Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Post-Touristic London


I love getting to the point in a city when I don’t feel the need to be a tourist anymore.

After more than two weeks in beautiful northwest England with Dave, we bade each other yet another “See you soon” (spoiler alert: six weeks later, he flew to Boston!), and I headed down to London.

I had been to London a few times before — never longer than a few days each time, but enough to see most of the major tourist sites: Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, the Tower of London and the like.

So by now I was ready for post-touristic London: hanging out with my local friends and gallivanting around the city, seeing cool things and having them take me to their favorite places.

This is the kind of tourism I enjoy the very most.

I also reunited with two of my best travel buds from Asia: Chris and Jon, with whom I traveled from Sihanoukville to Luang Prabang (and back to Vang Vieng)!

Here we are at a London pub they love:

By contrast, this was the three of us crammed into a train compartment on our way to Vang Vieng:

London being as expensive as it is, I wasn’t about to plunk down money for London vacation rentals.  Chris, having arrived home from Asia only days before, generously offered me a place to stay.

Since Chris had been away for Christmas (in fact, that was the day that we met — in Sihanoukville!), his family planned a special “Christmas dinner” that Sunday!  They welcomed me in and even gave me a Christmas cracker.

So what did we do during this time in London?

We explored Shoreditch, a London neighborhood I had never visited before (and reminded me of New York!), and Chris told me about makeshift illegal strip clubs that used to fill the area.  You’d just drop in money every time a girl went by.

We also hung out with a number of cool London travel bloggers — and I had my first sip of Pimm’s, which tasted like springtime!

How fancy is this mall in Shepherds Bush?  That’s a CHAMPAGNE BAR.  In the middle of a MALL.

My friend Beth suggested I get a photo of myself doing my signature dance move, the Quasimodo, in every place I visited.  While that didn’t happen, I made sure to do it in Camden Market!

This was the best time I have ever had in London.  While I really like London, I must admit that it’s never been one of my favorite cities.  But carefree, relaxing, post-touristic London?  My kind of place!

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9 Responses to “Post-Touristic London”
  1. Completely agree, I love being able to explore a city and not feel touristy, you come across allsorts of hidden gems!x

  2. Kris Koeller says:

    Pimm’s is hard to walk away from. Its such a great feeling to get over the tourist compulsion and just enjoy.

  3. Pimm’s is the best thing in the UK after the candy aisles in the grocery stores. I loved your post! I have a very special relationship with London and I loved how you got to visit it with a new pair of eyes. It’s funny that you mentioned Shoreditch and Camden- my two favorite areas of the city. 🙂

  4. I just had Pimm’s for the first time on the 4th of July! It is sooo good and refreshing!

    Your post reminded me why I really appreciate returning to larger cities. It is during those visits that you get to slow down and not be a tourist. I love returning to Paris or NYC to discover a new neighborhood. It is so great!

  5. Emily says:

    This is how I felt on my last trip to Rio – I didn’t need to rush around playing tourist, I could just relax and enjoy. I always love seeing somewhere new, but it was nice to have the post-touristic experience for a change.

  6. Best way to experience a city? Not being a tourist! Love exploring those areas and feeling connected with a place because of the people you meet. You definitely have the inside track on this but I love connecting as a place and no longer feeling like a tourist. That’s happened to me a few times.

    The Quasimodo dance? Wow, Kate – you tear up the dance floor there! I know a lot of people like jumping photos – you prefer Quasimodo!

  7. ChinaMatt says:

    Definitely miss London–I loved going to the local pubs (especially my local hole-in-the-wall Kiwi pub). I did most of the touristy stuff when my parents and brother came to visit at the end of my semester there (but I managed to stumble upon tourist destinations on my wanderings through the city as well).

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