“Wait up!” I gasped for breath as I strode through Westminster station. The few people on the escalator watched me with obvious irritation, and I tried to avoid their eyes as I trudged up the stairs in my favorite dress and slippery boots. As self-conscious as I felt about my family’s extremely touristic behavior, I knew I had to keep running. Dad was so far ahead I could barely see him anymore, and my mom and sister were not far behind.
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I dashed forward, hoping that my family had stopped at the exit to let me catch up. Unfortunately, they hadn’t, but Big Ben greeted me as I stepped out into the brisk London air. The morning rain sprinkled the shockingly empty streets. As much as I wanted to stop and take in the beautiful scene, the sight of my family sprinting across Westminster Bridge surged me back into action.
The skirt of my coat flew behind me as I raced after them, and the droplets of rain speckled the scenery as they fell. Unlike the night before, the area was almost completely abandoned. Mid-stride, I looked back at the view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament and laughed at how ridiculous I must have looked at that moment. The whole idea of me running across Westminster Bridge in a dress with the rain slowing my stride had “cheesy romantic comedy” written all over it. I wasn’t chasing my long-lost love, though; I was stretching my out-of-shape legs across London to catch a bus that would be taking my family through the English countryside. Sure it was exciting, but not exactly romantic.
Once we had caught the bus, and our breaths, we said goodbye to London and hello to the green and yellow hills of Western England. Our first stop was in Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of William Shakespeare. We kicked off our stroll through the town with strawberry scones, then explored Shakespeare’s childhood home, and even got to watch a few of the great playwright’s most famous scenes performed live. Although brief, the visit was lovely, and the examining of where Shakespeare grew up was like being taken back to an era where people lived simply and happily, relying solely on their own imaginations and creativity for entertainment.
A mesmerizing drive through the Cotswolds led us to the city of Bath, home to Jane Austen and the Roman Baths. The entire atmosphere was intoxicating. Side streets led to small shops and cafes that I could have spent hours in. Street music was the soundtrack to my wanderings through the cobblestone streets, a baguette sandwich in my hand and a peeking smile on my face.
Our last stop of the day was to Stonehenge, where we circled the famous monument in stunned reverence. Surrounded by fields of sheep and grass, the ancient palace of boulders was different in its beauty: a solitary sight of mystery and intrigue. Crows haunted the area, sending chills down my spine as I listened to the theories of Stonehenge’s construction.
The ride back into London was a sad one, and I couldn’t help but feel like I was leaving something that had become part of me. Stonehenge served as my bones, and Shakespeare’s small cottage was the head that directs where and how the bones move. Bath’s thin streets were veins that lead to the heart of it all, which was London, a plethora of exploration and imagination and artistry. Although I knew I would have to leave the place that had become my new home, I knew that it would never leave me.
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