Originally, my plan was to visit London and Dublin with a good friend. When she sadly wasn't able to join me, I made the life-changing decision to literally fly solo to the United Kingdom. Being the extravert that I am, I knew I would need at least part of the trip to be with travel companions, so I booked the first week of my 15-day excursion with a Contiki tour group. The tour that worked perfectly with my plans was going not only to London but also Paris. Though it wasn't part of my initial plan, I'm a lifelong Francophile and could not have been more thrilled to add that city to my itinerary. That being said, I still feel like my heart was initially being called to London. So, in a way, I owe my new-found obsession with travel to this city -- the one that began and ended this particular trip (as well as rang out 2016 and rang in 2017) but was only the start of a lifetime of adventures to come.
Day 13 of 15: Tomorrow is my last full day on this trip, and it's been quite a journey. It has felt like the longest yet shortest two weeks of my life. I have met some amazing people whom I talked to for just a matter of minutes, made some new friends, and even caught up with some friends I already had. I've gotten lost, figured out multiple public transportation systems, and relied on the kindness of strangers to get to where I needed to be (even if where I needed to be was a restroom, but I just couldn't carry all of my belongings in there with me).
I've stayed home sick, left a loud Airbnb at midnight to get some much-needed rest at a hotel, and walked miles and miles each day that I wish I had tracked on a FitBit so I could know exactly how proud of myself I should be. I've eaten at old pubs, drunk life-changing hot chocolate, and witnessed amazing feats of human strength and talent at the Moulin Rouge. I've walked down into underground cellars and traveled up to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I've laughed uncontrollably after climbing more stairs than I could count at Montmartre and the London Underground, and I've cried uncontrollably for reasons I don't even think I understood -- exhaustion, loneliness, too much time to analyze my life perhaps? Who knows?
Before I came here, I commented in an online forum that I wanted suggestions about what to do in London on New Year's Eve because I wanted to be sure to have a positive experience. I received a reply from a woman that I have carried with me ever since, which was that I should not expect to have a positive or negative experience, just an experience. She was right, and that's what this trip has been -- an experience. It's been an experience to which I'm not quite certain I'm ready to say goodbye, and yet I think I may simultaneously be ready to go home. One more day. Here goes.