Crossing the Pond to London

Crossing the Pond to London

Written by Heather

Topics: Experiences Abroad

Thanks to Star Wars, I have a fantastic group of friends in London.

I don’t remember exactly when Kev and I first met, but we both wrote on one of those online journal sites. He started reading my posts because I had a Star Wars themed user name, just like him. Yes, you may laugh (but those nodding in approval are greatly appreciated).

Years ago, dressed up for the Episode III IMAX premiere with MY robe and a friend’s storm trooper helmet
Keith's helmet, my robe and hilt

This week I am flying to London to visit Kev and our fantastic group for the 5th time! I thought it would be fun to look back on my previous four trips across the pond and introduce you to some of my favorite people in the world.

Trip #1, late December 2006 – early January 2007

Kev and I had known each other online for approximately two years before we finally met in December 2006. I had ventured to London for the first time, along with my dad and youngest sister, and one evening we met with up Kev and six of his good friends.

By the time we got to the pub, we realized that we enjoyed their accents as much as they seemed to enjoy ours. Couple that with friendly, chatty people, and we got the conversations rolling right away! Our new pals also proved to be great tour guides, with intriguing commentary like, “And to your right is a building. It’s old.” 😉

A few days later, the group invited us to their NYE party. We had a BLAST ringing in a new year a) overseas b) with new friends c) and meeting friends of our new friends.

Within weeks of returning home from my first trip to London, I already had an itch to go back. So did my sister Katie. And as it turns out, the Londoners wanted to see us again as badly as we wanted to return. So just six months after trip #1, Katie and I made trip #2.

Trip #2, 1 week in May 2007

Katie and I had the time of our lives that week in London (Katie then flew home and I went on to spend two weeks in Germany). Two of our friends hosted us for free in their flat (thank you Andi and Dave!), and Dave and Robin took the week off of work to show two American girls around.

Thanks to Facebook and email, the Londoners and I continued to keep in close touch afer trip #2. Nearly a year later, I was invited to return for trip #3.

Trip #3, 4 days in April 2008

Dave and Andi were moving out of their central London flat and wanted to host a “final flat party”. For fun and to be inclusive, they added me to their invite list, never expecting me to actually come. I RSVPed “maybe” for kicks and immediately began searching for a reasonable flight. A few weeks later I found one and with only minor hesitation, whipped out the credit card and purchased the flight. Unfortunately I only had two remaining vacation days to use, so the trip became a 4-day weekend jet-setting adventure. My friends in London thought I was absolutely MAD for traveling so far just for the weekend. I suppose it was. But it was, and still remains, one of the most spontaneous things I’ve ever done.

The jet-setting weekend marked another significant travel event for me — for the first time, an airline lost my luggage…on the way to Heathrow. My bag was never found and delivered during the course of the 4-day trip, so I had to brave the wild aisles of Primark (think Walmart on crack) to buy underwear and my generous friends (both guys and gals) loaned me clothing for the entire trip. By the time I returned home, I still had no idea where in the world my bag could be, but the airline was convinced they had delivered it to me in London. After a solid week on the phone for an hour or two per day, I finally received my bag. One well crafted email to the airline, several conversations, and three months later, I had a voucher for a free flight in my hands. I immediately used it to book trip #4 to London for NYE 2009.

Trip #4, late December 2008 – early January 2009

Thankfully the airline didn’t lose my luggage this time, but they lost luggage of HALF of the customers on another flight. True story.

I loved being in London for the winter! The group visited Winter Wonderland where we played games and enjoyed the carnival/festival atmosphere.

The lovely Amy and Andi hosted me for the week and had everyone over for a “New Years through the Ages” party!

Who knew that a chance meeting online years ago would have led me to such a wonderful, tight-knit group of friends across the Atlanic…I am so blessed to have the Londoners in my life. And I am very fortunate to be heading across the pond once again this week for trip #5. The gorgeous Shel has offered to host me, and in addition to spending time with friends throughout the week, I will be celebrating one couple’s engagement and another friend’s birthday while I’m there.

I’m also fortunate to have spent time with the Londoners outside of London!

In 2007, Robin visited my family for the week of Thanksgiving. We visited local wineries, attended university sporting events, ate good food, went on hikes, and explored DC.

The following year, Kev and Gemma visited us for Thanksgiving, enjoying many of the same experiences as Robin had.

And then, in March 2010, 10 friends from London joined me, Nicole, and my friend Evan for a week in Dublin to celebrate my 30th birthday. Have I mentioned how blessed I am?!

Guinness Storehouse

In addition to spending time with these friends, I also plan to meet up with fellow travel bloggers, a fellow UVA alum, a friend from Sydney, and two Brits I met in Australia last year. And, there will probably be some macarons in there somewhere. Yes, macaron mission is BACK!

22 Comments Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Adam says:

    I love that you traveled to London for just a 4-day weekend! I’ve flown from the US to Europe TWICE for weekends. It’s so much fun to be able to do that and it used to give me a thrill to answer my cooworkers’ questions “so what are you doing this weekend?” :)

  2. Kyle says:

    The macaron mission is back?! You KNOW that gets me all excited…don’t tease me now Heather.

    And I loooooove that pic of you in the Star Wars costume…so hilarious! You are adorable.

    It’s really awesome that you met these people online and have managed to forge such a tight real life bond. Very cool. The power of the internet should not be underestimated.

    • Heather says:

      Two different friends sent me information about macarons in London, so I’m hoping to visit as many places as time (and money…and my waistline) permits.

      I’ve worn that robe quite a few times…was my go-to Halloween costume for a while O:-)

      The internet has introduced me to so many great people — I met my first online friend when I was 17 and it just keeps getting better and better :-)

  3. Jaime says:

    No comment… I’m sad I wont be able to meet you. Hopefully at some other point on my trip or maybe on one of yours.

    PS love it that you will travel to meet up with this group of friends. That lets me know you really are in awesome sweet person (not that I didnt think that already).

    • Heather says:

      Maybe London and La Tomatina didn’t work out because we’re going to have an even bigger journey together in the future…trying to look on the positive side here (very sad!).

      And thank you sweetie ♥

  4. Deidre says:

    Wow what fun! And you’re very lucky that’s totally awesome. I had a star wars screen name for a LONG LONG time but not because I was that into star wars. Hah!

  5. Chris says:

    Jealous of your new adventure, but I know how much you’ve been missing Oz – so hopefully a bit of Commonwealth interaction will cheer you up. Safe travels!

    • Heather says:

      It feels so natural being here right now! After a year in Oz, this just feels like an extension of that trip — like I wasn’t home going through that challenging time for the first two months. Ten days will fly by too quickly, but I’m sure I’ll be back in the next couple of years. And I’ll be back to Oz the first opportunity I get.

  6. Lizzie says:

    Have a great time in London Heather!

    I’m so glad you’ve had such great experiences across the pond, so much so that you’re going back for more! It sounds like you have excellent tour guides on your hands too (they’re right, the buildings are old!).

    Safe flight!

    • Heather says:

      Thanks Lizzie! I do have a great group here and I’ve already been able to see half of them in my first two days. It seems like I saw them just a few months ago, not 16 months ago!

  7. Nicole says:

    So excited for you! It was great meeting the Londoners in Dublin for your birthday & I’m so glad you have the chance to embark on another overseas trip & visit them all again. Have a fabulous time! :)

  8. Jayne says:

    Yay! Look forward to welcoming you to London!

    • Heather says:

      Can’t wait for Tuesday night!!! It seems like I’ve already met you guys so it’ll be a great night.

  9. Have fun! I think it’s funny that a couple times now, I’ve blogged about a place only to find that everyone else on the internet is on the same wavelength. I went to Patagonia only to find that everyone else was posting about Patagonia, and now just this week we finalized booking our tickets to England, and I’ve read three different posts about London.

    • Heather says:

      I’m finding myself here with several other travelers and I had no idea they’d be here at the same time :-) Can’t wait to meet up with them this week!

  10. Julia says:

    You have some great friends! And such great memories. It’s so good to have friends abroad who can give you a locals’ guide to a place. Hope you’re enjoying my home country just as much on this visit as the previous ones!

  11. Audrey says:

    What an amazing story! I can’t believe your username started a Trans-Atlantic friendship. So cool! 😀 Enjoy your upcoming trip to London!!!

  12. Traci says:

    Wahoowa! Any chance you’ll be flying to London to see the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch in Hamlet? Advice for a fellow Hoo visiting London for the first time?

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