So this will probably be one of my last blogs about extreme traveling, but I will do my best to keep you updated with life in England still.
Anyways, last Monday, April 7, my mom, dad and sister all came to England to visit me! I cannot believe how fast it came up and how fast their trip went...but we still had a lot of fun I met them in Manchester Monday morning and because it was big Jer's birthday, had flowers and a few birthday cards for him from me and some of my friends from school. I got to the airport around 10 and had about 2 hours and 45 minutes to waste time. Since I have gotten pretty good at wasting time, it went by really fast and was wonderful to see them walk through the terminal. We then proceeded to do one of the scariest things I have tried in the past 4 months: drive to London. Thankfully, dad was, or pretended to be, confident in driving on the opposite side of the car and on the opposite side of the road. It was definitely an interesting trip and we did get lost for about 2 hours trying to get into London, but we finally made it around 7 or 730.
Our hotel was actually in really good location, and it feels so nice to say we stayed in a hotel! It was called the Shakespeare Hotel and was right on the other side of Hyde Park from Buckingham Palace. We ate dinner in the Sawyer's Arms, a pub down the street, and then I took them on a quick tour of London at night. We went to Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, saw the London Eye, and then managed to get lost so we also got the privilege to see Piccadilly Circus, Trofalgar Square, and then lots and lots of Hyde Park and shopping. I refuse to take the blame for us to get lost, I am pretty sure my dad took the lead since he knows London so well But the three of them were pretty worn out because we walked from about 830-1130, so we finally did manage to make it back to our hotel and got some sleep. Unfortunately, the Shakespeare Hotel did not provide soft beds, so we were pretty much sleeping on cement, but it worked out because everyone was so tired.
The next morning, we woke up and did the free 3 hour walking tour that i had done when I went to London to tour. I really enjoyed it a lot more this time. Our tour guide was young and really energetic so that helped me to pay attention. She took us by some of the same things but also showed us Prince Harry and William's house so that was nice to see. I think my family enjoyed the tour, and it gave them a lot of history on the things we had seen the night before so that is also a lot more interesting when you know what you are looking at. But after the walking tour, we jumped on the tube and went to St. Paul's Cathedral, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Shakespeare's globe theater and parish, and then headed up to Camden Market. The day I was at Camden Market last time is the day that the huge fire occurred, so I was pretty excited to see what all damage had been done. It was unbelievable! There was a whole block of probably 25-50 stores that was just gone. It definitely looked different and I can't imagine how many people lost their businesses because of it! But we ate in Camden at a chicken place and then everyone was so tired that we made our way back to our hotel to relax. We stayed in the hotel and then went out for some ice cream. Thankfully, we had beautiful weather all day and the night before so it made walking around definitely easy!
The next morning, we woke up and began our drive to Hull. It was definitely a lot easier to get out of London than it was to get into London! The drive to Hull was nice and we got there around 1:30. My family got to meet all of my roommates, except Clementine who was in France for her sister's wedding. But I gave them a tour of campus and we ran into some of my other friends so I was happy for them to meet Mallory and Lauren as well. Then we took a double decker bus (I forgot how exciting it was to ride it for the first time) down to city center so i could introduce them to Primark (an incredibly cheap amazing store) and to the Deep (an aquarium) so they could see the ocean. I told them the ocean was kind of brown and gross, but dad insisted it couldn't be and he was thoroughly surprised to see a nasty brown muddy mess. Definitely not the beach you envision But after the deep we hurried back to the car, did a little clothes swapping and then started our drive up toward Scotland. We stayed in Newcastle, England that night, which is a little town right on the river. We got there around 9 or so and then drove to the quay (or boardwalk as we say it) and went to a little pub for a few drinks. It was a lot of fun and a cute little town! We didn't stay out too late because we wanted to get driving early the next morning, but it was a lot of fun to see Newcastle, because it is somewhere I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.
Thursday morning we began our drive up to Edinburgh, Scotland. Everyone was a little tired and somewhat grumpy but we made it work. We stopped in a little town off of the highway called Anwick and it was the cutest and most quaint town i think i have ever seen. They had really narrow, cobblestone streets with really old and antique buildings. We ended up eating breakfast there at a place called gregg's and it was actually pretty good! Anwick also had a castle that was beautiful! It looked out of a storybook because from the back, there were fields full of sheep and hills and then the castle. it was awesome and definitely a smart move to stop in Anwick by my dad!
We got to Edinburgh around 4 and found our hotel. It was a little off of the Royal Mile (where the bagpipers are and all of the old old buildings and the castle) but it worked out because we were right next to a bus stop. So we took the bus into town and walked the royal mile a few times, saw the castle and looked at the view. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy (definitely not as cold as the first time i was there). That night we went on a ghost tour. Apparently Edinburgh has a really dark past of ghosts, murders, torture, etc etc. It was actually a lot of fun. My dad was one of the people who had to pretend like he did wrong so the tour guide "whipped him" and "pulled out his tongue" like they would have back in the day. It was a lot of fun. They told us of all sorts of murders and supposed ghosts that are still wandering the streets of Edinburgh. At the end of the tour, we got to go into the underground chambers. A long time ago, the city made chambers underneath the streets of Edinburgh to help to rid of their debt. People would buy them and then use them for storage or living space or whatever they desired. So, now the story is, that the people that lived down there, still do, only as ghosts. It was really cool to see and pretty spooky but we saw no ghosts, unfortunately. After the ghost tour, I took them to jeckyl and hyde, the fun bar with the crazy bathrooms. We once again were amused by the hidden bathrooms, and had a drink and then took a taxi back to our hotel.
The next morning we got up and did the 4 hour walking tour that I had done previously as well. It was still one of the best tours i have been on, and my family enjoyed it a lot as well. It was actually dry during our tour which was good, but began to rain right as we finished. My dad went back to the hotel and my sister, mom and I went into the National Gallery of paintings and then up to the royal mile where we went to a pub and got some dessert and drinks. After, we went back to the hotel and then went to get some amazing KFC which was the only restaurant around us We called it a night early, as we had to catch a flight to Dublin the next day.
We woke up early and drove to Stirling, Scotland to see the castle and the Wallace monument. On the way, we stopped in Falkirk and saw the Falkirk wheel, a huge wheel that pulls gondolas out of the water for an apparent good view. But we got to go in the castle for free which was definitely a nice surprise! And we also took a tour through it, which was interesting but not as nice as the other tours we have been on. After the castle, we sped to the monument and had just enough time for Cara to snap a quick picture before we had to race back to the airport to head to Dublin.
Well, we were welcomed by Ireland with a nice steady drizzle of rain..so that was awesome! We knew we were only going to be in Dublin for one night, which was that night we planned on going nuts and staying out late, so we stayed at the Four Courts Hostel, the place that I had stayed earlier this semester. I knew the location was really good, and Dublin is crazy expensive so it worked out perfectly! Our room was nice, we had a private room and bathroom and were kind of in our own little hallway so it was pretty much a hotel room. We went to the Porter House for dinner, where my dad had, "the best hamburger he has ever had" and they brewed their own beer, so we tried that as well. It was really good food and drinks and they had a live band playing Irish music, so it was a lot of fun! It was very crowded though, and Manchester United was playing a game later, so as we left, it got even more crowded! We walked through the temple bar area and dodged into various pubs and souvenir shops along the way. It was a little more crowded for our taste, and it definitely didn't help that it was a Saturday night and that a "futbol" game was being played. We went to another pub that was a little less crowded and off of temple bar and then walked back to the hostel to grab our umbrellas. Dad didn't end up coming back out with my sister, mom and I, but I think he had already seen enough of the crazy busy Dublin streets. Cara, my mom and I went to a little pub and had a few drinks there, talked to a lady from about an hour away, and then called it a night fairly earlier than we had imagined because we knew we wanted to see some of Dublin in the morning before taking off for Galway.
The next morning, we got to the Guinness factory around 9 and were first in line! We hadn't planned on taking the tour, but ended up taking it. None of us took our free pint at the top either haha! But after the Guinness tour, we walked to St. Patrick's cathedral, which was beautiful! When i was in Dublin last, there was a lot of construction and we walked passed it at night. There were so many flowers and was a park in the back of the church. It hepled that we had beautiful weather so we were able to enjoy how beautiful it was. We walked back through Dublin, passing the Church of Christ and various other little pub streets and old looking buildings. By that time, it was already noon and we were ready to get into a little town so we got in the car and headed to Galway!
The drive was beautiful! We saw lots of sheep and little stone gates that weaved through the countryside. We passed through various little towns and made it to Galway in about 2 hours or so. We had no reserved a place to stay, so it was quite stressful trying to navigate the new town with no map and look for hotels. We ended up finding a bed and breakfast that was really nice. Luckily, it was a few blocks away from a rugby stadium and a rugby game was going on! So we went and watched a little of the rugby game before heading toward the town city center. Galway was definitely one of the cutest towns and is definitely one of my favorite places! The streets of the city center were lined with colorful buildings and houses, vary Irish pubs and restaurants and then there was the coast, which was amazing! We walked up and down the coast after we ate dinner and loved being able to see the ocean and other little islands off in the distance. It was beautiful and the weather was perfect! We did a little souvenir shopping, we tried to keep it minimal for dad's sake, and went into a few different pubs to have a drink. There was yet another futbol game going on, so pubs were pretty full, but it was definitely authentic to see how excited they get for those games over here! It is like every soccer game over here is what our superbowl is like..its crazy! We walked back to our bed and breakfast and decided what we wanted to do on Monday.
The next morning we woke up to an amazing breakfast! The bed and breakfasts that I am used to are awful, with things such as packaged toast and chocolate filled prepackaged croissants. But this was unlike anything! We had some amazing food...and even had a menu to chose from! So that was definitely good! Then we took off for the supposed 5 hour loop of the Connemara area. It is an area full of mountains, little Irish towns, the coast, Gaelic speaking villages, and lots and lots of sheep! It was one of the most beautiful places I have seen! We were driving along the coast for most of the time, and then weaved through mountains and more of a desert looking area. It was unbelievable! When you imagine Ireland, that is what we saw! There were sheep in the road, which, by the way were very narrow and curvy, as expected. We would stop in little towns and walk around, take pictures and look in stores. We even found a city that had a Walsh's bakery AND a Walsh's Emporium...all in the same block!! We walked through the Ireland National Park, which was awesome too! You could hear the sheep baa-ing the whole way around the hiking loop we took! I can't even say enough about it! It was wonderful and one of my favorite things that I have done since I have been here!! After finishing the Connemara loop, we ended up driving back to Galway and finding another B&B to stay at. This one was even nicer than the one the night before and was just a block away from the coast! We actually were in a little city called Salthill, but it is just a 10 minute walk from the Galway city center. We ate dinner at a little place that was suggested by Marlene, our B&B lady. It was pretty good actually! And then we walked back out to the coast and walked up and down the beach. Mom and Cara walked a little further than dad and i, because we stopped and watched a soccer game that was being played right next to the beach! It was pretty amusing to watch, and my parents quickly learned the difference in meaning of swear words here! But the game was actually a good one and we all sat and watched for quite some time! After the game, we walked back to the area of our hostel and stopped at another little pub before heading home. It was a very authentic pub, but not very crowded on the night we were there, which was okay. My dad talked to the owner for quite some time, so we got to learn a little bit about the pub itself. We headed back to our B&B afterwards, with a quick stop for a magnum bar on the way home. We went to sleep pretty early because we waned to go find the Cliffs of Moher the next morning.
The next morning we had an even BETTER breakfast than the previous! It was hard to believe these ladies spend so much time cooking for their guests every morning! But it was delicious. After breakfast and goodbyes with Marlene, we took another scenic route to the Cliffs of Moher. It was yet, another beautiful drive! We got to see a little more of previous things we had seen the day before, had to stop various times for sheep in the street and roosters even at certain points! But we stopped at some places for picture opps and because we wanted to see little towns. It was such a beautiful drive..the pictures don't even do it justice!! But we got to the Cliffs of Moher around noon and they were incredible! There was a little castle at the top of the walk way that we were able to walk to. There were so many birds and such blue water hitting the cliffs! It was incredible! We loved that Cara was so persistent in us going and seeing them! We stayed at the Cliffs for probably a little too long because we still wanted to go to Lemrick to see the castle there before heading back to Dublin to catch our flight to Manchester. We got to Limerick, took a quick glance at the castle and the medieval city that was set up inside, and then asked how far away it was to Dublin. It was currently 2 o clock and we had to be at the airport by 5:30....the man told us it would take us probably 3.5 hours to get to Dublin without traffic. UH-OH!
We once again, were rushing back to the airport! We were lucky enough to get stopped in traffic all the way through Limerick and then even more lucky to have a two lane highway the whole way to Dublin. So, needless to say, we were a car full of high-tension the way back to Dublin and probably broke many road laws with our extreme attempt to make it to Dublin on time. We did end up making it, after getting stuck in stand still traffic in Dublin for quite some time and after the far off (or so dad says, but, because i was in the front seat, i could see the panic on his face) chance of running out of gas. So we made our flight and had a quick and painless 55 minute flight back to Manchester.
Everyone flew back to the states the next morning at 810 so we knew it needed to be an early night. we went to The American Grill in a cute little outskirt city of Manchester (yes, the American Grill) and had some really good food. Dad and I even got to share some mussels...yum! But after the american style dinner, we headed back to the hotel and packed, exchanged clothes, and went to sleep.
I took them all to the airport on Wednesday morning and then left them around 7;30 or so to go catch my train back to Hull. It is crazy to think that they were just here! Time went by so so so fast! But i had so much fun and am so thankful that they got to come over and not only see where I live, but travel to some amazing places with me! I had such a fun trip with them and can't believe I will already be seeing them soon! Its crazy! But that just about wraps up my trip with my family, I will be blogging at the end of this week with new England updates! Love you all and see you soon-ish!