Have you ever traveled somewhere and just felt a part of it all? As in, when you're not there, you feel as though you're missing out on life? I have, and for me that place is London.
Social scientists call it "cultural fit" or "gone native", describing the phenomenon when someone finds refuge or comfort in a foreign culture that is not their own- a country they were not born in. They become one with their adopted culture, and they're not happy anywhere else. It's a real thing, and while you could easily write it off as a "vacation high" or the like, it's not as simple as that. I mean sure, pretty much anywhere in the world is better when your hometown is Cleveland, but it goes beyond that initial excitement of a new place. It's not about visiting at all. It's about something clicking, and all of a sudden you're trying to get a refund on your return ticket.
For as long as I can remember I've been fascinated with British stuff. The birthplace of Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie, The Beatles, Jack the Ripper, James Bond, Harry Potter, and of course more recently, Downton Abbey, Pippa Middleton, and One Direction. What's not to like?
There is, and always has been, something that just grabs me about the Victorian era, of which no city embodies better than London. London is the Victorian era. The city is mysterious, like something right out of a good old fashioned murder mystery. And does anyone romanticize murder better than the British? Nope. For this I blame the likes of Sir Author Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie...even Edward Gorey. The dark and crooked gas lit streets, the horse drawn carriages, Sherlock Holmes chasing a nemesis through back alleys... The city is still mysterious, and it calls to me.
I love Paris. I could live in Paris. There is no doubt in my mind it's the most romantic city on earth. But there is just something about London that makes me feel like I belong here. It's the pub atmosphere. The dry and witty sense of humor. British TV (don't say f*ck or bugger!). Their love of books and a good mystery. And of course, their accent. Anyone sounds smarter with a good British accent. (Although it can sound quite horrible and/or pompous given the region, for the most part it's quite pleasant.)
Now, I love my hometown of New Orleans, and if anything this entire journey has made me love it that much more. I'm not homesick at all, but I'm so glad I get to go back home to New Orleans when this whole thing is done and over with, whenever that may be. It's the most European of American cities, and it's charming and magical despite it's faults. It's continuing to get better everyday, and I actually see a lot of parallels between it and great worldly cities like London and Paris. But still, if I could have a flat in London to escape the brutal summer heat in New Orleans every year, I wouldn't complain.
On the downside, London currently ranks as the #1 most expensive city in the world, and that is no joke. The good news the pound was "down" to only $1.66, instead of the $2 that is was last time I was here. But here's the kicker. Say a movie in America cost $12 (already expensive and overpriced)...you would expect them to adjust for inflation and price accordingly. Not so. A single ticket cost £15. Once you do the math, you're looking at $25...per person. And that goes for everything. Drinks, food, entertainment. It would be an expensive city even if the pound wasn't crushing the dollar. But, when you travel in Europe this is to be expected. London just steps it up a notch. (And my advice to you when you travel- do not do the conversions in your head. It will only add to the misery that is your bank account.)
Anyway, we decided to spend New Year's Eve in London, and in hindsight that may have been a little bit of a mistake. Not really, we had a blast, but I haven't looked at my bank account since. I don't want to know how much I spent that night. Everything was even more jacked up then usual. In these times, stick to beer (only £7 a pop, instead of £12 for a mixed drink) and put a smile on, because that's all you can really do.
Anyway, enjoy the photos from London, the most expensive place on earth. Hit play and scroll.
In case you're wondering where "Riki" comes from (as it's certainly not a nickname for Alexandra)...it's a shortened version of her middle name, Garrick, a family name. She was excited when she saw this.
Cleopatra's Needle, originally erected in Egypt around 1450 BC. It really has nothing to do with Cleopatra or her reign, as it was already over a thousand years old by the time she was in charge. Think about that.
Gordon's Wine Bar, an absolute must on your next visit to London. The oldest wine bar in city, this bar has not changed since 1890 when Jack the Ripper was terrorizing the place. Hell, the old chap might have even had a drink here.
Of course the establishment has electricity, but not in the cellar. Talk about going back in time...
The squirrels in Hyde Park are not scared to search you bag for goodies.
Hyde Park on fire.
"Just take one ya toof!"
Another must visit: The Black Friar pub.