“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Samuel Johnson
I love London. I love it a lot, and I always have, and I always will. I don’t know what it is that spurred this great love affair with the British, but their charm and humor and cities full of history and culture and things to discover are what keep drawing me back. Since I was a tiny tot (middle school-aged, more accurately), I was nothing short of obsessed with London. I wanted to visit, I wanted to live there, I wanted to study there, I wanted to marry a British man and get dual citizenship and have cute little babies with British accents. Finally, in 2011, I made my first trip to the enchanting whirlwind of a metropolis; three years have passed and I spent half a year studying there since then, but my heart still beats fiercely for the city.
London is, of course, known for its dreary days and wet weather. When I studied there in 2012, I experienced all kinds of British weather, from a few inches of snow (that consequently shut down the entire city…) to downpours to unusually hot streaks. This May, though, I experienced one day of rain in a sea of perfect, sunshine-y, blissful spring days. These blissful days were spent wandering the streets, hopping on the tube and setting off for an unknown part of the city I hadn’t yet discovered (my favorite pastime in 2012, too).
As if I needed any more reasons to love the British capital, this time a day of solo exploration fortunately brought me to Hampstead, in north London. Hampstead is one of the ritzier parts of London, with celebrities inhabitants like Gwyneth Paltrow, Emma Thompson, Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench (to name a few…). If I were one of the rich and famous, I, too, would choose north London as a place to plant some roots. It’s undeniably quaint and just so English and yes, people in this area might be known to be a little “stuck up,” but HEY they just have STANDARDS, am I right?How kind are those Brits? Not pictured but very much enjoyed from my ramblings in Hampstead include: a fancy solo dinner in a French restaurant along Hampstead High Street, lots of time spent reading in book stores and in the grass, window shopping, people watching, coffee drinking.
I wandered along a path that curved down a hill behind this old church, and eventually made my way to Hampstead Heath. The Heath is one of London’s oldest and largest green spaces, has awesome views of central London, and on a day like the one I was there, it was packed with Londoners who were thirsty for some vitamin-D.
The next time I go to London (whether it’s for a trip or a move), I will definitely spend more time in north London. I lived in gritty Wembley in the northwest while a student, spent lots of time with a boy who lived in Stepney Green in East London, went to class on Regent/Oxford Streets in central London, and stayed in Notting Hill in Southwest London this May. My days in Hampstead were beautiful and refreshing, but I think it’s time we get better acquainted. Knowing myself and the way I can’t stay away for too long before the UK itch comes back, I’m sure I’ll return sooner than later.
What’s your favorite part of London?