The south of England and Portsmouth are absolutely beautiful. It’s how I had always pictured England. It’s amazing that it’s December 7th and the grass is still as green as it would be in July.
Today I had a walk around Portsmouth. What a busy place. Lots of people out doing their Christmas shopping. There are lots of signs of the Christmas season, including a Salvation Army band playing in the square. It really puts you in the mood for the holiday season.
I will post videos once my phone syncs to iCloud.
They also have traditional butcher shops over there. This is truly England. The big corporations haven’t taken over completely yet, thankfully.
I also went over to the Isle of Wright (they say it as “white”) today, by way of a hovercraft. That was pretty neat and took only 10 minutes. There was a lot to see over there but I only spent a few hours. I mainly just had something to eat and then walked around the shopping area and came back.
I had to change hotels tonight and I wanted to get back so I could get to it in daylight and see the area before it got too dark. Turns out I’m in the middle of nowhere.
I’m heading back to London tomorrow so I’ll be able to post some more pictures then.
The week or two since my last blog has been extremely busy.
After the trip to Ireland came the class trip to Paris.
This was a trip I was looking forward to, however due to a number of factors it was not as enjoyable as I had hoped. The first day was an extremely long day. We were up at 03:20 to leave for London to catch the Eurostar at 07:00. So we left Harlow by bus around 04:30. All in all that wasn’t horrible; the journey there was as enjoyable as traveling always is. The part that brought a damper on the trip was en-route to the hostel: as I was getting on the train, I had to push my way though to get on. I bumped in to a man who, in the process, pick pocketed me and stole my iPhone–quite unpleasant. The rest of the day was taken up by getting checked in to the hostel and going on a tour of the Louvre. The next day we visited a number of International Organizations, UNESCO and CEDA. Friday we visited the National Assembly, after that it was time to return to London. I would have considered the trip a success if someone hadn’t unzipped my book bag as I was on the Metro traveling back to the main train station and taken my iPad. Lesson learned: don’t put ANYTHING electronic on your back and keep it as close to your person as you can.
This past Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent in London with my parents and grandparents. They are over for a visit and I had a lovely couple of days with them looking around. They came back to Harlow with me on Monday and had a look around and stayed for supper and we had a great visit. I’ll get to see them once more before they go home, this Thursday until Saturday. Tomorrow we travel to Bath and Stonehenge, which should be interesting to see.
I’ll have another update about those trips soon.
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.
This weekend is a busy one for traveling.
Tomorrow morning at 06:30 GMT I’m flying to Milan, Italy, where we will spend the day and stay overnight.
On Saturday we will be taking a train from Milan to Tirano, then Tirano to Chur, and finally from Chur to Zurich. Then on Sunday we’re taking a train from Zurich to Basil and flying back to London from there.
More blog entries to come.
This is pretty much my first official entry besides a few smaller ones.
So I’ve been here over a week. Life is good. The workload is heavy but manageable, I am on track!
Last Friday I went in to London; by that point I had been in the UK 2 days. My friend Emily came in with me, but only for the day–I was supposed to be staying until Sunday. The plan was to drop my bag off at the hostel and head in to central London, however things didn’t go as planned. I had a hostel booked in Clapton Junction, a part of London I had never been to before and with a fairly diverse population, because the company that I always stay with had a new hostel–their fifth overall–in the area.
We spent more than two and a half hours looking for the hostel without success. Eventually it was getting later in the day and it was time for Emily to head back to Harlow, because she wanted to get back before dark and rush hour. I went with her as far as Victoria Station, then headed back to Clapton Junction and on my second attempt I finally found it. By this point I was so poisoned with the situation that I hung out in the pub for the rest of the evening, taking in and enjoying the atmosphere while using my iPad. I ordered a pork pie and salad for supper which was delicious, and then a pepperoni pizza later on. I then enjoyed myself by sitting in the pub and watching a movie, White House Down–one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. If you had asked me before, I would have said Olympus Has Fallen, but White House Down blows Olympus Has Fallen out of the water totally.
The next day I was still rotted about having taken so long to find the hostel, so I decided to just head back to Harlow. Luckily by this point one of my classmates had arrived so I had some company. We went walking around Harlow and came across several amazing pubs. We eventually ended up at a pub called the White Admiral or White Horse or something along those lines. The perk of this was that it had a pool table, so we shared several wonderful rounds of pool. On Sunday another classmate arrived, and we showed her around Harlow and ended up playing pool again. Monday the rest of the group arrived, and things started to fall into place. Tuesday was the first day of classes so we are well into the swing of things. Wednesdays are typically field trip days. The first field trip wasn’t that impressive: we went to a Harlow Museum, and the man who gave us a talk is someone who is an expert on the area. He was a very nice man but he talked really quietly and it was a very long talk and very difficult to hear him. He failed to express himself properly in his presentation and his facial expressions.
The plan for the weekend is to head back into London. This time I’m going with a buddy, and I’m staying at a hostel I’ve stayed at before, and I actually know where it is so I won’t spend two and a half hours looking for it. We’ve punched a London Pass; it’s a fantastic deal, getting you into a ton of attractions that you would normally have to pay for individually and it also allows you to fast track the queue. So the plan for Saturday and most of Sunday is to do the tourist thing. As most of you know I’ve done a lot of this before, but it’s been a while and most times it’s been on my own.
Next weekend we are looking at doing the trip of a lifetime: going to Switzerland by way of flying to Italy then taking the train down to Zürich, and finally flying back to London from there. It will be a pricey trip but it is so worth it, as I said it’s the trip of a lifetime. Nothing has been finalized yet as we’re still trying to sort out the details.
That has pretty much been my life up to now.
Things are great: the food is fantastic, the town is amazing, the pubs are amazing.
Stay tuned for future entries.