A tale of New Year in London

Here I am, sitting at a café in Cusco city, overlooking the main square, this is the place where nearly four years ago I was planning a trip that would start in London, a city that is beautiful, exciting and lively regardless the season.

It was December 2014, and I was traveling with my friend Diana, we were on a three-week trip that would take us to London, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Istanbul, Ephesus, Cappadocia and Cairo. Crazy right? well there is a lot to share on the stories of this trip.

It all started when I was planning my annual holiday, first and for a change I was considering Colombia, it had been a while without travelling in South America. For reasons I can not disclose here, Diana needed to take a break so I invited her to join me, for reasons you all know (if you have been reading the blog) I rather travelling to somewhere cold and where mountains are in sight. So naturally, when Diana proposed to change the destination to Turkey (where it was winter) I said Yes! without thinking twice, interestingly enough most flights to Istanbul made a stop over in London, which was the reason why we started the trip in London.

As we prepared the trip, booked flights, planned our activities and processed Visas, the excitement was increasing, to me it was incredible to go back to the UK, visit those places I loved, and even more show them to Diana! I was going to be guide in those cities I walked endlessly five years before.

When we arrived to London it was already 7pm, It had been five years since the last time I set a foot at Heathrow airport, and my excitement was escalating super fast! as soon as we were on the tube on our way to our Airbnb flat located at Westminster Bridge I felt it, a sense of homecoming I had not felt before, it was one of those moments when one realizes how body and mind warm up, and even though some things had changed everything looked so familiar.

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On the bus to Camden

Our first night took us to a bar in Camden town, where we met a friend of Diana, where I also met who is now one of my closest friends, Cati from Chile. We had a few beers and headed home to sleep and recover from the long flight.

The next morning my friend Sharron drove us to Brighton, first time visiting this nice city, and its wonderful vibe with the pier, little shops and the Royal Pavilion. We had a fun day, shopping dresses for NYE and hats to keep us warm, of course it was also a great spot to introduce Diana to fish n’ chips, which she approved 🙂

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Diana, me, Sharron
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Trying a dress for NYE (which I bought of course!)
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The Brighton Royal Pavilion

To give a little more context, Diana is my friend since we were in high school, so for me as an introvert it is easier to have fun and be silly with someone I know well, that said you can expect to see some fun pictures here :). This was also a test for me, since I had travelled mostly solo before, and this was the second time I was traveling with a friend, and the first time on such a long trip.

Adjusting our wake up times, walking pace and interests was an interesting experience, I am usually an early bird, and she likes to sleep until the very last possible minute, I walk fast (to the rhythm of Londoners) and she likes to go slow while taking hundreds of pictures, I was already a local in London whereas she was a newbie. All in all we had the time of our lives!

The only time I felt like loosing it, was when we arrived late for our tour to Stonehenge, we literally saw the bus leave without us, and it was because Diana woke up a bit late, plus some closures on the tube service that we had not expected. Luckily the tour agency gave us the option to go on the tour on the 31st, so I cooled down and decided to take her to other places in the city.

Our walks through London were the traditional stroll to Parliament houses, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Square, Regents Street, Oxford Street and Regent’s Park.

That day we also went to Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park including winter wonderland, tower bridge and Saint Paul’s cathedral, and guess what, we went to most of this places walking only, I hardly recall taking the tube that day, except for the way back to our flat, absolutely knackered! Good thing Diana walked without complaining although I bet she was about to give up a couple times, but hey! when you have little time in a place and few hours of daylight, you have to make as much as possible, yes?

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My the strength be with you!
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Loving winter right there!
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Not quite decided if I wanted a picture or not
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Following Paddington’s footprints
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Nearly frozen but happy!
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London’s christmas lights

On Dec 31st we finally made it to our bus on time and started a fabulous day to see Windsor Castle, and the highlight Stonehenge. When I lived in London a few years before I didn’t have the chance to visit this place, which was so mythical and strange, or at least the marketing does this trick well! I was bit disappointed not to be able to hug the stones, but it was great to see them and take some pictures, despite the freezing cold.

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We made it!
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Picture time! unusual back stage photo

In this trip I also met Gabi, a Mexican lady who inspired me to run more often (I tell the story about her in this post). I started running during the following days of this trip whenever it was possible.

After a nice lunch at the Greorge Inn in Lacock, the bus headed to Bath, which we didn’t get to see because it was already dark when we arrived, and also because we ran to the nearest Waitrose store to buy some buzz for the evening, previous to our NYE party.

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Oldest Pub in Lacock and also a Harry Potter location

When we finally arrived in London it was a bit too late, we put on our dresses (which we bought at Brighton), put on some make up, had some prosecco in the meantime and then took the tube to Shoreditch, where my friend Karen (whom I had met during my trip to San Francisco) was waiting for us. We got there a few minutes before midnight, just in time to grab a glass of champagne and celebrate the New Year in this incredible city.

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Celebrating together

At 2am people started to leave, and so we did, it had been a long day and I was tired. But hey, given that we had little time to get ready we didn’t have dinner, so we followed the smell of a Kebab place, which was amazingly nice, I enjoyed every bite until I got distracted and a random guy passing by took a bite of it, still unable to process what happened and still starving I had to get rid of it! Not long after that, a guy approached us and offered three small metallic bottles of some kind of drug which was “good stuff” according to him and costed only 20 pounds! Well we have never tried drugs before, so we looked at him and walked in the opposite direction.

Still confused about that and feeling the loss of my kebab, we kept walking until we could find a cab, but before we were lucky to get one, a car stopped in front of us, and the two guys inside offered to give us a lift with a suspicious smirk, at that moment I thought: “this is just the craziest night ever in my life!” Luckily in the middle of the mess I found a black cab and off we went, sound and safe back home…

Wait, not so easy, London seemed to say. Closer to our flat, due to the fireworks, the Westminster area was still closed to cars, we had to get off at embankment and walk from there. Processing the past events, and now laughing at them we started walking, when we heard music and saw some people outside a club, I don’t recall the name of it, we walked there as if attracted by some kind of magnet, once there we danced for a couple hours, until our feet couldn’t stand anymore.

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Trying to see the high spirits despite the pain in my feet

The sole thought of walking home was devastating, so close and so far, when we spotted the Charing Cross tube station, the TFL was giving free rides to people on their way back home, so nice and thoughtful of them! The tube station at Elephant and Castle was next door to our flat, which we appreciated more than ever, it was about 5am when we went to bed and had a well deserved rest.

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Last picture of that night, I was too tired to smile and had already my shoes in my hands

The next day, two still tired, a little hangover and definitely starving ladies woke up around midday. Diana wanted to go to Abbey Road, there we headed after some coffee. Pictures here and there, lots of other people fighting for the classic photo at the crossing lines and annoyed bus drivers stopping to let them do it. Mission accomplished we went to Carnaby Street to find the Dr. Martens boots Diana wanted, sadly no luck! but we found a nice place for Indian food nearby, delightful and perfect to warm up.

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It is hard day’s life

Having still some daylight, we headed to see the Wembley stadium, which wasn’t quite a good idea, because we could only see it from outside, but still we managed to see a bit more of London.

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In the end it is all that matters, right?

The next day we got up super early, if you want to find out where we went… wait until the next post! In the meantime… Hasta pronto! See you soon! Auf Wiedersehen! A presto! Au revoir! Adeus!