Travelling in London has long since been a challenging past-time for those that choose to indulge in it. You might think that it’s the tourist hub of the country and one of Europe’s gems. In many ways you would be right. From its vibrant food scene to the sheer number of exceptional pubs and clubs it offers to the wonders of culture and history to be found on every corner, there are few places that are as densely packed full of the incredible as London is. It really is a city that offers everything that you could want, when you could want it, within reason of course. There’s no access to the sea, and you won’t be skiing anytime soon, but outside geographical constraints, it panders to every possible taste.
Want to only drink rye whiskies? There’s a bar for that, stocking varieties from all over the world. Want to see some of the best cabaret in the world? London has got you covered. Fancy a chance to enjoy some of the world’s greatest pieces of art for absolutely nothing? London museums will happily indulge your desire. As a city, it has so very much to offer and all you have to do is consume it.
The thing is, to sate your hunger you’re going to need to pay. And when we say pay, we don’t mean fork out some pocket change. A breakfast at the Wolseley can easily hit triple figures for just two people. As great as that might look on your Instagram, brunching there most weekends would pay your rent in most other places in the country. Going out and having fun somehow ends up being expensive no matter where you are. A trip shopping, without even buying anything from the shops, is about £6 in tube fares, another £5 each in lunch, £1 for the bottle of water you inevitably forgot. £12 for a day out might seem like good value but considering all you did was eat a shopping centre lunch and not even buy anything, is that such good value. Do that every weekend and as a couple you’ve burnt through £100.
Or maybe you’d rather stay in and cook dinner. A simple risotto, with ingredients from the local area. After all, London stocks the best in fresh meat, fish and vegetables. Not only that, but it’s many specialist suppliers will ensure that you have plenty of Italian cheese and wine to add in liberally too. Butter from Brittany, rich and tangy yellow, abundant with salt crystals. It sounds like a dream right? Until you realise how much all of that is going to set you back. Half a bottle of wine is likely going to be £5, and let’s be real you will drink the other half so that’s £10. The free range chicken could be cheap if you bought all the thighs and deboned them for yourself, but you’re in London, so you’re time poor. There’s just too much to do: unless you’re unbelievably wealthy, then work or play in the capital, you will never have quite enough time to do what you want. So that’s another £6. Rice is £2. Stock is 50p. Parmesan and butter £2 a pop. Some basic veg another £1. A simple dish for two, rustic and homely? Close to £25. For a homecooked dinner… God knows where you’ll find the 2 hours to make it either.
And that’s the greatest issue with London. It teases and it tantalises with such promises, but the reality is that you’ll rarely have time for any of that. The odds of you actually being able to enjoy yourself like you want to are slim to none because for that you need heaps of money. To make the heaps of money, you end up working too hard and stressing too much. The end result is rarely pretty, and usually ends with you having bags under your eyes and dreams you simply don’t fulfil. That might sound a bit bleak and in reality it is. We love this city, we really do, but it has so much to do that it can be suffocating at times. All we really want is a balance but in a place built on excess, you just have to roll with the madness. Enjoy every single moment as it comes and not worry too much because the extremities are going to come right back round again. When you’re on top of the world, you’re going to plummet off it again and again and keep climbing. London is a drug, a fascinating, stimulating wondrous drug, but a drug none the same and sometimes we can’t help but wonder if it would be better for us to simply be clean, rather than feel those constant impulses. Do you feel the same?