Last March I did a week in England to get a taste of some Premier League football (or “soccer” for my fellow Yanks). You can read all about that here, which includes some words on the Leicester City match I attended shortly before they pulled off one of the greatest surprises in sports history by winning the league.
Besides sport, I also had some time to see London. It was my first time and admittedly not high on my list. I know that seems like traveler blasphemy, but it’s true. I’m still not entirely sure why that was. Maybe it’s because we speak the same language, so it didn’t really seem all that foreign? Or perhaps it failed to grab me, since so many people fawn over London like it’s a religious experience.
I’m sure somebody has asked you, “Have you seen Breaking Bad?” or “Game of Thrones?” By the time tenth time you’re asked that, the last thing you want to do is watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones no matter how freaking mesmerizing they are. I guess that was London for me.
No surprise, people fawn over London because it’s deserving of every last word of praise. It is a phenomenal city and hits just about every measure I care about in a city—walkable, historic, interesting architecture, colorful neighborhoods, and a deliciously diverse culinary scene. On top of that, it surprised me, like how I could walk for several blocks without hearing a word of English. Instead I heard Spanish and heaps of Arabic.
(Hey, Brits. Do I get bonus points for using, “heaps” in a sentence?)
I went to London grasping for excitement and left understanding why Bill Bryson says it’s his favorite city. Indeed, there’s plenty to be excited about in London—from the familiar sights we’ve all seen in film and television, to those that take a little extra walking to find.
Outside of Buckingham Palace from Green Park.
Golden gates between Buckingham Palace and Green Park.
Green Park next to Buckingham Palace lives up to the name.
St. James’s Park is just one of the many parks that make London feel incredibly livable.
Walking into Trafalgar Square.
Tourists fill up Trafalgar Square in front of The National Gallery.
This happened on Trafalgar Square. I think he’s holding a goat? The police officer seems equally confused.
London Eye from the River Thames.
The most British photo I think I’ll ever take.
The Palace of Westminster behind a ton of flags.
Some people live in boats in hipster Hackney neighborhood.
Great local feel in Hackney with runners and street side markets.
Popular market in the heart of Hackney.
Remember when I said, “hipster Hackney”? Check out that beard… and the dude who appears to have locked eyes with my camera.
I also wanted to make a point to try some British craft beer, and this stop at London Fields Brewery did not disappoint.
Temple Brew House made for a second and just as successful craft beer stop in London.
Loved watching this kid go from stunned silence while watching the street drummer to dancing like nobody else was there.
Can’t for the life of me remember where this was, but I think it’s a pretty accurate depiction of busy London nightlife.
Outside a London train station, getting ready to move on.
Disclaimer: I traveled as a guest of Visit Britain. As always, all opinions are my own.