London Sightseeing Priorities
One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog is to share all the crazy stories and experiences I have in my mind from travelling to so many places, with so many great and unique people. This story is a fairly recent one, set in London when I was there to paint graffiti.
At my last night of couch surfing at my friend’s place, he had left to go see his family in Hong Kong and I went out with a few of his mates to a legendary blues bar called ‘Ain’t Nothin’ But’ (which I wrote a blog post about earlier). We stayed so late that there was no tube back to the house, so we ended up walking through London centre for little over an hour checking off almost every major tourist stop along the way. I would have only a couple hours left in the morning to go sightseeing, so why not go by Big Ben, the House of Parliament, The London Eye, Trafalgar Square, … while walking home after a few pints? It felt satisfying checking all of those places off my list because I wanted to spend my precious last few hours in London on going to see another equally legendary eye-catcher: Battersea Power Station.
The famous Pink Floyd monument was about an hour walk from where I was staying, but with a clear blue sky and a buzzing urban London around me, that was a joy on its own. My friends had told me the whole station was under heavy construction and that it was about to be turned into either very luxurious condo’s for some of the many affluent people in London, or that Apple would turn it into their new headquarters. I reckon it will probably be some of both, as corporate influences are omnipresent in London. Like I expected, it was impossible to get close to the station, let alone enter it, because of the numerous cranes and construction workers clustering the site. Luckily the outlook of Battersea Power Station is protected, so the changes can’t be too extreme. Still, I am happy to have checked it off my list, before it has completely changed its purpose. That’s two out of three from my Pink Floyd checklist: See David Gilmour live, check. See Battersea Power Station, check. See Roger Waters, tickets ready!
I guess, when it comes to London, I took the approach I always take when visiting a place. Of course, there are landmarks that you ought to see, but like one of my London mates said: “Just go to google and look up a picture.” If you have the time, feel absolutely free to go check out all the famous landmarks, but if not, find things you connect with. When I lived in Shanghai, I never really bothered to go see the famous places like Yuyuan Garden or the Jing’an Temple. Still, I have probably seen more of the city than most people, through actively exploring its alleys and ruins and engaging with its people. Travel for the experience, not for the checklist.