Do you remember the first time when you planned your first vacation out of your country?
When you decided that it was the time to seek for other adventures outside your comfort, the safety that the common spoken language could provide, the people who could speak it and known places? It was quite unique to you, wasn’t it?
December of 2008
It was the last day of the year, couple of hours before the arrival of the New Year. For the first time in my life, I have booked to fly away from Greece to London, UK and I couldn’t wait more for the time of my departure. Me, along with some other friends, most of them with no, like me, or little experience traveling abroad.
With packed suitcases and backpacks on our shoulders, printed tickets safely placed in our pockets, since there weren’t still e- tickets around, and a great impatience to meet with the expected of another place in this world, we passed the security check and following on into the airplane.
I can remember vividly how we were trying to pass our time by staring outside from our windows, glaring at the cities as we were passing above. Lights in the night sky, like millions of fireflies in a wander, and we, the lucky ones to observe them.
When we landed, I can still bring to my memory how we rushed to pass from the main hall in Heathrow into the train platforms, in order to reach our hotel. To get some rest, or so we thought to ourselves in the beginning.
First time abroad, first time having New Year’s Eve without family and close friends. At least most of them. It was an one of a kind experience, until that point, in my life.
As we prepared ourselves and headed to Picaddily Circus, one of the most well-known spots in London, I found myself being amazed by the architecture and the people passing by: way higher buildings than those in my hometown (obviously) whereas I could see faces of every genre and color that hinted another ethnicity who were rushing to meet somebody or have started celebrating in the streets.
What I also loved from the first time I stepped foot on this city, is that London has a great variety of cuisines that could satisfy any visitor. It seemed that people from any part of the world have decided to transfer a part of their world on this piece of land and made it second home.
Just for the experience, we decided to taste Indian food. Yummi! At that specific moment, I come to realize how great spicy food is! Of course, not for everyone.
If you have ever been in the capital of England for the special night of New Year’s Eve, you may understand.
When the clock tower rang for the end and the new beginning, hoping for a better and prosperous time in human life. People have started singing and kissing each other, strangers were giving hugs to strangers. I was one of the lucky ones also. Along with both people I know and unknown but friendly faces, we started singing about the Old one leaving and the New Year taking its place.
Even though the cold was freezing, we have felt such warmth from the people around us. At least, during this time, it was sincere. Our night was followed by drinks and fast food, making fun with each one we met in the streets, while some were already drunk and have found shelter on the pavement. Peace on that!
Of course we didn’t stay only in that. London offers many cultural opportunities throughout and outside its urban area. From museums to theatres, art galleries and exquisite clubs.
For me, a visit in the British Museum, a walk around St. James and Hyde Park, wandering from Millennium bridge to the Parliament, two tickets each for well-known musicals and another for a music concert, we’re enough for that first trip.
It wasn’t easy to get used to this short routine with people speaking in English, me trying to understand a thing and at the same to understand why everything was way different than in my country. What I finally realised was that there is a beauty everywhere, left to be discovered.
By that time, I knew that another internal love has started: this of wanderlust. Because each new journey could be a leap into the ocean of the unknown, but this uncertainty could be albeit exciting.