Holidaying Londoner prone to bouts of homesickness? Begrudging expat who’s been forced into exile far from your beloved Big Smoke? London-loving foreigner who yearns to be by the banks of the Thames? The capital could be closer than you think. Here’s our guide to finding London when it’s not there.
If you’re the sort of Londoner who gets pangs of nostalgia before you’ve even touched down in foreign climes, book your holiday in Shanghai. Taxicab manufacturer Manganese Bronze Holdings is owned by the Chinese company Geely, which has a production plant close to the city. Shanghai, therefore, is teeming with the identical model of cab so familiar to Londoners. And, as one Guardian article claims, the hackney carriage could soon become ubiquitous in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan, too. The Turks, meanwhile, are vying to produce a new generation of eco Taxi – the Concept V1. Could this soon be plying the streets of both London and Istanbul?
Exhibitions and shows
London’s museums and theatres roll out acclaimed exhibitions and shows like nobody’s business. But just because you’re not in London, doesn’t mean you don’t have access to them. The Jewish Museum’s Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait was warmly received in Camden last year, and if you happen to be in Vienna between now and August 20, you can catch it there. At the Fondazione Roma Museo, there’s still time to admire paintings on loan from the British Museum, Tate Britain, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy, National Portrait Gallery, and Museum of London – including this Westminster Bridge piece by Canaletto.
Equestrian WWI tearjerker War Horse isn’t just on at the New London Theatre – you can see it in Berlin at the moment, too. And if you don’t happen to be in London for the reopening of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud this summer, maybe you’ll be around Broadway in the autumn, where it’s on at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre from September.
London is a unique metropolis, yet there are one of two places overseas with some very similar landmarks. Pay a visit to the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, and you’ll feel like you’re inside Bevis Marks Synagogue in the City; that’s because it was based on the Portuguese Synagogue’s blueprints. On the off-chance you use Gants Hill Tube regularly, you’ll feel at home in Moscow’s decadent Metro system: the English architect Charles Holden was heavily influenced by the Soviet metro when designing the east London station. More transit similarities in Liverpool, where you can catch the Northern Line to Waterloo. And there are many places, all over the world, which make (illegal) use of the famous tube roundel.
Go to Melbourne or Sydney in Australia, meanwhile, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself resting in the shade of a London plane tree; this hardy species lines many a street Down Under. Oh yes, and Cleopatra’s Needle has sisters in Central Park, NYC and Place de la Concorde, Paris.
London expats (who aren’t coming back)
As for Londoners no longer with us – in both senses of the term – there’s John Keats (buried in the aptly named Cimitero degli Inglesi in Rome), Sir Richard Wallace (he of Wallace Collection fame – now resting in Père Lachaise, Paris), Walworth-born Charlie Chaplin (his grave can be found in in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland), and woggle-wearing head honcho Robert Baden-Powell (buried in Nyeri, Kenya). All four now have plenty of time for a chinwag about the housing bubble, eels, and the rise of the flat white.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘When not in Rome, build a fake Rome’, right? In Songjiang District near Shanghai (again), they were so desperate to recreate the atmosphere of London, they actually constructed a (sort of) version of London, namely Thames Town. Here, you’ll find red telephone boxes, a statue of Winston Churchill, London cabs (courtesy of Geely, of course) and even an artificial River Thames. Unlike its real life inspiration, however, Thames Town is reportedly suffering from a dwindling population. And though it’s not been confirmed, the rumours are that Kim Jong-un has had a replica Big Ben erected in Pyongyang. Can any of our North Korean readers confirm this?
By the way, if you’re out of London but still in the UK, why not pop into your nearest Little London.