London – a city of inspiration

Hello readers – I’m back!

I have survived my first solo trip!  And I had an amazing time.  England is a beautiful country with so much to do, I can not wait to return.

The trip began with a great quote I found in an airplane magazine: “How to make the most of a trip – Smile at each and every person who greets you, and remember, unexpected circumstances often lead to new insights and discoveries.”  Amidst all of my anxiety and fear, this quote was exactly what I needed to refocus my energy and keep an open-mind and positive attitude.  I don’t doubt I found those words for a reason.

I spent most of my time in London, exploring the city’s museums, landmarks, and streets.  I found myself in awe of my surroundings.  It was surreal being so far from home, in such a historic and famous city, all alone.  But everywhere I turned, I found inspiration: to travel, to learn, to take risks, to be stronger, and to create peace.

The museums around London were all great, and not to mention, most were free.  Definitely see the Tate Modern (modern art exhibits), the British Museum (world and British history, with some more contemporary exhibits), the National Portrait Gallery, the Albert and Victoria Museum (a gigantic museum with culture, history, architecture, art, religion,…), and the Museum of London.  One of the most interesting and moving pieces in the Museum of London was tucked away at the end of the tour: a Book of Tribute honoring the 52 victims of the 2005 London Bus Bombings.  Each victim had pages dedicated to their life, with messages and stories from loved ones.

 “Each person was a unique individual with so much life to live, love to share, and potential to fullfil.

Each time someone reads a tribute, it helps to keep the memory of that person alive.”

 The artwork and installations in many of the museums were inspiring, too…

London’s East End is known for art of a different kind: graffiti.  Home to Banksy and many other graffiti artists, the East End (Shoreditch/Brick Lane, comparable to Fishtown, Philadelphia) is covered in thought-provoking and self-reflective works of art.

 


London’s Royal Parks are beautiful, peaceful escapes from such a crowded, bustling city.  Regent’s Park is home to Queen Mary’s Garden, featuring hundreds of different types of roses.

On my way through Hyde Park (to visit the Peter Pan statue!), I stumbled into the London Triathlon Grand Final 2013.  I have recently been inspired to train for and complete a triathlon, so to unexpectedly find one in London was not only a sign, but an emotional experience.  The strength, determination, and passion that filled Hyde Park was moving and inspiring.

I also met a lot of cool people, many travelers like myself.  London is such a diverse city that attracts people from all parts of the world.  I befriended people from Norway, Poland, Australia, Brasil, and two other world travelers that inspired me most: Mary, an Iranian who grew up in Norway, and Giulio from Italy.  They met 3 years ago while both living in Australia and have been great friends ever since, even if thousands of miles apart.  While getting to know them and hearing their many travel stories, I am currently considering a big move (I’ll keep you all updated when things get more serious).  Mary is now starting university for 3 years in London while Giulio is currently on his way to Nepal to teach English and who knows what else.  Seriously.  He doesn’t know any details: where he’ll be sleeping, what he’ll be eating, or how long he’ll be there.  All that’s planned is his flight to Katmandu, a bus ride into the Himalayas, and a 3 day hike through the mountains to his new village home.

Inspired yet?  I am.

The best (and most challenging) part of my trip was being alone.  London is a city with millions of people, and it’s so much more evident when you are by yourself.  While I met and went out with a lot of different people, I spent my days exploring the city alone, at my own pace and with my own destinations. Some of the best moments were also some of the hardest.  Passing open markets overflowing with people, and hearing a breath-taking voice singing “Hallelujah,” I couldn’t stop myself from revisiting my past.  What a beautiful moment, but also a tough one.  It’s impossible for experiences like this one not to affect you in deep places.  While emotions and memories came rushing back, I’ve proven to myself that I am stronger than my past and can do anything on my own.

Experiencing London on my own has been nothing but positive (minus it’s effects on my bank account).  I have gained knowledge of a new city, of traveling (blog with tips coming soon!), and of myself.  I already feel a stronger person for having had this experience.  The world is a beautiful place; when we discover it, we discover ourselves.


 Happy travels!
Michael

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