Over the next several hours I did live reports for various media outlets around the US on the London terrorist attack. It was not the vacation experience we planned. But in this episode my husband and I talk about what happened in the hours after the attack, how the rest of London reacted, and how we tried to move past this tragedy and still enjoy our vacation.
When we arrived in London on Tuesday afternoon we were exhausted but ready to see the sights. I had most of our itinerary planned for the next several days so we took it easy the first day and strolled through a chilly Hyde Park. The next morning was our day to visit Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament. They are all right in the same area so it’s a quick walk between them all. Then just another short walk across the Westminster Bridge to the London Eye.
I was annoyed because we had gotten off to a late start that day (see: tired) but eventually we made our way through the Abbey and out to Parliament and Big Ben. If you’ve never seen them close up it’s an extraordinary sight. No wonder millions of tourists flock to this area each year to see the living history. The building is due for some much-needed repair and is scheduled to be closed for the first time ever in the next few months. It will be shut down for 3 years and covered in scaffolding while repairs are made. We were thrilled to get to see it unobstructed.
It was a very cold day as we walked over the Bridge. I remember calling for Channing to stay close because there were so many people around and she has a tendency to run. We stopped on the Bridge for some selfies and to take it all in. Little did we know that just 20 minutes later a terrorist would drive his car into a crowd of people outside the Parliament gates, then rush inside the gates and kill a police officer before being shot by police.
We were on the other side of the Thames River walking to the ticket counter for our London Eye reservations when we noticed the managers and workers closing everything up. They were quickly unloading a few of the Eye cars and ushering people back. I started asking around what was going on but no one seemed to know. Eventually I found out what had happened. There were helicopters overhead, and Westminster Bridge was now covered in emergency vehicles. Thousands of tourist stood in shock watching it all unfold.
I did a live report on the London terrorist attack for KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa where I’m a contributing reporter, as well as live phone interviews for several US stations. I felt myself immediately go into reporter mode as the rush of breaking news hit me. I’d forgotten what it’s like to be at the heart of a major news story and it felt strangely comforting to put those skills to use. Thankfully Chris kept Channing occupied while I did my reports and shot video. When we left a few hours later we were exhausted. This was not what we had planned.
Later that night in the hotel room we decided not to let the days events ruin our vacation. What does that saying? If we let it affect us, the terrorists have won. So as strange as it was at first, we carried on…a fitting motto in England. We had our adventures with our daughter and it was an unforgettable trip. I’ll be writing more about our experiences in the coming days but for now, feel free to listen to this episode as we share what it was like to be in the middle of a terrorist attack during our family vacation and know that we will always love London and visit there anytime.