Okay so after spending a few weeks in London during the summer, my overall conclusion would be that for those seeking a gentle holiday where they can rest and read a book – London is perhaps not the place. I think a nice way to describe London, and in particular, the tube station at Oxford Circus, is by imagining many many mosquitoes, and a very bright light. But seeing as I was doing the whole “small town girl goes to big city” cliche, I found it almost overwhelmingly exhilarating. My London experience (including making abnormal amounts of friends on the night bus home after a night out in Shoreditch, watching adults partake in a hula hooping class in East London and discovering the most magnificent organic dairy free caramel popcorn at Broadway markets), was superb.
Since this was my first time being in London since I was a mere four year old in a red button up snow jacket with matching wellies, I decided it would be somewhat appropriate to do the “tourist thing.” Now don’t get me wrong – I do not usually enjoy standing in line amongst school tours and crying babies for hours just to see a monument that looks identical in the pictures, yet I did feel somewhat obliged. If it is your first time in London, by all means, visit Buckingham palace, Big ben and the London Tower if you so desire. Get your mandatory red telephone box photograph, and ride a double decker bus. Get this out of your system (preferably in a day or so), so you can start to really explore this buzzing yet historical city.
Enjoy the small things in London. Whilst picnicking in Hyde Park one afternoon (another mandatory tourist activity), a friend of a friend mentioned a place called “The Paramount.” Her description of it included the words “breath taking views,” and “cocktails” – naturally, my ears pricked up and off we went. We trekked through Piccadilly Circus to get to the Centre Point building, of which “The Paramount” bar is on the top floor of, offering a 360 degree view over London. Now the reason I am so mad about this place is probably due to the fact that it is free to enter (win win), and offers essentially the same view as The Shard and the famous London Eye, for which you pay a minimum of £25 to get up. On top of this – we exited the elevator to find an absence of tourists and large families pressed up against the windows taking flashy photos. I thought, how could a place like this exist? Now for many travellers, enjoying a full meal here may mean staying your next night at a dodgier hostel than usual, however I would definitely recommend drinks (which are reasonably priced) whilst marvelling at the contrasting historical buildings and futuristic sky scrapers.
To keep the ball rolling we left The Paramount (coordination levels starting to deteriorate), and headed for Shoreditch; the place where aspiring artists, writers, actors and musicians work as waitresses and bartenders. The street art (Banksy included), cafes hidden down small cobble stone side streets and endless galleries and book shops, give Shoreditch depth and culture. However, I would have to say that the trendiness of this urban, yet somewhat gritty area, derives from the locals and their respective attire. Shoreditch is full of tiny boutiques and quaint cafes (usually with the best sorts of people inside) – you just have to find them.