London: My Gateway to Europe

Change is hard. But so necessary. If we were to always be in our normal rhythms and safe comfort zones, we wouldn’t experience all the lessons that new challenges hit us over the head with at times.

As I prepared myself for my move from Paris, I started trying to mentally prepare myself to leave this city that I loved so much. And something else unexpected came out of those months of turmoil. I realized that I needed to also have closure with London.

It sounds a bit weird, I know. Why would I feel compelled to bid adieu to a place I never lived? A place that I wrote about just last year when I was in a slump and wished I were in Paris instead- why now take away valuable time from Paris to spend it there?

I needed to go to London because for me, London was where it all began.

Oh London, how I <3 you...

Us travel bloggers love to talk about wanderlust, the travel bug, and conditions that make travelers want to see more and more of the world. If traveling is an addiction, London is the gateway Europe at least.

My first trip abroad was in college for a two week theater trip that sounds just like my dad interpretted it - “You’re getting credits to do what?” It was a course where we attended at least one show a day, with some reading and writing assignments thrown in for the sake of legitimacy. We went to Dublin, Stratford-upon-Avon, and for the majority of the time, London. 

I came back to the US enlivened after that class. A whole new part of the world had been introduced to me, and I wanted to see more. I got married and couldn’t wait to share this incredible city with my hubby. A year later, we booked our first trip to Europe together to - you guessed it - London. It came at a time when we both were new to navigating foreign countries, which made England a perfect starting point. We could speak English, feel similarities to the pace of life and the comfort of things like coffee to-go, yet be tickled by quaint English accents and a national identity that extended much further back than that of our motherland.

First time in London - here's Michael back in 2009 at the Millennium Bridge.

And 6 years later - many things have changed in our lives, but our love of London still remains!

I’ve had the opportunity since then to introduce various other friends and family members to London for the first time, many for whom it was a first time in Europe just as it had been mine. And London in turn introduced me to parts of myself that I was unfamiliar with. As much time as I have spent in London with friends, I’ve also spent a lot of time by myself. The city taught me to embrace days being solo, to be comfortable in my own skin at a restaurant or pub, and to love the freedom that exploring alone can bring. There’s an independence and self-assuredness that London gave me, along with pots of tea, quiet of parks, and a dose of street art. 

Walking around London by myself always feels like an adventure where anything can happen - like this time I ran into the cavalry training.

Moving away from Paris not only meant that I would be leaving that city, but also that London would no longer be an easy 2.5 hours Eurostar train ride away. The thought of not being able to get to London effortlessly and relatively inexpensively hurt. So I planned a trip to London to introduce my sister-in-law and her friend to the city for a week. And then somehow a trip to London before our trip to London fell into place, and coincided with my brother’s business trip there. 

Above left: Artsy selfies at the Tate Modern // Above right: Enjoying one of my favorite walks in London, along the Thames

April in St. James's Park, London

It was inevitable that I was going to have to bid England “Cheerio!” But at least I had TWO visits to run around with outstretched arms and wrap them around London. This month, I want to take you to my London and share why it is and always will be one of my favorite cities.

Did I mention I was in London during an art exhibit featuring sheep all over the city?! As I've hinted at before, any city that has sheep of some sort gets bonus points in my book! [This expo moved to Bristol, England where you can see Shaun the Sheep until the end of August 2015!]

The view from the London Eye...and all through August, I'll be showing London through my eyes!

Change is hard, but I know London isn’t going anywhere. So next opportunity I have to visit, it will be waiting for me!

What are your favorite cities (or places, if you're not into the urban scene)? I love this post on the Curiosity Travels blog about her favorite cities around the world - London's clearly one of mine!