“If you are tired of London you are tired of life.” – Samuel Johnson & Julie Stark.
Well, after such an amazing time during the London Olympics in 2012 (see previous post) we decided we should return and see London under ‘normal’ conditions. We weren’t disappointed! In fact, central London was probably even more vibrant than it was during the Olympics. Lots of Londoners avoided the downtown areas during the Olympics, but at the start of summer, 2014 and the soccer World Cup, it seemed the place was packed with locals and tourists alike, which created a great atmosphere.
The weather was warm and on sunny evenings the outdoor bars and eateries were all packed with people enjoying the sunshine. That’s one interesting thing about sunshine in Europe: when it’s there, people embrace it, because they realize it may soon disappear! People who rely on drink or ice-cream sales clearly love it when the sun comes out too.
We stayed at an Airbnb at Isleworth this time around. It was a pleasant train trip from Waterloo Station and we enjoyed our stay there. Highlights of our week included:
* catching up with the Beauchamps (Lords, Abbey Road and Leicester Square for dinner)
* The Queen’s Birthday parade at which we saw many of the Royals parading past us
* ‘Beating a Retreat’, a military show put on at the Horse Guard’s Parade
* the Tate Gallery
* several other museums
* a singalong cinema show for ‘Dirty Dancing’ in lieu of ‘The Sound of Music’.
* the canal boats area
* World Cup match England v Italy at the local pub
* along the Thames
* wandering around London
* bussing around London
I will say this about London and Londoners:
* They like to take off as many clothes as is deemed ‘propper’ and sunbake in the parks at the first sign of sunshine.
* They like to drink outside when it’s sunny.
* They were behind their World Cup team but feared failure and were rewarded with it. Seen on a blackboard outside a pub….”The English soccer players are like Parker Pens. They look good on paper.”
* The Thames River is a dirty looking river that breathes life into the city
* They enjoy a bit of pomp and ceremony.
* Mysteriously the Royal Family survives, even thrives!
* London Transport is a complex web of buses, subway lines and trains that does a pretty good job in spite of criticism.
* They commemorate, perhaps even glorify war.
* Londoners are proud of their past and apprehensive about their future.
* London bobbies do a good job.
* What’s with all the guards in funny hats?
* London theatre is alive and well.
* London has more billionaires, international students and professional football teams than any other city in the world.
* The canals aren’t as cute or as clean as the canal boats.
* Boris is still mayor and being an Eton boy is an advantage in London.
* London schools are over-scrutinized to the detriment of teachers, children and the nation.
* There are lots of old buildings, monuments, statues, churches and lanes.
* There is a lack of toilets in London and if you walk to the Waterloo loos after 8pm, they will be shut.
* Lots of London pubs have funny names like ‘The Pie and Ale’.
* The depth and extent of the underground is mind-boggling.
* What’s with Nelson’s Column?
* Londoners need to mind the gap between the train and the platform, while the rest of Europe seems to manage.
* Ya gotta love free London newspapers, but not the spikes they put under bridges to stop the homeless sleeping there.
* London’s street names remind me of my childhood, playing Monopoly.
* How did the Royal Family survive after Charles I was beheaded?
There aren’t many better places in the world than London to hang out. Do yourself a favour and visit (or re-visit.)