(Ha ha ha, get it? Pounds?)
London was the last stop on our trip and we knew it would be pricey, but we're used to paying San Francisco area prices so didn't think it would be too bad comparatively. You think at first, "Okay the 3 pound cappuccino, same as the 3 dollar cappuccino at home." Nope. Everything was actually double. The exchange rate was such that 1 pound equaled 2 dollars. So that 3 pound cappuccino was a 6 dollar cappuccino.
What really killed us was going to the movies one night. If the movie had been better, we might not have minded so much that the tickets were 9 pounds, i.e. 18 dollars, each. No popcorn and sodas for us! We were well above our entertainment budget for the day. And the movie was terrible. It was Eagle vs. Shark, a New Zealand film that I don't think has opened in the U.S. yet. It's gotten rave reviews from some pretty credible sources and won awards at festivals and all. And it started out sort of funny and charming. But then it got grating and annoying and I wanted to rip my eyes out by the end. Then you're sitting there thinking "When will this movie be over?" and your mind wanders to the fact that you just paid $18 each to see this, so you don't want to walk out on it. After the movie, back at the Tube station near our hotel, we ran into one of the Lebowski Fest organizers, Will, and his special lady. They had been in the same movie! And he had liked it! (And they were staying at a hotel near ours. We ran into them several times in the Tube station and around the city.)
Going to Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross to catch the Hogwarts Express
We're not really ones to harp on the prices of things too much. We weren't on a strict budget but couldn't exactly just throw money around. When the 5 pound lunch special is really costing you 10 dollars though, you have to reign in the spending a bit. By the last day we were so tired in general that even going to a restaurant seemed exhausting. We bought fruit and cheese and snacked all day long.
We took a tour on one of those double-decker open-air busses, which was really fun. If you're on the top you can see a lot and we had a hilarious tour guide. It was a great way to rack up the sights without spending too much time and energy. Our guide also included the spots where various members of the Royal Family had their stag parties and many celebrity apartments. And of course the "Parliament, Big Ben" roundabout from National Lampoon's European Vacation.
Our tour guide pointed out this restaurant, The Texas Embassy, saying that many confused Americans who've lost their passports end up there.
We definitely plan to go back because there's so much to see and we just scratched the surface. And next time it should be at the begining of our trip rather than the end, because we were just too tired to appreciate everything. Oh look, another castle, another old church, another pub... yawn.
(Clicking on any photo will take you to the full size on flickr.)