“Alright geezer, how’s it hangin’?!” Whether you’re a cockney wideboy or a tourist, there is one feeling when you land in the English capital: love. 32 million visitors flock to London on a yearly basis for this reason. And, it’s probably behind the Mayor’s attempt to up the total to 40 million by 2025. Anyone who has ever been will one-hundred percent believe in his ambition.
Tourists aren’t only from the sorts of places you’d imagine, either. Yes, we Yanks like to frequent the place when possible, but it’s a city open to the world. There’s been a 103% increase in tourism from China, for example, and 90% from India. Even the Emirati people are getting in on the act as there’s been a 43% bump from the UAE.
These figures alone prove the point: London is loved by all regardless. So, it begs the question – why? What makes Asians, Americans and Britons themselves fall into a kind of deep adoration. Let’s take a look and find out.
The Lack Of Stereotypes
Imagine Britain and plenty of stereotypes will pop into your head. They have bad teeth, terrible food and even worse weather. Why are we going again?! Generalizations do come from truth, but the reality of the Big Smoke is very different. Yes, sometimes the sun has its hat on and there are some lousy burger joints, yet the majority of the time it crushes stereotypes. Some of the best restaurants in the world are located in the city, think The Savoy or Gordon Ramsay’s 3-star Michelin eatery. Plus, the weather in the south of the country is always better than everywhere else in the UK. Being closer to the equator means there’s a lot more sunshine to go around, especially in the summer. Tourists have an image in their head and it gets smashed into tiny pieces of arrival, and that is an amazing feeling.
On the flip side, we all want to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and beefeaters. These are the types of things no one else has because they don’t exist. Are there royal families in other countries? Of course, but they don’t have the same pop and ceremony. Are there clock towers that are bigger and grander than Ben? Probably, yet they don’t seem to be able to replicate the same elegance. And, let’s not get started on the Houses of Parliament. The building is crumbling into the sea but it’s still fantastic to stand on the Thames and gaze at the baroque architecture. In simple terms, it beats stereotypes but it also embraces them too. The balance is a difficult one which London pulls off with ease.
And let’s not only focus on the shopping or the bars. Sorry, the pubs as the locals call them. Other cities in the UK are one dimensional whereas London town has an array of tricks up its sleeve. Take the West End as the perfect illustration. At the moment, there is The Book of Mormon in London or Wicked the musical. That’s great because these are two excellent shows well worth watching in one of the city’s finest theaters. Still, some people prefer to go off-piste and take in a different production. Down the many backstreets, there are fringe theaters such as Southwark Playhouse. There, you’ll find quirky, edgy plays and musicals that are as engaging as they are creative. Music-lovers should try a catch a gig at Alexandra Palace or Brixton Academy.
The Satellite Towns
It’s easy to see London as one massive megalopolis, which it is in fairness. However, it’s also an amalgamation of small towns with their own culture. Soho is an area which is famous around the world for its shows, bars and openness. It’s the gay area of London. But, there are even better places to experience. Shoreditch high street is as hipster as it gets in this day and age, while Maltby Street has an amazing market. Probably the main area to check out is Camden. Home to bars where Amy Winehouse started her career, it’s a bustling town unlike any other.
Okay, you’re on vacation and don’t want to bother with the gym. The good news is that there is no need to worry in London. Like New York City, there is too much walking to even contemplate an hour on the rowing machine. Unlike NYC, it has government-sanctioned bikes to get from A to B and see the sights. Plus, there’s rowing on the river too.
Who needs to work out when London provides natural exercise?