London: The Contradictory Capital

06 Nov

London - the crowded city?

Lots of people who have never been to London assume that it’s this roaring, unforgiving city with crowds of people and a dense, polluted atmopshere. They’d be right, in a sense; London is England’s capital city, so of course it is jam-packed with people and attempting to stroll down Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon is unwise, to say the least.

When giving their reasons for disliking the city, people complain that “Londoners just aren’t friendly.” While it can seem that way when a stressed commuter bashes their briefcase into your legs as they hurry home from work, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, Londoners do tend to rush around at the speed of light with a relentless sense of purpose. And yes, they might push to the front of the queue to make sure that they get a seat on the Tube. If you ask for directions, though, they aren’t going to shrug you off or look at you like you’re a piece of gum on their shoe.

I totally understand that London isn’t for everyone. Some people easily adapt to, and actively enjoy, the fast pace of life here. Others don’t. That said, I think that the capital has something for everyone. It is, essentially, a people-pleaser. Interested in ancient history? Head to the British Museum. Got a thing for arcade games? Get yourself over to the Trocadero. The former houses a wealth of ancient artefacts from across the world; the latter is a safehouse for lonely teens and 30-year-old bachelors whose sole ambition is to master the art of playing Through The Fire and the Flames on Guitar Hero. The two institutions couldn’t be more different, yet they co-exist happily in the weird and wonderful melting pot that the capital city has created. London is tacky but genuine; heartfelt but stoic. A Jack of all trades, a rebellious teen that refuses to be pinned down.

In my opinion, the city’s chameleon qualities should be celebrated. Where else can you enjoy a stroll through the forest before sipping on an excessively expensive coffee from the Starbucks down the road? Don’t get the excuses ready next time someone suggests you go to London; just bite the bullet and try it on for size. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

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Posted by on November 6, 2011 in Travel


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