It’s been a week since I got on the plane to London. As I am sitting in the sundrenched backyard of my home on this beautiful summer morning, I once again realise how quickly time has flown by.
When we had left Hamburg last week, it had still been raining, cloudy and rather chilly. Considering the weather then, it was indeed the perfect time to flee the country. And even though we’ve all heard about England’s typical cloudy weather, we were welcomed by sunshine as soon as we touched British ground. Who would have guessed that at some point we would actually feel like we had gone on a summer vacation someplace south?
Thanks to that early morning flight and the extra hour that was given us due to the time difference, we had a whole first day on our hands when we landed at Heathrow. We got our bags and headed for the underground, happily stumbling into a new adventure. While we had decided to get a day pass at the counter, the cashier kindly called to our attention: “No, no, no, sweetheart, that’s way too expensive.” And even though we didn’t understand half of the things he was typing into his calculator, we ended up getting several tickets that allowed us to go where we wanted to go and saving three Pound – which, considering the fact that we were in London and did not have an endless budget, came in quite handy. I believe we looked a little lost at times, trying to figure out the directions of the underground, because several people asked if we needed any help finding our way. What a nice change for a huge city like this, I thought to myself while I tried to remember the last time this had happened in any of the big cities I had been to before.
When we had looked for a hostel on the internet a few weeks back, we were wondering what might expect us once we’d get there. Because even though both of us, Svenja and I, had made several hostel experiences before and felt at home in most of them, we’d rather not share our room or food with mice, which apparently wasn’t that uncommon in London according to several possibly mildly exaggerated reviews online. In the end, we had booked a hostel in Notting Hill (ouh yeah, I know!), where we got to share our room with an Israeli couple and two Finish girls instead of any unwelcome little stowaways.
Generally speaking – I know I have to get this out at least once – London locals, those people rock! I was so amazed by their open-mindedness towards different people and lifestyles, by their openness towards tourists or travellers like us. Those people, some of them strangers whom we had just run into on the street, made it possible for us to get a proper glimpse of what a life in London could feel like. I guess I had already expected that I would love the place, but in some ways all my expectations have been exceeded in the most beautiful way.
Of course we went to see some of the major tourist attractions and sights London has to offer, but most of the time we just tried to find our own way through the labyrinth of inspiration. I first felt like I had gone to heaven in Shoreditch, admiring all the street art and graffiti we found in the small side streets, travelling further back in time with every vintage shop that we entered or passed on our way down Brick Lane. Then we went to Camden Market and I was blown away. What a place! If only things hadn’t been so expensive, I might have actually returned home with a second suitcase full of handcrafted jewellery, feathery anythings, cloths, and other beautiful artwork that fell into my hands.
Neither Svenja nor I are huge fans of city maps which got us lost in several places – only to make new discoveries, some of which I’m sure we would have never found in a tourist guide. On our second day, we bought lunch at a small Asian food market in the city center. Later, we almost accidently found London’s most renowned food market, Borough Market, by missing one turn on our way to London Bridge. Some might say that we possibly missed out on several popular sights there are to see in London. That’s probably true. Then again we got to really experience the city’s vibe and flair. In the end, we hardly needed the small subway map that was given to us on our first day anymore. We definitely didn’t see everything. But that would probably take a lifetime anyway. Now at least I have several reasons to come back!