I stood looking up, fighting against the sun to open my eyes. Using my hand as a shield, I pushed through the busy sidewalk and established my place in the crowd. It was tall but not as tall as I had imagined. Just tall enough to make me feel insignificantly small. A surreal moment having, for years, only seen it on screen and in pictures; I now stood face to face with Big Ben. These moments of disbelief continued throughout the entire weekend until slowly I began to accept the fact that yes, this was reality and yes, I actually was in London. As our Linfield family set out for our weekend in London we were all very excited.
The planning process began a few weeks before the actual trip and we quickly learned how time-consuming it really was. It took a lot of research, patience and tea to find the cheapest hostel and transportation. We left early Saturday morning via train (my first train ride) with beautiful green countryside as our scenery. Once we finally arrived we were welcomed by a chaotic train station. Everyone was moving and pushing, but we finally regrouped and established a plan for the weekend. We had discussed seeing a show and as luck would have it, there were tickets being sold at the station. We all bought tickets and that night enjoyed the frightening, suspenseful production of “The Woman in Black.” After buying our tickets we got on a bus and made our way to the hostel. After deeming it “good enough for one night” we put away our packs and set out to find food and Big Ben. Walking through London was amazing; everything captivated my attention from the double-decker buses to the architecture. There was so much to see!
After Big Ben we moved over to see Westminster Abbey. It was built with so much detail and has so many stunning features; you could look at it for hours and still not fully take it in. Our next stop took us to the art gallery (side note: most museums are conveniently free to the public). The portraits were all set into different rooms--some by era, others by artists. I felt incredibly blessed as I walked through the peaceful gallery seeing represented talents such as Van Gogh and Leonardo Da Vinci. The rest of our evening consisted of the theatre and a snack after the show in a nearby pub. Day one complete!
Sunday was a little more hectic as we tried to squeeze the rest of our desired activities into the hours we had left. We checked out of our hostel and enjoyed a delicious waffle breakfast. We then went to explore Hyde Park, which in the mist of the morning fog was breathtaking. As we neared the lake our eyes were met with a display of swimming swans. They floated effortlessly through the fog dancing around the water. I loved how they would come up to the side where we were standing almost as if they knew we wanted a closer look. After Hyde Park we took the tube (underground train) to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.
With all the people it was a bit difficult to see but it was still nice to experience the marching guards in their uniforms. Our last stop of the day was The Tower of London. This was by far my favorite place we visited. The castle was rich with history and full of dark and mesmerizing stories. We took a guided tour and then did a bit of individual exploring. Unfortunately we ran out of time and didn’t get to see all of it, so we left promising to soon return. Our London adventure gave us the perfect sneak peek into what traveling in December would bring. I learned that traveling is full of mistakes, unexpected bumps and headaches, but also full of incredible and magnificent moments waiting to be experienced. Now I can’t wait for December!