Just like the album cover.
Abbey Road, Bangers and Mash & Double Decker Buses
Should we stay or should we go? Do we continue traveling, or do we forgo our tickets to London and begin working our way towards ‘settling down’? Sometimes when you are on the road for a long time, the thought of having your own place, a cell phone, your own fridge and even a job begins to sound appealing. However, the longer we deliberated the more we realized that our indecisiveness was our answer. While we have the time and lack the responsibility of careers or kids, we should take advantage and use our wanderlust as a reflection period about what we want and where we want to be. It came down to the final day before our flight, but finally we said to each other that there is no better time than now. Thus began the third chapter of Laura and Aaron’s Big Adventure.
With our arrival to England, life on the road pretty much fell right back into place. Aaron’s Aunt Crista and Uncle JC, who live in a suburb of London, had arranged airport pickup and drop off at their lovely home in Weybridge. With their move
Laura & Aunt Crista
in Weybridge on our first day in England
to England a few years ago and our life in Panama, we rarely get any time with these Ditzlers, let alone by ourselves. After a fulfilling lunch (Crista has three boys, thus the fridge is never empty) we dozed for a few hours to catch up from a sleepless flight. Later it was on to the pub with the family including Aaron’s cousin Greyson, the youngest of the three, for a classic dinner of bangers and mash accompanied by a pint of London Pride. It was a gastronomical welcoming to Britain.
Our time with the Ditzlers was wonderful, but unfortunately short lived as they had more visitors coming. From Weybridge, we trained into the city to meet Minna, our old friend from Bocas and one of the artists we visited in Montreal, at her work near Old Street Metro Station. We saw where Minna works and began our exploration of London with a brief walk around the quarter and nearby canal. After she got off work, Minna took us to her neighborhood, welcomed us to her apartment which has a sweeping view of downtown, and got us settled into what would be our home for the next week.
sightseeing from the train from Weybridge to London
The next day started by taking the Tube downtown with camera in hand to see Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. London’s reputation precedes it, but the rich history and architectural grandeur is fantastic to witness firsthand, and for Aaron it was his first time to London, let alone Europe. As the jet lag began to wear off, the sights and sounds of discovery reminded us why we love to travel. We spent the afternoon being tourists, walking along the Thames River, staring up at the stateliness that so many of the buildings exude, taking photos and enjoying each other’s company. That evening we made plans to have dinner with Dara and Ken Smith, friends from Sugar Land, who relocated to London two years ago.
Not far from Minna’s work, Dara and Ken live in an area that feels like it belongs in Marry Poppins. The neighborhood is full of shops, parks, pubs and restaurants, and we could definitely see why they love where they live. We walked to their favorite Greek restaurant for dinner and drinks where we were greeted with open arms from the owners of the family run business. Of course the food
near Minna's work near Old St. Station
was delicious and made with love! We were guests in Dara and Ken’s home that night which allowed another day with them. We all enjoyed a fresh homemade breakfast the next morning, along with a tour of Camden Town, Primrose Hill, Regent’s Park, several markets and a classic stop on the Beatles album cover of Abbey Road. We loved seeing them in their new element and had such a good time reconnecting abroad.
From there, Minna took up the responsibility of entertaining us. After work she took us for a walk along the South Bank of the Thames as well as introduced us to the Tate Modern Art Museum. We took too many pictures of course, including that of the gorgeous multicolored sunset before heading back to Minna’s after a long day.
The next day we went with Minna and Richard to Brick Lane, an area historically famous for its diverse immigrant populations, eclectic food markets, and classic pubs. We met up with Aaron’s friend from university, Courtney and her English fiancé, Dean, who made the two hour train ride into town to see us for the afternoon. The six of us walked around the markets, ate some lunch,
drank some beer and then went to check out the Barbican Art Center where Richard works. It was such a great Sunday!
The remainder of our week was spent lunching with Dara, checking out the area where she works, walking around Westminster, Buckingham Palace, the surrounding gardens, the amazing National Gallery (all museums in London have free admission), and Piccadilly Square. We also saw the area where JC works on his famous ‘one hour lunch break tour’; including but not limited to architecture, pop culture and history, a beautiful covered market, and the Tower of London. We also poked our heads in St Paul’s Cathedral. Our last few nights were spent having dinner with Minna and Richard, and happily distracting them from their studies and work.
We had such a great week in London and were lucky enough to avoid the famous rain. We even had a few days with sunny skies. After our time in Southeast Asia, touring around London was a walk in the park. After all, we speak the language and know more or less what to expect when we order a dish at a restaurant. The size of the United Kingdom definitely doesn’t match
the extensive and remarkable history. From the far reaches of the Roman Empire stretching its tentacles up to the once Celtic domain, to the British Navy that sailed and conquered around the planet, to the current affairs such as the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton that the world just can’t get enough of (too bad we weren't invited!); London is a fabulous place.
The people we visited were really the source of our ease. It was amazing to see so many people we know and love all the way across the Atlantic, and we decided that coming to Europe wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Thank you to all of you who have taken us in and made us feel at home.
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