#SwanInLondon - Day One

After a few months to finally settle back into reality after this trip, with a sudden apartment move, summer plans… Ok, I really don’t have an excuse for why this took me so long. All I can say is that I’ve been my own roadblock. So here it goes.

For those who don’t know me, it has been my dream since I can remember to travel and see London. Maybe it was the awesome accent that Lindsay Lohan had in Parent Trap, the remote idea of royalty, or my love of Peter Pan – it could have been anything really that started to form this dream. Either way, I knew deep down that I needed to travel to London.

On August 25, 2014, a fateful new contact email came from my site. Excited for some new clients, I was quickly surprised that someone wanted to purchase my domain. I declined his offer twice initially, but felt good about keeping something I loved. He circled back 6 months later to have me decline once more. Then, in late July of 2015, I awoke to an astonishing email. It took me 5 days to even reply to him because it felt like a dream. Let’s just say, it was enough to make my dream to travel to London come true. I instantly felt that this was a God thing. I had so many opportunities in my life to go to London that sadly got shut down for one reason or another, but this time… it was going to happen.

Fast forward through hours of research, reading, studying, booking, budgeting, planning, and preparing – I’m in the air. I’m over the ocean. I’m flying to London. I purchased a journal that I made sure to consistently write in every day in order to recall this trip of a lifetime, so I’ll be paraphrasing and quoting from that.

April 24, 2016

Day one was filled with all the emotions and feelings: tired, worn, excited, sad, overwhelmed, lost, scared, amazed, joyful, anxious, and so much more.

Got off the plane and decided that day one was going to be for ME. It’s hard in today’s society to do things for only you and not for the approval of others. I didn’t want to get distracted in feeling like I had to document what I was seeing, but rather be witness and explore it. To put down the camera and let myself be a part of this journey.

That wasn’t easy.

I took the tube to get off at a station that was nearest to Big Ben. Oh, have a not mentioned that Big Ben to me is, like, the epitome of London? Yeah, so, just the thought of seeing Big Ben made me well up with tears. Anyhow, I came out of the tube and this is what I journaled:

 

There were so many different exits while coming up the stairs [from the station], that I took the one that was closest and [where] I could see the sky. One step at a time,… wait… those spires… they look famili… no… it can’t be.

And there he was. Ever so eager to meet me with sun shining on his magnificent gold-trimmed face. Big Ben.

 
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Ok, I caved and took some photos. But how could I resist? It’s my first day exploring this city of my dreams – I had to take a few.

The best part of this first day in London was that it just happened to be the London Marathon. That meant that the bridge was closed to traffic and that I could walk on the road!

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So, here’s a brief lesson on the names given to this building. The building in it’s entirety is called the Parliament building – technically it’s the “Palace of Westminster“. Big Ben is actually the name of the bell in the clock tower and the tower is officially named the Elizabeth Tower. So much to know.

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The first couple of hours in London was amazing. But, since I had just gotten off the plane, I still had all of my bags with me. I figured I would definitely make it back to this glorious site, so I wandered away to find my AirBNB.

I do have to mention that I am so thankful for Starbucks and that they have them over in England. Since I was traveling with my phone, I had limited access to data. Also, I was only given the address of my AirBNB to find it – and their addresses are so different than over here in the states. I found a Starbucks to get wifi in order to grab an Uber and eventually made it to my “home base” for the next few days in good ol’ Shoreditch.

I met one of my hosts and he was so welcoming and accommodating. I was able to set my stuff down, pack my small purse and head out to explore some more. I headed down “Brick Lane” in Shoreditch, where there happened to be a massive flea market happening.

After briefly eyeing some tables, I walked up to one and happened to see a book called “Cat Lovers’ Wisdom.” A woman from behind the table calls out that it’s only 3 pounds. I cave. My first souvenir is now a one-of-a-kind (or to me anyway) odd cat book.

I roamed the streets more until I made my way back to Big Ben. I ended up recording the bells chiming at 5pm. However, I did that more than once this trip. I’ll make sure to post one of the recordings in one of these posts. Eventually I realized how exhausted I was from the travel and the time change for myself, so I hopped on the tube to head back.

 

While walking back up Brick Lane, I popped into a little bar thinking they would have food. It was only a bar. BUT! I said, well let’s get my first drink in! I ended up having a Brooklyn Lager (brewed in NY), so I need to do better.

 

My day had been a success. I made it over the ocean to the city and the land that I had been dreaming of. I felt great, but I did miss being able to directly share these experiences with someone. I chose to go by myself on this adventure in order to enjoy something for ME. My journal ends out:

 

Honestly, I feel lonely. And I’m hoping it’s because I had zero plans today. I’m going to look through my list of [places I’d like to see] tonight and try to give myself an itinerary.

So thankful for this opportunity.

 
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