Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dateline London, part 1

Alas, we had to leave Stockholm yesterday. Goodbye, Tidy Town of the North! We flew on to London, where we'll be for a few days, visiting friends. Much to my surprise, it took us only 90 minutes between the moment we left the SAS plane and our stepping into our new temporary abode near the Fulham Broadway tube station. The smoothness and cleanliness (well, it was filthy compared to Stockholm but spotless compared to New York) of the public transportation were stupendous--even though we keep hearing about how it's a weakness of London. I'm quite obsessed about public transportation, and it's one of my favorite things to explore when I travel. In the midst of the hullaballoo about rising gas prices in America, the lack of debate on public transportation never ceases to amaze me: that is what pundits should discuss, not alternative fuels like ethanol and used cooking oil. As usual, Americans are more interested in bandaids and lunatic pseudo solutions rather than structural innovations--especially since developing decent public transportation would require real change and real sacrifice (ie, higher taxes).

But I digress…

I hadn't been to London in about five years but the mere transformation of Fulham Broadway in that interval says volume about gentrification: For a second I even thought I had led us to the wrong station as it was completely unrecognizable. Just imagine, I don't know, a basic stop on the F in New York renovated from top to bottom, going from a regular station to a subway emporium-slash-minimall with a movie theater, a Starbucks, a Borders, etc. That is what happened to Fulham Broadway in the past five years. The rest of the neighborhood has gone through a similar metamorphosis: it's really poshed up, paralleling, I suppose, the evolution of Chelsea FC, whose stadium is nearby (our host is a transplanted Liverpudlian and so loathes Chelski, as it's nicknamed due to its being owned by a Russian billionaire).

More updates after we go on the town today.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

Great travelogue - you're intrepid, indefatigable, and articulate. Thanks!