Travel, UK

Visiting London: Day 8 – My Last Day in London

This was such a sad day. I knew this was the last, full day in London before flying home. I couldn’t believe it and I wish I had more time here. Since this was my last day, I made the most of it by walking around London one last time, visiting my cousins (from the first day), and getting my COVID test. I was sure going to miss London!

Taking my COVID test

Back in March 2022, the USA still required all travelers entering the country to have a negative COVID test taken no more than 1 day prior to departure. So, getting my COVID test was my top priority on Saturday the 26th of March. A few days prior to my Saturday appointment, I went online to search for the closest COVID testing site to me. I found a site that allowed me to schedule an appointment ahead of time, which I needed because of my busy schedule during the week. It cost me about £39 or $46 for the antigen test.

There are other COVID test locations scattered throughout London and a lot of them are the walk-in type of testing sites. Although some did offer free COVID testing, I didn’t want to chance walking in with no appointment the day before I’m scheduled to leave. There was a possibility I couldn’t get a test, if they were too busy. In the end, I opted for a scheduled appointment.

With a location found, an appointment made, I took the bus to The Regenerative Lab in Marylebone for my rapid COVID test at 10:30am. You couldn’t arrive “early” to the lab, if you did, you had to wait outside for your exact appointment time. I arrived just 5 to 7 minutes early, so I waited outside until 10:30am. Once the time came, I took my test and patiently awaited for my electronic results. About 15 to 30 minutes later, I got my results and they were negative! I was clear to fly home to the states.

Marylebone, London
Marylebone, London

Walking around Camden Town

Happy that I didn’t have COVID, I ate breakfast at a Pret A Manger across the street from the test site. From there, I walked back to the bus stop and took it back to Camden Town. All the walking I did throughout the week had caught up to me and my feet were very sore. I didn’t have it in me to walk all the way from Marylebone to Camden Town.

Once I had arrived in Camden, I decided to walk up and down the main street and enjoy the scene. Every time I traveled through this section, it was always early in the morning during the week, so no one was really out. But since it was Saturday, at around noon, the place was very busy and vibrant.

I walked into a couple of stores, got some souvenirs for my family, and got some lunch. Afterwards, I walked through Camden Market one last time before walking back to my hostel. I had to cut my exploration of Camden Town short, because I had to go back to my hostel to grab a few extra things for my last activity of the week.

Walking Tour of Brixon in London

Walking tour of Brixton

I had a walking tour of Brixton planned for today, I couldn’t finish my trip without another tour of some description. The lovely girl I met on my day trip to the Cotswolds said she was doing this tour of Brixton, where they’d learn about the culture and history of the area. I thought it sounded very interesting, so I went and booked a place for the tour. It’s a free walking tour through Free Tours by Foot but tips for the tour guide are encouraged!

Our group met at the David Bowie memorial, which is across the street from the Brixton tube station at 1:50pm. From there, we walked through the streets of Brixton to learn about some artwork, history of buildings, and people. We also went through marketplaces and a local gym with an amazing social project. My friend and I learned so much about the history of how Brixton was formed, its rich and diverse cultural scene, and how it has contributed to the Brixton we know today.

We both highly recommend this walking tour! It was very informative about Brixton’s history and culture yet sensitive about the not so glamorous parts of its history were discussed. Plus, it was also great to see the contribution of local artists’ artwork and how local businesses (that gym) are finding ways to give back to the community. Couldn’t have asked for anything more! My feet were still sore but the walking tour was worth it.

Brixton Village Market in LondonInside Brixton Village Market in London

Lunch with a friend

When the walking tour was over, we were brought back to the high street in Brixton. My friend and I decided to get some lunch since we were both very hungry. We walked back to the Brixton Village market to scope out a place to eat. After walking about for several minutes, we decided on a place and got some food.

Once our food came, we talked about how amazing and informative the tour was. We also discussed about our lives back in the states, what we did for a living, why we both came to London, and future travels we wanted to do. It was such a lovely time. Just a few days ago, we were strangers on another tour but eventually started talking to each other. Here we were again, on another tour, getting to know more of each other.

It’s funny how the person I happened to have met was an American as well. To think, I traveled 3,000 miles across the Atlantic ocean to another country, and still managed to befriend another American. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the tours we went on and our time together. We finished our lunch, walked to the tube station, and parted ways. She wanted to go into T.K. Maxx, the UK version of T.J. Maxx here in the states. I had another engagement to go to, so we said good-bye to each other and I made my way to the tube.

Brixton in the evening
Brixton in the evening

Visiting my cousins

After a very smooth tube ride, I had arrived at my cousin’s place for one last get together. Not my cousin I met twice in the center of London, this was my cousin I hung out with when I first arrived in London. She had invited me to dinner and I graciously accepted the invitation.

The dinner was lovely, company was fun and warming, and we all took pictures together to remember the moment. Looking at the pictures we took, I couldn’t believe how my little cousins have grown since I last saw them 7 years ago. It was crazy! My older cousin and I just talked for the next couple of hours after dinner. We love to talk about a variety of things, as well as similarities and differences between the UK and the USA. The conversations are never boring and I enjoy having very well mannered, intellectual, yet sensitive discussions with my cousin.

However, it was very late, around 10pm. I had to bid my cousins a good night and farewell, until our next meeting in the future. I still had to go back to my hostel, shower, and pack everything for my flight on Sunday the 27th.

Airplane view over Atlantic Ocean

Packing and preparing for my flight

Yet again, I got back to my hostel very late. I managed as best as I could with packing in a dimly lit room, so I wouldn’t have to do too much in the morning for my flight. By this point in my trip, all of my clothes were dirty so I just stuffed my backpack with my laundry bag. Toiletries, electronics, souvenirs, and other miscellaneous items were packed and ready for the next day.

I felt a mix of emotions while packing my backpack. I felt very happy, blessed, and appreciative of how I was finally able to visit London again after 7 years. The wait was so long but so worth it to me! At the same time, I was so upset to be leaving. London is like my home, because I basically lived here for 4 months at one point. I love this city and it saddened me back then, and now, that I had to pack up and leave.

Deep down, I know this isn’t the last time I’ll be in London. I know I’ll be back in the future and hopefully, it won’t take another 7 years to do so. With my 8 day trip to London done, everything packed, I set my alarm for 5am the next day. I went to sleep, feeling content with all that I managed to do in my short stay and thinking about what I’ll do the next time I’m here.