Saying "YES!" can get you a long way.
I guess you could say London was the beginning of my trip, but the journey that led me there began much earlier.
You may have seen the movie "Yes, Man." It stars Zoey Deschanel and Jim Carrey. It's an OK movie (try not to fall in love with Zoey, I double-dare you!) but was based on a book by Danny Wallace, who, amusingly quips that if they ever turned the novel into a movie he would want Carrey to play the role. Smart.
The book itself was what sparked a change in my life. I know, it sounds absolutely corny, but it totally did. It helped that Wallace, the author and protagonist, was a fairly similar to me - pessimistic, a little too clever, used sarcasm and sharp wit to try and cover up areas where actually we felt vulnerable. But he, just like in the movie version, commits to an experiment where he simply starts saying yes to things. The change was spectacular. I needed something spectacular in my life.
So for a year, I started saying yes to things. I wanted to travel and said so on Facebook, if memory serves. Two friends, both in the Northern Hemisphere but in different places, offered to put me up or at least take me on a tour of their cities. I said yes. While booking flights, the travel agent mentioned my flight from London to New York had to stop and change planes in Iceland. I made an astonished face and asked how long I would be there for. She apologised and said it would only be two hours, probably assuming I was annoyed. I asked if I could extend it to a week. YES. It's a powerful word.
So once I got to London, I decided I would spend my days getting lost. I just looked at a map to find famous things, and headed in that direction, to see what I could find along the way. The only place I knew I needed to visit was Kensington Gardens. My mother had visited there, and I had found a photo she had taken of the Peter Pan and Wendy statue that's there. I'm going to make a separate blog post about that, though.
So I found myself wandering around, taking photos, discovering places and things that weren't on the map. The weather was cool and only a little rainy at times - surprising given that it was Autumn - but I managed to get some great shots. You can see some of the best on Instagram, but I'll put up a gallery here, too, (SOONtm)because I really love a lot of these pictures. Not all of them are Instagram worthy, but I'd like to put them out there regardless.
Overall I had an enjoyable time in London. The initial plan was to come back and see about getting my own place once I'd finished my trip, but I felt like the city just wasn't what I needed right then. It would have taken me finding a job that would take most of my time up, not to mention having to spend a ton of money on rent leaving just a little for travel. Not what I had in mind, and that felt like closing the door on my "yes" experiment.
So after about a week, I headed off to Iceland. I still remember it was Guy Fawkes night, and as the plane took off from Heathrow, the sky below the plane's wings was filled with starbursts and flashes of colourful light from the fireworks. I didn't stay long, but you didn't disappoint. But, without saying yes and being open to new and possibly even bad things, I would never have had this experience. Thanks, London!