Posted in Travel

Weekend in Edinburgh

I wanted to try something new this time. I found a really great way to share my travels in story form. So, if you are a visual learner, I highly recommend you check out the short photo story I created. View the Photo Story HERE.

If you’re more into my ranting, continue reading 🙂

So, last weekend (January 22-24), my friend Ellie & I traveled to Edinburgh, Scotland for our first full weekend trip, complete with hostel accommodation and everything. We took the train from Lancaster on Friday night and ended up in Edinburgh around 10:30 pm. We checked into our hostel and then just wandered around the city for a bit.

We started off the day on Saturday  by hiking to Calton Hill for an amazing view of the city and to get some great photos.

From our view up here, we spotted a beautiful Abbey & proceeded to wander in search of it. What we found, was indeed an Abbey, and the palace where Mary, Queen of Scots, lived.  We took a tour of this incredible palace, complete with an audio tour of the history of the palace. It is still actually visited by the Queen once a year, as well!

After we toured the palace, we decided to hike to Arthur’s Seat to get another great view of the city. It was a steep, uphill climb, but the view was absolutely breathtaking and completely surreal.

arthurs seat

After our long hike and over 10,000 steps into the day, we were both starving, so we found a local pub and found that it was due time for some comforting British food! (Bring on Bangers & Mash)

After lunch, we went on an amazing free walking tour of the town. It was amazing! I recommend it to anyone who ever goes! We learned so many random and fun little facts about Edinburgh. For example, we saw this cafe, called The Elephant House. It is where J.K. Rowling apparently spent a lot of time, writing the Harry Potter series.

After our walking tour, we went back to relax for a bit and then got dinner at a taco place. (We have been craving Mexican food-it is NOT readily available here Send me tortilla chips, anyone??) 🙂 🙂

By Sunday morning, we were pretty tired after walking over 30,000 steps in one day, but we managed to have a more relaxing day in the city, complete with tea & macaroons in a quaint little tea shop and some fun shopping.

 

As fun as this was, I definitely missed my friends and family over the weekend, I think because it was over my birthday. However, I am so thankful that God has allowed me to be able to travel during this time in my life.

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Posted in Travel

Bye, Bye, London. Hello, Lancaster!

These past two days have sort of flown by! Yesterday (the 5th) I started my day in Heathrow airport in London…where I left off on my last post. No, I didn’t sleep in the airport. (Jetlag and all) Instead, I spent the wee hours of the morning watching Netflix and chatting with friends back home. As soon as the security lines opened at 4:30am, I was the first one through. Literally. I was the first person to walk through security at Heathrow airport on the 5th of January. Write it down in history, people. Well, after I got through, I still had a 3 hour wait until my plane took off. I made my first purchase in the U.K.-an apple-naturally, and I sipped on some coffee while people-watching. At 7:10, my plane took off and it was a short one hour flight to Manchester. When I arrived, it was all hussle and bussle to get to the train station to catch my bus to the University at 9. Thankfully, my bag was the 3rd one off of the luggage carousel. Another proud moment in my life!

As soon as I got to the bus stop, there was a huge Lancaster University booth with students sitting around it. I instantly felt 10X safer and more comfortable. We had about 15 minutes to chat before our bus arrived to take us to Uni. It is about a 1 hour bus ride to Lancaster, and we drove through beautiful countrysides with green pastures with the typical English looking wooden gates surrounding them. I was astonished at how many sheep farms there were! When I got to the university, my sleep deprivation was starting to kick in, so I instantly settled into my dorm and took a nap. When I woke up, I unpacked my stuff and settled into my room. I really like it! I have a single room and I share a kitchen and bathroom area with 8 other students, so there’s enough privacy, but still community as well!

Last night, we had an informal dinner and mixer gathering with all of the international students that are studying at Lancaster this semester. This was a great time, and I got to meet people from all over the world.

This morning (the 6th), we started bright and early with Orientation. Again, this includes all of the international students that are here for the semester. After some basic information, we got to tour campus and the town of Lancaster. This was definitely the bright spot in my day! There was a lot of time to casually hang out with all of the students. We are all in the same place, wanting to make friends and travel and see things, so we could instantly connect on a lot of things! The town of Lancaster is absolutely beautiful! It is a historic city and there is a castle in it with a story from back between the Duke of Lancaster and the Duke of York. It is a very botique town, with lots of unique shops and pubs. Our tour guide said, “Lancaster has the most pubs per square mile.” And it really is true. It was really cool to see the towns personality and experience such a quaint city. To see pictures, check out my Facebook album or check out my Photo Tour. I plan on doing some more touring of the town later in the week, because we didn’t have a lot of time. We all met up for dinner at a pizza and pasta place before heading back to the university.

All in all, I’m really enjoying my experience. The adjustment has been hard, especially settling in yesterday. But as I start to make friends, it has become really rewarding. I am so excited to start traveling and seeing things and make deeper relationships with my new group of friends!

 

Posted in Travel

This whole travel thing though

Well today was quite the day. It was a day of anxiousness, excitement, and wonder. And it has been a long day (so far).

My day started at 3 am in Princeville, Illinois. I woke up after getting only about 2 hours of sleep (because I can’t sleep when I’m anxious about something). However, I think I just ran on adrenaline all day, so it ended up being fine. My wonderful parents drove me up to O’Hare to catch my flight at 8:55 am. Our plane ended up departing a tad bit late, due to ice on the wings. Definitely glad they scraped that off.

The next 8 hours were a bit of a blur. As we departed, I could see the beautiful snowy Chicago-land and I thought to myself, “I won’t be on American soil for almost six months.” It’s crazy, but I’m definitely excited. The plane ride was definitely not as bad as I had thought it would be. I got to see two new movies and watch one of my old favorites. (I definitely recommend seeing the new Annie movie if you haven’t). My seat partner probably thought I was nuts when I would start giggling to myself in the middle of it. Oh, well. I also experienced two airplane meals. Let me tell ya, you’re not missing ANYTHING. From rubbery eggs to rubbery ham, it was definitely forgettable.

When we landed, things started to get a little interesting. You see, we came in at about 10:30 pm London time. And the thing is, I have a 7 am flight to catch for Manchester tomorrow. But, by the time we got off the plane, all of the regular shuttle buses were closed. Therefore, in the empty Heathrow airport, I wandered around asking people for Terminal 5. I got pointed in several different directions, before I found out that I had to go through the U.K. border security, find the Heathrow Express metro, and re-enter at the entry to the airport. I was scared to death. Thankfully, I made acquaintances with two Italian students around my age and we set out to navigate this together. I honestly don’t think I could have figured it out by myself. So after we got through security and found the metro, it turns out that the next train didn’t arrive for 30 minutes. However, it was worth the wait. Because that metro looked like something off of the Hunger Games. It was slick and modern and beautiful and got me to the airport entrance.

And now here I sit, waiting for the morning so I can check in and go back through security for my connecting flight.  I honestly don’t know when I’ll sleep next, because these airport benches are none too comfy. Tomorrow, I will arrive in Manchester, get shuttled to my University, and get settled into my room.

As for now, I don’t have a phone plan set up. My phone is on airplane mode with Wifi enabled. This means that I can iMessage people with iPhones, and I am also available via Facebook Messenger, GroupMe, or Snapchat.