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Saturday, March 28, 2015

London (Part II): A post about new adventures and personal growth

I know, I know... You are probably laughing at my cheesy title, but that is really how I am feeling about my day I just had. I am back in London this weekend, visiting Alice again and attending a huge All Time Low show! (They are my absolute favorite band, for those of you reading who don't know me well enough yet... you learn this fact rather quickly once you get to know me!)

So anyways, I am now writing this half way through my trip. It is 3:15 am here in London, and I just spent the beautiful day wandering around the city by myself. That was not the original plan, but Alice had a lot of work she had to do for her studies. So she gave me a tube map and some suggestions, and off I went!

Now for those that do know me well, you are probably thinking how was I possibly okay with this? I have a big problem with over-thinking and worrying. But I prepared myself ahead of time as best I could, by reviewing train times and maps, and I actually have a really enjoyable day!

I took the train into London, then took the tube to Westminster to see Big Ben and those beautiful sights again! I walked along the Thames and then went to Covent Garden because I loved it last time. I got delicious Shake Shack for lunch, then went off to check out some place new: Camden Town! It was such a cool, unique place. So funky and punk. There were tattoo and piercing places everywhere! (So I was tempted over and over, but I resisted! Haha.) The markets were all very nice to check out, filled with everything you could possibly imagine!


Then came the best part of the day: All Time Low!

I traveled to the venue and queued by myself. I got there pretty close to the time doors were opening because I wasn't intending on going far into the crowd... I sometimes got too anxious/claustrophobic being so swished in, and it gets so hot and sweaty that I worry about passing out. But once I was on the floor, I realized just how close I could still get without really going too far in the crowd! So I found a spot right near the overhead camera set up, and watched the opening bands. Tall people kept getting in front of me, so I started inching my way to the left and right around them, and I realized I somehow got myself in the actual crowd! It wasn't as awful as I remembered, and I was less than 10 rows from the barricade for the start of All Time Low's set. I was SO close! Much closer than I thought I'd get to be.

Half way through, after Alex (the lead singer) went to the light and sound booth to perform two acoustic songs, and he was joined by Cassadee Pope! She was the lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Hey Monday, in middle and high school. Then she went on the Voice and WON! She is dating the drummer of All Time Low, so she'll sometimes come out to shows to support/sing when her schedule works. I am such a big fan of hers, I think she is so beautiful, talented, and genuinely sweet. Plus she and Rian are so damn cute together.

So ANWAYS, once I had had enough of being in the crazy crowd, I left and went back to the bar and guzzled some water. I found a nice spot with lots of space and a pretty good view right by the lighting and sound booth! The band's lighting designer is from Boston so I thought it was cool to watch him do his thing for a while. He had an amazing set up and design for this show. Hundreds of lighting fixtures, 3 confetti cues, and something like 20-ish pyrotechnic cues! It was incredible.

What was also incredible was looking over and seeing Cassadee standing right in there, sipping a beer and watching the show! It took me a solid 20 minutes of convincing myself to say hi and ask for a picture, but I finally found what I thought was a good moment to do it and did it! I said hi, told her I was a big fan, (and name dropped someone I know I knew she'd know), and explained that I am from the States but over in Europe for a year for my Masters, etc. She offered to sign my ticket for me, and wished me luck with all I was doing. :)

The show was absolutely amazing, and I found it to be such an interesting experience/instance of personal growth for myself. First, I went to a city I do not know well and explored it alone (something I never thought my anxiety would let me do). Then, I went to the biggest concert I have ever been to by myself. I went much further into the crowd than I thought I'd be comfortable with, and completely enjoyed myself. I let go and let myself live in the moment of the amazing music and performance. I pushed myself to get over my nervousness to say hi to Cassadee so I wouldn't regret not doing it later. The picture I got with her, and her signature on my ticket (and the memory of talking with her), still make me so happy a week later (as I am now finishing this blog entry). The entire night is one that I will never forget.

Can you tell I was just a little excited??
Then the next day, and my final day in London for I'm not sure how long, Alice tried to help me see everything we could possibly fit in. Despite being tired and sore as hell from the concert, we walked around, exploring all day. We first went to St. Paul's Cathedral, and it was SO beautiful. I lit a candle, as I always do, at every church, cathedral, monastery, etc I go to, for my loved ones who are no longer with us. Alice and I then began the LONG, exhausting climb to the VERY top of the dome of the cathedral. It was so worth it though! Even on a cloudy day, the views were amazing!

It was REALLY cold and windy up there.
Alice "Always Has Her Eyes Closed" Romano
The first 1/3 of the way back down.

We continued our exploring by going to Tower Bridge, which I only got to see at night last time and wasn't able to go up on it. We did that, and the glass floor experience/exhibition they have now and it was really cool. :) We ended the night/my trip by seeing "Shakespeare in Love" at the Noel Coward theater. It was SO entertaining, funny, and great!

Alice brought me to this park to show me the heated bench, and it was worth it. Haha.

Alice being artsy.

As I said, it was a very short, but very profound trip for me. So many of the experiences I had are ones I never, ever imagined being able to do one day. I am so grateful for yet another amazing opportunity I have been able to have while abroad this year. I had no idea it was going to be such a crucial trip for my personal growth!

And now, even though I am miserably sick while finishing this blog entry (that has taken me all day because I've been getting up from it and doing other things), I can say that it was absolutely worth it.
Even more exciting still, my friend Becca will be getting here in about 18 hours!!!! I will be showing her around Athens this week while finishing up a few days of work before our spring break here, and then Becca and I will be off to Italy to see Rome, Siena, Pisa, Florence, and Venice! :)

Thanks for still reading if you made it all the way to the end of this post! Haha.