Every city has a spirit. The people, the pace, the smells and sounds of city life. You can feel its heartbeat the moment you reach the center of any city. But the spirit of each city is felt strongest in different places. In Washington D.C., you feel it while walking the National Mall or experiencing the nightlife on U Street. In New York, you feel it in the pizza shops, the subway, or Rockefeller Center at Christmas. In London, the spirit of the city is held in its parks and pubs. That is where I truly feel I am experiencing London at its finest.
Walking into any pub immediately provides a sense of comfort. London’s weather is generally mild, but errs on the chilly and damp side of the spectrum. This provides an ideal environment for almost always being in the mood for a cider and a warm meal. And London gets this right. Nearly every pub in the city provides the basics for an incredible experience: A beautiful, old, flowerpot-filled entrance, a cozy, dark interior, a large bar with stools (typically filled by people at any hour of the day), and plenty of drinks to choose on tap.
My friends and I tried loads of pubs while we were living in London and, for the most part, you really can’t go wrong. Of course we had our go-to spots, but overall I found the pubs to be pleasantly consistent. It is so fun to wrap up your day and head to the pub to share laughs, food, drinks, and just sit and people watch. Some of the pubs are incredibly old; I love admiring their architecture juxtaposed against newer buildings going up around them.
My other favorite thing to do while living in London was to take advantage of the countless parks scattered throughout the city. Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Green Park: each one is beautiful and provides an oasis of nature and respite from the city. Locals love to pack picnics on those uniquely gorgeous days where the sun shines and the sky is clear. My friends and I made sure to do the same. We would lay in the park and soak up the sun in between classes and observe the city-life surrounding us. Parks also provide an excellent vantage point to enjoy the architecture of London. When you lay on your back and look up you tend to see things you might not notice at the street-level.
London has so much to offer. History, culture, art, theatre, shopping, food. You name it, London’s got it. It is a melting pot of cultures and a place where people from all over the world come to study at their many universities. But to me, there is nothing like enjoying an afternoon in a London park or pub. Those places capture the essence of everything the city is.
If you are interested in hearing more about cities and their “personalities” I will leave you with a link to a fascinating podcast by Radiolab about cities. I promise it’s worth a listen.
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