There are two major reasons people travel: to see places or to see people. In the few travel experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve seen stand out most vividly in my memory. This is especially true of the trip my Mom and I took to England in February of 2010.
The trip had been long anticipated as we were going to see friends who we had not seen since they had moved to England two years prior. Our friends were equally excited to show us their new home and take us on a whirlwind tour of all the places we could possibly visit during our week long stay.
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Our first experience after arriving was a day trip to London. I realize that at this point, seasoned travelers are smirking at the thought of a day tour for first time visitors to London. When we set out, we didn’t quite grasp the city’s size or how much there was to see. So a brief word of advice, if ever in London during your travels, make a few days of it.
After a morning spent touring the crowded Tower of London, we went to the London Museum of Natural History. Not a destination that I would recommend to anyone but a passionate geologist. However, I note this part in our journey to exemplify that a good companion can make any destination memorable. We spent too much of our short time playing — ‘how old do you think this is?’
A trip on the Underground brought us to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, two must- see locations. By this time, it was getting dark and the raindrops were so big they were visible in our photographs. Nevertheless, we still found friendly people willing to take pictures of us. We only saw the outside of Westminster Abbey because the day’s last tour had ended. We briskly walked on towards Buckingham Palace, not having any time for the London Eye. Somehow, we managed to get lost on the way, and by the time we finally arrived at the iconic building, there was no one there to greet us; no guards in funny hats, no Royals, not even other tourists, just puddles. However, as we were leaving, a jogger ran up behind us and pointed to a motorcade coming up on the other side of the building. He told us that the Prime Minister was arriving, and kindly explained the events taking place. After bidding our new friend good-bye, we made our way home, drenched and exhausted, but cheerful.
The next day we explored York. This is definitely a city I would recommend to anyone touring England. It’s a quaint town full of small shops and amazing architecture. Our target destination was the tea shop, “Betty’s”. Here, we sat down and enjoyed some tea and one another’s company. One of the things I remember most about York is the life and energy that seemed to infuse the city.
All in all, it was a great trip; I didn’t see the guards in front of Buckingham Palace, I didn’t see much of Westminster Abbey, I never saw the Crown Jewels, and I didn’t ride in the London Eye, but I saw my friends and met many interesting people. The places we did get to see were amazing; not because of their reputation as tourist hot spots, but because of the memories we created there.
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