London Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart Now, Baby

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart
Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

the so-called unattainable dream

I can’t stop thinking about my trip to London last May 2016, which led me to revisit my initial post on how London, England: Changed my Life and talk about the emotional reason why London will forever have a little piece of my heart.

 I had this idea in my mind that London was too expensive and therefore an unrealistic goal to have.  Flights from Toronto to London are usually around $700 which is like  ¾ of my annual savings.   Ever since I could remember I have put limitations on myself; there was always an excuse as to why I couldn’t achieve something.  So,  I decided to take a leap of faith, stretched my budget, put my fears away and made my dream come true.

 

Take Another Piece Of My Heart

fear really puts things into perspective

 2016 was a rather emotional year for me as my mother was unexpectedly admitted to the hospital.    To be honest, it felt like an episode of House MD as she spent the next three months there continually getting worse with each diagnosis.    For three months, my schedule consisted of early morning hospital visits, work then back to the hospital until she fell asleep.  I was mentally and physically exhausted but nothing in comparison to my mother.    

Oddly, 2016 was also my best travel year as I was blessed enough to travel 5 times.  But if you really think about it, I was just running away from my problems.  I couldn’t handle the emotions I was feeling since the day my mother was admitted and all I wanted was an escape, an escape from reality.  My mom told me to go out and enjoy my life, so I decided to have a drink with my girlfriend.   She was giddy with excitement as her 4 week UK trip with her best friend was approaching and, naturally, I was excited and super jealous.

One day at work, I was looking through my email and saw that Air Canada was having a seat sale, so I perused the list of international destinations and my cursor stopped on London.  It was only $600 return and I thought, “This seems to good to be true.”   For the next 30 minutes I literally gave myself one heck of a pep talk ranging from “you deserve this” to “seats may sell out” and well, Bob’s your uncle.

“I really can’t remember the last time I felt so happy”

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

a plane full of tall manly cricket players

I had never been on an international flight before, so I wasn’t prepared for everything that happened.     I approached my seat and saw a blanket and pillow and whispered, “thank goodness” and then everyone started to take their seats.   I can’t even explain the amount of testosterone that walked into my section, well, I can…it was the entire Toronto cricket team heading to a championship in London.    It’s a good thing I decided to dress like a bum that day, cause who really wants to be approached by a hunky dude anyhow? LOL

Did you know that if you pre-select a special meal while booking your ticket, that your food comes out first?  Yup, I got to eat about 30 minutes before everyone else in my section and was also provided me with special snacks (that came pre-packaged with the ingredients labelled). 

I found my way out of Heathrow and grabbed my handy pre-ordered Oyster Tube Pass and made my way to my Airbnb.   I am so thankful to my host as she emailed me exact directions to her home and things I should be looking out for, like how some lines have more than one train route (which isn’t the case in Toronto). 

 

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

 

It took me a few more hours than anticipated to get to my accommodation (thank you long Immigration line at Heathrow) but I couldn’t have cared less as I was in awe of everything;  the Tube trains, the route maps and the people. 

I decided to stay outside of the City for financial reasons and I do not regret a thing.  I stayed with a wonderful and hospitable couple in White Chapel which is literally a hop, skip and a jump on the Tube to all the touristy spots and the Canary Wharf.    My host was waiting for me on the street as I was later than expected and she welcomed me with a huge hug, grabbed my suitcase and showed me my new home.    My room was perfect.  It had a decent fully stocked fridge, a coffee maker,  biscuits, towels, etc.  I was even allowed to use their kitchen and eat their food if I wanted too.

I was absolutely exhausted when I settled in, so I decided to get a decent sleep, wake up super early and explore    This was a great idea as I barely felt any jetlag while in London, I was so rested and eager to see what London was all about.




preparation versus anxiety

I can be a bit anal, like the type of anal that has to create spreadsheets (budget and itinerary) for all of her trips (long or short).  Let me tell you, if  I hadn’t created my travel binder with activities and contingency plans, I might have had a few anxiety attacks…but I didn’t, not even one.   My binder included:  affordable grocery stores, transit schedules, attraction maps, best pubs and all the places one can poop.   It makes you wonder if your anxiety and depression truly follow you wherever you go or perhaps it is your environment that’s causing you to feel a certain way. 

I have to say, choosing to grab a coffee and relax on the hop on/off bus tour (that comes with the London Pass) was a perfect decision.  Many of the attractions are within walking distance of each other, so you basically hop on one route and see all that is offered and hop on another route in a different direction and see what that area has to offer.    It was also a great way to take mental notes of the places I planned on seeing later in the week and familiarise myself with my surroundings.    

I felt really at home while I was in London.   I loved how narrow the side streets were and all of the old buildings built into any free space one could find.  My favourite was the integration of new and old.  Buildings weren’t merely designed and then plopped into a free space.  No, the architecture was designed to fit the skyline (near or far) instead of a jumbled mess.

 

Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart

I didn’t even have the time to feel alone

Call me ignorant but I didn’t take into consideration how many other tourists would be there.  Yes, I know London is one of the busiest tourist cities in the world but I never really thought about it.     One of the things I observed while sightseeing was the diversity of the tourists and it was only when I took a cider break that I heard my first British accent.  For most of the day, I was surrounded by tourists, like myself, from all over the world and knowing that put me completely at ease.   Funny story about this cider break was that it was happy hour and I couldn’t find a free spot anywhere in Piccadilly Circus.  I was about to give up when I spotted a Pub with a free barstool, or so I thought.  There was a man standing next to it and I asked him if he was sitting here and he offered it to me.    We started talking and we discovered we were both from Toronto visiting and enjoyed a couple pints together.

Did you know that you can take your booze outside the Pub and stand out front to get some air or have a smoke?    I noticed people were doing this at all of the pubs I went too and then I even grabbed my umbrella and stood outside the pub with my drink…oh it was so amazing.

When I approached St. Paul’s Cathedral later that week, which was packed, by the way, I thought, “Well getting a photo of me is going to be tricky.” As you see, I am under 5 feet and my arms aren’t so long and I was too embarrassed to buy a selfie stick (I’m over that now hehe).  Well, a fellow solo traveller saw me struggling (you know, with the angles) and offered to take my photo of me in front of St. Paul's and I returned the favour. 

 

Take A Little Piece Of My Heart

yes, I am that girl...

who absolutely cried when she tapped out for the last time and entered Heathrow Airport Terminal.    It all went too fast and I while I managed to see a lot in 7 days, there was still so much more I wanted to do.   I needed to hold onto my happiness for a little bit longer, I so desperately didn’t  want to return to my former self, my job and my depression.   

Do you suffer from depression and/or anxiety and have trouble planning vacations due to fear?  I personally let my anxiety hold me back from pursuing most of my dreams and I discovered that we shouldn’t over analyze everything.  Sometimes the best decision is the last minute one where you book that last minute ticket and frantically book all of your accommodation and tours because if you are doing THAT you are not focusing on your fears.  And if you’re like me and your mind is full of unnecessary toxic thoughts then the best way to travel is to keep as busy as possible.    

I planned almost every hour of my trip by creating a binder itinerary with tabs and pockets containing ideas on daily attractions, closest tube stations, grocery stores and pubs in the vicinity.  It made it so easy to get from A to B (and C)  without getting anxious or paranoid that you’re lost and don't know what else to do.    

Psssst.  Don't forget to check out my first ever post on London, here.  xoxo




Were you as emotional as I was during your first trip to London? Have you ever felt a connection with any city, like I did?  
I want to hear all about it, so please leave me a comment below.

MY SOUL IS IMPATIENT WITH ITSELF, READ MORE…

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51 comments

  1. I live in the UK, my city it about 2 hours from London, so I’ve been visiting most of my life and I did go through a period where I was afraid of London – buses and trains in particular. I think it was mainly a fear of crowded spaces and there are *so* many crowds and tourists in London.

  2. I went to London almost 10 years ago. It was my first international trip. I absolutely loved it! I recently found a journal I wrote in during the trip and got nostalgic thinking about the experiences. I need to go back, soon! Thanks for sharing your adventures, it’s another great reminder of a great city!

  3. Honestly completely agree. I’ve been to London 3 times now and it never feels like enough. My hearts just so content in London. Seeing the same things doesn’t even bother me. How could you ever tire of London??

    Agreed on the flight prices though. I never have enough vacation and can’t justify like 700 bucks for a long weekend. BUT the moment I spot a deal I’ll go, even if just for 3-4 days.

  4. Hope your mom is well now ! Lovely to hear the account of your first international flight… made me relive all my exciting travel moments! You have gotten me all excited to visit London!

  5. That’s such an emotional and touching story! I lived in London a year and yeah, I can totally relate to how you felt the moment you got to London. Did you manage to do a pub crawl? London is so multi-cultural, that you can feel true England only when you get out of London!!! Within London, no matter where you’re from, you’re never an outsider!

    1. No! I wanted to do one so badly and I even looked it up one night and thought “yes, I am going to do this” but chickened out. hahaha Next time I will absolutely do one of their infamous pub crawls, I heard the Shoreditch ones are pretty fun.

  6. That was a very touching account, not only of your personal problems but how you managed to face at least some of them and I hope things are looking up for you. Certainly, it is all too easy to put off visiting a place due to the supposed expenditure and often, it is much more doable than you think. Really enjoy the honesty in your writing and looking forward to reading more

  7. As someone from Toronto, I completed understand the search for cheap flights. I miss days in Europe when we could grab a cross-country flight for some 20 Euros. Can’t wait for the day when we have affordable rides, even just to a different city! But girl, I think you are doing great for grabbing onto these opportunities despite the circumstances. I hope everything goes well!

  8. I love that your an anal planner about trips, like I am. I thought it was just one of those OCD things that I did, but I’m happy to find another person who needs to do this as well 🙂 Loved reading about your trip! It’s on my bucket list!!

  9. Wow, that sounds like an awesome trip. Way to go to get over your anxiety to go on a trip like this. I do suffer from a form of anxiety and I get nervous when going places but I definitely don’t let it stop me from enjoying life. I also have a friend who suffers from claustrophobia and she flew to Paris for the first time a few years ago. That’s a feat in itself. Glad you found a cheap flight from Toronto. I know flights to Europe have skyrocketed. I used to be able to fly to Poland from TO for $700 and now it’s about double. It really limits how often I can go back to see my family 🙁

  10. I like planning things out before going for a trip too. I’ve high anxiety and planning helps tone things down for me. Haven’t been to London but it’s in my bucket list. Love to visit someday!

  11. Such a lovely post! Just like you, we are here in Toronto and we’re waiting for a great seat sale to visit London again. (I just haven’t found something that is very cheap.) I’m really glad you decided to pursue this trip!

  12. Ah London is such a sexy city. A great first place to take your first international trip. I’m sure that by now you are always prepared to fly dressed a little nicer just in case more hunky people come on board 😉

  13. Good on you for taking a leap of faith and just doing it! It is definitely a tough call, especially if flights alone take up such a huge chunk of your budget. Sounds like you had an incredible time and I’m so happy that it turned out so well for you.

  14. I love London! I haven’t been since 2009, though, so almost 10 years. I’m so glad you were able to visit and to see the sights – even if it was to run away. Sometimes, we run away to reflect and to discover oneself. It’s a good thing. 🙂 Cheers!

  15. The best part about being veggie is getting my food before everyone else on a flight!! Sometimes I even request special meals (nut free or egg free) to get it even before the rest of the vegetarians, because I need to be special lol.

    I’m so glad you had such a lovely time in London! Although I for one can’t stand the place. I’ve never seen the appeal, but I guess that’s just because I’ve grown up with it. Also, being from Wales our cities are a lot smaller and less intimidating, so London is kind of terrifying for me!

    1. I am forever ordering a special meal, so I can be special too 🙂 – I see your point about not standing it, I think a lot of cities act the same way. My cousin doesnt like Manhattan cause its too busy. I hate downtown Toronto on the weekends cause its too busy. But I loved London, sooooooo much.

  16. Appreciate the emotions at play here and the fact that you are willing to discuss them. Anyway, what you are doing is the best way to cope with that. Explore more. London must have been delightful. Love the photographs from various angles.

  17. I would think such a beautiful city would take a piece of my heart too. This was such a nice read – I felt like I truly was on that journey with you! I would love to see the spots you’ve been able to visit myself someday!

  18. I am so glad you were able to figure out away to take this trip! I really loved London, too,..more than I expected. Now that you know how great it is (and doable) maybe you can save up and go again. I think your planning and trip binder sound like a good idea for anyone.

  19. I am actually in London this week for the Traverse 17 conference, I just arrived an hour ago. 🙂 I remember my first trip to London though, back in 2009. I was so excited about it and got so lost! I also tried my first ever Starbucks coffee back then. Now I am lucky to live 2 hours away from London and can visit whenever I want. Whitechapel is still a very central area of London! I hope you got to visit Shoreditch as well, the nearby neighbourhood, and have a drink at one of the sky bars in the City.

  20. Such a lovely trip! I really enjoy reading it. Although I haven’t been to London but it has a place in my heart after reading this. I hope your mom feel better as well.

  21. In all the time I’ve been reading blog posts, I haven’t come across many entries that are as candid and honest as yours. Thanks for opening yourself up to your readers! London is a wonderful place – I visited for the first time in May 2016 and loved it so much that I’m going back next month. 🙂 Hope your mom is recovering well. Props to you for traveling despite anxiety and depression!! Bravo!! 🙂

  22. You got a good deal on the airfare, you made a good decision to buy it. You must have seen so much in your 7 days in London, I’ve never managed more than 2-3 days there! I wish I could plan things as well as you, I often miss so much because of poor planning.

  23. We had been to London for Christmas. It wasn’t much crowded then but the city was beautifully embellished with lights and decorations. We agree there is something in the aura of London the positive vibes and happening atmosphere that definitely makes for a great getaway.

  24. I lived in London and absolutely loved it. Since leaving and travelling to other major cities worldwide I’ve grown to appreciate it even more! It’s such a diverse, yet cosy city full of character. Totally understand why you felt the way that you did about visiting, I hope you get to visit again one day soon.

  25. I’m going through the “Am I running away from my problems?” inner-dialogue as well…but no matter what, it’s always a good idea to travel, I think. Thanks for this post! A lot of useful info in here! I was thinking of doing the hop-on-hop-off bus as well when I’m in London in a few weeks! I ‘ve heard it’s a great way to get your bearings for the first few days. Would you also recommend getting an Oyster Card in advance?

  26. I want to travel to London so bad and this gives me hope! I actually want to live there for at least a year but my husband isn’t keen on the idea, boo. I do hope I can visit soon and enjoy the city!

  27. I lived four hours outside of London for a year and a half and still travel to the UK every few months. London is indeed a lovely place. My bestfriend studied there for undergrad, so longer than my postgrad stint and she LOVES it. Oxford Street on a Saturday is my least favourite part though. Otherwise, London is my favourite city. Love Chelsea as well.

    1. I stay 4 hours outside of London and have to go in often. You definitely wanna get your Oyster card in advance. Top it up too. Quickest way to get from place to place. London can be overwhelming at first so people will always direct you to the take the Tube when you’re trying to get to places. Enjoy!

  28. Soothing sadness and agony with travel is probably one of the best things you can do. So many people medicate with drugs and alcohol, you decided to BETTER yourself by expanding your cultural horizons!

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