As I sit here reflecting on our first day in London, one question keeps popping into my mind-why on Earth did it take me so long to get back here? My first visit to London was too long ago to admit, but let’s say more than one decade was involved. At the time I was 18, just graduated high school and starting a 3-week European adventure with my best friend and her family. I remember thinking, “well this is nice but it’s just like home. Look there is Pizza Hut and KFC! I thought I was in Europe!” After a few days we moved on to Paris and Italy and I finally felt like I was somewhere new and cool and exotic.
Flash forward to the present, I now have a teenage daughter who loves the Royals and a 10 year old son who likes history so London seemed like the perfect fit, but I admit I was more excited about returning to Paris, my all-time absolute favorite city, during the second half of the trip. Boy was I wrong not being more enthusiastic about this city.
Yes, it reminds me of the US in many ways. But every time I think that, London throws a curveball. The language is obviously the same but different: lift and lorries; chips are crisps but fries are chips. It’s the perfect segue into travelling to Europe or anywhere abroad.
While London’s historical significance cannot be downplayed, the city is modern and growing. Everywhere you look, there is building going on. From the top of the London Eye, I counted 14 cranes on the horizon. The population is diverse and expanding (some reports shows 35% of Londoners are foreign born) and most Londoners are embracing this diversity. One block alone housed Indian, falafel, Italian, burger and sandwich shops, along with the traditional English pub and even a Chipotle.
Yes, Royal London is everywhere for the tourist. Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, the Tower of London are all worth seeing, but there is a new modern Royal, arguably started by Diana and carried on through her sons and their families that make the idea seem less antiquated. The Diana Memorial Fountain near Kensington Palace, where she lived and William and Kate still live, was designed to be splashed in and walked around. It’s full of families splashing, young and old alike. Kensington Palace displays some of Queen Victoria’s jewels, but the gift shop also prominently features the cookbook that Megan Markle spearheaded to benefit the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire.
The Tower of London highlights the Crown Jewels, but even a 10-year-old is impressed by the 1000 year history, which includes the beheading of Henry VII’s wives and an impressive display of Medival weapons and torture devices. The tour led by the Beefeater describing Henry VII’s wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) captures everyone’s interest.
And for those whom the history doesn’t impress, Harry Potter is everywhere in walking tours, studio visits and on stage. A high-speed boat ride down the Thames is pretty cool too.
A few days in London only brushes the surface. A week is easily doable and leaves time for a more relaxed visit, but any time that can be spared is well worth the flight. That’s it for today..done and dusted!