Photo Journal: Rekindling the Spark with London, UK
Do you remember your first time?
No, you dirty bird, your first time away from home. The first trip you ever took? (And I don’t mean one of those forced family vacations, like the one to Disney World. At the age of 14.) I mean, your first semi-grown up vacation that you paid for yourself?
I remember mine well. And not only because it was the trip that made me catch the travel bug, that opened my eyes to a whole new world outside the vast galaxy known as New York City and so many many other things. But looking back now — the most unforgettable part of my first “adult” trip was just how
insanely ghetto frugal it was. And I mean that in the most endearing way possible.
It was 2003 and I had made enough cash that summer to pay for the coming year’s university books, tuition and boarding fees with $700 bucks to spare.
With the bills burning a hole in my shallow pockets and a week before the start of junior year, two girlfriends and I decided to take a short trip to London. And after:
+ 1 round trip ticket from JFK –> LHR ($400)
+ 5 nights stay at the Regency House Hotel ($95p/n ÷ 3 people x 5 nights = $158 pp)
+ 1 taxi fare from LHR to Regency House Hotel ($45)
there was $97 left to spend across 5 days, (“mind the gap” in my wallet), which managed to materialize:
– 5 free breakfasts from the hotel as close to lunchtime as possible
– 3 sandwiches from Marks & Spencer
– 1 entrée-portions to split between three hungry girlfriends
– off-peak tickets to sites
– 20-minutes of emailing at the local internet cafe
But despite needing to painstakingly craft endless (and doggedly creative) ways to stay alive, we managed to make lasting memories across the UK’s shining capital. We strolled through the city’s prominent and offbeat landmarks, ogled at the Crown Jewels, pondered the silent secrets of Stonehenge, drank (free!) water at the Roman Baths and discovered the irrefutable magnificence that is Marks & Spencer.
And just a short decade and change later, I planned to take my second trip (to my first trip) with Lilia, a like-minded working professional and couldn’t help but wonder how my modestly improved financial situation would shape my experiences, my tastes, my preferences in this fast-paced city. And how my modestly
older wiser mind would affect my views, perspectives, reflections.
As Lilia and I embarked on our journey to the ex-motherland last month, we aimed to relish in the comforts of our more settled lifestyle. During the day, we walked through familiar sites and neighborhoods at our leisure, photographed simple street scenes, bought unnecessary trinkets. By night, we wined and dined at the city’s trendy eateries, scouted the streets for nightlife and pampered ourselves with ritual spa days. Needless to say, we enjoyed the (reasonable) perks that came the working life.
But despite these luxuries amidst the lack of hardship and struggle, every corner we turned, every crevice we explored still brought a familiar sense of adventure, spark and wonder.
After all, you never forget your first.
Corinthia Hotel London
1 Whitehall Place
+44 20 7930 8181