I recently watched Parasite in the self-proclaimed "greatest theater in the UK," just down the street from Queen Mary which offers 3-pound tickets for students. One line towards the end of the film stuck out to me, no spoilers necessary. (But also, if it took you longer than it took me to see Parasite, shift your priorities!)
But back to the line from the movie. The father says to his son, “No plan at all. If you make a plan, life will never work out that way.” This could be perceived as a pessimistic or naive outlook on life, but I've found that letting life take its course is a great way to find joy in unexpected places.
This past week, I was supposed to take a trip with an American friend I met at Queen Mary, to Rome and Madrid. The rapid spread of coronavirus across Italy had us a bit nervous, so we decided to stay in London and enjoy our home base for a few days before embarking straight to Madrid. We found a cheap day trip to Cambridge on Saturday, I got to go to my internship on Tuesday as usual, and I even got to attend an Evensong church service at St. Paul's Cathedral on Sunday, a truly awe-inspiring opportunity.
By the time we got to Madrid, we were ready to roll. We chose Madrid because it was warmer than London, and flights were cheap, but once we arrived, we realized we had absolutely no itinerary for the next few days. We didn't even plan how to get from the airport to our hostel. We made it work through a combination of bus and metro, and we began to feel like we were really in Spain! But how do we take advantage of being in Spain if we have no idea what we're doing?
My impulse was to start wandering; my friend questioned if that was the best way to find the sights. We had four days to see it all though, so we chose a different destination each morning to start our aimless walking. We had all the time in the world, and we were fortunate to spend it in a place of such beauty.
Our daily routine ended up something like this. We would happen upon a coffee shop with Wifi (since our hostel was lacking in the Wifi department) and fresh orange juice, a Spanish specialty. We would settle in for an hour or so, chatting and people-watching. We would find our way to a park nearby, where we would soak up the sun, chat and people-watch. Then we would go to a beautiful building we had seen along the way, strike some poses and gawk at the surreality of our lives. Next up, we might stop into some artsy shops or bakeries. Spain kills it in the carbs department, and we took full advantage. Finally, after some more walking, it would be dinner time, where we would feast, people-watch and chat.
Before we got to Madrid, we couldn't have listed the famous sights, but by the end, we had stumbled upon them all. Since our expectations weren't sky-high or specific, we enjoyed the moments we shared and were blown away by unanticipated beauty ten times a day. We had no plan at all, yet life in Madrid worked out better than we could have planned for.
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<p>I'm a big fan of tea (matcha, rooibos, black...I love them all) so I'm looking forward to drinking my weight in tea while in London! I'll also be on the lookout for the best vegan spots in London; I've heard there are quite a few to choose from!</p>