Quick snapshots from Bristol! This trip was planned as a detour en route to my Host visit in Cornwall, so it was only 6 hours long.
Some brief observations:
On three separate occasions people came up to offer help. I’d like to think I don’t look that helpless, but I suppose looking at bus routes or consulting a map in a small-ish city is a good indicator. Not only did these people stop to ask if I needed help, they even offered to go out of their way to walk to a key intersection or otherwise point me in the right direction. I’ve made a habit of being rather self reliant in London. Even if I did ask for directions, there is a pretty good chance that the person may not know where Such-n-Such place is because (a) London is so vast and (b) there are so many “transients” (people like me that have just moved here, tourists, etc) that you may end up asking someone who is more lost than you are. Beyond that though, the pace of life in London is faster. If someone is power-walking in a tailored suit and heels, she is probably not going to want to break stride to see if you need help. No time for that.
I also might point out that I wouldn’t necessarily describe this helpfulness as friendliness. (That’s not a word I would use to describe an initial encounter with many Brits.) They weren’t interested in starting a chat about my American accent, why I in Bristol, or other questions you may get in a small town. Rather, they saw a need, fulfilled it quite cordially, and went along their merry way. Combine that with an abundance of street art, the type of people that like street art, delicious food, the University, students… and, well, it was almost like being in Ann Arbor for the afternoon. 🙂