Nothing against the city (I'd been here a couple times, years ago, before moving to the UK). It's just that there are so many other places I want to go! Why go back to London, where I'd been before, when I could go somewhere new instead?
But then I went to London last year (that was my one weekend away that I was able to sneak in, before grad school got intense and stayed that way), and I had so much fun. I think it helped that I came with a goal (see as much theater as possible) rather than being simply a tourist in general, not sure where to start in such a big city.
Whatever the reason, I fell for London. (And this from a not-a-city-person!) I feel about London the way I feel about New York City: would never want to live here (spending any amount of time whatsoever on the Tube makes me hate EVERYTHING), but what a fun place it is to visit.
Now, as my extended research/wrapping-everything-up-in-Scotland trip is wrapping up, I'll be flying out of London tomorrow. Leaving via London was the only affordable option, but I'm glad of it – I get one more night train down from Scotland (night train!), and one last London jaunt before I officially no longer live in the UK.
I get to spend two days in London, and I feel fortunate. Here, have some glimpses:
My hostel looks out on St Pancras, seen here in gorgeous early morning light.
My fannishness always seems to come out in London, too; I'm staying near the location that serves as the exterior for 221B Baker Street on BBC Sherlock, so I popped over there yesterday and had breakfast at the café downstairs, right in front of the famous door. It's goofy, but it made me very happy.
These have been two utterly gorgeous days; yesterday I wandered around in Regent's Park (and saw a heron??), strolled into Camden Town and then a ways along Regent's Canal – which might now be my new favorite part of London. Houseboats and ducks and swans and a hippie vibe and this amazing hidden water-and-green-space winding right through the heart of the city.
Last night I saw Underground Railroad Game, a play about racism and the legacy of slavery in the US. It's a play that's powerful and uncomfortable, and apparently has been making a splash in both the US and UK. Today I saw Othello at the Globe Theatre (as in, the one that's a reconstruction of Shakespeare's theater), with André Holland (of Moonlight) among other excellent actors.
I was a groundling (standing room on the ground on front of the stage) just like in Shakespeare's day, which means much of the action happened about four feet from my face! Standing through a full-length Shakespeare play isn't fun, but it was worth it for the price (£5! for excellent professional Shakespeare!) and even more for the close-up view of the stage.
Among other things so far, I also dropped in at the Tate Modern, continued the culinary tour of places various friends have recommended, and had a long ramble along the Thames at sunset.
I knew the Thames was tidal, but I didn't realize just how great the high-low tide difference was, or that there are places where gates open in the railing of the walkway above and steps lead down to the sand beach that's revealed when the tide is low. It was really cool to see people playing on the beach right there on the Thames in the middle of the city.
London can be a lovely place, which I think is the other thing I didn't expect in a city this big, bustling and sometime chaotic. (Seriously, the Tube at peak commuting times...sometimes it's too crowded to even enter the station, let alone get to a train.)
But London at dusk, from the south bank of the Thames? Even those big ugly skyscrapers look pretty in that light.