Big Ben shines over London's Thames River

Big Ben shines over London's Thames River

London: Lose yourself along the Thames, and drink the thickest beer you can

London's a funny vacation spot, because it's not a vacation spot. Still, there can't be a definitively greater city in the world.

London’s a funny vacation spot, because it’s not a vacation spot.

You touch down at the finest airport in the world – nothing can compete with the boutique-ity or the downright intentionally charming cheesiness of Heathrow’s shops, gates, and duty free alleys – and you pay way too much for that Tube trip to the city, which will take you longer than any arriving people mover ever should.

They speak the same language as you – hell, they invented it – and they’ve memorized every page of the latest thesaurus, and they can even brag that they lead the trends on social media slang, too.

Just to flex their vocabulary-based muscle, they never use the same adjective twice in one day, and they do it with precision and without thinking.

Their humour is self-deprecating, but it always feels like they’re fishing for a compliment. I mean, they hate their weather, the cost of their living, and how pale they are, but could you really imagine them living anywhere else? Could they imagine it?

I really don’t think so.

————————————————————

London Eye

London - Thames River

————————————————————

Day 1 was spent checking into the Walrus on Waterloo hostel, which I’ll assume could only be surpassed on the city’s budget lodging frontier by the St. Christopher’s Inn near London Bridge. (Roll a dice and pick one. Neither should disappoint you.)

The staff is too friendly and the beer – which is second to only the Czechs for its creativity and the atmosphere that comes for free with each mug – is a delicacy, but one that can fit in your wallet.

From London Pride to some sort of “Banana Bread”-infused beverage, the Walrus won’t charge you more than four pounds for a pint. (Trust me. That’s actually a steal.)

Immediately, we were off to the London Eye – which is just around the corner – and then just kept walking East along the Thames River. Shakespeare’s Globe is open and, if not, just stand to marvel at it from the outside.

Chances are, it will seem very familiar, even if you’ve never been and even if you have no idea how Romeo & Juliet ends. (SPOILER: Nobody dies.)

Bikes, community gardens, and beer stalls line the river’s walk, and they couldn’t care less if you carry your 0.5 litre of hops with you.

————————————————————

London - The Battle

Geoffrey Chaucer - London

————————————————————

St. Paul’s stands atop the north side of the Thames and looks over the rest, and a walk from Chaucer’s favourite cathedral to Piccadilly Circus (which is like Times Square, but without all the stuff, which is nice) is a perfectly English tour of everything you’d expect from London – Christmas-like pubs that could all be called ‘Elephant Castle’, fish and chips shops with a bartender that will intimidate you to the point that you’ll just eat what they give you, and elegance that oozes from every corner and red phone booth.

Class is everywhere in London. Charm is contagious. It’s why we love their movies, and why Hollywood always fails to replicate them. Can anyone tell me an American soap opera that has even a toenail’s worth of the violently loyal followers Coronation Street does?

Would anyone watch Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve or New York, I Love You over Love Actually? Has Julia Roberts done anything comedically worth your admission ticket since Notting Hill? Why don’t we hate Hugh Grant?

The CBC is still hanging on to the rear bumper of the BBC, and for good reason.

Day 2 was an early wakeup. Jet lag will do that to you. By 7 a.m., I’d seen Trafalgar Square, I’d walked past the Houses of Parliament and that long green road that leads to Buckingham Palace. I’d stumbled across statues of Churchill and some guy named ‘Alanbrooke’, who was given the fortunate title of ‘Master of Strategy’. (Can someone get him for my Risk team?)

Westminster Abbey costs 20 pounds, but it’s Westminster Abbey. This is London. This is Europe. This isn’t the time to leave your wallet at home.

Like an large city (well, it’s damn huge, actually), finding food you want is no easy task. Every time you sit down somewhere simple, you feel you could do better. Every time you reach, you feel guilty for going too far.

(After all, even if you bring your wallet, you don’t need to break it.)

————————————————————

Westminster Abbey - London

London - Meantime Beer

————————————————————

Day 3 was for the Tube, which wasn’t much different than Days 1 and 2, perhaps, but still something separate. Chelsea FC was calling, so I answered. I mean no disrespect to Arsenal’s pitch, but the Fly Emirates’ (oh, that isn’t their actual name?) field doesn’t ring between my ears like STAMFORD BRIDGE does, or ANFIELD or OLD TRAFFORD.

The English are great with words, and they’re great with words because they’re able to apply that greatness to everything.

They name their football stadiums with the same power and royalty that J.R.R. Tolkien used to name his characters’ neighbourhoods. Their beers comes from cold, gold taps and it sweats in your glass.

An entire section of Westminster Abbey – Poet’s Corner – is devoted to the country’s finest writers – ever – and even though you know their names, you still can’t help but marvel at just how many damn geniuses of the pen came from that one tiny island.

Milton. Tennyson. Wilde. Chaucer. Dickens. Kipling. Austen. Blake. PB Shelley. The Brontes and the Brownings. And that’s only a prick of a sample.

————————————————————

Sherlock Holmes Novel - London England

Chelsea FC - Stamford Bridge Tour

————————————————————

Three nights in London is three nights you can’t regret, and three nights that should be spread into four. You’ll treat it like your own city when you’re there – because, really, it feels like home (for better or worse) – but you’ll be fond of it forever.

With all due respect to the Greeks and the Romans, our civilization was founded by that foggy city with the large clock tower, and it isn’t even that foggy anymore.

You’ll treat their tabloids and their obsession with Harry Styles like its pointless fluff, but even a man like me couldn’t help but be disappointed that I left one damn day before the royal baby was born.

(However, in typical English fashion, they tempered their excitement for the newest royal with acutely sarcastic newspaper titles like “The royal baby pictures show privilege trying, and failing, to look normal”.

Self-deprecation at its best. And, yes, that’s from The Guardian.)

*This post was originally published on KolbyDoesEurope.com

————————————————————

Big Ben and Parliament Houses

London Bridge - Instagram

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A police vehicle turns on to Landing Drive on the Skwah Reserve on Thursday, March 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
One man charged after allegedly pointing firearm at Chilliwack RCMP officer

Richard Joseph Williams faces 6 charges after March incident near McCammon elementary and Skwah

Linnea Labbee outside the Chilliwack Law Courts on April 1, 2021 on day 16 of her trial in BC Supreme Court where she is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a 78-year-old woman on Mary Street on Dec. 1, 2016. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Crown seeking jail time for 72-year-old Chilliwack woman found guilty in fatal hit-and-run

Trial of Linnea Labbee who struck and killed 78-year-old woman in 2016 ended Monday

RCMP patch. (File)
Young prolific offender from Hope faces another raft of charges

Jacob Paul Sihata charged in 3rd set of serious incidents since he was 19

Former Merritt Centennial and current Chilliwack Chief Jackson Munro (left) evades Merritt’s Chase Cook during a weekend BCHL game at the Chilliwack Coliseum. (Darren Francis photo)
Goalies lead Chilliwack Chiefs to pair of wins in weekend BCHL action

Mathieu Caron picked up a shutout Friday and Jakob Gullmes earned his first BCHL victory Sunday

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

Surrey RCMP are seeking the public's help to locate three puppies stolen from a South Surrey home on April 10. (Surrey RCMP photos)
Puppies stolen during weekend break-and-enter in South Surrey

Surrey RCMP seeking public’s assistance in locating three American Bulldog puppies

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Guinevere, lovingly referred to by Jackee Sullivan and her family as Gwenny, is in need of a gynecological surgery. The family is raising money to help offset the cost of the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Langley lizard’s owners raise funds for gynecological surgery

The young reptile is scheduled for operation on Tuesday

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

Mounties say they “corralled” four Ford Mustangs April 4 after an officer saw the muscle cars racing down 184 Street near 53 Avenue at about 10 p.m. (File Photo)
Mounties impound four Mustangs

Surrey RCMP say they seized four cars for street racing

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

Most Read