This Great City

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
Trip End Jun 04, 2006

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Flag of United Kingdom  ,
Friday, October 7, 2005

London! I've not taken the tube since I returned. Not through fear or distaste, but simply because it's great to walk around London and to admire the city skyline, the life of the river, the mews and gardens, the relative cleanliness, and the cosmopolitan hustle and bustle of a city which people live and work in every day . London was one of the first global centres of the industrial age, and whilst the legacy of that influence remains it has changed and evolved. Today, as for so long, London offers you anything and everything by way of entertainment, culture, food, ethnicity, architecture, commerce and anything else you choose.

Yes, London will burn a hole in your wallet, and my Japanese friends tell me it's on a par with Tokyo today. Yes, London will have you tearing your hair out at the failings of an outdated transport infrastructure, but you can always find a way around it and the mayor "Red Ken" has made welcome changes and actually made things happen. Yes, London's centres of wealth sit alongside deprived inner city areas and pockets of crime, but I still feel safe in London.

Those who have lived in and around London for years may continually complain about it. Get on the tube at rush hour and you'll wait a long time to hear someone talking London up, but ask yourself why so many tourists and economic migrants from the UK and the rest of the World come here. London offers so much with its dynamism and offers hope and endless possibilities. I took London for granted all my life, but with fresh eyes, I see that it is a great city to be enjoyed.

It's a cliche, but when you live and work somewhere or have everything you're looking for on your doorstep, you sometimes just don't see it. Coming back to London's a bit like this. It really is one of the World's great cities and it's much more than somewhere to go to work or to hang out with your friends. It's pumping and thumping, just as much as anywhere else I've been lucky enough to go on my travels, albeit in a slightly less voluble way than in Asia or Central America.

London feels like it's changed. It's more cosmopolitan than I remember. Maybe that's the effect of my living in a mono-cultural society for a year. It's not some ghetto of "Britishness" or British stereotypes. Walking down the street, the polyglot make up of faces and tune of the Worlds languages washes over you. That's what makes it amazing, and I don't think I noticed it or valued it quite this much before.
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