I’ve discovered this year that I absolutely love traveling and ought to do it more often. It’s a shame I didn’t discover it sooner. A couple of weeks ago I came back from London (again) and I found out that solo exploring a city is the best. I used to think it would be lonely. But in my brief experience recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s possible to get so busy and so captivated by what’s going on around you, that you forget you’re alone! But don’t get me wrong, I wholeheartedly enjoyed spending time with my brother and his girlfriend while I was there. They were the main reason I travelled all the way across the ocean.
Oh and the museums! Never again do I want to go to a museum with someone. One of the days I set out to see at a minimum, the Science Museum and the Museum of Natural History before setting off to Harrod’s. It was my intention to also briefly drop by the other museums in the vicinity if time permitted. However as it turned out, I had so much fun seeing the Science Museum alone that I never left until it was time to go to Harrod’s. There’s an inexplicable joy in spending as little or as much time as I would like at each exhibit. I found myself intrigued by various odd things while bored with others. But when you’re with others, you must wait for them and they for you. Or course it can also be fun to spend time with someone while out. But I would much rather spend time with them somewhere else, somewhere more conducive to talking.
I must say, I was a bit disappointed in Harrod’s after all the hype I heard about it. It was certainly a very nice place with a maze of items to browse. But it didn’t have the dazzle I was looking for. I was much more impressed by Liberty’s, another department store, in the west end of London. Liberty’s is smaller, but the architecture had that dazzle. It was certainly less crowded and there was more an ambiance of leisurely strolling.
Unfortunately one of the activities that I was most looking forward to ended up being a complete bust. I went on a 2-hour Harry Potter walking tour which was really only a walking tour. I could go on for days and days ranting about how terrible this tour was, but I’ll spare you. (For anyone interested please go here to view my negative review.) And I suppose I ought to give the tour a small amount of credit since I did get to see the 2 locations that were used to film the Leaky Cauldron. In addition, I finally saw Leadenhall Market. Every time I’ve gone on Pinterest to look at things to do in London, I see countless pictures of Leadenhall Market. It didn’t appear that anyone else on the walking tour was all that enthusiastic about the 2 hours we spent with our guide but I wonder if anyone was as sorely disappointed as I was. All in all, it was a good experience for me to take the tour and see a part of London I might not have seen otherwise. And it makes for a story that several people have now had to listen to me tell.
Another highlight of my trip was Camden Market. London seems to have quite a few outdoor markets that are hustling and bustling with people on the weekend. It was nice to stroll around and look at all the different things being sold. On a whim, I got 2 feather attachments put into my hair there and also a new pair of suede boots. In retrospect I’m not sure I would have bought the boots if I had thought carefully about the pound to dollar exchange rate but all in all I’m glad I have them now.
I finally got to see the trolley cart at Platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station. Too bad the queue was ridiculously long and we were short on time. But next time for sure I’m going to go very early in the morning to get my picture taken there when there’s no queue and then I’ll just go back to bed after that. I got a train ticket keychain in the gift shop next to it though and I snapped a picture of the trolley in-between people posing with it. One thing that I would recommend they change with the trolley is to get rid of the Platform 9 ¾ sign from the wall as that is absolutely not supposed to be there. Anyone who doesn’t know what that trolley is doing there is simply uninformed and should do some self-educating on such an important landmark.
Of all the places that I visited on this trip, if I could only return to one of them, I would go back to Covent Garden. It has a really nice mixture of indoor and outdoor aspects to it with lots of small vendors, shops, and places to eat. The best way I can describe it is that it felt like I was walking outside on the pavement with shops on both sides of the street, yet with a roof over top. One moment you’re “inside” and the next you’re suddenly “outside”. When I was exiting the tube station at Covent Garden, I can’t believe I didn’t see the sign stating how many steps it was to get out. But now I understand why most people were queuing for the lifts. I opted to skip the queue and take the circular staircase. I sorely regretted this decision within minutes. Apparently, there is a sign that said 193 steps, which according to Wikipedia is the equivalent of going up a 15-story building.
After visiting Covent Garden we had lunch and then I was on my own for the rest of the day. The only thing on my itinerary was to visit the original Twining’s Tea shop. It was a nice tea shop, but I can’t say it was really worth the walk over. Though it was nice to browse all the different kinds of teas they have and I did buy a few varieties that I haven’t seen back home. I tried to find Covent Garden again afterwards, but I quickly grew tired of taking wrong turns with my terribly slow gmaps app on my UK phone. I ended up hanging out at a café and wandering around the area for a couple of hours before taking the tube out of the area.
The next places in Europe that I’m looking forward to visiting are Brussels, Amsterdam, and Barcelona. Perhaps the next time I’m in London, I’ll take the Eurostar train and tackle Brussels on my own. The idea of traveling there alone seems far less scary than it would have several months ago. In fact, I wouldn’t have even considered it. But now, well, now I’m up for anything!