OPINIONS FROM THE BRIDGE | Darrin Henry
Of all the unusual things to do in London we’ve decided to stop random people and ask, ‘what is so good about London?’
The capital of England is easily the top city in the world for Sharon and I. On the London tourist map, we both have our favourite attractions. And of course, the cool buildings of London make amazing photography backdrops for what we do, ie photography.
But as the saying goes, people make the place, and in this regard that’s what gives London its awesome vibe.
If you want to experience the greatest variety of people from around the world in one place, come sample life in a big city like London. Just walking around it’s immediately noticeable the range of accents and languages we can hear are as varied as the faces that are streaming past us. Apparently over 300 languages are spoken by over eight million people living in London.
We’re always astounded by the number of nationalities we meet in London. Even more fascinating are their stories; why people are here. Our blog post about Dan Ground, the homeless bucket drummer, is one example. Maria Sergejeva, the Estonian Olympic figure skater is another.
Right now it’s the start of summer and Sharon and I are visiting for a few weeks, taking our time to just soak up the city again.
People watching is something we all do – I think! It’s fascinating to quietly guess what it is each person does or where they’re from. We’ve decided it will be interesting to stop guessing and instead, try to meet people in London and just ask.
John from Cambridge
Ironically, after expectations of being amazed by peoples of the world, the first person we said hello to was an Englishman!
We met John on the Millennium Bridge, leaning on the rail, taking in the view. John is an accountant and has worked in the City of London for 15 years, although he doesn’t live in London, rather he commutes 80 miles each day from Cambridge. John’s daily journey, one way into London “takes two hours, door to door.”
We popped the question we were experimenting with today: What is so good about London?
“The good thing about London is there’s lots going on; it’s a very busy city. You can stop and have a chat with so many interesting people, like yourselves! Which is nice. What would I recommend for anyone visiting with just one day in London to do? Let’s see. St Paul’s Cathedral.”
We can definitely agree with John, having been inside ourselves. St Pauls Cathedral is a key attraction on any London sightseeing map for tourists. In its present form St Pauls completed in the late 17th century, designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. The original church on the site from 604 AD, was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.
A little further on we tried out our question again, this time picking out an oriental face from the crowd.
Bess, from Hong Kong – What is so good about London?
Although Bess was visiting from Hong Kong today, she is no stranger to spending a day in London.
The UK was home for five years up to 2012, when she studied Business Management at university in Surrey. She returned home to Hong Kong after completing her studies, but returned just eight days ago for a short holiday and to visit friends. We asked her; what is so good about London?
“The best thing about London is that it’s classic,” says Bess. “For me it’s good to be back. The Shard is awesome. I’ve just come from having a good breakfast there on the 31st floor. The views are great and the staff are really nice.
“The main difference between Hong Kong and London; in Hong Kong people don’t know how to relax. When I go back to [another place I know in England] St Austell (Cornwall) the people there they can relax for the whole day. In the UK this is good; it’s good to have a balance. In Hong Kong they are always thinking of business, all the time.”
It’s an interesting observation from Bess. For us, coming from the tiny island of St Helena where the pace of life is incredibly laid back, London seems perpetually frantic. We would not describe it as relaxed. But then, that’s the beauty of talking to strangers and getting a global perspective. It helps us to appreciate London even more.