I recently dusted off my passport and traveled back across the pond to visit my sister and her family for Christmas in London.
It was a trip I had been itching to make since I first went to visit her in October 2016.
Now that I’ve had some time to reflect on the trip, I thought I’d write about some of the things I’ve found interesting from my two trips to London.
One thing that intrigued me – and that I’d love to see happen here in the United States – is that people take their dogs with them to the pubs.
As I learned in my college third places class, pubs – or other locations that can be a third place (any place that is not home or work that provides a chance to build community) – are essential to keeping a balanced life. Pubs, especially the traditional European pubs, are a perfect example of a third place.
But being able to take your dog with you to the pub, at least to me, adds another level of comfort. I can think of lots of places I’d be more likely to go if I could take my dog with me.
I can’t stress enough how impressive London’s tube system is. It has transported me to virtually every location I’ve visited in London so far. Sometimes it’s as simple as hopping on one train and taking it directly to my destination, and sometimes I’ve had to alight at a different station and transfer to a different line.
But, all in all, it is an incredibly efficient and useful mode of transport. It also encourages people to walk more and drive less.
London knows how to make Christmas a big deal. In many of the different squares I visited, there were pop-up Christmas markets set up, with a variety of vendors selling handmade goods and food items.
But most impressive was Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which was basically a giant theme park and Christmas market all rolled into one.
I remember seeing Winter Wonderland from the plane as I flew into London and being amazed at the size of it. But nothing could prepare me for when I actually walked up to it and saw all the lights and rides.
Some of the rides were incredible, like the Munich Looping, the world’s largest transportable roller coaster and the only coaster in the world with five upside-down loops. Another favorite of mine and my niece and nephew was Ice Mountain, which took us through pitch-black tunnels before dropping and spinning us all over, making for quite the experience when you can’t see where you’re going.
I also had the opportunity to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” on stage at the historic Palace Theatre (thanks to my sister and brother-in-law for the awesome Christmas gift). It was the first major stage performance I had ever attended and I was blown away by both the acting and the amount of magic performed on stage.
Overall, it was another great trip. I cherished every moment spent with my sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, whether we were out exploring London or just relaxing in their flat watching movies or “Stranger Things.”
I hope to make another trip to London while they are still living there, as there are plenty more things I’d like to do and experience in London.
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Twitter – @scottvicker
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