I’ve officially spent my first full week back in London, ten years later! It doesn’t feel like it has been that long since I was here but ten years is a long time. A lot can change, especially in a big city.
In general London is still very much what I love and remember but I am viewing it with much different eyes after spending so much time living in New York City. It’s funny how big cities are becoming more and more like each other. Here are my first impressions on returning to London.
This is more of a general travel observation but after traveling to so many countries where English was not the first language it feels a little odd to be traveling somewhere that it is. Every time I go to speak to someone I feel like I should be struggling with my broken Spanish or speaking very slowly.
This street has no significance to anyone other than me but when I studied abroad here in 2007 this was the main street that I lived off of. Today the traffic entrance has been rebuilt and rearranged and many of the buildings have been torn down and replaced with modern shops, condos and offices. At first glance I didn’t even recognize it.
There used to be only one Topshop in the world and I wanted everything inside. Today there are multiple Topshops within London and there are other locations all over the world (including New York City).
The same goes for a lot of the stores in the area. Walking down Oxford Street feels very much like New York with so many American brands here and British brands now in New York. It does make London only stores like Liberty London or Harrods seem much more special.
This is more of a representation of my age than of London. After spending so long in the fashion industry in NYC I think I’ve upped my style game and the appearance of London seems much less fancy than I remember as a very badly dressed college student.
In the past ten years the pound has decreased in value from $2 to $1.22 per one pound and it makes a huge difference. Going to the grocery store and having lunch is much cheaper than even NYC sometimes with the conversion. Going shopping at certain stores is also much less expensive (so tempting!).
It is also nice to be able to use my credit card everywhere and not have to worry about cash and coins. Touch-free payment (like Apple pay) seems to be much more popular here than in NYC as well.
They always talk about how gray and rainy London is but coming from Syracuse the weather in London seemed didn’t even cross my mind. I am noticing it much more now. The early evenings force me to get outside earlier in the day.
Also, you can never believe the weather! There have been days where it says it won’t rain at all and then does and days when it says it will rain constantly and then doesn’t! #umbrellasalways