I Still Love London

Even if you’ve only been paying minimal attention the past couple weeks, you can probably tell that I am a huge London person. Our love affair began on my first trip abroad at 15 years old. Later I returned to study Victorian literature there and after graduation I came back to work there. The city is so deeply steeped in culture, history and literary landmarks that I’ve never tired of it.

This past week was my first time returning to London since my work visa ran out a year and a half ago. Since then a lot has happened in my life; work, travel, blogging.  I was nervous; it was like seeing an old lover for the first time after a long absence. Would I feel the same about the Unreal City? Or had I outgrown the city of my dreams?

New Skylines

This trip I stayed with an old friend who lives in Canary Wharf. This was exciting; an entire area of London I’d never even visited before! This part of southeastern London has been a center of shipping for many years, but only in the past two decades has it risen to become a business epicenter. The look and atmosphere are markedly different from the rest of the city. Skyscrapers loom above the tidy streets (the area has the three tallest buildings in the entire country), and business people scuttle about like ants. Underground many of the buildings are connected in a vast, maze-like shopping center. Although lacking in culture and history, Canary Wharf has a peaceful and orderly quality very different from the rest of London.

Even in orderly Canary Wharf you don’t need to go far to find a patch of green. Located on the Isle of Dogs is Mudchute Farm and Park, the location of last Friday’s postcard . I squealed like a proper city girl at the nonchalant goats, cows and llamas there. The 32 acres here make up the largest urban farm in London. It’s free for visitors who want to get up close with the animals. My favorites were the pygmy goats – they are like regular goats, just more adorable!

New voices

We didn’t spend all of our time in Canary Wharf; on Friday night we made our way to the hectic theaters of the West End. I was treated to a performance of Phantom of the Opera, my favorite musical. I know he’s corny, but I love Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was thrilling to see the production in the theater where it first began its run 23 years ago!

We also took some time to experience a London ghost tour. I love a good ghost tour.  Whether you believe in spirits or not, the history and folklore gives terrific insight into a culture.  The tour I selected was called Ghosts of the Old City put on by London Walks. As a totally unpaid endorsement: London Walks is the final word as far as walking tours of London go. The tour guides are often actors and experts in their field. Over the course of 90 minutes our guide recited poetry, sang, and pointed out many spooky spots around the old city. We saw the old boundaries of Newgate prison, the square where William Wallace was drawn and quartered and a pub wit ha well known poltergeist. Even in the pouring rain it was well worth it.

New Perspectives

For my last night in London I wanted to do something I’ve been meaning to do for years. For all the time I’ve spent in London, I’ve never experienced on of its premier tourist attractions: The London Eye.  The hefty price tag has always been the major deterrent, but now that I have a decent job and the money to spend I decided to take a chance on the giant Ferris wheel with the spectacular views.

Was it worth 17 pounds? I don’t know, probably not when there are plenty of free views of London to be had. But it was beautiful up on high in the dark night sky. London stretched out like a shimmering carpet of lights, with iconic landmarks glowing brilliantly: the dome of St. Paul’s, the purple and green cubes of the National Theater and the always iconic Big Ben.  None of my pictures were turning out well so after awhile I put the camera away and tried to just experience the city all around me.

So yes, I still love London. Samuel Johnson once famously said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” No matter how I change and grow, there are always new aspects and experiences to entice me. There are the familiar comforts of taking the London Tube, or eating my favorite candy bar, coupled with the joy of exploration around every corner.

And all of that makes for one perfect love affair.

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15 thoughts on “I Still Love London”

  1. Great post, Stephanie! I’m glad to hear you can still enjoy the city and still find so many new things to explore. The ghost tour sounds awesome!

    I think you would have liked the Eye better during the day. That’s when I went, and the view was phenomenal. It seems like at night it would be harder to see some of the best sights.

    1. Yes I had a long internal debate about whether to do day or night. In the end night won by default- there are just more dark hours of the day this time of year! It’s a shame because none of my pictures really turned out at all.

  2. I actually didn’t like London at all, but after reading this post I was surprised to find myself missing it. I really enjoyed the London Eye, I bet it’s incredible at night.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..The Three Best Kept Travel Secrets in the History of the Universe =-.

  3. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.. Next time you are there.. do try the cruise on Thames.. there are many varieties, not very costly, and they take you all the way from Big Ben to the Tower Bridge.. once can even do a hopping tour of the area this way.. go from one pier to another.. and visit all the nice places on the banks.
    .-= Abhi´s last blog ..In-flight entertainment =-.

    1. Oh yes, we meant to do that on our way to the London Eye, but ran out of time. Sounds like it would be very pretty, especially at night.

  4. Great post! Loved it! 🙂

    I’ve been to the London Eye twice.. but never at the night. Looks like the skyline looks no less beautiful at night!
    .-= Abhi´s last blog ..Tequila Sunrise =-.

  5. Great post Stephanie.

    It’s so special to have a love affair with a city. I have one with Amsterdam. I get anxious whenever I go to see if it’s changed. Do my favorite places still feel magical?

    Glad to see you still love London. You are definitely my go-to London girl now the next time I go there!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..My Three Best Kept Travel Secrets =-.

    1. I really liked Amsterdam when I visited! It’s so pretty. I think a lot of people have a certain city that they just connect with on a deeper level.

  6. If I remember correctly, there is a park in Canary Wharf which is what inspired Radiohead’s song “Fake Plastic Trees.” Might be cool to check out because I’m sorry I missed it last time I was there!
    .-= Adam´s last blog ..O Pioneers! Go Forth =-.

  7. Lovely article, Steph. You’re making me want to go back now. I haven’t been to Canary Wharf either–it looks so different from the London I remember! But then, it’s been about 15 years since I was there. I’m sure a lot has changed. That urban farm sounds really cool. I’m sure that’s the only opportunity some city dwellers have to experience a country setting.
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..Looking for Some Darn Good Digs? =-.

    1. Yeah one of my favorite things about London is all the green space. You get deep enough into Hyde Park or Hampstead Heath and you can almost forget you’re in one of the biggest cities in the world!

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