I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few weeks thinking about how best to wrap up my time in London. I want to capture some of the magic that has held me so enthralled since I was a young person, which motivated my first trip here nearly two years ago, and which compels me now, at the end of a full year in the best city in the world, to share this amazing city. But, of course, anyone can see “Big Ben,” or St. Paul’s, or ride the London Eye. These are the things the tourists do. These are not the subtle things that make London the city where I want to spend the rest of my life (even though I won’t get to). On my last ten days, I want to show you ten reasons I love London, that you probably won’t find in a guide book.
#10: Ships, Ships, Everywhere!
A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. — Grace Hooper
London, for all of its magnificence and sprawl over the land, sometimes feels like a city on the coast. The Thames cuts through the city, and is the reason for its existence. But the boats you’ll find, the sheer volume of river-traffic, is at times astounding. Any kind of ship, carrying just about anything you can imagine, finds its path along the Thames at some point.
I find myself particularly smitten with the older sailing ships, which remind me of a time when sea travel was the primary means of traversing the world. How different would my year have been then? Never mind gender inequality, corsets, and being married off by now. My adventuresome spirit would have found me cursing the deck of some ship as I was seasick on my way to the continent for an adventure.
London is tied to its past, and perhaps that’s why the ships call out to me (though as I mention, I would do very poorly on them). Passing the moored Golden Hinde on Bankside, or the ships of Tobacco Dock right across the street from me, the ships are a reminder of the history of this city, its foundation. I’ve lived my entire life in a country younger than some of the ships that still float on the Thames. That’s humbling, and entrancing, and it’s an every day occurrence.