If there’s was one place in our trip that gave us a wakeup call to never have expectations, it was London. When we were planning our trip, we decided we’d stay in London the longest because it was the one city we were most excited about. Driving through London made us feel like we were back home in Perth. There were just parts around the city that reminded us of home. As I looked out the car window into the London night, my emotions were calm. I wasn’t bursting from excitement, there was no relief to finally be in the city I’d always dreamed of visiting, everything was quiet; still. I had built this idealised city in my mind and when I finally got there—it was just—there.

Our time in London didn’t get all that better. I spent my first official day having surgery in the hospital because of an abscess. And because it’s me and nothing can ever go the way I want it too when I travel, I got the flu. Typical. My week in London mostly revolved around antibiotics, waiting hours in medical centres, and being in so much pain that I couldn’t move my left arm. My friendship with Lien reached a whole new level as I sat in the bath while she bathed me as if I was a child, incapable of doing anything on my own.

Despite my medical issues, we made the most of our time in London. We got drunk at our mate’s house party (post-surgery/pre-antibiotics), we finally met our friend, Hanad, and he took us on the ultimate London tour while he made fun of the way we pronounced “data” (it’s “dah-tah,” not “day-tah”), we ate the best vegetarian food, and went vintage shopping in Shoreditch because we bloody deserved it.

There were so many things that could have gone better with our first experience of London, but there was still something about the place that made me feel at home. Something in the atmosphere brought comfort to me. I would look at London and there would be no question that I would one day call it home.

To be continued . . .