I had never experienced the allure of Christmas, up until I came to the UK. Hailing from a country which has vast cultural diversity and an average rate of one or two festivals per month, Indians are always in the mood for celebration. Like other festivals, even Christmas is celebrated in India, but for us Christmas was mainly clubbed with winter break and any kind of school holidays are reason enough to celebrate.
Christmas also gives people in big cities the opportunity to have Christmas-themed parties and post selfies with Reindeer ears (I feel sorry for Rudolph after looking at some pictures).
I took one of the best decisions that I have taken in a long time and decided to travel around UK for Christmas break. I repeat. Best. Decision. Ever.
I was in London for Christmas this year, and boy, was I in for a surprise. Twinkling lights and boisterously pretty decorated Christmas trees. Having hot mulled wine at a tiny Victorian pub, which we were lucky to have chanced upon, since most of the cafes and bars were closed on account of Christmas.
There was no transport available, so my friends and me had to explore Central London in the conventional way, i.e. walking. I was almost glad for the lack of transport; it was like walking in a dream (I say almost because I had blisters on my feet the next day). We courageously walked to Hyde Park via Oxford Street, without managing to get lost, definitely a first for us.
Roaming around the streets of London with my best friends, the highlight of the night was when we went to Trafalgar Square and it was so unbelievably pretty. I cannot completely describe my awe and how amazed I was, and then and there I found that feeling of utmost joy, of being in that moment where you are so giddy with happiness that you want to catch that moment in your palms and seal it in your heart forever.
After various detours, such as the Covent Garden Christmas Market and devouring a sumptuous Christmas meal at a grumpy French restaurant amongst people clad in Christmas colours of red and white, we stumbled back to our hotel, tired but contented with the joy of having experienced something different and so nice.
And my Christmas experience did not end there. Having heard so much about Boxing Day sales and discounts at Oxford Street in London, we thought that this is something we do need to experience. So like a couple of crazy shopaholics, me and my friend thought it would be a great idea for us to wake up at 4 am and walk all the way up to Oxford Street. The lack of transportation and the bitter cold did nothing to deter us from the anticipation and thrill of good, discounted shopping. Turns out that it was utterly and completely worth the effort. Not only were the sales good, but Oxford Street at 5 am with its luminescent shiny orbs and Christmas trees was a sight to behold. After a satisfactory and adrenaline rush-inducing shopping spree we left Oxford Street and made arrangements to finally leave from Christmassy London for our next destination, Bath.
We left from London feeling warm in our hearts. Maybe this is the true spirit of Christmas; being happy and being loved, spending time with people you love and being grateful for what we have.