There are a few things that I have to do every time I visit a specific city. For London, that list happens to be pretty long.
My first trip to London was in 2007. I had just finished up a monthlong volunteer trip with a religious organization in Birmingham and had booked myself another month in the capital.
It was the middle of summer between my junior and senior year of college, and I did little to no research before my feet hit the ground. I stayed in a guesthouse for Christian workers in Islington, partly because my group stayed there and partially because it ended up being the cheapest option for accommodation after everyone left.
Every day I walked through Highbury Fields and watched people push buggies and play fetch with their dogs. Mornings were pretty sacred to me. Coffee, a wing of a museum and then a bookstore after lunch, depending on how late I stayed out the night before.
The City Was My Oyster Card
You can see a lot in London when you have a whole month, unfettered by a work routine. Depending on the museum I was visiting that day, I'd pick a Tube stop and explore the area. I started with Angel and worked my way down to Barbican, then over to Edgware Road and down to Fulham Broadway.
Each afternoon I'd take time to read a section from a Nick Hornby novel and pick out the roads in Islington that he mentioned. Along the way, I'd stop for sandwiches, snacks, the occasional tea and probably a Carlsberg at some point past 2 p.m.
The city was mine to explore, and frankly, I had no clue what I was doing. Over that first month, I made friends, viewed some of the most magnificent art in the world, got lost in areas I probably shouldn't have, and somehow ran into more Americans than I ever thought possible.
As I prepare for a whirlwind four day trip in my favorite city, that first experience in London is still in my mind. It was raining, of course, and we hailed a Black Cab to take us from Marylebone Station to our guesthouse. The weather was balmy, and people moved on as if nothing in the world would stop them from living life. Staring out the back of the cab, I still remember the faces, the fashion, and the determination of the everyday Londoner. It's why I keep returning, and always will.
My London List
- Drink a Lucozade Sport
- Eat Fish & Chips
- Visit a Hat Shop
- Eat a sandwich on the go
- Ride a bus
- Visit Stamford Bridge
- Drink a Carlsberg on draught
- Stand outside St. Paul’s Cathedral
- Walk down Carnaby Street and imagine it in the 1960’s
- Stroll through Lillywhites at Piccadilly Circus
- Watch people watch the street performers at Covent Garden
- Eat a full English Breakfast
- Get rained on
- Trafalgar Square at night
- Buy a book
- Walk along the Thames no matter the weather
- Stroll through the V&A Museum