Honey, I’m Coming Home!

london

In September, I packed my bags and locked the door on my time in London. I knew there was a chance I’d return as a tourist or for a job or even for a layover, but I thought it’d be a while before I returned.

A few months later, I’ve got my packing list ready. I’m heading back!

Though I submitted my dissertation in August and got my final result in November, my grad school graduation is in the middle of January (UK schools just keeping me confused). And because my (retired) parents are kindly encouraging the opportunity for a vacation, the three of us will hop a plane this week, escaping the cold and snow of Washington, DC for the (probably just as cold) lights of London.49948022_2057821814517992_3371426869252456448_n

From the second we booked our tickets, I started plotting. Both of my parents have been to London before so we could skip the boring (but required for first timers!) tourist spots and focus on the things we genuinely love. And being me, I’ve started a list:

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First up – DISHOOM! I’ve been dreaming about the egg naan rolls and endless cups of chai from Dishoom. I’ve discussed my love for their breakfast before. So we’ll definitely be making a stop (or three) at one of their restaurants.

Next up on the list – West End shows. DC has pretty good theatre (and the Kennedy Center recently hosted Hamilton, which we flipping loved), but it’s nowhere near as fantastic as London’s shows. I’ve been scouring TodayTix for shows. My family is pretty casual about our travels, preferring to make last minute decisions instead of pre-scheduling the entire trip, so I’m not too worried about pre-booking shows.

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No matter what show(s) we end up at, it’ll be sure to be entertaining.

It wouldn’t be a trip to London without stopping at a few museums. We’ll most likely end up taking my dad on a trip to my old digs, as he didn’t get to visit while I lived in London, so we might just have to stop by the British Museum. Of course, the Courtauld, my mother’s favorite, is right next to my university and worth the visit every time we go (even if I was incredibly hungover the last time I went :/).

We’ve also discussed venturing out of the city (gasp – a real game changer, I know!). I, personally, have a special place in my heart for Brighton. Requests have been received for a trip up to Stonehenge, which I visited last year around this time in the middle of a snowstorm. Heck, even a day trip up to Windsor or Cambridge would be nice.50192552_353470892171567_2823966689614364672_n.jpg

Of course, the whole trip is supposed to focus on the big day: graduation. I’ve already been in contact with some friends who I haven’t seen since August. It’ll be lovely to catch up, grab a pint, and reflect on the horrors of writing a dissertation in the middle of a heatwave. And of course, receiving a diploma wouldn’t be too horrible a way to spend a morning.

The V&A

london, Travel

D.C. and London have quite a few things in common: large metropolitan areas, with history, culture, and politics constantly overlapping. One of the things I take for granted when in other cities is one of those commonalities: free museums. Both D.C. and London have some of the best museums in the world, and a good number in both cities are free.

My attention span is short enough as it is, so though the Louvre has thousands upon thousands of pieces of art, I can only focus long enough for a room or two. When you’re paying for the museum, that’s not quite justifiable. (Shout out to that broke student life.) When the museum is free, however, you can pop in and out, based on your schedule, rather than your wallet.

I’ve seen a good number of London’s museums over the years and have popped into the British Museum, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Natural History Museum in past months. The British Museum is literal blocks from my current housing and the Portrait Gallery is blocks from my job, so those were easy to pop in and out of. Though the Natural History Museum is a bit out of the way, I had gone with friends and spent an afternoon looking at rocks and animals. Because they are free, I feel no need to rush to see everything. I can always return.

The other day, I had a rainy afternoon free and decided to spend it somewhere other than my bed. So I hopped on the tube and went back towards the Natural History Museum with a new destination in mind. The V&A.31945634_10214184006888013_125461024122863616_n

The Victoria and Albert Museum is a curious place. With a Chihuly hanging in their lobby, there is a little of something for everyone. You can marvel over fabrics or sculptures or jewels or wrought iron or paintings. I watched a class of retirees practice sketching sculptures and I watched a school group wander through the Buddhism collection. I followed a family of tourists through a collection of some of the most stunning jewels I have ever seen.

31947285_10214184007808036_1847038835830030336_nI find the most entertaining parts of museums to be the people. The ways that families and tourists and locals and art connoisseurs intermix and flow through the space, leaving careful room around a sculpture or a painting. The V&A offers quite a few balconies that allow you to look down at larger exhibits and watch the people as they wander.

31914135_10214184007528029_5663347570177474560_nSo I spent an hour or so people-watching before I took a chance on the break in the rain to make a run for the tube. There was no regret in leaving, no worries that I must have missed something.

31944370_10214184008808061_6955756873685401600_nI guess that’s one of the perks of living in London. I’m free to make my way back to my favorite spots and blend in with the crowds, #stillatourist.