I had to hit London last Friday for business, so Kim came along and we made a weekend out of it. We had a great time. I thought London would be a good idea for a trip for two reasons, which I will list below, followed by an explanation of how completely wrong I was.
Reason #1 Why London Would be a Good Trip: It would be reasonably low stress.
I truly, sincerely believed that London would be a moderately low stress trip, given how we've both been before and speak the language, and all. That, my friends is spurious thinking. For you see, they speak English in New York City (marginally). And I've been to South Central Los Angeles before. Yet neither would be considered, even under the best of circumstances, a destination designed to relax. As a massively huge city, London is no different. Sure, they have pubs, and tea, and lovely accents, but they also have cars coming at you from the wrong side of the road. I nearly died twice. In your search for "low stress trips," let near-death experiences serve as a red flag.
Reason #2 Why London Would be a Good Trip: It would be a good way to get us in the mindset of coming back home.
I thought this made brilliant sense. Kim goes home to Seattle in a few days, and I follow her in another week or so. What better way to re-acclimate us to the States than a brief stop-over with our former colonial lords and masters? Of course English culture isn't like US culture, but I figured it might act as a bit of decompression country as we floated back to our normal state. No one likes the cultural bends. As it turns out, that didn't happen. London can be a pretty alien place. Even the common language didn't help. I have no problem at all understanding most of the British accents out there, providing they aren't being shouted over a loudspeaker or in the middle of a crowded, noisy place, which is exactly how 87% of my interactions with local Londoners took place. The Tube is an awesome method of urban transportation, until any of the stations shut down and they try to give you advice over the intercom:
"Due to flooding, the Circle and Hammersmith-Fran-Drescher Lines will not operate between North-High-Ipswich-upon-Kensington-Mews-South and Farnham-on-Tyre-East-Witherspoon-Uppham-Staffordshire. Riders traveling to the Piccadilly Palare, Bag-End, or South Wuthering Heights should disembark immediately and seek medical attention."
So we gave up on "low stress London" in favor of reveling in the hectic, and that seemed to work well. We hit Borough Market, which puts any outdoor market you've ever seen to shame. Kim and I had breakfast and lunch there, it was that good. We split up the eating with a visit to the Modern Tate, where they had an interesting exhibit on Futurism. If you have the opportunity, I recommend marrying an artist/graphic designer and having her explain it to you as you're looking at the stuff. It helped a lot. We also breezed through the National Portrait Gallery as well. I always thought portraits were kind of boring. Now I realize that only many of them are. A few of them are quite amazing.
The highlight, though, was listening to the Killers play Hyde Park. No, we didn't have tickets, but we could see the Jumbo Screens and hear the band just fine, along with a work buddy, some of his friends, and few thousand other Londoners looking to not pay for some pretty good music. From there, we went straight to a club (yeah, you read that right) where we rocked out to a DJ who was clearly mourning the death of Michael Jackson. Bed-time was after 2, I think.
Relaxing? Heck no. But lots of fun.