For years, London was a place I tried to avoid. I was going there only when I needed to, which typically involved either long-haul air travel or visits to embassies, consulates and other establishments bent on depriving you from money and will to live. The only time I was in the National Gallery was back in 1995, after four long hours spent in the American Embassy. Shudder.
It took me moving to Canaries to be able to appreciate London. (I can’t say “fully appreciate” or “truly appreciate”: for that, one has to live there for a while, and I am not sure if that is ever going to happen.) London was cleaner, friendlier, more exciting and more impressive than any other time I’ve been there. Also, even more expensive than just a year ago.
I’ve been there? This is the first real time I’ve been there. Till now, I’ve only been through London. Greenwich, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Tower Bridge, V&A — I’ve never been to any of these before. Well worth a return visit, and that says not-a-museum-goer. One day I’ll be back, please keep ’em open for me.
The fact that my stay in London coincided with the Olympics may be, well, just a coincidence. But my new appreciation for the city is probably not. I thought I could not care less about the Games. I was wrong. The Opening Ceremony (which I watched on the telly) was great, what with the Queen and James Bond and Sir Paul. But the bit that really made me — I am going to say now something I never expected to say — temporarily proud to be British was, of course, Mr Bean sketch.