Tuesday, July 21, 2015

London Baby!

I think my desire to go to London started when I was in high school and the FRIENDS gang went out for Ross' wedding. So I feel it fitting that we include this little clip as part of this blog post. 
London Baby!
Yes, London Baby indeed. 

On my way back to the States from Uganda I had an 8 hour layover in London. What a perfect opportunity, right? I could do whatever I wanted with 8 hours. It seemed almost too good to be true... and it was. I read online a lot of blogs detailing how difficult it is to get into the city and back to the airport in time for your connecting flight, and the minimum amount of time required would be 6 hours. Well, since I had 8 hours, I decided I could make it happen. 

I found a great blog that detailed which trains to get on, which direction to turn on each street in order to do a 4 hour tour of the city on foot. It was perfect. So I printed off the detailed instructions and headed out on the town with my backpack, a few granola bars, and a stack of printed instructions telling me how to find Big Ben and Buckingham Palace. 
When I got off the underground in London, the first thing I saw was the above. Seriously, that is from the sidewalk right outside of the underground. How amazing. It was true, I was in London, and I was seeing Londony things. 
My instructions told me to turn left once I left the underground and cross the River Thames. Brilliant idea instructions! This gave me a great view of Big Ben, a dingy river, ferris wheel, and a million tourists. I can't believe how many people were in London taking in the sights. And I also couldn't believe how many people had selfie sticks. It was incredible. London felt so international because there were people speaking all sorts of languages there. In the US I feel like you will hear Spanish, Chinese, maybe Vietnamese or Korean - but it isn't as common to hear European languages (unless you're in San Francisco, cause we hear them all the time). But in London there were so many beautiful languages, and not just from tourists. I saw families in the park, or going into restaurants on deserted streets (I took some detours and found myself among some locals) who were speaking all sorts of fancy languages. It made me want to learn more languages, since Spanish will only help me in Spain. 
I was able to see so much in my walk through the city: Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, St. James Park, Hyde Park, Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace, and so much more. It was literally like a dream come true. I really wish Caitlin had been with me to enjoy it. 
When I was in St. James Park, I went to the bathroom and afterwards I washed my hands and the water was warm. Crazy, right? I know, this may not seem like something crazy - but I had just spent a few months in Africa, and I hadn't experienced warm water in the sink in ages. It was glorious. 
The rest of this blog post is going to be a bunch of pictures of Londony things I saw while in London. I really need to go back and spend more time there since it was like a dream. I was listening to the Chronicles of Narnia books while I was on the underground, and it gave me so much context to the books. It made me want to travel to everywhere books take place. In movies you get a visual, but in books if you have never been to a place, it is hard to imagine what it looks like without a point of reference. 
Oh yeah, I think that something was happening at Buckingham Palace the day I was in London because it was a madhouse. There was hardly even room to walk. I forgot that I was not in Africa anymore and actually squeezed in between two people in a very African style and the girl to my left was appalled. She gawked at me and pulled away. Oops. I forgot about personal space for a minute. Oh well. I'll never see that tourist again. 
After following my tour, getting lost, going down strange streets, and even being asked by a few tourists where a cafe was (which leads me to believe that they assumed I was a local - or maybe that is just my hope), I headed down to Piccadilly Circus to catch the underground back to Heathrow. I must have been exhausted cause I passed out on the train. Luckily it was a long ride and I had plenty of time to sleep without missing my stop. 
So in the very near future Caitlin and I need to make our way back to London, and while we are at it, we may as well explore the rest of England, the UK, and all of Europe. Why stop at just one city, when you can conquer the entire continent? I'm pretty sure that was the thought process of Hernan Cortez and Napolean, so why not us too?

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