The plane lands and it’s time to travel from Gatwick Airport to Heathrow Airport. We hop on a charter bus to transport our group the 64 kilometers it takes to drive from Gatwick to Heathrow. The whole day is before us…our next flight to Johannesburg, South Africa, doesn’t leave until the late evening. It’s a great opportunity to see a bit of London. We make several stops throughout the day to see a lot of the touristy London landmarks. There’s not enough time to go in each and every place, but at every single stop, we have the chance to walk.
Take in the fresh smoggy London air.
Interact with locals, travelers, and tourists.
Capture a few moments at each site.
Catch a glimpse of the London culture.
Breathe in the history of the city.
Yet, at almost every stop we make, some people in our group decide to stay on the bus and sleep. I know we all have different personalities, and when we travel, we definitely all need to take some down time…time where we can rest, recuperate, and gather our thoughts. We can’t go all of the time, but it’s hard for me to take in that in our limited time in London, many in our group choose to miss out on the sights, sounds, and smells of London. Sleeping on the bus while art, history, architecture, people, and culture await, is the choice of some even though we have another ten hour flight coming up later in the evening.
I’m one who likes my down time, my quiet time. But I also like to take any opportunity to explore and experience a new place. I’m in London for the first time. I’m not going to be one of the people who stay on the bus. I get off at every single stop to see Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Thames River, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament Square, and the Globe Theater. We eat lunch at a pub and round out the day with a tour of the Tower of London before heading back to the airport for the next leg of our journey. The final destination…Swaziland.
This experience reminds me of a trip my parents took to Israel and Jordan back in the 1970s. My mom recently mentioned a lady in the tour group who always stayed in the bus instead of getting out and experiencing the place she had traveled so far to see. This woman failed to take the opportunity before her each day to capture the past history and current events of the Holy Land, to walk where Jesus and his disciples walked, to float in the Dead Sea or ride a camel. My mom’s story and my London story remind me to get off the bus and live life. Breathe in the fresh air. Soak up the sunshine. Enjoy the sunset on the beach. Laugh at the wrong turn. Meet someone new. Eat at a local restaurant. Shop at the open-air market. Turn down a side street. Engage in conversation. Attempt the local language, even if it means stumbling over my words. It’s time for us all to get off the bus, venture down the road, and explore what’s right around us…wherever we may find ourselves to be at the moment.