I’ve been a part of the London/England fandom since middle school when I started getting into the Beatles and indie rock bands, so I spent my first whole day in London being an unapologetical tourist #NoShame.
The first stop was Trafalgar Square. We headed down via double-decker bus from Safestay, our hostel that’s in the Elephant and Castle neighbourhood. We filed onto the bus, mixing in with morning commuters. We were obviously foreigners with our cameras out ready to take photos and videos of everything and anything. Again, no shame.
When I arrived in London the day before, fatigue sunk in faster and stronger than the realization that I was really here. But today the closer the bus got to the square, the more I could see the scurry of Londoners and the more I felt the pulse of the city in my veins.
The moment we got off of the bus, two red telephone booths were there to greet us and of course, we all took the obligatory phone booth photo. From the bus stop it was a short walk to Trafalgar square. My eyes were immediately drawn to Nelson’s Column, a monument built to commemorate Admiral Horatio Nelson who died at the Battle of Trafalgar. It towers over the square, dwarfing the people that surround it. At its base you could see people trying to climb giant lion statues. They looked like ants climbing an anthill.
The square showcased England’s rich history and, of course, we were there to take selfies and photos with it. Shortly after, we made our way up the steps, past the levitating Yodas, Grim Reapers and creepy Mickey Mouse street performers and into the National Gallery.
I’m not a huge art aficionado, but when I saw Van Gogh’s work in person, I got a little bit emotional to be honest. He’s an artist I’ve learned about in school and TV shows and I always see his pieces circulating Tumblr, but seeing them in person showed what a beautiful mind the man had. It’s a shame his work is only being celebrated now.
Most people surrounded his piece called, “Sunflowers.” A lot of them took photos, but after they also took the time to just stand and take in the warm, yellow hues the painting emitted, and so did I.
After the National Gallery we split up into two groups of six. My group made our way to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which boasted an exterior and interior made of stone and wood that was intricately carved into ornate designs of cherubs and angels. We also saw Jesus (or maybe it was just a tall guy with long hair and a beard wearing immaculately white clothing from head to toe).
Our journey continued onto the Millennium Bridge, where they filmed that part in Harry Potter when dementors terrorized the muggle world. I’m pretty sure that bridge has been destroyed in many movies. On the other side of the bridge and the Thames river was the Tate Modern art gallery. The art was a deep look into a mirror at your own reflection (no, seriously, one piece was actually a mirror).
We then took a windy walk down the Thames and over the Tower Bridge, passing by the Globe Theatre along the way.
Overall, I think the reason for visiting a new country isn’t to fit in right away. It’s to experience a new culture and to let yourself be in awe and feel all the feelings. #NoShame