Happy New Year!
This was the second time I spent New Year’s Eve outside of the US, and one of the few times (maybe even the only one) that I chose to spend outside in the cold. I can probably now say that I’ve had my fair share of New Year’s celebrations, but am still glad I did it.
After a lovely church service Sabbath morning at the Hampstead SDA Church, I was invited to stay for lunch where I met a Brazilian young man named Davi, who is in England to study English. He decided to join Bruno, myself, and some others in trying to see the fireworks. Bruno had gone to a different church, so we would have to meet up in the city.
Figuring we had a good amount of time, Davi and I first explored Camden after lunch before heading in the city center. We found quite a lot of interesting things, too. There were several markets where you could buy just about anything you could ever want. I might have to go back before I leave.
I don’t know when this began, but this year the viewing of the fireworks was ticketed. I almost bought tickets, but missed out back when the second round was released in December. Tickets allowed you to stand in designated spots along the river to get the best views of the fireworks.
Well, apparently it was for any view of the fireworks.
Davi and I eventually found Bruno and squad and together we searched for a place to stand that didn’t require a ticket and we hoped would give us a decent view. We finally hunkered down in a spot of Trafalgar Square with a pretty decent view of Big Ben.
All the fireworks were happening by the London Eye, nothing was by Big Ben.
We adjusted our position a little and could see some of the fireworks above some buildings, but not at all what we were hoping. I guess we should have listened to one of the crowd control people who told us the best way to see the fireworks at that point was to just go home and see what it on TV.
New Years is not something that I want to welcome in alone, which could have very well happened since I was abroad, but God blessed me with friends to be able to welcome in the New Year.
However, getting back to my AirBnb at 3am (there was a ridiculous amount of people using public transport, so we decided to wait a bit until crowds calmed down) made my personal tradition of seeing the first sunrise of the new year an impossibility. With the best overlooking views of the city being an hour away by the underground, I knew there was no way I would be able to get up and there in time for the event. Besides, London decided to welcome 2017 in the most British way possible – with rain – so I probably wouldn’t have been able to seen anything anyways.
Knowing that I wasn’t going to be able to get up early after getting to bed so late, I let myself sleep in. Yes, it meant I had less daylight to explore the city, but it also allowed me to get a chance to chat and get to know my AirBnb host Pandora. She is such a wonderful person, very kind and conversational. We probably talked for forty-five minutes before I decided that I should get going.
Her home has truly become a home-away-from-home for me. Very close to the Underground and the ability to lock the room that I am staying in are just so nice. If you ever choose to visit London, I highly suggest staying with Pandora.
I left rather late to try and make the New Year’s Day Parade that was happening throughout central London, and I had honestly had enough of enormous crowds for a little while. The weather wasn’t going to help either, so instead I decided to explore northern London – back to Hampstead, where I had gone to church.
Apparently Hampstead is known as the neighborhood for the wealthy and famous. I thought maybe I would catch a glimpse of someone recognizable, but you know… I think the weather kept them all inside. Shucks.
But, I did get to see some amazing houses and beautiful doors.
I took the Tube to St. Paul’s Cathedral and spent sometime inside, where they holding a service of Eucharist. I wish I could have taken pictures. It was such an image… The priest (female priest, actually) stood at the pulpit which was on the ground level of the congregation. The eyes are drawn to the magnificently decorated high ceilings. And in between was a cloud of incense that brought a sense of awe.
To each and every one of you, I pray that God will richly bless you in 2017 and beyond. Happy New Year!