Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening to all who read this. I hope your day brings you good health, immeasurable joy, and unending peace. Today’s blog entry will be about a trip I took over a decade ago that was filled with many glorious and precious memories that I hope and pray to never forget.
I am currently sitting here at my desk, drinking a cup of my London Fog tea (Earl Grey made with vanilla coffee creamer and a subtle toothpick dip of Young Living lavender essential oil; side note: you can use whatever oil brand you so choose at your own risk, but I highly recommend Young Living, as it is guaranteed 100% to be safe for consumption), and I am instantly reminded of my brief time in London, England. I can’t imagine that the end of July this year, which is only a month away, will mark 11 years since I have been to the British Isles. To me it feels as if I was just there yesterday! However, it brings an enormous smile on my face regardless. I am extremely grateful, and will always be, for the opportunity I had back then to spend a few days in London with a day trip to Stonehenge (if you want to learn more about this prehistoric monument, you can click on this link here, which will take you to an informational external website that belongs to the English Heritage Organization).
Stonehenge (July 26, 2007):
(#94 on my Bucket List of 200 Adventures and Places to Travel)
I had just graduated from high school at that time, so the history of Stonehenge that I learned in Senior Year English class excited me when I found out I could take that excursion and see the famed Stonehenge up close. My grandmother and I had parted ways at Stonehenge to explore our own interests in the area, so I do not have any pictures taken, except for one where I am at a photo marking post, which is sadly a picture I currently cannot find. I believe that photo to be in my bin of pictures out in the shed, which I will thoroughly go through over the coming week, as I want to share all of my European vacation pictures with you (if I find this one, I will upload it to this post). I was quite disappointed I could not get more pictures of myself at Stonehenge, but it is the memories that count for me here.
I do not know if they have changed the style of touring around Stonehenge, as it has been over a decade now, but at the time it was a self-guided audio tour with a set of headphones and a cassette player. I remember it made me smile that people still used such a device, but I was completely fascinated and immersed with that tour around each of the stones, gently touching the cold, uneven stony surfaces as I went around the mysterious circle. I was so engrossed in listening to the audio tour guide as my mind went back to the time when Stonehenge was erected that I actually lost track of time, and had to cut my tour short, or I would have missed my grandmother and our bus back to our hotel. The most disappointing time of my entire trip overseas was the fact that I could not finish my tour at Stonehenge, and I would absolutely love to go back to Stonehenge to finish my tour, and if I ever have that opportunity to do so, I will again. I highly recommend it for all who have a fascination/passion/love with history, ancient civilization ruins, and prehistoric monuments that can be found around the world.
Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace (July 27, 2007 at 11am):
(#89 on my Bucket List of 200 Adventures and Places to Travel)
The Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace is another must-do! It is really amazing at how tough and still the Queen’s Guards really are and I absolutely love that uniform! It takes my mind back in England’s history and makes me smile. It’s hard to get up close to the super tall palace gates, because there are hundreds of other people who also want to see the Changing of the Guards, all around the front and side gates. Our AAA tour group advised us to actually not take our Passports to this kind of event, because of serious pick-pocketing crimes, since everyone’s eyes are on the Queen’s Guards, so I am going to strongly advise the same for anyone reading this who wants to put this event on their Bucket List. If you have to have your passport on you, then stuff it in a bra under a shirt, or wear it around your neck and literally hold on to it (that’s what my grandmother, and I did with our government Driver’s License IDs). Seriously, though, add this item to your Bucket List. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Westminster Abbey, Westminster Bridge, and the London Eye (July 27, 2007):
(#92 for Westminster Abbey, #91 for Big Ben, and #90 for Riding on the London Eye on my Bucket List of 200 Adventures and Places to Travel)
I was all giddy and filled with joy when my grandmother and I had reached the Westminster Bridge. It was so exciting to see that on one side was the Westminster Abbey with Big Ben, and when you looked onto the other side, there was the London Eye. We got to walk on the bridge and take in the beautiful scenery of London, and go inside the Westminster Abbey, and even ride on the London Eye. Westminster Abbey is absolutely stunning inside and out, and the London Eye allows you to see all of London in every which direction. I must confess that this is quite frankly an absolute must-do if you ever go to London!
Riding the London Eye gives such a unique perspective on the city. It is very humbling when you think about your placement in a famous city in a different country where people all have a different walk in life. This is a very busy city and I don’t think it ever sleeps! Truly I tell you I never realized how large London really was until I rode on the London Eye. Aside from taking in the glorious view of the Thames River, no matter which direction you look in, it’s all London! Below you will see a picture of me at the window of the pod I was in on the London Eye. You can see the Thames River in the background (I do sincerely apologize that there’s another pod of people blocking some of the view), and you can also see the city of London. Keeping that in mind, imagine it all the way around, and you have London – a truly magnificent city to put on your bucket list!
Billy Elliot (July 26, 2007) and Wicked (July 27, 2007):
(#88 on my Bucket List of 200 Adventures and Places to Travel)
These were my very first Broadway shows, and I haven’t been to Broadway since, to be honest, haha! The actors were amazing, and the sets were beautiful. I unfortunately lost my Billy Elliot ticket, so I can’t show you what price I paid for it, but you can see my Wicked ticket below! I am the kind of person who typically likes to meet actors after their show, and two Wicked actors were doing autographs and meet and greets, but the Ushers of the theatre ushered us out the wrong exit, which caused a problem for my grandmother and I. So we decided we didn’t want to spend the time trying to figure out how to get to where the actors were, at night, in a foreign country where our navigational skills were limited, and everyone we tried to speak to only spoke French, so back to the hotel it was!
The Apollo Theatre was within walking distance of our Park Plaza Victoria London hotel, only a few blocks. Because we were ushered out the wrong doors, we ended up on the wrong side of the theatre, so when we tried to retrace our steps back to our hotel, we ended up in a shady neighborhood instead with some shady characters speaking a foreign language (probably French) who followed us as we went back to the theatre. I’ll tell you, this was an experience that made me never want to go back to London again, even until this year, if I’m being honest. My grandmother and I both felt terrible vibes from these shady men (there were 4 of them), especially since they tried to follow us, until we reached a native British bouncer of a club. We explained to him about what was going on and (I kid you not, this guy was as big as Dwayne Johnson, muscles and all!) he just crossed his arms and gave those guys a cold, hard stare. The guys immediately turned around and left, and we headed back to the theatre. We had to fight with the staff at the Apollo Theatre to let us back in to go out the other doors, because we were afraid we would get lost again. After they finally let us in, we then walked out the original doors we came in, and sure enough our hotel was right where we had counted our initial steps earlier in the evening.
I’ve decided I won’t let those four men scare me away from London, especially now that I know I have English roots, after some recent discoveries I’ve made about my genealogy. I’ve found out over the last year that I have family who comes from Yorkshire and Lancashire, so I have absolutely every intention of going back to England on another trip in the future – God willing, of course! I would love to explore the entire countryside of England. This pretty much concludes my experiences in England, aside from flying into and out of Southampton International Airport. These were some truly remarkable experiences, all of them unique in their own ways and I can’t wait to go back!
I have attached pictures below of tickets for the shows and a view of London on the London Eye, so you have a general idea of what pricing may look like (though that has probably gone up in price over the last decade, haha!). I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed reminiscing on these beautiful moments in time that I will treasure for as long as I possibly can. Until next time, may your lives be filled with unending peace, immeasurable joy, endless prosperity, and jolly good health!