DISCOVERY INTERN: MY FINAL DESTINATION – LONDON
Despite recent events, London remains a truly hospitable city.
What a journey so far. I’ve travelled halfway around the globe and across four different continents. After five dauntless weeks I’ve now landed at my final destination – London City. This city feels like my home away from home; last year I explored a bit of Europe and used London as my base.
It has a homely vibe seeing that it’s very multicultural and also hosts a lot of other Kiwi and Aussie travellers. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was how much stricter the country has become in light of recent events. I was so thoroughly questioned by customs, it almost felt like being in the USA. They had built metal bars to contain pedestrians on all the main bridges and removed public rubbish bins to stop bombings. Despite all of this, Londons social culture is still alive and well. As per usual after work, locals head out in the city to a local pub or a park to enjoy a drink or two with colleagues and friends. My first stop was Big Ben, I set up on the opposite end of Westminster Bridge and watched the sun disappear beyond the high-rises.
I also learnt from a chatty local that Westminster is its own city, within London City. Slightly confused I wandered around for a bit, stumbled across a street act or two before ending the night along the Thames riverside boardwalk. Over the next couple of days, I explored the capital’s many landmarks, starting with the great St Paul’s Cathedral. The inner chambers of the cathedral were off limits to civilians due to an annual ceremony taking place, however I wandered about and found a unique perspective from a major office and retail development called One Change directly opposite the 16th Century church.
Later on in the day, I wandered over to Tower Bridge, often mistaken for London Bridge. Once again I was out shooting and I managed to snap a couple of shots of the clear blue skyline, which apparently is a rare site for London, so I was lucky.
While the sun was setting, I spoke yet again to another local who explained why London is the greatest city in the world to live in. He said you wouldn’t find another city with so much rich history which you can usually explore at no cost. Most of the museums and art galleries are free. He then said London’s public transport was so efficient, a car would be counterproductive within the great metropolis. But the most significant thing, he said, is the fact you’re never more than seven metres from a pub, seeing the capital alone houses over 7000 bars! London, like its locals, is full of culture. I’ve been lucky to experience its hospitable, social streets yet again.
During my last few days, I decided to pack my Kathmandu backpack and hitch a ride with the local bus to swap the hustle and bustle of the big smoke for an alternative beach town on the English coast. Next stop – Brighton.
– Ben Mikha
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