There’s only one place in the world where you can stand on top of Charles Darwin.
Yeah, you heard me right—on top of Darwin. Every London site will leave it’s mark on you and bring a smile when you remember them.
Just like a trek through Westminster Abbey (where the famed scientist and theorist is entombed in the cathedral floor) there are certain tell-tale signs that you’ve had a trip to London. Be it your pics from the classic red telephone booths, 5-second Vines of the chimes of Big Ben on the hour, or your ticket stub from the Tube, the city of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle legend is certainly one of a kind.
And like any unique destination it’s got it’s quirks and tiny specialties that make it unforgettable, so dive into this list of unmistakable clues that you’ve gotten lost and found in London—either you’ll fall in love with London again, or get the itch to visit!
- You’re totally fine with spending the entire weekend in the British Museum.
London was one of my first international stops after I’d turned 18 and set off with my backpack and as you’d guess, I made plenty of rookie mistakes. The first of them being my thought process about the British Museum.
To a naive young traveller like myself, I thought I would have my fill of the British Museum by lunchtime. But really, who could have warned me that I would want to spend days wandering the rooms upon rooms of Egyptian tombs and sarcophagi, Roman & Greek statues, Impressionist paintings, and Easter Island heads? Not even my pre-visit research could have prevented my desire to never leave.
- Every fast moving object makes you say “Mind the Gap.”
The Brits are clever with their slogans, that’s a no-brainer (the many variations of Keep Calm and Carry On is proof of that) but the one that will really stick with you is this one. Whether tied to fond memories of catching the tube from the London Eye to Trafalgar Square or part of the “episode” you had at rush hour on a Friday when you lost your travel companion in the belly of the beast for 3 hours, “Mind the Gap” will be your go to quip for anything remotely related to distances or objects speeding past you at alarming rates.
- You’ve had your pinky out for High Tea at Harrod’s.
West London fare is best experienced from the fabled marble floors of Harrod’s Tea Shop—and preferably at tea time. Get a bite of traditional pie or one of those famous British sausages after you’ve worked up an appetite from trying on all the bowlers in the hat and glove department and squeeze down in one of those lush moss-colored cushions with a cuppa of your favorite (or maybe something new) brew.
- You’ve created a special monument map of the city.
For me, it wasn’t just about Abbey Road—though that was definitely where I started building my personal monument map. I also included stops from the BBC’s Doctor Who and Sherlock (can anyone say Speedy’s Cafe in Camden?), Platform 9 3/4 in King’s Cross, and the ciggie shop across from Parliament that was in Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Feet planted firmly on the ground and camera out, I updated my Facebook photo map with Instagram pics right in the middle of Notting Hill with the help of a local SIM card I picked up on my way out the airport. (Though not a battle scar in it’s own right, ditch your international plan, unlock your phone, and get to snapping and sending. It’s more money for fish and chips.)
What can I say? I am a particular type of Anglophile and fangirl aficionado, and once you see any of these trademark sites on your travels, I dare you not to scream like a 13 year-old girl and take photos like it’s going out of style. Three-headed dog dare you.
- You’ve become attached to your trenchcoat.
Bought out of pure necessity, my trenchcoat had every intention of becoming just another piece of my wardrobe. But after wandering around Westminster in an unseasonably cold June, my trenchcoat and I had become the best of friends.
Collar popped and sash smartly knotted, my London Fog kept out the blistering wind, the fine English mist, and had me reconsider my nonchalance for rain gear. Turns out a great trench is the difference between enjoying the weather and throwing in the towel (or throwing it around me and staying inside).
- Savile Row has you spoiled.
There’s one place in London that gets me crazy even just from the window displays—and that’s Savile Row. From McQueen to Henry Poole & Co., the double-breasted blazers and perfectly tailored suits just make a girl weak at the knees.
Spend too long along the fabled fashion street and you’ll start to think straw boaters and polished walking canes are the norm, which could be good (really good) or bad (since almost no one dresses so spectacularly anymore). Though the prices are a bit out of my range—okay, a lot out of my range—I did snag a checked pocket square that isn’t quite ascot material but definitely carries its fair share of British dandy style. Consider this one a battle scar on my bank account.
- You have a tendency to slip into Cockney. Or High Street Slang.
I spent the first few weeks back home trying to figure out how to get the English tawng out of my voice, and even then, the Brits charming use of “nosh,” “lippy,” “coppers,”and “cheers” stuck around in my vocabulary for keeps anyway.
Many people might think you’re pretentious, but to me, it’s just a sign of the undying admiration I have for the way they chin wag across the Pond. I mean, everything just sounds better in an English accent—who else could get away with saying a word like “bollocks” in normal conversation except for someone with as smooth a cadence as Benedict Cumberbatch?
Whether it’s wandering Hyde Park or catching the panorama from the London Eye, “been there and done” that in The Big Smoke to me means getting lost in the Tube, having fish and chips from a street vendor, and buying your first trench to battle the weather—and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Do you have a scar and story I haven’t mentioned here? Share your tall tales of Londontown in the comments below!
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