As far back as I can remember, we sang English nursery rhymes as little babes, about London bridge falling down, and a ring-a ring-of roses; we read tales authored by Charles Dickens and Enid Blyton, and had our fill of William Shakespeare in Literature class at high school. That seemed like a long way back, but it has taken me even longer to visit England’s capital. The surprising thing is that it’s just the city ‘next door’, a stone throw across the English channel; but when I finally made it to visit, I appreciated it. It was overwhelming in every respect, an assault on the senses.
London is a mouthful. It is your typical big city, the one that country bumpkins will shrink from, and either love or hate. Some say it is too busy, that there’s always a rush, always a brushing of shoulders, a nudging of elbows, a pull of the crowds; or someone trying to do a fast one on you. There’s always something happening in this incredibly busy capital. Yet, to describe London in one-sentence liners would be to short-change it. It would render the city incomplete, devoid of it’s true essence; for there’s not a sentence, nor one word that can aptly describe it.
London is different and still refreshing, enticing but yet ridiculously expensive. It can be serious, or it can be fun, it can even be full of quirks, it is posh and at the same time tacky, spacious when you look at the parks but crowded when you look at its’ streets. London is generous, London is polite. Ancient buildings stand side by side sparkly skyscrapers..and if you put your feet to the test, you may traverse London without actually traversing it…it’s that huge.
The Underground, oldest in the world, is a confusing maze of lines and colours covering every zone and direction imaginable. Most refreshingly, they speak English here. Crisp Queen’s english. My ears were on an eavesdropping fest..bliss!
I reached out to a couple of locals, as part of my pre-travel preparations, gave them the heads up about my visit, and they responded with sighs saying, “Don’t worry, we’ll play it by the ear.”
So with no itinerary drafted, but me having a rough idea of what I did not want to miss, we played it by the ear, visiting big sights as well as hidden treasures. We swiped our Oyster cards each time we hopped onto buses, on entry and exit the tube and basically took in all that London had to offer. I spent early mornings and late evenings with an overload of all things English; whether it was gorging on delicious hot cross buns, fish and chips, sausages and muffins; watching past concerts of Adele and classic oldies such as My Fair Lady and Mary Poppins on dvd, or even listening to Bri’ish accents, as reporters rolled out the news.
I must say that London gave me that déjà vu feel, though this was the first time I stepped on English soil. It must be the many semblances a few relics here and there have with hotels and structures back home; the abundance of lion statues, the ubiquitous Indian cuisine, and signposts bearing similarity to those in Nairobi. *Kenya was colonized by Great Britain up until December 12, 1963.*
Nevertheless, I was impressed by England’s capital, and these are a few highlights of our English tour (in pictures).
Have you been to London? What are your thoughts about the city?
Categories: United Kingdom