10 things I love about London

It’s always worth looking on the bright side of any situation. I’ve been in London for all but 2 nights since last October. That should have been enough to drive me mad, but there’s silver linings! So here’s a list: 10 things that have kept me relatively sane since my move from Down Under…

1. You’re in touch with the world – it feels like things happening here aren’t just from here. In South Kensington, there’s a bunch of embassies, with big flags flying and gaggles of protestors. Big exhibitions and events come to London, because: it’s London.

2. Public transport that works (most of the time): Yes, the Circle line sucks on weekends. And buses seem to know when you can least afford to be late. But I contrast that against the large number of times I’ve stepped onto a tube platform and within a minute a train has arrived to whisk me home – no forward planning necessary.

Morning sunshine!

3. Parks: There are lots of them. That’s really, really good. This is such a busy and dense city that everyone needs to know they can find a bit of space once in a while. I do. Whether it’s a late night ramble in Gunnersbury Park or crossing Hyde Park on a sunny day, there’s somewhere that the traffic noise is muted and squirrels roam.

4. Iconic places: Australia doesn’t have a lot of iconic places, unless you happen to commute near Sydney Harbour. London has loads, both old and new. The entire Thames is basically a list of recognisable spots. South Ken has its share, St Pancras is famous for its beauty and even Piccadilly Circus can be OK if you squint and ignore the tackiness.

5. Secrets: The flipside of #4 is the chance that you will stick to these well-known places. Don’t. There are so many little backstreets, alleys, basement bars or, well, spots that are more than 15 minutes from a tube station. You just need to keep your eyes open, and if there’s a door open or a path to take, move your feet and go. Just the other day, a random turn led me to Postman’s Park near St. Paul’s. It houses a memorial to heroic acts of self-sacrifice; touching, yet in an odd way, the century-old descriptions are quaint.

6. Multiculturality: this ties in with #1. The Gold Coast and Adelaide – my two hometowns in Australia – are fairly homogeneous. There’s still a lot of cultures represented, but they’re in the minority. I saw a greater variety of people in the Gloucester Road Sainsbury’s entrance on my first night in London than I would in a week at home!

7. It’s not all pretty: London has a long and often dirty and gloomy history. Today, there’s plenty of touristy places, though they often have a bit of a rough edge (hustlers on Westminster Bridge anyone?). If you look harder, though (#5!) there’s gritty reality too. That’s important.

8. Museums: Good ones. I haven’t been to all of them; has anyone? On Monday, I went to the Museum of London. I’d had a stroll around the ‘old’ section before, but this time went to the display on 1900-today. It was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Especially the map room showing a ‘scientific’ survey of class in 1900, and the video display of ‘changing perspectives’. Go. It’s free. It’s good. And it’s near the Barbican.

9. The Royal Albert Hall: Yes, the sound isn’t great. But it’s simply the coolest place I’ve been to see concerts. It seems to draw reverence and soul out of the artists and share them with everyone present.

How can you not want to go inside this building and listen to amazing music?

10a, b and c. Chocolate is cheap, squirrels, and The Walpole. That is all.

Now your turn – what do you love about London? And if you’re not one of the 8 million living in London – what’s good about your town?

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Categories: Fun Things On Land, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “10 things I love about London

  1. I’m always intrigued by anyone who states what they like about London. I was born here, grew up here, go to university here, and now work here. Honestly, I know nothing else and I’m sure that I take everything that’s great in London for granted. That in its self is incredibly unhealthy and hence I live the joy of London through lists like these. I bet I could make an equivalent list of 10 things I hate about London, within minutes too. In an odd way, I’m trapped. Deep down I know London is great and there may not be a better city in the world. Because of that, I don’t think I’ll ever move out.

    I’ll agree though, the Museum of London is ace.

    • I actually have a 10 things I hate list in my drafts folder. It’s not all love and kisses!

      You’re right though, it’s easy to take where you are for granted. London especially seems to lend itself to an enormous, continuous stream of activity with little time for reflection on whether it’s good or not. These lists are a chance for me to sit back and think a little about where I am…

  2. I think London is terrific…Lived there when I was little and have been back many times since.

    Go to Freud’s house. Walk everywhere. Check out Brick Lane and Spitalfields. I love the overwhelming sense of history. Sir John Soane’s Museum. Primrose Hill and the nearby park with fantastic views. Hampstead Heath. Alfie’s Antiques Market. Liberty, just to look.

  3. Anonymous

    The weather I guess

  4. George

    I love how one street in London can be more exciting than whole towns and cities. From Church street in Stoke Newington, to Portobello Road and even Brick Lane, these places have so much going on. That is what I love about London.

    • Yes, I haven’t been to Church street yet but the market areas I’ve visited have – if you look past the usual tat – been really great.

      @broadside: Walking is the best thing. If you’ve got stout shoes, a water bottle and the right attitude, you can get by on foot for a whole day and see so many cool things that aren’t on the ‘map’.

  5. I love London. I love the V&A and several other museums and Liberty, but mostly I love to just walk all over. I have been lucky with the weather on most of my visits. I can’t wait to get back there.

  6. I´ve never been to London so I can´t say …
    10 things about my city?
    1. I can find open stores to buy coffee or sugar or an aspirin round the clock.
    2. I have busses 24 hours
    3. Cultural life
    4.gastronomy
    5. free movies in the summer (parks with big screens)
    6. universities are for free
    7. medical care is for free
    8. guys are cute
    9. I always find a new spot I hadn´t seen before
    10. there is always something going on

    • 24 hour busses are very important! The night bus ride in London can be, err, interesting, but it’s also extremely handy. In fact, most of those points I heartily concur with! #9 = exactly what I admire in an approach to a city.

  7. Jennifer

    I love the excitement of living in London. Everything can change quite easily in one day, I love the anticipation.

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