Thinking About Going to London? Here’s What You Should Know

Guest Blogger,
Big Ben on a cloudy day in London

In the summer of 2019, before Covid came and our lives changed, my family and I went to England for a vacation. Our first stop on the tiny island across the sea was London. When most people think of London, they think of the red buses, Big Ben, London Bridge, tea, Buckingham Palace, and the London Eye. Those people are absolutely correct and that is exactly what London is. Throughout our tour to London, we could consistently see those stereotypical things every day. However, there were some cool things we found in London that most people don’t normally think about when they think of London.

Most people believe London has horrible food. However, my family and I thought it was the exact opposite of what most people thought. In America, the common foods people eat are bacon, eggs, bagels, waffles, or pancakes. However, in England, they have their own special breakfast, called the English Breakfast. This meal was 10 times better than the breakfast in America. Additionally, we were able to find top-notch restaurants throughout our visit. For instance, we came across an Italian restaurant where you were able to build your own pasta or pizza and the person there would add which ingredients you wanted onto your dish, similar to how Chipotle operates. This was fantastic and it was authentic. I remember an employee telling me that almost all the people working there were from Italy. Even though my sense of smell isn’t great, I could tell you that the restaurant smelled exquisite.

Another thing many people don’t know about is the hidden history of London. Although Benjamin Franklin was American, he actually lived in London during the times in which the relationship between the colonies and Great Britain were unstable because of the colonials’ desire to become independent. In London, my family and I took a tour of the house in which Benjamin Franklin lived. I found the history of Benjamin Franklin’s house to be quite interesting. For example, since Benjamin Franklin was initially a loyalist, his house was the first unofficial American embassy in England. Another interesting fact I learned in my visit to the Benjamin Franklin house in London is that it is where the Glass Armonica was invented. I am a trumpet player who has been a part of numerous orchestras, and the Glass Armonica is an instrument commonly used by famous composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, and Strauss.

Additionally, another part of London many people don’t know about is the city north of it, called Cambridge. Going to Cambridge from London is about the distance to San Diego from Los Angeles. This was the second city my family and I visited. The city of Cambridge is mainly known for its world-famous university, The University of Cambridge. However, the city surrounding the university is quite delightful. Throughout the city, there are canals where people can use punts to get around quicker. It reminded me of Venice, Italy, except the punts were smaller than the famous gondolas. My family and I went on a tour of the city while riding on a punt, and it was an unforgettable experience. Me, being clumsy and uncoordinated, somehow managed to trip and fall off the punt and I ended up in the canal, drenched in water by the end of the ride. The city also has The Corpus Clock. The clock has a 24k gold-plated stainless steel disc, and you have to tell the time of it by reading the blue LEDs which are arranged in three rows, hours, minutes, and seconds.

All in all, while many of the stereotypical London tourist attractions are very much true, there are some parts of London in which many people would be surprised to know. For instance, even though London is known for its awful food, the food there is actually quite delightful. Many people also don’t know some of the hidden histories in the Revolutionary War, such as the fact that Ben Franklin lived in London and actually didn’t want the colonies to split up from the United Kingdom. Additionally, many people don’t know about the wonderful city of Cambridge, which is just north of London.

—Written by Jaden Robinson

teen volunteer Jaden Robinson in London

Jaden Robinson is a volunteer at the Palms-Rancho Park Branch Library. He is currently a senior at Santa Monica High School.

—Emily Meehan, YA Librarian, Palms-Rancho Park Branch

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