Dirty, noisy and unbelievably expensive, London is a vast cosmopolitan melting pot of people, ideas and energy. There's not so much a buzz about the place as a deafening roar, and somewhere behind the incessant bustle is 2,000 years of history struggling to be heard.
It's a cliché to describe London as a collection of villages, but historically that's exactly what it is. From its origins in the area today known as "the City", the capital expanded over the centuries to include the surrounding areas, each of which maintain their own distinctive character.
There's genteel Notting Hill with its cafés and boutiques; the trendy media enclave of Soho, all restaurants and bars; the village-like charm of Highgate; the old money of Kensington and Knightsbridge; and the arts-scene cool of Hoxton and Shoreditch. And there's much more besides; from the East End of mythical chirpy cockneys to the leafy suburbs south of the river, the sheer size of the city can be overwhelming. Read full article »