I’ve always had an obsession with London, since the age of five. I would watch all the British movies and shows that I possibly could. I studied their history, listened to their music and felt right at home. As the years went by my urge to visit London increased, particularly after the 2012 Olympics. That is when I said to myself, “Larry, you are going in 2014 and nothing will stop you!” Right after the Olympics I started saving money for my dream trip. I started by putting away $25 each paycheck and gradually increased it to $75 a paycheck.
I learned at a young age that if you save for what you want, you will eventually earn it. In the world of travel this statement holds the truest value.
The time had finally arrived and I was on a flight to London! I was so excited that I couldn’t really comprehend anything that was going on my 7 hour flight; a million thoughts were flowing in and out of my head. As the plane began to descend into Heathrow, my eyes were glued to the window. The skyline and views of London and the outskirts of the city were so beautiful. I saw it hundreds of times on television and in books, but nothing compared to seeing it in person. As I got off the plane and walked through Heathrow to get my bags a feeling of warmth and freedom took over my body. I felt at home, like this was where I belong. I have been to many places but I never felt like this about any other place, besides London.
The driver, who drove me from the airport to my hostel in Westminster, was extremely nice. I had to get used to seeing the steering wheel on the right side of the car, and traffic flowing from the opposite sides of the roads. I almost got hit by a few cars looking in the wrong direction, but it only added to the allure and thrill of London which I couldn’t wait to explore.
Everyone that I met there was amazing, generous and friendly. The residents of London sure do know how to treat a tourist right! They gave me the perfect suggestions of what museums to see, places to go, where to eat and where to enjoy the nightlife. I must add, you haven’t had fish and chips until you’ve had it in London. I never thought I would say that being from Baltimore, since we are the kings of preparing seafood.
I used the Hop-On Hop-Off buses and cruises to get around and explore (it is the best way to see any city or country). The routes are designed to show you everything you need to see in the quickest and most convenient way. I would strongly recommend everyone to use this instead of the public transportation, it is worth every single penny. First, I would sit on the top of the double-decker bus the entire route and enjoy the views and scenery. Once the bus began its return back to the beginning of the route, I would get off at each stop and venture off.
It was awesome to visit museums like the Victoria & Albert museum, the British National Gallery, the Imperial War Museum, and the Museum of London. One of the main things that impressed me was the amount of black art they had throughout the various museums. It was such a great sight to see the black art mixed in with the other art during the particular time periods and categories. In America, it seems as if our black art is always segregated from the other works, like it is not worthy to be on the same wall or with other masterpieces. London was not like that all, in the museums or the streets. As a black man, I had never felt so free in my life. I didn’t feel as if I was a black man labeled with harsh stereotypes, I felt like an equal. I felt like a man who could tell and create his own story for the world to see. It took some time to get used to this beautiful feeling, but I didn’t mind at all.
The architecture and structures of the buildings had me enamored. I would walk around and just touch the buildings and marvel at their stature. It was like I was seeing my kingdom unfold right in front of my very own eyes. I got a cramp in my neck from staring up at Big Ben for so long, I couldn’t help myself for the detailing in the clock was indescribable. Touring the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace exceeded all of my lofty expectations. I began to pick up a British accent, and I could not wait to use it back in the states. But of course, it disappeared shortly after leaving London. The two biggest highlights of my trips were walking across the Tower Bridge and visiting the Harry Potter studio. I love bridges, doesn’t matter if I am driving, walking or biking across them, I just love to see and cross them. The Tower Bridge has always been my favorite of any bridge in the world. To finally see it was very overwhelming. I just stood there for hours and watched the skyline and the various boats that passed through on the river Thames.
When it was time to leave London I was so sad. I did not want to depart for what I now knew was my home. I was meant to be there, to stay. My obsession with it as a kid was justified, I knew at a young age where I needed to be. So I sit here in the States knowing that something is missing. I left my heart back in London. I will come back for it and when I do, I’m never leaving. The same way people believe in soul mates, I believe in soul places. There is a place for everyone. This place is meant for one to live in happiness and grow within the true essence of the earth. I encourage all of those who love to travel, to do it as often as you possibly can, for you will never know when and where you will find your soul place.