Lost in London: Part II

Thursday, August 09, 2018

"One's destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things." - Henry Miller

"How many days will you be in London?" asks the customs official.

"Four," I tell him.

"And then where are you off to next?"

"Back home."

"You're only here for four days?" he asks in surprise. He looks at my passport again. Apparently flying to London for a four day getaway is not normal. "Well, have a nice visit," he says, stamping and then handing me back my passport. 

That will not be a problem. Whether it's for four days or forty, traveling to London is always a good idea.

I never just want to travel. I need to travel. There is something very existential about traveling for me. I not only learn more about where I am, but who I am.

Traveling has made me more self-reliant, confident and brave. The first time I traveled overseas, communicating with family back home was not easy. I had to buy international calling cards and search for Internet cafes. I had to figure things out on my own.

I both appreciate and disparage how small our world has become. I love how easy it is to stay connected, but it’s harder to get lost in a new world now, literally. Google will direct you precisely where you need to go. It can even translate languages for you. And I think this causes us to miss out on some of the magic of traveling, because sometimes it's when we are lost that we find the best surprises.

This was true for us on our third day in London. One of my favorite places to get lost in London is Notting Hill. The colorful houses and market stalls beckon to be explored. We rode the underground to Notting Hill Gate and then proceeded to wander down lively Portobello Road, teeming with people, antiques, handcrafted art and kitschy knick-knacks.


The problem with Portobello Road is that while I love walking down it the first time, it's not nearly as appealing to walk back down its crowded path a second time to return to the tube station. So we decided to find our way back taking a different route. Luckily, Notting Hill's picturesque pastel houses offer quite the distraction from the cares of being lost. However, it did little to stop my stomach from rumbling. Being lost is one thing. Being lost and hungry, now that's another story.

And that's when we stumbled upon one of the best brunch spots I’ve ever been to in London. It’s called Bluebelles of Portobello. If you ever make it to the end of Portobello Road Market, I highly suggest you reward yourself with their croissant French toast topped with fruit compote. It tasted even more delicious than it looked.

After brunch we continued our exploration of Notting Hill. Walking down the cobbled stone lanes, I daydreamed of living in one of the quirkly painted homes. I felt like someone on HGTV's House Hunters International. In my head the realtor was asking me if I could see myself living there - yes, yes I could.

After making our way back to the Notting Hill Gate tube stop, we decided that we didn’t want our wandering walk to end, so we continued on to Hyde Park. I of course had to peak around Kensington Palace to try and catch a glimpse of the royals. We didn’t see them, so unfortunately we were not invited in for tea, and Kate, Meagan and I are not best friends - yet. But we did enjoy the beautiful views of the palace gardens and then the rest of Hyde Park. The second home on our House Hunters International tour looked quite promising.

I mean, don't we look right at home?

I had forgotten just how big Hyde Park is. And how long it would take us to walk through it. Luckily the weather was still unusually pleasant and perfect for a long stroll. We walked past Round Lake, the Peter Pan statue, said hello to some very friendly green parakeets (who knew there were parakeets flying around London?), dipped our toes in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain and then capped it all off with a drink at the Lido Bar and Cafe next to the Serpentine Lake where we enjoyed the afternoon sun and wondered about the odd statue made of barrels in the middle of the lake. What wonders await us when we wander.

Next we walked to our final potential home in London - house #3, also known as Buckingham Palace. I hear that the royals are no longer going to live there after Queen Elizabeth, so they’ll be needing someone to look after the place.

We finally made it back to our hotel and found a great little Italian restaurant down a side road called Bunga Bunga. Their wood-fired pizza was delicious and little did we know, but they are also renowned for their burlesque shows and dancing. We only sampled the pizza, but maybe next time we'll stay for the dancing - it’ll just have to be on a day when we don’t walk all over London.

On our fourth and last day in London, we spent the morning in Covent Garden. Covent Garden, in my opinion, is a must see if you're ever in London. The former fruit and vegetable market is now home to shopping, pubs and restaurants, as well as entertaining street performers whose quirky offerings pay tribute to the birthplace of the "Punch & Judy" puppet show.

After enjoying a lovely brunch at an outdoor cafe, we wandered through yet another market - Covent Garden's Apple Market. While I struck out at the stalls of Portobello Road, I was thrilled to find a unique little ring to commemorate our trip from one of the artist's stalls. It, along with all of the memories made walking the streets of this magnificent city, will just have to be enough until we can return again.

This short but sweet trip reinforced my belief in the powers of travel. To travel is to recognize that you do not know everything, and that's okay. But the more you travel, the more you will know, both about the world and yourself. It is humbling, eye-opening, humanizing, and incredibly rewarding. To travel and really lose yourself in another world is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

You Might Also Like


Copyright 2019 SoSarahdipity.com