1. You can drink anywhere, all the time.
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Indoors. Outdoors. Weekdays. Holidays. There is hardly a time or place in London in which it is not socially acceptable to quaff a pint or a glass of wine.
2. Breakfast cafes.
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Nothing soothes the hung-over head like a cup of builder’s tea and a full English.
3. The ubiquity of curry houses.
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Britain’s wholehearted embrace of South Asian cuisine has given rise to its own homegrown version of Indian cooking.
4. “Going Out for an English”
If it wasn’t for drunk idiots ordering at London curry houses, there would never be this famous skit from the 1990s UK sketch comedy show “Goodness Gracious Me.”
5. It has the world’s best subway map.
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Civil servant Harry Beck’s visionary 1931 design is still recognizable in today’s London Underground map. A tribute to Beck’s original —in Lego! — has recently been installed at Piccadilly Circus station.
6. The real Platform 9¾ is here.
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Tired of Harry Potter fans blocking the gates between Platforms 9 and 10, London King’s Cross station installed a permanent display to the fictional invisible platform from which Potter and his peers caught their train to Hogwarts. GlobalPost once watched a confused and increasingly frustrated traveler try to pull out the luggage trolley half-embedded in the brick wall. Accio, indeed.
7. You can drink at the same place as Shakespeare.
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10. Teatime rules.
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A universally recognized late-afternoon excuse to down a cup of tea and a cookie? Yes, please.
11. Museums are free.
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The city’s museums house some of the world’s greatest collections, most of which are open to the public at no cost. Drop what you can in the donation box. It’s good karma.
12. The bookstores are beautiful.
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13. You can drink at the movies.
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See item #1.
14. Movie theaters are expensive, but live theater doesn’t have to be.
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A single ticket at the Leicester Square Odeon can run to $24 (booze not included). For the comparatively low price of $18, you can watch a live play at the award-winning National Theatre.
15. Holidays when stuff happens to the Queen and her family.
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Royal weddings, jubilees and birthdays: All reasons to hit the snooze button. Why everyone got so excited about the royal baby when no day off work was involved is a mystery to us.
16. “Saxondale” on UK Netflix.
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This two-season Steve Coogan series about a former roadie living out middle age as a Home Counties pest controller is comic perfection. Favorite quote: “This country produced Shakespeare. The mind boggles. It really does boggle.”
17. Art Everywhere
A private charity has paid to splash giant reproductions of some of Britain’s most famous art treasures across blank billboards, bus stops and other public spaces this summer. What commute isn’t better with David Hockney or the Lady of Shalott?
18. The public graffiti here is exceptionally creative.
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So funny. So painful. So British.
22. Weather: the topic everyone can agree on.
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One need never be lost for words with the national conversation starter at hand. Is it raining? Some weather we’re having, isn’t it? Is it more than 74 degrees outside? Then what about this heat?
23. The rain.
(Garry Knight /Flickr Commons)
Yes, it rains a lot. But on a gray and misty day there’s no better place to be than the inside of a cozy pub or café, and London has them in spades.
24. The sun.
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Thirty minutes of uninterrupted sunshine is cause for spontaneous public celebration.
25. It’s possible to have breakfast in Paris, lunch in London and dinner in Dublin — all in the same day.
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Should you need a break from Britain, Paris is a two-hour train ride from St. Pancras International. Dublin is a one-hour flight away.
26. No Downton Abbey spoilers.
Everyone’s favorite Edwardian drama airs in the UK months before it hits US shores, and series creator Julian Fellowes holds his scripts close to the houndstooth vest. Let’s just say that we as a nation were not prepared for what happened to Lady Sybil and Cousin Matthew.
27. The world is here.
London’s staggering diversity makes for a fascinating, exhilarating, ever-changing city. He who is tired of London — well, he probably just isn’t that much fun to be around, is he?