Most of my trips to London are for business rather than pleasure. I organise my visits around conferences and trade fairs, tacking on an extra couple of days to hang out with friends and go shopping. It’s never enough time. I’m always rushed.
This time I booked a whole two weeks. I was so excited for a longer stay. I planned sightseeing, meet ups with friends, shopping and eating. Then I got sick. Because of course. I spent two weeks in bed, visiting doctors instead of my friends and struggling to attend my business commitments.
But I still loved being in London.
Every moment I questioned why I moved to sleepy Budapest and not London, a city which never stops. Until I had to open my wallet, when I was rudely reminded with an intense case of sticker shock.
I pushed myself to get out as much as possible, to at least get a few photos. One week in East London saw me return to my favourite foodie spots and a week near Borough Market introduced me to some new ones.
Wandering through Archbishop’s Park at Lambeth Palace was a new experience as was being in travel book heaven at Daunt Books on Marylebone High Street.
I resisted splurging on a £1,000 camera lens on Tottenham Court Road only to succumb to a military style winter jacket from Soho. I justified it by noting I rarely visit London in November and need something to keep warm.
After two weeks of noisy London, the constant drilling and hammering of construction, traffic congestion, trains barreling by as I tried to sleep, it’s almost unsettling being back in my apartment in Budapest where all I can hear is the sound of my own breathing.