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Almost a month in …

Hello All,

For lack of inspiration, I’ve been only posting pictures to this w(a)nderful blog. A lot has been happening in this (almost) month in London.
Let’s talk about the weather. Yes, it’s a stupid topic to talk about Portugal, but here it’s often a central theme. It’s been great. I would call it springtime, but 99% of the days have been sunny, which is very rare and apparently is making everyone very happy. We have enjoyed it by going to as many parks as possible. Imagine a city like Porto that instead of having one city park, it has about 20! Beautiful parks, full of welcoming grass and people running, biking, playing football, playing with the kids, playing football with the kids or walking the dog.
The house. I haven’t taken pictures of it because I’ve been lazy, but it’s great. It’s spacious, with two mega-couches, two bedrooms, two storage rooms, a bathroom and a nice kitchen. Although it’s furnished it’s still quite empty, mainly because we decided not to buy everything at Ikea. We’ll do it gradually as there is no shortage of cool (and expensive) stuff to buy in this town.
Our neighbourhood. It is completely mixed and multicultural. Whoever doubts that London is a world capital, never lived in this city. Every day I hear languages I’ve never heard before and see people of all colours and creeds. For example, in our neighbourhood you can see a mix that includes among others, Orthodox Jews (properly dressed up) and typical English, cheap cars and Boxters.
There are pubs everywhere, but the pubs in the area have an interesting feature: they have Thai food!
Out of all the utilities only broadband is now missing. It’s a funny pattern that I’ve seen in Portugal, Italy and now here. The broadband itself is fast to get, but if the supplier is other than the national phone company you have to wait for a while :P
So, in order to survive, I bought a 3G USB pen. Some days ago it just did not work. I called and the operator told me that the tower covering this area was damaged and it would take two weeks (!) to be fixed. I proceeded to get a wave of anxiety and immediately started thinking about getting another carrier. We went out looking for the only pub that has free Wifi here and stayed there for a couple of hours. This has been a big difference for me. After being spoiled by USA’s coffee shops that always have an open Wifi network, here what you get is BTOpenzone, which is Wifi, but to use it you need to have an actual account with a mobile phone carrier, i.e. it’s always paid for. In the end the connection was up the next day, so I believe I talked to the first operator that overestimates time to fix things instead of underestimating it as normally happens.
Carly was given a bike by a co-worker (a colleague who is a hard-core biker and had this one laying around). I drove it yesterday for the first time and have reached the conclusion that you spend as much or more padlocks to secure the bicycle than the bicycle itself. Decent padlocks cost £50 minimum (closer to £100) and seem to weigh the equivalent in pounds!
Public transport. The metro is expensive, the bus, a little less, although I like to travel upstairs on the “double deckers”. Downtown, the city scheme of shared bikes sponsored by Barclays is huge and the number of places to get/leave a bike is practically infinite, which gets a ton of users. London is a city full of cyclists, of all shapes and sizes, from the pros to the ones who cruise without helmets.
We have gone to a couple of farmer’s markets. It’s like the Portuguese traditional street market with stalls of vegetables and related stuff. But it seems to be a relatively new fashion here and in America. The main difference to the Portuguese markets is that here you can also buy some prepared food too, not just raw goods. For non fresh eateries we have a grocery shop around the corner where they speak a language I do not even recognize when they’re not talking to clients.
The royal wedding was nice. Carly was the one who wanted to see it, but it was good fun to participate in the party. We were in Hyde Park with 100,000 people. There were many who dressed with the Union Jack somehow and there were a lot of brides. I kid you not. Actual brides’dresses.
That’s it from me. I think I caught up with Carly’s posts by now. ;)

Miguel