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Entries in England (2)

The Most Expensive City Ever

656867-1134665-thumbnail.jpgWe’ve been in a lot of places that are traditionally considered expensive: Tokyo, Sydney, Paris.. But nothing had prepared us for how astronomically out of whack prices in London have become. The main thing fueling this is the strength of the Pound, which it now costs $2.08 to buy. The problem is that everything is priced as if it were in dollars. So our simple Thai lunch special for 8.95 – exactly what it would cost in dollars in San Francisco, itself a tremendously expensive city – is in reality more than double that at almost $20. This applies to EVERYTHING – take what something normally costs and more than double it.

656867-1134676-thumbnail.jpgEven a one way ticket on the Underground costs 4 Pounds – that’s over 8 bucks per person just to go a few stops down the street. I guess it all becomes what you’re used to. When we were in Vietnam we would yell and scream at the little old lady selling water that she wasn’t going to rip us off an extra 3 cents for her overpriced 10 cent water. We know a liter of water is supposed to cost 7 cents lady, and we’re not paying a penny more. Here we pay six dollars for half a liter and all seems right with the world.

But if you happen to be making pounds as your salary, life is grand. People here have more money than they know what to do with. Every single car is either a Mercedes, BMW, Rolls Royce, or Bentley. It’s like the luxury car industry farted out a huge cloud of its finest works and they all settled squarely over London. And the snotty British accent only adds to the effect. A trip to Southeast Asia would basically cost nothing. The finest hotels in Laos are no more than $100/night. Here, there is no hotel that would be decent enough to call home for a few days for under $400/night. And that’s for the basics. There were many rooms in the $5,000 range when we were looking to book our place here.

656867-1134686-thumbnail.jpgThe one upside is that this is a great place to come back home from. We kept saying while in Cambodia that we could never imagine going back to San Francisco and paying the sorts of prices that we’re used to. That once you pay $3 for an amazing dinner you’ll never be able to pay SF prices again. But coming back from London, I feel like our lives are going to be a bargain. Heck, it’s practically free compared to here.

Wandering Walkers Homecoming Court 2007!

656867-1138814-thumbnail.jpgThat’s right, the Wandering Walkers are officially on US soil. It is bittersweet that these past 10 months of travel have finally come to a close, with a whirlwind of emotions filling our minds.

As I was going through the ritual this morning of cramming for the final time all of our stuff into our bags , something we’ve done an average of every 3 mornings for the past 300 days, a sense of calm came over me – no more packing and unpacking! Schlepping all our bags to the train station to take the Picadilly Line to Heathrow airport was also one of those “thank goodness we don’t have to do this anymore” moments. Probably for Jason the most enthralling thing about this coming to a close is having access to reliable and fast internet.  Not to mention we won't be racking up any more on the tab of around $2,500 we spent on internet connections this year!

656867-1138824-thumbnail.jpgFor as many burdens that will be lifted from our shoulders by being settled in the states, there are just as many things that we will miss about the open road. The sense of the unknown and adventure we’ve experienced has been beyond exhilarating this year. The spontaneity of each day, the lack of responsibilities to anyone but ourselves, the challenges to push ourselves to do things we would never have done back home, the vast array of food varieties we’ve sampled, the stepping in and out of different cultures on a regular basis – these are just some of the things I will miss to no end.

656867-1138847-thumbnail.jpgAlthough our around the world portion of our trip is at a close, we won’t exactly truly be settling down in SF until January ’08. We will be spending the rest of the year in Scottsdale, AZ so we can hang out with Jason’s family and my grandparents who all live there. We'll make our annual trip to Maui for a couple weeks with my family, then Jason will go directly to Vegas for a trade show for a week, and finally we'll be back and settled on January 21st!

Now you may be asking yourself, “But what about the Wandering Walkers website – what will happen to that?!?!?” Well people, no need to fret as we will continue to update our site with probably a lot less exciting stories of our lives back home. Mainly we’ll start a section documenting and critiquing the restaurants we’ll be eating at, plus some of the adventures we do manage to have back home.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank so many of our friends and family who diligently followed our travels around the world. It really has been so touching to us that people have put time and energy into keeping up with us. I guess there really won’t be anything to talk about once we’re home, since you know it all!