Weekend Coffee Share: In Which I Cross a Very Large Pond

If we were having coffee, we wouldn’t actually be having coffee.  We’d be having tea because that’s what you do in England and I happen to be in that country now.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how absolutely exhausted I am.  Some people have the magical ability to fall asleep anywhere… I am not one of those people.  I haven’t slept in a day and a half and look like a total zombie.

If we were having coffee, you’d know that my travels went extremely well!  No delayed flights or hiccups.  I flew six hours from Minneapolis to Reykjavik, Iceland followed by another three hours to London.  Although I didn’t actually sleep, I spent most of my flights with my eyes closed listening to The Fellowship of the Ring on audiobook.  Which, I suppose, is the next best thing.  Once I got to Heathrow, I successfully passed Boarder Control, picked up my suitcase, exchanged my United States Dollars for Pounds, picked up an Oyster card, and hopped on the Tube, which took me to King’s Cross Station (yes, like in Harry Potter), which is five minutes from my hostel.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you that my hostel is a bit sketchy and that I forgot my shower shoes and can’t remember where I packed my toothbrush.  BUT it also has free Wifi, which more than makes up for its deficiencies.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how WEIRD it is to fly to the other side of the world and find yourself somewhere familiar.  When I studied abroad here two years ago, I spent a LOT of time exploring the city on my own.  I was a bit shocked how quickly I fell back into the swing of London.  It’s like I never left.

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Trafalgar Square is probably my favorite place in London.  I never get sick of hanging out here.

If we were having coffee, I would gush about how in love I am with this city.  I love (almost) everything about London.  (Overcrowded Tube trains are NOT fun.  Freaking Piccadilly Line.)  I love the architecture.  I love the blend of historical and modern.  I love the big red double-decker busses lumbering everywhere.  I adore Trafalgar Square.  I love that I couldn’t wait an hour before hitting up the National Gallery.  I love the way all the paintings by Monet, Rembrandt, Reubens, and Turner make my heart soar.  I love stumbling upon an entire street of antique book shops.  I love the extensive parks system and how the middle of the city can feel like the countryside.  I love that I’m in the city of Shakespeare, Dickens, and Woolf.

I’m excited to spend the next couple of days here.  Tomorrow, I’m exploring Hampstead Heath, Kenwood House, and going to church at Hillsong.  Monday, I’m visiting museums and seeing a production of Shakespeare’s As You Like It at the National Theatre.  Tuesday, I head to L’Abri!

Okay, okay… enough about my enthusiasm about England.  What do you have to share over coffee?

On the East Coast

There’s something incredibly empowering about learning to travel alone.  Stepping on an airplane bound for the other side of the country by yourself is so liberating.  Traveling is a love my parents instilled in me at a very young age, and learning to do it on my own is such a grand adventure.

I’ve gotten to spend the past week exploring Boston, MA.  I flew out last week, navigated the transportation system, and found my way to the MIT campus.  My old roommate, Alli, is at grad school there, you see, and offered free lodging and good company.  Despite valiantly striving towards the completion of her thesis (which she submitted the day I left), she was kind enough to be my guide and traveling companion!

Boston has been on my list for a long time.  I was drawn by the call of American history, of Revolution, of massacres and meeting halls and tea parties.  And it did not disappoint!  We spent a whole day following the Freedom Trail from the State House o the U.S.S. Constitution.  Along the way we passed the location of the Boston Massacre, various meeting halls, Old North Church (a la Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride), and the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill.  We treated ourselves to cannolis on the North Side, and I may or may not have dropped a tea bag in the Harbor.

Some of the time was spent on my own.  I found my way to the art museums, where I spent a day wandering through galleries.  I went to the MFA and Gardner respectively.  Although very nice, they weren’t anything to write home about.  I highly suspect that my time in Europe has spoiled art museums for me.  Ah well.

One afternoon, Alli and I explored Harvard University.  Let me tell you, Harvard lives up to its expectations!  There’s a certain gradure to all the red brick buildings arranged around large grassy malls with flowering trees.  We didn’t go in any of the buildings, content to wander the campus.

The highlight of the trip was our day trip to Concord.  We took the commuter train in the morning and spent the day walking around the New England town.  The sun was out and the lilacs in bloom, rendering the atmosphere idyllic.  Throughout the day we saw the homes (and graves) of famous literary figures such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Louisa May Alcott.  We actually toured Orchard House, which belonged to the Alcotts, and is where Louisa wrote Little Women.  We also walked to Walden Pond, where Thoreau lived by the labor of his own hands for two years.  We saw the location of his cabin and had a picnic by the water’s edge.  On a more historical note, we visited the Old North Bridge, where the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired.  Throughout the day, we crossed paths with several of the locals, who treated us to free lectures on lesser known historical figures and poetry recitations.

I could go on about my trip for pages and pages.  In fact, I could easily write up a post for every little thing I saw, explaining their historical significance and general awesomeness, but really… I don’t have time for that.  So this, my friends, is all you guys will get.  It’s funny, the more you travel, the more your wanderlust grows.  I’m so thankful to have gotten to take a week to dig deeper into history, art, and literature.  Who knows where I’ll go next?

Alli and I on our Concord day trip