It’s normally only when out-of-towers come to visit that I play tourist in my own city, but on a recent, sunny weekend my husband and I visited St. Paul’s Cathedral for no other reason than that it was there and we hadn’t yet been inside. It was magnificent, and the painful climb to the top – all 1,161 stairs – was worth it for the expansive views of a city I’ve come to love.
As a child of the suburbs I always wanted to live and work in a big city. My literary aspirations made New York City the natural choice. The month I spent there while earning my CELTA certification was thrilling and hard, equal measures of dream fulfilment and disappointment. After university and through a friendship with a charming French-American girl, Paris quickly joined the Big Apple as an option as I imagined us strolling along the Seine in the rain, eating croissant in incredibly chic patisseries and writing the next great American novel. Mais oui.
Then life took a turn. London is the city I’ve called home for five years now. I’ve lived and worked and played among her cobbled lanes and broad avenues, her parks and gardens, her monuments to war and art. I’ve loved the diverse culture and resilience of the people. I’ve hated the overcrowded tube and choking traffic fumes. I’ve made friends and progressed a career.
But that chapter is closing. We are moving north, chasing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and getting fresh air, a slower pace of life and more square footage in the trade-off. It’s exciting and daunting and more than a little bittersweet. I immediately pulled up a list of 101 things to do in London, ready to cram in as much culture and as many urban experiences as I could before we leave. I was pleasantly surprised to see how many of the items on the list I’d already ticked off over the years.
So to celebrate this incredible city and our time here, I thought I’d share with you my favourite things to do in London: