Whilst away, the typical travel introductory conversation of name, where you’ve been so far and where you’re from constantly ends in an excited ‘Are you from London?!’ for a lot of British people. This question though always seems so absurd to me – not only because to anybody from the UK I am very obviously not from London, but also because London is (or at least has been until the past year or so) completely alien to me.
The capital is clearly a huge part of England, historically/socially/culturally… generally. But when I’m there, I am just as much of a tourist as any one of the nearly 30 million people who visit London every year.
For my 21st birthday a couple of months ago one of my very good friends planned the ultimate London everything-in-a-day tourist trip for me. As a Londoner himself, most of the things we did probably weren’t even half as exciting as they were for me, whose reaction to pretty much every activity was socially unacceptable.
1) Madame Tussaud’s
I don’t like excessive photographs being taken of myself. I did not, therefore, make the most of the typical 1305970296720 potential photos of me and “Brad Pitt” or “Taylor Lautner” or “The Queen”. However, my friend loves the camera. And my camera-awkwardness combined with his camera love equalled a very entertaining couple of hours.
And I did make an exception for one of my future husband and I.
2) London Eye
Obviously every tourist in London visits the world’s slowest moving ferris wheel.
3) Dinner at the Oxo Tower Brasserie
This restaurant has insane views overlooking the Thames and the rest of London. And sells even more insane cocktails. At yet more insane prices. But was definitely worth it, especially if you’re only in London for a short period of time.
4) Show in the West End
This was the last leg of our little tourist extravaganza. We went to see The LION KINNNNNNGGGGGG – aaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Absolutely incredible show, and definitely my highlight of London. Literally the best birthday present ever. No words.
I have lived in Britain my entire life and have never done any of the above before my excessive birthday treat. I guess some of it is money – London is an expensive trip for a day or the weekend. Being such a tourist for the day though made me realise that for the majority of visitors this is the only England they’ll ever see, regardless of it being so absolutely different to the majority of the UK. It’s understandable… but a shame, really. Regardless of what the current Jubilee weekend may present, Britain is a lot more than London, and for a lot of British people, the capital is just as alien to them as any of the other tourists.