I just returned from London; it’s a great city. I learned to love it during a semester I spent at the London Business School many years ago. This visit was a combination of Temkin Group work, CXPA.org business, and vacation with my wife. As always, London delivered a great experience.
- Customer experience is alive and well in the UK. One of the main purposes of my trip to London was to attend a local networking event of the Customer Experience Professionals Association and to discuss ways in which we can expand in the UK. It was a great session hosted by Thomson Reuters, full of many passionate customer experience professionals. I have to give a shout out to Rachel Buckley, Alan Woollam, and Marcio Rodrigues for putting together such a fantastic event. I am confident that the CXPA will continue to blossom in the UK.
- London theater is great. Even the expensive tickets for a top show are well below the prices we pay on Broadway. We went to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (very good show, wonderful staging, although the first act dragged a bit) and Once (outstanding show, lots of energy from the cast). Here’s a picture of the cast jamming on stage before the show began.
- You can walk and walk and walk in London. We relied on the Tube to periodically drop us in the right neighborhood, but we mostly walked the entire time we were in London. We thoroughly enjoyed taking walking tours with London Walks. The guides were knowledgeable, kept a good pace, and were thoughtful enough to keep us out of the sun during the unusually hot days. The walks were all about two hours and met right outside of a Tube stop. We really enjoyed the Famous Square Mile, Old Westminster, and The Old Jewish Quarter walks. I’m not sure why we don’t walk around our neighborhood the way that we did in London.
- Oliver Cromwell was an interesting chap. Besides our walking tours, we went to the typical attractions such as Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, and Buckingham Palace. Oliver Cromwell stood out on many of our stops. During our walk by Parliament, which has a prominent statue of Cromwell, we heard about how he lead the charge to remove the monarchy in the mid 1600s and had King Charles I beheaded in 1649. At the Tower of London, we found out that he had melted all of the historical crown jewels, so you can only see crown jewels from later monarchies (King Charles II came to power, restoring royal rule in 1660). During our Jewish walk, we found that Cromwell’s tolerance allowed the Jewish community to come back into London. We also saw where he was initially buried (it’s long story) at Westminster Abbey.
- We had an excellent food visit. As a student in London, I ate a lot of cheap fish and chips and pub sandwiches and never thought much of British food. But we actually had some really good meals during this visit. We booked many of them through Toptable, which is almost a mirror of Open Table (which we use all the time in the U.S.). Our favorite meals were at Bill’s (we had two great breakfasts and a casual dinner), PJ’s Bar & Grill (where we got 50% off the food on Sunday night), Heliot Restaurant, Lounge & Bar (which is in the Hippodrome, my old dance club hangout), Nopi (with it’s well known chef Yotam Ottolenghi). Here’s our first course at Nopi…
- The Tube is, uniquely, the Tube. You can get just about anywhere in London by Tube, it’s the best subway system I’ve ever seen in terms of covering a large city. Of course, you can sometimes walk for what seems like miles trying to make a connection between lines in a station. As the temperatures rise in London, however, the Tube becomes much less appealing. It was quite uncomfortable on some of the more crowded lines.
- No baby prince(ss). William and Kate were due to have a baby during our visit, but it never happened. While it might have been nice to be in London when the new royal was born, it would also have been a bit chaotic, especially anywhere near St Mary’s hospital. And, I’m pretty sure we aren’t on the “A” list of visitors to view the baby.
The bottom line: I look forward to going back to London soon