Flashback Friday…. Tuesday, March 6th, 2001. Isn’t it interesting when you read something you had written years ago that it brings you right back to that time? That is how I felt reading about the day I spent in London visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral and Hyde Park. It brought those memories of that day to the forefront; great memories for the beginning of my 3-month trip through the U.K. and Europe.
You know how you think your day is going to go. You expect to see certain places in the city but plans change on a dime and the day turns out better than you expected. On this particular day, I had planned to see Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. I only got around to seeing the Cathedral since my morning was busy with making changes to where I was heading to next. That is what I love about traveling; being spontaneous and realizing I don’t have to follow a certain route or be anywhere at a certain time. Basically I had decided to move up my trip to Scotland by a week and needed to purchase the ticket from London to Edinburgh that day. I’m sure I could have waited and done it the day I was leaving the city but I was new to the whole traveling by the seat of my pants. Most of my morning was taken up in leaving the hostel and making my way to Victoria Coach Station to purchase my bus ticket. In doing this, I only had time to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral.
I can’t put into words how I felt seeing St. Paul’s Cathedral for the first time. Yes, one of my first thoughts was that I was in the same place where Charles and Diana married. Another thought that ran through my mind is that I have never seen anything like this back home in the states. The architecture and detail that went into building this beautiful Cathedral are what come to mind. As I was making my way through, I decided to stay for one of the thirty minute services they had. During the service, I let my eyes wander and look straight up towards the ceiling. The first thing I noticed was the angels painted on it along with cherubs all around the area where I was sitting.
After leaving the Cathedral, I made my way to one of the London boutique’s to visit with one of my friends sisters who lived in London. I could only stay for a while since I was meeting with a friend from back home who was doing a semester abroad. This is probably why I was on a tight schedule, so to speak, and couldn’t see Westminster Abbey. There are only so many hours in the day and my day was quickly running out of hours to fill. I still had a great time meeting up with Cherie since it was cool to hang out with a friend from home who could show me some of London without me feeling like I was going to get lost. Getting lost in London is another story for another day. Back to this day; we left the University where she was attending and headed to Hyde Park. I am not sure what I was expecting. It was huge! I guess the best way to describe it would be along the lines of New York’s Central Park.
While in Hyde Park, we walked down to Peter Pan’s statue and the Italian Gardens. Quickly these became two of my favorite spots in the park. I would visit the park again just to revisit these spots.
As I mentioned before, my day was full so I didn’t get to stay in the park as long as I would have wanted. I didn’t even touch the surface of how much there was still to see before I had to leave. The thing is I could have stayed here all day and been content. I had to be somewhere by 6:30 that night so I had to head back to my hostel before meeting Kyle whom I had met online.
Before I met Kyle, I ran into one of the guys from St. Christopher’s Inn who was staying in the same room as me. I didn’t literally run into him in the room but down at reception since I needed to get a new card for the room. His name was Scott; he asked me if I wanted to go for a drink and I almost said no. That is where my shyness almost gets the best of me but I pushed it back and actually said yes. Why not? I am traveling and everything that happens on the road is part of the experience. This was one of those; meeting new people and trying to talk more to the people around me. After I said yes, we headed next door to Belushi’s bar where we sat and talked for a while and of course, drank cider, before I had to leave to meet Kyle.
I hated to leave Belushi’s since I was having a great time but had already made plans to meet Kyle that night. We met at London Bridge station and then headed to St. Christopher’s Inn since there was a bar on the 1st floor. Remember this was many years ago so not sure if it was Belushi’s that we ended up going to or another place in the same area. Anyway, we sat at the bar and chatted for a while as we drank Guinness. Can I say I am not a fan of the drink? I am more of a cider kind of girl; Guinness was too strong of a drink for me and would not be my drink of choice. I did manage to finish my drink since I only ordered a half pint of it. After finishing it, Kyle had to leave to head back to his hostel and I walked back to mine.
After sitting in the room for a while, Scott showed up and asked if I wanted to go for a drink. It is one of those moments where you reflect back on it and wish you had given another answer. I wish I said yes when he asked. It would have been fun to hang out with him some more.
What are your favorite moments from London? Was it St. Paul’s Cathedral? Was it Hyde Park? Was it the pubs? For me, it was the entire experience of the places I visited and the people I met.