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.
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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.
So 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.
For 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