By Stefano Blanca Sciacaluga
After an express visit to London last weekend I am now back on my couch, ready to take in everything we saw and did in the two days we were there and sift through photos on my phone to post on my Instagram.
I recently wrote about a trip in early February to Berlin, where I expressed my dissatisfaction with the German capital and I think having two trips to European capitals so close together (one for business, one for pleasure) meant that I spent most of my time in London comparing my experiences. Now I must say, I think I wrote that piece in a negative frame of mind, and after a couple of Wikipedia and Google holes I think I am open to returning to Germany; but still nothing compares to London.
After an earlier-than-usual Saturday alarm, a drive to Malaga, the mess that is Malaga Airport security, an hour of delay, the flight, Gatwick Express and another half hour or more on the tube, we were in our tiny rented apartment in Notting Hill, getting ready to go out. So, much like I did in Berlin, I re-downloaded a tube map app, put my hood on to save my curls from the rain and we set out to explore and more importantly find somewhere to eat.
I love London. I love its architecture, its restaurants and shops, its diversity and I even love its people; from the crazies to the Brexiteers. Actually, maybe not those. Now, one of the things I love most about London is the tube. I like all underground systems, but London’s, with its ability to make your bogeys black for nothing, is special. So underground we went and within half an hour we were out in the misty rain (that fine, annoying rain you only find in England) and walking from Waterloo, across the river towards Covent Garden. And here was when I first started making the comparisons with Berlin. Because in that little walk and despite the bad weather, having just come out of a snow storm a day or two prior to our arrival, people were out, the streets were full of life.
It wasn’t long before we spotted the first Spanish people, and then the first Italians but it wasn’t just tourists braving the rubbish weather and freezing cold temperature. Restaurants and bars were packed, with people spilling outside to smoke and chat; and after some walking around and looking at menus we found a great that place to eat. Because that’s the thing, in London you can just walk around and see your options, and there are options. And you don’t even need to be sure about where you’re going, you just put some comfortable shoes on and you can walk and walk and find all kinds of places, bars for all kinds of people, restaurants of all cuisines, shops of all sorts of things, museums… Even on a Sunday night people are out.
It’s the kind of place where you really feel like anything is possible; that you’d be able to find anything you could ever want. Because London is a magical city, possibly one of the best cities and a true delight to return to, even ten years later.
In August of 2015 I wrote a love letter to the city, accompanied by a photo I took there, the location of which has slipped my mind: http://stefanoblanca.tumblr.com/post/126368010361/london