On a recent Thursday, I found myself relaxing and leaning on a column smack dab in the middle of the action at Waterloo train station, flipping through a London Evening Standard while awaiting Colleen's arrival, on her return trip on her National Rail from Southampton, England, after her day at work. I glanced up from my paper and noted the rush of humanity flowing through the concourses at the busy London public-transportation facility situated just away from the Thames River on its south side.
It struck me about how every life follows a unique path. A mix of preparation and heavy dose of fortune in my 47 years of life had placed me in a spot to catch a glimpse of people carrying on with their daily routines in a leading world city center. Hectic as it was, it was exciting to witness. That orchestra of human movement represents the grind of people carrying on in their bids to thrive, pursue their dreams -- and for some, simply to survive, I imagine. Observing these moments in life as a traveler always provokes such thoughts for me.
London, like New York, Mumbai, Buenos Aires, Beijing or other big cities is truly a melting pot and serves as a "land of opportunity." The city is filled with immigrants from all over the planet. I heard more languages than I can remember as I made my way around on foot, by train, subway and cabs. It was all very enjoyable.
During my week in London, I wore out a pair of shoes sightseeing, snapping pics of famous statues, landmarks, structures and buildings. But the buzz of the streets during the days and in the pubs and restaurants during the nights might have left the most lasting impression with me about how diverse London is. We ate in several restaurants in our home base of Soho during the week. The service could be sketchy and the menus almost unreadable because English was not the first language for many proprietors, but the eateries, stacked side by side for streets on end, were invariably busy. It seems that you simply have to come to London, open your doors with decent food offerings and the business flows.
Colleen was busy all week with work and a cruise show, but we had a few evenings together to check out a couple wonderful theater productions: "Blithe Spirit," starring Angela Lansbury, at the Gielgud Theatre, and "Once," a Dublin-set musical based on a hit 2006 movie, at the Phoenix Theatre.
We had been to London last year for a too-quick trip that limited our ability to explore the city. This time, we really got a great feel, while still just scratching the surface.
Check out our slide show below to see what we were up to. Meanwhile, we're happy to get back to the States after a hectic two weeks of travel. But I'm sure we'll be just as eager to head off on another adventure before too long.
Cheers and happy travels.