Hey, readers of this blog (which I hear is largely composed of my mom’s friends haha – hello, Titas!). Last you heard of me, there was a brief and rather vague mention of me being in danger of losing my job. Perhaps an update as to how my 2020 is going is overdue, seeing as this batshit of a year is about to come to a close (finally, amirite? What a year!). I am still in danger of losing my job as part of a massive retrenchment project my employer is preparing for, and I and about a thousand more of my colleagues are expecting to receive our notice come January. This won’t come off as news anymore, as I’m sure we all know it’s the aviation industry that probably took the biggest hit from this pandemic, and even the biggest international airlines have done batches of layoffs. I’ll save my feelings and the sentimental stuff for when it’s official, but needless to say, I’m already bracing for impact (as we like to call impending chaos in a flight).
Covid is inevitably about to make an even bigger impact on my life and I know there’s no one to blame here (but Duturtle’s gotta be a big contender, let’s be real #OustTheTurtle). In reality, we all just happened to live through this pandemic and its consequences and there’s unfortunately not much we can do. So brace for impact, I simply and quietly will.
But let’s not get sad here – not yet, anyway. Instead, let me go back and write about one of my happy places and revisit one of my favorite countries during my favorite season – autumn. I’ve talked about London being my favorite city, but I’ve only blogged about it once before, despite having gone there about four times now. So I’ll rewind to October 13, 2017 – gosh, more than three years ago now! – for this story.
My second visit to England was a longer layover; we had a full three days (I know it doesn’t exactly sound long but by layover standards, trust me, it is). It was a trip with my batchmates (my co-cabin crew trainees back in 2016), where we’d go on to be qualified for our first Boeing aircraft, the B777, now my most-flown aircraft what with all the USA flights I’ve flown. We took advantage of the longer stay and booked a day trip to go see the Stonehenge, which shockingly was only a mere 2-hour drive from London.
On the way there, our tour guide suggested we pop by the Windsor Castle in Berkshire, which is the oldest and largest castle in the world, and which the Queen apparently uses as a private residence. Appropriately enough, entrance fees were high (£23.50 / ~$31 USD) so we opted to just take photos outside. We were being billed for the tour by the hour too, so we made it quick here to make sure we had enough time for our main attraction.
We parked by an area close to a dock, just a few minutes of walk from the castle. There were swans, of course. Oh, England.
It was impossible to take photos of the castle without people, so here we are with my oddly-angled shots instead. The area was quite pretty, so everyone got some nice photos out of the short stop. Our tour guide even gamely initiated photo opportunities, which shy lil’ me very much appreciated.
Once we were satisfied with our photo ops, we set off to Salisbury for the Stonehenge. As expected, there were packs of people visiting as well despite the hefty entrance fee of £17.50 (roughly $23). Still, seeing the Windows XP wallpaper in the flesh was something, especially when you think about how this monument was mysteriously built in the prehistoric era by Neolithic people with none to little access to tools or technology.
Funnily enough, my brother asked me if it looked like it was built by aliens. Who knows? Maybe it was. 👽
After circling the Stonehenge (not much to do here other than marvel at the mystery), we feasted on the packed lunch our tour guide Sir Ver prepared for us. We ate pork adobo at the parking area of one of the world’s most historic monuments in England, you guys. Could we have been more Pinoy? Haha. (We didn’t make a mess and cleaned as we went, just for the record.) So glad our tour guide offered to cook for us; that saved us at least 20 pounds, I’m guessing. We didn’t need to buy food while we were out so we managed to save a bit of money. I’m not a big fan of English food either, so packed lunch cooked by our Filipino tour guide’s wife was highly appreciated by this gal.
Sir Ver then took us on a drive around a city called Bath, which is considered another UNESCO world heritage site. Walking around, it wasn’t hard to see why an entire city could be considered one. We were supposed to visit the Roman Baths and had even lined up for it, but everyone decided it wasn’t worth the steep £18.50 (even more than the Stonehenge!) entrance fee. Looking back, I wish we had gone in! We’d already traveled that far anyway. Something I learned when traveling: consider researching and including entrance fees to your travel itineraries/plans so you won’t be pressured into deciding once you’re there and so you can see if your budget will allow you a tour. You’re less likely to regret your decisions if you’ve thought about them prior to your trip. Of course, the situation here was different as I was traveling with a group and we needed to decide together.
We ended the trip here and set off to go back to our hotel in London. Seeing more of England this time around just reinforced my love for this beautiful country. It was lovely to have spent it with some of my friends too instead of just the crew I happened to fly with. Apart from seeing the Stonehenge and some spots away from London, we also got to tour the city itself and do some cliché touristy things like visit King’s Cross station and take a photo by Platform 3 1/4 (sound familiar, Harry Potter fans?), roll over the autumn leaves at Hyde Park, take a photo in a red photo booth, and of course, do some shopping. You’d think shopping in London would be expensive, but typical pasalubongs are actually relatively cheap here, from chocolates to branded shoes.
At this point I would normally babble on about how much I loved the place I’m writing about and how I’d definitely be back someday, but it won’t be such an easy thing to say now. What a luxury it was being able to say that before. I’m definitely going to miss saying that as much as I’ll miss traveling around my favorite city. But right, no being sad here just yet… x