When anyone from outside of London thinks of London, they think of it as one of the best places England has to offer. And, with its layers of culture, diversity and passion, I’d argue that it is. But unlike a lot of places, a day trip simply does not cover the expansive qualities it has to offer.
But me and my family stayed over the weekend, and circulated our way around iconic areas: Leicester Square, Covent Garden, South Bank. I hadn’t been to London for a very long time before this, so I didn’t go fully coherent in the tube system and all that. The last time I went, I certainly wasn’t old enough to appreciate how beautiful and different London is. However, this was my first trip as a fully-fledged adult, and with mature eyed I feel I was able to understand its subtle intricacies well.
So what did I do, exactly?
We headed there on the 8:30am on Saturday, from my home station Lichfield Trent Valley. Now, a mildly interesting fact about Lichfield is that houses are quite pricey around here, due to the fact you can get a direct train to London Euston from this station. This directness was a blessing for us, and made travelling such a long way a lot easier. It only took an hour and a bit too, as we zoomed away on a Virgin train, non-stop till London after one extra stop.
When we arrived, we headed on the tube, and straight for Madame Tussauds. Having Merlin Annual Passes (which helped save a lot of things on this trip, actually) meant we could skip the queue. We squeezed into the elevator, and made our way around the different rooms. It was fun, but the problem with it was a lot of the older wax figures didn’t look as realistic as the newer ones, which made it quite confusing in terms of knowing who was who! Additionally, I’m a bit more culture-savvy than the rest of my family, as being an aspiring journalist I’m aware of most figures in the spotlight. My little siblings are bit too young to know who was who, and they’d probably have enjoyed it more if there were more kiddie-friendly figures. (…though I’d be a bit worried if my little sister knew who Justin Bieber was!).
After this, we dropped our bags off at the hotel, and chilled out a bit before going for dinner at Chiquitos. This is a Mexican restaurant chain, and they serve the most fantastic, fresh food. From tapas to tacos, wraps to wings, they have everything and more! I had feta stuffed quesadillas, patatas bravas, and breadcrumbed halloumi. Each dish was to die for, although I wasn’t stuffed. Luckily, we also had dessert. My mum and I had chilli chocolate lava cakes. A perfect dessert, in the sense that it was rich, but the kick to it made it not too overwhelming. It was my mum’s birthday, and the staff brought her out a birthday brownie with a candle, making the whole restaurant sing to (which was amusing to us, but not so for her). She was too full for her brownie, and I therefore had two desserts. Like I was going to let good food go to waste.
Afterwards, we wandered over to Covent Garden. There was a man playing music with cartons, tins, and an assortment of other objects on the way. I can’t really describe the feeling I got, just walking through London in the evening, listening to this wacky and wonderful music. It was just my heart saying ‘Yeah, this is right.’ The last time I felt that was one of my first days in Nottingham. Maybe the journalist in me knows I belong in London, at some point or another.
The next day, we carried on sight seeing. My step dad thought it’d be a very good idea to walk from the hotel to the London Eye. I, with my stomach full of three breakfasts and with two night’s worth of packing on my back, did not. But I managed. And after an hour, we reached the Millennium Bridge.
As we walked along the path leading up to the London Eye, my little sister was very concerned to see these signs tied to some trees:
I had to explain to her that the previous Mayor of London (our lad BoJo), thought it’d be a great idea to build another bridge over the Thames, with a fancy garden on it. She didn’t understand why they had to chop other trees down to make room for new trees. I had quite a proud sister moment, as she ranted on to me about how unfair all of this was. She’s six, by the way. I guess she’s got a bit of her sister’s political blood.
Once we finally arrived at the London Eye, we again used our Merlin Passes to hop the queue, and within 10 minutes we were floating. Me being geographically inept meant I had no clue Big Ben (or Queen Elizabeth’s Tower, as it’s now technically called), the Palace of Westminster and MI5 were on the opposite side of the Thames to us. But the helpful tablet told us so, and I tried to take some artful shots. The industrial build of the London Eye made it very difficult to do so. However, I took a very scenic shot later on in the day, which I’ll get on to later.
Once we’d finished, we went to Shrek’s Adventure. I used Tumblr a lot many years ago, and so I am very familiar with the memes and jokes that now run alongside one of my favourite childhood films. I was cynical and piss-taking at the start, as I often am with these kinds of child-orientated attractions. But surprisingly, I got into it. It was very well-done, with live-actors skillfully directing a quest to find the ingredients to make a portal to escape from Rumpelstiltskin’s witches, as we had just killed his witch fiancee when we went on our magical 4D bus tour (which made complete and utter sense at the time, I swear). They involved the adults a lot too, with a divorced TOWIE-esque Cinderella trying to flirt with my step-dad! At the end they had a great gift shop too, filled with cuddly Gingy’s that I very much wanted, but that my student budget would not allow.
We left armed with a photo album of our ‘adventure’, and decided to call it a day. We headed for London Euston on the tram, but not before I took that picture I was going on about. Considering that I am stuck with my slow Hungarian phone currently whilst I’m waiting for my good phone to be repaired, I was very amazed. I took it in a split second too, deciding that the scene was just too beautiful to leave:
The thing about London Euston is that they largely do not have platform numbers on the LED signs, until minutes before the train is due to leave. A sea of people stood before them, craning their necks. When our one popped up five minutes before departing time, we bolted. I had my little sister’s oversized teddy in one hand, and her hand in the other, and just bolted. The adrenaline was so invigorating, so enlightening. Again, it felt like it was the kind of thing I was meant to do. That I am destined to do.
So yes. I left London feeling a bit richer, a bit lighter. Hoping that my next visit would not be that of a tourist, but that of a journalist. Because for me, I think where better to be, news-speaking and justice-seeking, than in the heart of England?