You learn a lot about yourself when you are completely by yourself. Time zone differences meant no communication until late in the day, so I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted… Which in my case was to grab (yet another) meal from Pret (yes the one by the TARDIS) and head off to a free walking tour. After purchasing my Oyster card I went on down to Covent Garden (always liked that place!).
Of course the previous day, right after I had landed in London I was definitely exploring solo. I spent a good 4 hours wandering and taking pictures. (The selfies started – because who else is there to take your picture?) Today though, going on a tour meant people. Some of them were hilarious (the IU student who put a bath robe on for ALL of his pictures), some were unexpected (TULSANS!), and others gave me my first glimpse of accelerated expat bonding (yay friends for a day!). The tour consisted of all the big things – Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard parade, standing on top of Churchill’s war rooms, the houses of parliament, 10 Downing Street, and of course Big Ben.
I didn’t tell the tour guide when she apologized for the “smell of horses” as we passed the Horse Guards that it smelled like home.
After the tour, I had my first official fish & chips of the trip at a nice little underground pub. It was there I cemented my friendship with two American girls on a European summer trip, because they were planning on visiting Platform 9 ¾. (Yes, it exists, I don’t care what station employees have to say.) So we sprinted through the pouring rain (without umbrellas), navigated the tube, and found the King’s Cross train station. Right there, MAGIC HAPPENED.
The girls and I became facebook friends after our Pottertastic pictures before we went our separate ways. And that was my first day fending for myself. (I’ll spare you the flat-hunting details.)
In the following days, between viewing flats for rent, I got my bearings on the tube and really went exploring. I returned to Buckingham Palace for a few selfies, took a longer stroll through Green Park than we had on the tour, and took myself through the National Gallery. Really, I’m quite content to have several days completely to myself. However, I also learned that around day #4, I need a bit of human interaction with someone other than a stranger.
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard