London is a world apart from other cities in the United Kingdom which can make the first trip a little daunting, but you can’t help but fall in love.
It is true that London, at least compared to the rest of the country, lives in a metropolitan bubble almost unconscious of events outside of the capital, which is ironic when you think that this is where Members of Parliament convene to debate what is going on in the United Kingdom.
Almost wherever you turn in London there is something that grabs your attention, making the city one of the top tourist locations in the world. The capital is easily accessible, not just domestically but internationally, with no less than six airports with direct links into London. Whether you catch the tube from Heathrow or hire a car at Stansted, the Thames is within your reach.
Losing your London Virginity
The first day in London is completely daunting with so many stations, more busses on one road than the entirety of your hometown and plenty of taxis to boot. Deciding on your mode of transport is difficult in itself – luckily, the Underground system is second to none and gets you from one side of London to the other.
It is easy to see why many Londoners do not drive much around their city, instead relying on public transport which, at least to an outsider, appears to run like clockwork. It is a far cry from waiting for the bus anywhere else – half an hour later in the pouring rain and still no sign.
The main sites for any London novice include the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Buckingham Palace among many others. As grand as these locations are, and they really are stunning, the one thing they do not encapsulate is the real London.
Finding the Real London
What people consider to be the ‘real’ London differs from person to person, but mainly the cities true heartbeat lies in more modest settings. With numerous markets around the city, arguably the most famous of which is Camden Market, you can grab a slice of a more modest slice of the capital while picking up some really unique gifts to take back home.
Oxford Street is everyone’s go-to shopping spot when entering London – you will quickly realise exactly why it is known as Europe’s busiest shopping street with an estimated half a million people visiting the area every day.
Having the courage to explore further afield will come with great reward. Covent Garden possesses a fantastic shopping area with a local market and is near a number of London’s favourite theatres if you are looking to dabble in a slice of culture. Do not make the same mistake as many London newbies do if travelling to Covent Garden Underground Station, please take the lift and not the 193 steps thinking it will be quicker. It won’t.
Every good story must have an ending, as does a trip to London. Regardless of whether your stay is just for a day or a week, you will be looking forward to your next trip to the Smoke. If not because returning home to your desolate town makes you pine for the streets of London, it will be to see or experience what you simply did not have time for.
Being an outsider obviously tints your view of London, with residents undoubtedly having their own stories to tell. For those that voluntarily travel into the capital, the city is presented as a place of endless opportunity, if not a little on the pricey side, and somewhere that has something for everyone.
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