During our first day in London, our vacation took a different turn.
Tragedy in London
The first day that we arrived in London turned out to be the same day terrorists attacked innocent bystanders on the London Bridge. In the attack, eight people were killed and forty people were injured.
We were actually really close to the attack when it happened. That night we had thought about walking over to the bridge from the area of the city where were visiting (Piccadilly Circus), but instead, we headed back to the hotel and to get a drink.
When we got to the bar, the news of the attack was on the TV, but we had no idea of the extent.
The next day when we got up, our phones were filled with text messages and emails from our family + friends. It felt scary to be so close to a terrorist attack and know that the rest of our family was far away from us.
The Day After
The mood around London felt different on Sunday compared to the day before.
Around the city, it felt solemn and quiet as everyone reacted to the news.
We had spent the day by going to Harrod’s with Ernie’s colleagues to pick up some gifts for the work conference he was attending. Even with a store busy with tourists and shoppers, I would say that there was a sense of mourning.
It was also noted by our Uber driver that there was barely anyone out at night. Even on Sundays, the city is usually bristling with people. Driving past Buckingham Palace was notably empty of tourists.
Ernie had to begin work for the conference he was attending, so I was left to explore the city on my own.
I wanted to do something indoors since it was raining, so I visited the Natural History Museum.
While walking throughout the city and riding the tube, I could feel like everyone around me was back to business.
Yes, there were loads more police officers walking around the city. Security was a little tighter in tourist areas. But I also saw something that I had never seen before in the United States – police walking down the street with open guns.
Normally, the police in London are not armed. Fewer than 1 in 20 officers carry a gun on them. But after the attack, an elite unit of the Metropolitan Police were called in.
Throughout our week in London, each day I felt more connected to the city. On the evening train ride, there were newspapers passed out to riders. Unlike San Francisco where everyone is staring at their phone, the riders in London read the daily paper.
Each day I saw the headlines change from TERROR AT LONDON BRIDGE to ENOUGH IS ENOUGH and WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER. I saw people wearing pins that said “London Strong”.
The city was resilient.