We woke up in this last morning, went to grab coffee and a sandwich from the Italian Fountain Cafe at Hyde Park next to us, and came back to the hotel room to check out and depart.
I am taking the Heathrow express from the Paddington Station, and Walid is taking a bus to Victoria Station, then a bus to Liverpool.
I carried by one polo green duffle bag, while Walid dragged his big bag on wheels, and carried his laptop case on his shoulder, the laptop that never left him during this trip. We stopped at the entrance of the Paddington station to say goodbye, a moment that is always hard and awkward for me.
I don’t like goodbyes as much as I don’t like showing emotions. A research by Harvard university that lasted 75 years, concluded that healthy relationships bringing joy is the strongest factor of happiness in someone’s life. Here is a talk about that:
My relationship with Walid is one of the healthiest relationships I have in my life. We vibrate at the same frequency, and share mostly the same vision of life and the perception of our relationship to it, to history, and to civilization. Since we met in 1996, we have shared our love for art, music, religion, food, culture, film, and positive outlook of life. When he left the U.S. in 2010, I did not know the impact that will leave on me till he was gone. The loneliness a close friend leaves in your life upon separating is crushing. London was great, but seeing and spending time with Walid was even greater. I said good bye fast and left so the situation would not turn into an emotional one. I worry that if I break down, 20 years will come out during this break down and it might go uncontrollable. We said good bye, hugged, and departed silently.
London was an amazing city. In addition to its beautiful streets, roads, buildings, architecture, art, public spaces, parks, rivers, greenery, bookstores, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs, boutiques, smiling faces, and history, there were two more things that were a big part of the London spirit. One was tolerance! London has given up on being an English city and decided to be an international metropolis city. It has given up on its English identity and chosen more a multicultural one. With a city rooted in history, and so much pride to hold, it takes lots of tolerance and nobility to do such a compromise. I learned from that, and it made me a better person, and it made me appreciate London more.
The second was WWII. Yes! World War Two, that almost destroyed this city who decided to fight to the last breath. Although I appreciate Paris’s preference to preserve Paris rather than destroy it through a futile fight with the Germans, Britain decided to fight, and there is a heroic beauty to that. You see it on the walls and streets, on the monuments, and restored buildings. There is a sense of pride and honor that roams the city in the morning with the fog, and fills the londoners lungs with air of integrity.
Flying through Delta Airline international was a great experience. So much convenience, from the refreshments served, to the showings offered, to the comfort of the chairs, to the charging stations at each seat. There were plenty to do, and the flight is never a bore due to the high level of entertainment offered.
Once we reached the US, we were received with a ridiculously long line for immigration and a woman officer shouting to organize the line. The line took more than an hour. The officer was saying that couple airplanes arrived at the same time and created the rush hour. Really?! You are in an airport and can not handle two airplanes?! Maybe instead of 4 immigration officers, you can have 10! I crossed the entry point smoothly, and was picked up by my friend Yousif at the door.
Coming from London, America feels a little over policed, less tolerant, and with President Trump in the White House, a little unfriendly and dark. Nevertheless, it is home, and the greatest place to be in terms of financial opportunity, ease of living, and educational opportunities.
I have decided that every April, I will take a Euro trip, with the next one in 2018, will be to Paris. Till then, I hope that you will consider traveling to London, one of the greatest cities on Earth, and I hope you will find my travel memoir useful in your trip, especially by itinerary map.