I came to realize that I had to treat London like a brand-new-to-me city; my memories of the place were so few and tended to center around places we weren't likely to get back to (the homes we lived in, the school I went to, the part of the Heath I walked every day). This is probably for the best, since I didn't really enjoy London as a kid or teenager. My fondest memories from back then tend to be of the trips we took OUT of the city, to greener, more open spaces: Scotland, Ireland, the Lake District. We probably won't get to see any theatre here this trip, sadly. Shows are largely sold out, since it's a bank holiday weekend. Wandering about Trafalgar, in St. James Park, and along the Thames was quite fun yesterday. We finished up at a Greek restaurant that was the scene of a wonderful last night in town back in '81. We missed Mom and James, of course, and we didn't recreate the drunken stroll through a dark Heath afterwards, but that was probably a good thing too.
Dad's lecture is Saturday night, at Friends House, just around the corner from our hotel. I may find my memory triggered there by some of the rooms. But all in all, the claustrophobia I feel in cities, I first discovered in this one. Fifteen years in New York, seven in Seattle, and about six months in Dublin in '86 have all taught me skills for managing it (and those daily walks on Hampstead Heath back in '81 were undertaken for therapeutic purposes at the time), and I think I'd have quite a good time here, if our stay was longer. Cities are great to visit, but I wouldn't want to live in one. Oh. Huh.
London and New York feel similar in size and energy. There are different visual effects of course, but the first thing I noticed was distinctly different smells. Dublin's is different as well, and I can more readily attribute that to the greater influence the Irish Sea has on the place. It's simply not as big, there are fewer buildings over five stories, and the air just smells saltier.
More thoughts, and OH so many pictures, when I get home and have a moment to synthesize the experience.