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I had never really thought about it – where I was born, who I was born to, or even what the implications of being born are.  It wasn’t until right before the last presidential election that I was confronted with my own privilege; the privilege that exists in merely being born in the United States.  Just by being born, I was given the privilege to work.  The privilege to travel freely between borders (usually without a visa).  The privilege to exist outside the shadows.  I hesitate to use the word privilege because I didn’t earn any of it – and when I was a kid, a privilege was something you earned.  It doesn’t matter – I didn’t earn any of it.  Perhaps you could argue that my great (great-great? great-great-great??) grandparents earned it, but I don’t know anything about their story, so I couldn’t tell you if we “earned” it or not.

This realization brought me to tears as I realized that so many of the students that I fight for on a daily basis are at risk for having their work permits revoked, or worse yet, being deported, having their families deported, or any other horrors that I can’t possibly imagine.  The fact that we require people to live in the shadows in this country is appalling to me.  Many of those who would be impacted by the revocation of DACA were brought here as children.  They did not choose this life.  They have, however, worked legally, paid taxes, and contributed to society in a positive and meaningful way.  Many of my DACA students outperform their citizen peers in one way or another.  I have many DACA students who have graduated from college with degrees in high-need fields.  They are filling a void in this country; why do we believe it is okay to relegate humans to the shadows?  Some don’t even speak Spanish, they have assimilated so well.  Others have grown up believing they were citizens, only to find out differently when they started applying to college.  You can blame their parents (if that makes you feel better), but that doesn’t change the lack of humanity and how we treat people that we deem as not having “earned” the privilege to be here.

 

And while we’re talking about privilege to be here…

I have served high schools with large refugee populations.  Their stories aren’t different from my DACA students, but the difference is that we’ve deemed them refugees and awarded them asylum.  We’ve given them immediate status without a waiting list.  We have immigration lotteries for countries we deem to be “more worthy” of awarding immigration to.  I don’t seek to take anything away from those students or families, but let’s not pretend that there’s a huge difference between the two stories.

Human is human, at least how I was raised.

Consider this.  What did you do to deserve to be here?  I’m not asking what your parents did, what your grandparents did, or what any other family member did.  Why are you here?  How did you get here?  What privileges did you earn by merely existing?

I’m not asking whether you worked hard.

Whether you got a fancy degree.

I’m asking what you did to earn the right to live outside of the shadows and without fear.

For me, it just so happened that I was born into the right zip code to two parents who also happened to be born into the right zip code on the north side of the border.

And for that, birth is a privilege.

Call your congressmen and women.

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  • Mandy - I have been so busy, so distracted, that I haven’t been paying as much attention to politics as I should be. I think the fact that people who have never known life outside of the US are being deported is absolutely despicable. And it goes so much deeper … first responders during emergencies, military men and women who have fought for the US, why are they getting pushed out? Why are they getting discriminated against?

    Then you’ve got idiots in charge that turn away blankets and water in exchange for prayer after a hurricane. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/quebec-offers-aid-texas-hurricane-harvey-1.4267387

    I really don’t know what the US is coming to. And I’m confused about what is more important to fight for, because everything seems important. 🙁ReplyCancel

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Long Weekend in London, London by Night Postcard Photos

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journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London Postcard Photos

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Wow.  It’s been a couple of days.  Last week, we were preparing to host my in-laws from Houston, who were coming into town for the wedding of a family friend.  Thursday evening, my brother-in-law called to let us know they wouldn’t be coming because his job was requiring him to stay because of the upcoming weather.  My husband’s parents, however, did make the trip.  They are still here but are headed back to Houston tomorrow to assess the damage.

My brother-in-law and sister-in-law had to make the difficult decision to evacuate with their baby late Sunday night.  Their neighbors had to evacuate in chest-deep water with their baby.  I don’t want to get into this more because it’s not my story, but I’ve had a lot of difficultly sleeping for the last few days.  Sunday night was rough.

I suppose I could talk about kindness.  I have many friends from college in Houston, and I reached out to one of them (that I didn’t know all that well) when I heard my family needed to evacuate.  Not only did he immediately offer up his cell phone, his wife’s cell phone, and his home to them (if they could get there and gave me multiple routes to consider), but he provided phone numbers for rescue services that weren’t yet overwhelmed.  My staff member immediately texted her parents in Houston for resources they had.  Seeing people pull together made my heart grow three sizes (because I’m a grinch).

One of my staff members wants to plan an volunteer day for our team, so maybe I’ll have more to share later, but right now I’m just in shock that it got so bad so quickly.  I’m hoping that my in-laws return home to minimal damage, but I know that’s unlikely.

If you are looking for places to donate, StephKatie and Pinky have great options on their posts.

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  • Katie Elizabeth - So so awful. We’ve been saying all the prayers for everyone in Houston. It is pretty amazing to see all of the goodness coming from humanity though…ReplyCancel

  • SMD - Good thoughts to your fam and everyone. So devastating.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - Your in laws might have been some of the lucky ones, unless they’ve already been in contact with neighbors and have an idea of the damage. It’s crazy how certain areas were fine while others were not. And all of the people that were willing to help out during all of this has been extraordinary! I’m glad that hard times seem to bring out the best in people.ReplyCancel

  • Bri @ My Life As - My thoughts are with your in-laws.ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - I’m so sorry your family was affected by the floods. It has been really amazing to watch people come together and serve each other. <3ReplyCancel

For More London by Night Postcard Photos

(and tips & tricks):

Long Weekend in London, London Postcard Photos

journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos
journey of doing - London by Night Postcard Photos

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  • Kate - Absolutely stunning photos! As if I needed another reason to want to explore this beautiful city! Hoping it’s someday soon <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - All of these pictures are so beautiful! I love how you were able to capture each spot as night progressed to get different lighting effects.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - Wow Sara,all the pictures are truly beautiful,i love how well you captured it.ReplyCancel

  • Betsy - These photos are amazing!! I love London, we took a trip this spring although I didn’t get photos anywhere near as amazing as these.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Gorgeous shots of the London cityscape. Love the sunset in the background. 🙂 Is their a photoshop filter you use to give the lights the “starry” look or is that your lens that does that?ReplyCancel

  • Long Weekend in London » journey of doing - […] London by Night Postcard Photos […]ReplyCancel

Last month, we spent a long weekend in London celebrating my husband’s birthday.  It wasn’t something that we planned at all, in fact, if you follow me on instagram, you’ll know that we planned it in about 4 hours.  We had been kicking around a few ideas (Dove Mountain?  Supposed to rain.  LA?  My best friend was busy.  Half Moon Bay?  Too expensive.  NYC?  Too humid.  Anywhere in Texas?  Too hot.  East Coast?  Too much like work.) My husband brought up London (probably as a joke)… and well, hello MilesAAver award!  We booked the 10:10pm direct to Heathrow, threw a few things in a suitcase, and away we went.

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if you book one of these tours.  I only recommend tours I have personal experience with.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

Long Weekend in London – The Basics

I thought about staying at the Marriott County Hall, but I have only stayed at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in the past.  For a long weekend in London, I decided to stay with what I know.  I know where the closest tube stops are.  I know how to get there from Paddington Station.  And, honestly, I really love the rooms.  We used Marriott points since rooms were pretty pricey.  Since I’m platinum preferred, we had lounge access, which helped with food costs.  We had breakfast in the morning, afternoon delights (cookies, snacks, and scones) in the early evening, and sweet and savory treats in the evenings.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

On our last few international trips, we’ve used TEP wireless hotspots to stay connected and save on internet.  I reserved a TEP device from the airport, but when we got to Heathrow, our device hadn’t made it yet!  Thankfully, TEP has a few contracted locations, so when we arrived at London Paddington, we were able to pick up a device there.  (We also dropped off at Paddington before heading back to the airport.  So convenient!)  Since I hadn’t activated the international plan on our cell phones, we couldn’t access email, voicemail, or text messages until we picked up TEP (and even then, my voicemail was unavailable all weekend – best ever!).

Long Weekend in London – Getting Around

I booked our Heathrow Express tickets online.  We wasted a bit of time trying to figure out how to get the tickets from a machine (you can just use the email on your phone), but it’s the fastest way into London.  Booking online ahead of time will save you some money and there’s free wi-fi onboard.

Since we didn’t have enough warning to order a travelcard, we opted for Tube passes.  We used day passes. They were a fantastic value for getting around, and we would not have covered as much ground as we did without them, particularly after walking over 15 miles on our first day!  We also encountered a fair amount of rain, so it was nice to be able to avoid it when we could.

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Long Weekend in London – Favorite Tours

I think by now you know that my husband is a tour junkie.  In addition to downloading the Rick Steves audio walking tours, I booked a few tours while we waited for our flight.

Changing of the Guard Small Group Tour

I’ve tried more than a few times to see the Changing of the Guard, and it’s never worked out.  Meesha studied history at the University of London, and she was fantastic!  Our group was really small (10 or so), so we could ask questions without any trouble.  As we walked from the Duke of York column down to the best vantage points to see the changing of the guard, she gave us a brief history of all the royals.

Instead of finding ourselves in the throngs of people around Buckingham Palace, she took us to the barracks, St. James Park, and Clarence House to see the different vantage points.  The tour lasted about an hour and a half and we finished up around noon.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

Westminster Abbey with Audio Tour

On previous trips to London, I never visited the inside of Westminster Abbey (so expensive!) but the audio tour makes it worth it!  We saved a couple bucks by booking online, but this was not a skip the line tour.  The line only took approximately 20 minutes around noon though.  There is no photography allowed inside.  I LOVED the Henry VII fan vaulted chapel; I don’t know if I have ever seen anything more beautiful.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

Tower of London Yeoman Warder Tour

We arrived at the Tower of London when it opened on Sunday, and the lines were long.  (Definitely should have booked online.)  The next Yeoman Warder tour was scheduled for 11:00 (free!), and it was a great overview of the Tower.  The guides are loud, irreverent, and hilarious… so totally my kind of tour.  It was easy to hear the guide and to follow the tour, and I think you have to do it.  (One, the Tower is expensive.  Two, I don’t know if you would get as much out of your visit if you didn’t do the tour.)

After the tour (around 11:45am), we were able to see the Crown Jewels without too much of a wait.  It took approximately 15-20 minutes to make it through the exhibit.  Again, no photography was allowed, but it was worth seeing.  There are a number of videos and exhibits to view before you board a moving sidewalk to see the jewels.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

British Museum Ancient Stones Tour

The one thing that was at the top of my husband’s list was going to the British Museum to see the Rosetta Stone.  I was so excited when I found this tour.  Our guide, Maria, grew up in Spain and grew up Catholic before becoming a Jehovah’s Witness.  This tour was focused on the Egyptian and Syrian rooms of the British Museums, so there were a lot of religious overtones.  I really enjoyed it, and it raised more questions in my mind about how we are more alike than different.  (Side note – I still really wish my dad was here to discuss these questions.)

The museum was very crowded (Sunday afternoon), and when we arrived, the line was down the block!  Fortunately, we had read that the entrance on the back of the museum rarely has a line, and we were able to make our tour with minutes to spare.

If you’ve been to the British Museum, is the Reading Room not the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?  Obsessed.

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

Churchill War Rooms Audio Tour

This is one of my favorite museums in London.  Maybe I’m just saying that because it helped me start to sort out my head.  Or maybe I’m just saying that because of the glowworm quote.  Perhaps it’s because I’m a history nerd and love learning more about World War II.  Either way, visiting the strategic nerve center of the British war efforts was totally my cup of tea.  At times I felt a little claustrophobic, but I would keep walking until I felt better.

The many quotes by Winston Churchill gave me life.  I expect people will have to hear them for awhile.  #SorryNotSorry.

winston churchill - on glow wormsP I N I T

Long Weekend in London – Favorite Meal

journey of doing - long weekend in LondonP I N I T

London is a funny place for meals.  I’ve yet to find many restaurants that I absolutely love.  Plenty are good, but I’ve not had anything great yet.  I wanted to take my husband to Bella Italia, a restaurant that I visited often on my past trips to London.  I was nervous that it wouldn’t be as good now that I’m older and more experienced, but it didn’t disappoint.  Everything tastes so fresh, and the prices are still good (but not as cheap as they used to be).  They’ve done an overhaul of the restaurants and they seem much more upscale now.

We liked the house Barbera more than the Solandia Rosso (too many competing flavors).  The garlic bread is the perfect starter and best enjoyed when piping hot.  I liked the beef and red wine ravioli, but the traditional lasagna was good, too.  The margarita pizza is a safe bet if you aren’t feeling adventurous.  I wish I had skipped the cookie dessert and focused on the gelato milkshake – or just drank more red wine.

Long Weekend in London – More Experiences

This is just the high points of our trip, and I’ll post more pictures for tomorrow’s postcard photos post.  If you’re looking for other ways to fill a long weekend in London (I used to do this all the time), here are some of my favorite experiences:

  • Grab half-price theater tickets at the TKTS booth in Leicester Square
  • Watch the world go by on the Thames.  I love the south bank from blue hour to nightfall.
  • Hit up the Tate Modern, the National Gallery, or the British Library
  • Enjoy St. Paul’s Cathedral and make your way to the Millennium Bridge, marveling at two different types of architecture
  • People watch in Trafalgar Square
  • See the Princess of Wales Memorial in Hyde Park
  • Visit Harrod’s food hall
  • Tour one of the many palaces when the royal family isn’t in residence

What are some of your favorite London moments that we missed?!   Would you ever book a long weekend in London with 4 hours notice?  Are we totally crazy?

Long Weekend in London – More Photos!

London Postcard Photos, London by Night Postcard Photos

journey of doing - long weekend in londonP I N I T

Wanderful WednesdayP I N I T

Linking up for #WanderfulWednesday

Isabel, Marcella, Vanessa, Lauren

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  • Laura - Well what a memorable birthday! How fun! Sounds like you had a blast an the pictures are absolutely gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Tanja (the Red phone box travels) - great birthday weekend:)#wanderfulwednesdayReplyCancel

  • Pinky - How cool and wonderful you did this trip so quickly. Honestly, this is what I miss about my job right now. The ease of a quick weekend getaway. I would love to go to London, just to eat and drink in all the tea rooms. I also want to see the palace.ReplyCancel

  • Lorelle - Great post and love your tips especially the back entrance to the British Museum….didn’t know that one!!
    Lorelle #WanderfulWednesdayReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - Your husband has good taste! I spent my birthday in London this year as well! I love that city so much! Maybe next time, we can have a double date in London 😉ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Now that is how you do a birthday weekend. Beautiful pictures!!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - I love the fact that y’all booked a last minute trip to London! That’s so awesome, especially since you got to use points! The Yeoman Tour was one of our favorite things when we were in London earlier this year, and we just barely missed out on getting to go to the Churchill War Rooms, which I was super bummed about. I guess that means that we have to go back!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - Wow, y’all managed to do SO much! That hotel looks gorgeous. Also, I’m pretty jealous y’all can jet off and have a spontaneous trip like that! It sounds so exciting!ReplyCancel

  • Ruth | Tanama Tales - You got to do a lot! I like that you used your time before the flight to book some tours. That was a great idea. I went to London long time ago and I do not remember a lot about it. It was cold and rainy (it was summer), so, we were not able to walk freely.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa Brune - Such a great tip about the back entrance of the British Museum – noted! I’ve yet to make it to London but when I go, I want to at least spend 2 weeks there cause there’s just sooo much I’d like to see!!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I’ve never been to London, so I am totally jealous. You threw this trip together in 4 hours?!? I take days/weeks to put together trips. Even last minute ones! But I bet it was a blast doing everything on a whim! That is one birthday trip I’m sure your husband will never forget. 🙂ReplyCancel

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