Great Britain Adventure: Days 5-7

It’s been a rough few days. Ever since I learned that Trump was elected, I’ve felt stunned. I respect our election process, but I’m heartbroken over this outcome. I feel hurt and abandoned and angry and scared. I know this horror story is going to be on the forefront of my mind for a while, but sometimes, you need to take a break from it all, practice some self-care, and find some healthy distractions. For me, that means doing yoga, watching Gilmore girls, talking to friends, and… reliving the incredible trip to Great Britain that I had this summer.

With that in mind, I’m going to go ahead and wrap up the last 3 days of our trip in one blog post. It’s going to be a long one so grab a cup of coffee or tea and get comfy. Here goes…

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I just finished listening to some of the audio recordings we made on our Europe trip and it made me miss my friends and that experience so much. The highlight of our trip, by far, was the friends that we met. It was the best and worse thing: making friendships SO QUICKLY but knowing our time together was so limited. I wish I could go explore a new city with them right now.

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When we left off, we were spending our last night in Scotland. After a typical late night spent with friends, we woke up at 5:40am and had the oddest breakfast. We all walked downstairs to find a small table with dry cereal, a small pitcher of milk, and another of orange juice to be split among 60 people. The first 7 or 8 people got something to drink. I couldn’t be the ugly American, so I poured the tiniest bit of OJ into my glass, and walked to a table.

Each table contained four place settings, a small bowl of cheese, some ham, and then there was one staff member who was toasting bread behind a curtain and then bringing the toasts out in sets of four. slices I’m pretty sure the hotel didn’t typically serve breakfast until 7 or 8 so they threw this together for our group and it was not great. To recap, for breakfast I had dry oatmeal, one slice of toast, and a 1/8th cup of orange juice.

Because we finished breakfast quickly, we went up to our room to grab a few things, but then ended up being the last people to board the bus. I was grumpy about breakfast (we had been spoiled with nice breakfasts all week) and I felt EXTRA grumpy when I realized we would have to end up sitting in the back of the bus again, but fortunately, the roads were tame and not motion-sickness inducing like the day before.

After a short drive, we arrived at a nice comfort stop where I ordered a REAL breakfast. I was delighted to have a full American style vegetarian breakfast and we got to eat with a new friend from Hong Kong. I learned a lot about living in Hong Kong from our short conversation. I really loved finding this pockets of opportunities to have conversations with new people.

After a wonderful second breakfast, our next stop was a gorgeous resort-style area called Windermere. We could have stayed there all day! I wish I still had my pictures of the beautiful beach area with sunshine and ice cream stands. There were swans sitting on the sand by the sidewalk. It was just perfectly picturesque and we learned that people from all over England and Wales come here for weekend getaways. If I lived nearby, it would be my favorite weekend spot.

Next to the beach were adorable cobblestone streets with little shops and restaurants. It was early afternoon when we found the ideal lunch spot. I so badly wanted to have an official tea time style lunch, and we found the perfect place. I had tuna sandwiches with lemon cake and scones. I ended up with two cups of tea because my friend didn’t like tea. I was in tea time heaven.

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We walked around a little longer and I was so sad that we had to leave. I found a gift for my mom in the Peter Rabbit store which was fun. We were worried about being able to cram gifts into our backpacks, so I had to go with something very small: a bag of tea and  a tea towel.

After another bus ride, we arrived in Liverpool. We got to see a beautiful cathedral. After that, we could have done a few prescheduled activities with the rest of the group, but instead, we broke away with some of our new friends and enjoyed walking around on the boardwalk.

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I found a fun Beetles gift for my dad, and then we went on an adventure to find a dinner spot which proved to be more challenging than expected.

Some places only took reservations and were full, others said the wait time was over an hour. We were turned away from Pizza Express even though they clearly had open tables. It went something like this, “Do you have a table for 6?” “No.” I don’t know if it was our accents or perceived immaturity, but who would turn away these sweet faces???

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Lots of places, apparently.

We roamed around, settled on a restaurant we couldn’t afford, and ordered appetizers. Very tiny appetizers. Our group was loud and young and I didn’t even realize we were getting mean glares the whole time from neighboring tables. We left, still starving.

We ended up back at the hotel where I ordered two brownie ice cream sundaes for all of us (two ice creams for everyone pictured above and two additional friends). It wasn’t cheap. And I was beyond disappointed when we were served the world’s smallest desserts. But we enjoyed hanging out in the bar. We stayed up telling jokes and sharing stories and attempting each other’s accents. It was fun. And I went to bed feeling a little sad just knowing that we were going to miss these people.

The next morning, we woke up in Liverpool. The breakfast we had was EXCELLENT (especially considering we never really had dinner…): beans, eggs, mushrooms, fried potato, croissant, tea, orange juice. Delish!

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Then we boarded the bus and drove past Penny lane, Strawberry Fields, and John Lenon’s childhood home. I kept thinking of my dad because I knew he was a Beetles fan and I wish I still had the pictures I took, but the houses were adorable. Like this:

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Next, we drove on to Stratford upon Avon!

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Here we explored the waterfront, had an amazing and cute teahouse bakery lunch, and finally found ice cream!

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Then we saw Shakespeare’s childhood home, and went in a magic store. I feel like I’m rushing through this list: oh then we saw Shakespeare’s home no big deal. But truthfully, we just saw it in passing. Everything happened so quickly because our time was limited. But here’s a snapshot of his house:

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Then, we drove to Carphillly to explore a castle and have some cheese. It was less touristy and much older (10th century!!!) than the castle we saw in Scotland. It was really beautiful inside and out.

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Next up, I was thrilled for an opportunity for more tea. I had a scone with strawberry jam and then we had a nice conversation with a New Zealand couple from our tour. They thought we were Canadians the whole time. This was a huge compliment because Canadians are preceived to be kinder and friendlier than Americans. I’m sure that’s only more true right now.

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Then, we got to Cardiff and stayed in a fancy hotel. We had a wonderful dinner with our friends. Then we wandered to a inexpensive college-style pub and recorded our soon-to-be-famous accent video! (Play below!)

And then we just hung out with our friends, again. And finally went to bed knowing that we had to wake up 4 hours later.

I started having a bit of crisis that night about age and identity. Bret told me that if we did this trip a few years later, we probably wouldn’t be “in” with the 20-something group. We’d be in with the 30/40 somethings. THE PARENTS. This notion freaked me out and I told him I wanted to stay 29 forever, and then I had a quarter life crisis and fell asleep.

We started our final day with a good breakfast shortly followed by a group walking tour of Bath which was beautiful.

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We went to a cafe and I had the best croissant with jam and butter. And tea. Tea was a big part of my time in England.

Then we went to Stonehenge! It was amazing to take pictures and videos and be with our friends for this epic experience. This was our last real thing together and we took a bunch of fun, posed pictures.

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Then we grabbed lunch and made the way back to London. I made a contact sheet and passed it around to our friends when we got off the bus. It was so sad.

A lot of people left abruptly, but we spent a solid hour saying goodbyes to our new friends from England, the Philippines, Australia, Canada… we laughed when we realized that we all wrote that the best part of the tour was “making new friends”. It sounds so cheesy, but I just about cried.

We took an Uber ride for another hour with the sweetest friend and then parted ways and checked into our hotel. We got dinner at the bar and packed up our backpacks. We were sleep deprived after getting less than 5 hours of sleep every night for the past week, but I didn’t care. I didn’t care about anything, I was just so sad to know the trip was over.

This trip was exhausting and weird but being the only Americans on the whole trip and making the friends that we did made it so worth it. We talked about Brexit and Donald Trump, never thinking either horror story would actually come true. It’s hard to believe that was 5 months ago, but I’m grateful to say that we’ve stayed friends and continue to chat on a semi-regular basis.

I hate goodbyes. I keep saying “until our next adventure!”

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