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London — Magic and Tragic

London oozes culture from the cracks of its pavements.  History and liberty abound; yet, perhaps London stands alone as the place in the world that unveils the highest level of the opposing states of regal and raunch.

In some parts of the city, you can feel aristocracy in the air, which I find to be a pleasurable thing.  I don’t need anyone to give me a concerning smile and a hearty chat, but can simply enjoy a sense of refinement and elegance skipping around on the grey streets in the better parts of town.  And, if you are lucky enough to know of some obscure inner circle restaurants in London and cost is not much of a concern, your culinary needs will be more than satisfied.

Other places in London can be abrasive and untidy to the point of having to dodge waste on the streets and an obvious presence of groups of people who appear emotionally numbed, perhaps by financial woes, too much alcohol, logistical problems, and a general feeling of the weight of life.  In this state of existence, there becomes an acceptance of too many cupcakes, an abandonment of civility, and a lost-count of glasses of wine or bottles of beer consumed, as if people are grasping to own little moments where they are able to put down their guard and forget about their worries.

But on this day, there is an oblivion to the dichotomy of London as I decide to board one of those prettily glaring candy-apple-red double-decker buses running through the heart of the city, and today I become a full-fledged admitted-tourist.

During the double-decker bus tour, I attempt to take photos that give a unique perspective to some of the more common sites of the city and in the end, I feel that I have found pretty good results.

A man reading the morning paper on the front steps of London Bridge Hospital Building.

Old couple walking down the street together

The next day, I attended the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at Buckingham palace, and felt like I was crammed inside a box of overloaded toothpicks, barely able to move or see anything more than a 60 second segment of the ceremony in motion.

If I could do it again, I would roam around Buckingham Palace before the ceremony, watch a few minutes of the fanfare, and then leave and watch a youtube on “changing of the guards” at my leisure. 

The crowd making their way toward Buckingham Palace, awaiting the beginning of the ceremony.

More people rush to gather around the main gate.

–Most people are feeling a little stress because there seems to be no good place to stand.

The parade segment of the ceremony starts, and because I am standing at the gate, I can see nothing but human bodies in front of me.

So I turn to photograph the lady standing directly before me at the gate…clearly not happy.

Finally we see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony, and although there is a partial view, there is an air of satisfaction.

45 Comments Post a comment
  1. Never been a fan of London or for that matter the UK, but these are wonderful photos – a great article. Congrats.

    October 24, 2012
  2. felt like I was there with you – thanks for the tour

    October 24, 2012
  3. Nice read, the thing with London is to live it. I have been there from past 4years now but never became part of the city because I love nature. I see what you have experienced but there is something in this city still like the other great cities of the world like Paris, Vienna, Munich and other EU big cities – they have just been there and dumped by the growing masquerades of masses from all over the word.

    October 24, 2012
  4. Thank you for sharing your London tour. I thoroughly enjoyed your storytelling in words and in pictures. It was a treat! xoxo Mel

    October 24, 2012
  5. Thanks for the tour and the lovely photos. I visit London 2 or 3 times a year, and all I do, is grab as much as I can of the amazing culture on offer: The Tate Modern, Gagosian, The Portrait gallery (I saw Lucian Fruid’s exhibition – an experience I will not forget). In the evenings I see a lot of theater (the War Horse was amazing!). London for me is an injection of culture… I can say very little about London’s cuisine, soccer or anything else…

    October 24, 2012
  6. So interesting. I enjoyed reading your perspective. I hope to visit there soon. THANKS! Kristin

    October 24, 2012
  7. A beautiful, insightful and evocative post as always. I love your photos; in all it reminds me of our family trip to London/the UK years ago. So well-said that culture oozes from the cracks in the pavement!

    October 24, 2012
  8. Great photos of London. Well done!

    October 24, 2012
  9. This is a nice article. I work in the city, although thankfully live 60 miles North in Cambridgeshire. It is really interesting to read someone else’s perspective or what to me is the norm.

    October 24, 2012
    • I am grateful for your reply and confirmation that my perception is at least somewhat in sync with reality. Thank you for taking the time to respond. It means a great deal to hear about London from the sometimes marvelous and sometimes maddening front lines. ~Sonya

      October 24, 2012
  10. I wish to visit one day!

    October 24, 2012
  11. Your images are magnificent!

    October 24, 2012
  12. Wonderful photography. Loved the pictures. Maybe someday I’ll get to visit or well probably not, but I can dream.

    October 24, 2012
  13. This is a wonderful post. I love your language, “and a general feeling of the weight of life. … too many cupcakes, … as if people are grasping to own little moments…” Very well done and great photos, especially of London Bridge.

    October 24, 2012
  14. I’ve never been to Europe, but these examples give me the impression that London is the sort of fascinating place where you can turn in any direction and see something photogenic. Love the pics!

    October 25, 2012
  15. Beautiful photography!!!

    October 25, 2012
  16. Archana #

    Nice post and words about London !! 🙂

    October 25, 2012
  17. London is one of my favorite cities as well. Thanks for the delightful photos and the recollections!

    October 25, 2012
  18. I love London and was there recently, what you’ve written is so very true!

    October 26, 2012
  19. What a gorgeous pictures!
    Went to London a few years ago and fell in love with this city!
    Can’t waite till I have the money and time to visit it again!


    October 27, 2012
  20. I grew up not far from there, but was unable to spend much time there, unfortunately – but I always loved being there. I haven’t been back there since 1990. It almost seems like a different life.

    October 28, 2012
  21. Oh let me take you by the hand and lead you through the streets of London, I’ll show you something that’ll make you understand…

    A nice account of my home city but very much from a tourist perspective – this is not real London, this is the London designed to encourage visitors to buy stupid souvenirs from tacky-stands. See all this by all means but it is meaning-less, go somewhere like Notting Hill Gate or Camden Town for a true experience of how lovely the people are, where you can go into a bar and drink with real down-to-earth people without being charged a fortune. Where there is more choice of places to eat than MacDonalds, Aberdeen Angus Steak House, or some over-inflated pasta, burger, pizza franchise pretending to offer home-cooked traditional food. Get out of London even, see Cornwall or North Wales… or Brighton!

    For any potential visitors to London, a friend of mine offers some fantastic value tours –

    Having said all that, these are really nice photographs and a good account of a visit from a particular angle 🙂

    October 29, 2012
  22. I’m FINALLY getting to London next year. Thanks for such a delicious tease!

    October 29, 2012
  23. Great shots!

    October 29, 2012
  24. Thanks for some great photos. London has a unique character, of course, but some things that you notice about the affluent sections in contrast with the less affluent areas are to be experienced in every city of the world. The results of poverty and want is never very nice to look at.

    October 29, 2012
  25. Lovely pictures and a nice effort! Relived the London magic once again.
    Thank you 🙂

    October 30, 2012
  26. rynnasaryonnah #

    I LOVE watching old couples walking down the streets. Makes me smile each time. Great photos by the way!

    November 2, 2012
  27. it’s a shame, but i have never been to London! it’s quite shocking.. awesome photos 🙂

    November 2, 2012
  28. Gorgeous photos!

    November 4, 2012
  29. Great pictures. I’ve been to London twice, and these really capture its essence…

    November 11, 2012
  30. It’s crazy how packed it gets there. It’s so nice to see events like this open to the public. Thanks for bringing us along! 😀

    November 13, 2012
  31. Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. The photos are fantastic — nice eye! I wish you all the best with your travels and blogging. Cheers!

    November 17, 2012
  32. Never read a better description of London. Perfect! You captured every memory I have of the place. Thank you for sharing it with us. 😀

    November 17, 2012
  33. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)

    November 18, 2012
  34. supernova #

    Stunning and very striking photograph’s Sonya, you’ve captured the essence of classical London extremely well. Your written narrative which accompanied your photo’s was superb, thank you for this post. Best regards, SN.

    November 18, 2012
  35. Amazing photos, you did a great job with them…i feel like i was riding the bus with you, and your post i enjoyed a lot!

    November 18, 2012
  36. i love your photos!

    November 19, 2012
  37. jalal michael sabbagh. #

    Exceptionally good post.

    November 19, 2012
  38. jalal michael sabbagh. #

    This is the second time l am posting this comment .The first one it didn’t go through.Superb article and pictures.Despite being in London few times ,l still want to visit that magnificent Lady.My respect and regards.jalal

    November 19, 2012
    • Thank you for your continued encouragement. London is overall, a golden place, for sure. I hope you make it there–sooner than later! ~S

      November 19, 2012
  39. Very nice photos. I just wanted to know if you visited any parts of London outside zone 1. You can see a lot of very different areas and cultures there.

    November 21, 2012
  40. Annielka Magazine #

    Hi! Firstly thanks for liking the last post on my blog (I just started it just 6 weeks ago so any tips would be great!). I used to live in London so this brings back memories of the grey skies and crowds. I like the real and rawness of your photography (the london eye shot from the back streets is amazing!) and you have a nice narrative style to your story telling. You have inspired me to write a post of my trip to Jakarta and the extreme divide of rich and poor that I saw. Love your blog!

    November 22, 2012
  41. Great photography! I love London so much – through your photography I’m able to see it with different eyes…

    December 6, 2012
  42. Such iconic and lovely photos of London – such a special place with all its pomp and circumstance!

    December 12, 2012
  43. 1EarthUnited #

    Great memories, I tried making the guards smile… never worked.

    December 13, 2012

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