The following is no longer true, but it was at one time, hence the name of the blog.
I'm living in England right now, finishing up my degree in Early Modern History from the University of Illinois (and the University of York). I'm 23 and most of the people I live with aren't even 20 yet, it's an adventure. So that's pretty much what this whole thing is about, just the random adventures I have while I'm here, learning what it is to be English.
Today is the day we leave Hungary. We are wandering around for most of the day, trying to get a little more sight-seeing done, and then at around 6:00 we will leave for Munich. Sadly, we will only be there for about a day, then off to Prague for another short stay. The time in Budapest has made us realize that we could really use more time in these places, but we'll just do the best with what we've got. I just thought I'd throw a little update on here because I have no idea what it's going to be like in Munich and Prague, so I'm not sure how possible this might be there. So those are our plans, and hopefully it all works out. By the way, if anyone is thinking of coming to Budapest, you absolutely have to do it and you have to stay at the ART hostel. You can find it on hostelworld.com. It's freakin' amazing!
Yo ya'll. So today was the day, we started the journey. Currently we are staying at a hostel in Budapest which is freakin' sweet. It only has room for 16 people total, which makes it really cool because it feels kinda like a bed and breakfast but cheaper. We had a pretty uneventful flight here from Manchester and once we got here we just walked around a little bit (on the suggestion of the woman looking after the hostel today) and walked for a while along the Danube. It's gorgeous, just in case you were wondering. Well, not a whole lot to say right now, but the internet is free so I thought I'd throw somethin up here while I can. We leave here on Thursday for Munich and then to Prague. Hopefully I can keep this thing somewhat updated for most of the journey. We'll see. In the mean time, just know that this is really hard to do because the z's and y's are switched on Hungarian keyboards, and the apostrophe (?) is different, too. And come to think of it, so is the question mark! And the exclamation mark! Ok, I'm done. Peace.
Hey folks. So today I moved out of my room for the next five weeks and pushed all my worldly belongings (the ones here, anyway) to my friend Phil's place in a shopping cart that randomly appeared at our building. It took about forty minutes. :) We're finalizing our plans for our big travels, pretty exciting/stressful. It looks like our plan is this: On the 27th we're going to head to Manchester and take a plane to Budapest. Then on the 30th we're flying to Munich, but it's supposed to be kinda expensive there so we're only gonna stay for a day. On the 31st we take a train overnight to Prague, which should be a good time. On the evening of the 2nd it's another train to Berlin, where we'll be for four nights. We head to Paris on the 6th by plane and then on the 7th or 8th I'll leave the rest of the group to go to Brugges which is in Belgium. Hopefully then I'll have booked a ferry ride to Dover a day or two later and then I'll just bum around the UK for a day or two (some of my flatmates told me I could crash with them, score) and then head to Scotland where I can check out the Highlands. If there's time, I might just go to Ireland, too, after Scotland. Either way, the guys from my flat and I are planning a trip or two to Ireland next term just for the weekend. I'm just trying to not get too nervous about all of this, so wish me luck and feel free to send up any prayers that come to mind. :) I've never really done much of anything like this (obviously) so it'll be an adventure, I'm sure. Contact will be sporatic at best over the next five weeks, cause I'll always be on the move, but hopefully when I get back to York I will be able to get Skype working again and talk to some of you. Have a good Easter, everybody!
Yeah, so Scotland was fun. Since then it's just been mostly trying to get ready for the big trip across the channel (?) over break. Should be an interesting time. It looks now like after I get back from the Continent I might be able to go to the Scottish Highlands with a real Scottish guide! (not like, a professional guide, but this chick from my building said she might be able to drive me up there for a couple days, we'll see) In the mean time, I've got a paper to finish up and we still need to finalize some of the specifics about travel and whatnot.
On a completely different note, it seems like I've brought Illinois over here with me. When we went to Scotland (so, two weeks ago, roughly) it had just snowed a bunch and apparently they got a lot more snow here than where we were, because I'm told of a giant exciting 200-man snowball fight all over campus. Kinda sad I missed out on that, but I got to see Edinburgh, so it's all good. Then, the week after that it was probably in the fifties here, and really nice. Then we got some more rain (which shouldn't be surprising, but I'm told England is in the worst drought since the 60's, so it doesn't rain as much as it should recently), and then the temps started dropping again. A couple of us tried to go rock climbing around here on Sunday, but it was blizzarding (kinda, england style, not illinois style), so we went anyway. We're hardcore. When we got there there was probably a good 2 inches on the ground and it was blowing and snowing pretty hard. Visibility wasn't exactly wonderful. A couple of the guys climbed a little bit and one actually made it quite a way up but didn't want to try the last 10 feet or so because it was really snowy up there and he probably would have slipped or something. I tried to climb (first time!) but that freakin rock was so cold. I got a little way up and realized that I couldn't feel my hands AT ALL so I just sat back on the rope and swung for few minutes. It was really cold. Yeah. Then yesterday it was really cold and windy, kinda like home. Probably the most like illinois it's been since I've been here. And last night it sleeted for a few hours and now we have snow again. Well, maybe it's good for these crazy English folk to get a taste of a real winter from time to time, eh? In any case, it keeps ya guessing, keeps ya on your toes.
Tonight we're going out for the March birthdays that fall during break (there are four of us). That should be a good time, but it'll probably just be really cold on the way to town so I doubt we'll do a whole lot or stay out terribly late. Plus it's the last week of class, so most of us have tests (not me) or papers to write (definitely me). Ok, that's my exciting update for ya'll. Wish me luck in getting all our crap finalized for the trip. We'll probably need it.
Ok, so we went to Scotland this weekend. First of all, I have to say if you ever get the chance to go to Scotland you HAVE TO GO. It is maybe one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen thus far. All I got to was Edinburgh, which is pretty far south, and I hear the north is quite a bit more breathtaking, so I'm gonna try to get up there before it's all said and done. It was, quite simply, amazing. Edinburgh is cool for a couple of reasons, and here they are:
1. The center of the city is pretty incredibly historical and aptly called the Old City. There are a bunch of hostels, including the one we were in, that are all right there in the thick of a ton of historical stuff, which makes the city seem pretty stinkin small, since there is so much right there in like, 2 or 3 streets. The other thing that makes it feel small is the fact that it's kinda built on a hill, and from where all that stuff is, if you look to the east, you see New City, which seems pretty small as well. What you don't see, because it's not below you, is the vastness of the city to the west. I'll get to why I know that in a minute. The final reason it seems small is that the little maps you get from the hostel (or rather, we got from the hostel we were staying at, I don't know about other hostels) are not only pretty bad in general (they just leave out some streets for kicks) but only show a tiny portion of the city, which admittedly is more than you could get to in a weekend but still misleading.
2. Within the center of the city which is so small and historic are a couple of really interesting museums including one entirely devoted to three writers. Let me say that again for those of you in America where nothing like that could ever exist (that's pretty much all of you). There was a museum in Scotland entirely devoted to three writers - that means they actually think literature and the humanities are important! Not only that, but one of the writers, Sir Walter Scott, has a giant memorial elsewhere in the city from which you are supposed to be able to get some of the best views of the city if you go to the top. That's a lot of importance placed on writing. Would that America was smart enough to recognize the importance of literature/humanities. (sigh) Another thing in the center of town is a street called High Street. Most cities in the U.K. have a street with the same name, it's essentially the street where a lot of important things are/were, like shops and offices and such. It's kinda like the Magnificent Mile, or more commonly, main street in most towns. In Edinburgh, though, the High Street is also called The Royal Mile. "Why?" you ask. I'll tell you. It's because at one end of the street you have the Edinburgh Castle, which is huge and incredible and actually built on a cliff, literally, on the freaking cliff, like there's no space between the bottom of the castle and the cliff, the walls actually look like they're coming out of the cliff. It's amazing. Ok, so there's a castle, that makes sense, but why call it the royal MILE then? That's because at the other end of the street, there's the Holyrood Palace, which is still used by the royal family. That's right, two ends of a street, two castles! Are you freaking kidding me? It's incredible. The palace is better to see, though, cause it's still used so when you go inside you get to see how a palace looks when people sometimes use it, whereas the castle has been all changed around and in no way resembles a castle, but rather a bunch of museums. I'm bitter.
3. The final thing I'll tell you about how cool Edinburgh is is the reason I know that there is a huge amount of city to the west. There's this peak called Arthur's Seat that's off to the west of Holyrood Palace - it's actually part of the Holyrood Palace estate, it turns out - that you can go up on. It takes about an hour to climb up to the top, and it's quite a way up. It's probably really not much more than a big hill, compared to real mountains, but it really might as well be a mountain in my book, cause it's got cliffs, which I think is pretty cool. So you climb up this little mountain and you can see that Edinburgh is surrounded by snow-capped mountains! It's absolutely gorgeous. I got some good pictures, but I can't get them off my camera to a place where I can actually use them right now, I'm working on it, but just trust me, it's cool. Probably if you google Arthur's Seat you'll see some pics from up there. When you look to your left (facing the city) you see hills and mountains and more city, all very beautiful. When you look to your right, you see the North Sea, also very beautiful. When you look in front of you, you see the incredibly old city of Edinburgh. And when you're climbing up, you are on a little hill to the side of the actual Arthur's Seat and when you look at it you can actually block out all your peripheral vision and see just hills/mountains - so there you are, in the middle of Edinburgh just seeing cliffs and hills and mountains and lakes. It's truly incredible.
So that's Edinburgh. We also went on a whisky tour and learned the different kinds of whisky and how to differentiate, which was interesting. No, they didn't give us more than one taste, but they did give us a real whisky glass, which is kinda cool. And now we're just trying to finalize plans for going abroad over break. It's coming up quick and we've still got quite a bit of work to do, but I think it'll all come together and it's getting pretty exciting. Ok, that's about all I've got right now. If you want to know anything else, just email me or comment and ask. I might answer, or I might just make you live in ignorance. It'll be a case by case basis. :) Peace, ya'll.