Take a break, Take it Alone – My Solo UK Venture

Anoj Sasidharan
Thursday, April 12, 2018

It’s not the weather! It’s not the money! It’s not the fear of being alone, lost and bored! It’s when you add an infant and a toddler in the equation that you back off from an ideal sea breeze, mind relaxing vacation and you succumb to the traditional India hometown trip. So, this year, here was our mutually decided plan – separate trips for once in these 7 years. My wife opted Bangkok with friends while I decided to create an adventurous memory – a solo trip to UK!

My trip was during the end of winter season in UK – April 2017. The weather was moderately cold and it was not easy to roam around without your winter gear on. One of my best friends is settled in the UK, so I did not have to worry much about my accommodation.

The first place to explore was Madame Tussauds. This is a landmark which has the same effect as our Kuwait Towers; it proves that you have finally reached London! It was a Saturday morning and the length of the queue shocked me. Believe it or not, I was in the queue for nearly 2 hours! The ticket price for adult is around 35 pound, but there are several ways to get discount. We claimed the buy 1 get 1 free ticket offer, all you need to do is to travel via the national railways and show them the tickets. Once you get inside, you right away start your wacky selfies and this is one place you don’t have to feel embarrassed because everyone is doing it. I personally enjoyed the 4D Avengers movie clip which you will experience towards the end; I must recommend that it’s an ideal spot to enjoy with your kids and family!

After the Madam Tussauds visit, as a sense of realization, I took being alone as a seed of opportunity to attempt my top of the adventures from my bucket list – Sky Dive! Next day, we drove to Salisbury, where I registered for my first ever skydiving experience. The cost for the jump along with photography & video was KD 120. After the payment was done, you are directed to a cafeteria where you wait for your turn, which is updated on a LCD screen. As the time for the jump got closer, my tension began to escalate. All the staff over there was very friendly and supportive, this made me more relaxed before the jump. When my turn arrived, we got geared up and received a brief 20 minute training session on what is going to happen, after which the videographer takes my short interview. On the way to the plane, my dear friend wishes me a good luck, and yes I am getting a bit worried now, random thoughts starts to battle up in my mind. As we sat on the plane and took off, I was at the epitome of fear! Now, there is no looking back, this was in fact the moment I was looking for and hence I felt adventurous. The first group makes the jump; it was a bit scary to see how the person in front of you just flies away from the plane. Next being my turn, we started to gradually slide towards the exit. It’s just a nod of the head between the videographer and my guide, and we all jump out of a flying plane from 13000 ft high altitude! Once the jump is done, you suddenly realize that all your fear is gone, you are free falling and it is like literally flying, one of the best moments to experience! After a 45 second of free fall, the parachute is applied and it suddenly pulls you up to the sky. Being on the parachute is then a child’s play by just looking around the landscape and preparing a gradual landing from where you took off. For new jumpers I would like to mention that the fear is only until you jump off that wicked plane. The only issue I experienced was a sharp pain in my ears due to the variation in atmospheric pressure. Overall, my summary to this is - “To those who jump, no explanation is necessary, to those who don't jump, no explanation is possible!”

It was now time to relax a bit, and planned to visit the major landmarks of England. I visited Stonehenge, Greenwich clock, Windsor castle, The Shard, London Bridge, London Eye and Big Ben. The food again is another attraction during such trips. If you are a pork lover, I recommend trying the pork ribs from Angus Steak house franchise, it’s truly relishing! Another memorable moment was spending a late night party at Piccadilly Circus; we happened to be there on a weekend and it was really crowded. You can just pop into any pub; they are all on the party mood. If you love partying, this is one of the areas you shouldn’t miss!

My trip was nearing to its climax, and I had another wish in my bucket list. It was to watch a live EPL match. Since I like Chelsea FC, we found a match (Chelsea Vs Middleborough) which was on the eve of my return date. The tickets are not so easy to book, but we managed to book a VIP ticket which cost around 80 KD. The specialty of this ticket is that you have access to the Stamford Bridge stadium’s sports lounge. You can spend 1 hour before and post the match where you can have unlimited drinks and food. This is where you can expect to bump into any celebrity but I wasn’t so lucky. However, there was an interactive session by two legendary footballers who played for England. My friend and I were there quite ahead of the match so that we could take photos around the stadium and access the sports bar. On the way to the stadium, you can find variety of football goodies kept for sale. What came to our surprise is that you have local people standing at the entrance of the stadium and selling the ticket for black. I checked the price and they said one ticket cost around KD 60. So anyone who misses out on booking in advance, this is another opportunity to buy them. We entered the gallery and took our respective seats, placed at the upper middle stand; the view was just perfect to watch. The stadium was full, and people were singing, cheering, the ambience was just awesome. You can see the star players of the club warming up before the match; once the game began I too got totally involved in it. Chelsea won the match 3-0; this was just one match away from this year’s EPL title. The fans were totally jovial after the match and were singing with all praise for the manager Mr. Antonio Conte. I must say that football is very important to them, same like how cricket is for Indians or may be more!

My return was peaceful, I had booked via Turkish Airlines and the to & fro experience was pleasant. I did not encounter any issue except the high security check at Istanbul airport while flying to UK. The immigration officer kept on checking my UK visa page as if I had forged it. Well, in a way it is good to ensure the safety of other passengers. On a whole, I really enjoyed my trip and it was a memorable one! My check-in luggage was a mere 82 cm blue color American Tourister bag, which was easy for me to spot on. This was my 4th trip with the same bag and it did not have any sign of damage!

As much as travelling alone was fun, surreal and liberating; there was that feeling of emptiness and moments when I felt “my kids or wife should have been with me to witness this”. Travelling and exploring is the joy to adding to your memories. In future, I hope to make it a family affair – fingers crossed for our next year’s Euro trip!

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Posted on Thursday, April 19, 2018

loved it my bro. inspiring

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