A Year in London

Okay, so technically it was more like 16 months. We moved to London in December of 2013 because we wanted to explore more of the world. From a personal, social, cultural standpoint, we loved living there. Unfortunately, professionally, it was not the best situation for us. So after 16 months, we left and moved to New Zealand. But that’s a story for another day. This is about London.

Things I loved about living in London:

  • The diversity of people and cultures; hearing at least a dozen languages on the way to/from work, from Thai to Polish to Bangla and more
  • The great food choices, having everything from Turkish to Malaysian to sushi delivered, and fantastic quality too
  • Seeing priceless objects like the Rosetta Stone, a Monet, or a Dali for free any day of the week
  • Taking the Tube everywhere
  • The energy of the morning rush hour crowd
  • The relatively unimportant part religion plays in everyday lives and decisions of most people
  • The ease of traveling to so many other places in nearby countries
  • Walking among history without even realizing it, e.g. stumbling upon a house where Isaac Newton lived, or the hotel where Ho Chi Minh worked, etc
  • The great architecture, from the old to the new (e.g. More London)
  • The great friendships we were starting to forge
  • Learning to live with a lot less in a much smaller space
  • British queuing
  • Not being thought of as a foreigner

Things I didn’t exactly love:

  • The “tupperware” days — dull days with uniformly overcast sky, like living inside a tupperware bowl
  • Not being able to see the sky or stars
  • Being jammed in a rush hour Tube
  • The subtle but distinct class divisions (although I get somewhat of a free pass as an American)
  • The British trait of resigned acceptance of everything and not complaining which often results in tolerating bad service/quality (Sky TV with their 90’s-era interface and online content/quality)
  • The Brutalist architecture
  • The increasing influence of conservative Islam

Here’s some of what we saw…

Being able to take public transportation everywhere, especially the Tube, was great
The advertisements on the Tube were entertaining at times
Taking trains to places outside London was also a breeze

Living in southwest London, we took advantage of our proximity to the museums in South Kensington and made many trips.

The Natural History Museum was worth visiting just for the architecture
Earth escalator at the Natural History Museum
My favourite was the British Museum, with so many priceless artifacts from all over
Precursor to cuneiform, from 3,000 BCE Iran

We loved spending time at the many parks scattered around the city.

Spring was a great time
Hyde Park

 

Regent’s Park
Spending a sunny afternoon at the park — a London tradition
Sunset at Green Park
Winter morning at Kensington Garden
Kensington Garden
The King’s deer at Richmond Park
But when it snowed, the whole city shut down and went into a state of emergency

We lived very close to the All England Lawn Tennis Club, where Wimbledon is held. Naturally, we had to go.

Watching Wimbledon
We got lucky and snagged free tickets to Centre Court and saw Djokovic and Serena

I worked in the City. Although the work was stressful, it was something to feel the energy of the crowd heading to work in the morning. However, jammed into a Tube carriage was something I could have done without. Despite the Europeans’ reputation (in America at least) of having a more relaxed attitude about work, Londoners work a lot. Tons of serious young men and women perusing newspaper articles about the latest financial trends in the morning, and exhausted workers late in the evenings.

An afternoon in the Matrix
The City
My office was down there

On the weekends we played tourist and explored as much of London as possible.

Westminster was a popular place
Watching the performers at Covent Garden was always fun
We did the South Bank walk many times
Tower Bridge was always a fun stop
The views from the promenade at Butler’s Wharf were especially nice
We went up the Shard for a bird’s eye-view
Sunny Friday afternoons on the South Bank were a treat
The Tower of London is definitely worth the price

I loved the various architecture around the city, from the old to the new.

The City architecture
The Batcave
The Gherkin
The Shard
Somerset House
More London
Southbank graffiti & skate park
Crutched Friars

The many markets around London were fantastic. Whether the food at Borough Market or the establishment-sponsored anti-establishment merchandise at Camden Market, it was a fun way to spend a few hours.

Leadenhall Market was visually sumptuous
Smithfield Market at 6am
The Christmas markets were filled with treats

Despite the short time, we loved living in London. Maybe one day we’ll be back again.

It was fun living in a tourist city
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2 thoughts on “A Year in London”

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