rating the world: London

London = C+

It's a bit tough to accurately judge London, as the city was hit with a cold spell for the entirety of my stay and the boiler at my Airbnb decided to stop working partway through. These circumstances unfortunately squashed potential side-trips to Brighton, or Stonehenge along with the Crystal Palace ruins or legendarily haunted Highgate Cemetery, which admittedly could have affected my opinion.

But putting this all aside, London is a relatively unattractive city with loads to do but is swarmed by the single worst tourist crowds I've dealt with (save, perhaps, for Venice). I do enjoy it more than New York - a similarly unattractive place but with less of interest - and find it on par with (the admittedly very different) Hong Kong.

In particular, my favorite things:

The British Library - Their Treasures of the British Library collection is quite possibly the best exhibit I've ever seen, and includes (among many others) an old road map from Edo to Kyoto, pages from DaVinci's notebook, works of Shakespeare that were published while he was still alive, and a handwritten chapter of Ian Fleming's The Living Daylights.

Byron the dog - Byron is a ridiculously friendly chocolate lab that was overjoyed to discover me in a Farlows store near Piccadilly Circus. Not really a point of tourism, but still the single best thing about the trip.

Daunt Books - The multitude of bookshops is one of London's main highlights, and Daunt stands out with its beautiful oak interior and separation of titles by country. While this sounds like a potential hassle, I was able to discover a great many books that I never otherwise would have known existed (such as Mari Akasaka's Vibrator, later made into Ryuichi Hiroki's 2003 film).

Harrods - An enormous, gorgeous department store that includes a lego diorama of itself and the official plushie of Lilo's doll from Lilo & Stitch. The best part is its tea room, full of variations from around the world in decorative tins.

Henry Pourdes Books - My favorite bookstore in London, found along the famous Charing Cross Road. Antiquarian in nature, they even had a first edition Prince Caspian.

Parliament Square - The place for sightseeing in London. The House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey - London's two best architectural marvels - are right across the street from each other and a badass Winston Churchill statue looms nearby.

Pieminister - Most British food lives up to its subpar reputation, but there were a few highlights - the best being this small chain serving up delightful meat pies.

Portobello Market - London has a plethora of great markets, my favorite being the gargantuan Portobello Market deep in the heart of Notting Hill. It was a here where I purchased a first-edition hardcover of Graham Greene's rather obscure In Search of a Character and reluctantly did not purchase a crazy old extravagant silverware collection for snail-eating.

Pub culture - A very welcome tradition, given that London has that nasty European habit of most things closing down around 6 PM and also that their beer is better than America.

Spaniards Inn - An out-of-the-way establishment that dates back to the 17th century and has a large amount of literary ties - being mentioned in Dracula and The Pickwick Papers, along with being frequented by a number of old literary icons. They also have a delightful Sunday roast.


raised by pop culture

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Experience the exciting podcast medium with Raised by Pop Culture! Embark on a thrilling quest to discover how pop culture shaped the views and identities of co-hosts Joseph Larsen and Jason Mitchell, two straight white males born in 1982! Marvel at their ineptitude as they recount tales of their warped ideas of how relationships work, place a high value on knowing obscure trivia, and measure their self-worth only in artistic achievements! A magical nostalgia trip for your ears, Joe and Jason are sure to delight as they discuss very specific movies, TV, video games, music, books, board games, comics and more!