London: The Ultimate Survivor
Few cities of the world can truly stir the emotions – romantic dreams, adventurous spirit, waves of excitement, even twinges of envy. Over time, they have become the inspiration for novels and films, the obsessions of ravenous warmongers, and the marketing tools of TV producers who flash their images across our screens to make us gush, “Oh, this must be an important, credible international news program that covers the big stories as they happen” and “Smashing! This travel show really has been to the cool places, let’s see where they venture tonight”. However, you can only really say you’ve made it as a truly great city when they write a nursery rhyme about one of your bridges, even when it’s falling down.
London is the ultimate survivor.
It has endured and overcome conquests, wars, fires, plagues, terrorism, youth movements, repeated sporting defeats clutched from the hand of victory, even Chris De Burgh singing Lady in Red at the top of the charts for three weeks. Through it all, Londoners have stood proud and defiant as they adapt and continue to build their fair city.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, this enormous city offers the traveler a blend of old and new worlds like nowhere else. On one hand London is innovative, energetic, dynamic, and outrageous; on the other, historic, conservative and frustratingly established. A bangers and mash of the anticipated and unexpected, but rarely the disappointing – and those who live here wouldn’t have it any other way.
Most people know a little about London even before they have been formally introduced. It may be the familiar symbols of Royals, bowler hats, well mannered cricketing gents, well heeled ladies, majestic castles, the flowing Thames, tennis at Wimbledon, afternoon tea and scones, monopoly board landmarks, West End theatre and East End humour that spring to mind.
It could be the cobble-stoned streets of Dickens, passionate football fans, fish n chips drowning in vinegar, the labyrinth of the Underground, or the cultural phenomena and festivals celebrating music over decades starting in the swinging 60’s, through punk of the 70’s, new romantic hairdo’s of the 80’s, and pop, indie rock, dance and hip hop of the 90’s and beyond.
More than this, the city is renowned for it’s wealth of history and culture. As home to Britain’s national art collections, striking architecture, over 200 museums, the worlds premier theatre productions, 5 major orchestras, 2 major opera companies; there is something for visitors of all historic and artistic persuasions.
Anyone familiar with television shows and films set in the city might be forgiven for thinking we spend all our time in our local pub telling jokes and hard luck stories, or doing deals on goods that conveniently fell off the back of a truck. In fact, there are more parks and green space in London than in any city of its size in the world, where we wander, picnic, and play, away from the bustle of big city living – before the pub opens anyway.
The city is a shop-a-holics nirvana – just ask any female armed with a credit card and the lamest of excuses for a spending spree. From major department stores to designer boutiques and street markets, if you can’t find it in London, it probably doesn’t exist. And once you’ve lugged all that booty back to your hotel, there are hundreds of restaurants, pubs, cinemas, nightclubs, live music and comedy venues to keep you entertained well into the early hours.
London has also embraced multiculturalism like very few places in the world. It has become a cultural melting pot with over 10 million people from all over the world now calling it home. The integration of western cultures with people from Africa, West Indies, and all over Asia has transformed the city into one of the most diverse destinations for first time travelers, and the hundreds of thousands who return year after year.
”Just stop right there, old chap” I hear you say. “This is all rather charming, stirring and patriotic, but you’ve failed to even mention how damn expensive the place is!” Actually, we were just getting to that part.
It’s true. London is one of the most expensive cities in the world, painfully so for some. In fact, it’s rumored that instead of using whips and chains, London dominatrix now just stand about looking very stern while converting international clients travel expenses from the merciless English Pound into their submissive local currency with a leather-bound calculator. Ouch!
London is great fun so if you are visiting or planning to visit you will have a wonderful time.