London Love

London calls to me. London enraptures me. London ties my tongue—and my heart—up into knots. It’s always been this way. For as long as I can remember, England has felt like the center of the universe, exerting a gravitational pull on me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved its writers, its musicians,...

London calls to me. London enraptures me. London ties my tongue—and my heart—up into knots.

It’s always been this way. For as long as I can remember, England has felt like the center of the universe, exerting a gravitational pull on me. Ever since I was a teenager, I have loved its writers, its musicians, its television shows and movies; I remember spending more than one moody afternoon staring up at my ceiling—BritRock blasting at top volume—completely convinced I had been born in the wrong country and ruing the day the Harrisons of Bristol decided to migrate westward across the Atlantic.

At the center of my obsession, was the city of London. A sprawling city full of art, music, literature, and a history so rich and deep, I could hardly fathom it. A city of soot and stories, cutting-edge culture, and the seat of urban civility. A million lifetimes could be had (and indeed, have been had!) within the city of London… was it too much to ask that I get to experience just one of them?

Steph and Tony in front of Tower Bridge

I have been lucky enough to have visited London three times prior to this trip; despite its lofty position in my mind, it never disappointed me, and my visits only served to make me love it more. It was every bit as electric and, I daresay, magical as I had dreamt it to be. For decades it has been my gold standard of cities, the one I rank all others against and that few have ever come close to toppling from its perch.

It wasn’t until I started to read travel blogs that I began to realize that my love affair with dear old London Town was horribly untrendy. So many well-traveled bloggers that I respected and admired dismissed the city as grey and uninspiring, as expensive and meh, as a place they didn’t care to ever revisit. Some even claimed to HATE London! It seemed that the more people saw of the world, the less favorably they looked upon London.

So, when we stepped onto our flight in Sri Lanka and set off into the skies with London as our final destination, I was a swirling cauldron of nerves and agitation. I’m normally a pretty easygoing flyer (let’s be honest, I just sleep for as much of every flight as is humanly possible), but I was a leg-jiggling, finger-drumming, heart-palpitating ball of worry as we soared back to a place I had always loved before. It had been nearly a decade since my last visit and I had seen and grown so much in those intervening years. With the pain of leaving Asia for the first time in nearly two years, would I find myself horribly let down by London this time? With this being Tony’s first trip ever to Europe, it felt like the stakes had never been higher. I desperately wanted him to love London as much as I had, but what if I proved to be the problem, not him?

Of the five senses, olfaction—that is, the sense of smell—is the one scientists most poorly understand. We know that parts of the brain that are involved in processing odors share deep-rooted neural connections with other parts of the brain that are involved in emotion and memory, which may be why smell is one of the strongest triggers for sense memory. You catch a whiff of cold autumn air and, all of a sudden, you are seven years old again getting ready for school. Or in my case, I head into the “loo” at the airport and, miraculously, I feel ten years younger, setting out on one of my first travel adventures. And in that moment, I know everything is going to be all right.

(And yes, I recognize just how unfairytale-like it is to rekindle my romance with London in a public toilet, but I’ll take what I can get.)

The Marble Arch

No disrespect to all those who have come before us and found themselves unmoved by England’s capital city—after all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure and all that—but I just don’t get the antipathy towards London. Far from feeling underwhelmed by the city, I spent our first day back in the western hemisphere, back in London, feeling absolutely gobsmacked and battling constant tidal waves of emotion. Most of the day was spent wandering the streets around central London simply soaking in surroundings. Everything was so beautiful, so storied, and so very very different. On some level, our first day in London can be categorized as my reverse culture shock climax as we goggled over everything from the sky-high prices to the totally different architecture to being able to read all the signs and eavesdrop on all the conversations taking place around us and be able to actually understand them (well, most of them… barring uses of Cockney Rhyming Slang or unintelligibly thick accents) to wondering where all the people were (yes, even on the Tube at rush hour) and being slightly unsettled by how pervasively quiet the city was. Maybe our transition once we officially arrived home 5 weeks later wasn’t nearly so alienating or rocky, due to the massive shock to the system that London was.

Buckingham Palace

I’ve said before that despite all our traveling, the rush of finding myself somewhere new and so completely different to where we just were has yet to wear off, and I often find that I can move my body across oceans and timezones far faster than my mind can keep up. At times on this trip, we have found ourselves places that are so extremely different from the lives we had created for ourselves and the world we had fabricated in our minds and experiences back in the west, it hardly seemed possible they could exist in the same plane of reality. Sometimes we would watch a movie or a tv show and I would have to remind myself that the places depicted actually existed in real life. I wondered how someone who has grown up in a Himalayan mountain town or a speck of a village smack dab in the middle of rice fields would feel if they were suddenly transplanted into the bustling metropolises that we take for granted. Arriving in London, I think I got a sense of confounding and discombobulating the transition from east to west truly can be.

Our Friend Maddy!
Our Friend Maddy! Sassy!

We walked our legs off that first day, with our friend Maddy (met while traveling in Thailand!) acting as tour guide, ushering us from Oxford Circus through the seedy side streets of SoHo into the cleanest China Town we had seen in nearly two years and over to famous Picadilly Circus. Then it was down to mighty Trafalgar Square and a stroll along the Mall to Buckingham Palace before having a wander through St James’s Park. We rounded out the day with pints of ale and then followed the Thames back to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, where we sat on a bench and I reeled, until the encroaching chill of evening forced us back home to our friends’, Kat & Alex (ALSO met while traveling in Thailand), flat. We should have been tired when we arrived home—indeed, we were exhausted—and yet I lay in bed wide-eyed late into the night, utterly unable to fall asleep without all the din and clattering that had become a lullaby during our time in Asia. The streets were absolutely silent, and the old house had long ago finished settling, so it felt like we were lying in a vacuum where sound just ceases to exist. The night was SO QUIET I was totally unnerved; I admit—we were in London for 9 days, and I never got used to the quiet.

Being back in London, I felt all the emotions that travel brings: I rode crests of giddy excitement and exaltation that dipped every so often into shock and disbelief that slammed into me with the force of a double-decker bus. Every so often, I would have to just stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself that this was really happening. Nine years since my last visit, I had found my way back to London.

Maybe it’s true that we never get over our first loves, but if my latest visit taught me anything, it’s that no matter how much I grow and change, London seems more than capable of keeping pace with me. Each time I visit, I’m different, but the way I approach the city changes too, and it’s never let me down yet. I had forgotten just how viscerally I love this city, how it fills my head with dreams of a different life that I wanted so much but wasn’t mine to live. So this time, we played pretend for a week, making it our priority to get a taste for local life and catch up with friends rather than focusing too much on pricey attractions (though, of course, we had to enjoy the occasional “touristy” diversion). We were able to just enjoy being with amazing friends in a great city where wandering around and getting lost is often the greatest adventure, where every block and every building has a story, and—after so much time away from this part of the world—even the mundane day-to-day of life feels anything but.

It doesn’t matter that London is horribly expensive and we never witnessed two days of sunshine in a row while we were there, the persistent pitter-patter of a drizzle a constant companion matching the rhythm of my own feet along the pavement. I don’t care that at the end of a day out on the town, I’d blow my nose and turn the tissue black, or that a single ride on the Tube costs more than a whole day of eating in Thailand, and the old trains rattle and clatter along their tracks so slowly yet so loudly, it is nigh impossible to carry on a conversation with a fellow passenger and you arrive at your destination with your hearing now ever so slightly muffled. The sky may be perennially grey, but even still, it seems to make for a dramatic backdrop against a drop dead gorgeous city all the same.

The truth is simply this: I love London and I suspect I always will. I’ve seen so much more of the world than I had as a girl, locked up in her room reading Jane Austen and singing along to Oasis dreaming of this city across the ocean, and yet I still fall to my knees before London because it is now, as it ever was and ever will be, capital-G Great. My love for the city is unending and unconditional, but then isn’t that the way great loves are meant to be?

Tell Us: Have you ever been to London? If so, did you fall into the Love it or Hate it camp? What is your favorite Great city of the world?

Popular in: England

52 comments Leave a comment

  1. You’ve just made me very homesick 😉 There really is nothing like blowing your nose and leaving a black deposit, such a special gift.

    Sep. 15 2014 @ 7:14 pm
    1. Kellie author

      Yup, what better souvenir of a place can there possibly be? It’s so very personal! 😉

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 6:59 pm
  2. I lived in London on and off for 7 1/2 years and I love it too (although sometimes I hated it). It is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world – second only to Vancouver and Sydney. I will always see it as one of my homes and I miss it dearly. It really is a special, special place and I don’t understand how anyone can hate it either, although if only visiting for a couple of days I guess I can understand. Once it has gotten under your skin, it will never leave.

    It’s funny, in all the time Iived there I never had black snot – guess I was lucky

    Sep. 15 2014 @ 7:35 pm
    1. Katie @ The World on my Necklace author

      I completely understand how when you’ve been somewhere for a while, you develop something of a love-hate relationship with it. As a visitor, it’s easy for me to just focus on the shiny bright spots of the city and not really have to deal with the daily realities and struggles that living there would entail; it’s true for any place in the world, even a great city like London.

      I’ve never been to either Vancouver or Sydney, but if you like them more than London, then they must be pretty special!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:04 pm
  3. I think you know that I absolutely love London with a passion! As a teenager I used to make the hour and a half train journey to the city as often as possible; it was a magical place for me. Even living and working in London for four years didn’t ruin my love, I still felt the surges of emotion you describe when I walked down the Southbank. Leaving to travel has only convinced me that London is the best city in the world! I’m glad you share my love for the city, if you’d visited just a month later you would have had perfect blue skies day after day! Still, a bit of rain can’t dampen true London love 🙂

    Sep. 15 2014 @ 11:04 pm
    1. Amy author

      I am so jealous that we missed the blue skies—I think we saw them peeking out two of the days we were there, but for the most part the weather was stereotypically dreary.

      I’m glad to hear that four years in London didn’t sully the city for you. I’m not sure it’s a place I would be entirely happy living (it seems like people have to spend so much time working that I can see how that would be wearying after a while), but I would love to spend an extended period there. Nine days was my longest stint yet, but it still wasn’t enough!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:06 pm
  4. I’m glad that after ten years you were still enamored with London. I’ve actually been reading really wonderful things about London lately (mainly on Ashley Abroad and now here!). My only experience with London was a 24-hour layover ten years ago. It was my first backpacking trip and I was broke. I was shocked by the prices, it poured the entire day, and I slept in the airport. So let’s just say I didn’t have the best experience. BUT, ten years later, I have a feeling I would love London. Everything from the architecture to the history to the culture calls my name. I really hope to make it there sometime soon. And it would be awesome if I could afford a hotel room this time!

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 1:31 am
    1. Justine author

      There is no doubt that London is very expensive and it helped out immensely that we had friends who were good enough to let us stay in their spare room. That definitely helped us battle the sticker shock so that we could focus our energies and attentions on all the positive things the city offers. I hope you get to visit again under better circumstances!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:29 pm
  5. You are definitely not the only person who loves London! A good friend of mine went to London a year ago this week and she still daydreams about it. Because of her health it’s unlikely she will get to go again, but I think her memories of her time there are going to keep her going for the rest of her life.

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 4:41 am
    1. Karyn @ Not Done Travelling author

      I’m so glad to hear that your friend’s trip to London was such a positive experience. I feel so fortunate that I’ve gotten to visit it multiple times, but better to go once and really enjoy yourself than to never get to visit at all!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:31 pm
  6. I’ve been to London several times, the very first time was when I was 18, and every time I return I realize I am even more in love with this incredible city. You’re right Steph, it is incredibly expensive and it feels even worse especially if visiting it after having been to SEA, but it’s so worth it. I’d even consider living there 🙂

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:29 am
    1. Franca author

      Wow! Given how much you have traveled and how much you still want to travel, I know how much it means when you say you love London so much you would actually consider living there. I’d love that opportunity too, but given how pricey it is, I’m not sure that will ever be feasible for us. Still, it’s nice to dream, and even if I never get to live there, I will be content so long as I get to visit it… hopefully more frequently than once every ten years!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:34 pm
  7. London can be a hard place to live at times, but somehow that made me love it even more and this post has made me seriously nostalgic for the place I called home less than a month ago. I can definitely see how London wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m glad to see a little more love for this city in the blogosphere 🙂

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 8:16 am
    1. Amanda @ Farsickness author

      For me, it was love at first sight with London, but I do know what you mean about falling hard for places that play hard to get. Perhaps my favorite country in the world is Vietnam, but it took me a couple of weeks to really warm up to the country… I think those tumultuous first weeks were definitely part of why I wound up loving it so much. It must have been so hard to leave London after your stint in the city, but I’ve no doubt it will be a period in your life that you always look back on with a smile.

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:46 pm
  8. Fun post! And I can sympathize with the “why did my ancestors immigrate?!?” teenage angst. 🙂 It took me a while to really love with London — I think because the first time I visited, I was skint (as they say) and hauling a year’s worth of baggage. Didn’t hate it, was just firmly in the “meh” category — an expensive big city not that different from anywhere else. But the third time I was there, it was sunny, I discovered the Harrod’s food hall and suddenly I was a fan. 🙂 I’ll still take the North of England over the South but would never say no to London.

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 8:50 am
    1. Trisha author

      It’s such a surprise to me that you didn’t love London at first blush just because to me it seems like exactly your kind of city, but I’m so glad that you came around on it eventually. Better late than never, after all!

      (Also, I definitely feel you on limited funds dragging down a place. As I’ll talk about in a couple of weeks, our limited budget certainly affected our time in Europe.)

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:51 pm
  9. London was the first International city for Ewan and I – at the start of a three month trip a decade ago. We stayed with extended family of his, and since we were getting our feet wet with the whole travel thing, I think we had a learning curve going on. All that is to say that we really did enjoy it, and I think that now that we are more seasoned, we would love it even more upon a second visit when we have a better idea of how we like to travel, enjoy and appreciate a city!

    I’m so glad London lived up to your dreams 🙂

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 10:12 am
    1. Emily author

      There is always a learning curve when you set out traveling—I know we didn’t make the most of our month in Japan because it was the first country on our trip and we were learning the ropes and finding our legs. It’s a place I’d love to revisit at some point, now that I’m more confident out in the world, and I hope you’ll get the chance to do the same with London and can discover a side of it that you missed the first time around.

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 7:52 pm
  10. okay.. I have a huge confession to make… I’ve never been to London! (well, or England for that matter!) In spite of 7 or 8 trips around Europe, and covering 5 continents of this grand world, for some reason we have yet to make it to that one spot. I’m never sure why. We love the Brits and have quite a few friends there. The history is fascinating. A good British comedy can’t be beat. When pressed I have no idea WHY the city doesn’t draw my interest in the same way as some others, even while I really want to visit. lol.. maybe the universe has some grand plan for my first trip there that I’ve yet to discover. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your passionate feelings for her with me.

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 2:26 pm
    1. Rhonda author

      Given that you sound like an absolute Anglophile, I hope you make your first visit to England (& London!) soon! Life is too short not to visit England, and to be perfectly candid, on our recent stint through Europe, it was probably the country that I most enjoyed and would be most desperate to return to and further explore. I’ve seen other parts of the country too and the whole place—tiny as it is—is just remarkable. I definitely believe we should follow our interests and visit the places that incite our imaginations so if England’s not calling to you yet, I understand why you haven’t made the “pilgrimage” yet, but I hope that when she does, you will be ready to answer!

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 8:01 pm
  11. Me too, me too!! Add me to the ‘I love London’ list!! It was my very first European city, so it will always hold a special place for me. When people talk about Europe I always recommend a trip to London! 🙂

    Sep. 16 2014 @ 4:40 pm
    1. Lina @ Divergent Travelers author

      So glad to have you in the club, Lina! I really believe that London was the best possible place for us to begin the European leg of our journey and it sounds like it was the perfect place to begin your own European adventure too.

      Sep. 16 2014 @ 8:04 pm
  12. I personally can’t stand London, but I would never judge anyone for loving a place. There’s no such thing as an untrendy love affair – you have to do what is right. If I always followed what was trendy to love, I would never have found the city I now call home, Lahore <3 I say go for it!! 😀

    Sep. 17 2014 @ 5:21 am
    1. Tim | UrbanDuniya author

      Why do you hate London, Tim? I am always so curious to hear why people do & don’t love certain places—even if I don’t agree, I’m always interested in hearing others opinions (so long as they can respectfully hear mine!). I don’t really care if loving London is trendy or not… the heart wants what the heart wants!

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:43 pm
      1. Stephenie Harrison

        “the heart wants what the heart wants”… true!! And I’m glad that you are happy there 🙂 My reasons for disliking London are circumstantial – they certainly apply mostly for me, not for everyone!! So here goes…

        I just find London so depressing and boring. I’ve never been particularly interested in British or Western art, I have no real interest in British culture of history (nothing against it – it simply doesn’t fascinate me), I don’t drink (and don’t go to pubs or clubs), the weather really affects me and as a result summer in Asia (pre-monsoon) is my favourite time/place combination… I wasn’t really a fan of the food in London – sure there’s lots on offer, but I didn’t find anything particularly spectacular. And I don’t really identify with London as being a ‘motherland’ of sorts, the way many Australians do. And I think the reason why I have strong feelings about London is because it was built up to be such an amazing place before I went there, and since I came back, I’ve mostly been told about how wrong I am!!!

        I hope that answers your question Steph!!!! And just a disclaimer for anyone reading this, please don’t take this as a criticism of London, because it’s not – London simply isn’t for me, and it shouldn’t have to change for me. If it was anything other than what it is, it just wouldn’t be London, and even I think that would be a shame!

        Sep. 20 2014 @ 9:03 am
        1. Tim | UrbanDuniya author

          I can’t ever imagine finding London boring, but thank you for sharing your reasons why it doesn’t move you the way it does us. It’s always so interesting to hear about what makes each of us tick—it’s part of what makes the world so interesting! 🙂

          Sep. 20 2014 @ 10:25 am
  13. Awww I don’t know why people hate on London! I loved it enough to stay for 5 years. I admit that I definitely had times when I hated it (usually winter, summers were always amazing!) but I think it’s an amazing city! Glad you love it too!

    Sep. 17 2014 @ 5:46 am
    1. Joella in Beijing author

      I don’t think you can ever love somewhere 100% of the time, especially if you are living there. I admit that I’ve only ever known London as a tourist and I’m sure it’s less charming when you live there full-time, but I know that nowhere is perfect, so I just hope to find places that are perfect for me! 🙂

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:44 pm
  14. I love London too and I think it has to do with the beatles and Jane Austen 🙂 It was actually the first foreign country I ever saw, of course it was on a 14 hour layover and we had to take a shuttle between airports. It didn’t matter, I was in love. I think we all have places we never get over. I love your photos, they’re lovely. Like always 🙂

    Sep. 17 2014 @ 10:35 am
    1. Rebekah author

      I agree that there are some places that will stick with us forever and I’m pretty certain that London is one of those places for me. I love that all it took was the shuttle between airports to hook you! 😀

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:54 pm
  15. I’m all for strong opinions when it comes to blogging, and if someone hates a place, I’d much rather they say it than dance around their feelings. But I’m like you. I will never understand why people dislike London. London is part of a world I created in my head as a teenager – something I fantasized about before I took my first solo overseas trip at 18. London opened its arms to me and said, “Hey… I’m even better than you thought I’d be… and I will always be here for you.” I love the idea that as you change, so does your approach to a place, and I feel this has been the case with me and London. I have been multiple times, each with a different story and mood, and each time has been brilliant.

    Sep. 17 2014 @ 7:13 pm
    1. Colleen Brynn author

      Oh, I completely agree that I would rather someone express an opinion, even if it’s one I don’t agree with, than just sugar-coat everything or be indecisive about a place. I get that we can’t all love the same things and that makes the world interesting but… I’m glad we both love London! 😀

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:56 pm
  16. I love London too! I’ve been there a few times, but the longest period was this winter when we were there for 2 weeks in January. We had the opportunity to move to London about a year before we moved to Paris and decided not to pursue it at the time…so that trip gave me time to reflect on the what-ifs, how life would be different had we moved to London and not Paris. And while I’ve decided that I much prefer living in Paris over London, I still love it as a city to visit. There is something about it – the history, traditions, British sense of humor, pub culture, British literature (yup, I’m an English major), mix of old and new – something about London still draws me in and makes me love it. Heck, it’s even softened this die-hard coffee addict to give an approving nod at tea!

    And perhaps for those against London, your beautiful photos is a reminder of all the things to enjoy about London.

    Sep. 18 2014 @ 3:33 am
    1. Sara @ Simply Sara Travel author

      So glad that so much London love is being piled on here in the comments! I feel like quality of life is probably better in Paris than it is in London, and I think if I had been posed the choice between the two places it would have been a hard one (especially since I do speak French and am always wanting to improve & practice it!). I guess the nice thing about being in Paris is that you can pretty easily & quickly pop over to London to visit (and vice versa), so maybe there is no wrong choice!

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:58 pm
  17. I was able to go back to London earlier this summer for the first time since I was 16 — and liked it even more now! In fact I recently wrote about it, and showed that we had sunshine just about the entire time. 🙂

    Sep. 18 2014 @ 9:10 pm
    1. Deborah Brauser author

      Very jealous of your sunshine. Maybe London already knows I’m in the bag so it doesn’t have to try on the weather front…

      Sep. 19 2014 @ 4:59 pm
  18. Nice to know London through your eyes. 🙂 Beautiful photos too. It is one city that’s always on my mind. I mean I have to visit it someday.

    Sep. 20 2014 @ 5:32 am
    1. Renuka author

      I’m glad you enjoyed getting to see London through our eyes, Renuka! I hope you get to visit and see it for yourself one day!

      Sep. 20 2014 @ 10:23 am
  19. I haven’t been, but I too have heard many apathetic comments about London. Although since I’ve met people who live in England, I’ve also heard plenty of swoony monologues about how wonderful it is. I am interested in going still, for sure.

    I think we had a similar experience of culture shock coming from Asia into Australia. And similarly, we had a hard time understanding certain accents. 🙂

    Sep. 23 2014 @ 12:40 pm
    1. Carmel author

      Yes, I think that transition from east-to-west can be pretty trippy, and the fact that I hold London so near and dear clearly augmented all of my emotions. I still can’t believe that one plane ride can so dramatically change our surroundings… it’s part of why I love traveling so much! Two years later, I’m still not used to it, and I suppose I never hope to lose that sense of wonderment.

      I hope you make it London one day and that you love it at least a fraction as much as we did!

      Sep. 24 2014 @ 2:36 pm
  20. Well done Steph! You’ve described London extremely well. I’m British. In fact, I’m from Manchester and to be honest, “If you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life!”

    After university, I lived in London and I had the most amazing time. I really worked hard for a corporate company, made an awful amount of money, and spent every penny of it! It was a brillant time!
    A group of us used to meet every Friday night and spent the whole weekend together going from party to party and bar to bar at night, and gallery to art gallery in the daytime. When we were really exhausted, we bought bottles of champagne and just chilled in the park. We were young. We were single. We were loaded. What not to like?

    My favorite cities of the world are the cities that I have personally lived in. Manchester: my hometown, London: where I “grew up” professional. I was quite the little princess in those days. Prague: Where my international career started, and Berlin: Where I found a new “home-town” and where I now live as an expat. Gorgeous places all!

    Sep. 24 2014 @ 1:24 am
    1. Victoria@ The British Berliner author

      I’m glad to hear that Londoners seem to embrace the “work hard, play hard” mentality! I can definitely understand how people burn out on the city, but I think my love for it will always burn bright. It truly seems to have a little something for everyone!

      Sep. 24 2014 @ 2:42 pm
  21. This is a great round-up! I’ve visited London 4 times in the last 5 years. I’m lucky to have a sister who lives a stone’s throw from Borough Market, and I visit her any chance I get. I agree with you guys that there’s so much to see and do and just experience in London without having to pay pricey admission fees.

    I’d like to add one small free experience to your list: head to Covent Garden at lunch time (you can choose to grab lunch or not – I love the food options here, so probably would grab a bite) and then listen to the free opera performances that take place in the lower courtyard, inside the building. Or if opera isn’t your thing, there are often hilarious street performers just outside.

    And one more: the city’s markets. Portobello Road in Nottinghill is an absolute riot to wander through on a Saturday. And a budget tip: if you linger until the stalls start to close, you’ll get terrific deals on any baked goods, etc that didn’t sell that day.

    Sep. 29 2014 @ 9:40 pm
    1. Sara Cooke author

      I am so envious that you have a relative who lives in London! I would be a total mooch if I could claim the same…

      Thanks for your awesome suggestions on things to see & do in London; I think you really could spend an entire lifetime exploring that city and still be left with things to do. We actually made it to a few London markets, including Borough, during our time there, which we wrote about in our next post (A Tale of Two London Markets). We mentioned the same tip about getting some great deals close to closing, including 2 for 1 Pimm’s! 😀

      Sep. 30 2014 @ 8:56 am
      1. Stephenie Harrison

        Whoops – I had meant my last comment to go on the “cheapskate” article page. Not sure how it winded up here! I read your piece on the two markets right after I posted yesterday. So glad you talked about Brixton! I had been thinking about heading there for the first time on my next trip (a month away). You’ve convinced me to do it. 🙂 And maybe to try that crazy sandwich at Borough.

        Sep. 30 2014 @ 11:55 am
        1. Sara Cooke author

          Neither Brixton nor that sandwich are a mistake! Try both… you won’t regret it! 😀

          Sep. 30 2014 @ 12:27 pm
  22. Really good capture of this city!
    This makes me want to give it another chance 🙂

    Oct. 1 2014 @ 3:09 pm
    1. Claire @ ZigZag On Earth author

      Glad to hear it, Claire! I hope you do… some day!

      Oct. 2 2014 @ 10:35 am
  23. Wow Steph, reading this made me a bit teary, because I understand exactly how you feel :). I’ve been living in London more than 3 years now, and while I still love it as ever, I have probably lost a bit of that wide-eyed wonderment I experienced in my first year. Though I just need to step out a bit of my daily paths to get that back. It’s easy with London :). It has so much to offer, and you always find something new. As you said, the city grows with you. Love this piece and will be off to read all your other London posts (I have some catching up to do!).

    ps: I work near Oxford Circus so it’s lovely also to see all the pictures near Oxford St, Soho, Chinatown, and Piccadilly. Still one of my favorite parts of London! Just want to say that for some people London doesn’t lose its magic even if you have passed the same areas every day, day in and day out. Even I don’t mind the grey-ness on certain days, it’s become soothing 😉

    Oct. 16 2014 @ 7:19 am
    1. mee author

      It’s only natural that after an extended time in a place that you begin to take the things that delighted you early on for granted, but I’m glad to hear your own London Love is still alive and well. I’m glad that as an established Londoner, this post still spoke to you and made your heart flutter. 😀

      Oct. 16 2014 @ 9:58 am
  24. I have been in London several times and would love to go back again..

    May. 3 2015 @ 4:36 am
    1. Cappadocia Tours author

      There is always more to discover when it comes to London. I can’t wait for our return visit… whenever that might be!

      May. 3 2015 @ 12:43 pm

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