Londoner At Heart

Ozge Gurbuz


Copyright 2019 by Ozge Gurbuz


London street at night.  Photo by the author.

They say that cities have their own souls. As I was walking down the passageways of Covent Garden, I thought to myself 
‘’This city has more than one soul.‘’. If people are ever asked to describe London, they'd likely use these three words; rain, fashion, and music. For me though, there is only one word. Love! Love for nature, love for people, love for art. I am amazed that people tend to fail when it comes to seeing the big picture. As one of the most frequently visited cities in the world, London is all about love. Everything you come across seems to welcome you into a magical land where you’re chosen to participate in a cultural parade. Almost every corner seems to hide something special for you. And in a city, that is so green as a forest, getting caught in the rain becomes just an ordinary moment of your daily life. As I was walking through the streets of London, I made myself believe that there was something magnetic about this city and I was destined to find out why.

Right after I landed in London, I wanted to have a little rest, because I knew there were too many things to see and do. So, I wore my comfy tourist clothes and filled my backpack with stuff that only tourists would carry around. Back then I did not realize but during my whole time in London, I felt what freedom was like for the first time in my life. From the very first minutes of my trip, I began to feel as light as a feather.

One of the reasons I like smartphones is that I do not get lost anymore. I typed the words and got ready to walk. The first place I was to stop by would be the extraordinary British Museum! And the best thing about this museum, it was free to all visitors! As someone who is highly intrigued by history, culture and ancient civilizations, I was mesmerized. The museum was so phenomenal that while checking out every single section I could not even understand how quickly time passed! As in the case of "too much to see, yet too little time", no matter how hard I tried, I was likely to fall behind my schedule. I constantly felt as if there’s not enough time. If I was in a relationship with this city, I would probably feel desperate at all times since I could not invest enough time. The British Museum, The V&A Museum, and The Natural History Museum. Reading about history is one thing but seeing and being able to examine those valuable pieces of the past closely, it is beyond words. No wonder why I started to feel like I was a time-traveler.

A few days later, I visited Tate Modern so that I could remind myself that I was not a time-traveler but an ordinary tourist. I had heard a lot of things about Tate Modern before. Some people like it and some people find it boring. Since I am not a critic, all I can say is that Tate Modern is the right address for contemporary art lovers.

If I am on a vacation, apart from art, I have another field of interest that I find very appealing. Cuisines. After all, cuisines are all about art too. If you are a tourist, you should make the best of it. Now that I was standing within the borders of the city of fish and chips, I had to taste this famous British dish. So, I picked a restaurant which was located by the lake in Hyde Park. I was lucky it’s very quiet and peaceful. After a while, I found myself taking small notes. 

‘’London is a meeting point of nations, a melting pot of cultures and a big home for every individual who needed tolerance and love.’’

Given the fact that it is a very crowded multi-cultural city, I got to try different kinds of cuisines including superb Italian pizzas and spaghetti, healthy Japanese soups, authentic Nepalese dishes and so on. My days in London taught me lots of things. Abundance and colorfulness blossom out of diversity. And certainly, I was in the right city to experience that.

Before I came to London, I did some research. So I knew that afternoon tea was a huge deal in London. It is a part of British culture. Almost every cafes and restaurant have a special part for afternoon tea on their menus. One day when I was taking a sip from my tea, my happy silence was interrupted by a man who later mentioned that he was from Dublin. The way he talked and smiled made it harder for me to guess his age. Nonetheless, it was lovely to share a conversation with a total stranger who was as in love with London as I was.

In this city, wherever you go, you can come across vintage boutiques and stores which is a miracle! And I call it a miracle because fashion is not just about buying trendy stuff you are supposed to feel great in things you wear. It is an undeniable fact that we all look for unique-looking pieces as we want to seem unique. When the word fashion comes up, I can not skip Camden Town! In other words, the mecca for music enthusiasts, fashion followers and originality seekers. Renowned for its vintage shops and charity shops, I was told that it has always been one of the favorite spots for tourists and fashion lovers. I predicted that Camden Town could be touristy that’s why I called my Dubliner friend. We met for a drink and stopped by a few vintage stores. When the sun was going down, we enjoyed watching the crowd. A Dubliner and a Londoner at heart, we may have shared the best afternoon of our lives. We drank our wines and exchanged a few laughs.

The following day, he called me and said,’’ We should drink hot chocolate to honor this rainy day in London. Meet me at Nothing Hill Gate Station’’. Of course, I agreed. Even though I loved this city so much that I could stand the idea of spending my time underground and not being able to watch around. So, instead of taking the subway I took a bus to meet him there. Honestly, I did not use the London underground a lot for I suffered from claustrophobia. Black cabs are known to be a bit pricy in London. Since I’ve always been a ‘’Been there, done that’’ person, of course, I took a cab to meet him. We were far away from our homes under the London sky and he said,’’ Everything is as it should be now.’’ We were not falling in love nor were we looking for love. We were two strangers who found peace and comfort in each other’s company.

On my last day in London, I convinced myself that it’s okay not to see all the landmarks of London such as London Eye, Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, Houses of Parliament, China Town ....etc. If you do not manage to discover all these, then you’ll always have a reason to visit. Well, once you get a taste of London, you’ll find your way back. Because discovering London is like discovering a better version of yourself. And London is not just a city, it is a state of mind. In the end, you’ll realize that you’re a Londoner at heart.

I would also like to say a few words about me. I have been working as a content creator, social media manager and translator ever since I received my BA in Political Science and International Relations. After completing a comprehensive specialization program ‘’Content Strategy for Professionals’’ given by Northwestern University in 2016, I ended up starting my own business online as a content strategist. 

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