So as I said “my first” Euro trip didn’t actually end up being my first. I quite spontaneously ended up in London for 10 days, a month before I’d actually planned, and what a fabulous trip. London round 1 was all about falling- falling in love with London, falling in love with the “not just another charming English man”, although he prefers Aidan, and quite literally falling. Cobblestone is quaint and charming until you have to move London pace in London fashion, then it’s your worst nightmare! Also running for the closing tube doors because God forbid you wait 3 minutes for the next one. If you don’t mind falling- go for it! Otherwise calm down, walk like a lady, and wait. I chose the less lady like of the options. Resulting in loads of falling.
Falling for London…
This was not a love at first sight kind of love! Actually I didn’t even know how I felt about it until I took a trip out of the city. Being in the quiet English country side made me appreciate the hustle and bustle, but more importantly made me see how beautiful it truly is. London in all its glory is quite overwhelming; especially for a first time southern girl. My first tube ride, I’ll never forget. It gave me a good 45 minutes to assimilate to life out of the US.
What I learned
First thing I noticed, the fashion. I was no where near ready for this funky style. These people are worlds ahead of us! But for real, why? Keep up US, keep up! I was traveling with my native boyfriend so I had an idea of the “rules.” Like don’t stop in the middle of a walk way and stay to the right of an escalator if you’re not walking. Needless to say I had to experience learning some of them myself, like… get the heck out of the way if you can’t get through the tube exit gates. Which led to learning… Always throw away old tube tickets!
My first few days were quite a blur. In the midst of crowd battling at Buckingham Palace, a need to use the restroom occurred. So we started the long hike, for me, back to the tube station toilets while fumbling for change (because yes tube and train stations charge money for toilet use). I wash my hands and realize my dress isn’t zipped all the way so I kindly say to the toilet attendant “ma’am could you zip this for me?” She had a very thick accent and said, “what do you say?” Thinking she didn’t understand I repeated myself and she says it again; this goes on a few more times. Finally I mime about my dress. She shouted at me “you say please, you rude little girl”. Lesson learned- manners are different everywhere! In England they say please for EVERYTHING and calling someone ma’am did not register to her that I was being respectful.
The next day I’m rejuvenated after the toilet attendant fiasco. We head out for afternoon tea at the Ritz. Oh my heavens! Such an exquisite place, except the food. I’ve had afternoon teas in Houston worlds better than my first English afternoon tea, grand total £180. Steep price for crap food but after 5 days of “European service” it was amazing to have the attentiveness of a good serving staff while experiencing the extravagance that the Ritz offers. And yet my day led me to another toilet attendant not so happy to make my acquaintance. Gordon’s wine bar is just fabulous! It is a few hundred year old wine cellar. Complete with the bricked underground of a classic wine cellar. If you end up in London and don’t go to Gordon’s your trip wasn’t complete! After a few glasses of wine my bladder was shouting at me so I head up the narrow stair case to find a line for the toilets. I dance around for 10 minutes waiting my turn to finally get in. Again I wash my hands, with the male attendant standing in the room with me. I start to use the dryer ( you got it, no paper towels in any restroom either) it was nearly as old as Gordon’s itself so took forever. My hands were still dripping with water when he yells at me to hurry up! I showed him my dripping hands and he said move along so I showed him some true southern hospitality, or rather my southern sass and shook my hands all at him. He stood there in awe of what I’d just done. As I walk in awe of London toilet attendants. I was so frustrated with all that I’d experienced I couldn’t quite accept London.
What I loved
Coming from Houston I’d never seen any buildings older than like 200 years old. When I saw how seriously old London buildings were I couldn’t help but give a little of my heart to the city. I couldn’t get over the history of it. I walked in amazement picturing all the people who had walked these streets before me. As if I was somehow taken back to a different time. As old as somethings are it is just as modern. Anything and everything you could possibly want to do you can do in London.
As I said, the Ritz and Gordon’s wine bar are must dos while in London but my favorite thing to do in London turned out to be quite cheap. Sit on one of the huge parks, drink wine, eat, and talk the day away. Of course I was there in the summer so I can only speak for doing that then. Aidan and I spent a lot of time just sitting and hanging out; I think because it was the only time I was relaxed enough to talk. Sitting and having a picnic in one of the busiest cities of the world produced a feeling of calm in the storm. I could have my cake and eat it too. If I wanted to be busy- I had everything at my fingertips. While if I wanted a chilled out day- I could simply walk to the nearest park and enjoy the quietness!
Falling for Aidan…
Bless his heart! I must start by saying that because the first 5 days of my trip he thought I hated everything- him and his crazy city. What he didn’t know was I was too busy taking it all in and watching the cobblestone. I actually didn’t know how I felt about London at that point but I knew about him. I’d flown across the pond just to see him! Fast forward to the middle of the trip; we decided to go down to Brighton for the night. It was the most wonderful time playing games on the board walk, eating fish and chips, speaking for hours bundled on the beach, picking shells. We ate dinner at this little Italian place then headed back to the hotel. All night we stayed up, “just talking” (in case my Mimi’s reading this). Staring into his eyes I realize I’m in love. Fear flashes through my head saying you’ve not known him long enough, how will this work, remember the liars, slow down! Then my new motto kicks in- no comfort zone. The positive thoughts then invaded! I’m back staring in my newly found love’s eyes and I see he’s just been through the same train of thought as I had.
Getting out of my comfort zone not only led me to a spontaneous trip abroad but to a love more passionate than anything I could’ve dreamed of! By taking a chance and dating a foreigner I’d known for three weeks, led me to a love not only for him but for myself! The more time I spend pushing my limits the more I find the me I’ve always dreamed of. So as I’ve said and as I’ll keep saying, get out of the damned comfort zone because it’s you that’ll be damned!
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