Londontown

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London 2009

NYE 2009 Vernon and I headed to London. I was really excited because I was going to be reunited with my two favorite Brit’s Sian and Melanie. We hadn’t seen each other in about a year so I was super excited. We were in England for about a week. The plan was to spend a few days with Sian, who lived a few hours from London and a few days with Melanie, who lived closer to London. It was a great trip because I was able to not only see the tourist attractions but also visit parts of England that if not for my friendship with Sian and Melanie, I probably wouldn’t have visited.  My visit was enriched because I was able to see both sides of the coin. I was not prepared for how cold London was. I knew I was going in winter but I still was a bit unprepared for the cold. It felt like I was still in Chicago, lol. I think it also made a difference because in London we relied heavily on public transportation. So it wasn’t like we were constantly being chauffeured in a heated car so we definitely felt the cold. Melanie didn’t have a car so when we went out, we had to take the train to get where we wanted to go. She also lived a few blocks from the train station so that wasn’t always fun walking to the station in the cold but you just dress in layers and get over it. Melanie lived with her father in Hatfield which is about 30 minutes outside of London. I also got the chance to meet Melanie’s mother and sister. They were just as fabulous as Melanie which wasn’t a surprise.

New Year’s Eve

We arrived the day before NYE. The plan for NYE was to head to London and to see what we could get into. We debated going to an actual party for NYE but most of them were very expensive so we decided to forgo that route. We still had fun even if we didn’t actually go to an official party. We were able to see the fireworks which was really cool. It was insane taking the underground because it was super crowded with people everywhere.What I remember most about NYE in London is being cold and my feet hurting from walking around. I remember many of the underground stations being closed so we had to walk a lot. I would still do it all again in a heartbeat.

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London like a local

One of the things that I noticed about London was how diverse it was. In that respect, it reminded me of the U.S. Sian came down and so it was the three musketeers once again. The plan was that she would stay in London for a few days and then Vernon and I would go visit Sian in Chester which was a few hours from London. 

When we were in London, we saw the major attractions such as the London Eye, Westminster Abbey,  Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, etc. It’s always cool seeing places that you’ve only read about in history books or seen on t.v. 

Vernon and I enjoyed the local favorite, fish and chips which was sold pretty much everywhere. We didn’t do that much shopping because the British Pound was very strong so we didn’t get a great exchange rate. Melanie did a great job of being our tour guide. When she wasn’t available to show us around, Vernon and I ventured off on our own which was fine. It was really cool seeing Melanie in her element. We had fun having photo shoots in her room and just being silly. I wonder what happened to those pictures lol. I enjoyed our girl talks where we obsessed about our complicated love lives, lol.

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London Eye
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Buckingham Palace at night.
Trying to stay warm at the Calvary.
Trying to stay warm at the Calvary.

Chester

After exploring London, we then headed to Chester. We took the train which was really nice.  Sian lived in Chester with her parents and her sister. At the time, her brother was spending time in the U.S so I didn’t get a chance to meet him. Sian’s family was very warm and they welcomed my brother and I with open arms. They were very hospitable towards my brother and I for which I will always be grateful. It was also nice to meet Sian’s family since she had already met my family in Chicago. One of the nights we were there, Sian’s grandmother invited us over to her house for dinner which was really nice. She reminded me of my mother because my mother also loves to have dinner parties. I felt at home with Sian’s family.

 When we were in Chester we visited the local church and we also saw a castle which is something that you definitely don’t see in the U.S. Sian told me that it was actually being used as a hotel but it was still pretty cool either way. We also went shopping in downtown Chester which was really cool. They had many of the same stores that are popular in the U.S. Chester had a very quaint small town feel to it which was very refreshing. It was not the hustle and bustle of London which was nice. 

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Downtown Chester
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Castle off in the distance
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Sian and her wonderful family

 

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Together at last.

Final Musings

After we left Chester, we had one more day in London before heading back to the states. On our last night, Vernon and I went souvenir shopping and had fish and chips for the last time. We also went to see the last two places on our list which were Buckingham Palace and London Bridge. We went at night so we probably weren’t able to fully appreciate the beauty of Buckingham Palace but I was still pretty impressed. Overall I really enjoyed England despite the cold weather. It was great reconnecting with Sian and Melanie. It was also a first for Vernon because it was his first time in Europe. I haven’t been back to England since but perhaps one day I will return. Sian currently lives in London but Melanie has since moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina.This was the last time we’ve all been together. I regret that I haven’t seen them since but it is difficult when everybody lives so far away. Melanie came to California a few years back but at the time, I was living abroad so I wasn’t able to see her.I do believe a trip to Argentina will happen sooner than later. It would be great to have another reunion with my two favorite Brit’s. Anything is possible!

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