I can easily imagine spending more time in London Town –may I call it that now with my new-found familiarity? Traipsing the Burroughs and exploring London’s underbelly, via the tube lends an up close and personal view of what it’s like to live there.
I am assured by those more familiar with London that the tube is usually dependable and user-friendly. But if you’re traveling there in the near future, beware of extensive line-maintenance closings and spontaneous rerouting–quite a challenge, for the novice, for sure.
*Disability Warning: escalators and elevators (lifts) may be out-of-order, which can be a real hassle. Luckily, wonderful people saw my dilemma and grabbed our suitcases and carried them up the steep and numerous stairs which made all the difference! (Bless you all!)
There are twelve Inner London boroughs and twenty Outer London boroughs–much of which you will miss if you use the tube everywhere you go, so I suggest mixing it up with a tour bus, Uber, taxis or a river cruise to get the whole picture.
Why haven’t I lost 20 lbs by now, with all that exercise?
Could it be the great food paired with wine or the panoply of British brewed beers? Or the melt-in-your mouth fish ‘n chips, soaked with malt vinegar and dipped in an interesting red curry sauce? Perhaps England’s boring-food reputation is passe’, because we found the the menus to be both creative and imaginative– quite beyond our expectations. And if you are a gin-lover, you will feel right at home.
Many neighborhoods have “food co-ops” , small like our convenience stores but packed full with organic and healthy choices. The prices were more reasonable than I imagined and when you purchase a temporary membership for $10, your discount is immediate and a portion of the price goes to the community. Impressive.
Friends suggested that we visit Camden Town or Camden Lock, a borough in NW London, located near 3 canals used in the late 1800’s. Little did we realize that Sunday is Market Day which feels like the circus is in town, with people thronging the streets, music playing mostly American hits, vendors dealing and my senses reeling from all the food aromas, crazy signs and people gathering to do what people do best–socializing and letting their hair down before the work-week begins anew.
We took in the traditional sights too– Big Ben, living up to expectations, a sentinel above Westminster Abbey; Buckingham Palace at night with the Queen mum and possibly Kate, locked safely within; and St. Paul’s Cathedral where feeding the birds is more than a scene from Mary Poppins. Arriving just at evening’s edge, we were beckoned within, silenced by the sacred ambiance, heavy with incense and layered with centuries of prayer.
But my big surprise was walking late at night from Trafalgar Square and arriving at Piccadilly Circus–oh my! Like Times Square, upbeat with lights flashing, music pulsing, and people lined up to see the next play. With restaurants and pubs competing for your attention–it’s a haven to your hunger or thirst for the thrill of London’s famous city life.
There appeared to be many homeless people camped on sidewalks or near subway stations but they are polite and careful not to “beg”. We were told that the police leave them alone as long as they give something in return– such as directions to tourists who obviously need advice (personally speaking). Everyone said, “thank you”, even if not given money. So very civilized, those Brits.