Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner

Walking is hard.


People give me credit for running as much as I do, but it’s walking that really drains me.

I’ve spent the last three days in London with four people that I can only describe as professional tourists. Our shortest day out was today, at a mere 11 hours. I really should get an odometer, because I’d love to know how many miles I’ve walked.

After arriving back in England from my Scottish road trip early Monday morning, I crashed for a couple hours before hastily packing a backpack to meet my uncle Michael, his wife and two kids in London for the week. One train ride and two tube stops later, I managed to find my way to Kensington, the area of the flat that my uncle rented. I’ll credit my directional success to a newly acquired navigational tool.

I greeted my aunt, uncle and two cousins (Misha, 10 and Sophia, 14) while they packed for the day. Misha casually discussed the differences between London and Paris over his breakfast of soggy cornflakes with his father, and it dawned on me that not many kids his age have these kind of conversations. At 10 years old, he is already more well-cultured than I am at 23. With provisions for the day in a backpack, we set out for day one of London as a group.

First thing I learned: tourism off about two hours of sleep can be dangerous. I almost missed the tour in the Tate Modern art museum because I sat down on some nearby stairs and blinked…or that’s what I thought at least. Apparently I closed my eyes for a bit, and when I opened them, I was by myself.

Yes, that tired.

One strong Americano coffee later, I was able to enjoy the day a bit more. We listened to the music of various street performers by the Thames river before heading to the Royal Haymarket Theatre for a show of British slapstick humor, which was especially interesting for my two younger cousins who are thespians themselves. I personally found it hilarious, as I’m a fan of fairly crude, exaggerated humor. Think SNL, British style.

Tuesdays adventures consisted of seeing the change of the guards at Buckingham Palace, an engaging tour of the tower of London, viewing of the Olympic venue set-up, and a bit of shopping in the largest mall in Europe.

We wrapped up the day with my personal highlight: going to Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station! I don’t want to admit how many times I read the entire Harry Potter series when I was younger, let alone the times that I waited outside book shops for the midnight release of the next book (shout-out to Lily Delaire, who accompanied me). I was excited, to say the least.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get through. But it’s summer, so school’s not in session. Maybe I’ll try again in the fall. Now that I’m done with college, magical school seems like a pretty good option. Definite resume builder.

By today, my brain was a bit fried. We took a bit more of a relaxed day, and enjoyed a boat ride on the Thames.

Am I cultured now?

The man on the bottom left was playing gorgeous flamenco music. I used to dance flamenco when I was younger, and was completely entranced by the music. Hauntingly beautiful chords in minor, with subtle relief from occasional major chords, and meticulous finger picking for intricacy.


Author: Alia Teixido Gray

I like reading, writing, running, and drinking coffee. Lots of it.

6 thoughts on “Walking is hard.

  1. Navigational tools can help point you in the right direction as well as ward off any unwanted visitors. I am glad to hear you have acquired one. And I hope that you danced your flamenco to the beautiful harmonies. And if you think walking is hard, you should try standing! it’s intense. Lol I like how no one woke you up. I would give a euro to see that.

    • It’s definitely become a necessity to carry with me. I’d love to have danced, but I stopped in 7th grade, and can’t remember the steps anymore. And waking up alone was slightly embarrassing, even though there was no one there to see me. Hahaha.

  2. “Professional tourists?!” LOL We both loved it! Glad you’re getting a good training from Uncle Michael. I’m surprised you didn’t do some flamenco dancing, as well. Hope to talk to you soon.

  3. Oh my gosh Platform 9 3/4!!! nooo way jealous!

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