Time to move

Union Jack Butterfly

This blog has not seen many updates while I’ve been in London for the past 2 years. Not because there hasn’t been anything to write about but more because of blogging fatigue.

Union Jacks in Hyde Park

Now that our time in London is quickly coming to an end I would like to try and reflect a bit on how it has been living here.

House of Parliament

London was not one of the cities I would have moved to on my own devices. I moved here from Prague because Ann was studying here and we were fed up with travelling across Europe to meet each other and family. However I was ready to leave Prague and was really looking forward to living with Ann so it was not a difficult choice.

Old, empty no 15

Living together has been great and over time I have also gone from a lukewarm to an affectioned relationship with The City. London is an amazing place no doubt about that but it took me a while to figure out how to I could use it.

Gaumont State Cinema, Kilburn

First thing I loved about the city was that I could again talk to most people in the shops and on the streets. Although you hear a lot of non-English spoken everywhere and some thick English accents – I could again speak freely. Another thing that I really enjoyed was that the service level compared to Prague was in a different league – oh the joy of being greeted with a “How may I help you?” and a smile.

Even Central London celebrates with us

The place where London has really spoiled us in the cultural department. We have seen so many concerts, musicals, plays, films, performances, comedy shows and all other sorts of shows that can’t be easily categorized. Many of the museums here have free entrance which we have also enjoyed. Actually much of the stuff we have seen and done has been free. Either on purpose or because there are a number of schemes where you can win or get free tickets. I don’t think we will get anything like this anywhere else.

BBC Proms

There are more advantages to living in Europe’s biggest city. The place is well connected to Denmark, Malta and most other places we have travelled and because of the volume of people going through London we have been able to get cheap tickets most of the time. The size and connections of the city has also meant that a lot of friends have come to see us from all over Europe. Either because London is a good tourist destination or because they were passing through.

Windy BBQ on the roof

Exploring the city on a bicycle has been magical for me. My sense of direction is pretty bad so quite often when I have been going places I have gotten a little lost but that has just meant that I’ve found small hidden places of London that I would have never come across. In Denmark bicycling is just what everybody does. While here in London there is an activism based around cyclism and an enthusiasm about trying to make London into a more bike friendly place. There is still a long way to go but I love the energy that surrounds the biker environment.

Daughter and father

The last thing I want to highlight that I’ve really enjoyed has been the diversity and quality of the restaurants. Within 15 minutes walk we can go to eat food from restaurants of a dozen different cuisines, all good places and for decent prices.

The Walnut in West Hampstead

What I will not miss about the city is how huge it is. In my case it’s probably more of a mental obstruction but sometimes being anonymous, a grain of sand on the beach of London can make me feel quite insignificant. In Prague (and Copenhagen and Ann Arbor before that) I quickly got a big network of acquaintances and a good number of good, close friends. I have not established that kind of network in London. There is probably a couple of reasons for that, first being that we are leading a couple lifestyle and do a lot together. Another reason however is that London is so big that the people we have made friends with live in places that are easy an hour away by public transport. Moving to a smaller place I hope it will be easier to again built up a local network.

View towards Little Venice from Cafe Laville

Being a guy from “the sticks” where the closest traffic light was 20km away I’m use to having a bit more space. The masses of people in London and central London in particular can easily overwhelm me and make me wish I was somewhere calmer. I’m sure when I leave though, that I might also miss some of the hustle and bustle and energy that you see everywhere in London.

Columbia Road Market

We got less than a weeks left in London now and then we head off to Denmark and more precisely the southern town of Sønderborg. Talk about contrast; going from a metropolis of diversity to a place where 90% of the 30,000 people are ethnic Danes.

It’s been 4 years now since I lived in Denmark and I am excited about going back to Denmark. It will be great showing Ann more of Denmark than we can experience on a quick trip. I’m hoping Denmark is nice to her.

To engage ourselves in everything Sønderborg we have set up a new joint blog called Hej Sønderborg. We hope to use the site to tell about things we see and do. So if you are in Sønderborg or want to see what we are up to do go to the blog and say “hej”.

Anonymous Mary Poppins

Bye, London

Good bye Prague, hello London!

So my final days in Prague came to and end faster than I had expected but I’ll save that for a later blog post.

no refunds given
Photo by pnoid00

Tuesday afternoon I arrived in London in the pouring rain and it was raining a lot. Ann has been saying that London weather is not as bad as people make it out be to but this day she was a bit off. I’m not complaining tho. Ann had cooked me a nice English meal of Shepard’s Pie and showed me around our new home. Mmm, our new home. It’s been almost exactly two years since we went on our first date in Prague and now we are finally living in the same country 🙂

Our house

The next day the weather was a lot nicer so while Ann went to university I could get out and explore the neighborhood. The picture above is of the house we live in. We are in the house on the left with the red door on the first floor where we share a two bedroom flat with an Aussie/Brit couple.

Terraced houses in Willesden Green

Our neighborhood is covered with streets of terraced houses – all looking the same but also very different. It’s an interesting place to walk around and see how these maybe 80 year old houses have evolved differently depending of different styles and owners. Some are very nice and others are falling apart.

Mediterranean & East European Food

London is a very multiethnic city which also shows in our neighborhood with all sorts of exotic shops and restaurants. Compared to Prague which is very homogeneous (if you don’t count in the tourists) it’s a quite different atmosphere with all these cultures mixed amongst each other. On my trip I remember seeing Polish, Jamaican, Brazilian, Pakistani, Indian and South African and I’m sure I forgot a few. Also I’ve seen one synagogue, two mosques and a couple of churches and this place:

The new moon

There is plenty to explore still and I’m looking forward to tasting the different foods and seeing what else there is to explore in this area.

Before I made it home I came across this piece in a school yard, “Share My World” – what a nice welcome 🙂

Share My World