My last college Spring Break was spent wandering my way through London and Paris.
Last November a friend of mine and I booked our tickets to London seeking a grand adventure.
We stayed in the Bethnal Green area of East London and took the Tube into central London for all our sightseeing needs. When we told the locals where we were staying, people often looked at us with concern. We were told this wasn’t a nice area of town, but in reality, this area was being gentrified—just like Denver.
We stayed in an Airbnb and our housing accommodations couldn’t have been nicer. We were able to stay off the beaten trail of tourists and have an authentic London experience.
We spent our days seeing all the major landmarks like Big Ben and Tower Bridge, while eating and drinking our way through the city. Every morning we went to a different local coffee shop for lattes and flat whites. We would also stop by local pubs for food and pints.
For one day, we took the train into Paris. We had an early train and left before sun-up. While we were on the train, I was able to watch the sunrise over the English and French countryside: It was a serene moment to witness. Seeing the Eiffel Tower in person was another incredible experience that I have been missing ever since.
On our last full day in London, the terrorist attack happened. The attack was surreal. We had just finished lunch when our phones started blowing up asking if we were okay. We were about a mile away from the Houses of Parliament, but nothing was out of the ordinary. The city continued on with the day as if nothing was happening.
From where we were, near the Picadilly Circus area, we could see two helicopters monitoring the scene, but that was it. The spirit of the city didn’t change, and we didn’t feel like we were in any danger. It made me wonder if we as a society have become desensitized to violence, or if we spend too much time on the attack and not the root cause of terrorism.
The week flew by and before we knew it we were boarding our flight back home. Traveling is good for the mind, body, and soul, so whenever there is a opportunity to travel—take it.