Monday, 17 August 2015

10 Things About London You’ll Kick Yourself for Not Knowing

‘Go where we may, rest where we will, Eternal London haunts us still’. That’s the effect that this city of dreams has on the unassuming and the uninitiated. London leaves you feeling many emotions at the same time: wonderstruck, spirited, overwhelmed yet strangely…welcome.

It’s almost as if there is an epic event attached to every corner of London. The ghosts of The Beatles on Abbey road, Shakespeare in the Globe, Sherlock Holmes on Baker Street and innumerable others definitely add to the celebrity of London.
So whether it’s your first visit to this magnanimous metropolis or your hundredth, there will always be one part of you that will stay back in this city. London makes you fall in love; it warms the cockles of your heart and gives you a big wet kiss like you’re one of its own. It’s very difficult not to fall head over heels with this crazy behemoth. Come to think of it, whether we know it or not, there’s a bit of London in all of us. What makes this city so special, you ask? Duh!

1. The Adopted city to millions:
London is the adopted home for millions of people that live in a harmonious coterie in this dazzling city. A city with a big appetite for different races and languages, London opens its arms and heart for all kinds of people. When it comes to tourists as of 2012, close to 17 million people chose to vacation in this British wonderland. Move over Elvis, we have a new rockstar!

2. Home of the Pub!
London is pretty much where the Pub culture began. The after-work living room for thousands of Brits, land up in a pub on any given day and you’ll find yourself drinking a Guiness with anyone right from a banker to an actor, talking animatedly about football or politics or even the best tandoori chicken in town. We love em’ ol’boozers! Head over to The Dog and the Duck or The Lamb and Flag (so much original names, eh?) to rub shoulders with Britain’s most prolific drunkards!

3. The only place in the world where tea is fancy
Don’t you just love how the British make even something as humble as the tea fancy? A practice started by the Ducchess of Bedford and taken over by wannabe-bastions-of-royalty hotels, you will have to bring out your fanciest clothes to have your afternoon tea at the tea rooms of The Ritz or the Brown’s hotel or even Claridge’s. Do remember though, Royal-tea does not come cheap!

4. You are never too far from sausages, bacon and hash browns!
After a crazy night at the club or even a mid-week pub crawl, English breakfast is all you need to cure that Machiavellian hangover. Only in Britain can you get away with eating a dish made of dried pig’s blood and suet a.k.a the black pudding, and actually relish it (did I hear you gag?) Try the Camden Bar & Kitchen or Terry’s cafe for the best ever English breakfast. Or take it to the next level and head for the breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall that throws surprises like grilled bone marrow, smoked bacon chop and even a rib bubble!

5. Long Live the Queen!
Long live the Queen and London’s obsession with her. Londoners love their royal gossip and devour every bit of information like a juicy piece of steak. So expect it to be breaking news even if the Queen so much as burps and experience the whole of London come out in support when she decides to throw herself a party. I won’t lie to you; the royal fever is quite contagious! To see it yourself, head over to the Buckingham Palace on a summer day to see scores of tourists trying to figure out what the big deal about Britain’s royal fixation is.

6. London knows how to let her hair down!
The undisputed party capital of Europe, there’s always something crazy happening in London. From concerts to music festivals and themed dance clubs, expect to be blown away with London’s parties. So you might be able to find a cool club under the railway arches (Cargo) or you can head to Fabric for some hardcore clubbing. A place like Madame Jo Jo’s has a burlesque, shabby-chic feel to it. There’s something for everybody ; even if you prefer your nights in the bed, head for a day party at the Oval space or Shoreditch that is as packed in action as any night club.

7. Sway to the Musicals!
Call me a grown-up child but I have watched the Lion King atleast 5 times. London is host to some top-notch theatre and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that a London Musical will leave an indelible mark on your heart forever. Don’t forget to catch Thriller, a tribute to Michael Jackson or even Gregory Maguire’s Wicked to get transported to a world beyond the realms of imagination. My vote goes to the musicals as one of the most incredible things to do in London.

8. The Artsy side
I love how artsy London is! (Without being snobbish about it) If you look closely, there’s a little bit of art in almost every place you visit. You’ll find an art installation staring at you in the middle of Victoria station or a statue artist posing as Pinocchio in Covent Garden. To get some serious dose of art, head to galleries like Tate Modern or the National Portrait Gallery that host some inspiring pieces by celebrated artistes. Catch hold of a London travel guide and you will see that it is full of artsy places and things to do.

9. Mind the Gap!
The London Metro deserves a special mention and is part of why London is so accessible to so many people. The Tube is literally the lifeline of close to 3.25 million commuters who travel to different parts of this Great City for work and pleasure. Even though you will find most Londoners grumbling about the Metro, the truth is that it holds a marvellous chunk of London’s history and is quite a remarkable network that connects the myriad corners of this metropolis. The metro stations are some of the best places to visit in London for people watching. It also gave us ‘Mind the Gap’; probably the three most popular words in London that have given birth to innumerable jokes and double-meaning connotations.

10. Cabbies are rockstars!
London Cabs and cabbies have got their fair share of attention and if you ask me, they deserve most of it. Sitting in a London cab is almost like sitting in a celebrity royal carriage and you will almost feel privileged shelling out £20 for a ride down the street. The London cabbies are well-read, well-informed and unbelievingly know almost every corner of this expansive city.

It’s impossible not to fall in love with the British accent, the small doses of culture hidden in the crevices of this modern megapolis, the unpredictable rains and the quaint familiarity that sinks in the minute you land in this city. London has a place in almost everybody’s hearts…whether you’ve already been here or not.

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