Having visited most of the big cities around the world, London was there on my list for long. I had heard from many friends saying that London is the best city in the world and this took my excitement to all new levels when one fine Sunday I made a plan to visit the English country last month. True to its image, London is indeed one the best cities I have been. Here’s my attempt to make you virtually fall in love with the city.
First impressions of London
1) Architecture defines the city –
Back in Mumbai I often visit South Mumbai areas like Fort which has a lovely feel of the colonial architecture of British Raj. After visiting London, I could visualize the charm of British architecture that defines the character of the city. Whether it’s a house, a pub, a mall, an office or a small shop – the unique architecture is intact in every building. You don’t have to visit the Big Ben on the first day of your visit to view the grandeur architecture; strolling through central London, rather any part of London gives a glimpse of its wide variety of architectural styles.
2) Pubs and open bar cafes dot the city –
Brits love to socialize over drinks seven days a week. The entire city is dotted with English pubs, coffee shops, tea rooms and quick service restaurants that make the city vibrant. Event most residential areas have at-least 2 or 3 local pubs and cafes in vicinity. Whether it’s the pubs across the buzz areas of Central London, or the ones in quite residential lanes, pubs and coffee shops go generally full. Go to one of old English pubs to enjoy the charm of heritage architecture with a glass of beer.
3) Black is a favorite color here –
As I travelled across the city in busses and tubes, I looked around. I stood at the center of Trafalgar Square and I looked around. There was 1 thing common across –majority of people wear something in Black– trousers, tshirts, scarves, jackets or leggings; if none of these, then they have black hair. Due to cold weather through the year, dark colors are most preferred by Britons and Black is the top choice of everyone.
4) Britons play by the rules –
If you are driving first time in Britain, you better understand the rules even if you are coming from a country of right hand drive. People here swear by rules. Driving rules, parking rules, queuing rules – numerous rules exist for everything and surprisingly they are sincerely followed also. Don’t wait for a no-parking board; watch out for double yellow line – that’s a no parking zone. If you get honked while driving, then you would have done definitely broken some rule.
What I loved about London
5) Tea culture –
Of all the countries I’ve been, London is one of the few cities where I’ve so seen so much tea culture. UK is one of the top 20 tea consuming countries in the world. Special restaurants known for serving only high tea and bakery dot the city. The tea shops of Twinning are signature to London. Britons love to enjoy their tea at their own pace. One of the best experiences to have in London is to have the Earl grey tea with freshly baked scones served in the traditional 3 tier set on a cold evening.
6) Shopping hub for comfortable fashion -
I planned to spend a day with a friend in London and look through areas like Oxford, Westminster, Piccadilly, and surrounding. We started with Oxford Street in the morning and till 7 PM we were still at Oxford. London is a big shopping hub! – From cheapest local outlets to the most expensive brands, everything finds a place at the Oxford Street. Fashion in London is comfortable and trendy. People are not very hell-bent on big brands; they prefer comfortable wear yet keeping it hep! Girls, you can spend days in London doing nothing but shopping and yeah you need not necessarily have very deep pockets for that.
7) Parks and gardens –
No matter where you stand in London, you can usually locate a huge beautiful green park in your vicinity within a mile. Lush green parks full of nature define the beauty of this city. From sunbathing in summers, to jogging and walking or perennial picnics and not to forget some magnificent views, there are many reasons to spend endless time in these parks. Many open air theaters, concerts and fests find their venue at one these numerous beautiful parks. Take time out to spend a day in one of Hyde Park or Richmond Park as not many cities offer this experience.
8) People do what they love to do –
This is a city where people work per what they like to – from a street entertainer to an Investment banker, people work on their own terms. An artist seems content making people smile with his talent on the streets without earning anything. Office lights generally get switched off at 6:30 PM. Health and fitness is everyone’s top priority; evenings and weekends are generally reserved for jogging, cycling, gyming and playing sports, besides socializing. Attend a few street shows, play sports or attend some Bikram yoga classes – London offers many things to keep one active.
If you love travelling, you cannot miss visiting London. With so much culture, royalty, system and natural beauty, the city brings a whole new perspective to life. Stay tuned for more on my experiences in and around London.
Do you have any memories of London to share?
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