My Monopoly Pilgrimage

Like everyone else growing up in New Zealand, (especially the capitalists among us),the board game “Monopoly” holds a lot of happy memories. Playing marathon games with siblings, cousins and friends, then wheeling and dealing with our own kids as we got older and “more mature.” The Strand. Bond St. Old Kent Rd. We could recite every property in the order as they appeared on the board. Until my recent 55th birthday however, they were just that. Names on a gameboard. 

I’d never been to the UK, and decided it was time to experience these famous places for real.

On 7th October 2023 I landed in Heathrow – jetlagged, badly needing a shower but with a massive feeling of accomplishment. I had finally got off my bum and made the effort to “get there”. Over the next three weeks I not only spent time in London, but also York, Manchester and much of Scotland.

Passing my birthday at Loch Ness in Scotland was a highlight of my trip. But time spent in London, seeing my first squirrels in Kensington Park, wandering The Roman Wall surrounding York and watching the AB’s, (New Zealand All Blacks), Rugby World Cup semi final win against Argentina from a pub in Earl’s Court were also very memorable.

As for the Monopoly inspired destinations, I managed to cross more than a few off the list.

I caught a train to York from Kings Cross, spent a fortune in Oxford St and enjoyed more than one beer in Soho, just off Piccadilly.

I also visited a stack of other famous London landmarks that aren’t on the board. Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Wimbledon, Portobello & Borough markets to name a few.

As a pilgrimage, my Monopoly one was as cheesy as it gets. But I loved London (and the UK as a whole) and will be back.

One thing I’ve learnt over the years is, don’t put off your travel. Decide the destination, book the flights and set your itinerary after that. In 10 or 20 years your crusty old self, will thank you for the memories.

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