When I came back from studying abroad during my junior year of college, the most popular question I got was “What was your favorite city in Europe!?” Up until this week, I’ve always answered that it was Rome. Now that I’ve been back to London, though, I can no longer honestly say that.
I’m not sure why I never thought of London as my favorite city. Maybe it’s the same as being asked about your favorite city here in the US, and neglecting to even consider your hometown. Maybe the romantic notion of my little European weekend getaways blinded me to the fact that the city I had adopted as my temporary home was really the one closest to my heart.
When I returned to London last week, Boyfriend in tow, it was like seeing an old friend again. I was worried that I would forget my way around, or that nothing would thrill me as it once had because, well, I’d seen it all before. But, ironically, the opposite happened: I remembered the way to bars and sites we’d frequented during my time there (with no map and no address to confirm my instincts). I found new parts of the city to love, and did things I’d never done before. And even though we stayed on the opposite side of the city from where I’d lived for all those months, stepping out of the Paddington tube station was like coming home after years away. I marveled at the changes and regaled Boyfriend with stories of the memories while we wound our way through the city, making new ones.
We discovered that the Tower Bridge is even more beautiful up close, and that climbing to the top of it will afford you a gorgeous view of the city. We sampled every cask ale we could get our hands on in every dark, corner pub we could find. Boyfriend learned of the superiority of European taps and European Guinness, and will forever be ruined for the crap we have over here in the States. We ate the spiciest Indian food I’ve ever eaten on a little street called Brick Lane in East London, and, a few blocks over, found out how and where Jack the Ripper did his dirty work. We toured the majestic greens of Wimbledon, where a tour guide sold us, hook-line-and-sinker, on the fact that we’ll need to return one day to see the tournament in action. And at the end of each day, dead on our feet from 12 hours of touring this great city, we tramped back to the north end of Hyde Park, crawled into bed, and whispered to each other in the dark how happy we were that we were able to take this little vacation to London, together.