I had the opportunity to travel to London when I was 14. That was nearly 23 years ago! Ever since that trip, I have been fascinated with everything to do with London. I LOVE the architecture, the people, the food, the way of life – everything! I will often watch movies solely because they are set in London.
My goal is to be able to take my whole family on a long vacation to London so that we can all experience what I experienced 23 years ago. The price of airline tickets make it nearly impossible for a family of 6 to be able to afford to fly. So, it’s a long-term goal requiring a lot of planning and saving.
London can be very touristy at certain points of the year – particularly during the summer. Be prepared to wait in line and fight crowds to get to where you want to go. I’m more interested, for the second time around, to explore less-traveled sites in the city. I want to experience pubs (was too young to drink in 1994!). I want to take a drive outside the city and explore nearby areas.
1994 Trip to London
Flashback to 1994. I was 15 and about to embark on my first trip overseas with my family. I was a little nervous as it would be my first flight. We flew out of Atlanta direct to London – Gatwick Airport. Once we arrived, I could barely contain myself with excitement. I was about to step foot on foreign soil for the first time and experience the magic and wonder of London.
My parents decided it would be best to rent a car rather than take public transportation. Boy, was this a mistake! This was before the age of the smart phone and GPS, so my parents were trying to navigate from the airport to the hotel. Needless to say, my dad forgot that cars travel on the opposite side of the road as what we do here in the USA. We ended up going the wrong way around a roundabout. Luckily, my younger brother had the camera rolling!
We finally arrived safe and sound at our hotel. Imagine, if you will, a family from the South trying to speak to the hotel receptionist who probably had never heard of a Southern accent before. Heck, I can’t even understand it now that I’ve lived away from it for 12 years! We found our room and quickly decided to get something to eat. Since London time was 5 hours ahead of Georgia time, we tried to accustom ourselves to the new time zone and headed out to explore the city.
Throughout the week, we saw Big Ben and Parliament, the Tower of London and the Crown Jewels, Buckingham Palace, Wimbledon, Westminster Abbey, and Windsor Castle. These world-renowned landmarks were AMAZING to see in person. TV only does them so much justice. You absolutely MUST make it a goal to see these amazing buildings in person! We also spent nearly a full day in Harrod’s – something I’ll NEVER forget!
Although things look similar to the way they do here in the USA, many customs and daily ways of life are vastly different. Don’t go into a fast food restaurant expecting them to know what sweet tea or “refills” mean. Take a dictionary with you. Although English is the primary language, it is filled with different words with different meanings. Example: Mail (USA) = Post (UK).
The people of London were so friendly and accommodating! Asking for directions, general questions, getting advice on where to eat were all so simple to do in London. You must take a double-decker bus ride through the city! It is amazing! If you have the opportunity to make British friends, do it! They are extremely nice and welcoming!
Whenever I get the opportunity to make a return trip to London, I can’t wait to be able to take my wife and kids to the sites that I visited along with making new memories at places I didn’t get a chance to see last time.