London is one of the most popular cities in the world, with a population of 8.7 million people; it’s an American’s dream city when traveling abroad. Although I had an amazing few days there, in a few months I would come back to London for one of the toughest days of my life. But that is a blog for another day and today’s blog is about the stunning day I had in London.
The recent cruise I had been on, had finished two days prior in Southampton. Although I was traveling to London with my family and friends, Millie and Will, plus their families, I was forced to say goodbye to new friends that I had met knowing I wouldn’t see for a while and for that my heart felt slightly heavy.
Will was staying at the same hotel I was staying at, which was nice having a friend close by, while Millie and her brother, Aaron, were staying not too far from us, closer to the center of London. The elusive John lived about two hours away, but had promised to visit us in London. I was worried he wouldn’t show up and I wouldn’t see any of my friends on the last day. Will had left early that morning to hang out with Millie and Aaron, so I was left to start my adventures alone.
After breakfast, I got ready to head out to Abbey Road, the famous street The Beatles once crossed. Now it is a street in front of Abbey House. I had been here once before when I visited with my parents in 2006, and we returned back to the torn up tourist infested road, where nothing had changed in ten years. People posed for their picture, while angry drivers honked and threated to run them over.
My family wanted to recreate the picture we had taken so long ago, so we asked a nice lady with an accent that looking to be in her late twenties to take the photo. Walking across the battered road that aged like Paul McCartney had, I tried not to feel awkward as we took the picture while people around us waited for their turn to cross. We thanked the lady who had taken the picture and started to talk to her and her London friend she was with. They were both super friendly; the lady was from Argentina who had decided to take a chance and go to London and happen to meet the really nice guy she was standing next to. Her adventurous spirit and her friend’s charismatic charm inspired me to be unafraid of the unknown weeks ahead.
My family and I were then off to Camden Street, where we would meet up with John, who had texted and said he was on his way. Arriving to Camden Street was like arriving to the streets of Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. It had a very hipster vibe to it and I saw all kinds of people wearing all kinds of hairstyles and clothes. They had little dark antique shops and stands all around. We met up with John and headed to a cute wooden pub where we grabbed burgers and beer. Camden Street was quickly becoming one of my favorite places in London because of the feeling that anything went and nobody cared.
After the delicious lunch, we were off to pick up Nick. Nick was a friend we had met on the recent cruise, who was a frequent cruiser and was funny in the way that he was unaware of. I had hoped I would see Millie, Aaron, and Will during the day, but we kept missing each other at each stop we went to so my family, John, Nick, and I decided to be one like the locals and hop on a city bike you could rent for two pounds.
I was terrified at first, I hadn’t been on a bike in years, let alone on one in the middle of the city where the streets were backwards and the people were not so nice. But as I hopped on the sturdy red bike and wobbled my way onto the streets of London, my confidence in biking grew. We set off to Tower Bridge and rode along River Thames.
The ride along River Thames was incredible, no cars are allowed in these small streets, where people walked and cycled from cute shops to hidden pubs. Everything along the streets looked expensive, structured, and very English in an old fashion way. We stopped to take pictures of historical buildings and old boats along the river.
England is known for its constant cloudy skies and rain, but today was different. As the day went on, the skies became less cloudy and the mid-May sun had been sneaking its way through. The day turned out to be a beautiful spring day as the cold temperatures rose and a gentle breeze blew by.
We reached a place where we could see the old famous Tower Bridge that gleamed against the afternoon sun as the clouds altogether disappeared and I finally met up with Millie, Aaron, and Will. They rented bikes while we said goodbye to Nick and we were off to travel to London Bridge once again along the river.
Have you ever been in a middle of a moment where you stop and think about how lucky you are? I almost wanted to bottle in the memory and save it forever to replay in my mind when things aren’t so perfect so I can go back to a moment it was. I road beside my family and friends along the river while the London skyline was illuminated by a setting sun. We raced, laughed, yelled, and almost died riding along the big red buses. I felt free, like anything was possible.
We stopped to take pictures every once in a while and we would stop when our bicycle street lights went red. I was behind the pack 98 percent of the time, but I was just happy to be there with my friends and family. There was not one cloud in sight as the sun emitted a golden glow across the London buildings. Riding on the bikes all through the streets of London was amazing and I recommended to everyone because it’s a fast quick way to see the best of the city that you wouldn’t see with a car.
After reaching London Bridge, we traveled to the Prime Ministers gorgeous house and then headed to our last stop, Hyde Park. We rode into the park that had a golden twilight radiance draped against thousands of flowers, tall oak trees and the flat Oz inspired green grass. We messed around, laid on the grass, and rode around places we weren’t allowed to be in.
Feelings of leaving my friends, who I had grown so close to within the last three weeks, hit me as I soaked up what was the last moment of the day with them. The next day would bring goodbyes, sadness and the feeling of the unknown, but for that moment we were together.