When I was 19, my dad took a sabbatical form his professorial duties and he and my mother headed to Europe.
The final destination was to be a flat in Leeds, England, but before that would be a whirlwind tour of Germany (where they would pick up a VW Jetta (with American specs)), Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Netherlands (that will always be Holland in our house because my father served a three-year religious mission there when he was young), and I don't remember where else.
I was supposed to be part of the great adventure, but I was in a pageant royalty and was committed to stay through the summer to complete my reign on the parade float circus. In all honesty, I was more committed to staying around my boyfriend. Big mistake on both counts.
In any event, the deal was that after my parents travels, I would take a semester off from college and meet them in London for a week before heading to Leeds.
Having never flown alone before, it was quite an experience. Certainly, the entire suitcase devoted to shoes (I kid you not) contributed to the difficulty, but the multiple transfers, customs, baggage, and international flight (before smoking on planes was prohibited) were about all I could handle. Finally I made it to Gatwick Airport. I have never been so glad to see my parents!
They took me to a bed and breakfast where I was introduced to sharing bathrooms with strangers and very (very) rough toilet paper. On the bright side, I also became acquainted with coddled eggs and warm milk and BBC and cress sandwiches in tea room and Guy Fawkes Day.
Once I got over the mind-crushing jet lag, I found myself in a fascinating city. Most striking was the realization that the United States is so very young. Their is history everywhere you turn. I would love to go back to London with a little more life experience behind me, to help me understand and appreciate it.
As you know from other posts, I'm a big fan of living like a resident instead of a tourist when I travel. If you're heading to London, contact Polly and Robert Arnold and look into their London apartments. Polly and Robert are Londoners. They have lived their all their lives and raised their three children there. With their vast knowledge of the are, the sites, locations, and events, they can tailor your visit to make the most of your travel experience.
Staying in one of the comfortable London apartments may be the best way to see — and experience — beautiful London. Check it out and then check in.