Obnoxiously expensive London

August 8, 2010

A well traveled friend stopping by London a few weeks ago described this city as obnoxiously expensive.  And that it is.  I remember when I first transferred here back in 2007 how hard it was for me to adjust to the prices.  A box of cereal converted to $5.  A litre of milk $3.50.  A McDonald’s big mac meal $7!  A movie ticket the equivalent of $24!!!  It was (is) madness!  Friends at work told me that if I had any hope in enjoying my time here, I’d have to STOP converting things in my head and just think in pounds.  That’s easy to do if you’re earning in pounds but if the monthly paycheque is coming in dollars, a $24 movie ticket is a hard thing to swallow.

A few weeks ago, the mayor launched a London bike scheme – a network of publicly available bicycles strategically placed throughout the centre of the city similar to programs in Paris and Barcelona.  Great idea, right?!  I thought so too, until we saw the prices! It’d make more sense to purchase your own bike at these rates!

On the other hand, obnoxiously expensive can also be ridiculously entertaining.  Last week, we visited The Wonder Room at Selfridges and as I licked the display cases of jewels upon jewels of sparkling beauty, a very nice sales lady offered to let me try on a £14,000 ruby encrusted, rose gold, Boucheron seahorse cocktail ring.  Be still my heart!  Why of course I’d love to try that on!  In fact, I’m happy to adopt the entire animal line and house them on all ten of my fingers.  Obnoxiously beautiful.  And right next to it: a £365,000 5-karat diamond ring.  I thought they’d made a mistake by adding a few too many zeroes.  Apparently not.  As lovely as a stone like that would be, I’m not quite sure I could wrap my head around the fact that I’d be wearing the equivalent of the expense of a small mansion on my finger.  Apparently, a client was coming in later in the day to purchase it.  Heh.  I didn’t want it anyway.  Too gaudy for my delicate little fingers ;)

And then there are the ridiculous cars and the £7000 car wash that they need.  And not to mention the crazy hotels and eating venues and shopping streets.  This place looks, feels, sounds and smells like the most liquid and gratuitous market in the world.  There isn’t a hint of the recession here.  And that’s scary!

It’s been a fun few weeks perusing the swank neighbourhoods and shops in this city.  And sometimes it just makes me laugh.  A year ago, I was trying to decide which hole in the ground to pee over in Africa: the one with the spider on the wall or the one with the turd on the floor.  A friend once told me that I should push to experience a wide breadth of what the world has to offer and wide that experience has been thus far!

Perspective.

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