Will Morrow (courtesy)

Will Morrow (courtesy)

What I did on my summer vacation

My wife and I needed a sunny, warm getaway, so we went to London

Earlier this summer, my wife and I needed a sunny, warm getaway, so we went to London.

Actually, we were visiting our daughter, who is going to college there. And while you might associate London with the weather we were experiencing here in June and July, it just so happened to be sunny and 85 degrees (29 Celsius!) the whole time we were there.

London is a fascinating city. Since the time it was founded by the Romans, it has been constantly rebuilding itself. There are ultra-modern skyscrapers with fun nicknames like the “Egg,” the “Shard,” and the “Walkie Talkie,” right next to a thousand-year-old castle. I learned a lot about the history of the city.

I also learned something about myself — or at least reinforced something I already knew. As interesting as London is, I am just not a city person. Each time we passed a palace or museum, I felt myself more drawn to the park next door.

Fortunately for me, London has an amazing amount of green space. Even the moat around the Tower of London has been turned into a wildflower garden, and is as interesting and as pretty to look at as the Crown Jewels inside. And the parks, once reserved for royalty, are a pleasure to stroll through (except for the time a green parrot bit my finger in St. James’s Park, but that was my fault for not having a nut in it).

Parrot bites notwithstanding, we had a great trip. Here are a few of the highlights.

First, my favorite spot to visit was Stonehenge, which is a couple a couple hours west of London. I had been told not to expect too much from “a pile of rocks,” but I thought it was amazing. The circle is smaller than you might expect, but the stones are massive. We were there a couple of days after the summer solstice, but I think there was still some energy in the air. My daughter said she had done a virtual tour and didn’t seem as impressed, but I still think nothing beats the “in real life” experience.

We went to see “Hamilton” in the West End. It was fantastic, and my daughter said that the actor portraying the title character was “fire.” I think that’s good.

I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. For a variety of reasons, some better left for another discussion, people come to London from all over the world, and they bring their cuisine with them. We started off our visit with some pub food, but we also enjoyed Asian and Indian dinners, as well as meals from the vendors at the various markets around the city. I’m guessing the only reason I didn’t come back heavier than when I left was all the walking in the parks.

We also checked out a few of the art museums. Seeing the original works of art “in real life” was almost as cool as an experience as Stonehenge.

One of the most fun things was the night my daughter took me to see one of her friend’s bands at a small music venue in Camden. She was introducing me to her friends, and mentioned that I had “never been to a show like this before” — and then was shocked when I told her that before she was born, we used to go to lots of shows like that. (She later clarified that she was talking about our trip to London, not my entire life.)

In any case, the band played classic punk-style music, and it was a lot of fun, even despite the guitarist’s technical difficulties. I might’ve been the oldest person in the room, though a few of the band members’ parents were there, too.

While those are the highlights of the things we did, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the people we met along the way. After all, the people make a place what it is. We met a bar band from New Jersey on the bus to Stonehenge. The breakfast hostess at our hotel was from Istanbul, and made us Turkish coffee one morning. We got to meet up with my daughter’s friends one night at her local pub. One of them apparently told her that I was exactly what she pictured an American dad to be; I’m not sure if that’s a compliment, but I’ll take it.

The trip itself was a highlight of what has been an otherwise up-and-down summer. It was also my first big international trip, and we’re already thinking about where our next destination should be. I think I’m up for anything, as long as there’s some green space — and not too many hungry parrots.

Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at willmorrow2015@gmail.com.

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