If you took the first four letters of my first name, and the last three letters of my maiden name, you’d have British.
Okay, it’s a stretch. I mean, it’s true, but simply because my name happens to be what it is does not a British person make (though I did only recently discover that I have a fair amount of English blood, thanks to a recent journey down the rabbit hole that is ancestry.com. Score!).
I always knew I’d love London. I just wanted to go there. I had to go there. “Why do you wanna go to London so badly?” Jesse always asked. “I just know I’ll love it,” I’d say.
I was right.
We had nothing but blue skies during our visit to London: It seemed as happy to see us as we were to see it. In anticipation of our trip, however, a dark cloud loomed. In the wake of recent terror attacks, it was hard not to be just a little nervous about visiting—even when I scolded myself that I knew better. And it wasn’t even so much that we were afraid of something happening—it was more a fear that the city would be on guard, shaken, not itself.
I needn’t have worried. Keep Calm and Carry On, as they say.
London is nothing if not alive. It’s beautifully chaotic; a sensory overload in the most remarkable way. Cars zoom around in ways that don’t seem to make sense—remember to look left, not right!—driving on opposite sides of the road from what we’re used to takes a moment (or three days) to get a handle on. Thankfully there are signs in the pavement reminding you which way to look before crossing the street. I was momentarily taken aback when our driver stepped in to the right side of the car, and then I remembered, right, we’re in London. Strangely, this sense of everything being “opposite” became my favorite quirk of the trip, a detail I somehow felt proud to have “learned.”
Above all, London is unfailingly kind. Everyone we encountered was so nice—I like to think it must be they know how lucky they are, to live where they do.
I didn’t quite take to the high-traffic tourist areas—much too crowded—but my heart skipped a beat or two the moment I caught sight of Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben glowing brightly as if to welcome us in. We did all of the first-timer musts nonetheless: A visit to Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, and Westminster Abbey. Our guided tour of the Parliament was perhaps one of the biggest pleasures of the trip (much to my surprise), and of course, we drank plenty of beer and ate at pubs and had high tea as any good visiting Brit should.
We quickly fell into a steady rhythm: Coffee run each morning, hopping on and off the Underground (and Overground!) to get where we were going. It only took two days for me to start dreaming up the neighborhood in which we’d live—I even saw a few buildings in progress (with units for sale!). It’s fun to dream.
It didn’t feel like my very first trip to London; it rather felt like I was just paying a visit to a place I once called home. Perhaps in another life, I did. I’d like to say I fell in love with London, but I had already done that years ago—from 3,500 miles away.
Check out our visit to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, here!