Thursday: Day Trip to London

I mentioned previously that my friend Chelsea and I have a similar approach to traveling: we’re pretty laid back in the pre-planning department. However, our friend Sierra is the opposite (organized and scheduled), and when she offered to give us a tour of London (a city she LOVES and used to live in), of course we said yes.

Per Sierra’s suggestion, we bought our Eurostar train tickets far in advance, in order to get the best price possible. So Thursday morning, we got up early and took an Uber to the train station. (FYI: Uber is super easy to use in Paris … I used the same app I downloaded in Chicago, and it works the same way.)

I had neutral feelings about visiting London … I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was more excited for Sierra to visit, because she’s so enthusiastic about London. But it took me all of 5 seconds to fall in love with the city, too!

First stop: Abbey Road

Crossing Abbey Road! #tourist #beatles #london

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Next, we jumped back on the subway and went to Hyde Park.

albert-memorial
Albert Memorial
kensington-palace
Kensington Palace

Then we took a double decker bus to Buckingham Palace.

bus-tour
On the bus …

The palace was surrounded by tourists all waiting to see the changing of the guard. I took a 12-second video:

park
Me! Near Buckingham Palace

Then we got back on the subway (I think … it was a whirlwind day!) and went to Parliament Square.

westminster-abbey
Westminster Abbey
big-ben
Big Ben/Elizabeth Tower
horse
Guard

This is one of my favorite photos from the whole trip. I’m not sure why:

London calling! #cheesy #tourist #london #england🇬🇧

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We stopped for lunch at an English Pub Sierra used to frequent as a student (they give you a free drink with your meal!). Then, it was off to see the Tower Bridge.

tower-bridge
Tower Bridge

Sierra had to leave, so Chelsea and I were on our own. I’m a George Michael fan, and was sad to learn of his death four days earlier, on Christmas Day. I really wanted to visit the memorial his fans created outside the gates of his house. Sierra had figured out which subway stop it was (Highgate), so Chelsea and I made our way there.

I asked a few people if they knew where his house was, and they said no. (Chelsea suggested I ask about the memorial, since asking where his house was made me sound “creepy.” :-P) We went back to the tube station and I asked a man working there if he knew where the George Michael memorial was.

“Oh, you want to go up to his house?” he asked.(YES! I want to go to his house.)

He instructed us to walk up a hill to the village there, and then ask around. So we did that. We made it to the village (with two other memorial seekers behind us) and once we got there, I stopped at a pub. After exchanging initial pleasantries with the barman, I told him I had an annoying question to ask.

“How annoying?” he asked.

“Like, SUPER annoying,” I warned.

I asked about the memorial, and he came outside with me to point us up the street. “I paid my respects on Monday,” he told me.

I am so happy I was able to visit. It really meant a lot to me.

I became a George Michael fan as a teenager (though it was probably ten years past the height of his popularity). His music has meant a lot to me. I was very sad to hear of his death. However, I happened to be visiting London four days later, and I was able to go to his home and pay tribute. I didn't know the man personally, but he seemed like a kind and generous soul. I was honored to pay my respects in person. Here are my favorite lyrics of his, written for his mother after she died of cancer: "She's got a song in her head and she'll sing to me. She's got a laugh that reminds me of why she's in love with me. She'd never let show she was lonely, in case it had frightened me. She was carpet and stone, independent, alone But this love always shone around me." Thanks for your music, George. May you Rest In Peace. #georgemichael

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Despite my sadness over George Michael’s death, he died in a nice place. A small patch of land across the street from his home had a decorated Christmas tree, and beyond that was a beautiful old church. A number of people were gathered outside the gate. There were flowers, candles, and balloons laid out everywhere. I wished I had flowers to leave, but instead I left a note, thanking him for his music.

“I wonder who’ll read that?” I asked Chelsea, as we walked back up the street. “Maybe someone in his family?”

“He’ll read it,” she replied. (I like the way she thinks.)

We stopped for a drink at the pub with the helpful barman. It was cute and English and decorated for Christmas. After a long day of walking, it was nice to sit with a pint of cider and relax before we had to catch our train back to Paris.

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Tomorrow’s post will be about Paris’ Catacombs!

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