Blue Vagabird

Conveying the joy of travel

Hate It or Love It? 6 Reasons You Might Love or Hate London

Just like every other metropolis, London is a city of endless opportunities. At the same time, it has many downsides. Each year, it attracts thousands of hopefuls looking to start a new, better life. Without fail, it’s also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe.
While some people (like myself) will fall in love with London even before they set their foot on the English soil, others will despise the city. What about you?
London StPauls
Credit: Kevin Grieve via Unsplash

Adore or Abhor? 6 Things That Will Make You Dis/like London

If you haven’t made up your mind yet whether to hate or love London, here are some ups and downs to consider:
  1. Trash. Litter, garbage, rubbish, …

Fortunately, the city’s emerged from its Victorian stink, but… still, it’s one of the dirtiest places in Europe. Trash is litterally (you see the pun here?) flying in the air when a stronger wind picks up, the tube is full of discarded newspapers (back in 2007, the tube passengers left behind 9.5 tons of newspapers daily!), and the more time you spend in the city, the more accustomed you get to the sound of plastic bags and paper shuffling underneath your shoes.

  1. Security issues

It’s challenging to go silent on this one. Horrendous terrorist attacks are one thing, the most recent ones tormenting the city in 2017 (a series of terror acts including the Westminster Bridge car rampage, the London Bridge attack, or the Finsbury Park Mosque van attack).

Unfortunately, the likelihood of becoming a victim of street crime is even higher, as London belongs to the most dangerous European cities, and the number of knife crime, muggings, and street violence continues to rise. According to the Office for National Statistics, knife offenses in the capital rose by 23% from Sept. 2016-2017!

Yes, this is a serious concern, and there are copious neighborhoods around London where you would not want to venture, especially at night. Tourists have to be mindful of pickpockets and cons, and lone walk home after dark might not be the best idea.

On the other hand, that’s the trade-off for living in a metropolis, and if you look at the City Crime Index, https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings.jsp, London still ranks higher than such favorite hot-spots like San Francisco, Athens, Brussels, or… Dublin.

London City by night
Credit: Gordon Williams via Unsplash
  1. Steep (flat) prices

The third year in a row, London has been named the most expensive European city to rent. And don’t even mention buying. The difference in rent prices between particular boroughs (districts) can be dramatic. On average, the asking price for a 3-bedroom flat varies from £300,000 in East London to £800,000 in the North West. Central London is a different story altogether, with flat prices reaching as much as  £2 million [all based on the data from http://www.rightmove.co.uk/].

For rent, be prepared to spend anything between £1,100 to £2,000 per month for a 45m2 furnished flat. The further from the center, the cheaper, but if you choose to commute, you’ll need to spend more on transport. For example, a monthly travel card from zones 1-5 (currently, London has 9 zones) will cost you about £223 extra.

If you come as a tourist, prepare to splash out big time, too. Year by year, the city makes it to the shortlist of every the most expensive European city to visit. Nevertheless, it is a global metropolis, so it offers plenty of options tailored to any budget. Check out this post with useful tips on saving money on your London visit: http://www.bigworldsmallpockets.com/save-money-when-visiting-london/.

Ready to Discover the 3 Brighter Shades of London?

  1. Green space in the city

Hyde Park, Richmond Park, St James’s Park, Hampstead Heath, Primrose Hill, Battersea,… you could keep on like that forever. Sure, London may be one of the greatest metropolises in the world, but it’s definitely far from Fritz Lang’s industrial, destructive vision.

The appreciation of wildlife and nature deeply engrained in the British manifests itself in the abundance of greenery in the city. Thick bushes, wild grass, imposing trees creep into every inch of the city and create a perfect harmony with the traditional Victorian terraced houses and ultramodern glass buildings. The locals will be moaning about the lack of greenery, but in fact, London is lush with undergrowth, and its numerous parks, groves, and pampered lawns play an essential role in improving the quality of living in the capital.

If you’re looking for some inspiration for London’s most picturesque outdoor spaces, check out this blog.

  1. Delicious food

Feeling slightly hungry? What about trying out one of London’s 72 Michelin-starred restaurants? Gordon Ramsey, Heston Blumenthal, Marco Pierre White, Jamie Oliver, Gary Rhodes – name any top chef in the world, and you may be certain to find their upscale, white tablecloth restaurant somewhere in-between Mayfair and the City.

Not in a mood for gourmet and fancy more casual dining? Welcome to the land of fish’n’chips, food trucks, greasy spoons, and street food. Help yourself.

London’s a foodie dream come true, whether you’re a sworn vegan or a devoted carnivore; if you adore lunching outdoors or enjoy snuggling up with your Chinese takeaway and Netflix; if you are a staunch supporter of Sunday Roast or like your chicken biryani nice and hot.

Any suggestions?

[Pictures by different artists at pixabay]
  1. (Multi) Cultural vibe

Have you read Zadie Smith’s masterpiece, White Teeth? To me, the novel represents the essence of the multi-cultural, vivid London bustling with the smell of curry, jerk chicken, and falafel sandwiches. The rich and complicated history of the city is reflected in its cuisine, architecture, and language.

London’s cultural landscape is irresistible:

  • Shaftesbury Avenue theater district, West End musical theaters, The Globe,
  • Leicester Square with world premieres of Hollywood blockbusters,
  • the Museum district and its priceless art collections and incredible, interactive science exhibitions,
  • The Covent Garden Opera and Ballet,
  • Tate, and gazillions of tiny galleries, music gigs, and performances,
  • Soho clubs, Camden pubs, London Bridge bars,
  • and my favorite Notting Hill district, with the one and only Notting Hill Carnival, happening every August Bank Holiday. This is a real celebration of ethnicity, cuisine, music, and flamboyance, set in one of the busiest and most Londonesqe districts out there.

Add football to the equation (sorry, I’m not going to call the game ‘soccer’), a splash of UK garage, punk, trip hop, Britpop, and a dozen of other UK-born music genres, the local veneration for literature, and English rom-com, and I can see you already packing your suitcases. London’s practically the world’s cultural epicenter.

Is London Worth It?

You can definitely find some reasons to despise London. And even more to adore it. My relationship with the capital is a love-hate one, in 90/10 proportions.
If you’re looking for diverse, delicious food, rich cultural offer, energy and excitement, and stunning architecture combined with a wide array of green spaces, you’ll be delighted with London. That is if you don’t mind some noise, dirt, and occasional trouble.

 

Notting Hill Carnival
Credit: rmac8oppo via pixabay

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