London calling, so I'm off again!

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January 9th 1988
Published: August 9th 2007
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The travellers airport ritualThe travellers airport ritualThe travellers airport ritual

Passport - check. Boarding pass - check. Travellers cheques - check. No worries, I'm good to go Mumsy!
The thrill of returning home after spending a year and a half overseas was almost overwhelming. Although I was only visiting Sydney for Christmas and the New Year before catching another flight to London, it was great to catch up with family and friends even for a short time and I had so much fun. I revelled in simply being an Aussie again, nondescript and one of the crowd as opposed to standing out in a crowd which was the normal state of affairs while I was living in Japan. I went to a take away shop on the beach to be greeted with "Are you right?" Yes, there's no place like home, but my thoughts quickly turned to Europe and my upcoming flight to London early in the new year.

When heading back to the airport, dear reader, I mentioned to my family that I was feeling slightly nervous. They seemed amazed and asked me why as I'd already been travelling for 18 months. I replied that now I know what's out there and this was making me a little apprehensive. Anyways, after completing my farewells I boarded a plane for the long haul flight to London. Belatedly I was following the traditional route of the Aussie backpacker, but only planning a short visit to England this time around as I planned to head on to Europe. The flight was long but uneventful, and eventually arrived at Heathrow airport where I greeted the customs official with a smile. However he questioned me vigorously due to the diminished state of my bank account after spending so long on the road. This surprised me at first, but eventually he waved me into the country after I insisted I was en route to Europe after a week which I planned to spend sight seeing in London.

I jumped on the tube to the heart of London and became aware of a vibe from the locals because of my bulky bags. I quickly realised that in London the main thing backpackers are known for is getting in the way! I had nearly a week to explore the English capital, and it's great fun to stroll around this beautiful city and see the world famous sights on offer. I paid a visit to Buckingham palace, relaxed in Trafalgar square and checked out London Bridge and the Tower of London. The backpackers at the hostel were good fun, and everything felt so easy because I was in an English speaking country that felt very similar to home.

While in London I struggled a little with the quality of the food, particularly in comparison to dining in Japan. I also found the prices to be quite expensive, and it quickly became apparent it would be difficult to live in London for any period of time without working. A highlight of my visit was the chance to catch up with my spanish rose from our time living at a Tokyo guest house during 1987. I wrote to her earlier about my plans for the year, and we caught up for a pub meal over a drink in company with her English boyfriend. It was great to see her again, but things were a little tense as the boyfriend couldn't share in our travel tales from Japan. When we were leaving I hesitated for him and said "After you." He responded with "No, after you, you're the guest." I smiled and proceeded to walk out when he added from behind "In my country!" In hindsight maybe catching up with my spanish friend was not the best idea given the circumstances.

There's so much to see and do in London, and I realised that my brief visit to the English capital was just scratching the surface of this world famous city. I visited Earls Court for a few beers at the end of the week and felt as if I was surrounded by Aussies. On the same day I also visited the West End and strolled around the theatre district. London is definitely a spectacular travel destination and a very impressive city to visit. However it was in the heart of a northern hemisphere winter and seriously cold, and from what I gathered the British (and me) tend to struggle a bit with the weather during the winter months, especially considering I'd just spent christmas in Sydney during the height of summer.

I realise that in order to enjoy expensive cities such as London and Tokyo you need to be working, and because I didn't have plans for work in London I had to get moving despite only being in the capital for a brief but enjoyable visit. So without regret I took the bus from London to Dover to link up with the ferry
Departure day, SydneyDeparture day, SydneyDeparture day, Sydney

Ready to embark on more overseas adventures.
across the English channel. The cliffs are beautiful and really are white as described in the famous song. England is a wonderful country, rich in culture and tradition and full of excitement for the travellers who flock here from all over the world. In fact when it comes to a visit to one of the world's greatest cities the mail is, basically all of you should be here now!

This is not the end. It's not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Winston Churchill

As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now


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