Some people would say capitals are too big, too crowded, too polluted and full of stressed and embittered citizens. Some others would see the marvel behind the setting.
Londoners are happy to be able to claim, since a few weeks, that their city is more popular than Paris after the release of its high number of visitors last summer. London Mayor Boris Johnson described it as “the greatest city on earth”. But what makes London so attractive to tourists and so comfortable to locals?
Ex-pats are constantly complaining about London’s cost of living. Yes, London is an expensive city to live in, but it is still far behind cities like Osaka, Caracas or Geneva. And above all, what it has to offer is worth that money.
Whoever you are, you will always find an area to suit your desires. As a very cosmopolitan and heterogeneous city, it is hard not to fit in – although you might feel you are missing the traditional English etiquette. Being an international in London can be both a nightmare and a real paradise. Depending where you come from, you’ll struggle from food hunting to cultural adaptation, without exempting the weather probably being the worst for people coming from dry countries.
But who cares about the rain when every single second of your life is driven by excitation to its fullest?
Boredom doesn’t exist in London, and if you come one day to experience it, just take one step outside and you’ll be conquered by the dynamism and vitality happening around you. Art lovers are served: London is flooded with exhibitions of all kinds, beautiful museums and it is/has been the home of widely known artists.
In my opinion, London is still an age-limited city. Apart from people who have been living here forever, a minority sees itself growing a family and getting a job in the capital. You can enjoy London to its fullest when you are young, either studying or with a part-time job. But who really wants to commute in the London underground two hours a day and read Metro news for the rest of their life?
London is great for tourists; it impresses you with big city-life awesomeness and hides its weaknesses from you. It makes you feel overwhelmed by the variety of things you can fill your day with, the majestic view of Big Ben, the crowded streets full of shoppers and the mystical red buses. But people, if Paris would only be the Eiffel Tower and angry citizens, we would know it! The same goes for London. Four days in the city should leave you remorseful, feeling you indeed saw the classics, but left out the hidden wonders of Sherlock Holmes’ homeland. Go walk by the Regent’s canal, enjoy a beer in a Camden pub, and breath the air of any green spaces the city has to offer.
But really, if you are born in London and spent your entire life here, are you still walking by the Regent’s canal every Sunday or walking on the bridges of the city to enjoy the view?
How could one city possibly be called “the best in the world”? People get different experiences in each place they are, from the activities they chose, the people they meet and even their taste in music or fashion. Even if London offers you a wide range of opportunities, amazing views, variety of people, food and so on… how could one city gather exactly what people conceive as the best things on earth?
Enjoying architecture, fitting with the culture, adapting to the food, going along with the people, liking the weather, standing the crowd.. all these factors are far too subjective to be able to define one city on the planet the best one of all.
So swallow your pride London, you are great, but nothing ever pleases everyone!