I first visited London in the summer of 2009, and although I enjoyed seeing the royal sites, I wasn’t too keen on the city itself. This time though, I had a chance to get to know it a little better. We arrived in London at about 11p.m. after missing our flight from Nice. Long story. But a lovely lady at British airways booked us on the next flight that evening without charging us a penalty fee. Thank you British Airways!
After a very long day of travel, we made it to our hotel after midnight. The next day, I was exhausted. My body was talking to me, and I listened. I rested in bed at the hotel for most of the next day, except for a walk in the evening. Although I was not happy to forfeit a day of sightseeing, the rest was much needed. Traveling can be exhausting, and proper rest is essential to keeping your immune system strong, and staying healthy while traveling. The next day I was rested and ready to explore the city.
I visited the Tate modern museum which has a fabulous collection. I really liked one exhibition by artist Chen Zhen. The museum featured his late works which reflect the experience of chronic illness through fragile combinations of everyday objects. Zhen had a strong interest in healing, and intended for his work to have a therapeutic and meditative aspect. He suffered from a serious blood disease for more than twenty years, that sadly took his life.
I was moved when I read about Zhen and saw his work. I have developed a compassion for stories of people who face health struggles, since my own experience. I was inspired by Zhen’s resolve to create art that expressed his own struggle with illness.
I also visited St. Paul’s cathedral later that evening. It is a beautiful site, sitting on the highest point in the city of London. I always enjoy visiting religious places of worship when I travel. I find it warming to watch people from different faiths and backgrounds appreciate these sites, regardless of their own religious beliefs.
The next day, I visited the Portobello market, at the suggestion of a close friend of mind who studied in London. It is a delightful stretch of outdoor and indoor markets filled with antiques, specialty shops, modern goods and cafes and restaurants. It is by far, my favorite market that I’ve visited in all of the cities I’ve traveled to! You really need a whole day just to look and be dazzled by all the sights there. I want to go back just to go to there again!
On my last day in London, I joined my friend Sophie at a music festival at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I am not a dedicated music follower myself; she is a true music lover. But I am happy that she invited me to the festival. Being surrounded by thousands of people who love and appreciate music was energizing and uplifting. It gave me an opportunity to witness the universal power of music. I think it is one of those rare things that transcends race, religion, and profession, among other things. Being in the middle of it all gave me a greater appreciation for music, and its ability to move people. I also got to see Jay Z and Justin Timberlake perform, who were fantastic!
By the end of my time in London, I had fallen in love with the city. It was kind of like when you meet someone for the first time, and you don’t think much about it. But when you get to know them better, you realize you like them a lot, after all. Overall, I had a wonderful time there and I would love to visit again. I was secretly hoping that princess Kate would give birth while I was there. I surely would have been in line to witness the spectacle. (Yes, I love Kate Middleton!) Oh well. Cheers to London and a healthy royal baby!
My next and final destination was Germany, which I will follow up with in my next post.
Have you visited Europe? If so, what was your favorite place? What did you love about it?