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moof's prattling

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March 2nd, 2010

london, paris, tokyo (without any paris) @ 09:58 pm

Current Mood: depressed meh
Current Music: Pizzicato 5, London Paris Tokyo, London-Paris

I'm still mighty biased, as I haven't seen all that much of London yet, and I'm homesick/depressed/etc - so take this initial set of impressions with a grain of salt or fifty.

Tokyo, overall, is much more compact and dense than London. This surprised me quite a bit; I had visions of cobblestoned narrow streets. I finally got to see some of them around the British Museum and Covent Garden, but they don't seem "the norm" these days; two lanes of traffic with two lanes of parking is much much more common. The stores, apartments, and houses are similarly bigger in London; the only place I've consistently had to duck my head is getting onto some of the Tube lines.

Tying into the "compactness" thing - public transportation is generally much better in Tokyo. The trains (and buses) run on time, don't break down at the drop of a hat, aren't closed at random times, and have an actual schedule. On the other hand, the bus networks in London seem like they're better (if slooooow) in terms of coverage. They're also much cheaper than the subway, the opposite of Tokyo - but Tokyo is the only place I've seen where the trains are cheaper than the bus.

Food: Tokyo wins, hands down. Tasty food is ubiquitous, and quite frankly difficult to avoid. London, on the other hand... well, I've been told that tasty food does exist in many places, I've yet to encounter much of it. You'll pay out the nose for it. And speaking of...

Cost of living: I thought Tokyo was expensive. Hoo boy, not compared to London. Tokyo prices seemed like they were about 20%-50% than equivalent US prives for most things; London prices AFAICT are about the same as if things were in dollars, which is about 50%-60% higher. My one bedroom apartment is £280 a week, or about $1900 a month. I suppose it would be about the same as Tokyo, square meter for square meter, but it's still a big outlay. Hotels are much more expensive than in Tokyo - unless I don't know where to look, which is an eminent possibility.

Boozing: I'd say that when dealing solely with alcohol, the two are about tied. London's beer is really quite nice, isn't too expensive (around £3 for 500mL, usually) and the pub atmosphere seems fairly convival. The pub grub doesn't compare to izakaya food, but that shouldn't be a surprise with Japan's gourmand culture and England's lack thereof.

Culture (nightlife): ...this is a toughy, since I haven't been exposed to much of it yet. It looks like many events (live music, clubs, etc) will be much easier to find here, but that could be due to my 日本語 being terrible. Time Out does list all sorts of things in one convenient place, however, and I didn't see anything comparable to it in Tokyo. I haven't yet made it to any club nights, or concerts, or warehouse parties or whatnot, so the jury is still out.

Culture (artistic): Another "jury is still out", but I'm leaning towards Tokyo having a larger (if less participatory) venue and corpus. In Tokyo, it was difficult to walk down the street without seeing somebody reading manga, or a hand-chalked sign hawking some sort of wares with happy little animals decorating such. While I know there's lots of art around here, I suspect it's more relegated to museums and galleries and whatnot - that is, art is by Artists, not by anyone and everyone if they feel like doing so. I'd say that the former is probably a general Western thing - although with things like the Make fairs and Burning Man, they might be getting better.

Possibly to come in future installments: comparisons of bureaucracy, people, day-to-day life, jobs, cultural attitudes.
 
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From:aerinys
Date:March 2nd, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)
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An acquaintance of mine lives in London. Her name is Tracy and she is lyricagent here. Unfortunately, I haven't kept in touch with her much lately, but you could contact her via LJ and tell her you know me and see if she has any suggestions for a newcomer to London. She might invite you out to some clubs or have some suggestions. :)
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From:jholloway
Date:March 2nd, 2010 10:29 pm (UTC)
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So ... feel like a day in Cambridge?
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From:moof
Date:March 2nd, 2010 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Sure! My schedule is pretty open, although in the next couple of weeks I'm supposed to the US for a month for training and whatnot.
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From:panthergirl
Date:March 2nd, 2010 11:56 pm (UTC)
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London was always twice as expensive, as the prices were the same as in the US, only in British Sterling. The best food for me was in the pubs. Cheese plates, and stews, and the traditional food was *good*. Anything in a restaurant was horrible. Breakfast was a feast, and what kept you from eating the awful stuff served the rest of the day.

Culture- it was SOHO all the way when I was there. Nightlife & clubs & craziness.
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From:cheezaddict
Date:March 8th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC)
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Some of my food favorites from 2 years ago when I worked there: Hummus Brothers for dinner, it's on Kingsway near the British Museum. Indian food in east London on Brick Street. There is a taqueria near Goodge Street but I can't remember its name. The whole Charlotte street corridor has great if pricey food.

As for nightlife, on my first trip I wondered what one did after the pubs close relatively earlyish, but the apparently the after hours are clubroom that many pubs have in their basements or the big clubs in east London.

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