I know I’ve been silent for sometime, but I promise there is actually a legitimate reason this time! After four years stateside, I packed my bags and did a nine-day dance across the UK and Europe with my mom and sister. The first stop: London.
Day 1: Flying High in the Sky
Our trip over to London was shocking, surprisingly uneventful. None of the flights were delayed. We weren’t stopped and searched at security. Our flight was 7 hours long with mediocre entertainment, but it gave me time to do what I do best: sleep in cramped positions and wake up with a permanent crick in my neck.
Having been to London before, and the lack of a language barrier, made finding our first AirBnB pretty easy…except the street address given was extremely vague, and the host was not one to answer their phone…so we walked up and down the same street for about 20 minutes. Finally, we found the door, which was literally only 2 steps from the Underground station we exited. We get up to our room, try to morph into humans, and head out for the day.
With only half a day left, we took things pretty slow. We grabbed dinner at pub, where I was reunited with my one true love: Strongbow Cider on tap. Then we headed to the Camden Markets, one of my favorite spots in all of London to this day. We were staying in Camden Town, so it was only a six minute walk from our flat. I was able to revisit the bookstore I had been to four years before and bought a book titled “The Diary of a Nobody,” aka what I should have called this blog.
To top off the evening, we headed to the proverbial Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Addie and I got to take our picture together, obviously dueling it out. I’m a certified Pottermore Gryffindor, she’s just plainly a Slytherin.
(I do not have a picture of this yet. It currently lives on my mother’s camera, and will for the next four months.)
After little sleep on the plane, and a long half day of walking the streets of London, we turned in for the night around 8:30 p.m. This peace did not last.
At about 10:00 p.m., I heard loud steps on the stairs outside our door. Another set of AirBnB guests for the flat next door. Except…
BANG! They are beating on our door, literally shoving their shoulder into it, trying to break it down, thinking that was their AirBnB room. I yell a, very intimidating, “HEY!’ which corrected their thinking, and they turned to the obviously unlocked door two inches to their left. After that wonderful encounter, I laid my head down and was whisked off to sleep…for approximately 2 more hours until I woke up at midnight, ready to start my day. It was only 6 p.m. back in Iowa, but it felt like I had taken a luxurious four hour afternoon nap and now it was time to be productive. Addie and Mom experienced this as well, so we had time to text friends, check Snapchat and, in my case, catch up on my cache of podcasts.
Day 2: London’s Calling
I have been meaning to write this blog earlier, in hopes of remembering the trip for myself and sharing my experiences with anyone who wishes to travel to the places where we stopped. Yet, the day after we arrived home from our trip, and one week to the day that we left London for Paris, the attacks near Parliament occurred, and I have struggled with how to address that here. It seems wrong to talk about my experiences standing on the Westminster Bridge, taking pictures of Big Ben and the Parliament buildings when people were injured and lost their lives there not one week later. In our two short days there, London opened its arms to myself and my family. Being able to share in the sites and stories of the city is a memory I’ll never forget. Such strong, beautiful, resilient buildings and landmarks: Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the River Thames, the London Bridge, the London Tower, and Hyde Park. These places truly illustrate the strength, beauty and resiliency London has shown after this unfortunate attack. I feel lucky to have experienced the beauty of this city firsthand.
Our next stop: Paris! Stay tuned to learn about our time spent in Paris, Florence, Rome and Milan, as well as some travel tips and tricks, in the days and weeks to come!