My Encounters in London
After telling you all about his first solo flight, Sagar Baheti is back again with tales from his time in London.
As my previous blog mentioned, my heavy duty planning, it actually helped me. I made it to my hotel rather easily. I was satisfied with myself for having made it this far with little or almost no problems.
My friend was going to join me on the following day, so I decided to rest a little, freshen up and then go out to explore. It was summertime and the days are long so when I got out at about 5 PM, I decided to get back by 9.30 PM, just before sunset as it’s easier for me to see.
As given in my handy travel tips, I had all the route maps and the metro time table on my phone. I was ready see the London Bridge. The memory of me singing “London Bridge is falling down” got me excited. Although I was unable to see it clearly, I took a lot of photographs, and I must be honest and say it was a tad bit disappointing. Maybe the modern bridge is not like the one in the nursery school books made of stone or just that I had imagined differently.
On the other hand, central London left me amazed. On a summer evening, there were so many people out on the streets and there was so much energy. I noticed street artists everywhere, so many bars, pubs and restaurants with outdoor seating and all of them filled with people. I took a little walk around and clicked many photographs, as I see the world more clearly in photographs.
Since I had some time to kill, I found an old English bar which was quite full and buzzing with energy. There I met an Air India pilot who asked me to join him and his friends. Time went by, and I grew steadily anxious. I told them of my predicament and they were gracious enough to offer me a drop back to my hotel. Not only did the pilot walk me back to my hotel, but also made sure I made it to the room safely. This is something I will never forget. My ‘Day 1’ alone turned out much better than I expected!
The following day, my friend arrived quite early and now I had nothing to worry about or plan. It was up to him and all I had to do was to tell him what I wanted to do. We went to watch the game at Lords and although I could not see the ball, the fact that I was at the Lords to witness the Ashes was my biggest high! My friend Mo did a great job, describing the proceedings of the day. The legacy of this cricket ground, the stories, the old memories of matches on this ground that I had seen as a child on television was all just too much to soak in. The fact that I was at the Mecca of cricket and for the oldest rivalry in the game was so much that even if I went back without having seen anything else was acceptable to me. I still have the tickets as a souvenir, apart from so many others I bought at the ground.
The next couple of days we visited the popular tourist places in London such as the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Baker Street, and so much more. All these places have great significance in history, politics or architecture. But for me these are things I can only see well in pictures.
A couple of things that I really enjoyed apart from going to the cricket match and I strongly recommend are:
The Borough Market– A street market with people putting up their own food, snacks, and drinks stalls. It’s an interactive experience. I thoroughly enjoyed walking through this market, getting a drink, some homemade snacks and talking to people.
Watch a Shakespearen Play– This happens at the Shakespeare’s globe which is an open-air theatre and is one of the best places in London to watch a play.
After three days in London, we went to Edinburgh and stayed at Mo’s house. I explored this charming little town and caught up on our old times from studying together at university in Bengaluru. The week had gone by really fast and it was time to return home. Mo helped me with getting to the airport and again I asked for some help at the airport to find my gate.
On the flight, I could not sleep and I kept thinking about the week that had gone by so quickly. I realised what I was capable of. The first day in London changed me as a person. I could not imagine someone I can call a stranger to have gone out of his way to drop me off to my hotel late at night in an unfamiliar city.
It taught me to believe more in people. We may all have bad experiences but there are also the good people. I realised that I enjoyed experiences more than places to see. I liked talking to people from different cultures and backgrounds to understand their ways of life. Most importantly, I learnt to overcome my ego and ask for help. Most people are willing to help, all you have to do is make the first move and ask! It makes my life easy, and that’s why I can travel. The trip was a victory of sorts for me and my mind was already wandering thinking about my next travel plan!
So what are you waiting for? Make the most of what you have!
About The Author
I was born and brought up in Bangalore. I run a business of my own which is to do with import and export of natural stones. I was a club cricketer until a few years back when I was diagnosed with stargardts which is a condition leading to progressive loss of vision. I still follow cricket very enthusiastically and have now taken a liking towards running and cycling as a sport. I also work with an NGO called CEGR (Centre For eye genetics and research) to support and motivate visually impaired people.