London, how do I love thee?

Gorgeous old London architecture

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.

Squirrel on a branch, London park

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.

Juxtaposition FTW at Southbank skate parklondon southbank skate park ballerina photo shoot

Our street. The Smart Hyde Park Inn hostel was basic but crazy cheapGiant bare trees and beautiful old buildings in Hyde Park / Kensington, London

It was quite surreal to actually walk through Notting Hill and visit Portobello Market in personCute street in Notting Hill, London

The view from my cousin’s riverside houseLondon backyard onto the riverBrown terrace houses along the Thames River in London

Giant horse head (as you do) around Marble ArchGiant horse head, Marble Arch in London

Where the money gets made (i.e. around the banking district)Banking district, Canary Wharf in London


London guards at museum

Quietly checking his phone…

London redcoat guard

Gothic details
IMG_8930bLondon gothic buildinglondon brown brick buildings


18 thoughts on “London, how do I love thee?

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies July 10, 2013 at 09:11

    London was fine to visit, but it’s too dense for me to want to stay there long term. But the theater is excellent! I really enjoyed the shows that I saw while I was there.

  • Reply krantcents July 10, 2013 at 09:40

    Some of my favorite vacations were spent in the UK. One of my memorable was 2 weeks traveling from London to Edinburgh and back down near the airport by car with friends.

  • Reply Amanda July 10, 2013 at 11:04

    I spent a week in London 2 years ago with my best friend at her boyfriend’s house. I couldn’t imagine being in that city without someone who knew their way around! But once she taught me, it was pretty easy to get around on my own. I LOVED that city. Did you happen to get to check out Camden Town? That was my favourite place 🙂

    • Reply eemusings July 13, 2013 at 06:12

      We had a little help from friends and family in certain areas, but navigating the main tourist route wasn’t too hard (we stayed in Hyde Park, which was super handy). Didn’t get to Camden Town – one of the only places on my list we missed – but might do when we go through again in September, since it’s not too far from King’s Cross (?) where we plan to stay.

  • Reply Budget and the Beach July 10, 2013 at 13:21

    Great pics! I’ve never been to London but I’d love to go there and hit Ireland and Scotland at the same time!

  • Reply Michelle July 10, 2013 at 13:52

    London is a great place but it just doesn’t “sing” to me. It doesn’t capture my heart and soul. I will always visit as my best friend is a Brit and lives in London. But, I think that Edinburgh,Scotland and Dublin, Ireland would excite me more.

  • Reply Morgaine July 11, 2013 at 02:55

    We didn’t get to London on the honeymoon but we did hit Edinburgh and its a beautiful city, I’d go back there in a heartbeat. Keep enjoying your trip! 🙂

  • Reply Sense July 11, 2013 at 12:50

    Haha, I have to laugh. Kiwis ALWAYS mention the squirrels after they visit the US, too. They may seem cute, scampering around, but they are little monsters! It’s good NZ doesn’t have them–they carry diseases that can be transmitted to humans! I would not feed them, either, it makes them bold and aggressive to other humans who may not want to share their picnics. My friends and I were attacked so many times on my college campus. Beware of the squirrels!

    I adore that photo of the ballerina. Glad you are enjoying Europe!!

  • Reply Leah July 13, 2013 at 01:30

    As a Kiwi currently living in London – I was reading the things you liked about London with interest and amusement. While I agree that reliable transport is amazing – after 2 years here I absolutely LOATHE the tube. Until you have had to commute on that when it’s so hot and sweaty that your thighs are perspiring and a fellow commuters sweat drips on your head…well, you haven’t really experienced the joys of the tube.

    To be perfectly honest – I hate living here (we have plans to leave soon, I’ve struggled with unemployment (I’m in/was in PR) whereas my partner (in finance) has made huge career leaps – so it’s been 50/50 successful for us). I wouldn’t recommend it to others – even though I know people who love love love it. But coming to London as a visitor? it’s AMAZING. The best place ever! So vibrant and unusual and awesome.

    You definitely did it the right way round! 😉

    • Reply eemusings July 13, 2013 at 06:10

      Nice to hear your viewpoint – very rarely do you hear stories like yours. I am sorry it’s been so hard for you, but awesome your partner has done so well (though in finance, it’s almost a given, no?)

  • Reply Tahnya Kristina July 13, 2013 at 14:35

    London, England was never on my list of places to go but your pics are making me rethink my next vacation. I’m glad to see that you are having fun. Have a great weekend.

  • Reply The Asian Pear July 13, 2013 at 15:42

    I love London. It was one of my favourite stops. I traveled through Wales one weekend too and it was fantastic. If you have a car, I totally suggest taking it and driving it around one weekend to see the fields. Very beautiful. I did find London expensive though (as a Canadian), the exchange rate is over $2CAD for 1 pound.

  • Reply Manda July 15, 2013 at 01:36

    I loved London! I really do want to go back for another visit, as I didn’t spend as much time there as I would have liked the last time I went. I can see myself living there – then again, I can see myself living just about anywhere, thanks to moving around so much as a kid.

  • Reply Hayley July 16, 2013 at 00:25

    I was very happy for most of my time in London, but I’m also happy not to be there anymore. The weather absolutely does wear on you! And the job market now is just dreadful (to be fair, it is in New York also…)

    • Reply Hayley July 16, 2013 at 00:27

      That posted too early! I was going to say, in short I think that living in London is not a necessity, particularly in this world of relatively cheap airfares!

  • Reply Daisy @ Add Vodka July 16, 2013 at 00:47

    Beautiful photos. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard really good things. We were planning for Europe this year but J can’t get any time off at all.

  • Reply Jennifer August 14, 2013 at 02:38

    I lived in London for 18 months and couldn’t wait to get outa there, its a nice place to visit, but not to work or live.

  • Reply Updates: July 7 – 13 | The Outlier Model January 18, 2014 at 08:14

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