I landed in Europe with a visa for England and no clue about anything. About England, I knew of London, the Queen and the pound sterling for having looked it up before I left Montreal. I also knew of Manchester and Liverpool for the Beatles. The culture, the people, the history were a mystery to me. The variety of accents also remained to be discovered.

When I reached London, having found my way to King’s Cross from Paris, I discovered a wet and luminous city. The cold penetrated my clothing all the way to my core. I remember shivering endlessly and every day for my whole 2- year stay in the United Kingdom. I also remember smiling poetically at the unexpected sunny days.

I landed in Europe with a visa for England and no clue about anything. About England, I knew of London, the Queen, and the pound sterling for having looked it up before I left Montreal.

I loved London almost instantly. I loved the hustle and bustle, the gothic churches and the Tower Bridge showing through the dense morning fog. I even walked across it just to say that I did. I sat at Piccadilly Circus taking in all the colors. The gray of the buildings, the red of the buses, the lights of the display screens; I breathed them all in and exhaled them slowly making space for new sensations.

I knew I adored London after walking through the Borough Market - food just has this lasting effect on me. Loaves of bread piled up next to gigantic wheels of cheese and flat pans of curry and stews fumed next to one another. I tried to avoid the crowd of people and found a seat next to the Southwark Church where I proceeded to devour my portion of spicy green curry. I slurped at it until the last grain of rice had disappeared.

I stood in front of Buckingham palace, my feet in a wet snow and my shoulders thickening with snowflakes.

Having listened to the Beatles since childhood, it was essential that I stand for a moment on Abbey Road and dare to imagine a different London. Having seen the Queen on our Canadian bills, I thought it would also be respectful to pop by for a visit. I stood in front of Buckingham palace, my feet in a wet snow and my shoulders thickening with snowflakes. I warmed myself with a black and bitter cup of tea, my cold feet pressed under my thighs and shoes tumbling in the dryer in a deafening noise.

I would only later come back to enjoy the beauty of St-Paul’s cathedral and the charm of Camden Town as well as the markets of Notting Hill. I would come to discover the galleries and the museums. I would eventually go see musicals on the highest balcony in Leceister Square’s theathers. But for now, the possibilities of London were already being imagined and as I made my way back to King’s Cross, I was hopeful for what would come next.

             

The Writer

I write stuff for fun, if it was for a living I would be homeless.

Find out more about me, Stefanie, here.

Quotes

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist. Russell Baker