My first time in London, I hated it. I vividly remember my first day there. I walked out of Baker Street Station and was nearly run over by the stampede of people walking the streets with great purpose. Everyone was fixated on getting to their destination and I was in their way. Then I discovered that the Londoner’s greatest pet peeve is the disoriented tourist who stands on the left side of the escalator halting everyone’s rhythm. Add to the fact that I came with a wardrobe better suited for the Mediterranean climate, and there you had it: I was miserable.
After three days in London I had ruled it as one of Europe’s worst cities. (I so take it back now!)
Four years later I gave the city a second chance, but only because I was en route to India. I was there for a week and things went better the second time around. I was prepared for the weather, which meant I wasn’t shivering in shorts and sandals. I was able to navigate the underground with ease, knew where to and where not to stand, could get to certain landmarks without the use of a map. I was especially happy to be revisiting the Southbank again; my favourite area!
A few days into my stay I found myself thinking, “Hmm, this is a pretty sweet place to be…” Such was the impression it made on me, that a few months later I found myself applying to graduate schools in England! Who would’ve thought?!
Well, I’ve just come back from my third trip to London, and what can I say, I have a major crush on this city!
Strolling down St. James Park, eating Afghan pastries in Spitalfields Market, walking through the tombs of Westminster Abbey, going past St. Paul’s on a rainy afternoon, wandering the galleries of the Tate Modern, listening to The Vaccines on the radio, pacing the Southbank in search of Thai cuisine, going to the pub with new friends, hanging out in Hampton Court Palace, rocking out to indie bands, being awed by Somerset House.
That’s the London that has me charmed.
On my last night in London I sat in Trafalgar Square as the sun began to fade. The city was abuzz with the calm energy that precedes dusk, and I felt so lucky to be experiencing the heart of London.