It is so hard to believe I have already been here for a week and a half! I feel like I have been here for so long! It is also kind of funny because we revert to Hull as home, and I never imagined that to happen! I haven't been blogging that often, but honestly, everything has been so busy that I have had a hard time finding time to even email my parents! But, now I have a little break, so i figured I would really try to get this website thing going.
Since the last time I have blogged not a whole lot has happened or changed. Registering for classes was a week long process that was so incredibly frustrating. But, somehow, we managed to get tuesday/wednesday classes...leaving us a weekly 5 day weekend . Other than registering, time was spent figuring out the town and just hanging out. We have gone to the town city-center multiple times, to just look around, or to get groceries, or to figure out the whole train-station thing. Caitlin and I had quite the grocery shopping experience. We figured since it was our first time really grocery shopping for ourselves, we wanted to be thorough so we wouldn't be making weekly grocery trips. Well, 53 pounds and two carts later we were done. And had no way home because we couldn't carry our bags to the bus. We personally found it hilarious, and we had to call a taxi to come get us and take us home. Its little adventures like those that happen daily that just make you laugh. We have all been getting along really well. there is a big group of us that hangs out and always has a good time, so it is nice. We have gone to a few of the pubs in Hull to see what they are like and they are pretty different than the american bar scene. People in england really don't sleep either, but there is nothing wrong with that just gives you more hours in the day for a good time! I also tried the famous fish and chips, and it was delicious. I could probably eat it everyday, but due to my newfound love of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there is no need .
Last Thursday, Caitlin and I decided to take a "weekend getaway" to Scotland. Since it was a last second trip, we were the only two that went and little planning occurred before we left. We figured out all of the train information and early Friday morning hoped on a 4 hour train ride to Edinburgh, Scotland. We had really no idea what to expect. The train ride was fun and we got to see a lot of little towns as we rode through the country. I knew we were heading north when I looked out the window, only to see snow falling on the ground. But snow in Scotland seemed so much better and prettier than snow in Iowa so it was okay When we got to Edinburgh, it was freezing cold. Like cold cold. But the first view we saw was breath taking. Mountains surrounded it, castles and castle-like buildings lined the streets and as far as we could see. The streets were cobble stone, men wearing kilts were walking all around us, and people even were playing bagpipes in the streets! I have never been so excited to be in the cold. We drug our bags to the Brodies hostel, which was on the Royal Mile. The Royal mile is a stretch of street that travels from Parliament to the Edinburgh castle. It is lined with little shops, restaurants and pubs, and of course, everything looked almost straight out of a movie. We had 16 beds in our room, and as we looked around we noticed most everything looked like men's bags and clothing...only later to find out we were with all men in the room and 2 other girls. After we settled and figured out our hostel, we walked to the Edinburgh castle. I had never been to a castle, well except Disney world, and believe it or not, this one just may have been cooler. It was huge and three sides were on a cliff overlooking the city. Once again, another breath taking view surrounded all sides of us. Inside the castle, we walked around and went into some of the museums. We weren't able to stay there long because it was closing soon, but we did get to see all of the cannons and the watch stands and little houses and pretty much the whole town inside the castle walls. It was very very cool. After the castle, we wanted to try some Scottish food so we went to the Filling Station. To our surprise, we had picked the only american restaurant in all of Edinburgh. Perfect. But nothing beats a plate of good old american nachos I suppose. After we left dinner, we went to a pub that we were told was a lot of fun. It was called Jekyl and Hydes (not sure how to spell it). It was a lot of fun! There were a lot of people there and the set up reminded me a lot of like Harry Potter. There were vials everywhere, and a menu of "spells" and if you drank all seven of them you received a free t-shirt. The bathrooms were disguised as bookshelves. There was a corner of the pub that had bookshelves and in order to find the door, you had to just push around. By the end of the night people obviously had a harder time trying to find the bathrooms and I'm sure it would be pretty humerous to watch. We didn't really stay out too late because we had a 3 hour tour in the morning and wanted to sleep because we woke up really early. Unfortunately, those 6 men that I told you about earlier, all snored. And they snored all night. We didn't get much sleep but it wasn't too bad. We met people in our hostel from australia, new zealand and all over Europe that were there more long-term, so they kind of new about the snoring and gave the guys crap the next morning.
The next morning we went on a 3 hour walking tour of the city. It was so so so cold and even snowed a little during the tour but it was the coolest and best tour i have ever been on. We learned of all sorts of histories, heard stories of certain buildings or pubs, and saw many different landmarks. We saw where people would get there ear nailed to a door if they got caught stealing, we saw where the kind would have wine fountains if he wanted to be more liked by the people, we saw where you were hung if you were accused of witchery, we learned of the reasoning behind the story of Jekyl and Hyde, all sorts of things! I also got to see the building and the window where J.K. Rowling began writing the first harry potter book. and i also got to see the school that was her inspiration for hogwarts. It was so fun to see! We learned about the castle, and different rituals of the time. I can't tell you enough how much they told us about! All i can say was it was worth the rain, snow, cold and three hours. After the tour, we went into shops, bought a few things, and went to dinner at the Castle Arms. It was there that we tried hagis. I'm not sure if you know what that is...apparently its a famous scottish dish and they won't really tell you what exactly is in it. all we know is that we ate sheep insides. it really wasn't that bad. it came with like sweet and sour sauce, but it was squishy and kind of fell apart i your mouth and i wasn't a huge fan of that factor. i can say ive tried it, but may not be so anxious to try it again So Saturday night, we randomly decided, mainly because we had no place to stay in Edinburgh, to travel to Glasgow. Wait, we did have a place to stay, a guy in our hostel said we could sleep on the floor of his friend's flat, but i wasn't so sure jer and cath would be so proud of that decision so we took a short train to Glasgow.
Once we got to Glasgow, it was raining and we had to find another place to stay.The first hostel we tried was booked so we randomly decided to walk across the street to a Jury's Inn just to see how much it cost and where the next closest hostel was.Luckily, we got a nice man, who supposedly phoned all the other hostels in the town for us, and telling us they were all booked, offered us a room for 50 pounds. We happily took it, kind of relieved we would have no snoring, a nice shower, and a bed for only us. We decided since we already splurged a little, we would go to the grocery store and pamper ourselves. We bought ice cream, candies, a movie, bubble bath and Buck's Fuzz. You don't know what it is...but its good and tastes like a dream sickle. So it was perfect. We relaxed and even slept in a little, because all we new about Glasgow was that it was a good place to shop. And thats exactly what we did. We shopped all day Sunday. It was pretty fun. it was definitely a different look than Edinburgh. It would be like going to Minneapolis or Chicago probably. I definitely liked Edinburgh a lot better because there was a lot to see, and it was a beautiful city, but it was nice not having to go on 3 hour walking tours, and just taking our time for once without rushing and running somewhere, which was usually in the wrong direction. Caitlin and I got lost a lot in Scotland. But once again, we laughed about it and thought it added character to the trip. I'm sure it will happen again. But we shopped in Glasgow and then took a short train to Sterling for Sunday night.
We stayed in the willy wallace hostel in stirling. Not sure if you know this, but Stirling is where the whole Braveheart movie came from. The battle at Stirling was in the city we were and the William Wallace monument was there as well. When we got to our hostel, they were actually watching Braveheart, so of course, we had to watch with them. It was definitely a lot cooler to watch knowing and seeing everything that was in the movie and being to Edinburgh and riding the train through all of the cities that battles happened in. After watching the movie, we went to an australian pub with some of the people from the hostel. This hostel was a lot nicer than the other. There was a tv room and lounge, girls dorms and guys dorms, and the people weren't long term there, so they all were really welcoming of us. It was such a random group of people. One of the guys, Mike, was hardcore hippie, i hate the world or anything touristic at least. everything revolved around coke and drugs with him. he was really funny. cant really explain him. just different. hes lived all over the world so he has this brain full of more knowledge than anyone needs. but there was also people there from south africa, australia and all over scotland again and germany. We all just hung out and talked at the pub. When we got back to the hostel, everyone kind of did their own thing. We woke up the next moring, and after walking 45 minutes in the wrong direction (2 people gave us bad directions, apparently, or maybe we just cant read a map), we got to the castle. It was definitely not as cool as the Edinburgh castle, but it was still pretty cool to see. You could see to Edinburgh from the castle, thats how cool the view was. We took a short tour through the castle and then went to the Wallace monument. It was a ways out, so we had to take a bus, and then climb what felt like a mountain to get there. It was very pretty though. It was 4 levels of different aspects of William Wallace, the monument, and Scotland gaining its freedom. 246 stairs led up a spiral stairway, and each level was full of informative things. They portrayed the movie pretty accurately, except the battle at stirling was actually on a bridge. He did start the revolt because his wife was murdered. And every time I thought of William wallace i couldn't help but picture mel gibson. his actual sword was even in the first level, which was cool to see and it was HUGE! The next layer showed all other important statues of people that helped in gaining freedom for scotland. The next layer was all about the monument and how they decided to make it, how it took 8 years to build, and had a lot of criticism. The final level was a view across all of Sterling. It was beautiful but incredibly windy from the top so we didn't stay up there very long. it definitely made me more interested in learning about william wallace and even the history of Scotland. After we left the monument and hiked back down the mountain that we climbed to get there, we had to rush to our bus. We had 30 minutes to get from the monument to our hostel to get our bags and to the train station. We somehow made it with 5 minutes to spare but we were so lucky. The train ride took forever. We had to get off in Edinburgh and again in Duncaster or something, but finally made it home around 1030ish. We had a random huge McDonalds craving, so Caitlin and I endulged in some good quality American mcdonalds.
Scotland was so much fun. I haven't seen much of England, but so far, it definitely beat England. I cannot believe we were able to just take a weekend trip and go to Scotland. It was so authentic with the bagpipes echoing through the city and the kilts and the castles. It is the most beautiful place i Have ever been and I plan on going back someday, hopefully in the next few months.
As I was laying in bed last night, I pondered the idea of being a nomad like all the people we've met in the hostels. I decided I could probably just stay here until school started again in the fall, but would probably have no money by the end. Either way, i absolutely love it so far. I am having so much fun and have met so many amazing people! I am so excited for traveling and meeting people and seeing places, and wanting to learn more.
class started today. i figured since im only in hull for 2 days, it really isn't that bad. my class had about 40 people in it, and was only 2 hours long. thats it. and we dont have it again until next week. they dont go to school here!! its unbelievable but very cool. everyone here knows so much about america, that it makes us feel dumb. today, my lecturer told me it is super tuesday. i was like really? whats that? but i played it off like i knew and had just forgotten. but tonight we rented out the upstairs of a cafe so that we could watch a movie, and im pretty stoked. here, you have to have a tv liscense in order to watch tv so itll be nice to just relax and watch a movie. but i have class again tomorrow and thursday morning and then we're off to london until monday! i am pretty excited about that trip as well but i feel like this is long enough so ill write again soon...for now, cheers and i hope to put up pictures tomorrow!