So as I sit on a plane heading to Budapest for the weekend…I realize I have, yet again, missed my tentative/self-given blog deadline. And to all my loving fans, reading this and biting their nails in excitement and impatience for this post, I apologize for the wait. You are the few and far between, but I appreciate you as an avid reader and world-travel-blog lover.
Last weekend began with a much needed break from school, sameness and people. I was able to branch out with a new travel buddy to the UK and explore four cities in four days, which was a lovely fast-paced trip, just how I like them. Yes, it was exhausting waking up at 4AM everyday to catch various types of transportation, but worth every second lost in sleep.
It’s interesting, when I picture major US cities, I think of a lot of diversity, a crowd of culture. Although Rome is a major European city it doesn’t have this identity, it’s all Roman Italians, with fully Italian heritage. But London was a mixture of race, language and culture; refreshing.
In part speaking English was one of the largest reliefs of the weekend and getting to hear my language in Scottish, Irish and British accents only made me happier; it’s also nice to hear that people don’t think the American accent is ugly, as I had previously believed.
London day one was stressful, taking hours on hours to arrive at our hostel due to traffic and confusing transportation, but once we got into the city and walked through medieval and gothic architecture, I felt settled roaming in Harry Potter’s world. Honestly, JK Rowling, you never fail to impress me. The entire city, our tour, and even Scotland and Ireland have landmarks now dedicated to this magical world.
On Friday, day two of 4 am departures, we rode south to Salisbury where we saw the elusive Stonehenge. My fellow traveler said it perfectly. “I don’t know why I want to travel so far to see huge rocks…but I do.” And It was true, for some reason these giant rocks draw you in without any logical explanation. This little excursion taught me that there are no definitive 7 wonders of the world.
Hannah, my friend, and I debated over whether the structure was one of the wonders, eventually looking to Google. Turns out there are 7 natural wonders, 7 modern wonders, 7 middle age wonders, 7 structural wonders and apparently they change constantly due to scholars debating which ones really deserve to be on the list. Stonehenge, was listed, but I can’t remember which list it appeared in, too many to keep track.
The second half of the day was spent in London, overlooking the city from the Eye, gazing at Big Ben in the dark and enjoying a 5-hour afternoon high tea. This was quite possibly the fanciest thing I have ever done; we dressed up, had finger sandwiches, ten courses of pastries scones and tea, and champagne.
Almost all of the servers were young men. My theory is that the regular clientele, older wealthy women, like the eye candy, because our server lit up at the sight of people his age. We were by far the youngest ones there and clearly tourists, with our cameras out photographing the whole meal while everyone else, with great posture, stared in disapproval.
Unfortunately, there was no time for Abbey road, so I guess I’ll just have to go back for another photo-op, because by morning we were at King’s Cross, posing in front of Platform 9 ¾ and boarding a train to Edinburgh, Scotland.
It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. Even in the snow and rain, which I braved in sandals (dumb heel problems), everything was green grass and blue skies with building protruding like natural rocks; the landscape and architecture were effortless. We visited Elephant Café, the birthplace of Harry Potter, wrote a letter to JK, headed to a Scotch whiskey tour, and walked through a castle. The day ended with local shopping, and a Scottish pub where we ate fried Mars bars; unhealthy and amazing. Since we only had the day I couldn’t trek to Loch Ness lake, but next time, another thing for another trip!
Our roommate from the lovely hostel in Edinburgh, situated in a stone alley, was on holiday from Oxford. She asked us questions about America and visa versa. Apparently many Europeans think that sororities and fraternities aren’t real, they believe the movies are just an exaggeration of secret societies that don’t really exist… nope.
We made it to Dublin, and with a list of suggestions from friends that had studied abroad before me, Hannah and I decided to take to Howth for hiking just north of the city. The nature was needed and although it was cold and raining, the fog lifted on our return from the trail, revealing a rainbow over the ocean. It was breathtaking; I could live there, and the beautiful and kind accents are yet another bonus.
With tummies full of chowder and Guinness we moved on to a pub crawl, one of Dublin’s traditions, where we met students from Denmark, Budapest, England, and Spain, and by the time I felt Rome’s streets under my feet I could barely stand from exhaustion but felt filled by cultural, extroverted and intriguing experiences and beautiful landscapes. And Rome, familiar to me now, felt like home on arrival.
I wanted this semester to be restful, and a friend recently asked what that looks like for me. I think that while I do want more free time away from work and for relaxation, traveling and meeting others has already showed me great joy and rest. Simply, to not be crowded by my many jobs back in Los Angeles, and to have the luxury of travel is life giving. I can’t wait to share my future trips with you and be energized by more foreign experiences.
Stay warm for me,
Bri, the barefoot traveler