I’m not sure I would want to live in London as it is so crowded and expensive but it is a fantastic place to spend a few days imagining other lives and wandering through history. I’ve been to the city enough times now that I feel like a local and I have to remember to pay attention.
One of the ways I have found to make familiar places interesting is to change up my accommodation. ME London put me in a new location from previous visits.
I’ve been to London so many times it often feels like I am just a local in an alternate location. Regular life amped up a bit. Lots of walking. Power shopping. Dinner with friends.
I normally don’t spend the big bucks required to stay in a location that doesn’t involve flashing an Oyster card. But my sexy cave was walking distance to Bond Street – and the cashmere luxuries of the Burlington Arcade.
I had brought the sun with me from Oslo so a long walk seemed an ideal way to start the day. Since I was the official photographer for my mom’s inaugural tour of London I have more tourist photos of the city than I have of Paris but there are definite holes in the collection.
So I stopped to read the plaques 😉 Having just come from Norway and its history as a bargaining chip, passing from Denmark to Sweden and struggling to establish an identity independent of the bigger powers, some of the plaques and statues spoke to me a little more loudly.
Reading between the lines in Westminster, you see the sacrifices made by Canadians and Australians at the hands of a condescending Great Britain. They don’t teach it in school but apparently at one point Queen Victoria wanted to trade Canada for Barbados – at the time, sugar was a lot more compelling than beavers…
It’s surprising Canada hasn’t turned republican 😉 Lots of Australians have. They have been mishandled by the Crown in a more flagrant way.
On Sunday I wandered the Thames – and some of the most important historical buildings in London – with an Irishman. This visit really illuminated the elusive nature of history.
So many countries are the playthings of superpowers. Superpowers are the bullies of the global schoolyard. What travel teaches us, though, is that often the individual citizens of superpowers are lovely and charming. One has to keep an open mind and not hold someone’s flag against them.
Strangely it’s likely easier to be a tourist when you come from a plaything country. The expectations on you are pretty low. You don’t have to defend yourself from generalizations about your culture that might not reflect your own point of view.
Visit the superpowers. Learn about history. A lot of it won’t be pretty. But, despite their roles as the playthings of superpowers, Norway, Australia and Canada emerged fairly unscathed. And all worth your tourist dollars! All tough places to make a go of it in the 19th century – but the kind of places where you innovate to stay alive. And the landscape is rugged enough to discourage newcomers. The world without man is an incredible place… and there aren’t a lot of places on the planet where you can experience it in the 21st century.
But 21st century London is pretty benign. And while it’s hard to get behind some of the historical choices, you just don’t see that kind of architecture unless you go to a superpower with a questionable past 😉