Thanks for bearing with me as I was on vacation. I know I had already been on vacation for two weeks, but who am I to turn down an invitation to London when it is offered?
I had an excellent time there. Since I had already been when I was in middle school, I didn’t feel obligated to hit as many tourist attractions as possible. This made my vacation, even though it was to such a bustling city as London, a comparatively relaxing and stress-free one. More of this emphasis on language—it just was so convenient to be able to talk spontaneously and expertly to anyone I needed or wanted to talk to.
I said I didn’t feel obligated to hit as many tourist attractions as possible, yet I still behaved like a tourist, Tori and I walking through the historic and notable portions of the town with such intentionality as to not be found in the likes of a typical Londoner. (Apparently Montaigne’s influence this week is finding its way into my sentence structure). Which is to say that even though we didn’t stand and gawk at too much stuff, I still managed to see and take pictures of the following: The British Museum, The British Library (where, I learned, an original copy of the Magna Carta can be found), The Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the Borough Market, Covent Garden, Primrose Hill (for Guy Fawkes’ Day fireworks), Tower Bridge, the Tower of London (for which Tori and I actually paid entry and spent time exploring), the Golden Hinde (a replica of the ship in which Sir Francis Drake circumnavigated the globe and defeated the Spanish Armada), Trafalgar Square, Saint Paul’s, and four or five different pubs.
What really made London worth the visit was going to see friends. It didn’t feel strange at all to meet up in London with three 2011 UVA grads and spend the weekend hanging out with them in the markets and pubs of London. It felt perfectly natural and must undoubtedly rank towards the top of the Ways to Spend Your Weekend List. And to make their company even better (if that’s possible) we had several personality foils in the form of their Italian roommate(s) and English acquaintances (perhaps friends or soon-to-be friends).
Our Americanness seemed to precede us wherever we went. We saw a guy in the Borough Market wearing a UVA cap whose son went to UVA and whom he and his wife were visiting in London. We went to a pub-turned-dance-club that played only classic Motown, and we went to a pub called the Blues Kitchen where there was an extensive list of American whiskeys and live blues all night long (or at least until 12:30, when British pubs close).
I would recommend that everyone have at least one or two good friends in London so that you can also go visit them and have a great time appreciating their hospitality in a great and vibrant city. Some people say it’s great to have friends in high places; I would say that it’s great to have friends in places.