The other day, as I listened to the wail of a passing ambulance mingling with the soft strains of a classical melody drifting from the Royal Academy of Music that’s just a stone’s throw away from my dorm, I realized something. I love the city. And as far as cities go, London is the quintessential example. I love the noise, the crowds, the constant activity. I love being able to walk ten minutes in any direction to find a grocery store. I love never having to go to the same pub twice. I love the museums, theatres, trains, cafes, and stores that are always teeming with people. In the concrete metropolis that is London, the labyrinth of streets and the uncountable buildings that line them practically hum with life.
Ask me on another day, though, and I might paint a very different picture of London. Because sometimes I hate the city. I hate the noise, the crowds, the constant activity. I hate standing in line to try on a shirt, buy a sandwich, or use the restroom. I hate waiting for what often feels like hours for the light to change at a crosswalk. I hate having to search for a quiet place to just sit and relax. Sometimes I wish there was a pause button for London.
Luckily, I found a place where my incongruous affinity and animosity for the city can be rectified. Just to the north of the International Students House where I’m living, Regents Park is a bloom of green on the overwhelmingly gray map. There are plenty of wonders to explore in this 400 acre expanse: sports pitches, fountain-lined avenues, a pond populated by a rowdy bunch of birds, rose gardens, multiple playgrounds, and even a zoo.
However, if you manage to make it past all this and venture to the northernmost part of the park, you’ll find my favorite spot in all of London: Primrose Hill. It’s a bit of a hike to the top, but the view is worth every step. The city spreads out below like a page in a meticulously detailed pop-up book. From the top of Primrose Hill, it’s possible to forget the chaos and cacophony created by the millions of people bustling through their daily lives and just appreciate the opportunities that stretch for miles into the distance. In a city in with to stand still is to be left behind, sometimes it’s necessary to stand at a distance instead and take a deep breath before plunging back into the rush. London’s like that.