And, as I counted my visits to Paris, I also did the math for London.
It’s a close second, with my latest trip being visit #65 in this fantastic city. At this rate, it’s bound to overtake Paris as my most visited city some time in 2016.
From Brussels, it’s just a two-hour train ride on the Eurostar, from Brussels Midi to London St. Pancras. You have to add the half-hour for check-in, passport control and security check, but you’ll gain one hour by hopping over to UK time. There’s no better way to get there.
It’s the perfect getaway for the weekend, which explains why I do it at a rate of 6 to up to 12 visits a year.
Last month I was there with my friend Susanne, with whom I have visited dozens of times.
We usually stay in one of the hotels around Tottenham Court Road, depending on what is cheaper either one of the three Radisson hotels in the neighborhood, or the St. Giles hotel tower.
All of them are in walking distance to the British museum or So-ho’s Old Compton street, where I like to have a drink with the boys at night.
We had a few plans for the city. Besides meeting friends, this weekend would see us visiting the Goya exhibition in the National Gallery, a political pop art exhibition in Tate Modern, a stroll along the Thames towards the Shard, and – of course – seeing Pam Ann’s hilarious and foul-mouthed show in Leicester Square Theatre on the Saturday night.
Other than that, the weekend is usually filled with coffee, a bit of walking around, running a few errands, walking into the odd book store or sipping the umpteenth Latte of the day.
With so many visits on our back, we already feel somewhat at home here, in ‘our’ neighborhood. The London Tube’s OysterCard always charged, starting to know the tub and bus map by heart, knowing the shortest – or most interesting – way to walk form A to B without necessarily looking on a map…
So London has become a weird amalgam of ‘visit’ and ‘home’ feeling that can only come with so many visits. Yet is is never boring. The number of things to do, the exhibits, shows and museums you can go to is amazing.
Yesterday, when talking to a friend who lived in London for over 20 years, we tried to identify the other cities in the world that would play in the same league. New York, obviously, comes to mind. Paris. And then? Probably not much.
Madrid, Rome, LA, Berlin, Tokyo…. somehow already trailing a bit behind.
I’ll have three trips to London coming up till the end of this year. Maybe I should just move here.