There are many things I love about London. Let’s see:
The Tube. I am in Type A love with the Underground. Efficient public transport – say what? Until now, it was unfathomable to an Aucklander like me that I could rock up at a station and rest easy knowing a train would be along in a few minutes. On time. No need to check schedules before leaving the house – just turn up and step aboard. It might be a little pricey, but as value for money goes, it beats what I’m used to any day, if only for the fact that you can navigate around different areas of the city by seamlessly changing train lines,
The parks. Meticulously manicured. Sprawling, magnificent, made for people-watching. With squirrels to feed, fountains, statues, gardens, bikes for rent, even freaking carousels right on the grounds – it’s something straight off the pages of Mary Poppins. Just watch out for the scummy ponds.
The terrain. It’s flat and oh-so-walkable. Even T traipsed around all day, every day, nary a complaint.
The buildings. Charming architecture, laden with detail, practically oozing history.
The recycling. Oh yes. After Asia, I did a little happy dance after seeing not just public bins and recycling bins, but separate bins for different TYPES of materials – paper, plastic, glass … A sight for sore eyes, is all I have to say about that.
Yep, I was pleasantly surprised by Londontown, especially after having just spent two days with a bunch of Brits on a boat in Vietnam and hearing their tales.
But London has never held a huge draw for me. A place to visit? Hell yeah. A place to live? Don’t see the appeal. I’m in the minority of my graduating class – almost everyone I went to university with is a) currently in London, b) about to move to London, or c) has already done their stint in London and returned to NZ, or perhaps moved on somewhere else entirely. With two-year visas being easy to get and plenty of Kiwis enjoying the privileges of British-born parents, the London OE is still well and truly in fashion, abysmal job market not withstanding.
So when my London friends and family asked if, having experienced the city for a few days, if I could see myself living here, the answer was still no, for all the reasons I already suspected.
For one, the weather. You might laugh at this, but if I’m going to leave New Zealand, it better damn well be for sunnier shores. Good weather counts for a lot in my books.
Prices are also a factor. Some things, like milk, internet and cars, are way cheaper. But the cost of living is pretty high, and starting salaries low (at least in media).
All the same, London was a fantastic place to visit. There’s just so much to see (I would literally just stroll around gaping up at the buildings on every street). If you were to visit, you’d probably have an entirely different experience; we caught street performers in Southbank and Leicester Square, and spent hours at Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, which were right next to our hostel. Cyclists, dog walkers, schoolkids, mums and babies, rowers, longboarders, a random guy breakdancing and posing while his friends filmed him – we watched them all go by. Best of all was a serendipitous detour by one of the murky looking ponds, where we caught two giant geese literally racing across the water – wings outstretched, feet skimming the surface.
Our last day was rounded off with a picnic and nap outdoors, where I wrote this post, killing time before our train up to Edinburgh.
Quietly checking his phone…