51.5074° N, 0.1278° W

[EUROPE SERIES PART 1/4]

PREFACE

This summer (July 4-13), I was privileged enough to go to Europe with my sister, mom, and cousins. A total party of 13 – a mini family reunion you could say – touring 4 countries with the help of a perky gentle giant for a tour guide and a super generous uncle who paid for nearly everything (God bless you Uncle Joseph).


My eyes flutter open to a lady crouching down in front of me. This is my third time waking up from a choppy nap, so my contact lenses are already itchy and defective from their unusual lack of oxygen. The details seep in as my vision slowly focuses on the beautiful stewardess who dons a crisp navy uniform – not a single pore in her face or a wrinkle in her collar. She repeats, “What would you like for dinnuh?” And even through the deafening hum of the plane, I can distinguish a skip past the “r”‘s, an elongation in the vowels, a dainty bounce from word to word – trademark differences from the American way of licking every curve of a letter to propel through our sentences. She places the lasagna option onto the tray table before moving onto the next row with a smile. The Union Jack decorates the foil wrapper, as if I need more reminders of where this plane is taking us.

FIRST DESTINATION

London, England

The most charming parts of London for me are the doors and the road culture. The whole driving-on-the-left side kind of thing is a little odd at first, but you get used to it. I don’t know how else to say it but the taxis, red buses, ambulances, and police vehicles are so freaking cute. Something about sloped edges and doe-eyed headlights and yellow license plates screams ENGLAND. It’s a contrast to the elongated, boxy features of the cars in America. And it’s not weird for people to drive around non-neutral colored cars like lime green or pastel pink.

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I mentioned doors. Doors here are extremely enticing. Not just the extravagant, gold-plated gates of the Buckingham Palace, but even the doors of all the houses we pass by while cruising through the city. (I didn’t take any pictures of them which angers me but I’ll include some that I found on the internet and promise you that they’re present in London.) The knobs are usually smack dab in the middle instead of being closer to the edge of the opening; there’s also an ornate knocking handle (I googled it just now – apparently it’s called a “door knocker” lol) and a cozy door mat. The doors are usually framed by a clean, symmetric porch, not limited to eye-appealing things like steps and/or freshly clipped bushes, potted plants, flower beds below the window sill, spidery vines crawling up the walls. The rectangular mail slot is almost always present 1/3 of the way up the door, and every time I see it, it reminds me of when the Dursleys were ambushed with Hogwards letters through their own mail slot.

Halfway through our walk, Kaitlyn (my cousin) nudges me.

“Damn…” she sighs. “I really want that girls outfit.”

I look over and this is what I see.

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Here’s St. Paul’s Cathedral where people were watching a Wimbledon match in the courtyard. The cathedral itself was beautiful. We had a chance to peruse inside but no photography was allowed. Everything in there was majestic and grandeur and traditional with a hint of quirkiness (it has black and white checkered tiles), much like the rest of the city.

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Here’s Westminster Abbey

…not in fact spelled “West-minister Abby”.

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I know I’ve taken a lot of tourist-y pictures that you can just as easily Google and find stock images for BUT have you ever seen Big Ben under construction???! Look at it. Not hideous at all.

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Also I found one of these babies…

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and one of these babies.

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Which leads me to say that London is a city that definitely likes to hold onto to its traditional customs as much as possible. It’s apparent through the architecture, the arguably non-existent functions of certain icons and people (i.e. the Royal Family), the clothing, and the language. My God! You’d think that just because America and England share English, that there wouldn’t be any difference. But trust me, they have a much more colorful and sophisticated word bank; there is a thicker threshold between professional and casual communication; and sarcasm and wit is their forte. No wonder J.K. Rowling’s voice is filled with sass. She grew up in a sassy country!! It’s wonderful.


POP CULTURE THAT REMINDS ME OF THIS PLACE (A SUBJECTIVE LIST)

 Harry Potter
Bridget Jones
William & Kate…and anyone in Royal Family really
The Parent Trap
How to Get Away with Murder solely bc of Alfred Enoch
Sherlock
What a Girl Wants
The Princess Diaries

 

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