I actually went through England multiple times on my trip, but just for short periods of time and just because London is a good jumping-off point that I can navigate through somewhat easily. So this post is kind of a summation of my time spent there, mostly in London but also briefly in Wales.
The first time I made a pit stop in London was the day before I went to Zambia. I was just staying at hostel until my flight for the next day. It should have been easy – I’d actually stayed at this hostel before, shortly after New Year’s, when my sister and I spent five days in London together. Like I said, it should have been easy. I knew exactly how to get from the airport to this hostel. Except, it turned out to not be as easy as planned, because Transport for London had decided to do construction on the underground (aka metro, aka tube) line I needed to get to said hostel. So everyone was basically dumped at this station on the line out of the blue, because the rest of the line was closed. It would have been fine if we’d been dumped at a station that connected to other parts of the underground, but of course, this one didn’t. We were left to the mercy of the bus system.
I hadn’t really used the buses in London, so I was basically clueless standing at this train platform. I turned, and there was a girl about my age, who approached me and asked, “Do you have any idea what’s going on?” To which I laughed, and explained that I was American, and totally lost. It turned out she was a native Londoner, and happened to be going to the same stop I was going to, so we formed a team. We eventually figured out which bus we needed (I say we… it was really all her), and at the end of our bus ride (which turned out to be really long), I’d made a new friend. My final day of being in Europe was spent in East London with her, where we met up again…intentionally that time.
The second time I flew to London to reconnect with my English friend Megan. I also met her during my study abroad, and she’d planned a day of hiking in Wales for us, along with her friend Dafydd, whose parents we were going to stay with. Because Heathrow Airport is the actual worst (I can’t say enough bad things about it…I’m so serious. It’s awful), we were delayed for like over two hours trying to retrieve my tablet, which had been confiscated at the gate of my layover from Africa. That’s because my layover was in Turkey, one of the countries where UK authorities will take your laptop/tablet from you at the boarding gate, until you arrive back in the UK.
Policies aside, once we arrived in Wales we had an awesome time together, as we always do. Megan, Dafydd, and I went hiking at this park called Brecon Beacons (which is a great name). It’s beautiful and so green. The greenness is a result of the consistent rain Wales endures – something that I fortunately didn’t have to deal with while I was there. It was a pretty magical place.
The final time I stopped in London, I stayed at a hostel but Megan came to visit me in the city. We, along with her friend Anna, attempted to be classy at the Victoria and Albert Museum… but it didn’t really work out – and we made some random lady take this great photo instead.
We then went to the theater and saw The Woman in Black, which if you’ve seen the movie, you already know it’s scary. It was pretty good overall, and sometimes funny due to the actors being a little over the top in certain moments. It was great to be with Megan on two separate occasions this trip, and get to know a couple of her friends too.
One other note about being in London over this summer: it goes without saying that England has had a rough time this past year, between the concert in Manchester and the three separate terrorist incidents in London. So the title of this post is appropriate, because England deserves some thoughts and prayers and such. I’ve always felt very at home in England – which is probably due to its former ownership of America – but as a result, I just love the place and the people in it. I’m thankful that I’ve gotten to spend time there, and I don’t think the fear of what could potentially happen there (or anywhere, for that matter) keep you from traveling there, if given the opportunity.
Well, I guess that concludes these overviews of my travels. I don’t have much else to say, except that I’m really grateful to all the people who housed me in various places in Europe (and the Jones in Zambia). I’m also really thankful that I was able to travel around for a month and a half by myself, because I realize not everyone has the good fortune to have that opportunity. I always thought that in my 20s I’d travel some and “get it out of my system”, but the more trips I take, the more I realize that for me, traveling is something I will always make time for and plan to do.
*”Think of England” is a song by Bear’s Den. Listen here.