This time around in London, the neighborhood that I’m staying in is quite different. The London Review meant staying in South Kensington, while the BSI means Islington. The hotel we were staying in was right next to the huge stretch of parks, and was on the outskirts of a very wealthy area of town. The neighborhood just north of our hotel was the most similar to suburbia that I’ve seen within the city. Houses were still crowded together, but these had tiny yards and quiet streets. The yards looked expensive to maintain, and it didn’t feel like much was within walking distance within the area. I crossed much of South Kensington to find a cafe that felt local.

In Islington, the Exmouth market right up the street has a very local feel. I walked through it this afternoon and there were tents set up offering cheap, hot meals. My current adorable little cafe is 5 minutes from the flats. Also Farringdon Road and Theobald’s Way feel more connected to the throbbing pulse of the city. I don’t feel that Tube access is as convenient, but access to a variety of shops and restaurants seems better. The shops outside Gloucester Tube in S. Kensington seemed to consist of shops found across London, whereas at least in Exmouth, they are all one of a kind. Also in this area, there are 4-5 pubs within a five minute walk; in S. Kensington they were a bit further away (or we were terrible at finding them). The housing in Islington is much more crowded together; instead of quaint houses there are high rise flats. In this part of town, the people are packed in much closer together.

In Islington, I feel much more connected with the city, with the theatre district a 30 minute walk away and Southwark a 30 minute walk the other direction. Back home it takes a 30 minute drive to get from Overland Park to Westport, and it’s a 20 minute drive to get from my house to my boyfriend’s. Being able to get to some of the most popular districts in London on my own two feet within 30 minutes feels pretty good–even though the air quality is terrible.