The idea of traveling alone was completely unknown to me and to be honest with you, it made me afraid that I would end up longing for some company. I cannot stress enough how irrational this fear turned out to be! As a solo traveler, you are never alone because there is an abundance of people just in your position. I have been making friends left, right, and definitely up from the way I have been making friends back at home in Cleveland.
To begin my adventures in London, I decided to knock out the primary attractions first. I went to see Westminster Abbey and although the Big Ben is under construction, the sight is unbelievably mighty and gorgeous. Then, I locked my view on the London Eye and made my way across the bridge to take a ride on this popular observation wheel. London is vast and the Thames is so sublime from above! You truly feel like an ant.
As I wandered away from the attraction, I stumbled upon a free little gallery called We Collect. There I enjoyed the moving exhibition of a talented young Spanish artist Beatriz Dubois. Most of the pieces combined words and visuals, giving the art an unconventional feel. I specifically remember a magical photograph of the woods with a statement written on a blank piece of paper stating: “You are drunk.” Suddenly, I immersed myself with the idea of laying back in that exact location drunk, taking in my surroundings completely carefree. Because of that, I walked away feeling that her pieces were as effective as they were affective. Her combination of mediums moved my imagination to new spaces.
After leaving We Collect, I decided to take in some views of the Westminster Abbey from the opposite side of the bridge. Sure enough, I saw a young woman struggling to take a selfie. I asked, “Would you like me to take a picture of you?” Right then and there, I found a new friend who ended up being not so different from me. Just like me, Ania is a Polish immigrant traveling solo in London. Although she lives in Germany, we connected on many levels and decided to see Buckingham Palace together.
From there, we decided to explore the British Museum which is about a mile and half away from Buckingham Palace. On our walk, I noticed a sign “Whisky Cellar” and was instantaneously intrigued. Who knew there are places that sell £90,000 bottles of cognac!? Well, they do. The Remy Martin Coupe Shanghai 1904 was in the display right as you walk in and cost exactly that. How insane, I thought. More insane is that in London (according to the salesperson), these astronomically expensive bottles sell regularly.
Anyways, the British Museum is cool – I got to see some mummies and a dude that dried up in the desert some 5,000 years ago. I started getting apprehensive because my phone died and hungry because well, I walked around a lot. I parted ways with Ania and it was a little while before I found my way back to the Underground and to Greenwich.
On my way back, I observed a new phenomenon: half of the people on the train were reading the newspaper after work and the other half was on their phones! In my personal statistical view of Cleveland, most people sit around just glued to their phones. How refreshing this was!
I made my way back to the hostel and found Heather who sleeps two beds below me hanging out at the pub downstairs. I joined her for dinner and soon Troy, who sleeps right below me, joined us too. We hung out for hours sharing our ideas and world views. A bit later, a few people from Australia arrived at our table. We drank some beers and talked pretty serious stuff some more. Apparently, Australian health insurance is magnificent in comparison to America.
All in all, on my first day in London I made cool new friends, saw a lot of cool new places, and learned a lot of cool new information.