The Big Smoke
Central London, the beating concrete heart of The Big Smoke. Tall buildings, (often) tall prices and an overwhelming amount of stuff to see and do.
As far as things go, whatever kind of (legal!) activities you enjoy, central London has something ‘right up your street’ (as we English say).
There’s history – stretching way back to before the Romans arrived. There’s culture, more galleries, museums and monuments than you could see in a month of sustained effort. There’s food and drink – from street food to Michelin starred restaurants. And there’s entertainment – cinemas, nightclubs and a thriving music scene. Nature too! Sprawling green parks where you can hear the sound of birdsong and wind rustling in the trees.
If you’re thinking of making a trip to London, at least set aside a day or two for the centre. I promise you won’t regret it.
There aren’t all that many complicated customs in London, as people are on the main part polite, though a little distant. Expect a little distance from the locals, at least until you get to know them. People aren’t unfriendly as such, but can be cautious. Here’s a few more things to bear in mind:
Personal space: (The area around a person) in the UK is quite a lot larger than in a lot of other countries, keep a respectful distance of about 1.5 meters.
Queue: Queuing is almost an instinct amongst native Britons. Expect to queue for things and don’t try to skip the line, unless you’re trying to cause trouble!
Not staring: Making eye contact in conversation is important, but holding eye contact for too long can make people uncomfortable. Staring at strangers you are not acquainted with can be seen as rude
Carry on: Most of central London’s locals are pretty fast walkers – the pace of life here is fast and people are trying to keep with it. On the pavements of the more busy streets keep to the left (like you would keep to the left on the road) and try not to stop in the middle/obstruct the pavement. This is the main tourist faux pas!
Expect these rules to bend a little circa 00:00 and onwards on Fridays and the weekend when a large number of people have let their hair down with a few drinks.
Where do the locals hang out?
Central London is divided into a number of different communities, which can be defined by geographical location or interest. Parks, clubs, bars, everybody’s got a particular preference – there are no spots for locals, as such. The locals can be found everywhere!
St James’ Park is a favorite. For drinks, go to Soho, as the area has an electric atmosphere and on the whole, more reasonable prices.
Covent Garden; the perfect spot to stroll, people gaze and contemplate humanity. There’s also great street entertainment here, and the Covent garden’s various markets are usually quite lively.