When asked my favorite city, I freeze up. I'll go all "ummmmmmmm," sputter about nonsensically, perhaps mention Edinburgh or Barcelona, oh and now Dubrovnik but of course, remember that US cities count as cities too and wax poetic/patriotic about my first love New York City and true love San Francisco (despite the rent I had to pay on Monday IT HURTS, it hurts so good), but without fail, I usually forget about London.
I love London. Nay, I fancy London to bits. I heart its slight eccentricity, its modgepodge of neighborhoods. I'm crazy about how I've never even remotely felt unsafe in its borders and its brilliant public transportation. I'm such a fan of how it's this huge, hustling, bustling metropolis, but how it stands upon a history that I can't even begin to fathom. Out of all the international cities I've fallen head over heels for, I think London would be the one in which I'd like to live.
Which is why I felt this terrible sense of gloom and doom when, at the height of my most recent visit, London felt unimpressive and anticlimactic.
I figured it out though, so no one panic. I got dis.
I didn't pile on nearly enough of a full English breakfast onto my plate. That's the reason.
The trick to falling for London is that you can't overpack your itinerary with tourist attractions, which is what ended up happening for me this go-around. You just can't. You'll spend half the time in traffic or waiting in line in torrential downpour or under the beating sun. People get pushy and rude, and seriously, why so crowded? Simply not ideal conditions for your heart to go a'flutter.
My advice: pick and choose a couple of touristy things to do, and spend the rest of your time in London enjoying the sunshine by picnicking in a park, shopping at Primark, or taking a day trip somewhere slightly more quaint. You'll be all loopy in love in no time.
I'll say only three words to you: home of Kate. Now, more words: although less grandiose than Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace is full of charm for any Kate Middleton or Princess Diana fans orrrrrrr throwin' it back now y'all... Queen Victoria fans, anyone? Kensington's garden is vast and breathtaking. Take a nice, long morning walk and then reward yourself with afternoon tea at the Orangerie. (My other favorite afternoon tea is at Fortnum & Mason, but I ain't tryin' to make you sell your firstborn child here, so Orangerie it is.)
Well, a ways out of London, but this is an absolute must for any Potterhead. End of story.
This is what dreams are made of. I made a solo sojourn to Borough Market mere hours before our train to Paris because I simply couldn't go to London and not go to Borough Market. Sample your way around the vendors (I highly recommend the grilled cheese and raclette at Kappacasein), drink some Pimm's, pick up some pastries or soaps or produce or what have you, a sausage sandwich at Brindisa, and brave the Monmouth line for a latte on your way out. I stopped at an ATM before entering the market, and left 30 pounds both lighter and heavier HAHA. HA. On a nice day, I love walking from Borough Market over towards the Globe Theater, up and over the Millennium Bridge and towards St. Paul's.
Good and gooder, my friends.
Tower of London + a river cruise down to a tour either at Westminster Abbey or House of Parliament.
This is for you history buffs out there. The Tower of London is so full of history, albeit mostly bloody, sad, or bloody sad. Catch a Yeoman tour and they'll tell you all about where Henry VIII's queens were imprisoned and/or executed. Warm and fuzzy stuff! Cheer yourself up afterwards by taking a peek at the Crown Jewels. Leave blinded. I enjoyed Westminster Abbey much more on a guided tour, but was absolutely enthralled by the House of Parliament's audio guide.
The best part is that won't even have to spend a penny. My favorites are the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert. If you choose the V&A, go explore South Kensington afterwards!