Arriving at 11pm on a tuesday evening, London presented me its natural, indecent nightlife with an empty subway, furnished with old and dusty upholstery furniture, that had already been used by more than one generation. I saw a man cleaning his Film camera while heading to Lambeth North and knew that London was just the right place to come to, if one looked for architectural masterpieces, courtyards with impressive lighting constellations or just a raw and unfiltered life on the streets. Spending five days in London meant re-living and capturing dozens of decades through buildings, shops or people's style.
Wednesday, May 18th
I woke up in the Apartment we had rented for the week. It had two floors, entering the upper one you found yourself in a small hallway, leading to the bathroom and the two bedrooms. Next to the bathroom was a stairway leading down to the second floor. It contained the kitchen and the living room, which had posters of communist leaders on the walls and a view towards the train station we had arrived at the night before. It was a friendly and cosy apartment with a carpeted floor that added to its calmness.
We made breakfast in the little kitchen while looking out of the window towards various cranes that protruded London’s Skyline. While the coffee was being made I took the time to study the surrounding area and what it had to offer. We then walked into the city centre, stopping by at some of the typical attractions that were offered, only to find ourselves in front of the British Museum, were we spend the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening, we took a small taxi to drive to Her Majesty’s Theatre where we watched a performance of The Phantom of The Opera, an all time classic when it comes to musicals. The atmosphere in the theatre contributed to this feeling due to its ancient interior. After a few hours of impressive singing and story-telling we made our way back to the apartment. Arriving there I imagined what it must be like to love somebody so much, your heart decides it is better for you to die than to continue living.
Thursday, May 19th
Waking up with the curtains still closed and the room filled by its darkness, it occurred to me that if I hadn’t known any better, it would have never come to my mind that I was in the middle of London. The noise of cars passing by was the same as in my hometown in Munich and even the sound of raindrops banging against my window seemed familiar. Only the smell of British coffee, crawling up the stairs and into my room, reminded me of my current location and how I had yet a few more days to spend in this beautiful city.
After having started the day with some black coffee and a few slices of toast, we took the subway off to Tower Bridge, once again being flashed by the beauty of London’s Underground stations and their late 50’s charm. Arriving at the Tower Bridge we had to acknowledge the masses of tourists that had just the same idea as us. So instead of following along and waiting in the perpetual line, we crossed the Thames, finding ourselves at London’s riverside which we then took a small stroll on.
Arriving at Borough Market at little past two o’clock we met with some relatives of ours and had lunch together at said place. The variety of food and cultural influences was astonishing and left me unable to choose something to eat. After once again drinking some coffee in a small restaurant at the riverside, we decided to head northwest and spend the rest of the evening strolling around in Camden town.
Friday, May 20th
At about 6 o’clock my alarm rang, reminding me of the interesting journey I was about to experience. After quickly having eaten breakfast, we took the subway to drive to Paddington Station and from there on to Oxford via railway. After an hour of landscapes passing by, a town could be identified not far away, with its small train station right ahead of us.
It was past noon and yet the streets didn’t seem very lively, as if the black clouds that continued to assemble themselves in the sky had prevented the people from stepping outside. Having stayed in London for a few days now, I was habituated to seeing old buildings next to newer ones alongside the road. Yet, Oxford offered a completely new image with its rural buildings and old colleges that laid neatly organised one next to the other. The sight of architectural masterpieces like these didn’t just leave me astonished, I quickly began to realize that living in Oxford meant living after a whole other standard, than I was habituated to.
Strolling through its alleys and along its canal, we spent the rest of the afternoon discovering the mysteries, Oxford offered us. And even though we missed our train back to London, we took some time to drive to Notting Hill and ended up finding ourselves in a little and cosy bar called “The Earl of Lonsdale”.
Saturday, May 21st
The next day we decided, we’d visit Notting Hill again. Only that this time, the streets weren’t as empty as expected. It seemed like a lot of people had the same idea as us, visiting Notting Hill with its shops and markets along the road appeared to be the thing to do when in London – only we didn’t know about that. So, we strolled around the streets, went into a few shops and bargained with some stand owners.
It was way past noon when we finally started being hungry and figured out we would go get something to eat, while continuing to shop, what destination could combine these two wishes better than Harrods in Knightsbridge? After having eaten and drunken one or two americano coffees, we left Harrods with our hands full of bags and drove back to our apartment, staying there to rest until afternoon.
At about five in the afternoon we left the apartment and took the underground to Chinatown. Arriving there we found ourselves in the middle of the action, with Chinese restaurants piled up one next to the other, employees rushing the streets and carts full of goods and food being dragged across the street, I felt like in Arthur Goldens “Memoirs of a Geisha”. In order to calm down from all the trouble we had experienced that day we decided to spend the rest of the evening in the Tate Gallery of Modern Art and even took the ferry to Greenwich where we watched the sun set behind London’s rural Skyline.
Sunday, May 22nd
We had to get up early in the morning to catch our flight, thus not being able to visit any more of London’s sights we were quite disappointed but consoled ourselves with the memories of the past week we had spend in UK’s capital. Almost ecstatically I boarded the plane, the newest issue of Port Magazine in my hands as a souvenir.
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