Saturday, August 15, 2015

Reflection: Enjoying A Layover In London

A few days ago, as I began the journey from West Virginia to Kenya, I hit a minor snag. My first flight was canceled, and because of tight layovers on subsequent flights, it meant that I would miss the entirety of my original itinerary. Thankfully, United was able to book me on an alternate itinerary that had me arriving twelve hours later than originally anticipated, but it also had me spending about ten of those hours in London.

So, with a ten hour layover, I took advantage of the opportunity to explore a city to which I have never traveled, and began the process of adjusting to a new time zone by walking around in the daylight in a new city. 

It was actually much easier to navigate than I had anticipated. Once I started to shake off the sleep deprivation and get my bearings, I was able to check my backpack at a left luggage counter, and the purchase a one-day pass for the train. Within an hour, I was in downtown London and looking directly at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (and yes, I had flashes of Chevy Chase in National Lampoon's European Vacation). 

It was a beautiful day, and, as per usual when traveling in a larger city, I was pretty amazed at how easy it was to navigate the city and how close things were. Within minutes I was able to see the two aforementioned sights along with Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace. I made my way through Green Park and onward to Piccadilly Circus, and decided to make a side trip to 221B Baker Street, the home of one Sherlock Holmes. There was actually a line at the famed home of Holmes with about 150-200 people waiting to tour the space. 

The people were friendly but the streets were crowded. People were out and about enjoying the sunshine and the weekend. And beyond this, folks were playing, picnicking, and conversing in the many parks I either walked through or passed by. Walking through those parks, I was reminded of many times my family (including aunts, uncles, and cousins) would spend an afternoon in a park, bring some food, and just enjoy some leisure time together. When I visit parks back in the US these days, I just don't see as many people using them. I don't see as many people out and active. Seems like folks back home just don't have the time for spending an afternoon in our parks. Now don't get me wrong, there are some exceptions, but more and more we just find our schedules a little too crowded to enjoy some relaxation. Maybe what we need to do is adjust some priorities and get outside.

May we each carve out time to explore and enjoy our communities, our parks, and the world around us, and may we enjoy these places in the company of friends and family!

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