I have been actively living in London since 1998 – and calling it a solid home base from 2004 until now. It’s only when I travel and move away that I realise some habits are hard to shake off from my London-mode!
Everyone will have their own take on life in London. This is me sharing my own personal observations on what I picked up along the way – and what I am still learning to release.
I’ll keep this light-hearted – AND before you read this, I have to say one thing: London isn’t THAT bad lol… There are many wonderful things that I could say about it too. But for the sake of this post, I’m keeping track of the challenging aspects that I personally don’t enjoy.
It takes me a while to unwind back in Barcelonian pace… like a plug that hasn’t quite left the socket and is buzzing. The electricity is still very much present until at least a week later for me.
I love the way people walk in Barcelona – I know that sounds weird but it’s like they have all the time in the world to man/woman-spread their walks on the pavement… arms and legs, in groups and loud conversations.
In London, it can feel more like a tight march – God forbid you slow down the pace as you’ll be reminded to speed up by the annoyed pedestrians behind you.
Remove your hard shell and be soft again…
London, like many super fast cities, can make us feel like we need this personal space. I like to term it “having hard nuts syndrome” 😃 Just the simple act of going to work at high time rush hour in London is enough to make having this a daily habit that gets hard to shake off.
It’s hard to be soft and open, when you are battling out space for a few breaths between armpits and morning breath on the tube. Yes, it can be that bad sometimes!
Embrace your Yin energy…
I’m learning… Less action-Yang based (from London’s energy) – More receptive-Yin based (from Barcelona’s energy). The shift was an overall big eye opener for me. I needed time to balance this side of me… as a person and as a woman too. At the same time, I love that I can now embrace both strong sides fully… I have more options to do so as I move from one city to the other.
And during the longer periods of being in one of the cities, I actively look out for spaces that will balance the other side of the spectrum more. For example: In London, nature walks and yin yoga are a MUST to give me space to unwind. Whereas in Barcelona, keeping a solid routine and strong exercising keeps that yang energy flowing and my heart racing.
Invest more time in longterm deeper connection…
I have made some GREAT friends over the years in London – but if I count how many have stayed in town, I can only think of 1 left!
London’s fast pace includes connection to people. People literally come and go out of our lives, on a personal and work level. Plus, it’s a real effort to get to meet up as most people find travelling the tube across town a chore – So unless you’re both local buddies, be prepared to schedule your rendezvous well ahead of time.
I love how the daily schedule in Spain allows for time and connection. There is literally a few hours every day where you can eat a proper lunch and make time to have a descent conversation with the people in your life. This is still something I’m learning to be open to – No more meaningless quick small talk, real connections please! I want to dive deeper with words and Barcelona holds space for this interaction.
Smiles and eye contact 😃
Yes, it’s OK to smile and look at a person across the street in the eye (not in a creepy way though!). I love how in London, especially on the tube, eye contact is the unwritten rule that everyone knows you SHOULD NEVER do. Distract your Self with your phone or have a newspaper handy to keep your glances around the crowd to a bare minimum please.
In a totally different Universe, Barcelona was made for people watching and enjoying it fully. That comes with smiling too. Strangely enough, I find that my patience for people watching is being tested still…
I get bored very easily and want to shift right out of the cafe after the first 10 minutes max. This is no doubt a symptom of how Londoners time management is tested in the many large chain store cafes that now riddle the high streets and call in big crowds who want their quick coffee fix.
I love Barcelona for the indie cafe scene that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg to get a real coffee. That goes for businesses in general – I like that I can actually meet the store owner or they are running around behind the counter somewhere when I enter a cafe or shop. The difference in approach and love in their work shows. It’s worth spending time in such positive places and supporting local businesses 😃
In short, I’m still a work in progress, learning with each day!
Moving away from London (and travel in general) has taught me a lot about how we interact with our environment – how it brings up so many different sides to us – light and shadow. I am grateful for this and all it brings, in many forms 💛
If you enjoyed this blog post, you might also like to see a connected reflection post here!