Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
I couldn’t agree more. Having just returned from London, I am already dreaming of the next time I might visit. London has always been one of my favorite places to visit. I had my first journey there when I was an impressionable 15. I returned with my husband in 1999, when the London Eye was still being constructed. And this trip, the first with our sons, was just as memorable. It was gratifying seeing the city through their eyes and knowing it impressed them as much as it first did me.
I’ve tried to narrow down exactly what I like best about this vibrant city, but I don’t think I can name one particular aspect. Being a history nut, of course I’ve enjoyed visiting the historical attractions and learning the stories behind monuments and great works of art. As a lover of the supernatural, I adore hearing a new ghost story and glimpsing where those spirits might still wander. However, the architecture and cultural life of London leave me just as amazed.
This time around, I think the highlight for me was attending London Walks, a local company that runs daily and nightly walks around various neighborhoods. We did five of these walks, venturing into dark alleyways, peeking at old plague pits and shivering at tales of Jack the Ripper and other city ghosts. Without London Walks guiding us, I would never have known the pretty house in the pic below was actually one of the remaining brothels from early London (frequented, I might add, by cardinals and other clergy. Naughty boys).
One of my favorite London haunts is Hampton Court, the palace Henry VIII appropriated from his adviser Thomas Wolsey. What’s not to love? With a host of lively ghosts, a hedge maze, state apartments from Tudor, Georgian and other periods, and gorgeous gardens, Hampton Court has something for everyone. I took many photos there, including the one below, of the ceiling at the front entrance.
I can truly say Samuel Johnson got it right. I will never tire of London. I’ve only touched on a few of the sites I visited but the memories of others play on a constant loop in my head. London makes me dream. It makes me feel a part of history, or at the very least, an interested fly on the wall. And as you can see from the wide smile on my face, I can’t wait to go back.
Have you been to London? What are some of your favorite things to see and do?