This week was the Stranmillis Reading Week. Reading week means that no classes are held and we can do our “reading” wherever we want. We chose to spend our reading week exploring the United Kingdom. We traveled to Glasgow and Edinburgh, Scotland; London, England; and Cardiff, Wales. Each city was unique and wonderful to explore. My feet still hurt, I cannot wait to sleep in my own bed, and it feels good to shower in my own bathroom, but the adventures were beyond worth it.
As our first stop in the trip, this city was our test run of traveling. It was our first hostel experience and first time navigating a brand new city for more than one day. Glasgow was very urban with a few historical aspects along the way. My favorite stop was the Glasgow Cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful and full of detail. Each stained glass window and chapel was unique and it was amazing how much effort went in to this building. We were lucky enough to hear a bit of the service on Sunday morning, which was just as beautiful as the building it was held in.
This city was my favorite of the four we visited. The history and character of each building, street, and shop was great to experience. We explored the Edinburgh Castle, which I geeked out in because of a Netflix series I watch featuring Mary Queen of Scots, who spent a short time in the castle. This city was rich with history and royal aspects, which is something we do not experience in the States. We heard bagpipers on the streets and saw kilts galore. We also courageously tried Haggis, a traditional Scottish dish, and it was surprisingly delicious (I recommend not asking what it is before trying it). Edinburgh was the hardest city to leave, but I hope I will one day make it back there.
First, although it is possible, I highly recommend experiencing London in more than just 36 hours. While we saw all of the major landmarks, we did not get to experience them as much as I would have liked (Sight-seeing, not sight-doing). We stopped by Tower Bridge, made our way to see Big Ben, the Westminster Abbey and ended our day at Buckingham Palace. Sadly, no one let us in to the palace, but we at least go to see it from the gates. By the end of our day in London we were more tired than any other time in the week, but we forced ourselves to keep awake and walk through the city. We ended up taking a chance on tickets to see Matilda the Musical at one of the many theaters. Lucky for us, and to our surprise, were able to get tickets for 5 pounds and it was an absolutely amazing show! I highly recommend seeing a show in London and it was definitely one of the highlights of my week.
This city was one that we had pretty low expectations for. Many people told us that there would be little to nothing to do, so we planned on it being the relaxing end to our trip…it was a bit different than that. It happened to be a huge weekend in Cardiff with the Autumn International Rugby Event of Wales playing Australia. We met a large group of Australians staying in our hostel who convinced us it was worth going to the match. We were able to find cheap tickets and experienced our first Rugby match! That night we also met a couple of the Australian Rugby players which was pretty cool, especially since one of them chatted me up about the Cubs winning the World Series. I don’t think we experienced what would be deemed as the “true” Cardiff, but I loved our time in this city.