Monday, July 15, 2013

#805 London, England

"There’s nowhere else like London. Nothing at all, anywhere." – Vivienne Westwood

I think if I had to pick a favorite city in the world, it would have to be London. I could never be bored with it -- there are just so many things to do, and so many different districts to visit. The amount of free stuff is greater than any other city I've known -- from museums to parks, to sites, to people watching to shopping, to fabulous music and food places. The sad part is that I could never possibly tell you them all here. Instead I will tell you some of my favorite things about London.

I love the houses. I love the creaking half-up-half-down stairs inside, the small backyards maximized for space and sunshine, the likelihood of everyone in a house sharing a bathroom, the hidden but well utilized ceiling space, and the small (but really quite useless) front yards. 

My Dad says he could spend all day just riding around in the front seat at the top of a double-decker bus, and I have to agree. They wheel around (quite rapidly) and show you all the little neighborhoods (which were once village greens of separate towns but are now suburbs), and teach you how to say the unpronounceable place names and stops.

The Thames... just fabulous. I love it's history, its traffic, the tidal sand banks where there are sculptures in the summer, the people that walk along either side, and even its brown murkiness. I remember hearing that the Victorians built massive sewers so the river wouldn't receive all the waste, and it became a pretty park-filled promenade, still being used to this day. 

Everything in London has a unique name. The London Eye -- they couldn't possible call it a ferris wheel. The Gherkin, The Shard, etc. 

South Bank -- best people watching spot, great museums, London Eye, Shakespeare's theatre, etc, etc! Dad and I could sit for hours watching the performers and unusual people (and normal people!) wandering by. 
Mum said she loves the galleries and museums and Westminster Abbey the best. We have a family tradition of catching the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy -- it takes hours and has so many cool ideas -- as well as the BP Portrait Award at the National Portrait Gallery -- I think we have every one of the annual exhibition books for the past 5 or 6 years if not more. I could go on and on.

What else??

  • The Sunday Old Spittlefields Market onwards to Brick Lane and other markets
  • The shopping: Dad loves going to Oxford Street and HMV, I love the markets and just a good ol' Tesco's.
  • The parks -- so many of them, and it's just wonderful to have a picnic by a small pond!
  • The food -- little stalls selling amazing snacks, great restaurants, pub grub, and never-ending choices!
  • Finding great little places, like the fabulous shoe shop in the Elephant and Castle shitty mall and the Tottenham Court Road 10 pound haircut shops.
  • When I can I go to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History - love love it!
  • The tube -- nothing else like it. Mind the Gap.
  • The overland trains -- you can get to anywhere, but hell, you'll have at least 5 different stations to go there from, and it isn't easy getting from one to the other!
  • Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead, City, Luton and Southend... could it be any more confusing or difficult to get to them!?
  • The shows -- all the best drama and performance in the world
  • The British Museum -- it was truly special to see the Rosetta Stone!
I really enjoyed reading this reflection on living in London versus just travelling there.


  1. Totally agree! There's no city like London. Had lived there for 5 years and it's the only place I feel truly sentimental about. There's always so much to do, so much to see, so many interesting people to meet, so many exciting neighbourhoods to visit (agree with your Dad - ther best way to do it is on the upper front seat of the doube decker), so much tasty (and not ridiculously priced!) food to try.... Must visit again soon!

    I stayed for a few months in bogota too and loved it - hope you're enjoying it too!

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    All the best!

  2. See other suggestions for what to see in Britain here: