On a good (work) day, I leave my flat at 8:00 AM. I set off at a brisk pace, charging past the suckers waiting for the bus, outstripping the parents walking their kids to school, crossing streets at strategic locations, pausing only when absolutely necessary to avoid collisions with cyclists/trucks/cars/buses. Forty-five minutes later, I arrive at work – fresh-faced and ready to face the day.
Good days are few and far between.
Lately my work days tend to start with several snooze sessions, a somewhat rushed half hour getting ready, frequent checks of Bus O’Clock (if you live in London, get this app!), and racing out the door at the last minute to jump onto the bus with the rest of the suckers for a crowded jolting ride to work that usually ends with me arriving later than I would have if I had just walked.
The thing is, London is a great walking city. In some ways it’s a necessity – you simply must walk to get to and from certain places. When I first moved to London, my weight dropped dramatically just from all the walking I was suddenly doing because I had to. Beyond the necessity, it’s also the best way to see the city (you miss so much if you take the Tube) and often it’s just as quick (or only slightly slower) than public transportation.
And my walk to work is really pleasant. Sure, the first 35 minutes are along rather ordinary nondescript city roads, but they’re relatively quiet with wide sidewalks and few fellow pedestrians to navigate. The best part comes in the last 15 minutes. At about 8:35/8:40, I look up to check the time on this clock:
I hit Westminster Bridge and I’m no longer on some random city street: I’m in London. I’m walking towards one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. I am dodging tourists posing for “Hey! Look where I am!” shots. I’m caught up with the rush of politicians and businessmen heading to work in Whitehall and Victoria. The London Eye is at my back, the Thames flows beneath me.
Let’s be honest, I don’t appreciate all of this most days. Usually I am running late; I’m glancing at the clock because I need to gauge how late I actually am, not because I appreciate the site of Parliament. I’m cursing those tourists and walking straight through their photo ops. But every once in awhile I look up and around me, and I’m overwhelmed by how cool it is to live in London and how lucky I am to walk by Parliament and Westminster Abbey and the Eye everyday…if I’ve actually managed to get up and out the door in time to walk, that is.
Then 15 minutes later, I’m at work and I’ve forgotten all about everything I’ve walked past. And to tell the truth, that comment above about arriving fresh-faced and ready to face the day is never actually true – even if I have walked. In reality, I arrive in need of some coffee and another hour to fully wake up. Living in London may have made me a walker, but it hasn’t made me a morning person.