London: My Winter Wonderland. - My Family Travels

I was always intrigued by the culture of the British (being a huge Harry Potter fanatic) but I never really imagined how fascinating it was until I went to London: the capital of the UK.

As I arrived at Heathrow airport, I had a difficult time convincing myself that I was actually there. I was in London! Finally! The place was absolutely beautiful, and the weather, perfectly cold. I loved everything – the fact that my breath came out as fog, the fact that the cars were on the “wrong” side of the street, the fact that the trash cans said “rubbish”, the fact that there was so much history on the streets I walked on. I also adored the British accents (and was quite jealous that I didn’t speak that beautiful tongue) and was intrigued by the winding streets and buildings that decorated the city. The hotel I stayed in was right across from the Big Ben, and I even had the chance to watch New Year’s fireworks light up the architecture and reflect off of the Thames River. Amazing.

But the beauty of the city was only half of why I fell in love with London. More importantly, it was because I got to share its magnificence with nearly 200 of my favorite people – my fellow marching band and colorguard members. I play the flute in marching band, and we were invited to perform in the New Year’s parade. It was a 2.2 mile march down the streets of London. As you can imagine, my body was extremely sore after the long travel and music-playing! But the sound of the crowd cheering as I marched along, and the “relax” command from my band director when we were finally finished – the unanimous sigh of satisfaction from everyone as we finally relaxed our shoulders? That feeling… was absolutely priceless.

(And also, the fact that I was marching down the streets of London, past the Big Ben and Trafalgar Square? I mean, really! How often will I get to do that in my lifetime?)

London was an escape from reality – a week long magical (because yes, to me it was truly magical) adventure with some of my best friends, doing my most favorite thing in the world (marching band). Still today, 8 months after the trip, my friends and I reminisce about it. Whenever something related to “London” comes up, we smile and look at each other knowingly. It’s a special, uniting place for all of us – one filled with memories that we will never forget. It’s like a little secret, one that only we will understand as we once again live in reality in our small Californian town.

My trip to London is scarcely containable in only 600 words, but in short? The trip changed my life. It is, without a doubt, the best vacation I have ever had. It helped me see the beauty in opportunity and “living in the moment”. I trained myself to cherish every second my body existed in that city: enjoying every breath I took of the cold London air, every image my eyes devoured of the crafted architecture, every note I blew through my flute as I marched in my purple uniform. I tried to use all my senses and take it in – because it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. Sure, I could come back again when I’m an adult, but it wouldn’t be the same: it was the marching band experience and my friends in band that made that week unforgettable. And I miss every second of it.



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