Saturday, 25 October 2014

London Calling

"When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford."
- Samuel Johnson 
London, the city I grew up in since I arrived here at the age of 3. It's where I've seen as home ever since and I can't imagine being anywhere else. Most of the people I know feel the same way to. A lot of my school friends did not even want to consider a university outside of London and many of my university friends who were from different towns managed to find jobs (or phD) straight after graduating. There's the one or two friends who have had to leave but I know for sure they're trying to come back. I can't speak as a tourist, but London has a lot to offer for people who live here or just travelling through. London has an undeniable force that attracts men and women, the young and the old, the adventure seekers and those who want a home.  
Canary Wharf at a distance. How many do economists do you estimate were slaving away when this photo was taken?
The infamous Walkie-Talkie building standing tall and proud (with its protective cover).

London at Night

London is replete with photogenic scenery. My favourite would be the evening view from the top deck of a bus as it crosses the Westminster Bridge. In my final year of sixth form, just before leaving Cambridge, I was travelling between UCL (for Friday science lectures which I went for fun) Elephant & Castle. I never got bored of the journey. I'll have to admit that London Eye has an aesthetic appeal. No one can deny the detailed architecture of the prestigious buildings in the city Centre. Lets not forget to credit the bridges of London too, most which add to the London Charm. Alright, this list is going to get too long if I start to mention everything that contribute to the stunning view of the city. 
Others enjoying the view
Looking right above - open roof!

The Shard 

I tell people that when I travel, the two things I look forward to the most are the polar opposites: spectacular natural beauty and dramatic skylines especially in a city. When there's a city, there's likely to be an observation deck and I like observation decks. Not sure why I enjoy them so much: Maybe its in the fun of finding where your home (or hostel is) is, running to see all the local attractions in under a minute or having such a busy city scaled down to a manageable size. You're the one that's towering over all that hustle and bustle.    

Actually, before the Shard opened, I'm not sure if London had an observation deck. I do remember going to the (rooftop) bar in the Hilton Hotel with a few friends but I don't remember being as taken away by the view. There are other rooftop bars in London which are suppose to give spectacular views, which as the Peckham Multiplex Bar. However, I don't think any is high enough to give such a wide view of the city (or so I think).
My favourite view from the Shard at sunset... 
... And how it looks at night
The Shard has a domineering presence in London. Its height looks astronomical, but sure, compared to other London structures, it has nothing against the skyscrapers in Asia. Taking a quick (and definitely not inexpensive) trip absolute top floor was worth my whole evening. Suddenly the place where I am always towered by giant structures, where I'm constantly dodging the traffic or the huge crowds of people... somewhere that I have more recently becoming lost in... looked peaceful. Away from the constant hustle and bustle, London turned into another kind of novelty. And it looked more beautiful than ever.

I never had the time to enjoy the sunset over my city, or at least I don't remember I time I have. I'm constantly moving when I'm in the centre, that I've never taken the time to see the city light up. That's something I've enjoyed on my trips abroad. Up, up and above on the 100th floor, you see how colourful, how serene the sky looks as the sun is going down.
TOWER Bridge
One of the best features of London at night

The one and only city?

I've been to observation decks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Las Vegas, Malaysia and a couple of rooftop bars, including the two in Bangkok. While Shanghai and Hong Kong closely comes to the top, I think the view of London is unbeatable. You can walk the Shard, have a 360 view of London and there will be something exciting to see in every direction. I could have spent the whole day at the roof and not get bored. Or maybe I am just biased (hmm, dat view of Pudong and the Bund). There's still more cities to see, more views to take my breath away. Is there another city that can knock London off the top spot?

Can't leave the Shard without taking a...


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