A busy day of meetings near Lloyd’s, a nice dinner, then up at 630 am to catch the flight back home.

I’m well aware that all is not perfect in London, but if you know of a nicer big city, one more filled with all the good things, please tell me about it.

18 Responses to “Postcard From London”

  1. Just what we need, another extremist pitching up.

  2. Good post Phantom.
    I used to get into London a lot more when they live down south in Berkshire.
    I was used to love going to work in London and staying overnight. The restaurant and nightlife scene down there is fantastic. It’s a vibrant and exciting city.
    if I have to pick up second city in the UK, it would probably be Manchester. But I also love Bristol and Glasgow too.

  3. Dave

    Judging by your mangled syntax You’ve either had a few drinks, have a dodgy keyboard or you’re really a foreigner . You’d fit in very well in London 😉

  4. Your first guess was right Colm, I’ve had a few drinks down the pub.
    I’ve also got that cold thing that seems to be going around, so the alcohol has hit me a bit more than usual. I think it’s time for bed. 😁

  5. I visit London often…its an open sewer.

  6. Dog

    I’ve had the privilege of visiting London dozens of times over the years, as a backpacker, normal tourist and business visitor.

    It’s a huge, pretty city that has all the problems that other big cities have as well as a disproportionate amount of what is good and interesting.

    Every time I go there, they treat me like a king. Never had one bad experience.

    The ( I believe ) one local lives there ( Colm ) likes it.

    You’re entitled to your opinion.

  7. I miss postcards

  8. I am a subway geek and took the London Underground into town.

    Do you mean from Heathrow Phantom? That’s about 20 stops and takes nearly an hour from memory. The Heathrow Express into Paddington takes about 20 minutes.

  9. if you know of a nicer big city, one more filled with all the good things, please tell me about it.

    Paris? Just kidding!

  10. The Heathrow Express into Paddington takes about 20 minutes.

    I’ve taken the Heathrow Express Peter. It’s a little more expensive, but after a long trans-Atlantic flight, well worth the money.

  11. I have only been to London twice. Enjoyed both visits. A remarkable place.

  12. Peter

    I mean the Piccadilly Line underground! Yes it takes about an hour, I don’t mind the time

    I’ve taken the excellent Heathrow Express which is indeed 20 minutes to Paddington — but Unless you are staying at Paddington, you’ve got another leg by taxi or underground to add to it

    I like my slow and sure way!

  13. I was in Paris once. The Metro was nice and they had English speaking help at one of the main stations which saved me with my limited knowledge of French. I’d always heard people in Paris were rude, but I found the opposite to be true.

  14. Up until the seventies, They had first and second class seating in the Paris metro. You could pay a higher fare and pretty much always get a seat.

    I saw it, very weird

  15. Phantom

    London only becomes an open sewer when Dogisgreat visits 😉

  16. // I’d always heard people in Paris were rude, but I found the opposite to be true.//

    I agree. I always found them to be very friendly and helpful.

    A funny incident. Once as a teenager I found myself in Paris with backpack. (this was the time when almost nobody spoke English there) It was the end of a longish trip around Europe and I was accordingly scruffy, unkempt and broke. One morning I was sitting on a bus, on a seat by the window on the right. A young pretty, hippy-type girl got on and gave me a smile as she walked past. At another stop, I was gazing out the window when I noticed this well-dressed lady queuing to get on the bus and at that moment saw her purse drop from her bag onto the ground as she approached the bus.
    There were people milling on and I wasn’t able to make my way forward to tell the driver. The lady got on and when she was walking down the aisle I jumped up all excited and, pleased to help, started blurting out in my Dublin English that she’d lost her purse. Everyone was looking at me and couldn’t make head or tail of what I wanted. I then took a few coins out of my pocket and pointed at them and then at the women shouting “argent”, “argent”, which was one of the few French words I knew as it’s similar to the Irish word for money. She gave a little shriek and walked backwards away from me holding her handbag tightly. Everyone thought the unkept madman was robbing the fine madame. The driver was informed and slammed on the brakes and got up to confront me.
    I was only when I remembered the hippy girl at the back that I turned around and explained what I had seen. Those hippy types were always more English-oriented and could understand the language. She quickly told the lady whose fear fast turned to gratitude before she turned and jumped off the bus to walk back to the stop. The journey continued with me now sitting happily beside hippy demoiselle. We arranged to meet that night but unfortunately I got no further as she had a boyfriend (or so she claimed).

    ——

    People are friendly almost everywhere. Most friendly in the US, England and Ireland, and places like Italy, where the folks have the most graceful hospitality you can ever hope to meet. Eastern Europe is the only place where you can see a lot of rudeness and even aggression in public. You can even see big differences between eastern and western Germany in that regard.

  17. But I also love Bristol and Glasgow too

    Let’s see if we can add to that with an August beer summit in Belfast Dave.

    People are friendly almost everywhere.

    Agreed Noel although I find the Spanish to be rude, sometimes fantastically if unintentionally so, more than once I’ve had to depend on the kindness of strangers and was never disappointed. I also largely agree with your comment on Eastern Europe.

    If you know of a nicer big city, one more filled with all the good things, please tell me about it.

    As I’ve explained here before, I lived in London for a while in the mid eighties and found the amount of casual violence incredible. Having said that, it also has a multitude of fantastic charms.

    With reference to your quote above. IMPO Barcelona is on a par with London.

  18. but Unless you are staying at Paddington, you’ve got another leg by taxi or underground to add to it

    Agreed Phantom, one reason why I never use Heathrow. But the main one is I hate it as an airport.