Friday, 11 July 2014

One Last Day in London

 I wanted to do one separate post for my last day in London, just because it was the most perfect goodbye England could ever have given me! After spending two weeks alone in Russia, and getting sick for part of my trip, I was definitely ready to go home and see with my family. My time had come to say goodbye to England, but now that I'm home, I'm not entirely sure I was ready to leave. I still feel like there's so much I have left to see and do, and after spending the better part of 10 months in such an amazing country, it hasn't necessarily been easy readjusting to life without it. So! My last day in England!

My friend Jared helped me haul all my shit across London (again) to the hostel I was staying at for the night, which was great because my god did I have a lot of shit. I left my stuff in the luggage room, and then headed out in the best weather possible—probably the nicest day of the year. High 70s for a temp, sun shining, blue sky, no clouds at all. Perfect. It's those moments that I know England loves me: once again, on the day I need it the most, they give me the best weather I could ever ask for. It was so perfect.

First I headed to Piccadilly Circus to close my bank account, which meant an extra £33.42 to blow on souvenirs I don't have room for in my bags! Afterwards I rewarded myself with a celebratory Cinnabon (remember! The Piccadilly Circus one is now one of FIVE Cinnabons in the UK!) and went to Trafalgar Square. Little did I know, West End Live was happening that day, which is a free outdoor event (you do have to wait in the queue to get tickets though) and basically they have cast members from West End musicals perform songs. It was one of those quintessentially London moments for me—there is always something going on, and never a dull moment.

To quote Samuel Johnson and my favorite quote about London: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." I was just walking through, expecting to just sit on some steps and eat my Cinnabon, and instead I got to see songs from Wicked live and sit in the grass and listen to musicals. The best.

I headed back home, to the National Portrait Gallery, after I had had my fill of Cinnabon/musicals. It had definitely changed a bit in the three months since I'd been there (where is the portrait of Oliver Cromwell?), but it was so great to spend some time saying bye to all my people. I already can't wait to be back! I walked down to see Buckingham Palace, and then hung out for a bit at my spot in St. James' Park. I hit up my other favorite spot on Westminster Bridge, and then walked all the way along the Thames to the Tower of London. I was walking around the Golden Hinde and there was this man busking, and all of a sudden he started playing All My Loving by the Beatles. I literally stopped in my tracks and started bawling—I was crying so hard I even gave him money! And not just like a couple pence, but like real money! All My Loving was one of my bedtime songs, and always makes me think of my family and my parents and home, and considering that I was by this point counting down the hours until I got to see my family again, I basically lost it. It was a very touching moment.

I finally made it to the Tower, and, unfortunately, found out that the chapel was closed for a wedding so tour groups weren't being allowed in. I nerded out on the Yeoman Warder tour, as per the usual, and went in the rest of my favorite buildings. I could definitely tell that it was summer and high tourist season, since the place was packed—and the queue to see the Crown Jewels was horrendous and ain't nobody got time fo' dat. And, after regretting that I hadn't bought it every day for three years, I finally bought Henry VIII and His Disappearing Wives mug! When you pour in hot liquids, the pictures of Henry's wives disappear! And a good thing I bought it while I still got a discount with my Historic Royal Palaces membership :)

I slowly made my way back to the hostel, stopping for food and plane snacks in preparation for tomorrow. I consolidated all my stuff (luckily I didn't have to do too much repacking) and then went to bed early. The next (and final) day, June 22nd, went like this: woke up and hauled all my stuff down two flights of stairs to check out, walked around the corner to the tube station, took the tube to the airport, waited a painfully long time to check my bags, paid a painfully large amount of money for my second checked bag, then spent 8 hours on a plane, where I was so tired/exhausted/sick/stressed I couldn't even take advantage of my first non-Ryanair/budget airline flight all year and drink ALL the free drinks! As my plane started landing in Chicago, me and the girl sitting next to me both started crying—she had been studying in London for the last month and Chi-town was her hometown. She gave me a bunch of kleenex, which I'm forever grateful for. I got to go through customs and then recheck my bags and then go through security again, had a few hours of a layover which turned even longer as my flight to Minneapolis was delayed by half an hour. Finally I got on the last plane and spent most of the flight crying and/or trying not to cry. Our plane circled downtown Minneapolis before landing at the airport, and I got to see the skyline of the most beautiful city in the whole world.

This really has been the most amazing year of my life. I have had so many incredible opportunities to explore the world and grow as a person, and I am so grateful to each and every person who has helped make this happen and supported me, and to all the wonderful people I've met along the way. I spent the better part of ten months traveling and seeing some of the most beautiful cities Europe and the world have to offer, but it is so good to finally be back in the most beautiful city of them all, Minneapolis.

P.S. I was so excited to buy alcohol legally in the US that the guy working at East Lake Liquors gave me and my sister free shirts. #612pride

I'll probably have another post or two before I finish up this blog! Here are some pictures from my last day :)

West End Live in Trafalgar Square
My girls :)
My spot!
Headed to the wedding at the Tower of London!


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