I first visited London when I was 22 years old, fresh out of college on my first solo travel experience. I was backpacking around England and Scotland for a month or so, the adventure of a lifetime up until that point. Naturally, I started my explorations of the UK in London, where I had several days to see all of the legendary places I had read about and dreamed of for so long. As a lover of all things Europe and a natural born Anglophile I felt destined to love London. So imagine my surprise when I left the city not loving it, but sort of loathing it.
Fast forward a decade or so and I once again found myself in London, this time with my partner, on a 4 day mini-vacation. As I did on the first time, I toured the famous sites, walked through neighborhoods, ate good food and in general didn’t have a bad time. But I didn’t love it; far from it. I felt that if I never returned it would be ok. I had moved on from hatred to indifference, which can be just as powerful a force.
Since then I’ve been to London a couple of times, never spending a lot of time there but again, not necessarily enjoying the experience either. I don’t know what it is about the city, for some reason we just don’t connect and I frankly don’t understand why. It’s a European capital, my friends all adore it, it has history and culture and a certain natural beauty and yet, there is some barrier that has kept me from connecting personally with London and therefore falling in love with it. Well, I’ve decided to give it one last chance.
Last year I was notified that I was the grand prize winner of a sweepstakes; yes, people do actually win them. The prize was a trip for two to London, all expenses paid and so on. My partner was excited of course but I was slightly ambivalent. London. Once again I would be forced to find my way around the neighborhoods that make up this great capital city, but this time I vowed it would be different.
This time I am going all out to ensure a nice experience. I have planned experiences for us, nice meals and even purchased tickets to see a play. We will shop, sightsee, eat and in general do everything possible to enjoy ourselves. We are also visiting some new neighborhoods, in an attempt to get out of the tourist bubble and see more of the real London. But this is it, this is my last shot. If I don’t fall in love with London this time, I never will.
But I don’t hate London, don’t misunderstand me. It’s more a feeling of antipathy towards it. I am fairly confident that I will return many more times in my life, but I believe this trip will define how I approach those experiences. So check out my social media streams over the next few days and come back to this space in a couple of weeks to see how I fared on this third and final attempt to fall in love with London.
Do you have any suggestions on things I can do in London that I might enjoy?