|Big Ben, one of the most popular landmarks of the English capital|
From London I traveled to wonderful Istanbul, to Abu Dhabi, and finally to Shanghai, where I stayed for a year. I've always used the metro to get to the airport, but who owns a car and plans a short vacation can consider some of the convenient options at Heathrow Airport Parking, so that you can leave it either inside or outside the airport without spending a fortune.
A similar opportunity is also at Manchester Airport Parking, and from Manchester too you can find great flights to the major European destinations.
I have lived in many places, but I've always found London the most convenient stopover, to the extent that now, even if I'm currently based in Italy, when I have to fly outside Europe, I would always consider London before Rome.
Actually, I've lived in Rome much longer than London, and I even know Rome much better than I know London, but for some odd reason that I can't even pin down, I feel more familiar in the airports of the English capital.
I have a controversial relationship with London. In the two years I've lived there I've had great experiences, met interesting people, participated to many demonstrations, felt its underground society, and also worked like crazy.
I took a Master in London, but was my second, so I wasn't exactly the carefree young student like many of my colleagues. I worked and studied at the same time, and at the end of my degree I launched with my freelance activity, meaning that I had to have also a part time job in order to pay bills and rent.
Needless to say, the beginning of my freelance career has been very hard (not that now it's a walk in the park), and being London so expensive didn't make things easier.
Nevertheless, I did enjoy the city, walking along the South Bank, where there is always something to see/do/buy/photograph, going to the Globe Theatre to see Romeo and Juliet, visiting picturesque Covent Garden and ethnic Brick Lane, and also clubbing a bit.
London is indeed expensive, but it's also possible to find very good deals quite often. For food I don't remember spending a fortune, neither for my daily grocery nor for eating out. What can affect your budget is certainly the rent, the bills and the transport, especially if you take the train, but other than that you can pretty much afford an enjoyable life.
I spent in London two years and then went back a couple of times, if there is something you feel I omitted and you would like to know, I'll be glad to help!