Over the past three weeks I have visited twelve different cities in five different countries, all the while making memories with my family. I could go on and on about exploring new cities and revisiting ones I’ve already seen, but I’d like to start writing about my most recent holiday with where my trip ended: in London, overlooking the night skyline from The Shard.
The Shard of Glass, usually just called “The Shard,” is the tallest building in Europe and has been on my bucket list to visit since I arrived in England over five months ago (crazy how time flies). My mom and I decided it would be nice to go out and have a sunset dinner in the massive, glass-covered skyscraper to celebrate her last night in Europe and our last night of holiday together. We dressed to the nines and made our way to the tower for our 8:30pm reservation (highly recommend that you make a reservation for the Shard if you wish to eat there).
The food and drinks were not only delicious but beautifully displayed, albeit being incredibly expensive. For drinks, I ordered a cocktail called “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and it was by far one of the most elegantly displayed cocktails I have ever seen. I definitely prefer fruitier drinks and this was right up my alley in that respect, a sensational blend of vodka, lemon, rose liqueur, raspberry, and egg white. The pink drink arrived in a martini glass with rose petal-like sprinkles and an actual picture of “Tiffany” (Audrey Hepburn) placed on the foamy top.
For starters, my mom ordered the Cured Monkfish and I ordered the Loch Etive Smoked Trout. Seeing as the name of the restaurant is the “Aqua Shard,” you can take a wild guess and assume that most of the dishes are fish/seafood-oriented. My appetizer was unlike anything I had eaten before – it was not only raw trout, but trout roe (eggs), and crispy trout skin paired with a creamy dip/sauce. It was different, but extremely delicious as long as you’re a fan of fish. For mains, we both ordered the Hereford fillet Steak. It was a small but thick fillet paired with onion rings (all two of them) and various vegetables and onions. It was really good, but not necessarily enough “bang for my buck” I suppose. For dessert, I ordered the Strawberry Cheesecake and my mom ordered the Lemon Curd. When the desserts came, they were gorgeously displayed on the platters with lots of color and texture. They tasted as delicious as they looked, and the kind waiter moved us to the window for the remainder of our meal so that we would have a better view of the city.
By this time, it was close to 10pm and darkness had been cast across the sky as the lights danced below, playing the part of the stars that were just out of view. I always knew that London was a beautiful city by day, but seeing it shining so bright at night was something else altogether. It was like I was seeing a whole new place, a whole new world that was universes away from me, yet I was looking down upon it from my own home. There’s just something so magical about cities at night: when most people are asleep, they come to life. Although there were only a handful of cars and people out on the streets, it was as if the entire city was living and moving – not the people in it, but the city itself.
The other day I watched a video on Facebook, one of those videos that someone shares and you’re just so bored you feel compelled to watch it because you have nothing else to do. It was called “How to Lose Weight in 4 Easy Steps” and it was a short parody film from the Jash channel on YouTube, directed by Ben Berman. Despite the title, the film is actually about someone coping with a broken heart. At one point in the video, it shows the main character walking to the top of a parking structure at night and looking out over the skyline. As he does this, the narrator says, “Look out at the lights of the skyscrapers of downtown and think about how every single one of those office lights represents a person. Try to imagine how they feel, what they’re doing.” As I sat looking out at the skyline of London, I found myself doing just that. I was looking at every single light that I could see and trying to imagine who that light belonged to, what it was there for, why it was still on and not sleeping with some of the rest of the city. I found myself looking down at the few cars and trains and thinking of all the people in them, what their story was. Were they just passing through? Where were they going and why? Did they know that they were in one of the most amazing cities in the world? Did they even care? So many questions that were burning a hole into my soul and being, but that I would never get the answers to.
I turned to my mom and started freaking out about everything that was going on in my head in that moment, how beautiful everything was and so on (when I get really passionate about something, I get all worked up and basically just start jabbering like crazy about whatever it is that sparked my passion). I started going on about how amazing this place was, and that I was upset that not everyone in the world would get the opportunity to experience this amazing city that I was living in, or even just this view. Then I went off about how I didn’t understand how some people could be so content in their little bubble, or city, or state, or country, or continent, that they would never even want to experience anything else; that some people would do anything to get to this amazing place, but others wouldn’t even try and that they would be okay where they were. I mean if they experience it and don’t enjoy it, then that’s fine and even if I don’t feel the same way, I could understand that – not everyone is going to share the same tastes as me. But if they don’t even give it a chance, that’s what I don’t understand! At the same time I do understand that this is all coming from me, who has little fear about the world around me, and doesn’t really have a limiting “comfort zone,” and would literally jump off a cliff (attached to a bungee cord of course… unless the cliff wasn’t that high), or travel to a different country with someone who I just met, or eat crickets and worms in Africa and Denmark, or hop on the back of a stranger’s motorcycle, or do just about anything (within reason) for the experience and the thrill of it all… So I get that I can’t speak for everyone. But I can at least share my personal feelings towards traveling and encourage people to expand their horizons and step out of their comfort zones, if only to find that they were missing out on something so beautiful all along…
So, as a lot of my writing turns out, this post started as one thing but ended as another. I meant to talk about my experience at the tallest building in Europe, but ended up talking about my experience with passion and beauty and travel and the world around me, all in one way or another. Starting main point of this post: Go visit the amazing Shard of Glass in London. Ending main point of this post: Go visit the amazing world around you – and don’t stop until you’ve seen it all.