Last week, I did everything. To be more specific, I spent about seven days traveling through Scotland and England, something that I have wanted to do for quite some time. The week was absolutely packed, and I was dog-tired by the end of it, so even though a small blog entry can hardly do the UK justice, I am going to do my best.
I arrived in Edinburgh early in the morning with my friends Kelsey, Joanna, Monique, Trey and Phil. We were absolutely exhausted, but that didn’t keep us from exploring the city, as Edinburgh is the kind of place that, because of its beauty, makes you doubt its existence. Our hostel was in the heart of the old town, which is a series of narrow cobbled streets, Gothic churches, narrow alleys and, towering over the city on a treacherous cliff, the imposing structure of Edinburgh Castle. Truly, the castle is absolutely incredible: its high towers watch over the whole of the city, and it is impossible to avoid be drawn to it. During our three-day stay, we visited art galleries, took whiskey tours, braved tours of haunted graveyards, and hiked up the steep slopes of Arthur’s Seat in order to see the whole city all at once. To top it all off, I tried haggis, and I was surprised to find that, in spite of it being stewed sheep intestines, it tasted pretty good.
On Thursday, Joanna, Monique, Kelsey and I took a ten-hour bus ride to London, which could not have been more different than Edinburgh. While visiting Edinburgh made me feel like I was stepping into off into a medieval adventure, London was sleek and modern, and I felt more like I was in New York than Europe. However, with about three and half days to kill, I soon found out that trying to make a generalized statement about London is impossible, since it is absolutely huge. We took the Tube all over the city, from Westminster to Piccadilly Circus to Portobello Road, and there was still much that I did not have a chance to see. Though all my days were packed with activities, there were two that I particularly enjoyed: one, going up into the Eye of London (not to be confused with the far more sinister Eye of Sauron), which is a huge Ferris wheel that allows you to see the city’s skyline, and two, visiting the National Gallery and seeing actual Van Gogh paintings. Van Gogh is my favorite artist, and seeing his original paintings was such a beautiful experience that it nearly brought tears to my eyes. I spent at least twenty minutes standing in front of his paintings and staring at them, and I refused to move until the crowd more or less forced me off to one side.
With one leg of my two-week journey over, I am preparing for the second half. As I write this blog, I am sitting in a hostel in the heart o Connemara, preparing for a full day of hiking. After that, I shall top off my European adventures with a trip to Venice. All in all, I couldn’t be more content.