Going to London in 1996 was my first international travel, since adopting Canada as my home in 1983.
I was ecstatic to be part of an international conference for select executives. But I was given short notice to prepare for the trip, so I didn’t have time to obtain a VISA (I was still holding my Filipino passport). I kicked myself for not doing the necessary paperwork of becoming a Canadian citizen (part of it was because I didn’t want to lose my identity). So I took the biggest gamble of my life and hopped on a flight bound for UK—unsure whether I’d make it through or would be sent back with my tail between my legs. I was traveling with eight colleagues representing the Canadian delegation, so I felt a little safer.
Sure enough, when I arrived at Heathrow airport, I was interrogated. I gave my best “I didn’t know I needed a VISA” spiel and played really dumb. What saved my ass was my delegation and a promise to the custom officials that I was only going to be staying for 4 days. I don’t advise anyone to take this risk.
After the two-day conference, we ventured out on our own to London with our luggage. Instead of dragging them along, we stored them at Victoria station and wandered around the city until the following morning when we took our flight home.
Like any other tourist, Buckingham Palace was the first on our “must see” list and I didn’t leave the area without getting a snap of London’s famous phone booth.
My favourite spot was Hyde Park. We wandered around, ate lunch, fed the birds and listened to local artists performing. It would have been nice to spend the day in the park but since we only had a day to see the whole city, we didn’t stay there long enough for me to really take it all in.
We roamed around London into the dark hours until we came upon Piccadilly Mall. My feet were tired from all the walking, so I sat on a stool to be drawn for 3 pounds. Either that or find a seat inside another pub.
Four days wasn’t enough to immerse myself in the beauty of this city. Next time, I would stay a little longer….
There is no mistaken, London is probably one of the most expensive city to visit. So prepare to spend money.
Three places I want to see when I go back to London:
- Madame Tussauds
- The London Bridge (it was dark when we made it there)
- And the Westminster Palace
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