LONDON CALLING

Not to sound unoriginal, but travel truly is the best thing in the world. These are the adventures that shape you, and although it is almost impossible to convey the life-altering experiences you had in a foreign setting, I am going to attempt it.

At the end of 2016 I spent a month travelling four major cities in Europe, starting off in London. Despite being an icon of British heritage with its charming pubs and gothic splendour, the city is in fact one of the most multi-cultural hubs I have ever visited.

The English capital has an intoxicating global energy, full of of contradictions. It is at once traditional and innovative, gloomy and colourful. The vibrant art and fashion starkly contrasts the murky weather. The constant cloud cover does nothing to hinder the city’s vigour. The city seems to be constantly evolving, its dynamic energy meaning you will never have the same experience twice. And so you can never be bored in London.

As we stepped off the twelve hour flight, we immediately set out to tick off the most touristy sights from our bucket list, visiting London Bridge, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square all before getting caught in the rain and so stopping for lunch at the most British looking pub we could find.

Seeing as the sun sets at 4pm in the winter, it was under cover of darkness that we found ourselves in Covent Garden quite by accident. This market place was perhaps the most surprisingly magical experience of the trip. In the wintry, festive setting, the space was lit up by enchanting specialty stores. We spent hours tasting teas, smelling fragrances, eating warm spiced foods and exploring the themed gift shops.

The next morning we enjoyed our Starbucks breakfast in Regent’s Park and spent the day strolling through Oxford street, where the famous facades and window displays of luxury stores, Harrods and Selfridges, are not to be missed. While in the area, I could not resist a visit to the six storeys of Victoria’s Secret in Bond street. We ended the evening with a musical at the West End theatre district.

On my final day I took a picture with nearly every wax celebrity and character at Madam Tussaud’s and spent hours staring at some of my favourite artworks by Mondrian, Matisse and Warhol in the Tate Modern.

London surprisingly hosts a very diverse range of ethnic culinary hotspots, with trendy restaurants to rival those of our mother city and hipster paradise, Cape Town. We dined at Yosma, a turkish offering with pink branding and illustrative decor begging to be Instagrammed.

The British metropolis makes it so easy to feel creative, a feat proved by the innumerable musicians, writers and artists that made this city the setting for their stories. I wish everyone the opportunity to walk along the River Thames and be inspired by the magic that is London.

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Words: Yolanda Senekal

Photographs: Yolanda Senekal