Monday, March 26, 2012

London on Limited Time

I’m a big fan of getting comfortable in a new place when I travel.  I’m all about spending chilling in coffee shops, seeing what the locals do for fun, and wandering aimlessely until I lose and find myself again; I like to acclimate to a new environment, break in a new city like a pair of running sneakers (speaking of which, sightrunning is a great way to experience a new place!)

The only problem is, I’m on a student budget and a postgraduate schedule. Lengthy holidays are luxuries I simply cannot afford.

This is why I’m honing on my speedy travel skills.   A couple months ago I I practiced express sightseeing during a day and a half in Dublin, and a few weeks ago I got the opportunity to do the same in London.  I was on a weekend trip to the capital for a magazine conference with coursemates, but I was determined to squeeze some sightseeing in as well.  And I was successful.

I think the key to a short trip is not to pressure yourself into running doing the high-octane scavenger hunt of going to all the “must-sees.”  There’s no point in rushing from one attraction to the next just because somebody else says it’s important to see.  Besides, my mostenduring travel memories were made in parks, public transportation, and locals’ pubs, not in tourist stuffed museums.

So I spent the best part of my weekend just sort of galavanting around the South Bank, drinking pints with some real-life Londoners, and only visiting the sites I thought were really worthwhile (by the way, the Tate modern was a bit of a disappointment).  Even though I missed some of the attractions on my check list (I still really want to go on the Jack the Ripper tour), I don’t regret a second of the trip.

And besides, all those missed attractions are an excuse to visit London again soon.

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