How to Fall in Love with London

London

It gets a bad rap sometimes. Anyone who has see the movie Snatch might be familiar with this line, which not-so-subtly hints at the city’s perceived reputation:

[Tweet “You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary f*@king Poppins… LONDON!”]

As much as I can find the humor in that statement, I have to enthusiastically disagree. Yes, Londoners drinks an enormous amount of tea, and no, the weather is not always reliable (unless you predict rain at some point during the day). But none of these are reasons to overlook one of the most exciting and cosmopolitan cities in the world.

Perhaps I have London on the brain a bit much these days, due to my trip there later this year.

I’ve been reminiscing about my year living in that city, and how it only took a few days for it to completely grab hold of me. And it’s never let go.

It didn’t take much for me to fall in love with London. And I think you can too.

Here’s why:

The Impressions of Time

London is simultaneously a bustling modern metropolis and an ode to bygone eras. There is hardly a corner of the city that doesn’t in some way give nod to its lengthy history. Anyone who has read every Philippa Gregory novel or devoured the works of Sharon Kay Penman, Margaret George, Alison Weir and Ken Follett (guilty…) can’t help but visit London with a special sense of awe. Think of all that’s happened here!

The history of the city is prominently on display through architectural landmarks and a wealth of museums, many of which are free general admission. But lovers of contemporary culture don’t despair, this city has a pulse strong enough to propel it to the forefront of contemporary culture. You didn’t think a place that produced bands like The Clash, The Rolling Stones and Amy Winehouse, among others, would be stuck in the Victorian era, did you?

The modern Londoner has access to any and all sensory delights imaginable. Theater, concerts, glitzy clubs and 5-star restaurants, pubs and £5 curries on Brick Lane… this city has it all. Sorry New Yorkers, whatever you have, London has two of, coupled with about 1,000 more years of history. But that’s just my personal opinion.

The Thames

If you really want to locate the life line of any historic city, you have to head towards the water. And most old cities were established on the banks of a river. The River Thames is the longest river entirely in England, and acts as a central foundation for much of the city’s activities. Where will you find people strolling on a nice day? Along the banks of the Thames. Where will you find them enjoying a beer in the sun? In a pub along the banks of the Thames. And where are the majority of the museums and attractions? You guessed it, along the banks of the Thames.

There’s something calming about being near the water as well. It acts as a buffer from the noise of traffic, and the Thames Path is a pedestrian-friendly national trail that stretches 184 miles along the water’s edge – from Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton. On those few days a year when the weather is absolutely perfect, this is the place to be. And even when it’s not, take advantage of one of the many pubs, restaurants or cafes sitting along the path.

The Markets

If you go to London and don’t stop by at least one market, you’re doing it wrong. This shopping experience offers you an unparallelled glimpse into the people of everyday London, and a far more authentic experience than Harrod’s or Selfridges. There’s farmers markets and flower markets, food markets and markets that sell a little bit of everything. And they are scattered all over the city.

Of course everyone who’s seen the movie Notting Hill knows about Portobello Road and its famous antiques market. There’s Borough Market near London Bridge is gourmet foodie’s paradise. Hit up Brick Lane or Camden Market for more off-beat vintage and edgy goods, though Camden boasts an incredible array of food stalls next to its numerous shops selling Doc Martens. The market at Covent Garden delights not only because of its shopping potential, but also the gorgeous 19th-century piazza building in which it is held.

 In conclusion…

London is a city that wears many hats. These are only three things on a list of the many reasons why London is one of my favorite cities in the entire world.

She’s quick, she’s quirky, and she absolutely charms you into loving her at first sight.

At least she did for me. But then, I did remember to pack my raincoat.


*This post was written as an entry for the “A Tale of Three Cities” competition hosted by Accor Hotels. For your chance to enter, simply write a post or create a video around the theme ‘three things I love about my favorite city’ – for more details, including prizes, click here.

 

  • I’ve heard so many good things about the London Markets! Portobello Road is on my list of things to see, but now I’m definitely adding Borough Market, Camden, and Covent Garden!

    • I LOVE the London markets!! I plan on spending loads of time just wandering around them when I am there. Borough Market you would love… it’s such a foodie heaven. And there are so many great restaurants and pubs near it as well! 🙂

  • Haha how funny! I literally just submitted my entry too!

    I love London too. I was only there for 3 days but it was love at first sight. I didn’t get to go to a London market though (but I did go to Harrods in search of the famous pet department that I found out was gone once there). I actually didn’t even know they were the thing to do. Next time! I’d love to go to London for a long time someday. 🙂

    • Haha awesome!! Can’t wait to read yours. 🙂
      I remember going to the Harrod’s pet section on my very first trip to London too – I bought my dog the cutest little navy blue pea coat lol. London is an amazing city. One that never gets old to me. In my lottery-winning fantasy life I definitely envision buying a flat there! 🙂

  • Alex Rogers

    You’re right, London is so much more than what people see! It’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ll be moving there in August and this just got me even more excited to get up and go!

    • Ah lucky you!! I absolutely loved it when I lived there, as if you couldn’t tell lol. 🙂 I would move back there in a heartbeat if an opportunity ever came my way. For now though I’ll just have to settle with visiting whenever I can!

  • I loved this post so much I had to wait until I was out of the office to comment on it. I’ve been trying to put my finger on why I feel London trumps New York for awhile now and you’ve nailed it. It really is like having the best of many worlds. Alongside the Thames, I’d add the green spaces. There are so many I’ve been here for a year and haven’t visited half of them yet. Thanks for making me smile and feel lucky for living here today 🙂

    • Haha thank you!! So glad you can agree with me on the New York thing… thought for sure I’d have some angry New Yorkers arguing with me on that point! And yes, the green spaces are the best!! That would have been next on my list. London’s parks are better than any other major European city I have been to, Paris included!! You are indeed lucky to be living there – enjoy it and thanks so much for your lovely words! 🙂

  • London is the best! I went last summer by myself after spending two weeks in Russia on a work trip. After being in a country like Russia and feeling so lost and hungry (and so American, haha) London was like a dream come true and just what I needed. Everything was beautiful and the food was SO good. I was obsessed with riding the tube and got really familiar with the city quickly. I stayed with a really nice couple I found off AirBnB and had the greatest time by myself. I can’t wait to go back!

    • Sounds like you had a fabulous time!! I have never been to Russia, but I would imagine that it would be sufficiently different enough for Americans. London is so easy in that sense – there’s enough that’s familiar mixed in with the foreign, so you can instantly feel comfortable. The tube is great too, and allows you to cover so much of the city relatively quickly. I hope you get to go back one day!! 🙂

  • Valerie

    The first time I went to London, I didn’t like it at all. Perhaps I just hadn’t been to the right places; it was grey, rainy, cold, I wasn’t finding myself attracted to the architecture or what I was seeing in the shops or in the streets. My camera pretty much stayed in my bag the entire duration of my stay. But I got to go back a year later, and this time I stayed in a completely different area (South Kensington). And boy, it hit me hard. I fell in love with it.

    Now I go back pretty much every month or so whether for work or for a little weekend getaway. xx

    • Honestly, London was the last place in Europe that I dreamed of going. Something about it not being that different from the States compared to other countries there made it seem too safe I guess. But I fell in love immediately upon arrival. It does help that I’m an absolute nut about British history though! 🙂

      What neighborhood you’re in makes loads of difference. I was so lucky to have found a nice apartment that was very central that I could split with three other girls who went to my school. That made all the difference! 🙂 xx