I have grown up learning to “expect the unexpected.” That phrase has followed me throughout my entire lifetime, and many instances have proved it to be true. But London, let me tell you, is the epitome of a place where you need to anticipate what you thought you never would.
I love this city, I really do. There are unlimited possibilities. Dozens of restaurants and shops down nearly every street, gorgeous sights with both antique and modern vibes, and the ability to get almost anywhere quickly via train or bus. America is known for New York City, and Europe is known for London. So now I can check one off the list.
London is overflowing with everything: with the artists, the musicians, the travelers, the dreamers, the families, the runners, the dogs, the umbrellas, the construction.
London is exhilarating, to say the least. We can walk amongst the palace gardens, feeling like royalty. The gates of both Kensington and Buckingham Palace are lined with the shiniest gold you’ll ever see; it contrasts with the gray skies and creates a stunning glitz. Every tower and church is built with the utmost historical detail and you begin to wonder how any hand could have ever crafted something so extraordinary. And those telephone booths you’ve always seen in movies, they’re real. Some now even have WiFi capability.
Every street is structurally amazing, with perfectly paved sidewalks and illuminated windows. We run across views that take our breath away every few blocks. We’ve been in the most interesting areas: Kensington, Westminster, Soho, and more. The museums are like something out of a dream, and the bustling of the nightlife is so bold. We’ve walked almost 10 miles every day, allowing us to see more of the city than being underneath it in a train the whole time.
The unpredictability of London is fantastic. It makes you jump out of your comfort zone and change your perspective every few seconds. Sometimes plans change and the adventure is not what you intended it to be.
There are times when the forecast will tell you a slight chance of rain and you end up walking in flurries of snowflakes all day. You’ll have the route for your first time on the train picked out and the entire line will be shut down. Your hostel room that looked awesome in the pictures online may only have 18 inches of space between your face and the bed above you. You’re super excited to finally do laundry and the last washing machine goes out. And lastly, there are those times when you wait for years to see the magnificent Big Ben in all of its glory, and you come to find out that it’s entirely covered in scaffolding.
Naturally, we can’t expect everything on this trip to run perfectly. In my opinion, that would be incredibly boring. To find the best way to conquer this uncertainty, we have to first embrace it. We pack an umbrella and warm socks for our daily attire, read the different train routes, and sit with our necks angled on our beds. Sometimes we have to wash our clothes in the sink and dry them in the bathroom hand dryers. We move forward, go about our day, and take pictures of Big Ben’s construction anyways to laugh about it later.
These moments make for the best stories; the raw, candid, and sincere tales that go along with each day we spend here. We can share these experiences with each other, and London will always have a special place in our hearts.
I’ve loved being here. I’ve had time to soak it all in on our long walks and our train rides. I’ve sat in brilliant parks to observe the life going on around me. I got a taste of the music scene by heading across town to see a band I barely knew. Brooke and I stood atop the famous Sky Gardens and saw a panoramic view of London. Even on a cloudy day, the illustration is sensational.
Who cares if we’ve had a little bumps along the road? These unexpected blips are what make our trip the incomparable adventure that it is; no one will experience the exact same thing we are, in the exact same manner. It is completely unique to us and will always be unmatched. We have learned to adapt to the culture around us and advance our minds to accept changes as they come.
That’s the true art of traveling, something you can’t search for in museums or busy cities. You enjoy the ride so much that you don’t even let the bumps damper your perspective.
As the Londoners would say,