Monday, July 24, 2006

Flat world

I know I’ve been in London a whole week and a half and I haven’t updated yet… part of the reason is that I’ve been waiting for something interesting to happen. I’ve been busy working and interviewing scads of people last week. A few folks were in from the Mountain View office to help, so we had a few group dinners (I highly don’t recommend figuring out how to split a bill 20 ways, with some of them paying with credit and no one else having the right amount of change). But I’ve gotten to know more people from the London office, and had a first meeting with the developers coding the projects I’ll be working on over the next year.

Today I met with the relocation specialist who showed me a number of different flats in different areas of the city. Mostly I’ve been interested in Marylebone which has a really nice, quiet high (translation: main shopping/market) street and shady tree-lined residential areas. We also looked at some flats on Westbourne Grove in the Kensington area. Just as in the US, flats are priced based on location, building amenities (one I looked at had a plasma screen TV, a good sized pool, gym, sauna and *gasp* a free parking space!), distance from the high street or tube station, etc. The same priced flat in one area was brand new with a very modern kitchen and had tons of space, while others in a different part of the city had teeny matchbox bedrooms and dark kitchens. Because London is such an old city, they tried to make the best use of space as possible, and some buildings have flats below ground level. I looked at a few of those because they often have more room for the money, but the trade off for available light probably is too much for my taste.

London has been having a heat wave since I arrived – it’s been very humid and in the 80s and 90s every day. On Saturday it felt more like New York City when the day gave way to a mid-day rain storm to cool things down a bit. Everyone here keeps telling me how rare it is, how much I should enjoy it because it won’t last. Having always lived in California, I know I take for granted that we can keep the windows open most of the year and that it’s consistently sunny. So when I’m touring flats today and thinking how dark it is, I have to believe it’ll feel about 100x more so in mid-February when I haven’t seen the sun for more than 5 minutes since September. I have to say that although I know I’ll miss the warmth, I am really ready for the temp in the tube to get down below 85 degrees at 9am in the morning (and worse that evening!).

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