"The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible." -Vladimir Nobokov

Sunday, June 19, 2016

London Patchwork: Walking

London Patchwork is a series of blog posts devoted to some of my favorite experiences in London.

This is an excerpt from an unfinished blog post:

"I've been in London for two whole weeks, however did I manage that? Seriously though, these two weeks have passed like lightning. Firstly, impressions:

I love London. I immediately felt at home here (shout out to the amazing cab driver who spent fifteen minutes off-the-clock helping me look for the door of the landlord's office where I was supposed to pick up the keys to our flat!). I was worried that London would feel overwhelming, but so far it feels amazingly manageable. I'll admit: rush hour is tough, and so is navigating when a tube line is down (which is always). Other than that, though, I find myself more curious than overwhelmed. Every tube ride is an opportunity to people-watch, and every journey into this huge city brings new discoveries. One of my favorite things is when I force myself to pay attention while my friends and I are rushing to get to a specific place at a specific time. Even though I don't have time to stop and explore, I can still notice, and noticing makes all the difference.

I spent my first full day in London in much the same way I spent my last day in Florence. Not wanting spend twelve pounds on a day pass for a subway system I had no idea how to navigate, I opted for good old-fashioned wandering. I wandered through Hyde Park and stumbled across, guess what, Buckingham Palace. After taking a stroll through St. James park, I glimpsed the top of Big Ben through a maze of buildings, so I decided to go see it for myself. Like so many of the monuments you see a million pictures of, Big Ben is so much more impressive and ornate in real life. Then I crossed the Thames, stumbled across a market, rested my feet in a Starbucks, and began the long, long walk home. I calculated it later, and it turns out my little jaunt was a total of 8 miles! There's something so much more tactile about exploring a new city on foot. You see things you wouldn't see if you spent most of your travel time underground, and you get an immediate sense of where things are. Win win!"

Because of its size, London isn't as walkable as Florence. A 30 minute walk could get you halfway across the city in Florence, while the equivalent in London might get you between neighborhoods. Still, I prefer seeing new places on foot, and so I spent my first full day in London walking. Since the above description is pretty self-explanatory, I'll leave you with some photos from my long walk.

St. James Park

My first glimpse of Big Ben

I love London's little side streets.

Neal's Yard

View of the Thames

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