1. The people
People flock to London from all over. I think in the month I’ve been here I’ve met more people from somewhere else than native Londoners. But that’s all part of the city’s charm. One of my favorite things to do in the United States is eavesdrop on people, but it’s next to impossible here because everyone is speaking German, Dutch or Arabic. Although it is helping me brush up my French and Italian. I’m getting really good at hearing people say “hello” and “where are we?”
2. The boroughs
In case you didn’t know, London is massive. The city is divided into thirty-two boroughs, and each one has its own character. If you want to stare open-mouthed into other people’s houses and catch a glimpse of what you’ll never have, head to Kensington and Chelsea. Want to stand on some of the oldest grounds of the city? The City of Westminster is for you. Are hipsters with fancily styled mustaches and fixed gear bikes more your speed? Camden is where it’s at. There’s a place for everyone.
3. The slang
Maybe someone called you a “wazzock” and you’re not sure whether it’s an insult or a compliment. Or someone says they’re “full of beans”, and you wonder if you should be worried. It’ll be a bit shambolic at first, but just keep your gob shut, open your lords and peers, and sooner or later Bob’s your uncle. Pip pip, cheerio, and all that rot.
4. The buildings
London‘s skyline is all about contrasting the old with the new. Down by the Thames you’ll find the Tower of London, one of the oldest buildings in the city, but if you look just down the river you’ll see the Gherkin (so named because it looks like a pickle) and the Shard (because it looks like a shard of glass). There are the offices of Parliament, but there’s also a building called the Walkie-Scorchie (because it looks like a walkie-talkie and also because it has the ability to melt cars). London architecture has changed quite a bit in two thousand years, and yet somehow all the buildings manage to feel at home.
Everyone talks smack about British food, but really you shouldn’t knock it until you try it. A few weeks ago I discovered the wonder that is the English pasty. And it’s pronounced p-AH-sty, as in “AH! This pasty is all I need to be happy!” Then there’s the traditional Sunday roast, which is glorious, especially when accompanied with a Yorkshire pudding, which is not actually a pudding. British food is also heavily influenced by the other cultures that call Great Britain home. No matter what kind of food you’re craving, be it Chinese, Indian, Lebanese, American, or French, you’re bound to find it somewhere in London.
Nearly 40% of London is green space, which makes for some pretty excellent parks. If I had a football (the round kind, not the pointy kind) and a dog, or both, I’d spend all my time in the parks. But since I have neither, I have to content myself with watching other people have fun with their pets and sports equipment. Anyway, the public parks are the place to go to play some football, run around, wander aimlessly, and soak up some vitamin D because the sun does exist here.
6 1/2. Foxes
Foxes didn’t deserve a whole reason, but I couldn’t not mention them. Nearly every night I lie in bed being gently lulled to sleep by the sounds of foxes playing in the garden out back. At least I would be if these foxes didn’t make the most disturbing noises ever made by anything alive. The point is, these foxes are a quintessential part of London, and the city just wouldn’t be the same without them. Okay, it probably would. But they were still worth a mention.