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La Dolce Vita

How I Fell in Love with London All over Again

UNITED KINGDOM | Monday, 25 August 2014 | Views [1063]

"London smells like history." That's what I catch myself saying over and over again as I ride along the river Thames on a bike. I am aware more than ever that history is greeting me with every corner turned and every street passed. Our biking tour group stops in front of a poultry butchery in Leadenhall Market that retains it’s original tables, counters, and walls: from 1670. And before that, before being rebuilt after the great London fire of 1666, it was a poultry butchery from the Middle Ages. So, really, there has been a poultry butchery here for about 700 years.

Leadenhall Market is one of the oldest parts of London. It dates back to Roman times, where it served as a basilica (or, public space). In 1321, the area now known as Leadenhall Market became the major place to buy chicken, turkey, eggs, and the like. In the 19th century, 34,000 geese stopped over in Leadenhall for the night during their migration. As our tour guide put it, “Hell of a place to stop over for the night as a goose.” Essentially, all but 1 goose was captured, killed, and sold. That 1 goose, who persistently escaped capture, was applauded for his elusiveness and was eventually kept as an honored pet. They named him “Old Tom,” and he lived for 30+ years. When he died of old age, they held a state funeral for him. That’s how loved he was. 

That’s London. Every nook and cranny has a history; every part has a story. Every part has so much energy, and you can feel that as you walk the streets. The air has a certain scent of time; time passing behind and time moving forward. People may come and go, but London has stood its ground for over 2,000 years. The earth here practically vibrates with lives lived and lives lost. It's almost ghostly. 

London is big enough to let you escape somewhere else for a night, and it’s small enough to hop on the Tube to visit your friend 20 miles away. Royal palaces dot the outskirts of town, and if you look closely, you can still see Medieval ruins on your way to one of these palaces. 

There is something for everyone here. There are museums, parks, red double-decker buses (always sit on top!), old buildings, the river Thames, pubs, cobblestone roads, historical artifacts, tasty food, art… it’s no wonder London is considered one of the best cities in the world. It’s Mecca; it’s life at its core. 

Tags: england, leadenhall market, london

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