14. Diary Entry: London

Dear diary,

This day I woke up with the thought of going to London and I couldn’t help but smile. It was as if someone had switched on a light in me and all I could do was shining. I visited London five years ago when I was on a class trip and was completely fascinated of this interesting city. Since then I have wanted to come there again but somehow I have never managed to realize my plans. That’s why I was especially happy going to London during the excursion even if it was only for a day.

The first thing I learned in London was that there you will be faster if you walk than if you go by car or bus. Because it seemed that we got stuck in the traffic jam in the centre of London for about the same time as we needed to get from Canterbury to London. So remember: Don’t use the car- use your feet; or the tube since this is to my mind the best transport facility. After we had reached St. Paul’s Cathedral, we could start our tour. By the way, “we” means Elisa, Joline, Vanessa, Franzi, Linda and I. We all share one floor in the student hostel and make all the trips together, too. Earlier I had thought that it might be going to be hard with such a big group making all the trips especially when everyone has different interests. However, it turned out that we are quite similar and have mostly the same interests. Now, being in this group constellation appears ideal to me. But I am digressing from the topic. The days before travelling to London we had discussed where each of us would like to go, so we wouldn’t waste any time there. First of all, we bought tickets for the tube and drove to Westminster Abbey. It was amazing to see the church and besides it Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. But there were so many people! I can’t remember that there were these masses of people when I was the last time in London. It was like currents were flooding through the streets. Most of all it was interesting to see the majority of men wearing suits. I think in London a man is wearing a suit and hence is a businessman or he is wearing normal clothes and is a tourist, either.

Then we passed St. James Park, which was due to the good weather also full of people. Nevertheless the nature- the trees, the green meadows, the lake and the sun shining through the leaves- was such a difference to the loud and hectic streets so that I immediately felt a bit more relaxed. Watching the people sitting on benches or lying on the lawn, I also wished to take a good book and to make myself comfortable in the park.

After we had stepped out of the park we were only some metres away of the Buckingham Palace. I looked at the marvellous building and at the Victoria Memorial but somehow I couldn’t realize that I actually stood in front of these popular sights. For the whole period in London I couldn’t believe that I were really in London; it rather seemed like I was watching everything through television. So I tried to remind me that this was actually real. I thought of Lady Diana’s death and how hundreds of people put bunches of flowers in front of the fence. I remembered how William and Kate stood on the balcony after their wedding waving to the crowd …. This actually helped me recognize the significance of these monuments.

Another point on our program was the Sherlock Holmes museum. Obviously it is situated at 221B Baker Street; the original address of the famous consulting detective, even though he actually has never lived there since he is a fictional character. Nevertheless it was very interesting to see the Sherlock Holmes souvenir shop, which was furnished in the late 19th century style. The entrance for the museum wasn’t for free (which wasn’t a surprise since it is London) and because we couldn’t imagine what was exhibited (since Holmes wasn’t real) we decided not to go in. Instead we took pictures of how we were knocking on the door of 221B Baker Street.

The next station was Camden Market. Before, I had thought that it would be a kind of weekly market with market stands but when we arrived I realized that it was completely different than I had imagined. Astonished I looked at the weird facade of the houses and the unusual shops. There wasn’t a real market- the whole district was a market! And what kind of market! Sculptures of elephants, ghosts and huge shoes were fixed on the colourful houses and indicated what the shops within offered. All in all we realized that Camden Market was a modern artists’ quarter. Different kind of people from different nations came here together. Generally I was fascinated of the relaxed and liberal atmosphere. The people seemed to be very friendly and open-minded (which was also proved by my acquaintance with George; but wait a moment for this story).

We bought something to eat at the food market, which was by the way amazing because they offered so many delicious food, but we couldn’t find a place to sit down. Finally we found a small platform at the water where already lots of people sat and we squeezed ourselves into an empty spot. It was so beautiful there. The sun was slowly going down and its bright colour was reflected in the calm water. Branches of a willow tree were hanging around us and all the people surrounding us seemed to be peaceful and happy. There was even a musician who played the guitar. Just as he sang a song from Ed Sheeran, the boy next to me started to talk about Ed Sheeran and him being a ginger. He introduced himself as George and said he lived in the south-east of London. I told him that we are a group of students doing an excursion. We talked a little bit of the songs the musician was playing and about the places we come from. It was very interesting to converse with him but unfortunately I understood only parts of what he said. His unclear speech and the high volume made it really difficult for me to understand him so eventually I just nodded and smiled because I didn’t want him to repeat his words the third time. When we were about to leave he told me that it had been a pleasure to meet me and I responded that so it had been for me. I am still very happy that I had the chance to talk to a person living in one of the greatest city of the world and to experience that cultural openness.

The late evening we spent walking along the river Thames and enjoying the beautiful view of the Tower Bridge and its surroundings before we unfortunately had to leave this amazing city.