Traveling is exciting and exhausting, that’s a sort of common knowledge. What people don’t tell you is that sometimes, traveling is disappointing. When you have preconceived notions about the experience you want to have, chances are when you have a different sort of experience it’s going to be a let down. I’m definitely guilty of this.
In a previous post I mentioned that I went on a tour to London, Paris and Rome back in 2016. While I now look back on it as one of the best and most educating experiences of my life, I didn’t while it was happening. It was my first big trip, and I was going on my own. I didn’t know anyone in my tour group, and I liked it that way, I didn’t want anyone else’s ideas or plans to interfere with what I was sure was going to be the best vacation ever. I did research and watched movies, I knew what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go and I was positive that my experience would be as amazing as the ones on TV. Since I keep being told my posts could be a series of posts, I’m going to take that advice this time. Here’s the first: England (mostly London).
It was warm and sunny when I landed in London, which threw me off a little. England was supposed to be wet and chilly, right? But, whatever. It just meant I didn’t need that jacket I spent weeks picking out. I had met up with some girls from my tour group who were, shockingly, from Kearney and went to UNK. This was the summer before my first semester at UNK, so I was a little taken aback by this development. Anyways, our first day was a free day as we waited for the rest of the group to arrive. So, we went to the Tower of London. What I was expecting: a dark, grimy place where England’s worst prisoners were held. I had a bit of a fairy-tale notion of what the Tower was supposed to be like. In reality? A glorified museum. Granted, the views were breathtaking and there were some nifty looking torture devices behind ropes to keep the multitude of tourist that pushed us around from getting to close.
But, I left the tower feeling a little let down. I’d watched one to many History channel specials set in the past. Anyway, it was time for our welcome mixer. The 30ish people in my tour group went to a little pub, I don’t remember the name. We all ordered beers and the appetizers were on the tour company. This was more like it, hanging out with strangers in an English pub, but most of the appetizers were gross, so I stuck with beer.
The next day was a bus and walking tour of London, which was pretty cool, if a little boring at times. We saw the outside of all the big tourist stuff as walked by. My favorite was seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, my second was seeing Big Ben. Then it was free time. A bunch of us had lunch and then walked around. We found this amazing tea shop called Fortnum & Mason where the Queen apparently gets her tea from. Now, I wasn’t a huge tea drinker before this, but this shop was so amazing that I bought a bunch of it to take back, both bagged and loose leaf. Plus one of those little infuser things for the loose leaf. If I’m being honest, this random tea shop is probably one of my favorite things about my time in London.
After the tea shop we went on one of those Harry Potter tours. My advice? Skip it and just go to Kings Cross. We walked around and saw the outside of where some of the stars went to school and a few random places, it was boring. Although, I did get to see the Globe Theater from a bridge, I wish I had gone to see that instead. However, the endpoint of the tour was Kings Cross, specifically Platform 9 3/4. Which, while super busy and touristy, was awesome if you’re a Harry Potter nerd like me.
The next day was either free time or an optional excursion to Oxford. Guess where I went? Yep, Oxford. We went on a little tour and saw some of the Harry Potter filming locations like the tree Malfoy sits in during the 3rd movie before being turned into a ferret and the library. After the tour we had time to explore, some people went punting (I wish I had done that), some people just walked around some more. I bee lined it straight to Waterstones, an amazing bookstore in Oxford. Then some of us went to enjoy a traditional English tea and scones with clotted cream. Sounds gross, but tasted decent.
What I didn’t do in London, that I wanted to, was see the view from the top of the London Eye. I didn’t get to explore the Globe Theater or go on the Jack the Ripper walking tour or any of the ghost tours that looked awesome. I had so much on my list that I wanted to do, that even though all 3 days were completely booked, I felt like I hadn’t seen half of what I wanted to. So when we got on the plane to Paris, I felt like my experience with London wasn’t the greatest. Looking back now I understand that I had too many preconceived notions on how things were going to go and how much I was going to see. I hadn’t counted on some things being boring or going with the flow and finding out of the way things. So I left London disappointed, even though I knew I’d had fun.
Come back soon for my Paris experience.