Travel update: Switzerland, Ireland and other news

This is a long overdue update, so here it is:

Last weekend, the 21st to 23rd, I traveled to Italy and Switzerland. We left Harlow on the 21st on the 06:30 flight to Milan, which meant being up at 03:00 to leave for the airport by 04:30. That was a rough time to wake up, but it put us in Italy by 09:30. The hotel we stayed at was amazing. It was called Hotel America, ironically not run by Americans–or Europeans for that matter–but the staff were fantastic. Milan is downright amazing, though very pricey: we paid about 6 euros each for a soft drink, but you only live once, right? We also had pizza for our lunch that day, and it was so good. You won’t get pizza anywhere else like you will in Italy. We spent most of the day walking home and were back by dark.

The next day was a travel day by way of three different trains. The first to a town near the Italy-Switzerland boarder, and then another that took us though the Swiss Alps–see the Swiss picture gallery for pictures. The train took us to Chur, a very industrial town. I don’t know why anyone would want to go there to visit; I don’t think it’s a tourist spot. We were only there long enough to change trains for our final destination: Zurich. The best thing about Zurich was our hotel: very clean and the room was one of the nicer hotels that I’ve been in all the years I’ve traveled in Europe. The next day we got up and looked around the city. There was really nothing to see, as it was Sunday and nothing was open. So we moved on to Basil and checked in to our hostel. We really didn’t do a whole lot here, just had a walk around. The next day we flew back to the UK, arriving at Gatwick airport. This was a nightmare. It took us three and a half hours to get home because we had to go in to central London, change stations and then get a train to Harlow, and hitting rush hour on the way meant that it took all the longer. If we can avoid Gatwick from now on we’re going to fly in and out of Standstead which is close to Harlow campus. We only flew into Gatwick because we really had no choice, as the airlines we used to get back to the UK didn’t fly to any other airports.

The rest of the week was just classes and school work. Wednesday we went to Brighton for the day, with an early departure at 06:45. We went to the Labour Party Conference, a huge eye opener. I learned a lot about that party, and it’s safe to say I am not a supporter, UK citizen or not. A comparison to a Canadian political party would be the NDP, however Labour is much more left leaning then the NDP is. Labour, in my opinion, has some socialist values. This conference really confirmed my own political values as being conservative leaning.

Thursday was just another day of classes and school work. It was also an early night as I was up very early Friday morning, at 04:00 as we flew to Dublin on the 06:30 flight.

Saturday was a busy day. We went to visit a famous prison in the morning and went on the Genius Factory Tour in the afternoon. In the evening we went to the oldest pub in Ireland, the Brazen Head pub, and had a great meal.

Sunday, we did a bus tour out in the countryside. I would say it’s identical to Newfoundland in a lot of places, more the west coast then the east. Tonight after the tour has just been a low key evening, and writing this blog.

Ireland is nice, Dublin is nice, however it’s a lot like Newfoundland. I’ve been here and enjoyed it but I can’t say I would ever come back. It is more expensive than most other places in Europe; I would call England cheaper in a lot of ways. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate it but it’s just not somewhere I feel connected to like I do with England and other places in Europe. In some ways Ireland is still a very young country as it really only got its independence right before the Second World War.

This week is going to be another extremely busy one. Tomorrow we fly back to London on the 08:15 flight, back in England by 09:30 and hopefully back to campus by 10:30. The rest of tomorrow will be spent catching up on school work and getting ready for the rest of the week.

Wednesday we head to Paris, leaving at 4:00 so Tuesday is going to be an early night. If all goes as planned I’ll be in bed by 08:30 or 09:00. Paris trip details will come at a later date.

As much as I am looking forward to Paris, I am equally looking forward to getting back to England, as by then my parents and grandparents will be in London and I am super excited for their visit. They arrive a few days before I get back from Paris. All my life growing up I’ve had long, in-depth, hours at a time conversations about England with my grandmother and grandfather, and have always wanted to go to England with them, ever since I was old enough to know where and what England is. I’m also looking forward to having my parents over here as they have listened to me ramble on for years about how great London and England are, so I am excited to be able to show them what it is all about. Can’t wait for you to come over, Mom, Dad, Nan and Pop.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll be adding some pictures after this blog post.