Being A Tourist In Your Own Town (And Country)

My parents recently stayed with us for slightly under three weeks. I'll just let that sink in.

In all seriousness, it was a fun and busy visit. They saw our new house, walked around our neighborhood, ate in our local pizza place, our curry house and shared pints with us in our favorite Irish pub (although the music, sadly, wasn't as good as usual). 

But there was one day that struck me in an unusual way. I took a day off from work and booked us a tour to see Stonehenge -- a special private tour where we would be allowed to walk "among the stones" after all the normal sucker tourists had gone home for the evening. One of my other American expat friends came along too to complete our foursome (the Hub hates coach tours so I didn't even try to convince him).

And as we sat together on the bus as it pulled out of London, I felt transported to another place altogether. We were still in the town that we live and work in everyday, but given a different vantage point high up on the coach as we traveled West, with the tour guide giving us a running commentary in her strongly German-accented English. How many nights had I spent in West Ken when the Hub lived there? But yet I knew nothing about the "Famous" 3 Kings Pub on the corner -- never even realy gave it a second glance. Nor did I ever notice the fabulous windows indicating some famous artists' studios running along the A4.

We even got some vital stats on Heathrow airport as we whizzed by. And then we were rolling further Westward towards Bath, which was also a stop on this whirlwind day tour. Before I knew it I was looking out the window at emerald green fields and little white dots jumping about their fuzzy round mamas.

Frankly, it felt miles and years away from my usual daily view out of the window in Canary Wharf. There is a certain kind of undercover feeling to being a tourist where you live. A few of my fellow expat friends and I often go on walking tours in London and with our accents we are usually taken to be normal American tourists on vacation. It's something I would highly recommend for anyone, even those without a foreign accent. Take a random Wednesday off from work, get on a coach and see a part of your home in a way you don't usually do most days of the week.

I'd also highly recommend doing one of these private Stonehenge tours. They aren't cheap, but I can't imagine standing on that windy Salisbury Plain and being penned in the roped off bit only looking at the stones from afar. And here's our stone selfie to prove just how cool it was.

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