London – a global metropolis between the New World and the Old. History weighs heavily on the buildings in the city center, but so does a lot of pop culture: the film locations of Harry Potter, the myth of Jack the Ripper, punk and the Beatles are just a few examples. London is – just like New York – a city that you think you know before you’ve been there.
Days in July are hot and long. In the metro stations, people are advised to drink enough water and to avoid the midday heat. Those who can escape to one of the numerous parks or to the pub for a beer. Drinking culture is popular culture here.
Like most big cities, London gains glamour in the evening hours. The bankers loosen their ties, the streets are blocked, the pubs have no more free seats. Now is exactly the right time for a stroll along the Thames.
“Trash” and “Royality” are close together here. The punk subculture chose the song London Calling as London’s anthem, creating an apocalyptic doomsday scenario. At the same time, London is the seat of royalty, a financial metropolis with exclusive housing for the upper class. Several times in its history, this city was destroyed – in the Great Fire of 1666, for example, or by Nazi bombardments in 1940. Plagues and air pollution wiped out the inhabitants. But in the end this city survived.
Just over an hour by train from London is the university city of Cambridge. It is the English equivalent of the American Harvard. Charles Darwin, Prince Charles, Rosalind Franklin, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Sir Isaac Newton and John Milton, among others, have studied and taught here.
The city itself has a sleepy, unexciting vibe. It’s a long walk from the train station to the university campus. The River Cam meanders past the dormitories and faculties. Students and tourists lie on the banks or paddle across the water in small boats. People drink beer together, laugh and have a good time.
Info about our trip
The last time we were in England was in 2022 – mainly in London. We were both thrilled by this city again. There is so much history and (pop) culture to discover here. You should plan at least five days for London. We really liked the numerous “Free Walking Tours”, of which different ones take place every day.
As Germans, we were particularly surprised by the fact that you can actually pay everywhere without cash and the trains are very timely and not even that expensive. So we highly recommend this way of traveling.
Besides the numerous “must-see” sights, you should take the time for an extended walk along the Thames and through Hyde Park. Of course, an evening in an English pub should not be missed. We really enjoyed a spontaneous day trip to Cambridge. You can explore the city wonderfully on foot – from the train station the way leads you past the Scott Polar Research Institute – a look inside is worthwhile.