Today, I woke up with the intent of wandering around and checking a few more sights off my list. I was up and moving by 8 am and out the door just before 10am, heading to Paddington to catch the Circle Line to St. James’s Park. After alighting, I made my way down Petty France to Buckingham Place, which took me to – you guessed it – Buckingham Palace. The whole area was already swarming with people, so I just wandered on by, snapping a few photos as I dodged the herds of prams and clueless tourists who stop right in the middle of walkways. I walked northwest up Constitution Hill, adjacent to Green Park, where I found a shady bench and sat for awhile. I then continued on up to Duke of Wellington Place and popped under the road via the subway tunnel to the Pret a Manger on the other side, where I grabbed a bite of lunch.
After lunch, the subway tunnel took me back under the road to the island within the traffic circle on which stands the Wellington Arch. After wandering by, I made my way across Knightsbridge to Hyde Park, where I spent the next couple of hours walking and wandering (there’s been quite a bit of wandering this trip). I made my way along the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Walk, met two very friendly squirrels, and then along the north side of the Serpentine, where I stopped and got some ice cream to enjoy along the way. I crossed the Serpentine Bridge and walked to the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, where people were sitting and paddling their feet in the water, as the sign encourages them to do.
I then headed to the Albert Memorial, where I sat on a bench and enjoyed the breeze and the scenery. I also met a very nice woman from Melbourne, Australia, who shared my bench, and was so excited to be visiting the UK; she said it took her 70 years to finally get a stamp in her passport. Her trip is just beginning and she’ll leave London for Stirling, Scotland and then come back down to Cornwall, tracing her family roots along the way. After a peaceful little sit, I made my way down Kensington Road to Kensington High Street station and caught the Circle Line back to Paddington. I’ve spent the evening playing Tetris with my two suitcases, my carry on, my purse, and all of the stuff that I somehow have to manage to fit in them.
Today was my last full day in London. I know that, come tomorrow, it will have been four weeks since I arrived in the UK, but those weeks have flown by and I’m very sad to be leaving. But, I feel so lucky, so thankful that I was able to embark on this adventure, to see so many beautiful places, experience so many new things, and meet so many interesting people. I’m also proud of myself for doing most of it on my own, for finding the courage to drive on the other side of the road, to navigate public transit, to hop a bus to a country village, to go on a sightseeing tour not knowing anyone else, to be flexible and change plans when I needed/wanted to. And I’m proud of myself for sticking to my goal of chronicling every day of my journey. Although I’ll leave the UK on a 747 tomorrow morning, my adventure isn’t quite over yet…