I intended on starting this journey across the pond and hit the ground running. Being busy right until the flight didn't give me much time to actually swim in the anitcipation, but I was still pretty stoked. I have never been to Europe. I've always been jealous of people who got to go for school, during school or after graduating from college. To me it just didn't seem possible. I thought it was never the right time. I didn't have enough money. It could be dangerous. I lost my citizenship papers at a bar in Los Angeles. Oops! These are all valid excuses. In the end, they are all just excuses. After I went back on a pilgrimage to my home land of the Philippines last February, the travel bug bit me. And it was the best thing that has happened to me to date. I realized that there are many different worlds out there that didn't care about Beyonce. Wait let me retract that. I might get shot in the back of my head. There are worlds that don't give a damn about who turned me down for a date or why my dvr never recorded the last episode of Modern Family. And I, for one, find that very interesting. I know right! Who doesn't care about Beyonce? So part of me accepting my late bloomer status was not giving a fuck and putting aside all these excuses and just go.
First stop. London. I had my assumptions about what this city was going to be like. I thought everybody was going to be around 12-17 years of age, have a wand on one hand and talk in made up latin words to conjure up magic. If they didn't do that, I thought they dressed in crushed velvet suits, said "Groovey babey!" and listend to 60's music. I also thought that they only ate potatoes. Okay, that's a joke. they eat other... things. But before I did my research, I was kind of limited to two or three things that the English did eat. What did happen even just boarding the Virgin Atlantic plane that I booked was so interesting, it's like opening up the front gates to the Buckingham Palace and enjoying tea with the Queen. It's that trippy!!
When I boarded the plane, I sat right next to these two guys in their 20's with dark hair and dark features dressed down but somewhat in style; Tapered sweatpants with just a little hint of a drop crotch and flat baseball caps. I almost thought they were New Yorkers but some other things hinted that they're not. But when they started talking, I realized how far away my hunch was. I was transported back to the movie Snatch and I thought Brad Pitt was sitting right next to me talking in that garbled speech. Like when the dentist numbs your gums before he pulls the teeth out. Where am I? More importantly, what part of England are they from? How many of my friends do I know have encountered people who actually talked like that? I was so impressed at my experience so far. Then there was the language of the flight attendants. I could understand them but certain words never crossed my mind to use the way they use it. One called a passenger madame! It was so new to me. The captain of the plane started talking on the intercom for a while and then realized he was rambling so he said "I shan't talk to you anymore!" When was the last time I heard the word shan't? Probably the last time I saw my friend Austin in a Shakespeare play. Needless to say, I was giggling inside the whole time.
Seeing London for the first time was amazing. It was my first taste of the Old World. Small and cute cottages lined up the streets on my train ride from the airport to just about when I hit the city limits. On a brisk morning, it couldn't have been more perfect. Red phone booths on corners of streets still exist like the ones I see on a Rimmel London lipstick commercials. Although people use them as hotspot now a days rather than making phone calls. That was smart on the government's part. People hardly talk anymore. Then there were the buildings of London which reflected a world gone by. Yes, I felt a little like I was in a Harry Potter movie, but one can't deny why such franchise would exhibit such detail. The intricacies of the architecture is astonishing to say the least.
And then there were the monuments and palaces. They are so grandiose across the pond. People several centuries ago loved their big structures. I passed by the Buckingham palace. It was huge. It's a larger that life detailed box with a paved front yard. (side eye) I'm sure the interior of the palace is a different story. If I could guess, it would probably be glorious and iced out, but I think they lost my invite in the mail. Walking around a bit more, I saw other structures that caught my eye. Big Ben was massive! The lion statues on Trafalgar square were majestic. They were front and center. And then I saw this electric blue rooster just to the left and fifty steps back. It was so random! But apparently, works of art are erected there for good periods of time to symbolize something. In this case, Katharina Fritsch's work was chosen by the mayor Boris Johnson and signifies London not only as the sporting capital of the world, but also the cultural and artistic center as well
Another thing that was impressive on the streets of London was the men's style. Everywhere I look there were men in a fine, tailored suit. Some of them had amazing trench coats to complement the suits themselves. If they weren't wearing that they were wearing very well structured pea coats with lapels, buttons and belts to accentuate the details of their coats. Some of them even have belts on the back of their collars. I find it super trendy, but then again, they might have been trendy for a while now. If not that, a well fitted jacked made out of nylon quilted material invades the streets sewn in an argyle pattern. I never thought those were appealing but if they are made well and they fit perfectly just above the hip line, it is very pleasing to the eye. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of those. I didn't want to look like a dirty stalker. LOL
The food was another thing. My first meal was a steak and ale pie with chips. It was amazing but too heavy for lunch. Then I had bangers and mash for dinner which was comparably delicious. On one of my days there, I also had a traditional english breakfast. Then I found this tiny little place just a few blocks away from my hotel called Gigs. It was so crowded, I just had to find out what was up with it. Apparently, they made amazing fish and chips. So I asked for one. And I have to agree. It's probably the best fish and chips I've ever had. The fish was humongous and meaty and the chips were fried to perfection and not soggy at all. If you are around that area, it's on 12 Tottenham st. They also have Greek food which I hear is good. But I had to go for what I came there for.
But what impressed me the most was how much of a global city London was. I saw foreigners walking around
taking in the sights just like I was with wide-eyed excitement. The locals were nice and welcoming enough to make a visitor like me comfortable in walking around, thus taking in the energy of the
city without much hindrance. My first thoughts when I got there was that things were gonna be difficult because it was an unfamiliar city to me in an unfamiliar land. When in fact, this
city has so many parallels to New York. And it got me reflecting on my own attitude towards tourists in New York. I've been living in New York for 5 1/2 years now. I call it home..
for the moment. And to a certain degree, I feel a little bit of an ownership of it no matter how small that share is. I'm sure a lot of New Yorkers can agree with me. But what
we really are forgetting here is that New York, just like London, is a global city. What I mean is it's everybody's city. People from around the world can come to New York and take
from it how ever much experience they want just like you and I. And aside from all the grandiose, majestic and amazing things I saw that were knew to me, the most important thing I took
from London was that I can have a piece of it too, even if only for a long weekend.