Day one: I made it!
After years of dreaming, months of planning, and hours/days of travel, I made it to London! It only took the tube ride from the airport into central London to confirm what I had suspected for years: that I was going to love this place. I have always thought if I had to choose a second home, I’d feel like I’d fit amongst the British.
It was dusk by the time I got to my hotel, so I quickly contemplated whether I had enough time to quickly shower (wasn’t going to skip that) and then to pop down into Hyde Park which was nearby while there was still daylight. Decided I’d take the chance. Couldn’t resist.
The evening was clear, the sky still blue, and hundreds of people were in the park picnicking, reading books, running, or just enjoying it in any way they so desired. This was a Wednesday night; it looked like a weekend. I guess Londoners know how to make the most of days like these.
I’m sure any bed feels comfortable after two long haul flights, but I had treated myself to a nice hotel for my first few nights, so climbing into my bed felt extra luxurious that evening. Best decision ever. Perks of being an adult, also #yolo.
Day two: Parks, museums and sunshine
Miraculously didn’t really feel jet lagged. (See, nice hotel must have paid off!) With my smart phone – aka travel-lifesaver – in hand, I set out to explore…
Hyde Park was filled with trees all covered in blossom, there were flowers out everywhere, it was a pure blue-sky day again.
Despite repeatedly checking the weather forecast for London in the lead-up to my trip, I had not anticipated or prepared clothes-wise for such hot days. The best I could do was opt for jeans, t-shirt and my Chucks which thankfully I had thrown in my suitcase at the last minute “just in case”. This outfit, topped off with a backpack, is not meant for 29 degree heat, but I’m not actually complaining here. Who ever heard about complaining about good weather in England?! Everyone talks of grey days, rain, and a general absence of the sun, but I am still convinced I came home with a slight tan after my holiday.
My plan was to walk into Hyde Park a bit and then head to the Victoria & Albert Museum and Harrods, but I deviated from this when I started to hear canon fire from further up the park towards Buckingham Palace. (You can’t just ignore sounds like that.) My curiosity paid off, because by happy chance I was stumbling upon a bunch of great British pomp and ceremony which was taking place due to the heads of the commonwealth being in town.
What I could hear was the start of the 53 canon salute. I figured it was going to take a while to get through all 53, so I continued my detour to catch the remaining part of the action.
What a first introduction to London! There were guards and horses and bands and canons and policemen and flags and everything quintessentially British that you could possibly want. I could hardly believe how fortunate I was to come across this unexpectedly! This country sure knows how to do these sort of things better than anyone else. All the stereotypes of England exist for a very good reason – something I continually thought throughout the rest of my trip.
After finding a nice tree to eat my lunch under, I found my way through the streets to Harrods where I walked around wishing I had another pair of eyes to absorb everything, and then onto the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Before going into the V&A I would have confidently said “I’m not really a museum person”, but WOW, I could have happily stayed in there for many more hours than I had time for that day. I also saw the outside of the Natural History Museum as I started to make my way back to the hotel, and just looking at the outside of it made me think I must try and go into there. So much for “not a museum person”. Maybe I am also an art gallery person but just haven’t realised that yet either.
The walk back through Hyde Park was just as magical as the previous evening. People everywhere, but not in a horrible get-me-away-from-these-crowds sort of way. In fact it was quite the opposite – I sat down for a while to read my book, feeling like I hopefully blended in with the locals.