Inspired by Gala Darling's love letter to New York, I thought I'd take a moment to write an homage to my cold, grey, grimy & marvelous London.
It doesn't matter how dirty & expensive & exhausting old London town is, it still never fails to inspire a radical reaction of joy in me almost every day.
Coming up with 10 things I love about this city wasn't hard.
Read 'em after the jump!
1. The history.
Well, this one is obvious. I remember the first time I ever came to London with my best friend in 2004, and we took one of the double-decker open-top bus tours. The tour guide was nattering on and we were mostly ignoring him, staring around at the unfamiliar buildings, until I tuned in for a moment and heard him say "... and that building on your left there is approximately 1,000 years old." I just couldn't believe that any man-made structure could be that OLD! I turned to my bestie, aghast: one thousand years! These things hit home hard when you grow up in a country as young as Australia. Since that moment I've reveled in the rich and extremely fascinating history of London at every opportunity.
2. The live music scene.
Whether it's cramped & sweaty pub gigs, sold-out stadiums or festival-style shows in Hyde Park, this city delivers on the live music front. I don't want to criticise Sydney's live music scene (from what I understand it's fairly decent these days, anyway)... but it sucks. Or at least, it sucked when I lived there. Here I've had the opportunity to see so many bands I love, or be introduced to bands I've come to love. London pulsates and undulates with tunes and music-lovers.
3. The summer.
I've said it before & I'll say it again: summers in London are fantastic because Londoners really, really appreciate sunshine and warm weather. I found it scoff-worthy and absurd the first time I spent a summer over here, that at the first glimpse of clear skies and 15+ degree weather, people are lying in parks (parks!) in their bikinis, or walking around shirtless (if they're male). Now I know it's only because you get so few sunny/warm days here, that when they come along people CELEBRATE! And you know what? I love that. A hot summer's day is never taken for granted in London. People are positively jubilant - everyone's out, at a beer garden or park or on the South Bank, enjoying the weather - it's just wonderful.
4. Interesting looking people.
I was talking about this with Rose the other day as we strolled down the street behind a girl with a huge purple beehive hairdo. She said that during her time living in Paris, she had missed seeing such crazily-dressed people. It's a source of constant inspiration and creative stimulation, people-watching in this city. The accessibility of high-street fashion and the influences of mod, punk & vintage clothing from all eras combine to make the streets of London fizz and clash with colour, texture & pattern.
I guess this one is fairly self-explanatory. It's something I've only become more interested in during the last few years, but the amount of art galleries, street art, events & free open installations offered here is borderline overwhelming! You feel as though you're soaking in it - which feels good, in my opinion. :)
6. The South Bank.
I've always said it's one of my favourite spots in London - especially in the summer, where on any given day you'll find tons of events & installations & markets & things going on. Between Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Tate Modern, the Royal Festival Hall, the riverside views, Borough market and everything else, you can't really go wrong here.
7. The museums (& particularly the V&A).
I felt the need to separate this from the 'art' category because what I really mean is, all the fantastic, crazy and educational (!) events that take place at the museums. Endless fun/inspiration! All of the big museums have such busy and exciting agendas of events, I can barely keep up. Thanks, museums of London.
8. Walking EVERYWHERE.
Obviously this applies particularly because we live pretty centrally, but even when we go out for drinks in town - if we bar-hop or if we move from place to place, we generally walk. We love to walk, and this is one very walkable city.
Plus, you get to absorb so much more of the city's beautiful architecture & hey, it's a little workout! Some cities (I'm looking at you, L.A.!) are not so friendly to walking, and I'm so grateful that London isn't one of them.
9. Food & drink.
Yes, the availability of good fresh produce is somewhat limited, that is true. But I think the city more than makes up for it with the bars & restaurants. Perhaps not quite on par with New York's foodie scene, but hey - now that Balthazar has opened its doors here, I think we're almost there!
10. Can I say its general picturesque-ness...?
I know that one seems like a little bit of a cop-out, but let me explain: I don't think London is, on a surface level, a very attractive city. It's very grey, grimy, & often filled with boring-looking concrete blocks that make you wonder exactly what the designer of the building could possibly have been going for, other than 'drab' or 'depressing'. BUT, London is also full of a subtle magic, that flits into view down tiny cobbled mewses, or winks at you from the window of a mosaic-tiled wall, or appears suddenly when the BT tower is silhouetted against a fiery pink sunset. It's definitely a subtle beauty, is London, but it's there. And perhaps that's why its beauty seems to have more depth.
There you have it!
Roses are red, violets are blue, this love letter to London, is finally through!