How are you doing? (“Oh, that’s exciting!” “She did what?” “How do you feel about that?”). Syd asked me to write an update about my time visiting her in England. Now, I realize that I am about five months late on this, but I got home the day before school began and then five months went by. Life happens, ya know? Anyway…
Syd moving to England was exciting in so many ways, one being that I would get to visit her. The great thing about a sister-friend is that we get to share in each other’s adventures for our whole lives. After a lot of deliberating, I decided to head over around Christmas time.
Having this plan was daunting, to say the least.
When I was younger, I would get into fights with my sister. (What? No way!) It’s true. To diffuse our spats, my mom would make us sit in the middle of the living room, criss-cross applesauce, and stare at each other. If this seems strange, it’s because it was; but if my mom is anything, she’s not boring. Every time we did this, we would end up laughing at each other and realize how silly our argument had been.
Going on this trip was a lot like that. I found myself staring my fears in the face.
I’ve always fancied myself to be an adventurous person, and I am. But these adventures often come with a lot of anxiety. This trip was no different. I would be spending Christmas without the majority of my family for the first time ever, to go somewhere that I had never been before. I would also gain a personal record for long plane rides. I was inundated with stupid thoughts and worries.
The catch is that I always end up going on my adventures and see how senseless my fear was. This trip was no different.
When I got off the plane, I was greeted with open arms by my traveled sister and a Cadbury chocolate bar. After a few days at her England home with her lovely host family, we set out on our adventures.
First, we went to Harry Potter World. For lack of a better word, it was magical. We spent about five hours venturing around all the sets and props from the films. My favorite part was watching someone get engaged by the scale model of Hogwarts, because I love moments like that.
Next, we went to London. This might have been the first time I experienced culture shock on my trip. London is full of so many wonderful places and people. Thank goodness I had a built in tour guide with Syd. I found myself following her blindly through the London Underground. I was so impressed by how she’d become so comfortable in her new environment.
On our second day in London, I found my favorite spot: Westminster Bridge at sunset. My favorite memory was standing between Big Ben and The London Eye after a rainfall. Even with all of the people, it was incredibly peaceful.
A few days before Christmas, we started making our way towards Scotland. We spent some time in Cambridge, and then stopped for the night in York. This reminds me that I should say: if someone you know is going to England, please don’t tell them to take pictures of the beautiful buildings. They’re all beautiful. That’s too much pressure and camera storage.
We ended up in Edinburgh on Christmas Eve. Scotland was as breathtaking as I had hoped. We saw green hills, rustic city, and snow in the matter of three days. The city of Edinburgh was full of lights. We had sight of the castle from our hotel room. On Christmas Day, we went to mass in a gorgeous cathedral, and then on a traditional Christmas walk around the city. The following day, we did some more exploring around the city and the castle. Out of all the places I want to see again, I would love to go back to Edinburgh the most.
In the last few days I had, we traveled between Sydney’s home in Kelvedon and London. In this time, we saw a lot more of the city, including the reconstructed Globe Theatre (English Nerd dream fulfilled!). There were so many places that we saw, and there is still so much that I want to see. I can’t wait to return someday to visit friendly faces, and find new places.
I learned so much on this adventure. Most importantly, I was reminded that the world is so big, and I want to go find it. I would have never known that if I hadn’t stared my fear in the face. What once seemed daunting became an unforgettable trip with my best friend for life.
Because I am so cultured now (not), here are some tips that I would like to leave you about visiting the UK.
Tips for Travelers:
1. It’s okay to fall asleep on the train, the national rail.
2. It’s not okay to fall asleep on the Tube, the transportation around London.
3. It’s not okay to fall asleep on the bus back from the Harry Potter tour. Your sister might leave you behind (I’m looking at you, Syd).
4. Scotland is cold. Bring a jacket.
5. London is big. Bring tennis shoes.
6. Do you like Cadbury? Good, it’s everywhere.
7. The bathroom is called the “loo.” Public restrooms are called “toilets.”
8. Cookies are “biscuits,” chips are “crisps,” fries are “chips.”
9. Dessert is “pudding,” and candies are “sweeties.”
10. Underwear is called “pants.” Pants are called “trousers.” Oatmeal is “porridge.”
11. Keep calm, and adventure with the people you love.