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My first visit to London was on Thursday, 14 October 2010. Toni and Geertjan invited me to a little unpresentation to promote the NetBeans Platform. We wanted to do a presentation without slides. So, after I finished talking about my first and only slide about the history of NetBeans, I was sitting on the stage, watching Toni and interrupting him with various funny stories from 'behind the scenes' - e.g. with stories that tried to illustrate the points Toni was describing. I had nothing prepared in advance, but I think the result was not bad. I think majority of the listeners enjoyed the talk (as we were told later in a pub called Slaughtered Lamb).

The Car Problem 1

I think London is a very welcoming city. It is easy to feel comfortable while walking around it. Everything is nice, but the smell! Maybe this is Google's fault as it suggested me where to walk from Victoria railway station to my hotel in King's Cross and the walking path match the driving one quite closely, but the air on the streets was completely unbreathable. I am used to the Prague's air (which is horrible), but I was expecting London to shoot for higher standards in quality of life. But nothing like that, the London's air stinks.

The Car Problem 2

Obviously there was another (expected) problem. The cars drive on the left. I knew I need to be careful, but only the direct experience made me aware how deep expectations have been created in my mind by living in the right-sided world. Few times I found myself in middle of the street happily watching one direction being empty. I felt safe. Until I realized that the cars are supposed to come from the other direction. After repeating this mistake few times I decided to cross the street only on lights. That saved my life.

I guess people living in England (and visiting right sided part of the world often) must have great advantage over us, blindly dominated by the right side. They must have a lot more of flexibility, can adjust to a change more easily. Sounds like a useful skill for ever changing world.

The Walking Problem

There is one question in my mind which I have not found an answer to yet: Cars drive on left, on which side people walk? I'd expect people should walk on left, but my observations from London streets don't seem to support this hypothesis. Some people seem to walk on left, some on right. So the new hypothesis I have is that people are supposed to walk on left and local ones try, but strangers either don't know or forget (I always found myself on right side, when I stopped paying attention to my behaviour). As London seems to be full of tourists, people end up walking in the middle and randomly diluting from there to both sides.

Can anyone tell me to which side of pavement to lean next time I visit London?


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