I’ve spent several months in London over the in the past couple years (since my sweet boyfriend lives here) but never liked it.
Hold up, WHAT?!
For some people, London is their dream city but I just didn’t get it. This Colorado girl thought London was too big, busy, polluted, had too many chain stores, and not enough hiking trails. So I had this uncomfortable feeling of being stuck in between feeling like I should like London since Dan is from here, but secretly becoming disgruntled at the thought of my life expectancy decreasing from the pollution I was inhaling every day.
But then, something changed, and London began to grow on me, little by little, and here’s why:
1. You do not have to be from London to feel like you belong here.
London’s diversity makes it the most welcoming place I have ever been. There have been several occasions when I’ve gone to an event by myself and felt nervous about being the outsider, only to find out I’m in the majority. In London, it seems everyone is from everywhere and you cannot make assumptions about people.
Last month I joined a book club and when I arrived at our first meeting I was happy to see there were other foreigners present. As we went around to make introductions, I realized, to my surprise, the people who I thought looked British were from other European countries and the people who I assumed were foreigners, had the most perfect British accents and were London born & raised. You would have thought I had learned that race and culture are very different by now but no, it took me 23 years to experience it.
Anyways, I truly believe anyone can move to London and feel at home. And if you ever have the creeping fear of “but I’m an outsider”, probably somewhere around 3 million people who live in the city feel the same way.
2. The tranquility of the parks & gardens make up for the chaos of the city.
It’s no coincidence that right around the time that London’s flowers began to bloom that my love for this city did too.
One of my absolute pastimes is without a doubt strolling through the many parks in the city. There’s the Kensington Gardens, Kew Gardens, Hyde Park, Holland Park, James Park, Battersea Park, and the list goes on. They are so big and captivating that sometimes I forget I’m in a big city at all.
In fact, I think I should write a post solely dedicated to the parks in London. 🙂
3. This island has rich and influential history.
Looking back, I think one of the reasons I did not appreciate London as a city that much was because I did not know very much about the history of London. But then I took the time to visit the Museum of London and saw Roman ruins, read stories about the black plague, the great london fire, Shakespeare, the tudors, Queen Victoria, pleasure gardens, the blitz, ect, ect… and my perspective changed.
And as it goes with pretty much anyone in life, the more you understand them, where they’ve come from, what they’ve been through, you cannot help but start to like them and appreciate them all the more. That’s what happened with London and I.
4. There is literally ALWAYS something fun to do.
I’ll keep this brief but just in the last week (and I’ve been busy during the days) I’ve managed to go to Richmond Park on the outskirts of London & go to dinner with friends at a fancy Chinese restaurant in SoHo, have a picnic at sunset in a park that has a skyline view of the city, see “Twelfth Night” at the Shakespeare’s Globe theater, visit the Kensington gardens, and go to dinner at the Churchill Arms.
There is never a boring day in London. (To be candid, this may not be true when it is freezing in mid-winter).
Not only are they free… they are incredible. You know the saying “The sun never sets on the British Empire”? Well, nowadays that means London’s museums have many of most important historical artifacts in the world.
6. The best of the best are here.
London has world class art exhibitions, world class gardens, world class researchers, world class speakers, and well pretty much anyone who is a somebody in society’s standards has been to London to work, to attend an event, or give a presentation, ect. This means from time to time the opportunity may arise for you to go a once in a lifetime event. Like the time Dan and I were able to buy day before tickets to a presentation by Stephen Hawking , or the time I sat in on a debate between the Chief Cashier of the Bank of England and a CEO of a digital bank startup, or the time I had the afternoon free and decided to go see the world’s largest Turner collection at the Tate. The sublime can be found around every corner.
7. There are beautiful natural areas close to the city.
Even if you do feel the need to escape the city, and despite it all, I sometimes do, there are endless day trips just a train or bus journey away. Here are some of my favorites:
❤ ❤ ❤
Although it was not love at first sight, over time, I’ve begun to understand and appreciate this city so much more.
Just the other day I was thinking about how I used to say London is a nice place to visit but not to live. However, my new conclusion is that London, gets better with time. The process goes something like this… You’ve conquered all the touristy sights in the first month or two, which forces you to adventure into less known beautiful parks, you find the delicious mom & pop restaurants you never noticed before, you discover the independent pub down the street that has live jazz every Tuesday, and establish your favorite bench in Hyde Park from which you can sketch vast array of flowers before you.
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” – Samuel Johnson