I adore lovely London.
The last time I was here was in November, with my dear friend Rachel. That trip was unforgettable.
But so was this one.
We took the underground fast train from Paris and we were in London before we knew it. We exited the train in Kings Cross Station, which would make anyone feel like they are stepping in to a world that only Harry Potter knows.
We found our way to the hotel, which was less than desirable. But sometimes those things happen when we travel, no? “Your room is not yet ready,” which, what they actually meant was, “we gave away your reservation to someone else.”
They shove us in a room the size of a closet. Whatever. I’m in London. And I leave Europe a day after tomorrow.
Mom and I venture off, after having some fish and chips with dad. I’ve been here before, and am very familiar with public transportation, so off to the tube we go!
We eventually end up somewhere totally random. But neither of us cared. We wander through a park, cross a beautiful bridge, and find ourselves approaching Big Ben and Westminster. Ahhhhh, wonderful.
Mama and I wander around, take a lot of photos, and try to memorize the moments.
The next day was sort of a day from hell.
I am going to write a blog post soon on how to get along and avoid fighting with your travel partners, and I think that everyone will need to read it.
I could tell that the three of us were at our wits ends with each other. Sounds sad and a bit embarrassing to admit. I know my photos probably make us look like the happiest little family, but social media and Instagram photos are not an accurate reflection of reality, amen?
With tension in the air, we got off at Westminster so dad could see Big Ben. There were so many people there that day! What is going on? All the streets were blockaded and there were men in uniform all over the place.
Yesterday it was blocked off because of a marathon or something, but what’s happening today? A parade? Will the Queen show up?! Excited to find this surprise, we squish ourselves in with the rest of them. In London, I wasn’t taller than everyone anymore, which was nice but also unfortunate in a crowd setting, because I could no longer see above anyone.
In front of me was a family from Mexico. I made a new friend, Aldo, as we talked about why we were in Europe and made fun of other tourists and waited for the Queen. It began to rain, so now it was impossible to see through the crowd of tall people with their umbrellas.
I had a feeling if we left early we would just barely miss her. So I did not want to leave! It began raining, and Dad was over it, so he started walking away. I paused but then remembered the countless times we have lost my father during this trip, so I knew it may be better to stick together.
The crowd begins to squeal. They get louder and louder, cheering. NO! I sprint back over to find my place by my new friends. And jump to get a peek. I saw the back of the Cinderella carriage.
Mission accomplished. I saw the Queen. Without planning it!
I loved that moment.
I am going to spare you the details of frustration and fighting. You can thank me later. Long story short, we wanted to sit in a bus and get a tour of London that way. The blockaded streets made it virtually impossible to find the correct bus stop. We were given directions from three different employees, all different opinions, and 2 out of 3 incorrect.
Also, it is pouring down rain. Do we have an umbrella? Nope.
Good memories? I don’t know about that yet.
After getting food and a quick change in to dry clothes, mom and I head off to the number one thing I wanted to do with her whilst in London- high tea.
We had High Tea at the Hilton London Park Lane. It is an 11 minute walk from Buckingham Palace, and is one of the highest buildings in the city. It has a history of being used in espionage and has a nice list of famous and fabulous visitors, such as Charlie Chaplin, The Beatles, Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher, Tina Turner, Princess Di, and Muhammed Ali, to name a few. It was the first building in London to ever be built taller than St. Pauls Cathedral – and raised concerns about guests overlooking Buckingham Palace and its garden. It really is so beautiful.
We found a groupon for tea here. I hope you get to go and enjoy it as much as we did!
High tea made the rest of the day worth it. So. Perfect.
After tea, the perfection was finished. We were trying to get to the tube via underground passageways. I would have thought that a place like London, that is familiar with rain, would design underground passageways with drains for rain water. No, they just let in gather in a mini flood, combined with God knows what, while people have to just walk through it all.
Do we have rain boots on? Ha, good one. No umbrella. No rain boots.
As I try to hop through the rancid water, I round the corner and slide in to fourth. Yep. I slip and fall into the water/urine/feces/garbage combination, while drunk homeless men watch and laugh. Quite the show, I know. You’re welcome.
Riding the tube back to the hotel, covered in crap, while everyone around me is dressed impeccably in their business suites and high heels, was very… laughable.
That’s all we could do after a day like that. Mom and I just stood there, laughing. Better than crying, I suppose.
It’s so funny to me that that day was my farewell to my adventure living in Europe. It made me very ready to be home, in my comfortable bed, clean, and safe, and familiar.
I had a separate flight home from my parents. I have never in my life had anxiety about flying, but saying goodbye to them for my solo flight home was flooded with emotions.
I wasn’t nervous about flying. I think that my heart was broken that I had to leave. I know I belong in Europe; she has my heart.
I will soon return, I trust that. I’ve always said that goodbyes would be easy if love wasn’t deep. And it’s true. My love for Europe is deep.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories of my last time in London. I hope they have mildly entertained you.
I challenge you to leave your most embarrassing travel mishap in the comments below. I’d love to hear your stories and hopefully we can share in each other’s humiliation.
Enjoy these photos of London!