London. A city founded by immigrants. A city of immigrants. It almost goes without saying immigrants are a big part of the reason London is the world’s most cosmopolitan city. And what follows from that: historic old London is at the cutting edge of modernity.
And that brings me to this podcast – and others like it. The London Walks Podcast regularly interviews Londoners (and sometimes visitors). Very often the Londoners who pitch up on this podcast are first-generation Londoners. They’re immigrants. Like Carl, whom we hear from in today’s podcast. Except Carl’s Londoner-ness is even more (delightfully) complicated. He was born here, of German parents. Spent the early years of his childhood here. Then moved to Germany with his parents (when he was seven). And now, all of 21, he’s back in London. Very happily so. Living here. Working here. (Let alone cycling all over town.) Back in the city he’s always identified as home, as his city, as the place where he belongs.
And of course what you get from someone like Carl is an invaluable “dual perspective.” He’s got 13 years of suburban Germany to compare with life in London. And compare he does, thoughtfully, articulately, observantly – remarkably so for someone so very young.
To cut to the chase, Carl has a lot of interesting things to say about life in this city – why it’s so livable, so satisfying, so agreeable. Why it’s such a good place to be.
“two completely different places within the same urban environment”
“I’ve always had more of a connection to London than to Berlin or Munich”
“Frankfurt is solely a transit capital”
“London is a transit capital and so much more”
“that diversity of things…that’s something that only London can offer”
“it gives you a feeling of how it all geographically fits together”
“a feeling of where you physically are”
“it’s the best of all worlds”
“London is slowly learning that they can close down the city of cars”
“London has the infrastructure to ban cars completely”
“it’s very different from every other part of London”
“more like a French town in Provence”
“the nature, the small alleyways, the history…the air really is different here”
“going into pubs, meeting friends and not feeling bad about it”
“I’m exploring the city in a completely different way”