Travelling changes a person. It’s inevitable. Most often it’s a positive spiritual change. No one else can understand the change because they haven’t travelled with your eyes. That’s what continues to make us unique. We can be travelling with others and no one will be affected the same way.
I studied British Literature during my college years and fell in love with the United Kingdom through Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth, Emily Bronte, and Alfred Tennyson. During those years I was transported to the dreary rains of a Victorian love story or a political war of roses through Shakespeare’s history. To see those words come to life was overwhelming. London in one week didn’t do justice to the hundreds of words that have entered my mind over the years. But it was a good beginning.
What I loved about London: Everything. I wanted to breathe in everything and take it home with me. Put me on the London Underground next to a well-dressed business British native, and I could listen to them talk all day. Of course, we’d have to get off the Tube at some point because, being in business, that person would have to go to work. Then I could meander down the narrow streets to one of the quiet neighborhoods decorated in ferns and bright flowers. No trip to the UK would be complete without a cup of proper English tea. And I’d end my evening watching terrible British comedy – the kind of comedy that makes me laugh out loud.
What surprised me about the UK: The people are very friendly. Not that I had heard otherwise, but I didn’t except people to be so friendly in a city the size of London. Also, the Tube is a breeze to understand and is truly brilliant!
What I’ll remember most: The buildings. The architecture is stunning. The artistic detail that has lasted over the years is unbelievable.
What I ate: I had to try the proper full English breakfast with poached eggs on toast, bacon (which is more like a slab of ham), a slice of tomato (warm), sausage, and baked beans. I was not disgusted, and it made a great breakfast to share with my munchkins. I also found the UK incredibly vegetarian and vegan friendly. My favorite cafe: Pret – fresh, organic foods with a mission of sustainability. Umm, did they know I was coming to the UK? And when can they make a splash in the United States?
Who I met: There were two memorable people from my trip. One was a gentleman on the Tube. He was a local who recognized our American accents and first wanted to hear all about Hurricane Irma. Then he gave us some great advice on local gems to see off the tourist insanity. The second was a gentleman from Cyprus. He was in the London airport and valued the joy of a large family. He tried to convince me to have four more munchkins.
What I missed from home: Music.
London is mine. I’m certain I was supposed to have been born in London during the Victorian Era. I would have swirled in silks dancing with the next Mr. Darcy. My friends and I would have sipped tea on the pristine manicured terrace. Realistically, I would have probably been living as the daughter of a miner and been married off to another poor miner. We would have worked our entire lives and struggled every day to feed our family. But a woman can dream. Hopefully, that dream will take me back to London one day.
There are few people whom I really love, and still fewer of whom I think well. The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and everyday confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the appearance of either merit or sense.
Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen