I try to think of words to describe this trip, but there aren’t any. Here are some I have thought of: wotcher, cheers, wagon, quite good. But those are simply my favorite colloquialisms, and mean nothing to you. Just know that it is always a challenge to not use British speak in my daily life without sounding pretentious, and it was even harder when I was there.
But really, I went to England and Ireland. My Meccas. Life is complete. I have been so homesick for so long for those places, and yet had dreamt about them for so long that they seemed about as real as Narnia and Hogwarts. It hurt to leave. Sure, I’m coming back for a long time in a few years, but years are long. The bright side is that every time I regretted not being able to see or do something, I was able to tell myself “next time, but better,” and actually believe it.
First I flew into Bristol in order to see a smaller British city. There I saw the Sound of Music and ate fish and chips. On the bus ride into London, I had every intention of staying awake to see the countryside I have been pining for, but promptly fell asleep.
People say Londoners are mean. I don’t know who they were comparing them to, but I didn’t find that to be true in the least. Yes, two or three people were rude to me, and their rudeness was among the worst I have experienced, but the majority were quite nice. I think people got a little confused- yes, the rude people are ruder in London, but they are also fewer. I was called “my love” and winked at (in a friendly, not creepy way). People were noticeably polite, certainly more so than Americans, with their “sorrys,” “pleases,” and “cheers.” It was strange after being so long in Spain, were such niceties are not used. Even British children are well-behaved and cultured.
One of the greatest things about London is that it is a city with history, like Rome, but it is still very much alive. In Rome, you see the Vatican, the Coliseum, and the Trevi Fountain. In Paris, you see the Eiffel Tower. In London, however, the list of things to do and see is never-ending. There are quiet places and loud places, historical and modern, magically next to and on top of each other. Considering the size of the country, the amount of history packed in is incredible and condensed. I certainly walked in the same footsteps of almost all of my heroes.
I went to the British Library, were I saw the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, a collection of stories written by Jane Austen, as well as her writing desk, hand-written poems by Wordsworth and Oscar Wilde, among others. Also, I saw the original copies of Beatles songs such as Help, I Want to Hold Your Hand, etc. and original copies of the Magna Carta. There’s nothing like a good original. Other sites- Platform 9 ¾ (under construction, lame), the obvious Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Globe Theatre, Tower of London, the Imperial War Museum, and a service at Westminster Abbey. St. James and Hyde Park really are enormous parks right in the middle of the city. (Nature!) The London Bridge is the most anti-climactic site ever. It's at least as bad as it sounds. Don’t bother going. Much more exciting is a few blocks down, where the bridge that was destroyed in Harry Potter 6 is located.
I enjoyed dispelling the myths of my companions. I didn’t realize how much I knew about England until I got there. Yes, there is a difference between Big Ben and the Tower of London. No, Boxing Day has nothing to do with boxing. No, there is no meat in mincemeat pie (which I will have you know is delicious).
It is important to note that the best men are in England. After slimy, skinny Spanish men, the tall, pea-coated, bespectacled, well-read, and polite Brits were a pleasant surprise. There’s nothing like seeing a well-dressed man reading in a pub.
I got to spend a day alone in London, one of the greatest cities to be alone in. I hunted down bookstores, which was harder than I thought it would be considering it is pretty much the most literary city in the world, visited Dickens’ house, and saw Les Miserables, which made me bawl like a baby.
At the end, my only comfort was that in leaving England I would be going to Ireland. England is the home of my mind, but Ireland is the home of my blood. I was going home in a different way.
There is no neatly developed and wrapped-up theme for this blog, which I usually attempt in order to keep the attention and respect of my readers (or shall I say reader?). But for this one I have none. Just know that I love England probably more than anyone else, or at least as much as anyone could. Ireland is different; with its people, beer, and underdog status, it is easy to love. England is a bit harder, but that only makes it all the more mine.