Let’s plan a trip to London!
Because why not.
Libre ang mangarap, we say in the Philippines. I’ve never really dreamed of going to London, but then again, I had never really dreamed of going to Paris, or Europe in general, and now all I do is dream of going back. So, in the off-chance that a magical confluence of events somehow makes a London trip possible, it’s always a good idea to have a travel plan ready, right? “Build it and they will come” and all that.
Because the Brits have a sense of humor.
The West End is smack dab in the middle of London, Covent Garden is not a garden, there’s no circus in Piccadilly Circus, and there isn’t as much wood in St. John’s Wood as one would have a right to suppose. Any country that can think of such delightfully misleading names deserves to be descended upon by tourists who can’t pronounce Thames or Marylebone.
Because London is home to Baker Street and Platform 9¾ and George Smiley and Old Bailey.
- Yes, Old Bailey; the bird man from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, that is. In fact, Neverwhere should be reason enough to visit London.
- I revere George Smiley, despite the unfortunate fact that he’s fictional.
- It turns out there is actually no solid barrier between Platforms 9 and 10 in the real King’s Cross, but it should still be fun to take a look, and they do have this Platform 9¾ wall in the western departures concourse.
- 221B didn’t exist in the time of Arthur Conan Doyle — apparently Baker Street didn’t go that high back then — and the fact that the building now designated as 221B is actually supposed to be 239 Baker Street kind of wreaks havoc on my orderly sensibilities (hah!) but I still want to go, if only because I’ve loved Sherlock Holmes for decades. (I’m actually rather proud of the fact that my affections well predate the BBC series, and also I wish that the show’s Moriarty and Mycroft were truer to canon, but that’s another story.)
Because Prince Philip is a god.
In Vanuatu, anyway.
Because there are sleeper trains from London to the Scottish highlands.
And I’m a sucker for trains. And the Scottish highlands. Never mind that I don’t drink whiskey and I easily get cold and I probably can’t understand anyone when I’m there. (It’s me, not them.) My favorite Dick Francis book is To The Hilt. Also, there’s a sleeper to Cornwall, where George Smiley has a cottage.
Because England has such a rich history.
I’m no history buff, but a walking tour I did in Munich opened my eyes to the depth that a little knowledge of history can add to one’s experience of a place. I have to admit the little I know of English history is gleaned mostly from fiction: the Blitz from Narnia, for example, the tradition of the Ceremony of the Keys from Tom Clancy’s Patriot Games, and the disappearance of the Ninth Legion from Centurion and The Eagle. But I look forward to learning more and then seeing where it all happened with my own eyes.
Because I like a challenge.
Actually, I’m not sure that I do, but there are so many reasons why I shouldn’t go to London — there’s a gaping hole in the ground where my travel fund used to be, for one — and yet I still feel pulled to it somehow. So…I’m thinking it’ll be fun to find ways to make it possible. London is expensive? No problem, I’ll just walk everywhere and eat cheaply and go to parks instead of plays. October is the rainiest month of the year? No problem, I’ll bring a coat and an umbrella and think what an authentic experience I’m having with proper English weather.
And just, really, because why not.
Care to join me? In subsequent posts, let’s research London attractions, make a shortlist of hotels we can realistically stay in (The Ritz and The Goring are out, I think), put a travel budget together, and keep our fingers crossed the universe decides such diligence should not go unrewarded.