When our Uber driver casually used the word rubbish in his colloquial language, Darbi and I instantly looked at each other. I mouthed the word “rubbish” with excitement at her and we laughed under our breath.
When people ask me how London was, a million things flash through my mind, including Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen, the theme song of the weekend. Instead of a one word answer I’ve written it down for you to see all that went down in lovely London.
The sculptures that were scattered around the city were so intricate and seemingly infinite. The reflective gold statues kept my attention, specifically the ones we pass in Hyde park every day. We practically skipped through Hyde Park because we were so happy. Everything was simply magnificent. The grass was a vibrant green and the flowers buds peeked out as if they were just about to blossom. Janine picked daffodils for us, as we were hoping to press the flowers in our journals. She joked about how she felt like a criminal, but we placed them delicately in our bags and wandered on. People were scattered across the grass. Some reading with their ankles crossed, some deep breathing doing yoga, and some sprawled out enjoying the crisp air with a blanket of warmth. We passed families bathing in the sun with their quaint picnic baskets, and their coats swung in the wind on the branches, that they used as coat hangers. A beautiful, splendid, lovely day. It wasn’t yet sunset, but everything was golden.
We sat down for our afternoon tea, and I had suddenly felt like I’d entered an Alice in Wonderland dream. I got the Westminster breakfast tea, and Janine got some fruity/citrus blend. Michaela got a lavender tea and said it was like she was drinking a spa (in a good way I presume). we were presented perfectly cut sandwiches and warm scones that were accompanied by whipped butter and fresh, berry jam. To top it off, we indulged in cream puffs and a variety of tarts for dessert. All these treats were presented on a three-layered tray that looked as if it could be a fancy birdcage. When we poured our tea through the strainer, the tea leaves would fall and we’d watch the steam rise as soon as the hot water hit the surface. We nibbled our sweets, drank our tea, and enjoyed the presence of each other.
The London Eye was our next destination. The view was priceless (not really since I did pay £ 40 for the ride up). All four of us rushed into the capsule as soon as the staff motioned us onto the loading platform. As soon as we reached the top, it took a minute for me to absorb the sight. The skyline was a light mix of pinks, yellows, and oranges, with Big Ben under construction looking back at me. Above the sun, there were still some blues and purples since the sun had not completely set yet. I took my obligatory photos and then put my camera away to embrace what was in front of me. A painting of God’s creation. An endless skyline. When we got back to the ground, I looked up, and amazed at how perspective can change your view of the world.
Despite being a native Floridian with Universal down the street, we decided to wait in a thirty-minute-line just to prove we went. It was quite comical and I would do it all over again. We ended the day at a fish and chips restaurant, named Uptown Riding and made our way back to sleep for our next day.
The Westminster chapel was beyond my imagination. I thought it would be just one room, but it was divided by sections. We walked through places such as the nave, the quite, the high altar, the poets’ corner, the north ambulatory chapels, the RAF chapel and past many tombs of queens and kings. The stained glass illuminated stunning pieces of work; with deep reds, dark greens, royal blues and multiple hues of yellow and orange. The coronation chair from 1308 was even on display at the end! The chambers were so interesting to see, with little red lamps near them in the Quire. Every shrine had such a unique take and position, catered to the individual that was buried below. Many had their descendants and children beneath their graves. Overloaded with the beauty of the brightness and intricate ceiling, I was in awe. The ceiling was the reason the Lady Chapel was my favorite. “I couldn’t stop looking up I was scared I was going to run into someone,” Janine commented on the intricate ceiling. No corner was left untouched or unnoticed, every inch was art in this chapel. The magnificence was not just due to the art, but the fact that so many brilliant people were buried here including Jane Austen, Stephen Hawking, and Charles Dickens.
At the end of the audio tour, they had a small reflective portion to listen to. It said: “if we can use the gifts we have to make the world a better place and fill it with God's love, then our lives will have real purpose and we will make a real difference… All people are equally valuable in God’s sight.”
That stuck with me the entirety of the trip and will stick for the rest of my days.
Next stop: Kensington Palace, where the royal prince and princess live. Each floor held significant history and each high ceiling had marvelous pieces of artwork adorning them. They had costumes from the new movie, The Favorite, on display, which was very interesting. In the last room there held three of the crowns. Shimmering in the black-lit room, just a spotlight laid on all three. I wondered how heavy it would be to wear on top of your head and if the queen ever grows tired of it.
In the evening, Janine and I ended up at Piccadilly Circus (a.k.a. The Times Square of London). We had high hopes to grab last minute tickets to Les Miserables, but didn’t make it in time as it was sold out. Instead, we walked across the London tower bridge, which I’m happy to report did not fall down. We walked along the boardwalk with little firefly lights illuminating our path. We then went to a bar named Jamie’s Place for a bottle of wine, and “bar hopped” to a pizza place… just for more wine to keep the night going.
Sunday was the Manchester vs Liverpool match. The energy was contagious. Boisterous men cheered and chanted every 5 minutes or so, and by the end of the game, I could recite every one. My favorite chant was “la la Liverpool.” (Which is included in the end of my video below.) We slept on the train ride back and then went to MK restaurant where I got French onion soup and ricotta ravioli with spinach on top in a creamy tomato sauce. Delicious.
So in all, if you really wanted to know how London was, I hope you enjoyed the details. If you wanted the brief summary: amazing. Our weekend was one that can’t be forgotten. Through it all, the greatest thing that stuck with me is to remember to fill the world with love so our lives have real purpose and to make a difference.
My wish is for you to use your gifts today and fill someone's life with love.