The final day. Dun dun dun dun. Nooooo. I don't want this trip to end. It had been the best experience of my life and if I could keep going for another couple of weeks (or months!), I would. But all good things must come to end as they say, so its back to New York and back to reality tomorrow. Blah!
Today started like pretty much every other day. Up early. Hotel breakfast. Bus. The uzche basically. There were only 10 people on the bus, three of whom were getting dropped off at the airport and then rest of us were heading back to London. Unfortunately we were not taking the Chunnel back, but taking the Dover Ferry again. This time at the ferry, we went on as individuals, not on the bus. We also had to go through customs entering England. This meant another stamp on the passport. A France one. Woohoo! It's the little things in life that please me. We caught the early ferry because we had so few people which was fantastic because had we missed it, we would have had to wait another hour. That would have driven me insane. I had also forgotten we gained an hour back! I'll take any extra time I can!
Coming into London we passed all the cool sites that I was so excited to see again! It just reinforced to me why London was my favorite city this trip. When I got to the hotel, I checked in, got organized and headed out to just walk around and see my favorite things again. The city had tons of barricades up as they were preparing for a big bike race tomorrow. It's the Prudential Ride London and based on what's blocked off, it looks to be a pretty awesome race course.
My hotel is like a eight minute walk to Buckingham Palace so I walked there first. Now that the royal baby has arrived, all the news vans and press tents that were there last time I was there were gone. I'm glad to see they are giving Will and Kate a little space. I'm still a little bitter he wasn't born when I was there. It would have been pretty cool. But I can't win 'em all. After the palace, I made my way to Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. On my way there I passed St. James Park which I somehow missed last time. I meandered in there a bit since I was in no rush and it was new to me. After wandering around a bit more and passing a few more stops, I headed back to the hotel because I had one thing on my mind: run in London.
One of my goals on this vacation was the run in each country we visited. (Besides Monaco because we were only there for about two hours.) Because I have been eating like a beast, I not only wanted to run, but it's a great way to see different parts of a city. I also am supposedly four weeks into marathon training and wanted to maintain the little endurance I had built up. Although I was walking a ton this trip, I still wanted to get some running miles in. When I was in London three weeks ago, I was on such a role with walking a sightseeing that I didn't have the time and energy to run. Not to mention that I probably walked a good 15-20 miles each day. I was super disappointed I didn't get to run in London that time around but knew I had a second chance on the tail end of this trip so I HAD to make it happen. And I did! (That makes seven European countries that I ran in!!) I ran from my hotel to my favorite site in London, the Tower Bridge. Since it is so far from the hotel I wanted to run there (not walk), run across it, and then planned to take the Tube back. I ran along the Thames River which was awesome! I just love running along water whether its the Hudson River, Lake Michigan, the Mediterranean Sea, Lake Lucerne or anywhere else. It just makes the run so much more enjoyable. This run along water was no different. I enjoyed myself so much (and the perfect weather helped too) that I decided to run back to the hotel too. It was great!! awesome. (I know London is a running city and I passed a ton of runners along the way. One thing I observed was that a vast majority of them were wearing backpacks. Why? Were they running home from work? Or is there something I'm missing here? A new trend? Or training technique? Please advise if you know.)
Back near the hotel, I stopped and picked up a salad at my old friend Pret and headed back to the room to eat and just relax. I have to be up at 4:45 tomorrow to catch my flight back to NYC. I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I am leaving Europe and this unbelievable trip has come to an end. I predict a realization in a day or two followed by some tears. Even though I planned this trip on a impulsive whim, it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I looked forward to it for so many reasons and now that's it over, I may feel a void, but I think that's a bit normal.
I'd have to say this was the best three and half weeks of my life. Each day I experienced new things (sites, languages, food, culture, etc...), came back to my hotel satisfied and exhausted (in the best way possible), and went to bed excited for the next day. My enthusiasm day in and day out remained the same because I was enjoying myself so much. I felt so full of life each and every day. This certainly was the trip of a lifetime and I am so glad I got to experience all that I did. I feel so happy, grateful, and proud of myself for going on this journey and taking advantage for all it had to offer. I'm so sad this trip is over but I'm hoping it's only the beginning for a fantastic rest of the summer and year ahead. I'm hoping for even bigger and better to come. So as they say in all the countries I've been to: Ciao, Auf Wiedersehen, Au voir, and Goodbye. For now that is. See you in the states!!