When I first boarded a plane it was to live in London, UK for 4-5 months in 2012. I was studying Theatre & Drama Performance abroad at The University of London Union through my college New York University. I had so many new experiences at once it was overwhelming but in a great way. It was also my first time getting a passport, going out the country and traveling alone.My adventure for the unknown (land and experiences that awaited me) cancelled out any fears of flying or crashing. The nervous non-stop knots in my stomach would not let me sleep on the plane. The knots couldn't prevent me from eating but sleeping was not an option!
A Grey Introduction
Of course the sky was cloudy and grey the first day I arrived. The clouds squeezed and rubbed together so tight that it caused rain to spritz from the sky. The hotel shuttle driver hopped on the left side of the car and began his journey all over damp London. He of course asked "Is it weird for you seeing me drive on this side isn't it?" I responded "You have no idea..." He chuckled. A jolly older fellow about in his mid-50's riding young college students and budget travelers to their temporary homes. " I will leave you for my last drop off" He said. I nodded in agreement. After the shuttle van emptied he drove me all over London. He proudly educated me on which museums is worth my time and which are not, which stores offered student discounts, which historic sites to see and so fourth. He even passed by Buckingham Palace. He took the long route to really show me different parts of London, I was tired from my trip but I did not care....I was absorbing all the grey London can spew at me. I finally arrived to my final destination and temporary home: King's Cross in North West London. The jolly older fellow helped me unload my bags and sent me on my way. I did not get his name but I humbly thanked him. He said "Its not problem, it is my joy. I hope you have a wonderful stay here." I smiled.
Arriving at King’s Cross was a weird. I was taken aback realizing I was in another country yet I still felt like I did not leave NYC. I naturally felt at home. I already knew the streets though I just arrived. Everything felt strangely familiar as if I visited this place previously or even in a dream, déjà vu at its finest.
Lively and animated younglins trade seats in and out of The Big Chill House; causing fights while sharing drinks, dances, and lively conversations accompanied with their overzealous laughter. Scala joins the sensational mix, where local and international bands and artists perform their infamous musical sets. This vibrant club attracts all types of crowds: pop, hard rock, goth and electric dance/dub step junkies. Royal Pizza is across the street and stays open until very late. This is where you can order and have pretty decent pizza, fried foods and other desert options. Many buses whiz by taking to you to many places in London. In one direction (North) you can got to Angel where the O2 Academy Islington is at (awaiting to feed your commercial Pop & Indie rock appetites). Angel also has shopping centers, street markets (during the day) as well as many different places to eat, get your hair & nails done, etc. Almeida Theatre is also situated there where you can watch proactive, youthful, and exciting theatre shows. From Angel you can also travel on East to hip and happening Shoreditch for your choice of bars, clubs, and Brick Lane.
*Brick Lane is street (or area) that included chains of Indian restaurants, bars, and markets during the day*
You can hop on and off the bus and shuffle to the beat with the other younglins going towards the opposite directions to (Central &West London.) You can take the 205 bus to Paddington (West Central London) where there are a chain of hotels ( I stayed at the Shaftesbury Metropolis London Hype Park Hotel Dec2014-Jan 2015) near Hyde Park. *Beautiful hotel to stay at by the way, 4-star & reasonably priced for its amazing customer service* If you walk south of hotels and Paddington Station you will find Hyde Park where the Princess Diana Memorial is located. Further south of the park (near Hyde Park Corner station) Winter Wonderland vividly fills the space from Nov-Jan of each year.
Or if you want to rub elbows with ever so vibrant eclectic crowd, take the 214 (in front of St. Pancras Station) to Camden Road or to the hip, popular & crowded: Camden Market.
*Depending on what stop you get off, you may have to walk a bit to reach Camden Market if you take the 214 bus,)
My Second Love….
Kings Cross is a cross-way center that aids you to effortlessly travel to multiple destinations via tube, bus (and night buses that run 24 hrs.) You can even board the scenic EuroStar train to France from St. Pancras. There are also multiple hotels along with hostels (for the budget, youth & solo travelers.) Its literally a cross-way to go to East, West, North, Central London and beyond.....
No matter which part of London I was in- all routes led to my second home, my second love, the place that still warms my heart each time I arrive there- King's Cross.
My heart sunk into my stomach and melted into my numb hands as I departed London in Spring 2012 to NYC after my study abroad semester ended. However that feeling did not last because in my heart I knew I would return and make this place my home again, and I did!
I hope this entry inspires you to find your home away from home as well!