After graduating from McGill on May 31st at 12pm. I chilled with friends, family, and fellow graduates for a while before heading home to pack my 35L backpack and head to the airport 30min late (as expected).
Several hours later, here I am in London at 8am after an overnight flight and no sleep. My trip begins.
(as I already mentioned, I am writing only one post per city or region, so I’ll be brief in my description of the next 5 days)
From the airport, I head towards the city center, drop off my bags at my friend’s place who is hosting me, and start my exploration of London. I start walking at 11am and don’t stop until 7pm. I am able to do a big tour of the west side of the city center. I walked across:
Oxford street – an over-crowded main street with shops and restaurants.
Hyde park – a beautiful park apparently designed by the same guy behind Central Park in NY.
Buckingham palace, st James park, the parliament and the big ben, across the Thames river to the London eye, then back to Trafalgar square. By then, I couldn’t feel my feet anymore.
Over the course of the next few days I also visited the regent’s park, primrose hill, Covent garden, Leicester square, the city hall, the famous Tower Bridge (which I though was called London bridge, but the London bridge is in fact a much lamer random bridge), Tower hill (beautiful fortress built in the 12th or 13th century), the Millennium bridge (famous for shaking and almost breaking apart on opening day in year 2000. They seem to have fixed the issue, I walked on it with no problem), the City (financial district of sorts) the borough market, and a few other places.
Other than visiting major places, I also read while enjoying some good espressos in cafés, drank some fresh raw organic milk, ate some wild boar, had an English breakfast (no fish & chips for me, thank you!), saw the Lion King Musical (although, I felt it was a bit targeted to younger audiences, I still enjoyed the beautiful decor and costumes, and was happy to relive what I think is one of the best Disney movies), did a tour of the Tower hill fortress and learned more about it’s history (don’t ask; I already have a hard time remembering which century it was built in), visited the British museum (huge! Especially enjoyed an exposition on clocks and their history from the 1600’s until today), sun bathed and napped in parks, spent some good quality time with friends and family living here, and managed to avoid the Angus Steak House that proudly displays the sign “best steaks in London”. It turns out it’s crappy and expensive. First lesson learned: don’t be naive!
This may sound like a lot, but there is so much more stuff to do here, I’m sure I’ve missed a lot and those of you who have been there will probably point out a thousand things. However, I did do most of this walking, as I didn’t want to rush and insisted on exploring inner roads and enjoy the beautiful architecture.
Overall, I had a blast! I really liked the architecture (mix of old and new buildings) and lack thereof (no perpendicular boring roads like most major cities). The many beautiful parks in the center are a great way to disconnect quickly and enjoy the outdoor. The people are generally friendly, and there are many more foreigners than expected (I’m talking about residents not tourists). As you probably guessed by now, there are a ton of things to do and contrary to what I was expecting, the weather was beautiful. However, it gets VERY crowded, and walking on major streets can get uncomfortable. Food is not amazing, but there are some good spots. I was also surprised to find out that most pubs close at 11pm! (you can still hit clubs and a few other places to stay up later).
So as the title says it, I could definitely see myself living here. Plus I wouldn’t mind having a hint of british accent.
Off to Paris now!
[This post is part of a series on my 2011 eurotrip, check out the whole series here]