“I love summer in London because suddenly, everyone becomes more attractive.” These honest words were spoken by my friend, London native, Mikha’el Wade. Born and raised in North London, Mikha’el has seen his fair share of London summers, and he knows how to get out and take advantage of the lovely weather.
Before I met with Mikha’el, I went for a run around Hyde Park and with a sunny, 78 degree (F) day, I have never seen the park more populated. Girls sunbathing, kids biking, and couples lounging describe the entire 350 acre park. And it looked mandatory to have ice cream, which is always fine by me. On my run past Serpentine Lake I noticed people out feeding birds and paddling in paddle boats, which cost £12 per hour to rent. Renting a bike is an also an affordable way to get outdoors and get around the city. Bike rental kiosks are located all around London, and for just £2, you can rent a bike for 24 hours and return it to any one of 700 docking stations.
On this particular day, my friends decided to take our own walking tour around the city starting at the High Street Kensington tube station, walking past Hyde Park, through Knightsbridge, to Buckingham Palace. We then passed the National Gallery, stopped for the obligatory London phone booth photo, then made our way to Big Ben, the Parliament building, and the London Eye. Including our stop for lunch and considering our leisurely pace, this route took us about three hours to walk.
I took the tube from Vauxhall to South Kensington instead of walking back because it was getting dark, and despite a common misconception, the London Underground is reasonably simple to navigate. Each line is color coded and has its own name such as the Piccadilly line or the Victoria line. Just use the tube map to figure out if you are going north, south, east, or westbound. If you are in London more than one or two days, an Oyster card is very useful for using the metro. The card is £5, but that is a deposit that is returned when the card is turned back in, and using the card discounts tube fare. It’s a noticeable difference.
Dreary, old London is anything but in the summer. Though the rain and fog are part of the city’s identity and reputation, warm weather and sunshine make it more pleasant to explore all that this city has to offer.
1. Bike Rentals
3. Parks in London