Welcome back; go away.

Well fB+L has returned from a month of les vacances. But are we the only ones who are not quite ready to leave the summer behind? Bask in that feeling and enjoy this timelapse edition of What I Did On My Summer Vacation…

EuroLapse from David Kosmos Smith on Vimeo.

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In spite of the weather, this is London’s time to shine.

Krista Westerlund is our spiritual + historical correspondent. This dispatch examines and arrives from the present center of the world’s attention: London.

Standard bustle in Trafalgar Square. all images © KW.

Ah, London. City of contrasts and competing visions. It is difficult to discuss such an iconic city with so much variety, so much grandeur, and so much touristic appeal because there are simply so many ways that you can enjoy visiting it. There are as many Londons as there are people who visit or live in the city. The tremendous diversity is the beating heart of London‘s urban charm. This year London is experiencing a unity and pride that has probably not been felt in decades. 2012 is a year that is synonymous with London. Andy Murray may not have won at Wimbledon this summer but Britishness has not been so lauded in years and never before in this fashion. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Summer Olympics games are aligning to make this summer a celebration of the city.

London has been riddled with social unrest, class tensions, and the legacy of its imperial history as a center of global commercial and political power. Various societal malaises have plagued the city, many of which don’t require mentioning because they have dominated headlines. London has been through a lot of bleak times. There has been a sense of an identity crisis in the city as it struggled to cohere its substantial history with the change brought about by fundamental shifts in the global geopolitical order. Economic and societal woes have been in lock-step with London for many decades as it faced a decline in global significance and, at the same time, a rise in cosmopolitanism. Regularly spending time in the city over the years, I could not help but be swayed by its charm because no matter how difficult things get, it remains a vibrant, fascinating and transformative place. In 2012, London is palpably different though. Some may consider events like those that London is hosting this summer to be trivial. They may think that money spent on things like concerts, sporting events and parades should be suspended when the world is in such economic upheaval, but they are like lights in the storm. They are moments that make life worth living and London excels at those. That is perhaps how the city has been able to retain its magnetism in spite of the difficulties that have beset it at various times in both recent and more distant history.

The rafters of Covent Garden.

As the eyes of the world turn to London, the city correspondingly comes together. The city that emerges after this summer’s festivities are over will still face serious challenges. However, it will do so with more identity and more confidence. There will be more union in that Jack at least as far as the metropolis is concerned. So of course, I suggest that you go to London in 2012, but then again, I suggest that you go there at any time. You didn’t have to attend the actual Jubilee events nor do you need to watch the Olympics in person (congrats to those who are though) in order to get into the spirit of London this year. Visiting a pub (or your nearest imitation if you really can’t make it), raising a glass, and toasting with those near and dear to you is as quintessentially British as anything and, alcohol aside, it is the warm communal spirit of merrymaking and connecting with others that is essence of London. That is the reason that the city endures through all of its incarnations and tribulations. It touches upon the profound social nature of people, which is why it so excels at hosting events like those of this summer.

Go on then, and celebrate London wherever you are. Cheers.

Let the games begin.

 

“Today I’m in the Yellowstone Park, and I wish I were dead.”

The author in his natural habitat. Watch the account of his journey here. all media via.

So begins Rudyard “Mowgli” Kipling’s epic tale of the worst-roadtrip-ever, as told by PBS’s The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (a Ken Burns joint). In 1889, the British author/cranky traveller took the “grand tour” of Yellowstone Park, paying about $150 for the privilege of only barely enjoying this freshly minted national wonder. “The park is just a howling wilderness,” he whines, and goes on to complain generally about the poor cuisine (tinned beef and beer), his gum-snapping Chicagoan companions, and a wealth of other annoyances. You may never love Kipling as much as you will after watching this clip. Or you can read a section of his immensely entertaining takedown here.

What’s the worst trip you’ve ever taken?

Wise Wandering: Learnvest’s Travel Tips

Learnvest’s travel archive is a worth a peek before your next trip. image via

Most of you know Learnvest as a clearinghouse for financial info, coaching and advice — but they also have tips you can take on the road. This roundup includes your run-of-the-mill cheap travel advice (opt for hostels instead of hotels, take public transport) and also goes a bit deeper, to less well-known ways to save (housesitting and repositioning cruises). Find more travel tips at learnvest.com.

fellow travelers: A Cup of Jo.

fellow travelers is our chance to shine a spotlight on greatness from the internet’s travel community. It is not our list of poputchiks. Just some wanderers who we consider outstanding.

From Austin to Amsterdam, ACoJ has got you covered. all images via

If you’re a longtime reader of the sweet lifestyle-y musings of A Cup of Jo, you might’ve noticed a trend toward travel tips as of late. She’s covering anything and everything — from travelling with your young one to simply packing your bag, to a helpful secret when you might be feeling a little jetlagged. She’s even got a guide to her home base, NYC. You’ll find her advice is always simple and straightforward and maybe secretly inspirational. Don’t you want to hit the road already? Just look at that bike…

Weekend warrior: airBnB wishlists.

Quieres a little Gehry out your ventana? image via

Sometimes the best part of the end of a trip is dreaming of where you’ll be going next… and in that spirit, airbnb.com has launched their wishlists. It’s a fun way to keep track of your favorite airbnb spots, check out your friends’ favorites, and maybe share a collective little travel dream? Just to start you off, they’ve added a couple of their own — and their Frank Gehry list (including the fab Bilbao flat above) is totally transfixing.  So what are you doing this weekend?

Louis Vuitton’s The Art of Packing

If you’re in a luxurious frame of mind today, perhaps you’d enjoy a mediative packing of your virtual fine leather suitcase. Louis Vuitton has cordially extended to you a lesson in keeping your fineries fine upon arrival, with step-by-step interactive guides and a jaunty little soundtrack too. Click-and-drag folding has never felt so sumptuous.