On July 2, I said “ciao” to Cusco and “cheerio!” to London for the first month of Remote Year: Eurotrip. It was sad to leave South America — another post for another time — but London was calling.
Before I answered, I put the UK on hold for a visit to the US. It was wonderful to spend time with family, celebrate the 4th of July with best friends, hug my dog, and drink about 10 gallons of Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee.
My stateside vacation was short but sweet and I’m grateful for the time to recharge. Before long, I was navigating the tube system on 2 hours of sleep, trying to find my new home before starting the workday at 2pm London time. Working NYC hours in Europe was weird but also convenient at times like this.
Our July home was The Collective, a co-living/co-working space best described as a giant dorm for adults. Think shared apartments and a bunch of communal areas where we could camp out with laptops for the day. Also, showers that made me feel like a giant.
The Collective had speedy wifi and comfy workspaces (laundry room was my fave), but most days I hopped on the tube to work from cafes in central London. I had never visited the city and wanted to see as much as possible during my 3 weeks there.
July was a crazy busy month but it was also crazy fun. Here’s the shortened version:
Five hours after arriving in London, I left for a weekend hiking trip. Our group’s intention was to do the 3 Peaks Challenge, which involves scaling the 3 tallest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 24 hours.
After realizing our last-minute planning would make this almost impossible, the agenda was condensed and rebranded as the Almost 3 Peaks Challenge. Weather was not in our favor and we hiked through hurricane-force winds and pouring rain in seasonally appropriate gear like shorts and corduroys. We may have been underprepared.
“It’s Wales in July — what did you expect?!” and “Didn’t anyone warn you?” locals shouted at us above the storm’s roar.
This sounds miserable but our hiking adventure was so much fun. We conquered Mt. Snowdon, spent an impromptu night in a beachside town, and hiked almost all of Scafell Pike but had to abandon early because of our long drive back. I also love outdoor adventures so this was a great way to kick off the month. Almost 2 Peak Challenge = success.
Leuve in Leuven
A friend of mine from Belgium was a total champ in organizing a trip for ~15 of us to visit his hometown of Leuven. It’s such a beautiful little city and SO much fun. Weekend activities: outdoor concert/dance party (a Leuven summer thing), trip to the Stella Artois brewery, super fun BBQ, walking tours of Leuven and Brussels, and a lot of beer/waffles/fries.
Recovering from Leuven weekend took about a week but was totally worth it. Cheers!
Little sis comes to town!
Towards the end of July, my sister Claire came from the US and we spent a few days in uber-tourist mode, cramming in as much sightseeing as possible.
In one week and about a million miles, we saw Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Tate Modern, British Museum, Hyde Park, Royal Albert Hall, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, Globe Theatre, Trafalgar Square, Millennium Bridge, London Eye, Oxford University, and some other sights I’m probably forgetting.
My favorite parts of the week were walking through Hyde Park and spending a day at Oxford, which is probably the most beautiful school I’ll ever see in my life. We tried to see all the places where Harry Potter scenes were filmed and my inner wizard wept with joy. Other highlights were Tower of London and the street food at Borough Market – on. point.
The only London activity I didn’t check off was teatime. Looking back, I didn’t drink tea at all in England, which makes me feel like I did something wrong. I’m sure I’ll return eventually and will drink double the amount of tea when I do.
If it helps, we did sample every gelato shop in central London (Scoops was the best in case you’re wondering).
I had a blast seeing Claire and exploring London together. It’s weird and sad to know I won’t see her for a long time after having two visits in one month, but her trip was definitely one for the books.
London was fundon, but…
It sounds weird, but July felt like a break from Remote Year — probably because I was gone half the month and took 70% of my vacation days in 3 weeks. Oops.
England was lovely and this month was fun, but I was pumped to move by the time July 30 rolled around. London felt very familiar to the city I left behind, which was comforting in some ways but also made me restless. I missed the exciting uneasiness of experiencing a brand-new place for the first time, a feeling that followed me throughout South America.
Now we’re in Prague and the feeling is back. The architecture is stunning, beer is cheap, and I spend way too much time translating labels at the grocery store. I feel like an outsider here now but am so excited to get to know this beautiful city.