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Additional Information about London


Those who travel to London should know that the cars on the street drive on the left side, that distances are not measured in kilometres but in miles, as also the velocities in miles per hour and - although London belongs to the EU - it is not paid with euro but with pounds. On this page, we collected further important information about London.

Currency, Measures, Distances, Time, Inch, etc.

For a long time, Great Britain and therewith London distinguished from the rest of Europe in the concern of measures and weights. Until the year 1995, the metric system was not valid here. Since then it has been equalized, but there are still some exceptions. There are still miles indicated on traffic signs and control equipments (mi), whereby 1 mile is equivalent to 1,61 km. A pocket calculator is very useful for the german tourist.

One does also not get the beer in the pub as a litre measure but pints (pt). By ordering "one pint", one gets 0,568 litres. During the shopping of drapery some problems can arise. The ladies will be pleased, as by having the size 36 in Germany, they can choose in England size 8. The size 38 is equivalent to size 10, 40 to 12, 42 to 14 and 44 to 16.

Placard holder in London

If one wants to send the obligatory holiday greetings to the home country, one has to affix the postcard or letter with a stamp of 38 pence (as at 2008). Between Germany and London there is a time zone, thus the clock has to be set back for one hour. As Great Britain belongs to the EU home market, the private goods traffic is mainly dury free. Thus, as a traveller, one does not have to care, except in case one wants to export large amounts of cigarettes or alcoholic drinks. By the way, if some "gifts" are offered in a shop (gift means poison in German language), this is not criminal at all and nobody is out to kill you. Translated, "gift" simply means a "present".

Gift Shop in London

What would be London without the London people? The english politeness is proverbial and as it is the case in every proverb, there is always a big portion of truth. Obligatory is to say "How are you ?" or alternatively "How do you do?", thus asking how one does feel; Nobody really wants to know it, it simply shows interest and a friendly bahavior. One simply calls people by their first name, also doctor or professor titles do not have to be explicity mentioned.

"Please", "Thank you", "Sorry" or "Excuse me" are standard ways of being polite always used everywhere; What we consider in Germany to be exaggerated is normal for the English people. Despite of all friendliness and politenessss, an intensive handshake is rather intrusive for the Brits.

Famous Personages in London

A lot of names of famous personages are connected with London, either the names of people who were borned here as also of people who acted here. One person that is rather put in relation to America is Charlie Chaplin, the great movie actor. His world famous figure of a tramp and his requisites, oversized shoes, walking stick and bowler, represent still today many films that showed humor and tradegy at the same time. The movies were mainly filmed in America, and it was also there where he founded with many other artists the movie association United Artists. But he was born in the year 1889 in London, where he had a sad childhood as the son of some poor varieté artists. The master pieces "The Gold Rush", "Modern Times" and "The Great Dictator" are unforgettable. He spent his last years in Switzerland where he died in the year 1977. Although he became famous in the US and lived later on in Switzerland, he always remained being a British citizen.

Monument of Charlie Chaplin at the Leicester Square

Edgar Wallace is also an artist, but of a different kind. His thrillers, also filmed in Germany, influenced decisively the picture of London in which the mist is wafting an abundance of criminals appears. He was born in the year 1875 in Greenwich and died in the year 1932. London is famous as a place for artists, thus it is not surprising that another actor of international reputation, Peter Ustinov, was born here. But thereby, world-famous actor is understated, as Peter Ustinov was what is called a citizen of the world with an abundance of abilities. He was born in April 16th, 1921 as the son of a russian descent German journalist and a French lady. Beside English, he also spoke fluently German, Russian, Spanish, Italian and French and beside being an actor he also worked as an author, journalist and regisseur. His role as King Nero in the cinema movie "Quo Vadis" is unforgettable. He also gave a special effort as a special ambassador of the UNICEF. Peter Ustinov died in the year 2004.

With the name Christopher Wren (1632 - 1723), mainly the rebuilding of the city London, that as destroyed by a big fire, is related. 53 churches and several hospitals belong to this work and the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, where he also was buried. Thomas More, whose work "Utopia" is popular still today,was born in the year 1477; As a confidant of Henry VIII. and as a lord chancellor, he also made a political career. But it came to a quarrel with Henry and he was thrown into the Tower. After he refused to renew the oath of Henry VIII., he was decapitated in the year 1535 and his head was speared at the London Bridge as a determent.

Jack the Ripper is also closely related with London, although nobody knows who he really was and where he came from. Between August and November 1888, five horribly mutilted prostitutes were found. Their throats were slit, their organs were removed and draped around the victims. The police was in the dark and additionally ridiculed with some writings signed with "Jack the Ripper". The murder was never found, there are wild speculations entwining around him and thus, still today he is an important person for the tourism business.

Also two Germans belong to the most famous personages of London, Karl Marx and Georg Friedrich Händel. Both lived for a long time in the city and created some important works there. Marx, who had to escape abroad in the year 1848 after the revolution failed in Germany, scratched along with joutnalistical works. Thanks to the support of his friend Friedrich Engel he could finish here his lifework, "The Capital". In the year 1883, Karl Marx died in his asylum of London. Today, his sepulchre on the Highgate Cemetery is a highly visited place of the city.

Georg Friedrich Händel, born in the year 1685 in Halle an der Saale, was in the year 1711 for the first time in London, where he presented "Rinaldo " in the Haymarket Theatre. Later, he definetely settled down in London and obtained the British citizenship in the year 1727. Here, such famous works as "Water Music", die "Music for the Royal Fireworks" and the "Messias" were originated. Händel died in the year 1759, who went blind some years before. He got a sepulchre in the Westminster Abbey.

Alfred Hitchcock, Virgina Woolf, William Booth, the founder of the salvation army, Princess Diana and many more are all famous personages whose names are related to London.

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