I thought I would finally do it…write about my experience in London. Not that it was any more special than anyone else’s trip to London. In fact, it may be even less special as half my time was spent handing out Bible study invitations.
But what made this special for me is that I didn’t see all the sights, but I did get to stay in the home, not a hotel. I put my clothes in a wardrobe, not a closet. I got to comfort a lady about her deceased husband, not talk to a tour guide about some sight I would eventually forget.
For that week in June 2014, I lived in a London suburb called Eltham (pronounced EL-tum). I noticed right away some subtle differences between our ways of living from theirs. First, their bread is amazing. Like actually bread, not the fake stuff we have. Second, their breakfasts are phenomenal. Not just a bowl of cereal or an energy bar, but sausage, bread, juice, fruit—the works! Third, they don’t have screens on their windows. They don’t need them there I guess. Fourth, their taxes are incorporated into the price. So if you see something that’s 1 pound, it will literally cost you 1 pound. And fifth, I noticed not many people have clothes dryers, and that’s common! It made me realize, that even though they have most modern appliances and luxuries that Americans have, I guess no country is really as great as America. You may disagree, but sometimes I see things that make me stop and realize how great I really have it in America.
As for sightseeing—I got my share of it, starting on day 1 with a man relieving himself on the side of a busy highway. “You see everything in London” I was told.
I got to ride front seat on the top deck of a double decker bus. Buckingham Palace (which really wasn’t as cool as I thought it would be), London Eye (just a giant Ferris wheel), and Big Ben we were able to see all in one swoop. Southwark Cathedral, London Tower (beautiful), Tower Bridge (a must see), and famous St. Paul’s Cathedral (don’t take pictures in there, don’t even try) were also seen that day.
But my favorite part of the UK trip, a *MUST* for anyone going there, is seeing Dover. Dover is both beautiful and rich with history. The vast tunnel systems, the castles, the cliffs—Dover has everything. We first visited a first century church—for being 2000 years old, it was well preserved. Then we moved on to the castles. The main one had guided tours where we learned sobering history of WWII. The kind of history that when you hear about it, you can only think, “Wow, those were some amazing people back then.” The other castles were self-guided. Although 20 years old, I had fun running around the tunnels and climbing the walls. The views were spectacular. You could look out one narrow window and see the deep green grass growing inside the castle walls. Looking out another window gave you the view of a hundred small rooftops of the town of Dover intermingled in the hills surrounding it. And the last view, my favorite, was looking out toward the Strait of Dover. If I strained my eyes enough, I could say I saw France. But I didn’t need to. What I saw was beautiful enough. The water, the sand, the boats—I loved it. I could sit on the grass all day taking in the beauty. I also got to see the white cliffs—also very beautiful and worth the trip.
The next day, we went to see the diversity of London. We went to another section and saw the many colors of the cultures there in London—Indian jewelry shops, Muslim mosques, Sikhs, and much more. We also went into the inner city to the famous Camden Town, to see half naked people holding signs, people dressed with pitch forks and devil’s horns, hair like I’ve never seen in my small hometown. The plaster dragon on the store front building was my favorite.
If I were to describe London with one word, it would be diversity. Yes, you can describe a lot of cities that way. But when I saw a church billboard with 20 languages written on it, I knew that this wasn’t just any normal city. If you get the chance to visit London, visit it! You won’t be disappointed.