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London, England - Arrival - 7th May 2001

Posted by Edmond on Friday, January 11, 2002

Tours of the High Street, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens on arrival into London from Sydney, Australia. Perspective of London people, the hectic lifestyle and the costs are some of the challenges faced for any tourist or foreigner arriving in to London. Comparison between lifestyles of Sydney and London

High St and Hyde park tour.
1. Tube from Gloucester Road to High Street Kensington on Circle Line
2. High Street Kensington and Kensington Palace and Gardens
3. Walk past the Round Pond to Hyde Park. Look out for squirrels
4. Take a row or paddle-boat on the Serpentine

Piccadilly and Oxford street tour.
1. Piccadilly line tube to Piccadilly Circus.
2. Walk past HMV store to get to Leciester Square
3. Go back to Piccadilly Circus, walk to Oxford St to Oxford circus

After what seemed like a never-ending plane journey, I arrived into London Heathrow airport from Sydeny on Friday evening on the 5th of May. I finally got my first taste of London via the Piccadilly Line Tube but since it was a weekend the carriage was pretty empty. Anb hour later I settled into a very small holiday apartment with my sister in Gloucester Road, near High Street Kensington.

My sister had arrived a couple of months before me, but had planned the trip for more than a year, trying to weigh up the pros and cons. Still, I know she would not have done it had she not known of a few close friends who had already settled in London. Unlike myself, I only planned the trip in the last two to three months. To this day, I still can't point the finger on why I did it. Was it the challenge of launching myself straight out of the "comfort zone" into unfamiliar territory in terms of travel, lifestyle and perhaps career? Or was it just so I can get close to those U2 concerts? Anyway travel and seeing my favourite band at one concert or two were big attractions. London has many connections to Europe by road, rail and air. On the other hand, I already know that my lifestyle and career has hit rock-bottom. Only time will provide the full reason.

Gloucester Road is located in the upper class areas of Central London, just a few minutes walk from Kensington Palace (the past residence of Princess Diana) and another 5 minutes walk to High St Kensington. The area of Kensington and Chelsea is a nice area, with a smattering of museums such as the National History and Science museum - but it is an area for the rich and the privileged. Everyone here drives a luxury car of some sort, dresses up in brand-name clothing and the best that the rich life in London has to offer - very materialistic area if you ask me.

What really took my attention is the huge amount of people walking around the streets of London. Unlike Sydney, the streets of London are crowded with people, especially Leceister Square, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus. These are also the main centres for shopping and, more significantly, theatre and cinemas. And with the crowds, one can't help witness the different types of people that inhabit this city.

Another aspect of London that it is famous for is the cost of living. In the first day, I already spent 27 pounds on a 7 day weekly travel card (which entitles you to travel on the London Underground, National rail up to the specified zones, and buses), and 13 pounds on a movie in Leceister Square. In addition, a Mcdonalds meal costs about 3 pounds and a nice cup of coffee will set you back about one pound. Finally, our holiday flat worked out to be about 300 pounds a week. Fortunately, there is a benefit to this, you are forced to practice the art of cost control.

Despite my reservations for the London lifestyle, I could not resist taking photos of London life. Being unemployed with no job commitments, I eagerly scoured the area of Kensington, visiting Kensington Palace and the gardens, Hyde Park and Piccadilly Circus, and taking photos of anything that looked interesting. While walking through the parks and the main city centres, I could not help noticing the site of squirrels playfully around Kensington Gardens and Hyde park, the crampness and the hustling of footsteps at the tube stations and the statues, monuments and the roman-esque appearance of the palaces and buildings.

London really is a place bustling with activity, yet is also one of the most interesting cities in the world. The city is surrounded in history and there are many interesting people walking among the crowded streets. However, it is also a real challenge to live in London, with the high cost of living and hectic lifestyle. Although I still felt uncertain about the sudden move, I should know later on if the proximity to Europe (and seeing U2!) will provide the benefits I hoped for.

Edmond, 2002