After two months of hopping around the United Kingdom (and the Republic of Ireland), my dream trip is coming to an end.
I couldn’t be more sad – or more fulfilled! I’m ecstatic to report that this trip was everything I could have dreamed of, and more. The United Kingdom held so much more significance than any other places I’ve visited because of my adoration for all things British.
I dreamed of being British when I was super young (my Harry Potter obsession enhanced that notion); I learned and used a lot of British phrases throughout my adolescence; I dreamed of attending Oxford or Cambridge for my Master’s; and I just loved the whole cold weather aspect (because I’ve never been a heat/sun type of girl). Exploring northern, southern, western, and parts of mid-England, rather than just central London, was fantastic. Additionally, visiting Wales, Scotland, and Ireland briefly was also lovely – but now I’m dying to come back and explore those regions more.
By the saving grace of Ben’s Google Spreadsheet and all the lovely friends I met up with along the way, I created lasting memories that made this trip so much more special. I can’t pick a favourite (everyone asks), but I will say that England has my heart the most – mainly because I spent the most time there, and because it’s exactly where I’ve always wanted to live. I could definitely settle in places like Cambridge, Lake District, Edinburgh, Brighton, and Bath. And as much as London gets a little much at times, I will, without a doubt, say that I love it so, so, so much. I could spend six months there and still not get tired of that vibrant city. So yes, indeed, my whole, “I want to live in London so badly,” and “I LOVE LONDON” shirts from home ended up ringing true after all. I’m not even the slightest surprised by that. 🙂
I fell in love with virtually every new place I visited, which is probably why it’s so hard to leave. No amount of glowing reviews could ever begin to describe my love for England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. And now I love that I can possibly say, “I know where that is, I’ve visited and it’s absolutely stunning!” to anyone I meet from this part of the world.
I loved the Irish hospitality and warmth from everyone there (especially in pubs, when everyone seemingly knows everyone and will talk to you even when you’re on the other side of the bench eating chips by yourself). I adored the firey humour of the Scots and how Glasgowians in particular would literally go out of their way to give me directions or assist in picture-taking and general nice deeds. I chuckled at some of the Welsh accents but revelled in the beauty of their landscapes – especially Snowdonia. And I obviously loved every Brit I met, even if they weren’t as cheery as the Scots and Irish. Everyone I met was so gracious and kind, and it was just an honour overall to finally get to visit all these amazing places.
In two months, I’ve seen:
- England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland (both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland)
- 25+ cities/towns/villages
- 25 amazing friends*
- Countless UNESCO World Heritage sites (I skipped Stonehenge, though- combatting all forces of the stereotypical American, yay)
- Countless castles, cathedrals, chapels, city walls, museums, monuments, cemeteries, pubs, etc. all engulfed in deep, rich history
- Countless scenic train rides – my favourites being the ones through the Scottish Highlands
And the highlights which defined my trip as my own – and the reasons why it meant so much to me:
- My first ever panto show (Ash, you were the best Rapunzel ever!)
- My first ever massive party-hard NYE
- The first time I’ve ever met up abroad with a mass group of 15 friends all in one go – and for multiple days
- My first theatre show in London
- The friends who showed me around their cities/towns – thank you for all your warm hospitality and a glimpse into your beautiful lifestyles on this side of the world!
- Getting Robbie Jarvis as my Cambridge punting guide for an hour (BEST. EVER.)
- Hiking that snow-capped mountain in Peak District with Amy and Ben. And our Bear Grylls adventure day (caving, abseiling, climbing, and everything else to make any outdoors fanatic exhilarated). By far a highlight of my trip for sure!
- Being enamoured by all the varied accents (southside, you guys win all the posh points)
- How the coldest part of the country, Scotland, ended up being the warmest part of my trip (and sunny! Just got lucky)
- A quiet Burns Night in Edinburgh
- Cliffs of Moher – oh my God that beauty
- The chaos and atmosphere in Cardiff for the Six Nations Rugby
- Hiking Mount Snowdon and thankfully surviving the icy trip downhill
- The Harry Potter studio tour. No words. Just so much OHMYGODIMSOHAPPY moments. I even considered going back again for the expansion…
- Mastering the London Underground & Overground tubes (because everything is a breeze in English, wahoo)
- All the Harry Potter-related attractions and sites I successfully managed to reach, even without planning
- The stunning sceneries of Isle of Skye, Aran Islands, Giant’s Causeway, Lake District, Peak District, Snowdonia – basically, everything nature and hiking related
- Countless carbs (I am addicted to scones with jam & clotted cream and English Breakfast tea)
- Blenheim Palace and the Royal Yacht Britannia. Favourites for SURE because I’m obsessed with royalty and posh stuff.
- Realising how much the Irish drink (and how much I cannot hang like that- sorry, Muierann and Daithí)
- That gracious Chinese couple who drove me around Isle of Skye when my tour guide was an utter failure
- Spending Valentine’s Day in Ireland with a proper Irish dinner and two of my amazing Irish mates
- My first proper English fish and chips (I could live off those); chip buttie; sausage and mash; ham, eggs, and chips; Irish coffee; Sunday roast; high tea; haggis – the list goes on (I like food a lot, if you can’t tell)
- My girls day with beloved Ruth (and all her patience with my long tattoo appointment)
- How I was tempted to get a nose piercing in Glastonbury (but then decided it wasn’t a good life choice)
- How I nearly cried with joy when I saw all the London landmarks in person (especially Big Ben and Tower Bridge, my faves)
- Seeing my first actual snowfall ever (with Joe!)
- ALL THE AMAZING CHRISTMAS MARKETS AND LIGHTS IN LONDON. If I could relive one moment forever and ever, it’s that time of year – and probably why I loved my time in London even more
- All the port cities and maritime trading areas that I was fascinated with (particularly Southampton and Liverpool)
- Understanding all the common things in the UK: Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Poundland (HAHAHA a backpacker’s dream- and those 50p ginger nut biscuits), EuroGiant, mushy peas (wtf), Spotted Dick pudding, how every and any dessert is called “pudding,” roundabouts, Costa, Debenhams (if it’s a big, fancy city, it has a Debenhams), John Lewis, Accessorize, Primark/Penney’s (LOLZ)
- A billion more things that my sleep-deprived self probably left out
*23 of whom were ship friends, so that shows just how many British friends I have and why I love them all so much
Even though I’m leaving the UK (one final whistle stop in London tomorrow), my trip isn’t ending just yet. Rather than flying back to LA as intended, I’m flying to Berlin to blow the rest of my savings. I made the choice to spend every last pence (ha! Converted to British currency) rather than go home with money leftover and two more dreadful months of just pottering around before my next contract. I’m excited about seeing some more of Europe, but I’m absolutely gutted to leave the UK behind. I’ll definitely be back, preferably in a new season with new landscapes.
To everyone who was part of this trip, I can’t thank all of you enough – especially those who went out of their way to show me around and accommodate me. All the laughter, storytelling, reunions, catch-ups, eating, drinking, and general stuff was just amplified since we all got to chill in your country! I was always at my happiest when I had reunions to look forward to.
This was, and always will be, my trip of a lifetime. Cheers for the memories! xx