Blame it on Charles Dickens, Ron Burgundy or the ignorance of others, but London England has this reputation of being a foggy place. In the popular perception of tourists, fog seems to be to London as tea is to China, drunk is to Russia or fat is to America. Of course those things have roots in actual fact – but they are by far and away stereotypes that no self-respecting citizen of the world should believe to be universal.
But there isn’t fog in London.
When I went there I was kind of guilty of the same kind of ignorance, expecting to see that famous London fog rolling in off the bay and making it thick as pea soup, just like some sort of Sherlock Holmes mystery. What I realized, after like 5 minutes of walking around, is that not only is there not any fog but there aren’t any conditions that would create fog in the way we associate with London. Does it rain a lot? Oh yeah. But rain isn’t fog. The only fog you can count is the drunken stupor I was prone to having, clouding my judgment and making my memory of events a touch hazy… but as you can see, it wasn’t fog.
After doing a little investigating I think I narrowed down the source of this misconception. Back in the day, people used coal as the primary heating source and all the smokestacks in all the tightly packed residential areas led to fog like conditions – which we now know to be pollution – smog at the very least. These days, a combination of alternative energy sources and more sophisticated filters have led that pollution cloud to be a thing reserved for Oliver Twist.
Revelations like this have led me to wonder what else out there isn’t true?
I mean, we make assumptions in our everyday lives about things all the time and some of them have basis in fact but some things keep us from going certain places out of fear or an assumption that we won’t have a good time. Or won’t be safe. Have you ever wondered why anyone would go to a place that was so obviously unsafe or unappealing of a destination and enjoy it?
A lot of people in the western world right now have a fear of going to Muslim countries because it’s not deemed safe. Some locales maybe aren’t the best idea right now, particularly if you’re from a country with unfavourable international relations (see: war), but in all likelihood if you’re smart and careful you’ll be just fine – which is true for anywhere you travel.
Imagine your shock when you actually visit that place and find it to be nothing like you were told. It’s safe, fun and a place you would revisit in a heartbeat. There may be unpleasant aspects to it, but if you go into the experience with a positive attitude and not filled with a host of assumptions, you won’t hold those things against it. When the fog is lifted, it’s remarkable what you can see.
Which I guess is the great thing about travelling – you get to see the world for what it truly is, forming your own opinions rather than adopting those of others.
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