London calling.

I leave for the UK this week.

Seems I was preparing for another transatlantic journey this time last year.
Oh, wait. I was — almost to the day.

Last year, I flew to Paris.
A year later, this Thursday, I’ll be getting on a direct flight to Amsterdam, where I’ll transfer the next morning to Edinburgh and eventually fly back out of London.

Last year, I thought a trip would change my life. I traveled alone because I couldn’t imagine a better travel partner than myself. In the end, I spent most of my savings on shabby hotels and mediocre meals, wandering aimlessly through the city I imagined I’d fall head-over-heels in love with. I was petrified of getting too lost in a tangle of streets that felt more like alleys, or being taken advantage of by some smooth-talking Parisian. (That almost happened a few times.)
To make matters worse, my flatiron shorted out in one of those crazy continental power outlets.
I was disappointed in the city of my dreams, my sanity saved by Skype and my trusty laptop.
(And the life changing actually happened the day after I returned, when the Knight and I stayed up all night talking, laughing and essentially falling in love. We’ve been inseparable since then.)

And then there’s London. Which has never been the city of my dreams. The only other time I visited the United Kingdom, I was disappointed. To say the least. I was 14 years old, shunned by the other high-school freshmen I was traveling with, stymied by the second “toilet” in every bathroom that spewed water upward, sick to death of churches and history after a few days, rapidly losing weight from the terrible food. On my one free afternoon, I navigated the Tube like a pro, but there was nowhere I wanted to go.
So I’m managing my expectations.
But this year, I’m traveling for work, and the stops have officially been pulled out. I’m traveling with a group of Master Gardeners from Orange County, California. We’ll stay in four-star hotels and visit the great gardens of the United Kingdom. (Want to read more on the gardening side of things while I’m gone? My work blog is here.)
I have my evenings free and have been researching restaurants and sights to see in my down time. Gordon Ramsay? Brick Lane? Piccadilly Circus? West End? Harrods? Yes, please. The only time I will spend my own money: shopping. And one fancy meal.
I bought a better power converter. My flatiron will not fry. Not this time.

The best thing that came out of last year’s trip: a month of inspired writing and 67 glorious photos that now all but cover the walls of my apartment. Sparkling memories of a lackluster trip.
Who knows what this year’s trip will bring.


Take me to the airport
And put me on a plane
I got no expectations
To pass through here again

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6 Responses to “London calling.”

  1. Kyle Rohde Says:

    I bet you'll have a lot more fun this time around – Harrod's is absolutely worth a couple hours of your time; it's the most incredible store I've ever seen. The scale is just amazing. Other fun things to check out at night: Covent Garden, the tons of good restaurants everywhere (seriously, I don't think it matters where you go – awesome little places of every ethnicity are everywhere, like this one: http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Jm9wUbf8t-p2bvZW27ZSCQ?feat=directlink), a performance of Phantom at Her Majesty's Theatre (or any other show in the theatre district), and Leicester Square (this might be the area I want to back to again the most).It sounds like you were museumed out as a teen, but there are a couple I would sure check out if I were you and you have time: Westminster Abbey and St. Paul's are both absolutely stunning places, even for a non-religious person. The Churchill War Rooms & Museum are a great story, and right by Westminster Abbey. And the British Museum might be the best museum on Earth – they have beautiful, historic things from every corner of the world. Have fun – I'm jealous, I'm ready to go back again!

  2. B. Says:

    London is my favorite city in the entire world. (I fell in love my first vist.. Moved there for a year.. I'm back in the states now dyingggg to go back!) Covent Garden is lovely… South Bank at night by tower bridge is gorgeous! Also, if you're a foodie, check out Borough Market on a Saturday. The vendors are dying to hand out samples… There is an awesome pub right there too.. Southwark Tavern. http://www.thesouthwarktavern.co.uk/Oh man I could go on for dayssssss. If you need any ideas let me know! I'd love share!

  3. Mr. Apron Says:

    Extraordinarily, wretchedly jealous.I should have been English, you know.

  4. Robin Says:

    I'd like to strongly and whole heartedly second Borough Market! I too lived there for a year and it's one of my favorite cities ever. Borough Market is a foodie paradise, brownies as big as your head (AS YOUR HEAD!), specialty food, toffee, breakfast sandwiches. Also, for your nights off and if it's nice – there's a few must-see pubs that are amazing, local favorites in Notting Hill. Windsor Castle is a really old pub with a beutiful beer garden in back http://www.windsorcastlepub.co.uk/c/showpage.asp?id=190. And Churchill Arms (one of the most famous pubs in the UK) has this great Thai restaurant area as part of the pub if you make your way to the back: http://www.yelp.co.uk/biz/the-churchill-arms-londonClearly, I'm a foodie but I'm so jealous of you!

  5. bwh Says:

    Travel safe. I can't speak to London, but getting to Germany two days ago was a madhouse, with the volcanoes and threat of strikes coming on.That said, there's nothing like traveling to put the mind in a far more creative place. 🙂

  6. Rxdude94 Says:

    Oh, I miss the Ramones…

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