London, Day 1

Feb 4, 2008

I have arrived in London, where I’ll be working for two weeks. So far, everything is going well.

Immigration was ridiculously fast. I mean, literally, I walked into the room and up to an available desk. The immigration officer did the usual routine of complete non-interest except when I mentioned I worked for Google, to which I got a “Oh, mhmm.”

The hotel I’m staying in is really nice. Probably nicer than I deserve. The mirror in the bathroom has a section of fogproof glass. I can see the top of Big Ben’s tower and the parliament building from the window.

It’s also creepy. The minibar is computer controlled. If you remove anything from its spot, it bills your room. When I arrived, I opened up the minibar hoping that it had space to be used as a fridge (it doesn’t). About 15 minutes later, a room service guy arrived with a can of Red Bull and put it in the minibar, and he implied that they had noticed that I had opened the minibar but hadn’t taken anything out, so they wanted to restock the can in case I wanted it.

I spent last night wandering about the Square Mile, which is also creepy after dark (5:30) on a weekend. Nothing is open, including museums and things, and you can walk for blocks without seeing anyone. I originally went out to go see The Monument, but it’s closed for renovations for 18 months, so I decided to just wander about. Guildhall is really impressive, though, even at night when you can’t go inside. In fact, the whole city has this really cool feel from being a mixture of old medieval architecture and beautiful modern stuff. Walking along a long slim overstreet walkway and looking over to see a ruined section of the London Wall is awesome. I unfortunately don’t have any pictures, as it was dark and my only photographic device is my phone, but trust me, it’s great.

Also, 140 London Wall is perhaps the greatest address ever.

Cars driving on the opposite side of the road are kind of unsettling, too. I didn’t realize to what extent I have subconscious feelings about what direction I have to watch out for cars, but when you’re walking along the left side of the road and a car whips by from behind you, it’s quite surprising.

The London office is quite a lot like New York. My major impression is that it’s smaller and has better junk food.

So, it appears that my impression of London so far this time is impressive, yet creepy. More tales as the trip progresses.