Remember that scene in Match Point, where whats-her-name is standing in the Tate Modern? Jonathan Rhys Meyers walks up and in that oh-so-sexy British voice, he gets her to whisper her phone number. There’s this dirty feeling in the air, anticipation for something you just know is going to happen.

This scene, this superbly sexual moment is the image that always comes to mind when I dream of London. Phone numbers passed around in the dark, art on the walls, a near-empty gallery. Taken individually, there’s nothing noticeably fantastic, but in London…there’s an excitement in the air.

* * *

London skyline
London’s skyline from St Paul’s Cathedral

London is an infectious city. And those that visit either fall in love or despise the frantic pace of London. I first visited as a teenager and the love affair has lasted ever since. In college, I spent a semester living and studying in Londontown. It’s been seven years since I traveled to London, and now I’ve finally returned. There’s a lot of excitement to go around when revisiting a favorite city. But there’s also a lot of nervousness. Will it live up to my expectations? Will I poison my good memories? It’s a challenge, for sure, but so far, so good.

Everything is familiar but new and exciting

Arriving this morning at London Gatwick, memories flashed before me. Here’s where I had those last-minute passport photos taken. This was the phone booth in Victoria Station where I had to call my friend. The tube, Hyde Park, Marks & Spencer, Tesco… everything was how I remembered, yet somehow so different.

Because the last time I visited London was really a study-abroad experience, for this week-long holiday, the plan is to get back into the pace of the city. While there are some worthwhile tourist attractions to visit, I also want to spend my time revisiting favorite bookshops, hanging out in the best parks, reading the awful daily newspapers on the Underground, and buying cheap groceries (and hummus!) in my favorite grocery stores.

Go With OhSo rather than staying in a London hotel, I’ve partnered with GoWithOh Apartment Rentals. Their website booking offers holiday apartments in select cities across Europe (17 by today’s count). I like the company because of their commitment to quality apartments in big-name cities—the cities I often prefer to visit but hotels can sometimes be out-of-reach. Rather than being convoluted with thousands of choices, the options are less but that’s also less hassle to find what you’re looking for.

My friends and I are staying in The City neighborhood which means we’re within walking distance to some of my favorite places in London (Tate Modern, St Paul’s Cathedral, Southbank, Brick Lane). With an holiday apartment, it’s like I’m living in London all over again…even if it’s just for a week.

Tate Modern LondonFor the next week I’ll truly be “traveling as a local” as most travel marketing gurus like to shout these days. Revisiting old friends, but this time with my new friends. Checking out my old haunts (I wonder if The Queens Arm pub is as fun as I remember…?), late-night visits to Tesco for last-minute groceries and munchies. Plus I’ll join the odd tour here & there to see what’s new.

The plan is to make new memories in old places—not to replace the old memories, but to simply revisit them. And to be honest, half of my memories of London probably come from the movies anyway. So I’ve got a lot of ground to cover…

Follow me on my London trip all week with live photo updates on Instagram: http://instagram.com/travelsofadam

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16 comments

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  1. Pingback: Reliving Travel Memories at Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai

  2. I loved London when I first visited the city in 2005, very nice. I was fascinated with this multicultural city, really impressive.

  3. I would love to visit London again, so many new places and discoveries from when I last visited (too long ago)…wish the flights were cheaper from Hawaii

  4. Awesome Adam! It’s great to hear that you belong to the city again! It’s a pleasure to have you!

  5. Welcome back to London Adam, I hope you enjoy reliving those memories of your previous visit and make new ones…come back soon!

  6. I was always more of a Manchester fan but I actually ‘got’ London for the first time last year. It is an exciting city.

  7. Edd

    thanks for this article, i will visit london in 2 days. my first time, i’m so excited!
    any must see gay attractions that i need to go to? best restaurant? thanks

    • Adam

      Hey Edd – I highly recommend taking tips from That Gay Backpacker. Here are some of the useful posts from him that I’ve referred to:

      • The Ultimate Guide to London’s Gay Neighbourhoods (Gaybourhoods)
      • How to get boozed up in Gay London for under a tenner

      You can also check out my Pinterest board of London tips here.

  8. David @ That Gay Backpacker

    Raaaaar, enjoy every second – I KNOW that you will. I mean, if you follow all of my recommendations :)

  9. Give London a big snog from us, Adam. We may have gone native in the Canary Islands but London will always be our hometown. Now where did I put that Pearly King outfit?

  10. I’ve never been to London yet and it’s one of those cities in my bucket list. Hope to visit one day.

    Enjoy!

  11. You can’t go wrong with GowithOh! They not only have great apartments, they also make sure their guests have what they need to enjoy their city break.

  12. Reading your post reminds me I should go to London again this fal to do an update of the London city guidel!! Thanks for the tips :-).

    Best,

    Anne

  13. Welcome to our beautiful city! I recommend going to East London. It’s still quite non-touristy, but it will turn into a circus soon, the same as Camden has. Have fun :)

    • Adam

      I ended up visiting East London several times while there! Had a great visit and thank you for the recommendation :) Successfully avoided Camden on this trip as well!

  14. Cheryl

    Have fun Adam! Hope you have a wonderful time in London. :)

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