London was spread out beneath me as I stood in The Cucumber Bar, on one of the upper floors of Sea Containers with a glass of white wine in my hand, looking out the window and trying to look impressive.
It’s the ‘James Bond’ strategy, standing slightly away from the crowds and trying to look deep and thoughtful. It was as if only moments before arriving, I had fought a master assassin in hand-to-hand combat and killed him with a folded train ticket. This strategy’s aim is to lure interesting and interested people from the churning mass of media professionals engaging in ‘pitch duels’ and judging by the fistful of cards in my pocket, it had been working very well. The other Lost Exec, had flung himself into the sea of bloggers, freelance travel writers, PR professionals and media moguls and was nowhere to be seen apart from when, very occasionally, you’d see him trying to show someone how to tie an Elrich tie knot.
The Visit Florida blogging even, hosted by TravMedia, was in full swing and it had attracted the highest calibre of professionals, including us. It was an opportunity to connect freelancers and journalists with PR and Media outlets, increasing our working circles and ultimately, our business. Alone for but a moment, I stood and contemplated the main difference between London and Florida.
LONDON IS A MACHINE
Have you ever noticed how the hardest working machines are usually found in areas that you’d never want to wear white? Look under the bonnet of an old car and you’ll find an engine caked in layers of grime and yet that engine continues to rattle on out of a purely stubborn will to go on. London is like that; a great big machine needing constant fuel to burn, regular repairs and attention, requiring constant coaxing and maintenance. It has a modern sheen on it now, with flashy buildings and tall, shiny sky scrapers straight out of a Star Trek feature film, but it is still just a machine that, if left to its own devices, would just burn through all it’s available fuel and rattle itself apart. A great machine that the world relies on to keep it’s blood flowing.
FLORIDA IS NOT A MACHINE
Florida has sunshine. This is important because wonderful things happen where there is sunshine. Without the bone-numbing, strength-sapping damp cold that Londoner’s know, Florida excels by providing tons of vitamin-D and happiness through the solar system’s only true divine entity… the sun.
Florida is known to be expensive, especially as a holiday destination, but it is synonymous with the fast paced, glitzy lifestyle of celebrities and royalty, so it’s bound to get pricey. However, surfing, walking, running, cycling, lying down in the sun, sand castles and trying to avoid rough fabrics on your sunburn? That all comes for free.
LONDON IS HONEST ABOUT A HISTORY THAT IS LONG AND COLD.
London grows in layers. Architecturally the city of London is built on more London than dirt. While there may a city wide layer of subterranean tunnels, basements and yawning caverns waiting to be explored the intricate details of the city’s history can be found just about anywhere. It is a history that is long and filled with heroes and tyrants. It is a city that is defined by it’s history. Anyone saying “London” will think of many things. They’ll think of double decker busses, pints in the pub, tweed, the monarchy and a music and film scene that changed the world. Guy Ritchie films. Luther. They’ll also remember children climbing around in machinery, debtor prisons, cold and starving. Oliver Twist, Sherlock Holmes and Scrooge.
London is made up of history.
FLORIDA – sunshine.
Can you think of the history of Florida? I’m almost positive it has one. There are bars that serviced celebrities fifty years ago in music and film. There are nightclubs that have been the settings for historic events from parades to shootouts, but for the most part, Florida does not cling to what has been but has its eyes firmly set on the present. Maybe it’s the sunshine that makes the people so willing to try new things and to forget the past and just enjoy the now and adopt a positive outlook.
LONDON OFFERS THE CROWN JEWELS
You can go into one of the old castles and see the crown jewels in all their snobbish, gentrified meh-ness. You can get bunting and the chance to wave back at the monarchs. As tourist attractions, they are fairly dull, especially since Harry stopped running around naked in hotel rooms.
FLORIDA HAS DISNEY WORLD.
Disney World. You may have no intention of going there but if you went, you’d remember it forever. It grabs you by the childhood and whips you around until you’re giggling manically and vomiting on your shoes.
They have the new Toy Story Land, which is as geeky and childish as you can imagine and it’s only taken them 23 years to make it happen. Even as a grown up adult I really want to be transported to the world of a toy. They also have…pause for drama…Star Wars Land!!
Forget the blah blah about Florida’s hotels, restaurants, water sports, outdoor activities or the possibility of being bitten by a shark. Any city that has an entire park devoted to Star Wars should appear on every bucket list within the top five things to do before you kick it.
For decades, Disney has played its part in identifying Florida to the world. It’s one of the major attractions and casts a shadow over other attractions, while bringing in billions a year and keeping Disney as a household name, not only via film and television but also social media as well. It has also attracted the British in their droves, thanks to the real fun it offers with the favourite British pastime of queuing for hours.