Monthly Archives: January 2015

Travel by Train

IMG_2452Over my four months abroad, the train has definitely been my favorite way to travel. From Brighton to Derbyshire and across Italy, it has been the most relaxing way for me to get around, so we were definitely utilizing this mode of transportation when my parents came to visit. (Why don’t we have widespread trains back home? Get it together, America.) Dad was excited for his first train ride, and I think Mom was just happy to travel above ground. We took a little day trip to Brighton, and were able to enjoy the whole trip without any stress.

The day after Brighton, however, we turned into a traveling circus. Have you ever taken three people with 45 lbs suitcases and a carry on each (plus a backpack for me, because, well, 4 months abroad means needing more stuff) on a bus, then the tube, then through King’s Cross? Hahaha. We probably would have been better off with a taxi to King’s Cross, but you live and learn and attempt to save money.

I’m already looking back and laughing at how hilarious we probably appeared, from King’s Cross to York and York to Edinburgh. Thank goodness for taxi drivers who didn’t complain too much about the heavy luggage on the way to/from the train stations, hotels, and airports. (Because we did definitely use taxis in York and Edinburgh.)

Now, the US just needs to get some decent train lines for passengers so I can easily visit all the friends I met this summer! And while I do actually love the traveling part of traveling (except for airport security), I found this quote appropriate:

Most travel is best of all in the anticipation or the remembering; the reality has more to do with losing your luggage.  ~Regina Nadelson

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York: In Which We Had A Personal Tour Guide

IMG_2518My first time to see York was during  a 4 hour stop during 2012. I lovedIMG_2496 it and always wanted to return, so I made sure we stopped over for a few nights on our way to Edinburgh. As soon as we set our bags down in the hotel we went walking along the picture-perfect river until we found a pub for dinner. We soaked up possibly the last rays of sunshine for the rest of our European trip at the table outside as the local university crew teams rowed by.

No one could ever convince me sticky toffee pudding isn’t the best invention since sliced bread.

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“This is normally where I take the big group shot. …..Want me to take a picture of you guys with your camera?”

Mom decided to have a slow, late breakfast on the cold, rainy next morning while dad and I found the meetup spot for the free walking tour I RSVP’d us for. The poor tour guide thought he would be able to go home because no one would show up – and indeed… Dad and I were his only two tourists. It worked out well for us, at least… We could always hear what the guide was saying and could ask any question at any time.

Bonus: Dad didn’t get lost when he stopped for pictures, since there were just the three of us. I think we finished a 2.5 hour tour in slightly under 2 hours, seeing as three people can move much faster than a group of 20. The guide was a history student at the local university, and was a walking encyclopedia about York and its history. (Thanks to this tour, I have a book about the Wars of the Roses on my 2015 reading list.)

We walked the old city walls, saw buildings made from the remnants of other buildings, and I almost sat in an old Roman stone coffin. (It was too wet.) My boots started leaking as my toes were cold and socks felt slightly soggy, but we learned how to tell the difference between original stone steps and Victorian-era “restorations,” which was cool. The Shambles were nearly empty due to rain… And it is difficult to not be in awe of York Minster, the largest medieval cathedral in Northern Europe.

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Me and the most touristy umbrella I will ever hold. But it was cheap, and held up for the 5 days I needed it after my old one died a rusty death.

Dad and I picked up mom from the hotel (luckily, the rain had ceased and I could put on some warm, dry socks), and we went walking through the streets to look through the shops. York was the only place we almost lost mom, thanks to the yarn shop where she was helping a lady pick out a complimentary color for a scarf to be knitted. Despite the after-rain crowds, getting lost around The Shambles was fun, especially when we ran across a street market full of tents and I found my new favorite winter coat. It is a monster of a coat with a hood and I wore it every day for the rest of our trip… (And I have been wearing it back home every day the weather is under 45 degrees.)

The next morning our traveling circus was at it again, dragging all of our luggage through the York train station and stuffing it in the luggage racks on our way to Edinburgh. I wished we had time for a longer stay, but at the same time I was excited to get to Scotland.

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York Minster. Breathtaking.

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
― Jawaharlal Nehru

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Ask Me About Free Walking Tours

Free. Walking. Tours. What’s not to like? You get to explore a fabulous city in the most up-close way possible with some of the most entertaining tour guides you will ever meet. After this summer, I am officially a walking endorsement for Sandeman’s New Europe tours (and any other tip-only walking tours – looking at you, York, Venice, & Rome).

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I met my first London friends (as well as the Bathrobe Crusader – look it up, haha) on my first London tour.

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I (along with Angela, Laura, and Lily) got one of the most entertaining history lessons in Dublin.

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No group pictures were taken on my Venice & Rome walking tours – but they were both fantastic. So many iconic sights!

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I took my parents on the London walking tour when they came to visit – and I was just as entertained the second time around.

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Dad & I were the only ones to show up to the non-Sandeman’s York tour in the cold rain. (This one deserves its own post.)

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Dad & I also went on the Edinburgh tour – where we ended up buying tickets for a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle for all three of us the next day.

Some of my best traveling stories from 2014 happened during or because of a free walking tour. I think I remember more history from one 3 hour tour than any semester of class. It is also an excellent way to get in some great exercise without realizing it. And it is always a treat to see a new city from the perspective of someone who lives there. So if you’re ever in a city with Sandeman’s, go!

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

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Brighton, Revisited

IMG_9359My first visit to Brighton was spent by myself. It also ended with a pretty intense sunburn (England does have sun, occasionally). This time I took my parents along with me – I knew they would enjoy the shops and the laid-back atmosphere after dragging them all over central London for a few days.

I also slapped on a tiny bit of sun screen. Just in case.

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This is what our Christmas card looked like, by the way. All of their cut-out photos.

Exploring the pier turned out to be unexpectedly hilarious, because mom and dad posed behind every single cutout we found. Then mom and I hopped on a ride – I couldn’t convince either of them to get on the one that went upside down, though.

Predictably, mom was extremely happy about going in and out of all the little shops in The Lanes. We ate a late lunch at The Little Tea Shop in the Lanes, which was a place I had found on my previous trip. (Side note: I miss tea shops.) All in all, it was a very relaxing day filled with wandering around and relaxing in the little striped lounge chairs on the pier.

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The Last Day of My Internship Adventure

I’m really, really glad I took this internship. It has definitely been one of my best decisions in life so far. Who would have thought I could land in a foreign country by myself, with only a few nights’ stay at a hotel booked, and managed to feel at home in just a few months?

I had no idea what I wanted to do when I graduated. Zero. I had no real job experience for anything that sounded remotely rewarding. However, I knew I wanted to travel, and I figured I should at least have something to put on my resume if I was going to use up all my savings for an adventure.

So I found a program that got me an interview with FlatClub. First interview for a London-based company, and I had an internship! The Visa paperwork, while tedious and involving a drive to OKC for fingerprinting, went through without a hitch. I had a stressful first few days after I landed at Heathrow while I found a room in a flat to rent, but I only had to extend my hotel stay by one night, so I was moved in and very relieved when I got on the tube to head to work the first morning of my internship.

The people in the office were all super friendly. I got along with my boss and the other full-time employees. I quickly got so used to the tube system I could get to work with my feet on autopilot. The company worked out of a fantastic coworking space, which got my feet wet in the coworking world. I had a lot of ideas for blogs to write, and a list of ideas from my boss, and so I started writing.

I was tasked with scheduling tweets, and before long I was also scheduling Facebook posts as well. I decided I had a lot of ideas for their Pinterest page, so I got to work with my blogs and making a few simple images and realized… This was a lot of fun. So, my content marketing internship that I really just kind of fell into ended up helping me realize what I wanted to do when I got back stateside.

So on my last day as the content marketing intern, I put my Canva skills to use one more time and created my end-of-internship presentation. Then, we all went out for some drinks to say goodbye. So thanks, FlatClub. I learned a lot about myself, traveling, coworking, and marketing in 4 months. It was fantastic.

 

 

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