I sat on the tube on my first day in London... Listened to the scraping and squealing of the wheels on the rails, the beeps announcing the closing of the doors, the "mind the gap" warnings... I felt the uneven jolting and rocking of the carriages and the gusts of stale air as underground tunnels were negotiated... And I felt as if I had never been away.
So many things have remained as I remember them. I have been genuinely surprised to find streets are lined with many of the same shops. That buses travel the same routes to the same destinations. Pubs still smell the same (sans the stale smell of cigarettes) and bar staff still welcome patrons with the standard "alright?"The chaos of central London is certainly more frantic, and yet the relative calm of Richmond (where I used to live, and am now lucky to be staying) feels like the haven it always did.
And as for my long list of things 'uncool' about London in yesterday's post, rest assured, there are so many more things that ARE cool. London public transport is awesome. The history, the tradition, the icons of London are ageless and still take my breath away. The art is brilliant. The shopping is varied and full of treasures (and a lot of crap too!). The shows are vibrant and affordable (if you're willing to sit in the gods!)
The scale of everything here is breathtaking. Each turn uncovers another icon or a hidden treasure. It's easy to fill hours just walking the streets and catching the sights or grabbing a seat somewhere and watching the world go by.
I am loving being back here after all this time. Every now and then I pinch myself to remind myself I am here and how lucky we are to be able to spend six weeks exploring and enjoying it all.
So far I have returned to many places I have been before, but I have also explored new areas too. Windsor and it's castle, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and parliament, the London Eye, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus, Oxford Street, Hyde Park... Hampton Court Palace, the National Gallery, the British Museum, the Wallace Collection, Kew Gardens. Les Miserables. A long weekend in Aberdeen, Scotland visiting family friends.
Phew! Did I say we'd been busy?
Being a tourist is exhausting. But there's still so much to see and do...
There's still the Globe Theatre, Portobello and Spitalfields markets, The Mousetrap, the Foundling museum, the Tate Gallery... And a few trips out of London... a trip to Bath or Salisbury where we can also catch up with blogging friend Trash... we have a four night trip to Barcelona booked and (time permitting) we might even squeeze in a two night break in Paris. Not to mention catching up with Lucia & Felipe when they get back from Brazil.
Busy busy times.