Going overseas without a data plan, is like learning to be human all over again. You're forced to put your phone down, (because let's face it, your phone is pretty boring without wifi), and really take in your surroundings. That is, until you find free wifi to upload your Snaps.
London was my first stop, on my mini-trek across Western Europe. During my flight, I sat next to a guy, also making his first trip to London. Unfortunately I didn't catch his name, but he was a mechanic at the BMW of Seattle, that had recently been temporarily laid off. He had been to Prague the year before & decided to take this opportunity to backpack Europe, at least until he ran out of money. I admired his courage.
On the other hand, he probably thought my in-flight beauty routine & pre-landing make-up routine was pretty bizarre.
After 9+ hours, I arrived at the London Gatwick airport. Immediately, it was like I was in London's unofficial race-walking competition. I've never seen people bustle so fast towards baggage claim & the trains (jacket not recommended). After grabbing myself some British pounds, the process to buy my Thameslink ticket & vistor Oyster pass, was extremely efficient. Very much, Go! Go! Go!
After a 45 minute train ride & 15 minute walk later, I dropped off my bags at the hotel. With my camera & tripod, I headed out to explore the city.
American media has always forced-fed me an idea of what being in London would be like, but it's quite difference seeing it for yourself. It's like being fed ____ Over the next few days, these are my thoughts.
You can't just walk up to the gaurds at buckingham palace
Friends & Sherlock totally lied to me. The guards themselves were pretty far behind the gates, and in case you're wondering, yes I saw them move. One of them was doing a very interesting march, whilst the other sneezed, twice. If you're going to go here, I recommend going early. By noon, hordes of people from tour buses arrive with their sea of self-sticks, making pictures a lot harder after that.
public transportation here makes Seattle look like a bunch of stubbornly demented turtles
#Truth. With a city & underground tube map in hand, the public transport was extremely easy & cheap to navigate. By the end of my 3rd day, I had barely used 15 pounds (or about $19.50 USD). A single one-way bus ride in Seattle, could cost me $2.50-$3.50. Even then, you were probably still a 30 minute walk from your actual destination. Not much incentive. In London though, as long as you knew your destination, you were set. There were tube maps at every corner, along with a breakdown of the stops east or westbound. Not to mention, if you missed a carriage, not to worry! Another one was sure to arrive within 3 minutes or less. In Seattle, if you missed a bus, you could wait up to 30 minutes. With the cost & efficiency, it's no wonder so many people used it. Plus with all the stairs, I also saw a surprising lack of obese people. America take note.
For the rest of my time in London, I found myself straying away from my touristy crowds & walking up and down the Thames. Of course, I still did some night photography, with London's biggest attractions, but I also found a miniature carnival with froyo & street music.
London has definitely stolen my heart. It's hard to say, since I've only been to a few countries outside the states, but I could really see myself living here one day. 4 days flew by & I already can't wait to come back. It's just so beautiful, I don't think I could ever get bored of photographing this city. It'll just have to wait until next time. Now, onto Brussels! - JEN