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Published: December 9th 2013
Finally, London! One of the most famous cities in the world, the seat of royalty and a beacon of cosmopolitanism, I approached the city with great anticipation and expectation. People often compare London to New York, and I was particularly keen on comparing the two. However, London turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. Royal history was very cool, and I met a lot of great people, but Londoners in general were a big turnoff.
I got a pretty decent look at the city, taking walking and bus tours of the city. Visiting the various sites associated with the monarchy and parliament, I finally understood why royal history is so important to them. They have a rich historical narrative, which still emboldens their national spirit and attracts tourists from around the world.
London also has a great number of excellent museums, many of them free. My favorites were the Churchill War Rooms and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The Churchill War Rooms allows people to tour the underground defense headquarters that was used during the war. It provides a different look at WWII history, one of my favorite subjects, and allows visitors to get to know
England’s revered prime minister.
The Victoria and Albert Museum has been described as the “attic of London,” because it contains a large variety of works that do not belong in the other museums. My favorite exhibition, entitled “Tomorrow,” featured a tour of a luxury apartment belonging to a fictionalized architect gone bankrupt. I got the sense of solving a puzzle as I made my way through the apartment learning about the man’s life from the clues of his possessions.
Where does the mixed bag part come in? Well, we met a lot of great people in the schools we visited, but many of the Londoners elsewhere throughout the city were generally unpleasant. Much like any other city, Londoners are very focused on getting to where they need to be, but they seem particularly disdainful of visitors. In a completely empty hallway of the subway, a young English lad was walking towards me. Instead of maneuvering to avoid collision, he thought it appropriate to put his hand on my shoulder and push me out of the way, probably with a great sense of entitlement. I’m thankful I didn’t end up punching him in the face!
In my various
interactions with the people that week, it was evident that Londoners think very highly of themselves. Of course this is not everyone, and all of this might be said about New York City. But here, they’re more likely to take your wallet than insult your dignity.
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