The world-class, global economic engine that pulls in travelers from all over the world called my name during my semester abroad. I decided to go to London for a variety of reasons:
- It’s London…duh.
- I had a few friends I could stay with right by King’s Cross Station, so I didn’t need to get a hostel.
- I found 50€ round-trip tickets from Granada, Spain direct to London
All of these reasons led me to believe that visiting London was well worth it. In fact, I haven’t met many people who have no interest in even visiting London. I went in with huge expectations. It helped that I had guides who had lived there the past 6 months, but that didn’t mean London exceeded every expectation. Many expectations were exceeded about London, but others definitely were not, so I thought I’d share what my props and drops about London.
Props to the enormous amount of history the city had to offer. Drops to the swarms of tourists at all the sites.
Now, in any city you are in, at every tourist attraction, there will always be swarm of tourists. That’s the point after all isn’t it? In London, every attraction was packed making pictures difficult to get, and I love a good picture. There is plenty to do in London though so maybe try and visit some of the main sites at non-peak hours. The busiest place was British Museum, and in particular the Rosetta Stone. Be ready to use your elbows if you want to be able to see the front of the stone at all.
Props to the red phone booths. Drops to the urine soaked phone booth I went to take a picture in.
Tell someone to picture London and I would bet that red phone booth is one of the first images they conjure up. They are sprinkled throughout the city and still actually work today. I took my fair share of pictures of them. However, I only went in one, which was consequently soaked in urine most likely from the night before. Make sure you’re careful before you just willy-nilly jump into one of the red phone booths for that classic photo.
Props to the walkability and availability of public transportation in London. Drops to the crummy weather I had when I was there.
London has one of the best public transportation systems in the world. An extensive metro and bus system will take you anywhere you need, within a few blocks. It is possible, and recommended if possible, to walk the city though. I enjoyed it because I could see everything right in front of me and felt as though I could really get in touch with the individual neighborhoods. When I visited, in spring, the weather was less than desirable, especially coming from southern Spain. It did not ruin the trip though, just be prepared for what the weather may be.
Props to the full English breakfast and fish and chips. Drops to the other cuisine in London.
A common complaint about London is the food. I, too, was unimpressed overall. However, the full English breakfast was incredibly satisfying, even after I had been used to the light, almost non-existent Spanish breakfast I had been eating for 4 months before this. I also had fish and chips in Greenwich, which was delicious when a paired with a handsome helping of malt vinegar. The fried fish reminded me of typical Friday night dinners in my home state of Wisconsin.
Props to the double-decker buses. Drops to the ease of using the bus compared to the Tube.
Another iconic symbol of London: the double-decker bus. I’ve never ridden in one before this, and it was an interesting experience. After making it into London, I took the bus to my friend’s flat, and upon boarding immediately went to the second level and was excited to see the front seats were open. While maybe a giddy, childish move, I still thought it was well worth it. Using the bus after that night, I sat on the top level a few times, but didn’t run to the front seat. Although the buses were neat, their schedules were more confusing than the Tube. Plus, you generally have to wait outside for the bus while the Tube is underground. The Tube may be on-time less often, but at least you can see how much time is left until the next train arrives while waiting on the platforms.
Props to the endless museums, galleries, pubs, and shops. Drops to the exchange rate of the British pound.
London is expensive. There’s more than enough to do, but it will cost you. Obviously, some things are inexpensive and even free, but others will definitely cost you. For United Kingdom, it’s very beneficial that the pound is a stable currency. However, for a traveler coming from the euro or the dollar, it may be a shocker to see how much stuff costs based on the exchange rate alone.
Props to the cider. Drops to the morning headache.
Cider. Cider. Cider. I fell in love with it in London. Whether it was the nicer Strongbow or the more “economical” Frosty Jack’s blue plastic 2 liter bottle, it was still good…or at least good enough. Since leaving London, my cider consumption has increased tenfold. Thank you London! Of course the morning headache can be induced by many fermented beverages, so I cannot hold that against the city.
London is a city I would recommend visiting. Every city has its props and drops, and in London, the props outweighed the drops for me. If you visit make sure you drink some cider for me!
Do you want to visit London or have you already been there? What were your thoughts about it?