Episode 15: All in Good Company

Despite some initial hesitations after hearing about the unsettling attack at the Parliament last Wednesday, a group of friends and I nevertheless decided to take on London the very next day. Not going to lie, for a quick sec I thought about cancelling the trip all together and playing the “better safe than sorry” card, especially after freaking myself out by looking into all of the news and media coverage. Bad choice on my part, considering things almost always get blown out of proportion. Thank goodness for my persistent (and financially responsible) friends though. I am so incredibly glad they talked me into still going, because it ended up being quite literally a picture perfect weekend (scroll down for proof). As you know, I try not to play favorites, but I have to say that this past weekend makes London a STRONG contender for that title. To sum it all up nice and quick, perfect is a pretty appropriate adjective: Perfect company, perfect weather, perfect pace, and perfect fun. All of that combined with a pretty awesome City makes for one grand (as the Irish would say) weekend.

I could dedicate this whole post to chronicling our entire weekend, but instead I’d like to share some quick advice while abroad. Travel with the right people, it makes all the difference in the world. From what I’ve learned, I think its pretty safe to say that your experience in any destination is 50% the place and 50% the people you see it with. Different people have different tourist styles, and sticking with people who share your style is the best way to get the most out of any trip. For some, trips are all about schedules, reservations, time lines and planning in order to see as much as possible. For some, the only thing planned ahead of time is the flight over. Some people like museums and art, others like the outdoors and adventure. Some are early risers with jam packed days, and others travel to embrace the different nightlife scenes. One person might be able to go through money like water, and another might be on a tight budget. Then there are those who are a little bit of everything and more go with the flow. Of course, there is no right way to travel and it might change for a person based on where they are going. Regardless, if a planner who is all about seeing as much as possible with an unlimited budget travels with a night owl who would rather save money and is okay with just seeing attractions rather than touring them, someone is bound to end up unhappy.

I bring this up because, while I would have loved London no matter whom I was with, the 5 of us who took on the city together made a (yet again) perfect travel group. Looking back that played a huge part in why I enjoyed the weekend so much. First of all, 5 is a good number because there aren’t too many people to coordinate or too many differing opinions to work with, but enough people to always make conversation and someone is always willing to take the lead. On top of that, we were all pretty laid back and go with the flow, but had a good idea of the things we wanted to see and the places we wanted to go. So while we weren’t busy rushing from one place to another trying to get tickets and make reservations, we still had somewhat of a game plan. All of us were okay with wandering around and taking in the sights and scenes, without spending too much time at any one place.  Somehow this “style” allowed us to check off almost every possible tourist attraction in London on Friday alone: Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, The London Bridge, the Tower of London, the Parliament and even left time for some great food and downtime in between. It was a very successful and packed day, but still felt super relaxed and low key. That night we even went out on the town for a bit and enjoyed a little bit of the nightlife, but agreed to be back at a decent hour so we didn’t waste any of the next day sleeping in. Since we checked off most of the things on our list in one day, Saturday was left to enjoy some more local and cultural activities. This is where having Annie, who is actually studying abroad in London and one of the reasons we made the trip, as part of the group really came in handy. She was able to act as our “tour guide” for the day and took us to some local markets and parks, as well as some of her favorite places that aren’t quite as well known to typical London tourists. With the beautiful weather on our side and the fact that we spent our day walking from one place to the next eating our body weight in delicious street food, this actually ended up being one of my favorite days abroad thus far.

Moral of the story? Don’t sweat the small stuff. London rocks. Travel with the right people. AAANNNNDDD that’s all for now folks!

P.S. I’m off to Spain Thursday morning and FINALLY get to see my lovely parents, so stay tuned for an update on our reunion and week long Spanish adventure!