And finally i hereby present the first chapter of my Europe trip last year March.
I know right, it took exactly a year for me to finally settle down and complete this first post. Shame on me. I found the golden opportunity to draft up a post on a leisure Friday night left to spend on my own after finishing my language skills tests.
Blimey, these photos trigger so much flashbacks; i could still remember the fizzy excitement working its way all over my body when we boarded the plane heading towards Heathrow (via Dubai). The last time i’ve experienced such a lengthy plane trip was years ago when i visited my grandma and grandpa in Seattle for 3 months and that was about, like 14 hours? trip altogether. Mind you, I have a severe phobia of plane flights and heights (a bad combination indeed) that induces hyperventilation and cold sweats but this trip was too special and precious to be wasted in fear at the edge of my plane seat and even my body condition behaved well that day. I was literally bouncing in my seat beside my grumpy sleep-deprived brother who was unfortunately wedged in between me and my equally exhilarated mother. Poor guy :P
My face looks terribly dried out but this photo simply does not do justice to the indescribable thrills i’ve felt that one fateful morning. And that was our plane which took us to Dubai before flying us to London. I’ve gotta say, Emirates is a truly underrated airline company. Never did I realize, we have always took their flights without any form of expectation but they managed to provide quality service every time and facilitated in the making the flight journey comfortable from beginning to the end. Haha this entry is starting to sound like a sponsored insert but it’s not, though it’s a dream job that might never come true.
The fun part is definitely the accommodation provided in the plane. I would gladly pay up for in-flight food as room services in my own house. Such a quaint lil’ meal yet it still managed to fill up my 3-stomach-worth-of tummy. The magnificent view of the sunset (lucky me) accompanied with this cozy meal and a simple movie to fill the silence, was the perfect feeling i’ve had in ages. I could totally get used to that, if only the plane rides were always that comfortable and calm.
(These photos hit me right in the feels T_T)
Welcome to London, Heathrow airport.
*classy-british-accent + heavy breathing*
I apologise for interjecting this magical moment with my face and pyjamas outfit shot but we arrived in the evening and I couldn’t get a shot of the scenery outside. Instead, my eyes feasted on the picturesque landscape of the serenely dark yet twinkly towns as the bus made its way to our ordinary one-night hotel. My mother urged us to turn in early so that we could retain some energy for the massive tour awaiting us the next day.
Such Tumblr-worthy photos, i know. hehe.
That gloomy morning surprisingly made me rather happy. There was an airy magical aura pervading the morning breeze, as if a unicorn could have popped its head out of the bushes to taste the dewy air. It was nice to wake up to such a scenery for a change. Mornings should be calm and serene as this and not bloody hot and sunny, but i guess the grass always seems greener on the other side. Civilians here probably think it truly makes them gloomy in the morning because they would have gotten over the novelty of it by then.
I confess that in the past, I scrutinized and doubted people who praised breakfast meals served in Western countries almost to the point of over-exaggeration, lamenting on how it tasted so much more different (in a good way) from the brunches in Singapore and so on. I thought, oh c’mon, they are the same eggs, sausages and bacon, how much different can it be???
Looks like I ate my own words. I still don’t have an explanation for this phenomenon but i swear i had 2 servings of this plate and this is rather surprising knowing that i am not even remotely close to being a breakfast person. Morning is just not my thing in the first place but I could wake up gladly at 7am here everyday just to catch breakfast. WHY OH WHY, how can English breakfasts taste so good. If breakfasts in London could make me gawk so hard, imagine how breathtaking the grand tour would be after that. I was almost shrilling in delight and my mom had to sit me down herself due to my unclassy behavior.
This is the view that greeted me when I decided to go for a short stroll after breakfast before we checked out for the tour. I wasn’t able to appreciate London properly the previous night because we were ushered here and there to the one-night hotel as prompted thanks to our super-organized tour guide. I could still remember crystal clear how sweet the air smelt like but it seemed so unbelievable that I couldn’t trust merely one of my bodily senses and stuck out my tongue, attempting to taste the slightest zest of the dewy air.
The other tourists nearby turned around in shock when i shrieked at the sight of the iconic red London buses. Surreal it is, when you’ve only seen them in picture books for toddlers and then 20 years later, you see a live one passing by just like that. How could i have not reacted in such a way? It would have been disgraceful.
I was persistent on giving a spontaneous reaction every time I saw something amazing and cool because #london. Although the morning stroll was short-lived, i gladly hurried back in to pack my stuff and ready myself for the GRAND TOUR. I personally call it the grand tour because well, it is the very first tour in Europe and London deserves such a grand title. lol, I know i’m overly biased towards London and though lame as it is, just take it.
Here’s a collage of photos I snapped in the bus journeying to the tour hotspots.
Pity the tour groups consisted of only Koreans, it meant that I have had to deal with the real struggle of processing such large chunk of information spoken in my home language (the irony right there). I wished they had a handy dandy translator machine around but of course, it wouldn’t make sense to them to have one lying around, innit?
From what I could process, the few fun-facts the tour guide told us were that:
1) The museums tours here are all free-of-charge. The government decided that the culture and history of UK and Europe were to be fairly shared with the young and old, ergo the generous constitution.
2) Even in such a modernized city area, pickpocketing is a common issue especially among tourists. Thus, we were instructed to carry our bags at our front so unfashionably. Because fashion does not save us from becoming a lost group of fugitives.
3) Most of the bricked, colonial estate areas (that were not destroyed in war) were untouched (maybe a little) as they were in the past, maintaining the old traditional aura. There’s a variety of houses that are either detached (a house not joined to another house), semi-detached (two houses joined together), terrace (several houses joined together) or just flats (apartments).
It was insanely cool to be standing next to the blood-red telephone booth, the most recognizable icon next to the red double-decker buses in London :’)
You can see the photos of the church of Westminster below! Pity we didn’t get to explore into the church though. It probably was best not to. The stream of crowds and queues forming at several entrances intimidated us and would have wasted a bulk of our time if we did step in. We’d be seeing plenty of churches the next few days anyway haha. I’ll let the photos do the talking for a while!
The Big Ben was extremely Big in Size. < I am so tempted to interject with the infamous #twss line but I shadn’t. This blog is to be rated PG13 anyway.
Statues of historical figures stood by in magnificence along the stoned pavements, to which I admired in silence this time, like Nelson Mandala, Gandhi, Napoleon and Winston Churchill? I couldn’t remember the rest but those were the figures that stood out the most in my memory.
I also managed to sneak a shot of some British kids hanging out on a stone bench out of curiosity. Just being a tourist I guess? But I’ve always wanted to take more shots of the civilians in different countries rather than the tourist sites alone, as long as I don’t offend anyone along the way that is.
And now this blog is dominated by photos of the marching ants-like British guards of Buckingham Palace, cladded in handsome grayish uniforms and gigantically fabulous bearskin caps. As much as I would like to upload the video (except YouTube links) of the marching ceremony here, it looks like WordPress isn’t that tech-savvy for now. The horses’ fur were of the prettiest shades of brown and they were very neatly groomed as well.
Very English indeed.
This humble Italian-cuisine restaurant was the lunch venue, and also of our first meal in London. The interior decoration loyally stuck to the traditional ambience along with the estate houses as well. Seemingly dusty (but I don’t think it is) lamplights adorning the ceiling and cobbled stone walls gave the illusion of a small dining hut but the area was in fact really spacious. It was simple, yet welcomingly cozy and comfortable, not too intimidating at all. This eatery have always had a special place in my heart ever since :’)
A rather unflattering photo of my meals but I promise you they were wonderful! Not bombastically great but I truly appreciated the taste of home-cooked nosh in London for the very first time. The appetizer soup sadly reminded me of the meals that the Jews had in the Warsaw district back in the colonization of Nazism, just like the scene of Szpilman and his family having their soupy meals in the Pianist, but the rest of the courses were quite interesting, and definitely not as gloomy as the sad bowl of soup.
You’ll notice that a piece of baguette bun is almost always served along with every meal in Europe and UK as I continue my travel posts. What my mom and the other Korean aunties did were to hog them back to their hotel rooms just in case they go hungry. This ‘kiasu’ actions to which I felt were sorta understandable due to the costly room services in hotels, which can be reasonably saved for the better things along the journey! Plus, it saves food from being wasted haha.
The old lady wrapped in her pink scarf standing next to my brother were very amused by our antics as we snapped our cameras at every direction. My brother, who paid scarce attention to the magnificent historical sites, was easily fascinated by postcards printed in saturated food form at an empty souvenir shop. Whaddya know. Presenting to you, 11-year-olds.
Pretty backdrops perfect for outfit shots which I shamelessly asked my brother as a favor. Surprisingly, that 11-year-old kid knows his way with the camera functions. I had to bribe him with the loan of my phone for brief periods of time. He had low tolerance for boredom and lengthy lectures on the history of London. Shame on him!!! but he made himself useful along the course of the journey.
Entering the next district in town! It is quite apparent that there are more working civilians roaming in this area more than in the previous district. This time, there was a green patch of garden where everyone seemed to be crowding at! But first thing first, we were led to the duty free shopping area where tour groups patronize before continuing on their enlightening tour. I quickly exited after realizing this was totally not my domain (plates, bags, accessories, skin products, but why in London) and entered a cafe right beside the shops instead.
Now, we’re talking.
These photos make really good tumblr-worthy photographs. There’s just some charming quality about the cafes and people in London I can’t explain. People are either minding their own business as they drink their coffee in peace while reading their papers/books or busily strutting in and out about running quick errands. They don’t even know how beautiful they are. Especially the sandwich guy at the counter, you are the most beautiful man i’ve seen on Earth. (;_;) Pardon my emotional interjection here, but really, how am I the only one staring my eyeballs off at such good-looking and beautiful, gentlemen and ladies passing by me??? Even the tourists didn’t mind much about these civilians. Am I that biased and influenced? haha!
Goofing at these Londoners with such loooong pair of legs. Such a rare sight in Singapore, probably too common in UK. These are the kind of gentlemen you can only find in Tumblr. As you can see, I take lots of inspiration from Tumblr. #proudandloud
Did I mention the Apple stores in London is humongous on the inside? It looked like as if I could fit 6 or even 10 living rooms in that area! As you can see, my gamer brother here did not inch away from the gadget he discovered after a mere 5 minutes of exploring. He’s gonna regret so hard when he grows up. Chances like this comes by in a blue moon, mah boy!
And then there’s this green patch of garden that I mentioned earlier! Because of the large population of working civilians, the government had placed a grass field in the heart of every districts in the hopes that there are enough conducive spaces for people to casually relax on during their lunch break and so on. This is such a splendid idea, I’m surprised not many have not thought of placing plain grass fields in their countries. It was such a nice environment to sit down for a small picnic, have a chit-chat with your colleague or just to lie down on for a few minutes’ nap. It was the ideal place for me to do my daily people-watching. I have this weird habit of staring at people around me, studying their accents and mannerisms that are different from my own races. No one seemed to mind until I started taking sneaky shots of a few. A few curious and surprised glances were thrown in my way but no one literally threw me out of the grounds thankfully!
Alright, this is where the part 1 of the first chapter of my Europe trip halts! This is about 3-school-essays worth of blog post so I hope you enjoyed journeying down the nostalgic memory lane with me. It was pleasing to flip through my Europe albums once again and reminiscing the wonderful memories I’ve kept private till now.
Hopefully, I’ll come back with the next highly-anticipated chapter of my trip within this month of April!
Till then, adios!