After packing up my things and saying my final goodbyes to Spain, I managed to make a week-long stop to London before heading to North America. I was lucky enough to be greeted (and taken in) by family, giving me an entirely different perspective of London than if I had visited the place solely as a tourist.
For one thing, London is a massive place, or so the metro makes it seem. If you’re like me, you place a great deal of emphasis on your ability to get around a city. In London, it’s definitely doable, but it’s not as easy as it is in Madrid. London’s metro is well-connected, but unfortunately filled to the brim at many times of the day, and has even more (overlapped) stops than the Madrid metro does. All things considered, it makes sense that such an old system has its quirks, but it definitely does not rank in the top 3 metro systems I’ve used to date!
Transport system aside, London is incredible. There are cities that people of all walks of life boast about that, unfortunately, don’t live up to their reputation. There are some cities, however, that actually do. While I had a love affair with Harry Potter and several other British things growing up, I never looked to London as one of those places I had to visit. It was, most definitely, a place I considered important on the list, but my expectations were lacking. When I thought of London, I thought of some obscure place that was somewhat similar to my hometown and therefore not as much of a must-see. However, London is much, much more impressive, and even puts my hometown to shame.
Remnants of the Canadian-English connection are to be found in London, no doubt, but the city dwarfs most cities I’ve visited in terms of what it has to offer. London town – the central area – is beautiful, breathtaking, and obviously stands as one of the most important cities in the world. While we have a (beautiful) parliament building in Canada, the parliament building in London is still an amazing sight to see. The River Thames, Big Ben, London Eye, and all of London’s side streets and neighbourhoods makes it hard to compare to most cities. A quick stroll around London “town” gives you a sense of its history, pride, and achievements. Each area has its differences, and seems to cater to completely different crowds. Regardless of your background, interests, and (especially) musical tastes, you’ll find something here for you.
My stay, being with locals, was much more authentic than it is for many visitors. While I saw the center of London in all of its glory (thanks to the sun, which decided to pop out for the day we decided to walk around), I also saw its inner and outer boroughs, got to know a bit more about the lifestyle, and the truths of what it’s really like to live in London. It’s easy to get caught up in the superficial sides of the places you visit, but nothing quite gives you a real feel for a city than being with locals. Cheers to that.