Places are like people. What makes you fall in love is greater than the sum of its features and faults.
London had all the right parts. The buildings were beautiful, the history was rich, it’s museums were world class, and it’s people were friendly. But it just wasn’t my kind of town.
Perhaps it was the weather – mostly cold and cloudy – that kept us apart. It certainly didn’t help matters. Suffice it to say, no catalyst emerged to make us fit.
London is a grand city filled with sights that I can appreciate with an objective eye. Who can argue against the impressiveness of the British Museum, the loveliness of Hyde Park or the charm of Covent Gardens? The trouble was, I simply didn’t feel anything beyond a superficial “well, isn’t that nice.”
It has always been fascinating to me why certain places strike you hard and linger in your memories while others fade like yesterday’s headlines. Like any romance, there are forces at play I won’t try to decipher.
I can’t help but feel a sense of guilt when I fail to see the brilliance of a place that everyone else loves. And while I don’t feel the need to justify my feelings, there was a bit of self chastising in London.
I suspect much of it has to do with where I’ve been. Coming from Australia where the land is filled with sunshine and there is palpable sense of a vibrant and outdoorsy lifestyle, London felt dim by comparison – infinitely rich historically, culturally and architecturally, but lacking the zest and energy of Australia or the exotic beauty of Asia.
Of course, this is not to say we didn’t enjoy London. We really were in awe of the amazing art and artifacts in the museums and the beauty of their buildings and monuments. We also had a great time exploring charming old pubs and warm English brews. It just inexplicably didn’t warm my heart.
Pete spent two summers in high school studying English in London and I suspect he enjoyed our visit more than I, the same way that Australia was and will always be more dear to me than to him. Your memories have a way of mingling with your present impressions.
I’m glad we visited London and it was fun while it lasted, but in the end we were just not right for each other.