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Re/discovering Myself Through Travel

One of the unintended benefits of traveling, for me, is discovering something new about myself or rediscovering some personal quality that time and life had made me forget.

On my last trip to London, I stayed with my sister and her family. While it was a holiday for me, it wasn’t for them so I knew I’d be navigating the city on my own.

It wasn’t like that on my first trip. I stayed with my favorite female cousin who worked, but I didn’t venture out much. Fresh from completing school in Barcelona, I can still remember the energetic and confident 20-something I was then but I can’t remember why I stayed in so much. I missed out on a lot and it wasn’t because it rained everyday except the day before I left.

In the 20+ years between these two trips — the third doesn’t count as the 4 days were consumed by preparations for my sister’s wedding — I’ve logged several thousand miles of both solo and group travels.

This time, rather than letting myself feel alone or worry that I’d get lost — my friends say I’m directionally challenged, I call it exploring alternate paths —  I felt the free and confident person that I am return. And I got even more confident as each day went by and I found my way even when I returned late at night or wandered far afield.

Like the day I did the London Eye. I wandered the Southbank aimlessly, stopped for something to eat then rejoined the sea of people who seemed to be out for a Sunday stroll and enjoying the unusually warm day. I had no idea where I was but I wasn’t bothered. I knew I’d find the underground and my way back — and I did.

After a week of finding my way around in London, I was excited to tackle Paris, where except for a friend from New York, whom I saw once, I was totally alone. My aloneness emboldened me. Could it have been because I speak some French? Probably. But the first night in the hotel, I put a chair behind the door, just in case.

Everyday, I picked the places that I had to see then spent the rest of the time wandering around, discovering quaint streets, flower stalls, boutiques and ‘real’ pharmacies along the way. By the time I made my way back to the metro, it would be way past midnight.

The trip was a big boost to my confidence, especially at a time when I was feeling more than a little unsure of my footing.

I’m eager to start the next trip to see what else I discover about myself.

What do your travels reveal to you?

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Eye Over London

My sister kept saying that she’d wait for me to arrive so we could take our 84 year old aunt on the London Eye. But by the time I got to London, our aunt was beginning to have difficulty getting around.

Maybe it was a good thing as it took more than 45 minutes from the time I picked up my ticket to the time I climbed aboard the ‘pod.’

But it was worth it. This is what I saw:

Passenger pods

One of the 32 oval pods that take passengers high above London.

Houses of Parliament seen from the London Eye
Hungerford Bridge
Waterloo bridge
House of Parliament with Big Ben
Haven't been able to identify this building
County Hall
South Bank view

I think our aunt would have loved this.

The ride on the London Eye was smooth, the view breathtaking. Just before each pod returned to home base, it discharged passengers and took on new ones. Each ride took about 30 minutes.

Some facts about the London Eye:

  • Designed by husband wife team of David Marks and Julia Barfield
  • It was opened in March, 2000
  • Hosts 3.5 million visitors annually
  • At 443 feet (135 meters), it is the 4th tallest structure in London
  • It is the world’s largest cantilevered observation wheel

If you’re not afraid of heights, next time you’re in London, make sure you check out the London Eye.

Enjoy the view!

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