So I don’t think it’s a secret to anybody, but I love London. “The Big Smoke” is basically where it all started. That being, the last four or five years of wanderlust, that at this point, dictates my life.
As I’ve talked about before, London is the first place I visited outside of Canada, hell it was the first time I’d been outside of Ontario. Not being one to half-ass anything, I decided that my first trip would be a month long stay at the Queen Mary University of London campus, where I would learn all about the Renaissance. When I signed up for the course, I knew no one, I hadn’t ever spent a week away from my parents and I had never owned a passport. Skip ahead a month, I left London with a few new pals, one very strong friendship and two proud passport stamps, one from my stay in London and one from a long weekend spent in Paris.
If you fast forward further down the line, I’ve now been to over 10 different countries and hope to visit a fare few more, before my stay in Sweden is complete. After that, I’ve got a feeling my travels will take me somewhere else, but you will have to stay tuned.
I knew I would eventually make my way back to London, I just didn’t know it would be this soon. Like I mentioned in my previous post about Budapest, I had a week off work, and wanted to spend as much of that time traveling. I had already planned and booked Budapest, and was looking for a cheap and quick trip that I could take advantage of. Originally, I was contemplating traveling to Denmark or Oslo. Both cities are close to Stockholm, and cheap to get to. I ended up changing my mind in the end, because like most of Scandinavia, unless you’re really into winter sports, it’s much easier to see things and walk around in the warmer months.
My other option was London. Ryanair makes routine, cheap trips to London, and I thought it was about time that I go back to my first love. This time, it would be on my own.
I landed in the city on Tuesday morning and set out to find my hostel. Since it happened to be located right around the corner from Hyde Park, I decided to dedicate a large chunk of my day to walking around and taking pictures of everything and anything. A big motivation for me on this trip, was to see things from a different angle, compared to my first encounter with London. I wanted to explore the city from a tighter perspective, taking pleasure in the smaller details.
Although this was a solo trip, it was not your typical “solo traveller meeting and becoming instant friends with everyone at the hostel” type story. Although I met and had some good conversations with a lot of people at the hostel, it was unlike most that I’d stayed in. I’d say that most of the people I met were essentially living in hostels, while trying to find work in London. So, although everyone was super nice, there wasn’t much of a traveller vibe to the place.
After getting to know some people in my room, I decided to head out and grab some food. Finally settling on a diner, where I got a burger and fries with gravy and cheese (or as we call it in Canada, Poutine). The french fry request earned me a skeptical look from my waitress, but I promise, it is essentially a Canadian party in your mouth!
The next day, I decided that I would avoid the areas of London I had seen before, and headed on the Northern line to Camden Town.
Once you get past the countless shops selling Jersey Shore style graphic tees, you’re able to appreciate the crazy colours, awesome storefronts and general fleamarket feel of the place. I had to put myself on a strict no buy policy and remember that I was only there to explore and capture interesting images.
I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The blue skies complemented the neon colours of the shops, allowing me to get some really cool, bright pictures, unlike many of the typical London tourist shots.
My trip to London was short, but well worth it. I couldn’t help but feel extremely proud of myself while walking alone through the city. My first time in London, I wasn’t sure of what I was looking for. I didn’t know if it would be a one time experience, or if I would continue traveling. Now, years later, I’ve realized that traveling is my one true passion. I left feeling like my journey is only in its infancy. There is so much more to come.