It hardly seems possible that tomorrow, after three weeks of non-stop travel and adventure, I’ll be leaving London. I really have come to love this city; even if I do still occasionally feel like the Awkward American Tourist, everything about it feels like home. While there isn’t enough space here to list everything I’m going to miss, here are five things I’m definitely going to miss most about London:
1) Public Transportation
In Columbus, Ohio, where I’m from, we don’t really have much public transport besides the bus. So, as someone who hates driving, London’s public transportation system is a dream come true. The tube system can take you almost anywhere in the city, and it makes it so easy to get from place to place. Knowing the difference between the train lines can be a bit confusing at first, but once you get the hang of it it is seriously the easiest, most convenient, most wonderful way to travel. Londoners don’t know how lucky they are; I am definitely going to miss being able to hop on the tube and go anywhere quickly, for a relatively small fee!
London is such an incredible mix of new and old. I went on a walking tour of the city, and at one point we were on a street where there was a building from every century from the 1600’s through today. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s like you can time travel just by walking down the street. Londoners walk through history every day just going about their normal routine; they live in the same houses of Londoners from centuries past. Coming from someone who lives in a neighborhood where the houses nearby were all built about two or three years before, the idea of something lasting that long is simply amazing.
The West End is one of the world’s most famous theater districts, and for good reason. There are so many shows to see, with such great acting, writing, music, set design, etc. While I was here I saw Once (really good!), Les Miserables (wonderful!), Richard III (incredible!), The Book of Mormon (incredibly hilarious!), Wolf Hall (amazing!), and, on the bank side, a performance of Julius Caesar at the Globe Theatre (awesome, just awesome!). There’s so much to offer in terms of musicals and plays; it’s really a theater nerd’s dream. As someone who is only able to see one or two shows a year in Ohio, I’ll definitely miss being able to see so many quality shows so often.
4) Fan Culture
I am a huge fan of “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock,” both British TV phenomenons. It’s been amazing to go to filming locations and to meet people who are just as big a fan as I am, probably even more so. A friend and I went to Speedy’s Cafe, a key filming location in “Sherlock,” for lunch, and it was incredible to see the whole cafe full of fans of the show, and to talk with so many of them about everything we loved about it. Me and the same friend also visited The Who Shop, which has a ton of Doctor Who merchandise, memorabilia, and even a museum in the back with props and costumes from the show. We spent way too much in that shop, and had a lot of fun chatting with other customers about our favorite episodes and our hopes for the new season (coming out August 23 – can’t wait!). Sure, you’ll find Sherlockians and Whovians in the States, but it’s a whole other experience to meet people who love it and view it as a wonderful part of their own pop culture.
5) Independent, Creative Work
I love anything that is creative and independent, and London has plenty of that – buskers, street performers, markets, etc. Covent Garden Market is my favorite place to go because of that – I admire people who are able to create beautiful things like jewelry, clothing, knick knacks, etc., and what better way to show admiration but by buying as much as I can? If you appreciate buskers (street performers), the south bank near the Globe Theatre is the place to go – despite the sign declaring “no busking,” there are a ton of buskers up and down the bank, and all of them are so talented. Probably a good chunk of my change went to those buskers; as a musician myself, I just want them to know how much I appreciate their work and their music.
It’s safe to say, after only three weeks, I’ve fallen in love with this city. Here’s hoping I’ll come back within a year, and hopefully, some day, to stay!