The Marching Band Goes to London - My Family Travels

 London, England is a place of fascinating history and beautiful sights to see. This is why every year they host a New Years Day parade through the streets leading right up to the most recognized item found in London, Big Ben. So, no wonder my entire high school marching band was excited for this trip. It was going to be the trip of a lifetime. No parents, just friends and an entire week of exploring one of the greatest tourist cities with them.

The plane ride was by far the most awful part of the trip. It was 7 to 8 hours of listening to the roar of the plane while trying to get some sleep. For me, it just didn’t happen and therefore when we arrived at Heathrow Airport early in the morning I was just about dead. That certainly changed though once we boarded the bus that would take us to our hotel. Of course it was raining as it often does in London, but every face was pressed to the windows gazing out through the rain at the first sights of London. We saw the old style apartments and houses and as we neared the main part of London we saw our fist glimpses of places like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Underground.

Throughout the week we stayed there we saw just about everything there is to see in London. We took a long bus tour our first day to get a sample of the sights we would spend more time at on later days. On the tour we were accompanied by a British lady who would be our tour guide. As most Americans do, we loved listening to her accent. She was using British slang and making jokes every 5 minutes.  She was hilarious and very excited about showing us London.

Probably the second hardest part about the trip was mastering the Underground system. The Underground is what they call their subway system.  There were so many different train lines and so many different stations it was hard to figure out where we were going or where we were. Although we did have chaperones, they were just about as confused as we were. In addition to the complicated navigation of the system, there were thousands of other people doing the same thing we were. The only difference was that they new what they were doing. We didn’t and we just got in the way. One of our chaperones was constantly paranoid that one of us was going to get lost.

Other than the complicated travel the trip was amazing. We saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, stood at the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral overlooking all of London, rode a river boat down the river Thames,  stood on the prime meridian, shopped till we dropped, rode a Double Decker bus, visited Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, and Hampton Court Palace, and took hundreds of pictures of every moment.

London was also a learning experience. We all had to grow up a bit on that trip. We had to deal with an unfamiliar city and be able to get where we needed to go. We had to learn on the fly. Exchanging money, reading maps, and just walking across the street (people in London don’t stop for pedestrians) was all hard. We had to deal with different food and different people all new and strange to us. It was a great experience to have as a high school student. It was sort of a sample of what sort of independence and maturity is required in college.

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