10:41am: On the Eurostar train from London St. Pancras to Paris Nord
I am officially in love with London. The last time I was here I stayed in Central London and did everything the typical tourist would do. This time around, I stayed with Jaime Stuyck and his super awesome wife Christine in Fulham. Also, hanging with locals totally made me see this city in a different light. Thank you to my personal tour guides, Gila (coolest cousin ever!)+ Guppy who spend two whole days with me showing me their London. Best way to see it, I must say!
Let me start from the beginning. I land in London Heathrow a little nervous. I am officially starting the European trip with an introduction to 15 family members from my Dad’s side I have never met before. Three of his half sisters live in England, making it a bit difficult for us Filipino Jesudasons to meet them. My (first) cousin, Steve Cuthbert, is supposed to pick me up at Heathrow with only our Facebook photos to rely on recognizing each other. I have no idea what to expect from this day. My Dad’s sister, Jacquie, who is in a wheelchair has graciously organized a BBQ in her home in High Wycombe in my honor. I have met maybe 3 of them in Singapore in the past, but only once each. Esther, David, Jamie, Vicky, and daughter Lydia drove from Lichfield which is 3 hours away. Evelyn, Ianthe, and Natalia came from London. Kury and her two daughters live in High Wycombe and they also came. Plus of course, Steve and his wife who live around the corner. The afternoon was brilliant and I have never felt so warmly welcomed. I am so blessed to have such a big amazing family! How amazing would it be to have a complete Jesudason reunion one day with all 11 siblings and their families! I cannot even fathom the logistics that would go with organizing that…
From the BBQ, Jaime and Christine picked me up and we made out way into London just in time to watch the World Cup final at a pub close to their home. With the Spain win, Jaime the Spaniard was beyond excited and the three of us celebrated after the pub with Tanduay Rum shots at home. Thank THE LORD Spain won! Not only because I was rooting for them – but for the fear of what kind of monster Jaime would have turned into! HA!
The past couple days was a whirlwind tour around the city…. with GILA (I cannot even express the words to describe my excitement on seeing my cousin)!!!! I met her at Euston station and helped her find her way and settle into Andrew Fladmark’s (AMAZING) apartment in Angel (what a blast from the past to see him!). Gila looks fantastic – skinny and tanned! The UK has treated her well that is for sure. After wandering around Andrew’s neighborhood, we met up with Guppy and the three of us headed to Southbank to have dinner with my cousin Dan De Sybel, Auntie Jacqui’s son whom I have never met (he could not make the BBQ). Dan is super chill + wicked! I have such wonderful cousins!!!! Anyways, we made plans for September to get blackout drunk before I head back home. True Jesudason style, I suppose. After dinner; Gila, Guppy and I went for a nice walk along the Thames over Millenium Walk and around St. Paul’s Cathedral. A nice way to end the night.
Tuesday was lunch with the adorable Paolo Sarmiento with the usual G+G entourage. We had fish and chips on Oxford Street then spent the afternoon in the British Museum, where we saw everything the English stole all under one roof (LOL)! Paolo had to head home for a concert, while the rest of us decided to explore some more. A walk through Trafalgar Square (where they had a free outdoor live streaming opera show by the Royal Opera House), Leicester Square (we stopped for an Innis and Gun beer – delish!), the West End (so many shows I want to see!), and Chinatown ended with an all-you-can-eat Chinese dinner (at a Vietnamese resto, strangely enough) where the highlight was all-you-can-eat Peking duck! Jaime and Christine joined us for a drink. Then the three of us headed home + stayed up for a couple more hours talking + laughing + reminiscing about high school/Manila days and people of the past. Went to bed utterly exhausted – but did not sleep too long as my next stop, Paris was calling my name early in the morning. Rough life I lead eh?
I have so much I want to do when I come back in September – watch a Shakesphere play at the Globe, explore Borough Market and the Sunday Up Market, shop on Oxford, visit Harrod’s, and museum galore. Not to mention everything else Guppy and Dan had suggested. Note to self: must plan ahead next time!