My challenge this year was to discover the city of London from the perspective of a tourist, but try to pay attention to the habits of Londoners. I wanted to answer the questions: "What does a person living in London do? Do they visit the well-known attractions of London in their free time or do they prefer other activities? What type of cuisine do they enjoy? And what type of lifestyle do they live?".
I started my adventure by visiting some of the biggest and most well-known attractions: the Natural History Museum, the British Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Throughout my visit I noticed quite a lot of tourists like me (that was to be expected), but I've also noticed a lot of Londoners who were visiting – mostly families with younger children. The children seemed fascinated by the explanations offered by their parents about the expositions – and seniors.
I decided to go next to Tate Modern. I could mostly notice adults here and tourists going to the top floor of the building to admire the view. I then moved on to important historical places for the country. I visited Tower Hill, Tower Bridge, the Monument, Westminster Abbey and Hampton Court. The places were very well-organised and friendly with all visitors. They had audioguides in a lot of languages, maps, and guides in most rooms if you wanted to learn more details about the place. The first four attractions were quite crowded as they are more central, but Hampton Court seemed to be mostly visited by locals. I managed to go on a day when there was also a Food Festival in the Palace's gardens. The weather was perfect for a day outside and there was live music. Everyone seemed to be in very good spirits. The next category of places I've been to include parks and walks.
The British weather is not always good for a lovely walk around London, but I noticed that makes people appreciate a sunny day much more so it's common to see Londoners outside when the sun shines. One of the first walks I would recommend is going from King's Cross to Camden Market and Primrose Hill. The path is along a canal, with lovely and picturesque scenery, usually very quiet. In Camden Market, there are a lot of shops with street food. Although it gets very busy around lunchtime, try some food from here! Another walk that I personally enjoyed a lot was exploring Kew Botanical Gardens. It has one of the most beautiful collections of plants I've ever seen and the entire area is very well-maintained. You can come here during the day and have a picnic outside, learn about exotic species of plants or walk around and take pictures. They also have events at night! This summer it was the Chihuly Nights event where you could admire glass artwork as the sun sets while listening to calming music. And I've got to say... it was stunning! Probably one of the most beautiful experiences I had in London! Other interesting activities outside that I would recommend are taking a Ferry boat ride, going to Brick Lane to see street art, exploring Covent Garden, walking to the famous Baker Street and, of course, going on a walk along Thames.
It is time to see what cuisine the Londoners prefer! London is a city with a lot of cultural and ethnical diversity so the food is just as diverse. Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican food are only a few of the go-to types of food for Londoners. Thus, I had the chance to explore a lot of new cuisines from around the world, all from a single city. However, eating out is more expensive than cooking at home so most people don't go to a restaurant for every meal. I noticed that Londoners pay attention to what they're eating in an attempt to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Thus, meals such as salads, dishes with a lot of vegetables and fruits seem to be preferred as daily food. Saving time appears to be another aspect that's important to locals. Hence, ordering food from restaurants and supermarkets is fairly popular.
In conclusion, London is a vibrant city where you can find something new and exciting to do as a tourist, but also as a local. It's a place where the history of the old places lives along with the skyscrapers and the modern habits of Londoners.