Why I love London

February 19, 2024

A few weeks ago, I was in London. That’s an 11-hour flight flying economy for what was a 5 day trip with mostly business intentions, and I was working regular hours for my clients (which meant working past midnight sometimes), and I was alone – ’twas my first international trip alone, in fact. One could argue that it shouldn’t have been that fun, or maybe even that it should be a bit scary, right?

It was quite fun.

And my concept of fun is different from what people would usually consider fun. I did not go clubbing, I did not go to any parties, and I mostly stayed within a 2-kilometer radius from the hotel I stayed in Kensington. Didn’t went further than Hyde Park. And this time I didn’t go to the tourist attractions most people go.

But it was still fun.

I would say that this is the case because London is such a rich town. And I’m not talking about the Ferrari or the Porsches that were parked down street from where I stayed – everywhere you look at in London, there’s something interesting. It’s very historically-dense in the sense that in every corner there’s an interesting building, an interesting park, or an interesting detail waiting to be discovered. Even people are interesting – I saw a lot of couples and families who were not speaking English, for example. I heard people speaking German, French, Japanese, languages I had no idea what they were, and I even overheard a clerk at a nearby store speaking Portuguese with a very familiar accent. I would later find out there were, in fact, from São Paulo.

As a town that’s 2000+ years old, there’s a lot going on in London – if you go to Canary Wharf, you’ll see super modern buildings full of straight and minimalistic shapes (some people hate them; I don’t, I find them interesting too). If you go to Kensington, you’ll see a lot of historic buildings – that’s where the Kensington Palace is, as you’d expect, and it was built in the 17th century. And in the outskirts of London, you’ll see many rows of houses that essentially look the same. I was told that most of those houses were built in the post-WW2 period, as the government wanted to rebuild and provide housing for those who lost their homes in the war, but I have no confirmation on this even though it makes sense.

One could argue that any major city in the world would also share a similar background. But London is a particular case exactly because it is a mix of so many different eras. This is less common than you’d think: Kyoto, for example, is very ancient; Dubai as we know it is super brand new; many cities in Germany were destroyed in the war and had to be rebuilt; and NYC is a comparatively “new” city. Thus why I find London so particularly interesting.

So everywhere you look in London, there’s a story waiting to be told. This is what made the trip fun, and I hope to be back soon to continue exploring the city. I’ll leave the crazy partying to the British tourists in Ibiza.

I also visited London back in 2015 too. Here’s a photo from that trip: one I snapped of the Big Ben taken from the London Eye:

Smartphone cameras came back a long way, huh? That was taken with a first-gen Moto G, 16GB of pure storage power. The pictures from this year’s trip were taken with an iPhone 13 mini, 512GB – that’s about 9 years difference from those two devices. As a software guy, I must say that the hardware guys move way faster than us in advancing things!