I haven’t been to London since the day I moved from Nottingham to Kent. It was the beginning of March when we knew about this coronavirus but many wouldn’t take it so seriously. I remember being very nervous to be in London although it was a short stay at Saint Pancras international to change train. After 6 months spent in Kent only and not being able to visit Italy due to travel restrictions, I took advantage of the last available day of using the student discount of my railway card and went to London for one day.
Since my last visit, so many things have changed, people changed, nothing feels the same anymore. The biggest difference I notice was the lack of noise and how quiet everything seemed. Considering that this is a bank holiday weekend, in normal circumstances, the city would be packed with Londoners, travellers and holidaymakers. Instead, I found an empty city, few people on the streets, loads of shops and cafes closed down for good. The only people overcrowding London were the morons who protested against coronavirus at Trafalgar Square and claiming it’s all a hoax! FORREAL? YES
This time, I decided to walk avoiding the underground or public transport. I started my journey from Saint Pancras International and walked all the way to Covent Garden. It’s a 40 min walk across Bloomsbury, a fashionable residential area and the location of many cultural and intellectual institutions such as the University College London (UCL), the British Museum and the well-known Bloomsbury Publishing, the publisher of Harry Potter series.
Covent Garden is also part of the bohemian quarter of Bloomsbury and the place where loads of street artists gather to do their performances. The first time I went to London with my dad was in 2014 and we used to spend loads of time there watching live performances. He introduced me to this fantastic place which I visit any time I go to London. Outside the street performances, there are plenty of places to sit down, have a drink, enjoy street food, buy souvenirs from independent artists and business owners and, according to your budget, it’s also a place for clothes shopping.
Covent Garden is 10 minitues walking distance from all the main attractions like Trafalgar Square, Westminster, the Big Bang, London Eye and the Thames. I chose south bank (where the London Eye is) as perfect spot to enjoy my lunch. The place is full of restaurants where you can have a sit-down meal and take aways for grab and go. Walking along south bank gives a great view of the skiline of London.
I finally headed to my second favourite place: the London Bridge area. One the main touristic attractions of this area is the Tate Modern, museum of modern art which is free to visit ( you can make a donation to support the museum though) and get the chance to see artwork from Picasso, Dali and other major artists of the XX century. London Bridge is also famous for being the place where Shakespeare used to perform and it’s possible to visit two of his theatres: the Rose and the Globe. The other great feature of London Bridge is the international market where you can find fresh and locally produced food or quality food like cheese, bread, olive oil, wine and salami from Europe. There are loads of independent restaurants and pubs to sit down and relax after all the walking.
I went to London yesterday hoping to take a break from life and enjoy the big city. After 6 months in the house with my life reduced to eat, sleep and work, I thought that it would be a moment to experience something new. I thought that things in a big city were different and more vibrant. Instead, I found an empty city, empty streets, shops and cafes closed down for good. I’m slowly realising that this is a long-term situation and possibly nothing will come back as it was, at least not for the foreseeable future. I feel trapped in a reality that I don’t enjoy and I did nothing to deserve. And the idea that summer was actually the best moment of this year because of the sunshine, long days, the possibility to do outdoor activities is making me a lot depressed. I literally don’t know how I am going to survive this winter. But let’s stay positive and enjoy what we have although everything sucks at the moment!