I haven’t had much time to write for the past two weeks due to hosting a couple of friends from home here in London. Back in my hometown in Shropshire, the prevailing opinion of the British capital is that it is a huge, over-congested, extortionate, polluted and impersonal megalopolis full of snobs, drug dealers, and other extremes all wishing you no well what-so-ever. Before I moved here I had visited just two or three times… so perhaps it was somewhat adventurous and maybe a little naive for me to come here. But it was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I ever made. I absolutely adore it! In this city there is so much to do. What was that quote again?
“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson
And I couldn’t agree more.
My focus lately has of course been on the other places in the world I want to see. But with the arrival of old friends I was kind of forced to look at London again. I felt like it was my duty to show them the best bits. I wanted them to have a good time! So I began to think of London as the first stop on my trip around the world. And that’s why I’m writing about it here.
When I’m travelling about and I meet someone who hasn’t been to London, I’m really shocked. In my eyes it’s just one of those places that everyone ends up eventually. As a result, I’ve met people from all over the world. Literally so many countries it would be boring to list them! This city has something for everyone. For me, it’s the history, the variety, the people, the nightlife and the architecture. All things I’m searching for whilst travelling. Now that I’m close to leaving, I’m realising the huge amount of things I managed to see and experience whilst here (even on a student budget!). And I thought I’d list a couple of my favourites.
I’m so fancy, you already know
For my 20th birthday I wanted to go somewhere special for a meal. A special offer I found on TimeOut London enabled 5 friends and I to afford a 3 course meal with champagne at The Ritz, a hotel that I expect you’ve already heard of. Although of course I’m a miserly student, I’ll spend my money on something great, and dinner at the one of the world’s poshest hotels is a great example of that 😉
Pretending to be cultured
I love museums. In fact I’m seriously considering a career working in them and all through this summer I’ve been volunteering in one. Some of the greatest museums in the world are in London, and the best thing about them is that they’re free =D When I have a spare hour or two I meander through the British Museum or the V&A; peruse flying buttresses and Arabic poetry which always leaves me strangely inspired for some reason. I also cannot get over the fact that you can go see 3000 year old Egyptian relics for free right by Tottenham Court Road tube station…
My friends sometimes seem to think I’m some kind of super outgoing party animal. And to be fair compared to them, I am; I love drinking with my mates and going clubbing =) I’ve visited huge clubs like Ministry of Sound, Fabric, the Coronet and Koko, drank in the bars at the top of Centre Point and the Heron Tower and done awesome pub crawls through Camden and Soho. The nightlife of this city definitely is one of the highlights of the place. And I’ve had great nights out on just a tenner. Doesn’t have to break the bank!
Meandering along the Thames
And something I do a lot of is go for long walks in random directions by myself. Which now that I’ve written it down makes me look kind of insane. But I often stumble upon hidden gems like art galleries, little bookshops and quirky cafés tucked away on side streets. It makes me feel like I’m getting to know this huge impenetrable city better; that it’s all a little more familiar to me. Showing my friend Katie around the other day, and we passed so many places that I had already visited. Although I’m aware one could never discover everything there is to see in London, I feel like I’ve done it justice in the three years I’ve been here. And it’s set a standard for how I’m going to explore all the other cities around the world! =D