It’s me. I went to solo-traveling. Aren’t you so proud. I was so proud. Look at me go! But first, a little backstory…
I spent about 6 weeks bouncing between family and along the Irish countryside before I started feeling a little antsy. I felt as if I needed to see more… to do more… or maybe just to be something more…
So I went. And rather swiftly too, as my ticket was only booked the night before my 8:45 am flight. After a bustling morning of shoving everything into my bag, rushing to print out boarding passes and having a sappy, teary eyed goodbye with my mom, I made it to the Cork International Airport. Ready to take on the world. Ready to see it all. Ready to plunge into the great unknown.
If I’m completely and totally honest, this is about where I started questioning if it was too late to turn back. At the ripe age of 19, I was solo traveling. I had never really been on my own before, let alone been forced to navigate an entirely different country. “Oh Lord help me. I can do this” I mantra-d as I stepped on the plane. And then I continued to mantra throughout the entire flight.
I wish I could say I was having my fantasy moment. You know the whole, I-am-spontaneous-and-fabulous-and-independent thing girls do in movies where they take off to romantic foreign countries with nothing but their passport and designer handbag? Yeah. That wasn’t me. That was what I was aiming for, but the reality was more in the realm of a I-just-did-something-reckless-and-I’m-already-on-the-plane-and-can’t-turn-back-now thing. Little did I know then that I would want to chase that feeling a hundred more times. But it didn’t feel that way then. As the plane took off, it felt like I had just made the biggest mistake of my life.
And so I mantra-d… I can do this.
I touched down at Stansted Airport just over an hour later. I know, I know. London. The build up was way too big for just London. There’s no way I was freaking out over a little plane ride to yet another English speaking country. But alas, there I was, freaking out. (Man, now I wish I had surprised you with a trip to Egypt or something. Would have made the fear a little more believable, huh?)
So yeah. London. Terrified. Thrilled. Nauseous.
You know, this would have been a hell of a lot more exciting if I weren’t staying with my aunt in Brentford. The build-up was just too good. So. I whizzed out of Stansted, found myself a Oyster card for the tube and headed out towards Ealing-Broadway. (Look at me, I even know the names of places now!) As the trains flew through underground London, I paused for a reality check. I had made it to another country. No sweat. I can do this. I also happened to glance at the map a few hundred times, seeing station names like Waterloo and King’s Cross and Piccadilly Circus. I was living a fairy tale. This is a fairy tale. Unbelievable.
So. I’ve got to admit. I pulled a total tourist move in London. I did it all. The London eye, the London bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Covent Gardens, Camden Town, King’s Cross, Kew Gardens, every goddamn museum in the city. I even had English breakfast tea with my full English breakfast. I am a cliche. No doubt.
My aunt runs a pub in Brentford and I spent most early mornings and late nights with her and her three crazy children. All the time spent in between was just for me. I know solo travel can get really lonely. I mean, how many times can you really ask a stranger to retake that shot of you in front of a red phone booth? (The answer is 4, btw) But there’s really something to be said for having an experience entirely for yourself. And I ended up with a lot of those!
So. Yeah. This is just me updating you all on my trip that I took way too long ago and didn’t post anything about. I suck. I’m aware. But I did love London though. There was something almost effortless about the hustle and bustle of the city. Or maybe it was just effortless because I fell into it so easily. Who knows..
More to come on where I went next!