The first time I visited London I remembered it instantly.
There are places that you visit and it’s all new enough for you to get lost within minutes. (I may be projecting. Please see the subtitle of this blog). And there are the other places – so enormously on the beaten track and beloved by the popular media that you’ve been passively experiencing them third-hand since you could crawl. You know them, despite being a stranger.
I was lost in Paris until I saw the Eiffel Tower. Athens made no sense until I climbed Lykavitos Hill and saw where the Acropolis put everything else. It was only when I saw the Colosseum that I knew I was in Rome.
London’s like that at the moment. Lost, lost, lost, ah – landmark. I’m still getting my head round where everything is, weekend visit by weekend visit. Last time I was there with friends, we all went for a wander for my benefit. For me, London is still a jigsaw freshly tipped out the box. You have a few brightly colored pieces (the London Eye, the Globe, London Bridge, St. Paul’s, Buckingham Palace) and the rest is just pieces of sky. You’ve no idea how anything fits together, and you have to go searching for a corner to get yourself started.
(Corners are easy).
Last time I was there, my corner was Chinatown. We wandered through it (“what? That’s it?”) and out into Leicester Square, up Coventry Street past the Trocadero before wending our way down to St James’s Park and its assorted wildfowl and eccentric birders, before emerging into the gut-punching sweep of the Mall and making our way to Liz’s house.
Now I know that bit. (Kinda. Don’t test me or anything). And next time I’ll fit something to the edge of it, and London will be mine just a little bit more. In the meantime, up here in York, I’m reading and rereading the London section of the Rough Guide to England.
Trying to spot my next corner of sky.