“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” -Gustav Flaubert

My dream destination has always been London. Since I visited London 15 years ago through my job in 2004 and then again in 2006. I knew I had to come back to explore this place lot more than just through a weekend bus tour.

And finally, I made it to this beautiful place again at a perfect time, winter holidays. Yes! The kind which I had only seen in movies where everything looks Christmassy and with New Year just around the corner.

So here are few things I did and a few that got missed (until next time !)

  • I went on a solo trip for the first time in 38 years. Yes it took me so long to get societal fears out of the head of my family, courtsey statements like- “A girl can travel only after she gets married to her husband!!”, “Who will take responsibility if something happens to you?” “How can you travel alone?” “How can you stay at a friend’s place who you met online???!!!”
london
Image Credit: Kusha Kalra
  • I had a great flight with a co-passenger of my mom’s age giving advice on getting married again(as I am a single mom) and then enquired, “Girlfriend ko hi milne jaa rahi ho, ya koi boyfriend ka chakkar toh nahi hai?” (You sure you are visiting a lady friend of yours, and not a boyfriend you got outside India?)
  • And finally, after a nine-hour long flight catching up on some good movies in-flight, I made it to London Heathrow airport, wondering if my friend had arrived to pick me up.

I went on a solo trip for the first time in 38 years. Yes it took me so long to get societal fears out of the head of my family, courtsey statements like- “A girl can travel only after she gets married to her husband!!”, “Who will take responsibility if something happens to you?”

  • It was a two week stay with my friend and her two adorable kids which was totally worth it considering I was away from my own family for the first time on New Year’s Eve.

Also Read: TravelHer: Spirituality Meets Patriotism And Lip-Smacking Food In Amritsar

  • This trip felt home away from home, going to Aldi and shopping for groceries, spending time binge-watching Netflix and visiting Madam Tussauds, clicking a gazillion pictures with all the wax statues. Watching movies at a nearby theatre and enjoying a quick ride in the tube train.
Image Credit: Kusha Kalra
  • My visit to the Sea-life Aquarium and admiring the giant whales, and colourful fishes and sea creatures was pure bliss. The best part of all these tourist places was the pictures which were clicked and shared like an album, a souvenir to take back home with me.
  • My friend and I had made a resolution to meet each other on New Year’s Eve and party all night, hook up with a cool dude in the party and when the clock would strike midnight, kiss him while we celebrate the arrival of 2019.
  • Well not all dreams come true, but we sure had a blast dancing with each other in a Bollywood Night Party on New Year’s Eve.

When you get the opportunity to live at a local resident’s place, cook food, sleep in after a day of travel without worrying about the next tourist destination, then it feels like home away from home.

  • I even saw modified versions of cycle rickshaws around Big Ben and London Eye for tourists at 15 pounds for one ride. And people crossing traffic signals without their turn. Made me feel somewhat both funny and weird on how they adopted some of our Indian styles.

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  • Travelling as a tourist gives you a helicopter view of the place you visit. When you get the opportunity to live at a local resident’s place, cook food, sleep in after a day of travel without worrying about the next tourist destination, then it feels like home away from home.
Image Credit: Kusha Kalra
  • The highlight of my trip was going on a shopping spree with my friend. I had planned my trip in a way where I would first enjoy myself, visit new places and before the day of my return flight, explore shopping prospects in London to the fullest. From makeup kits, bags, dresses, denim jackets, cars and games, I bought them all.
  • Even after I landed at the airport, I couldn’t resist my shopping spree and ended up buying more chocolates, perfumes and souvenirs for family and friends.

Now as I look back on to the wonderful cherished memories I brought back with me, I can only say that travel has made me rich, wise, patient and more empathetic towards people across different cultures and religions.

Here’s to more Solo trips with BFFs and girl gangs (US of A – I’m coming to you soonish!)

Also Read: TravelHer: Scuba Diving In Maldives Has Transformed Me Forever

Kusha Kalra is a full time online Confidence Coach and Brand Expert. Her book Rise – In Pursuit of Empowerment was released this year. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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