London has been one of my great loves for as long as I can remember, even before I ever actually stepped foot on English soil. After my first visit in 2006, I fell further, and it happened again during my very short stay in 2011. I rarely visit places I have been more than once, but after my very best friend, Lara, decided to pursue her Master’s in London, I just had to schedule a trip to visit her. It doesn’t hurt that the city happens to be one of my favorite in the world.
This time next week, I will return for the third time, and I’m filled with excitement for what lies in store during this visit. Not only will I see Lara, but my cousin, Michelle, and friend, Linda, are flying in from Ireland to join us. Along with them, and meeting up with other people who I have met over the years through traveling, I just know this is going to be one of the best trips yet.
During my junior year of college, I had my very first experience in London when one of my friends, Meghan, was studying abroad. Another friend, Megan, was studying abroad in Rome, so the three of us, along with one of Megan’s friends, Carly, decided to meet up for Easter weekend in London. This was one of the biggest trips I had ever taken because it was the first time I would fly by myself and navigate a new city alone.
I arrived early in the morning, hopped on the train and tube, and somehow found my way to Meghan’s apartment. She had class, so after a quick nap, I used the directions she had left me to wander around the city, shop, and visit a museum. At twenty-one, this was my first time exploring a city alone; it was a bit overwhelming, but I completely fell in love. There was something about taking in a city by myself, that made me feel confident and fall not only in love with London, but also with travel.
We spent the rest of the trip shopping, drinking, dancing, and eating our way through the city, and I remember thinking how I could see myself living there. I had no idea when I would return again, but I knew one day that I had to.
That second visit wasn’t until nearly five years later, and unfortunately, it was only for a twenty-hour layover after a wild New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh. Lara had never been to London, so when we found a flight home that would give us a few hours in the city, we took it.
However, we had no idea how exhausted we would be. After a few bars, a street party, getting separated, and reuniting at a few more bars, we headed right to the airport without hope of sleeping. Having done this on past trips, we figured we would be fine, but without a real place to rest our heads, we wandered the city as our drunken state turned into a full-blown hangover. We saw all the sites we could see, and almost got hit by a double decker bus, yes, just like The Smiths song.
When our patience began to wear thin, we decided to head to Brick Lane for Indian food, and from there, we were as happy as could be. We headed back to the airport, booked a few hours at the Yotel, and then ordered wine and food while watching a WWII documentary in bed to celebrate Lara’s birthday.
Both trips were whirlwind adventures, and I know this one will be just the same. But, as always, I am looking forward to all that is coming my way and discovering a bit more about the city. Yet, even more than that, I am looking forward to some quality time with my best friend and some of the people I love the most.