London is a massive city and it's the best city. In here you'll discover my love for London versus NYC with a Buzzfeed quiz on which of those cities you belong in as that is of the upmost importance, my own walking tour I created based on London's color, Harry Potter locations I visited in London, and parks and other photogenic scenes of this incredible city.
Many think of London as grey and drizzly, which it is but that's just part of its charm; However, it is also full of color, quirk, and lots of nature, which I think is easily overlooked. Rain and polluted skies, tube strikes, and Brexit might sit in the forefront of one's mind but I am here to protest as London is much more than that!
I tend to not like big cities as much as I do smaller cities with outdoor activities but with that being said I tend to visit London as well as New York City more than other large cities. For being so largely populated and urban, I love them both.
In that case, I like to play this game called New York versus London for many reasons. New York has its American dream charm and I for some reason find the dirt and smell of NYC as part of its seduction alongside its stacked buildings, quaint West Village streets, and endless possibilities at my beckoning call. NYC is dense and crowded with details in every nook and cranny.
London, however, is way more breathable, except for Oxford Street. Thou shalt never visit Oxford Street unless desiring a migraine and tears of frustration. I speak from personal experience.
London, unlike NYC, has vast parks and greenery embedded within its zones. NYC has Central Park and Prospect Park, but that's really it in my opinion unless you're outside of Manhattan, maybe? I don't count New York City's miniature semi-concrete parks that can fit 20 people at best though I still find them charming.
While walking through London, the home fronts are adorned with plants and my ears aren't incessantly violated by honking horns. The traffic and garbage volume in front of the homes in NYC contrasts to the peace I find while walking London's much cleaner streets. I'm not saying London is super clean and pristine but compared to NYC it definitely feels that way.
I also want to express my deep frustration with the fact that NYC's Manhattan is based on a grid yet I find the cluster of London's tube much easier to conduct. In the end, though, I prefer walking if at all possible because I can see things that way.
With that being said, I decided to make myself my own walking tour on my first day in London. I only had two days for zone 1 and 2 so I wanted to see as much as I could in the beautiful city I hadn't visited for three years.
I made a color tour. I love unique perspectives and I figured if I really want to see London in a different way then I should seek out its color. That's why so many pictures in here are colorful and I didn't even add half of them and even more are included in the next blog. I like colors, can ya tell? Brooklyn might have better street art but London wins when it comes to colorful charm.
To start, I searched Pinterest and Google for all of the colorful places in London. I then used my Maps.Me offline map to mark every colorful spot I wanted to visit.
Map.Me is seriously a life saver while traveling! You can download the map offline and use it like any other map but without needing data or wifi. You can see how fast you're walking, how many miles and time you have upon arrival, and color coordinate your pins!
Here is what I mapped out :
If you want the actual route I did, which was efficient and I saw a lot, then message me and I'll give you all the details! As you can see in the image, I started in Ladbroke Grove, which is my pink star, and then the red stars are for all the stops I needed to make for my color tour.
I did most of these in one day but saved some for my second day, like St. Dunstan-in-the-East as it's further off and also not colorful. However, it is full of greenery and peace so I enjoyed the ruined walls creating a bubble like an ancient time capsule from the modern hustle and bustle of London's business district.
From Ladbroke Grove, I started towards St. Luke's Mews in Notting Hill, which is where scenes from Love Actually were filmed and where the beautiful pink building with flowers and bicycle are in my photos, and after that I made my way to Portobello Road. This entire area is very colorful.
I also roamed around Neal's Yard in Covent Garden, Atherston Mews, Prince's Gate Mews, and Churchill Arms Pub. As a good tourist does, I went by Westminster to see the Big Ben and Thymes at dusk, which is always stunning. Mews add so much character to London and I had no clue what a mews was until my local friend explained to me that they are a courtyard or small alley with homes clustered around it that used to serve as the stables below on the ground level for horses and carriages. They are much smaller than normal roads and are basically just footpaths into a collection of colorful houses. Much quieter and prettier than your average city sidewalk views.
For some old London authenticity, I walked into Goodwin's Court which is important for two reasons. Goodwin's Court is like walking into a time warp of a pre-industrial century. It still uses gas lamps lit by hand! I am determined to see it at night sometime. It lies within the modern day crowd of London, as it is hard to see and easy to pass by, yet it is this untouchable clandestine souvenir of a place where you expect to see men in top hats or even an 18th century ghost. The spooky yet charming courtyard is London before electricity and you can catch a glimpse in this little alleyway.
What makes it even better, though?
It's part of the Harry Potter set. That's right. This antique alley is the set for Knockturn Alley in the film, which is the sinister sister to Diagon Alley and that leads me to another place I visited. Leadenhall Market! It was the set for Diagon Alley in the first film so obviously I visited it, too.
I also meandered through Soho, Chinatown, Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath, St. Pancras, and the Victoria and Albert Museum cafe. Hands down one of my favorite museums but I had never been to the cafe tucked in the back of the museum because I never knew about it previously. This adorned cafe with its high ceilings, decorates columns, jewel toned walls, and stained glass windows is the first and oldest museum cafe in the world.
Speaking of museums, did you know that London museums are free? Not all of the NYC museums are and the ones that are free try to make tourists pay a suggested $20.00. Excuse me?! You should combat this by finding the free entrance days and times for NYC museums and only pay a few bucks for donation cost, please. Don't break your bank for privately funded museums that profit on the naivety of darling tourists.
NYC does win when it comes to cost, though. It's expensive but it isn't London expensive, especially when converting dollars to pounds. The bank killer of London is a mix of high transportation cost, steep accommodation prices, and over-priced food but if you're smart then you can make it work on a ballin' budget.
Buzzfeed does have a very *ahem* insightful quiz if you click here on whether you belong in NYC or London if you feel so obliged.
Soon I'll be posting my NYC photos as I'm currently visiting and I'll stop hating on the city a bit. I still love NYC (I even have that shirt to prove it) but London has my heart in so many special ways. These colorful photos will make you want to jump right into this city, drink its lovely tea, and embrace its culture of being a bit too proper and a tad bit funky and a lot of beautiful.