Newest Review: ... into someone. I loved the whole atmosphere in London. I found it to be very magical and I loved how full of charm the city was. I would ... more
Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (and me)
London in General
Member Name: happybunny75
London in General
Date: 09/10/01, updated on 09/10/01 (541 review reads)
Advantages: Eccentrics, Variety, Culture
Disadvantages: Living there can be a lonely experience, Money, Money
I think it was Samuel Johnson that said, “When you’re bored of London, then you’re bored of life”.
Well, I’m bored and I want to go home!
Let me explain.
I lived in London for 6 years, and managed to escape from it just over a year ago.
Let me continue to explain.
London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Europe and quite possibly the world. It has a massive history. Authors have written relentlessly about it. Artists have painted and photographed it. Singers have composed songs and sung about it and American and Japanese tourists have raved about it’s symbolism of everything typically English and have clicked their camera’s in appreciation. But there is another side of London…both negative and a positive of our own perceptions of it.
LONDON – THE OVERRATED CITY
Rewind 7 years…
London O London. Dear city, who has everything to give me. She is my new lover. She is my one hope for happiness. She who holds the world…
Just like many that arrive in London, my senses took a while to adjust to the strange sites, sounds and smells that occupy the city. A small time girl, ready for Dick Whittington style adventure. Oh naïve one, how could you have been so wrong?
London’s infamy is its architecture, history, nightlife, diversity and people.
London – streets of gold that are made of dust and rubbish: filth and excrement. I travel on the underground and faces are devoid of expression intent on fixing the eye on the drinks can that rolls along the floor of the train. I push through more expressionless beings on my way up Victoria Street. I think that the wind is raging against me, forcing my stride to work harder, but it is just the oncoming flocks of commuters who are too ignorant to notice the insignificant small person in front of them who dares to walk against the tide.
is a strange thing. There is an undisclosed membership that is a pre-requisite of any group. So you didn’t fit in outside London: you’re too conventional in London. Do you understand ‘trend’ and ‘pretentiousness’? If not, go to the bottom of the class.
Money, money, money. Must be funny, in a rich man’s world.
A studio flat in the beating heart of London equals extreme poverty (£600 a month to look after it for 6 months while the owner takes their holiday in St. Lucia). £20k a year? Ask for a pay-rise mate…and make it quick!
Money. To go clubbing? £50 (or £100 if you want to buy drinks). The sites, the history, the architecture. All of London’s glorious past, present and future. Money for soaking in the atmosphere. Money to see musicals, plays and cinema premieres. Take advantage. Take advantage. You may never have another chance.
You may never be allowed a credit card again (or the £10,000 loan you took out to savour the delights of the London cuisine).
People, people everywhere. But not one to murder! Where do they come from? Tourists: hate them. Pompous commuters: you get used to them but you couldn’t eat a whole one. This is American Psycho in London. It’s time to escape. It’s time to live in the real world.
I must apologise for my ramblings above. You must be quite worried about my state of mind? Believe me, I was.
London O London. Exciting city that I sample on my visits.
An expensive city? Na, you just need to know the right places and the right people…
Smoothound.co.uk is my number one fan for accommodation in London when I’m there visiting with other people (on my own, my favourite hotel is Chez Dunne, a lovely place that my friend insists is not a hotel as she serves me my breakfast on a Sunday morning – after the 6th game of Trivial Pursuit!).
I have found two very good hotels on this site…well, one that I’ve stayed in and one that I will be staying in next week. The one I stayed in when I visited in February was in King’s Cross (in fact a 2-minute walk from the station but far enough away from the beaten track). The Alhambra Hotel was basic but very clean and prices for a double room with English Breakfast started at £45, which is a reasonable price for a hotel anywhere in the country.
Eating out in London is a fairly easy solution. There are a number of chain restaurants and cafes (Pizza Hut, McDonalds etc) in most major locations. But there are different places you can eat at. There are a few places around called Stockpots (Leicester Square, Knightsbridge and Kings Road)), West End Kitchen (Leicester Square) and Chelsea Kitchen (Kings Road) that are all very basic eateries that offer a different menu each day with chicken dishes, Spaghetti Bolognaise etc for very reasonable prices (a main course for less than £4and they usually have a special menu – starter, main course, dessert for less than £5). Other places to try include Mr Wu’s which is just off Leicester Square (behind Capital Radio) and only offer a buffet for £4.50 but again it is very cheap and cheerful (if somewhat busy a lot of the time). There really are a vast amount of places around that offer ‘cheap eats’ you just need to be looking out for them. It’s also worth bearing in mind that some ‘better’ restaurants will often have meal deals during the day to attract more customers during lunchtimes. So consider having your proper meal at lunchtime rather than in the evening to get better deals.
Another suggestion is to checkout lastminute.com who have in the past had charity auctions for meals at exclusive restaurants in London. If you know when you’re going to be in the capital then it’s worth checking out auction websites before you go in case
you get lucky.
Visiting London can be a very expensive business when you start to decide upon which attractions to visit or when going to the theatre.
There are again cheap alternatives. Some museums and galleries in London have completely free admission but others can be expensive. What is useful to know is that most who normally charge admission will have free admission towards the end of the day. For example, the National History Museum has free entry after 4pm. This doesn’t sound terribly good when they only open until 5.30pm, but if you’re staying in the area and want to find out whether it’s worth paying out for a family of four the next day, then it could save you a few quid. Or it’s good if you just want to say you’ve been there without having to pay a fortune for the privilege. Check out www.londonforfree.com who give a list of museums and galleries that have free admission.
A trip to the theatre is also pretty expensive. Again, happybunny75’s experience has told her that there are ways to cut costs. Again, look at auction sites before you go. Before I went to London in February I looked in lastminute.com and I actually got tickets to see the London Philharmonia Orchestra at the Festival Hall for £10. It was an experience that I wouldn’t have normally been able to consider. Also, there is a wonderful little hut in Leicester Square that sells same-day performance tickets to plays and musicals at half-price.
When you get to London, don’t forget to pick up a couple of publications. Time Out is the weekly London magazine which gives details of everything that’s happening for that week (and also includes guides for restaurants, clubs etc) and the Evening Standard which is London’s main daily evening paper. Again there are guides on some days, but also there are sometimes details of theatre productions that are offering BOGOF offers.
So, do I really believe t
hat I’m bored with life and London?
Na, not really. Not now I’m out of the thick of it. London is the greatest of all cities but it’s knowing your limits and understanding that everything can’t be done at once and that taking out several mortgages isn’t going to guarantee a life of happiness in the big smoke.
By all means, enjoy London’s rich tapestry, it’s culture, it’s atmosphere, but don’t forget that the magic of London is built around a dream which only you can indulge in. It is in fact, what you make it.
Eating Out and Entertainment:
(Leicester Square half price ticket booth info)
N.B Normal service will resume in my next opinion.