Alone in London

“I wandered lonely as a cloud”

“That floats on high o’er vales and hills”

“When all at once I saw a crowd”

“A host of golden daffodils”

“Beside the lake”

“Beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”

Ok, ok, I’ll stop there.

This is what happens when you set a girl free in London for 3 days all by herself.  Is it possible to tone down the sap?  I can tell you, quite honestly, no.  I have always had a blind and unwavering love of London.  So when the embassy’s health unit said it was necessary that I go there for a simple medical test unavailable in Morocco, they might as well have told me that I won the lottery.

I had visions of moving effortlessly through the city, just like I did when I studied there my sophomore year.  I vowed to go back to my old neighborhood and nostalgically bask in the comfort of my former haunts.  I imagined stuffing myself with Indian food every night and returning home to brag about it.  Typing it out just now, it seems so foolish.

I ate Indian food from my old favorite restaurant the first night.  It was so unkind to my digestive system that I nixed the Indian idea for the remainder of the trip (and maybe for the remainder of this century).  And I guess not-so-surprisingly, very little was familiar except getting around on the Tube, which is kinda like riding a bike.  And my old neighborhood?  I almost cried when I saw this sparkling white building that now stands where my former (and very ugly) flat used to be:


But my sorrow was short-lived.  St. John’s Wood High Street was once nothing and now it’s home to a Starbucks, Pret, Boots, Baby Gap, several adorable British bakeries and a butcher shop so nice that I didn’t think I could go in with jeans and a fleece without offending.  I took comfort in this dumpy old post office which looks exactly as I remember.

And also this Moroccan lantern, for which someone will pay 95 British pounds.  Ouch.

London certainly did not disappoint.  Allow me to make a few sweeping generalizations about the Brits.  First, they do a really great job of planting daffodils.  I don’t care what you say about Central Park or any other park, there is nothing more special than Regent’s Park in full bloom.


Secondly, no one can pronounce the word “ciabatta” as well as the Brits do.  Don’t even try.  And lastly, they understand the importance of putting a Pret-a-Manger on literally every street corner.  I don’t really understand the need to have any other sort of take-out place downtown (even if they no longer carry my favorite sandwich from 12 years ago).  It would just be a waste.

I managed to hit all the major landmarks too.

Big Ben?  London Eye?

Check…and check.

Tower Bridge? Pretty much check.  Tower of London? Close enough.

Tower of London technically not seen by the naked eye, but maybe by zooming in a lot and squinting?

St. Paul’s

Double Check, passed it a couple of times.

Trafalgar Square,

This guy is new. He is also brilliant.  Wish I had thought of him.

British Museum,


Buckingham Palace,

Check, check, check, check, check…

Tate Modern,

The really cool, check.

And the really lame, also check.

Wait, what is this? Get out of my sight.

There we go, that’s better.

And I have to brag a little bit, in 3 days I ate 5 Pret-a-Manger sandwiches and walked 24 miles.  It’s not quite a marathon, but if you count getting to Heathrow’s Terminal 4, I imagine I topped 26.2 miles.

And then the icing on the cake.  After 3 days, I really missed my family.  A lot.  So I headed home, gave them all a hug and promised to never go to London without them again.