For all of you who recently commiserated with me about sending my passport into the great unknown, I’d like to say – it’s back! My new passport arrived first, with it’s crisp cover and nary a scratch (gotta fix that). My heart fell a little at the thought of never seeing my vintage 2003 passport again. The very next day, a second mailing from the U.S. Passport Agency! So my previous passport has been returned to me, with two small holes in the front cover, rendering it useless. I have never loved something so useless, so much.
And now I’m going to use it. The new passport, that is. You may recall that my first international stamp on January 2, 2004 was at London Heathrow. Funny that my new first stamp will also be from the same spot, 9 years, 5 months and 11 days later. I don’t think I’ll ask my immigration officer if he remembers me .. that may not end well.
I haven’t been back to London since that first blissful, crushing, terrifying, awesome three days in 2004. I’ve been in and out of various London airports on connections and flights, but never back in the city itself. Already my students are peppering me with endless ideas on restaurants, shops, markets and Harry Potter haunts (eeee!). With a packed schedule of four university visits that will take me in, around and out of London proper, I have got to make some decisions.
* I must find that “Changed Priorities Ahead” sign, again. It is the first photo I took abroad, and I have no idea where it is – save the fact that it’s in London. I want to say it’s near St. Paul’s Cathedral. Part of me wants to Google it. Part of me wants to leave it to fate.
* I want to circle back to Westminster Abbey. I don’t recall going there when we were in town, loopy from the time change and anxious about continuing our trip down to Spain to meet our host families and start our semester. It shows up in so much literature and even though I’ve seen more than enough abbeys, cathedrals, churches and blessed places, this one calls to me.
* Hello, Harry Potter. My dear student Mattie has warned me that Platform 9 3/4 is seriously touristy and hellacious. But how can I skip that? I’ll be in and out of King’s Cross Station on the way to / from Grantham so … yeah, I’m going to go take care of that book nerd bucket list item.
* Another nod to HP is the Warner Bros Studio tour situation. I loathe tours. I don’t like doing any bit of traveling in groups, whether I know everyone or don’t know a soul. But now that Alexis has gone and sent me this article about the Royals recent visit to the studio … well, hell.
* I need to eat. Eat like WHOA. Since my friends are all enablers, it follows that I also have recently seen this article about eating in fair London: Ethnic foodie playground and Michelin starred wonderland. Taste of London is going on while I’m in town, so that is also under consideration.
I always wonder if I’ll take the same photos. Be charmed by the same colors, cobblestones and characters. The answer is … probably. And I can’t wait! Let the next countdown begin.