I visit London every weekend. While most of my friends either go back home or party until dawn, exploring and taking pictures of London is an ideal way for me to release stress after a long week of lectures and work.

So yeah, at about 8 o’clock every Saturday or Sunday, while folks are still in bed, there’s this girl excitedly hopping on a 30-minute-long train, departing from Guildford to London Waterloo. With her earphones on, the smile on the girl’s face can’t seem to disappear as she dreams about all the places she’d go to on that day while looking out the window, feeling thrilled as ever.

Perhaps for a lot of people, London is Oxford Street or King’s Road – the busiest shopping streets with many internationally recognized fashion brands; Big Ben, London Eye and Tower Bridge – some of the must-visit attractions in London; the popular red telephone booths and double-deckers that have become the symbols of Great Britain’s capital city. However, for me, someone who has the traveling/exploring gene in the veins, London is beyond all that.


For me, London is…

The endless underground trains.


A coach on a Bakerloo Line train (cc: @julieythe1st)

I remember the first time coming to London, what attracted me the most was the underground/Tube, which is one of the most common public transports in this city. London’s underground system is pretty complicated with more than 10 lines, so people may get lost if they’re not yet used to it. But there was no way that it stopped me from exploring London by Tube. Ever since the first time traveling by underground, I became so excited that it became my guilty pleasure; it’s such a fascinating experience and not so challenging for me. From Guildford, I always get a Super Off-peak Ticket plus a Travelcard (£13.40 with a 16-25 Adult Railcard). This gives me same day return off-peak travel including unlimited bus and tube journeys around London – definitely a perfect choice for anyone who would like to travel like there’s no tomorrow in London in the smartest and cheapest way.

I like the feeling as I step into a Tube station in London, lose myself in an endless crowd of people and become one of them; the feeling when you’re so used to traveling by Tube that you know the standing point where each coach’s door would open exactly in front of you; the feeling you get on a shaky train as it goes through a dark tunnel – like you’re on an adventure, and a journey. I love getting on a random train and staying there until it gets to its final destination; there I’d get off and begin my exploration of that particular area. Such random trips always lead to amazing surprises.


For me, London is…

The late-Victorian houses.

On my first true London exploring trip, I was extremely overwhelmed by the gorgeous late-Victorian houses made of red or white bricks. These houses possess a kind of attractiveness like no other: ancient and at the same time luxurious. Many of them are situated in The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea – the most affluent area of the British upper class.


The Boltons – Brompton


Bramham Gardens – Earl’s Court


Collingham Gardens – Earl’s Court


Kensington Mansions – Earl’s Court (cc: rightmove.co.uk – Retouched by @julieythe1st)

My number 1 favorite spot to admire late-Victorian houses has got to be Earl’s Court District: from Trabovir Road and Nevern Square with the impressive Kensington Mansions to the private gardens such as Bramham Gardens and Collingham Gardens surrounded by splendid palaces. You could sense the luxury exuding from such mansions as well as from the people residing in them.


For me, London is…

The vintage cars.

I have an endless passion for pretty vintage cars, and London is truly a paradise full of them. A lot of such classic cars are found a lot in The London Borough of Camden and The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, especially Notting Hill – a very wealthy area and also home to many world celebrities. Personally, I find walking around Notting Hill and hunting vintage cars is just as thrilling as bumping into Julia Roberts or Tom Hiddleston at Portobello Market, maybe even more exhilarating.


Colville Road – Notting Hill


Ladbroke Grove – Notting Hill


Bentinck Mansions – Marylebone


Berkley Road – Primrose Hill


Pelham Crescent – South Kensington


For me, London is…

The colorful houses.

Along with classic cars, pastel houses attract loads of photographers everywhere. They are super easy to find. These houses are brightly colored; often the walls, doors and windows are beautiful painted in different colors, standing out at the corners of the streets. Besides the pretty paint colors, the British tend to decorate their houses with lovely jardinières outside the doors or windows, making the houses look extra dreamy and appealing.


Bury Walk – South Kensington


Bywater Street – Chelsea


Chalcot Square Gardens – Primrose Hill


Ladbroke Walk – Notting Hill

And of course, if you’re lucky enough to spot the classic cars parking in front of the colorful houses, then no matter where you’re standing, you’ll be able to take hundreds of dope pictures, as the scenery you’re admiring is photogenic in every way…


Hillgate Place – Notting Hill


Portobello Road Market – Notting Hill


For me, London is…

The creative walls.

If you find wandering around places as delightful as I do, you’d catch the masterpieces of one-of-a-kind.


Camden High Street – Camden Town


Camden High Street – Camden Town


Ledbury Road – Notting Hill

These awesome walls are everywhere, on the streets or hiding deep in small mews. You’ll discover them if you keep your eyes wide open. Every time I spot these masterpieces, I’d be screaming on the inside and immediately get my camera out to snap numerous shots. Later, when looking back at the pictures I’ve taken, I can once again live the moments I had that day on my little London adventure, and feel how the beautiful walls, the old classic cars and the dreamy pastel houses made my day.


For me, London is…

The city full of wonders.

Oxford Circus appears to be where I usually end up in at the end of my London trips. Losing myself in the busy streets full of people, holding a cup of hot chocolate or Caramel Frappé in my hand and walking on Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street with the music of The 1975 in my ears – what a great ending given to a perfect day! Each time I’m here, I can always feel the typical lively atmosphere of the place, from the air filled with the smell of the yummy pancakes sold on the street, the sparkling street lights, the horns of the vehicles that I would normally find irritating, the sound of the guitar and singing of the street artists as well as the cheers and applause for them… The feels I get then is a kind that is yet to be named.Untitled14


Oxford Street (Oxford Circus) – West End of London

It was only six out of many, many things that make London so charming in my eyes. London is huge, it may take countless trips to explore everything in this city. I’ve only told you about a small bit of it, and I sure will continue my adventures to discover many more hidden gems in every corner of London. My friends often tease me: “You’re such an amorous girl! Do Oxford/New York/Venice/ Hanoi know you’re cheating on all of them with this London ‘boy’?” LOL. I’d blame London for “his” spell on me. I believe there is not only me but also many others who cannot resist the London charm. London is elegant and luxurious. London is delightful and lively. London is a perfect combination that is so unforgettable to anyone who has been here.


Text and photos by Juliey Pham.

Visit https://www.instagram.com/julieythe1st/ for more photos of London.