I know I promised I would post at least once a month but in my defense I am recovering from surgery and the only reason I am out of bed now is to sort of keep my promise, let’s pretend this post is happening in February 🙂 Also, to make it up to you for waiting I am giving you a love story, and who doesn’t appreciate a good love story?!
My love story with London is an epic one; it is not a summer romance like I had with New Zealand or 4 nights of passion like I had with New Orleans, it is an endless love for the ages. A lot of people have that one place in the world that makes them completely happy, the place they would give up other places for if needed, London is mine. If you want to know why just keep reading.
I fell in love with London when I was 12 years old. My parents took me abroad for the first time, a 21 days trip to Scotland, Paris and London for desert and indeed it was the cherry on top of pretty much everything! I kept returning to London time and time again until finally, at the age of 26 when my life felt stuck and unfulfilling I decided to move there. I lived there for 9 years in total (in two batches), and returned permanently to Israel at 2016 because of my lack of European passport and my inability to get a work visa, I know, it sucks!
The first time I moved back to Israel I immediately found a job, got back on track and dove into a very deep depression, too deep, scary deep. So when I had to move back the second time I did 2 things differently: the first, I didn’t go back to real life right away, I decided to spend a few months at the beach, decide what I want to do etc. The second thing was to go traveling (of course)! I figured I might not get another chance like that , at 36 to go on a few months trip before being a grown up again, so I packed a big backpack and went away for 4 months: New Zealand, Fiji, Australia (east coast) and Hong Kong with 2 weeks in London on the way back to decompress. That was the absolute right thing to do!!! This time when I returned to Israel I was ready to settle down. The move from place to place can give you whiplash sometimes, especially between countries that are drastically different as England and Israel are, if I can give you only one advice it will be to take your time, don’t jump into reality too quickly because it can be a bit harsh. Sort out your heart, because I found that taking the first step means nothing if you are not really prepared for the journey ahead.
I bet you are asking yourselves why I fell so hard for a city that some find too grey (“nice to meet you, my name is Jo and I am a winter person”) or the people in it too cold. Well, I will allow you a glimpse into my heart and tell you.
Natural Beauty – I don’t know about you but I like having random beauty around me, to look up and see stunning architecture, to walk around and see an explosion of spring flowers or autumn leaves, to have parks to stroll in and monuments to encounter every now and then and London has it all. All you have to do is look up, look around you. To be honest, there is nothing better than getting lost in this city and find the less familiar beauty, the things you didn’t know you can discover, the little moments that take your breath away without you being ready and make you fall in love with London all over again.
Dramatic / Romantic Weather – Those grey skies that people complain about are one of the things I like most about London, and if I can’t sell you the grey sky in particular allow me to sell you all shades of sky but white, I’ll explain: as a photographer that believes in #NoFilter and in as little editing as possible I can tell you there is nothing less photogenic than white sky, and while I don’t mind warm weather, completely blue sky with no white, fluffy clouds are also less photogenic. In London you will almost always have either very dramatic grey skies with a million shades and textures or on beautiful warm days you will almost always have the white clouds to add character to your photos, that is on the photography side of things. On the weather side of things even when it is cold it is almost never freezing, the rain is mostly light so you can get away with a hat and when it is sunny and warm (which happens for longer and longer duration in the past few years) people crave it and love it so much that the whole city feels like one big party. Beer gardens and parks fill up in seconds and the vibe is that of complete freedom.
Restaurants – London is full of amazing restaurants that allow for a slightly different eating experience (food is also a part of it but it will have its own section). An afternoon tea on the 42nd floor overlooking the city, a dinner at a magical igloo with a Tower Bridge view, a futuristic bathroom… you can find all those around London if you want an evening that is more than just about the food.
Which brings us to All of The Food – As London is a metropolitan full of people from all over the world you can find in this city every type of food you can possibly imagine. And as I am sure one day London got sick of hearing what crappy food it has and being compared to Paris in that respect (or at least that’s what happened in my head) you can also find AMAZING restaurants ,pastry shops ,chocolate shops and food markets all around town. It doesn’t matter if you like cup cakes, humus or Italian food, if you are a food truck kind of person, only willing to eat in chef restaurants or looking for a fancy afternoon tea experience, London has it all, your every heart’s desires, and the kitchen is always open!
The Music – I love going to live music concerts and there is nothing better than going to a gig in London! EVERYONE has concerts in London, anyone you ever listened to, anyone you ever wanted to see live, anyone that is doing a comeback and anyone that is super hot right now. You can see your favorite artist in a 50,000 seat arena, in a 2,500 people hall, or in a secret pop up concert in a cafe in Camden Town. Prices are super reasonable and for £50 you can sing your heart out with your favorite band from the front row (photos from front row for £50 below). Not all gigs are that cheap but hand on my heart, a concert was never so expensive that I had to think twice if I can afford to go.
The Culture – Whether you love museums, musicals, theater, opera, football or festivals you can find it all here. Most museums offer free entry and those who do have an entry charge take a very small amount that will be used for the conservation of the art you are about to see, and the selection is breathtaking, there really is something for everyone. In every production you can find cheaper seats, or better, more expensive seats but the experience will always be amazing and will cost you about half the price it costs in New York. You can see some serious names from the cinema doing incredible, time limited productions at the West End from anything between £10-£120. Football games are a bit more expensive but well worth it to go at least once if you are a fan. So whether you are a visitor on holiday or you live in London and looking for a special day/night out there is always something amazing to do and you don’t have to break into your savings to do it.
The Fandom – Like me and many of my friends you can be a comic book nerd, collect Funko Pop figures, be a film buff or count the days until your next convention, in London you can find anything you are a fan of. Collectibles, many incredible conventions, stunning movie premiers and the ability to meet the stars you admire if you want to. All you have to do is a bit of research because things are always happening in London, you just have to figure out when and where.
Street Art – Of course there is the stunning Shoreditch that is packed full of graffiti and street art of every kind but you can also find some stunning creations in Camden, in Soho and everywhere around the city really. Some big names in the street art scene started their way in London and others come from all over the world to leave their mark on its walls so if street art is what you like just take to the streets and it will be waiting there for you to find and enjoy.
And of course there are the insanely beautiful Christmas decorations and markets, the best Pride parade ever, the acceptance of every person, no matter what you like or what you wear, the amazing people who on the one hand don’t shove their nose into your business but on the other hand are the warmest, loveliest, most fun loving people I had the privilege of calling my friends. So much to do, so much to discover, so much to experience and so much to Love!
Those are some of the reasons why I will always and forever be in love with London and I hope I gave you the desire to taste a bit of what it has to offer. Feel free to message me or comment if you want any more specific recommendations or to follow my blog as I promise you this will not be my last post about my beautiful London.
Go wander, your Traveling Unicorn x