From dusk to dawn

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Five days a week I am observing this phenomenon in Europe’s most bustling metropolitan. From dusk to dawn Londoners trot to work, to the gym, to the pub, home. They do it on their own –the preferred way. In pairs – rare. Or in big groups. But also individuals walking next to each other, being squeezed into the bus or tube like cattle add up to a group, don’t they? You should, at least once, walk across London Bridge on any given morning during the week. Until 10 am men and women in business attire walk in herds from the train/tube station to their workplace in the heart of the City of London. Hundreds of thousands arrive every morning. You should also walk the streets of the City once either late at night or during the weekend – any time will be a good time. The vast emptiness is spooky. Bars, restaurants, shops and offices that have been bursting with life during the week all the sudden are empty and closed. Monday morning life comes back…

Prominent tourist hotspots start filling around 10 am. If you are unlucky enough to rush through Piccadilly Circus at any time be prepared to stumble across people blocking the way. The same goes for Westminster Bridge, which I have only experienced empty late at night. (It’s quite romantic to cross with an illuminated London Eye and Big Ben in the background)

Every night after the gym as I drag my tired body to the bus stop I indulge in this rush, this mad hustle and buzzle in the heart of London. My gym is right around the corner of one of London’s main train stations. I make my way to the bus stop leaving the quiet streets behind. As I am waiting right under a railway bridge next to a pub, I am wondering if this steady stream of people will ever stop. People are pouring out of buses, gather in front of the pub to enjoy an after-work pint before catching the train home. Cyclists fill the streets risking their lives in their mad dash home, Mums and dads rush by with their children. Some are fighting their way through the crowds jogging. Some are cleaning the streets, others are distributing London’s evening source of information. London doesn’t get quiet until midnight. All the sudden the streets and squares, the bus and tube get empty. Pubs and restaurants close. Here and there a night owl tries to find its way home. London sleeps at night. Tomorrow will be another day in Europe’s most bustling metropolitan.

– Catherine

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