CE Experience: The London Tourist
I've been coming to London all my life, even though I had not properly lived here till last year. And can you believe that I have never been on the London Eye before? Why is it that when you're a local you don't tend to do the touristy stuff? To be fair, I could probably guess why the Eye is one attraction I might have avoided since I have a devastating fear of heights! It's funny because I had no problem getting onto the Eye. I wasn't panicking at the thought of being up high when I was on the ground lol....but once we started rising and got quite high up I just couldn't bring myself to stand at the edge of the pod and my hands started sweating profusely! Luckily I was able to distract myself by taking pictures and I did try and put on a brave face for my teenage niece. She has recently moved to the UK from Nigeria and I wanted to take her around a little and show her how cool London is. And what better way to see London than from up high (well for someone without vertigo at least). She loved it so I'm happy. We then spent some time walking around Westminister and hopped on some Boris Bikes to cycle towards Buckingham Palace. How fabulous to be able to cycle around the Queen's backyard! Only in London darhhling!
So this little fun excursion basically got me thinking about London life, what it has been like for me living here properly for the last year and the things I have learned about this magical city:
- Though incredibly beneficial, the underground is my idea of hell. Perhaps not the underground itself but the culture. I just have never understood why everyone is in such a rush, especially when there is most likely to be another train in 2-3 mins? And people just appear miserable underground, they move around like zombies. To be fair, I imagine I look exactly the same. I have actually stopped taking the tube during rush hour, for my sanity and for the safety of those around me...I tend to see red during these times and seriously could just punch someone in the face for accidentally bumping into me and I'm generally quite a happy-go-lucky kinda girl. Proof that the underground is a dark and dangerous place...no happiness lives down there!
- Very important lesson about the tube, which I had to learn the hard way: Hold on to your hat when under ground. The speed at which those trains whiz by will ultimately cause your favorite fedora to fly off your head unto the tracks where it will be pissed on my rodents. Sad times!
- London is dirty! Literally, there is dirt in the air! I blow my nose everyday and my snot comes out black (probably too much information but it gets the point across). And wearing sandals in the city runs the risk of you ending up looking like an extra from Oliver.
- The city has many bright lights which can be very distracting and tempting. Everything is so fast paced here and it can be easy to lose yourself while trying to keep up with the speed at which others live their lives. The social scene is like no other and while it is thrilling, you are exposed to copious new experiences and new people and often find yourself bumping heads with celebrities, it is so important to give yourself a day off regularly or you WILL crash and burn. Sunday is my "be a vegetable" at home day where I literally do not leave the house, hiding from the alluring glare of the city.
- It's not about what you know, it's about who you know! That's how to get ahead in London. It's that or be very good-looking..and that will ultimately lead you to knowing the right people who will then stick to you like glue and thus you can get ahead. Vicious circle really.
- Dating is impossible in London because there is are many people you could date, someone hotter or easier could literally be round the corner or on the next table. Hook up culture in its prime!!
- Money money money, the city will suck you dry! When I first moved to London I found that not only was I spending cash like it was water, but I was being ripped off left, right and center. The number of times people give back the wrong change or fake notes is actually comical. Remember to keep your wits about you and stay aware of how much you're spending. A latte here, a Sambuca shot there and cinema outing later and before you know it, you are on the verge of homelessness.
- The East is not the enemy! Being a West girl I've always been quite wary of the East end! But friends have introduced me to the quirks of the new East and I have to say I'm loving exploring it (while gripping on tightly to my Chanel tote lol)!
- Urban loneliness is not a myth! It's so ironic that you can live in one of the busiest and crowded cities in Europe and still can feel like you are all alone. There was a point when I first moved to London, after I got over the initial honeymoon period of being somewhere new, that I realized that you can actually feel quite alone in city life. Perhaps it's the small fish in a big pond syndrome or just the plain fact that Londoners are notorious for not being particularly friendly and are quite suspicious of each other. I soon learned that if you do not keep up, London will leave you behind, which can feel awfully isolating.
- Saying that, a bit of sun in this city and London becomes the friendliest spot to lounge in. People no longer look like zombies and are much more forthcoming (however add alcohol into the mix and we can go to the other extreme).
- London is amazing and one can only marvel at its variety! The cosmopolitan nature, the fact that you can get food from any culture in the world at pretty much any time, the ability for you to take a wrong turn in your planned route and stumble across something new and splendid (a beer garden with twinkling light, a bar covered in vines, a rooftop cinema, free Krispy Kremes). The possibilities of what to eat, who to meet and how to entertain yourself are endless! Simply just enjoy the experience (...while still being aware of the points I made above).
- While London is truly awesome, try and get out once in a while! A (literal) breath of fresh air and some open space does wonders for your psyche and you'll feel so much more refreshed and accepting of London upon your return (except if you've come from Monaco where the streets are so clean, back to you doorstep where people are spitting on the road lol).
Anything I'm missing!!? There is undoubtedly so much more for me to learn about one of the coolest cities in Europe? xo
P.S. Please keep in mind that a lot of this is in good jest and I have a working love-hate relationship with my city!