When I was 18 I went to London for the first time and absolutely fell in love. From the moment I arrived I felt immediately at home, I felt like I understood how the city worked, I was comfortable getting around, and I never felt lost. So when, at 19, I got a chance to go back and explore I jumped at the opportunity.
This mini-adventure came in the form of a 10-hour layover at Heathrow airport. I was traveling with some other students from Northern California to Kenya; which meant a lot of long flights and even more time hanging out in airports. By the time we got to Heathrow everyone was exhausted but excited to explore the carnival like atmosphere that is the International terminal at Heathrow Airport. That’s when I upped the stakes.
I knew that Heathrow had a Tube (underground, metro, subway, whatever) station and I knew we weren’t far from the city. I was also pretty sure I remembered my way around enough to let us see some sights, grab some non-airport food, and get us back in plenty of time to go through security before our next epically long flight.
Luckily I was traveling with some amazingly spontaneous and adventurous people who agreed to let me lead them through a city I barely knew on a tight deadline. We dropped off our bags at the airline counter, grabbed our passports and carry-ons and booked it for the tube.
It wasn’t until we were sitting on the Picadilly line that I realized how much this group was relying on me. Had I been alone I probably would’ve just gotten off at any old stop and let the chips fall where they may, but now I was responsible for other peoples’ fun and there was no room for error. I made the decision that we would get off somewhere between Hyde Park and Picadilly Circus and promised the group a great surprise. ... [more]