I admit that while I booked time in London, I was ready to not like it.
Big cities are not always my thing. Although oddly enough, I do like Paris.
Cities such as Florence, Verona, Vicenza and now York are more my speed. All are simply smaller and more compact with great pedestrian-friendly zones.
London is pretty big and sprawling with sites all over the damn place. You have to be strategic with how you spend your time here so you aren’t running all over the city.
And as a result, I have mixed feelings about London.
I love the old buildings, the gorgeous architecture. I hate the traffic and the noise.
There are tons of incredible historical stories here. Love that!
Hate that there is all this new stuff wedged in between.
Consumerism is big here — like it was in Edinburgh. Hate it.
But I do love the sense of style that Londoners have — especially the men!
Love that this city is a melting pot. There are so many ethnicities here in London, just like New York.
Hate that it’s so bloody expensive.
Love the tube.
And I hate the tube.
I think you get the idea.
My first full day in London
took me to Leicester Square to meet a tour group. The walking tour covered the West End Landmarks — Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Whitehall, Trafalgar Square. We didn’t go into any places, but we saw the outside and got loads of information. We walked a lot and the tour was fabulous. The guide was amazing! I even saw the Queen drive by. And I simply loved all the historical stories. I do love history so London speaks to me that way. In fact I find myself wanting to pick up some books on British history when I get back Stateside.
On my second full day
I slowed down a bit. I took a Thames River cruise from Westminster Pier, which is right next to Parliament, down the river to Greenwich. It gives you a chance to see the city from the boat and hear stories that they tell you along the way. There were a lot of stories about pubs!!
Now Greenwich is where 0 degrees longitude is and where we get Greenwich Mean Time and the whole time zone thing. And it also happens to be the former home of the Royal Naval College (now part of the University of Greenwich). I really enjoyed wandering about that area as the architecture is lovely.
And Greenwich also has a nice little market (loved this), the Maritime Museum and is just a bit calmer and more welcoming than grand old London. I rather liked it. And I highly recommend taking the boat cruise and wandering about Greenwich. Cutty Sark (not the whisky, but the ship) is also here and can be toured. It’s a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle.
The third day took me to the changing of the guard.
With the Manchester bombing they cancelled the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace for a few days. So Friday was the first day in a while. I was glad I arrived early as I was able to get up to the fence and take photos and videos. It is truly an amazing tradition. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the fact that is was quite warm and I was packed in like a sardine.
After the ceremony I walked toward the Kensington area and visited one of the free museums of London, the Victoria and Albert museum. But first I did go into Harrods Department Store. And bought cheese and chocolate. It was all I could afford!
The Victoria and Albert Museum is one I highly recommend. It’s huge and has every medium of art. I tend to favor paintings and sculptures so I spent my time looking at these. My friend met me and we wandered about a bit more then had a lovely dinner in the South Kensington area.
It was a long day, but a good one.
For my final day
I decided on the National Gallery which is full of paintings. It’s much smaller than the Victoria and Albert but well worth a visit.
And as I left out the front into Trafalgar Square Saturday was in full force with artists creating chalk drawings on the sidewalks, street performers doing their thing and people preaching their views. I took it all in and relished the craziness that is London.
Then I walked through Soho on a “quieter” street and took in the Bohemian vibe.
But as I turned onto Oxford Street there I was faced with the hoards of people and the consumerism.
And as I made my way onto the tube for my final ride, I knew I was ready to leave.
I came. I saw. And I experienced.
I can’t say I love London. But I can’t say I hate it or that I wouldn’t go back.
I’m just not in a hurry to do so.