London trip

Technology has dramatically changed people’s travel experiences by allowing people search and browse pictures, articles and videos of their destination on-line nowadays. Before the space for my imagination of one of the greatest culture and economy hub in Europe – London runs out, I decided to travel to UK’s capital for the fist time. Besides, the pound sterling is very weak, as nearly as half of a few years ago for my Japanese yen. I thought this could be a good timing.

Since I have travelled to some metropolitan cities like New York a few times already, my expectation for London is similar to New York except that everyone would be speaking a different accent of the English language. To my big surprise, London’s public space such as the underground is well-maintained and much cleaner than that of New York despite being of the oldest subways in the world. The train itself is also cleaner than the ones in Paris.

A connecting tube between two station in London underground

Compared to the concrete jungle in Tokyo or high-rise buildings in New York, London has its incredibly lush greenery and parks in the city centre. Despite being a modern financial and economic centre in Europe, most of the buildings in London are well preserved for hundreds of years with beautiful architecture and designs dated back Victoria and George eras. It is quite a scenery for people like me who are used to dwelling in high-rise buildings to saunter around these old buildings and walk under the huge green lawns in the park.

The massive pond in Hyde park in London

It is also quite strange when some one who you do not know refers to me as “gentlemen”, as I was walking towards a lady and her kid was running around and kind of blocking my way, the mother shoved her child and said to him, “You are blocking this gentleman’s way.” It is an odd feeling when you were referred as “gentlemen” like that. It feels like you were in one of the TV drama.

I was lucky enough that the weather was lovely during my stay, a great escape from the rainy season (Tsuyu) in Tokyo. Summer (especially July and August) is truly the best time to visit London. It does not get hot as cities that I used to live like Shanghai, Tokyo and New York. People are mostly polite and welcoming.

Londoners absolutely love flowers. You can see flowers decorated everywhere both on the street or on people’s home.

London has one of the oldest department stores in the world. I enjoyed both the shopping experiences in the famous department store ‘Harrods’ with glamours interior design and the magic experience staying hundreds-years-old college in Oxford as a student. There are no cafeterias at Oxford University. There is only a place called dining hall. How fancy! Having breakfast or we shall say dining there feels not just like formal but also a privilege. I have heard that from times to times, dinner will be served and pre-booked and proper attire are required to dine there. I think it is a nice tradition to keep from time to time. My friend James helped me to get into these colleges and experienced the lives there in Oxford University.

One of the dining halls in Oxford univerisity

Many of British friends in Singapore and Tokyo had already warned me about British food, however, I have enjoyed some of their dishes such as fish pies. The ales in the pubs in Oxford are definitely the best that I ever had. And there are so many of them. The vegetables comes with the pies did not have much taste but, hey, it is quite healthy in my opinion.

One of my friends in London took me to this old British pub to try their fish and chips and the ale

London has an astronomical number of food options. I tried some nice Italian pasta dish and a glass wine near where I stayed. The chef recommended me a pasta dish called langoustine Linguine. The pasta was freshly prepared so was the prawn. The waiter even took out a basil plant and started cutting off fresh leaves from the plant into the olive oil for the bread. It was really tasty but of course, the price was also steep – 43.7 pounds for 1 glass of wine and a dish of pasta.

Overall, London is a great city to visit in the summer time if you are interested in historical English and European cultures. A bonus point is that almost all the museums and galleries are free to enter! During the colonial period, the British have collected many valuable artefacts from the rest of Europe and East Asia. With a low expectation in my mind, it was a truly satisfying and enducational journey.

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