Posted in Travel

When You Put High School Besties Abroad

This weekend was extra special. I decided that one tall redhead wasn’t enough fun in my life, so I added another! And it just so happens, that this tall redhead was Miss Tessa Cowser—fellow Princeville native, high school friend, and FFA buddy. Yes, back home we are at schools separated by only one hour, but it took us until we are halfway across the world to properly meet up. I guess that’s how life goes, but I’m so glad we got to do this!

Tessa arrived in Lancaster on Friday morning and we spent the morning walking around Lancaster. I tried to show her everything that Lancaster has (which isn’t a whole lot) before we went back to campus. Since I have class on Friday afternoons, we had a pretty boring Friday afternoon before we met up with Ellie and we went to a pub in town and had some good ole’ fish & chips there to end our day!

On Saturday, we got up early to travel to York. There aren’t any direct trains there, so the travel was a little bit long, but we arrived around noon. As soon as we got there, we went on a wild goose chase for our hostel, which proved to be very difficult to find (Google Maps was not cooperating). But after we successfully located that, we were set to go. We got a nice lunch at a little cafe and then set off to explore the city.

Delicious Beef Stew-Soup #1

The first place we wanted to find was the iconic York Minster Cathedral. Wasn’t hard to find, considering you just look for the tall pointy spires & head in that direction. Plus, York is fairly small and easy to navigate. Of course, we got cliche’ tourist pictures, as one does.

We spent the rest of the day walking through the adorable streets of York & going into the shops and markets around town. Since it was Valentine’s Eve, we treated ourselves to a nice dinner at a French Restaurant. (And yes, everyone else in the restaurant was couples)

We got up early on Sunday morning as well, so we could hike the Medieval Wall that surrounds the city. We had a lot of fun with this, although temporary disaster struck when Ellie lost her phone. (Still don’t know what happened to it!!) Everything worked out fine though, and we still had a lovely time!

Before leaving town, Tessa wanted a traditional English tea, so we went to a traditional tea room (it was Teddy Bear themed-how adorbs) and got lunch there. I also had my third soup within 24 hours, because, well I love soup. And, I also wasn’t feeling the greatest. (I still don’t really have a voice-don’t know why!)

All in all, it was a lovely weekend! So glad I got to spend Valentine’s Day with such wonderful gals-it was a great way to feel the love! (Cue cheesy smile)

Posted in Travel

Hopping Across the Channel

…And, I finally got some new stamps on my Passport this weekend! This weekend, my friend Ellie and I hopped over to Belgium to do some exploring in this beautiful country. And, I also feel a lot more confident with the whole public transportation thing, as we got a lot of practice with that in three short days! We left campus around 3:00 on Friday afternoon and caught a bus into town. From town, we took a train to Manchester Airport where we caught our flight to Brussels. We landed at around 10:00 in Brussels, but soon found out we were at the South Airport and so we had to take a shuttle bus into the city! (Hey, you live, you learn-everything worked out)

When we got into Brussels, we were dropped off at the Train Station, which just so happened to be a 40 minute walk from our hostel, so we got another unexpected adventure, but enjoyed the 11 pm walk through the city! Our hostel was again really nice—I had heard so many horror stories of hostels, but we have had a great experience so far!

Before we left, Ellie and I had planned to spend Saturday exploring two towns near Brussels and then spend Sunday exploring the city, so early on Saturday morning, we got up to take a charter bus to the towns of Ghent & Bruges. Our first stop was at the small, Medieval town of Ghent.

Since we were with a tour group, we only had about two hours in this city, but it was really nice. Our tour guide told us of the history of the town and how it used to be one of the most popular cities. Many of the old buildings remain as they are, and it was really funny to see modern day shops & restaurants in these old buildings!

 

Ghent also had some amazing street art & we got to walk down this alleyway that was just covered from head to toe in graffiti. Walking past, I just so happened to spot this gem in the midst of the color that read, “Travel Often.” It was a good find, seeing as that seems to be my life motto at the moment!

After exploring Ghent, we hopped back on the charter bus and headed to Bruges. Several people had told us that this city was a must-see, and I now understand why! It is known as the Venice of Belgium, because there are tons of little canals running all over the city. It also has a lot of history and really unique buildings. There are horses and buggies all over the city and the streets are very narrow, as one would imagine an old fashioned town.

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Also, while we were in Bruges, we tried Belgium Waffles for the first time! They are absolutely amazing! Like, if you think you’ve had a good waffle, think again. You must go to Belgium and try their waffles. Just look at my face—pure happiness right there.

Sorry in advance-this is getting really long, but continue reading if you want to hear about the rest of it! So on Saturday night, Ellie & I were really in the mood for some good food, so we went to this amazing Italian restaurant and we ended up staying until it closed!

 

On Sunday, we got up early again to start our exploration of the city of Brussels! (Although, we’d already been around the city quite a bit by then). We started off by trying to figure out the metro, so we could head over to the famous Atomium exhibit. And, quite proudly, we figured it out with no problem, which turned out to be a huge lifesaver, because we were able to do a lot more than we ever could have by just walking everywhere! So, we started off the day by visiting the Atomium. This was built for the 1958 Brussels World Fair and is compared to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

 

After this stop, we took the metro back into the city in search for the Royal Palace. We then wandered around this part of town until we ended up back towards the city centre.

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Back into the center of town, we strolled past a lot of classic Belgian shops, filled with chocolates and waffles and the like. On our way to finding lunch, we also ran into the famous Mannekin Pis statue and found some of the amazing street art that Brussels is famous for!

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After our stroll, we were really hungry, and so we found this place on the street corner that sells fresh seafood and you just eat it standing up at the cocktail tables on the street. It was hands-down, the best seafood I’ve ever had! We ordered razor clams, grilled shrimp, and a fried fish. Just amazing.


After lunch, we hopped back on the metro in order to find this other park that we wanted to see. By this time of the day, we were really tired from all of the walking we had been doing the past couple of days, so after this, we took the rest of the day easy by sitting in a coffee shop before grabbing our luggage back at the hostel and heading home. After  the day was all said and done, we got back to campus around 3 am, so it was a reallyyyyyy long day/weekend. Well, Well worth it, though! We had a blast!

 

 

Posted in Travel

Brr, Brr, Birmingham

On Saturday (January 30), I took another bus trip with the University here. This time, we went to Birmingham. Fun Fact: This is the second largest city in the U.K. I had no idea of this fact until I was already on the bus. I also had failed to do any research on this city, so I was just going into it blind. It turned out okay, actually!

However, it was EXTREMELY cold and windy on Saturday, so I was a baby and I didn’t take a ton of pictures. This city was so unique and different from all of the other places I’ve been so far. It was extremely modern, with a lot of unique architecture to be seen. However, it also had some of the traditional buildings I’ve seen across the U.K. so far and then to add to the mix, Birmingham has a crazy canal system, with apparently more miles of canals than Venice! So, basically, it was a very diverse city, with lots to see!

Some of you may recognize the city for the famous Bull Ring Shopping Center:

When we got there around 11:30, we were all starving, so we scouted out this delicious burger place and then started exploring the town. One of my friends from Lancaster has a friend studying in Birmingham, so he came to meet us and give us a tour of the city.

First, we went to this mall that used to be the place of the Royal Mail Service but has now been turned into this ultra-posh shopping mall. And I mean ULTRA POSH. I felt uncomfortable walking in this place with jeans. And there were security people at every entrance. Felt super comfortable (cue sarcasm).

Anyways, we did also sneak onto an elevator and walk to the top of this ritzy bar to get a glimpse at the city. I’d say it was worth it.

After this, we walked out the back door and came upon one of the canals. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in England! (Although the cold wind did a pretty good job of reminding me)

 

After strolling the canals, we took a peek into the most modern library I have ever seen! This also had an amazing rooftop view and it felt more like I was in a museum!

To round out our tour, we went to a free art museum and took a tour of Birmingham City University. And of course, we had afternoon cream tea. Because what trip is complete without tea & clotted cream? None. The answer is none. It was a quick day, but I’m really glad I got to see this city! It was a contrast to the others I’ve been to so far!

Sorry again, for the lack of documentation via photos. I was just not in the photo-snapping mood!