One year ago I moved to London, my head full of dreams and expectations. I had no idea what a National Insurance Number is,what an Oyster card is, that there are actual Agencies that hire you to work in luxury retail and then send you to the stores that need you, which can be a different store each day. There are no such things as these in Romania. If in the past year something like this did happen, please let me know, I would like to know that the country where I come from has find a way to give more jobs so that people would actually stay in the country, and not go elsewhere. In the first few months, it’s not that I didn’t know how things work, I didn’t know most of these things existed so there was no way to ask the right questions. Talking about cultural clash…how many of you came from a country whose economy is not as prosperous as the UK one and you found yourself awestruck at almost every step?
When I came here I was a mess. It makes me laugh now, but one year ago I definitely wasn’t laughing. I gave up everything that was comfortable to me: home, a small city where I had tons of friends, an emerging career in dancing…and a few cats.
Now I am one year down and I still want a few to go…well, to stay in this situation. London is still one of my favourite cities in Europe. I can only compare European cities because I haven’t travelled outside of this continent yet. Other cities that I love, especially around the Holiday season are Prague and Budapest. You will find everything from cheerful Christmas Markets to gorgeous architecture, a lot of tourists and wind. This seems to be the common theme with these three cities, but you get used to it, hopefully before you catch a cold.
So as a letter of love…whoah, my romantic side comes to the surface around the Holiday Season it seems, I wanted to do a top 10 for the places where I enjoyed taking photos in London, that I believe you would enjoy also.
- Notting Hill
If you want to see it in all it’s beauty, best time to go is at the end of March, beginning of April when the wisteria is in bloom. It is simply spectacular! All this and then a lot of relaxed Londoners walking their miniature(usually) dogs, cute cafes, luxury boutiques and then Portobello Market which on a Saturday is divine.
2. St. Paul’s Cathedral
This is a tourist staple. It’s an architectural masterpiece that has lasted for centuries, and now is the one place where even if you want to take a photo at 6 am, you will still have to stay in line. Is a favourite spot for the wedding photographers, but you could say that even some bloggers were lured close by the beauty that St Paul’s Cathedral is.
3. Brick Lane
If you are into arts, any kind of arts, this is the place for you. Here you can find one of the best variety of street food, charity shops, grafiti and grafiti guided tours, plus, here is where most emerging designers opened their first ateliers. See Self-Portrait.
Put together the 0 meridian, a very nice view of Thames and a cute Christmas market, or whatever the season is market, and you’ve got yourself a nice place to visit. What I must say is wear warm clothes. The wind over here can get unbearable so just to make sure you’re enjoying the view and not thinking of your discomfort, wear that hat.
5. Canary wharf
The first time I went there, I was awestruck. I have never seen this much glass, and especially this many glass buildings in my entire life. Fun fact: on my first visit there, I went around lunch time so a lot of people were in the parks and on the streets and I had the strangest feeling that I don’t belong because everybody was wearing a suit…usually a navy one.
6. The London Eye
This is another one of those places that you just have to visit when you come to London. Even if you don’t want to go for a ride on the London Eye, you might want to take a photo of the Big Ben against the beautiful sunset, or maybe you are into grafiti (again), skating, street artists…I especially like the bike shows, or maybe go for a drink with a nice view of Thames.
7. Oxford Street/ Regent Street
These two very famous streets, are not just for the spenders and the window shoppers, this time of the year you have the most beautiful Christmas decorations and the biggest density of tourists also, I have to admit. If you want to take pictures on one of these two streets, and you don’t want to wake up early, and I mean really really early, be prepared to have other people in your pictures also.
Quite well-known also, but if you find yourself on Regent Street and you want a bit, but only a bit of a quieter place, here you have it. Carnaby also is beautifully decorated and especially if you are a lover of makeup, you can find the best boutiques here. Also, I see it as a more non-conformist place just like Brick Lane and Camden Town.
9. Camden Town
Speaking of Camden Town, this is one of the places where I take absolutely everybody who is visiting me. It’s awfully crowded at all times, but it’s full of street food, colours, small boutiques, “touristy stuff” and music. I would say it’s quite photogenic even though for now, we didn’t take any picture over there. Soon to come, that’s for sure. Ah, and if you always wanted to take a picture with Amy Winehouse, there is a statue of her waiting for you right in the heart of Camden Town, at the end of the day, that’s the place where she started making a name for herself.
10. Covent Garden
Last but not least, a place where we hardly shot a few pictures, but that is very close to my heart being the “house” of most theatres and the Royal Ballet. This is where I went to my first musical in London – the Lion King, that is still on. Brought back so many childhood memories and the interpretation and the music where just…I wanted to say “to die for”, but I find this expression a bit too gloomy, so I will say “to go again for”.