Valpo Voyager

Student Stories from Around the World

Author: Abby (page 1 of 2)

The Iron Lady

Yesterday, my housemates and I were fortunate enough to get the chance to go to Margaret Thatcher’s Funeral Procession in London. We were there to witness history being made. We got up at the crack of dawn to get to London at a good time so we could get front row spots along the procession route from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I’m sure some of you are thinking “Weren’t you guys afraid of going to something so controversial right after the bombings in Boston?” We sat down as a group and decided that it would be safe enough and it was something we really wanted to do. However, just to be safe, we didn’t choose a hugely popular place to stand in case something would happen. We chose a spot along Fleet Street across from the Courts of Justice and it proved to be a very successful location for us to stand. Some of our group were interviewed by the Guardian Newspaper, the biggest newspaper in London (equal to the New York Times) and also by another public newspaper. There was a camera set up right across from us on the street and a picture of us and the casket being pulled by the carriage ended up on Yahoo! news UK and USA versions. How awesome is that? And there was a picture of us on the Guardian Newspaper’s website that went a long with one of the Iron Lady articles. We got our 15 minutes of fame from that spot we picked.

The procession itself, though. That was the best part. It was so incredible to witness such a historical event. The passing of an era, the funeral of one of the most influential Prime Ministers that England has ever had. Depending on what Brit you talk to, her influence could be the best thing or the worst thing. She was very influential, but she also divided a great nation with her decisions in while in office. Yesterday, we saw many people protesting the funeral and there were signs that said things along the lines of “Rest in Shame” and “The Iron Lady, Rest in Rust” however, we also saw signs from the polar opposite viewpoint like the one that said ” But We Loved Her” It was so interesting to see all this division in the nation again because of her death. It gave me a little insight as to what the nation was like when she was still in office. She was undoubtedly a great lady, yet one of the most hated in all of English history.

However much she was hated, she was also loved by a great many, and she received a great farewell from the people of England. People cheered and clapped and roared when she went by as a sign of respect. The procession started at Westminster Abbey with her casket in a hearse car driving down Whitehall Street toward Trafalgar Square. The hearse was surrounded by the British Army, Royal Air Force, Palace Guards, and the Navy, as well as the Metropolitan Police force. It was a huge procession. The Royal Air Force lined the streets of the procession all the way from Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral with their heads bowed in a sign of respect. There were also many different bands playing along the procession. From Trafalgar Square the hearse drove along the Strand and on the Strand, her casket got transferred from the hearse to a horse drawn carriage. After that it came down Fleet Street where we were, and on the St. Paul’s Cathedral. It was a grand procession and very impressive. It was an incredible experience and one I would witness again in a heartbeat.


The Island City

While we were traveling on Easter Break, I visited 9 cities, in 4 countries, in a matter of 18 days. Looking back, I realize how crazy that is and how lucky I am. I realize that when I travel, it just seems like the normal thing to do, oh you know, just going to Rome this weekend, no big deal, but then looking back at it, I realize how surreal it was. Did I really just go to Rome? What is my life right now? I don’t think I know what a normal life is anymore! I look back on all my travels and I just smile. That’s all I can do. I smile the biggest when I think of Venice. I fell in love with Venice the moment I stepped onto the island. Everything about the island is beautiful to me. I think I may have taken a picture of every side canal on the island. Every corner you turn, there is another beautiful view, another canal that is picture perfect. I was so in love. We got to the island around 9:30 in the morning and it was a little chilly. We walked around and around, since there is always something new to see, and we took everything in. Waiting for the sun to decide to come out for our gondola ride.

The gondola ride is definitely a highlight in my book of life. It was everything I had dreamed of. It was a beautiful time to do it, we waited until the sun decided to pop out to say “hi!” and we hopped on a boat. The gondolas themselves are impressive, they are all painted black in remembrance to all those who died in a plague that swept through Venice a long long time ago. Ever since then, they have all been black. The insides, though, are all different, and they are all extravagant. I sat in the couple seat with Lauren at the end on the boat, in front of our gondola driver.
The best part though, of course, was the actual ride. It was absolutely incredible. So beautiful. The Grand Canal in and of itself is so beautiful, but then we veered off the Grand Canal and took the side canals and pretty alley canals that you would never find on your own. Our driver maneuvered us through some pretty tight canals and it was amazing. They were so pretty and it was so quiet and peaceful. Our driver informed us that now; Venice is made up of 120 smaller islands, connected by 420 bridges. 420! That is a lot of bridges. Pretty much every block of houses that is surrounded by canals is its own island. And every canal has its own street name. How cool is that? We sailed past the Palace, and the biggest fish market in Venice as well as the flower market. I was a beautiful ride. The funniest part was there were so many tourists taking pictures of our gondola because, you know, it’s a gondola and it’s awesome, so when we saw someone taking a picture of our boat, we would smile, or make a face and wave for their picture. It became a game while we were on the Grand Canal and there were people everywhere taking pictures. It was hysterical. We were on the ride for 45 minutes and I did not want to get off the boat when we were done. It was the best day of my life up to that point and I was in heaven. Venice is breathtaking and I cannot wait to go back someday!              

Hiking Mont Serrat

On my 18 amazing days traveling through Southern Europe, there is one day in particular that stands out above the rest. While we were in Barcelona, Caiti and I took an hour’s train ride outside of Barcelona to the beautiful countryside. At the end of the train ride we came to our destination. Mont Serrat. Mont Serrat is a mountain and our mission was to climb this mountain. It. Was. Huge. And we were up for the challenge, because a certain boy (the only boy, by the way) in our group who had already climbed Mont Serrat when he went to Barcelona implied that he didn’t think we could do it. So we were going to climb to the very tippy top just to show him we could. We got up at 6 am and left our hostel by 7 am so we could have as much time there as possible. We had to take the underground Metro to find the train station to leave from, first. We got there around 9:30 am and our train took us right to the foot of the mountain. It was a little intimidating, I will admit, but I knew we could do it. So we set off to the mountain and realized we couldn’t find the path up, so we had to backtrack to the train station to ask direction to the walking path. Just so you know, to get to the walking path, we had to walk alone the Spanish highway and then sprint across it and then climb behind someone’s house to find the beginning of it. It took us an hour and a half to reach the top of it, and it was an intense hour and a half. It was certainly a hike. But it was definitely worth it. The view from the top is indescribable. The best I can do is that it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was the perfect day, clear blue skies, 65 degrees and the sun was shining glory to God. It was amazing. The higher we got, the more amazing it became. My eyes couldn’t take it all in fast enough. When we got to the Monastery which is the destination of the hike, we had a small picnic with the food we brought along and we sat and looked out at what all God had created. I was so at peace with the world in those moments. It was stunning. We sat and looked out at the world for almost an hour straight, sometimes talking, sometimes just staring at everything, trying to imprint it into our brains forever. It was a perfect day!

After lunch we hiked some of the nature trails that were at the top of the mountain. It was so incredibly beautiful. We hiked and hiked and hiked and before we knew it, 7 hours had passed and we had to go back to Barcelona. It was such a wonderful day and I advise anyone who goes to Barcelona to hike Mont Serrat, you won’t regret it!

The Luck of the Irish

This weekend, Lauren, Caiti, Jess and I went to Ireland. Now, when you think Ireland, you think of Dublin, or Galway. No, we flew into Shannon, Ireland. Possibly the smallest city in Ireland. It was the cheapest flight we found and we figured it would be OK, there would be things to do, and we were right! But what an adventure. The town was so mall, it didn’t even have a main road. It had a McDonald’s (which we ate at 3 times) a gas station, a night club, and a single hotel where we stayed.
The Oak wood Arms hotel in and of itself was an experience because it was so fancy. Being poor college students, every time we travel, we have to book, hostels, hostels, and more hostels, but there was no hostel in Shannon, and only one hotel, so that narrowed our options to none. But man oh man, was it worth it! This hotel, compared to where we have been staying was absolute heaven! We had 2 rooms that were connected an they were so nice. We had two bathrooms (which means two showers) for 4 people when usually, its one bathroom for a whole hostel. Other perks you might ask? FREE breakfast, a pub, and complimentary sauna and steam bath. How awesome is that? Of course, we utilized all these benefits. We said it was our holiday away from our holiday, our one nice relaxing weekend away from it all.
Friday we went down to Bunratty Castle and to Limerick City to spend a day seeing a little of Ireland. Bunratty Castle was amazing,(as all castles are), and it was connected to something called Folk Park which was a miniature village that one could explore and see how the Irish lived around the time of the castle. It was very cool, there were pigs, and cows, and deer and I felt like I was back at home. Very nostalgic! There was also the biggest dogs you will ever see. I took some pictures but the pictures do not do them justice. They were called wolfhounds and when one of them was standing he came up to Caiti’s shoulder. He was literally around or over 4 feet, and when he had his paws up on the fence, he was massive! Very scary, and I was glad they were behind a fence!
After Bunratty we made our way to Limerick which is a cute city. We shopped around and took our time.
Saturday, we had decided to go up to Galway to see the Cliffs of Moher (or so we thought) but it turns out, Galway is a good hour away from the Cliffs. Our taxi driver that was dropping us off at the airport where we were supposed to get on the bus to Galway told us that to take a taxi to the Cliffs from Galway would have been an astronomical price and not worth our money, so he offered to drive us up to the Cliffs and see 5 other beautiful places in Ireland, for half of what we would have been paying for just the Cliffs. We hopped on that deal, and our taxi driver turned tour guide started us on our way. We went to a castle turned hotel first where 4 of our presidents, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, and many others had stayed the night. We toured the gardens and fed the ducks before moving along. Next he took us to the beaches of the Atlantic ocean. It was strange thinking that I was on the opposite side of the Atlantic that I am usually on and staring off the where America is, 3000 miles away. It was a beautiful day to be on the beach, and even though the water was freezing, there were still tons of surfers. After the beach, he took us to a small fishing village and we saw the bots that go out in the summer and catch all the crab, lobsters, shrimp, and fish that are supplied to the local restaurants daily. It was so cool! Finally, after we had seen all that, he dropped us at the Cliffs of Moher and gave us one hour. Let me just tell you, one hour is not near enough time to take in this scene. The cliffs are absolutely massive, and you could walk then for hours and always get a different view of them. We didn’t get to walk along all of it because we didn’t have time, but the views we saw were spectacular. I did not want to leave at all. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the weather was perfect. It was so amazing! The Cliffs were so indescribably beautiful. If you ever get the chance, most definitely go there, it is very worth it. Parts of Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Leap Year, and P.S. I Love You were filmed on these cliffs. After the Cliffs he took us to Doolin which is the most western point of Ireland and we had a beautiful view of the Cliffs in the distance and ocean and the waves. It was fabulous! And finally, he took us on the most picturesque drive in Ireland through eh Burren, and on the corkscrew road up the hills where we had beautiful views of Ireland. We really could not have asked for a better day. It was absolutely perfect! The whole tour lasted six hours and it was so much more than we had imagined we would see of Ireland. So incredible!

The Hills Are Alive With the Sound of Music

This week we went on our spring break/ one week break from school. We traveled all around Europe. We hit Krakow, Poland; Auschwitz-Birkenau; Prague, Czech Republic; Berlin, Germany; Munich, Germany; and Salzburg, Austria. But of all those places we saw, my absolute favorite thing we saw was the Alps. They were by far the most beautiful, breathtaking views I have ever seen. We really saw the Alps in three different places; the first time we saw the Alps we were on a train on our way to Neuschwanstein Castle in Füssen, Germany, in the region of Bavaria. Alongside the Alps, the castle was my absolute favorite place on our trip. It has been my dream since I was a freshman in high school to see this castle. It is absolutely everything I dreamed it would be, the mountains were towering over it on 3 sides, and everything around me just dwarfed me and I felt so insignificant next to all God’s creations and masterpieces. It was most definitely the perfect day for me. We went to go up to the bridge for a view of the castle, but it said it was closed because of the snow and it was dangerous. We really wanted to go to this bridge so, we did what any college traveler would do… we slipped around the barriers and signs, and hiked up the Alps, to the bridge where there is the most beautiful view of the castle nestled into the Alps. It is stunning. I legitimately did not want to leave at all. Jess, Lauren and Emelie had to convince me to leave.

After Neuschwanstein castle, where I thought the mountains could not be any more beautiful than what I had seen there, we saw another part of the Alps in Salzburg, Austria. They were so amazing and breathtaking. We went to the top of the observatory tower, at the top of the fortress, at the top of Monk Mountain in Salzburg and stared at the mountains.

I felt like I was on top of the world. After about fifteen minutes our tour guide told us we had to leave and go back down and I was so sad we had to leave. I felt so close to God when I was at the top of the tower, looking at all his creation as far as the eye could see. I loved everything about it. After we had to leave the tower, we went down a little lower where we could stay as long as we wanted and I stood and stared at the mountains for literally thirty minutes. It was literally the perfect day; the sun was shining as bright as could be, it was 65 degrees out, the sky was a prefect blue with puffy white clouds, and I didn’t even need my coat. I was wearing just a t-shirt. I could have stayed up there forever, but the other girls told me that we had to leave and go find Emelie.

The next day, we went on the Sound of Music Tour and we literally were driven an hour up into the mountains and it was the most breathtaking views, and I know I’ve already said that but this was seriously amazing. I literally cried I was so happy, and everyone made fun of me. I wanted to climb the mountain and pick some edelweiss all while singing the song “Edelweiss” out loud for all the mountains to hear. I was seriously in my element the entire time I was in the mountains. I hope someday I have an opportunity to go back there. It was absolutely amazing.

Language Barrier Culture Shock

This past weekend, 6 of my friends and I traveled to the wonderful cit of Paris, France. In all the classes about study abroad we took before coming over here we learned all about culture shock and what its going to be like to experience it and how to deal with the stress and emotional roller coasters that go along with culture shock. Since being over here in England, however, I have experienced little to no culture shock. Sure some things are different, but I can cope well enough with things like driving on the left side of the road, or the fact that they don’t have mac and cheese. But I hadn’t actually experienced genuine culture shock… until this weekend that is.                          
I didn’t even think going over there that there would be a language barrier. I know, that’s a little ignorant, but I completely over looked that little piece of vital importance. My friends though, were prepared and printed out sheets of small phrases that we would most likely have to say. So on the train ride to the airport, we practiced our French. Still, at that point I still didn’t really think it would be too much of an issue. But, right when I got off the plane and walked into the French airport, I knew I was in trouble. EVERYTHING was in French, which makes sense because we were in France, but I was taken aback by how different their language was from ours. We successfully maneuvered our way through the airport to the train station and bought tickets to get to our hostel. Even buying tickets (which is such a mundane thing to do) was extremely difficult. We found our hostel and checked in and thankfully, a lot of Parisians speak some English (even thought they aren’t really happy to do so.)
The only things I know how to say in French are “Merci” “Merci Beaucoup” “S’il Vous Plait” “Bonjour” and “Au Revoir” and I said these 5 phrases over and over and over again this weekend. It was such a great relief when we actually found someone who spoke fluent English so we wouldn’t have to talk with our hands, or repeat ourselves over and over to get our point across, that, all we really wanted was a sandwich or a bottle of water.
Another thing is that the Parisians just really do not like Americans or the English so we stood out like a sore thumb with our loud American accents. We got many glares over the weekend. And when you get lost and are looking for directions, they will mess with you and play games because they think its funny to not help English speaking American tourists as some of our group found out the hard way.
I was extremely happy and relieved to come back to the UK and be able to understand all the people and read all the signs. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Paris and I would go back in a heartbeat, and really most of the Parisians are quite nice, but I felt a sense of homecoming when I got off the plane at London Luton and it was the best feeling in the world.

Valentine’s Day

I’ve never been one to get overly excited about Valentines Day, however, I can say without a doubt that this is the best Valentines Day I have ever had. It started out amazing and kept getting better. I woke to up to roses and poems! Zach, the only boy in the house, (there are 8 girls) went out super early and bought us each a rose and and wrote us each a personal poem to go with our rose. How awesome is that! We were all so surprised. It was the best Valentines Day surprise for sure! And since I didn’t have an actual Valentine, Jess was my Valentine this year! Jess and I made each other Valentines and I got some from the other girls as well. After classes were over for the week, Jess, Marie, Emelie, and I all booked it for the train station because we were going to see Mamma Mia the musical in London and it started at 3! Ahhh, we were so excited! We got to London around 1:15 and had to find our hostel and check in before we went to the theater. We got lost trying to find our hostel because apparently I booked us a hostel in a shady part of town (woops!) but it was only 13 pounds so it was worth it! After we checked it, we made our way to the Tube around 2 to get to the Novelo Theater by 2:30, the box office closed at 2:30 and it we weren’t there, we would not be able to get our tickets. So we were running around with chickens with our head cut off trying to find the theater. We thought it was in Picadilly Circus, but lo and behold, it was over a mile away from there so it was 2:23 and we were a MILE away from the theater. So what did we do? We ran a mile in our heels and dresses in 7 minutes to reach the theater. I’m not kidding, we didn’t stop once and we almost took out multiple people. I wonder what the people on the streets we passed were thinking, “There goes those crazy Americans,” or something along those lines. It was extremely stressful, but still kind of exhilarating! We reached the box office at 2:31 (thank goodness!) and the kind workers gave us our tickets. We made it just in the nick of time. Mamma Mia was absolutely incredible! The musical is ten times better than the movie. I know some of you are thinking “How is that possible? The movie is amazing! Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried rocked it!” But let me tell you, I thought that too, but then I saw the musical and it blew the movie out of the water! It was so incredibly good. I was literally dancing in my seat the entire song and I sang along to every single song. There was an old Spanish man sitting next to me and we danced to every song, it was so funny! After the musical, we went to Chinatown for dinner, and we ate at a very sketchy buffet restaurant for only 5.50 pounds per person. That’s a steal in London! It was delicious because we ate at almost 7 and I hadn’t eaten since 8:30 that morning. Chinatown was so fun! That was my Valentines Day in a nut shell, I hope everyone who reads this had an amazing Valentines Day as well! Thanks for reading!
With love,

London, You Have My Heart

I know, I’ve already talked about London once before. However, I went back this weekend and it is safe to say that like the title says, London has completely stolen my heart. To anyone thinking about studying abroad I’m talking to you: I strongly advise you to do it. I have only been here 3 weeks and I still have over 4 months, but I can say with certainty that these three weeks have been some of the best days of my life. So, just DO IT. You won’t ever regret it. Ok, now that I’m off my soap box, back to London.

Picadilly Circus

I went to London this weekend primarily to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour and it was, of course, incredible (and I strongly suggest that if you are ever in London, that you go to it.) But, that’s not what I want to talk about. After the tour, Jess and I decided that since we were already in London, and we had much of the day left, we would make a day of it see what London had to offer. It did not disappoint. We went to the Covent Gardens to look around (and no, there are no gardens, as Jess was disappointed to find out.) Covent Gardens is essentially a huge market place. There are layers and layers of outdoor and indoor market areas, shops, chain stores, cafes, restaurants, and pubs, and just when you think you’re finished, another layer pops up at you. It was so alive with people and street performers, you couldn’t help but get caught up in the happiness of it. I so enjoyed myself. We watched street performers dance to the YMCA with faces of famous people and saw a mime dressed up as an American soldier. We also listened to an opera singer perform. We walked through what was essentially, a huge flea market, as well. After the Covent Gardens, Jess and I found ourselves just wandering the city. I was completely in awe of the beauty and for lack of a better word, hugeness of it all. There was always another corner to turn and another street to walk. Always another beautiful building or monument to admire. It was dark out as well, so all the lights of the city were just beautiful. We just walked around and took everything in. It’ so easy to get caught up in everything around you. I could have walked forever, I was so enthralled with it all. At one point though, we realized we had no idea where we were, and it was a nervous 5 minutes for us until we got our bearings and realized we were just a block away from Trafalgar Square. And let me tell you, Trafalgar Square at night, is just gorgeous. It has fountains that light up different colors and the light from the fountains lit up the Trafalgar Monument in the middle of the Square. We walked around the Square and down Parliament Street past the Horses Guard, past the Prime Minister’s house, past Old Scotland Yard, toward Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to see all of these things, not just once, but twice.

Covent Gardens!

Along the way we stopped at a pub called The Red Lion, where Charles Dickens got famously drunk at and we had some dinner. We ate a traditional dinner of fish and chips (the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, I might add) and took everything in. We said hi to Big Ben, and it was truly a spectacular sight at night. The clock was lit up and so beautiful against the night sky. The vastness of it never fails to impress me. I will never get tired of seeing Big Ben. We ended our night with a two hour Jack the Ripper walking tour, which was very interesting to say the very least. All in all, it was a marvelous day, and I cannot wait to go back to my favorite city in the world. London, England.
With love,

The Mundane

A Day in the Life of Abby

Common Meal

I live in Cambridge, England. I’m here mainly to travel Europe. However, in between those amazing traveling days, I do actually have to attend classes and lectures, clean the house, and all that mundane stuff. This blog is a little anticlimactic after blogging about London and Scotland and the excitement of the flight over, but most of my days will be spent in this house, and in this room where I’m writing now, and it’s important not to forget the little things that make this trip what it is. I have classes from Monday to Thursday morning (I get the rest of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to travel every week) and I have to take Art Appreciation, History, Theology, Topics in English Life and Culture, and Global Health. Classes in a British school are much different from schools in America. They never have any homework, or projects, or exams, they have 2 grades for the semester- one midterm paper, and one finals paper. So, in three of my classes, where I have professors from the local universities around Cambridge,I never have any homework. In my global health class taught by my resident director who is from Valpo, all I have to do is read a chapter before class, and in TELC all I have to do is journal my experiences (As you can imagine, I love that class!) So what do I do with the rest of day when classes are over and we still have hours and hours left of daylight? I’ll tell you. We explore Cambridge, we go shopping, we pick up a crepe from the Crepe Cart in the City Centre, we work out. All these mundane things make up my life here, and in a way the memories of these days are just as significant as seeing Big Ben, or Edinburgh Castle. There is a lot of history here at Cambridge as well, and it’s so fun to just wander without a destination in mind and see what I can discover in Cambridge today. There is always something new to see, whether it be where they discovered Mercury, or where the remains of the castle is. As I mentioned earlier, there is a crepe cart at the City Centre and they make the most amazing crepes I’ve ever had. We have been there so often already they have given each of us a loyalty card and after so many crepes we get one free. Holla! There are crepes like Nutella and marshmallow or apple and cinnamon, or there are crepes like egg and bacon or ham and cheese. Whatever your heart desires! Since I’ve mentioned the City Centre a few times, maybe I should explain it. The house we live in is at the top of the only hill in Cambridge and if you walk down the hill towards the center of town, you stop seeing as many houses and you start seeing cafes, and restaurants, and clothing and shoe stores. And then after you cross the bridge, a little ways past, cars are not allowed in and that is where the City Centre is. It is full of every shop you can imagine, and it has 2 shopping malls. It has all sorts of restaurants and cafes, pubs and clubs, shops and stores. This is where we do our grocery shopping, at Sainsbury’s. But walking back up that hill to our house is not fun. Especially since we have to do it so often because the food here has less preservatives so we have to shop at least once a week or food goes bad. However, since last night we found an Aldi’s and it is much cheaper, we won’t have to walk up that hill anymore, praise the Lord! And at night, we watch an average of 2 movies before we go to bed so we can catch up on some British movies from over here. Those are my days in a nutshell, hope you enjoy reading!
With love,

The Cricket Clock


Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh (pronounced Edinborough) is the capital of Scotland and the epitome of what I imagined Scotland to be. It was beautiful with rolling hills (that I did not appreciate when I was walking them all day) and incredible breathtaking views of the mountains on one side and the North Sea on the other. It is home to Edinburgh Castle which was built 1000 years ago, Scottish Whiskey, and cashmere (they had a cashmere store literally every other store; it was ridiculous!) It is also the birthplace of Harry Potter. It houses the Honour’s of Scotland which are the equivalent to the Crown Jewels of England, it is supposedly home to the most haunted place in the entire world, and Dolly the cloned sheep. All these things I experienced in just 3 days!

View from the top!

I had to wake up at 4:20 on Friday morning to finish packing and get ready to meet the 6:15 train to Edinburgh. Talk about an early start, and as many of you know, I am not a good morning person. Our train ride took a little over 5 hours and we didn’t even get lost at any of the switch overs to other trains. We’re getting used to this traveling thing! We decided to take a tour of the city when we got there and low and behold we found a tour… that was FREE. Now, being a poor college student studying abroad that I am, I was all for a free 3 hour tour of a beautiful, historical tour. So we met up with our group and our tour guide looked like a legitimate pirate, and he was awesome. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of great tour guides since we’ve arrived on this side of the Atlantic. We learned of the Stone of Destiny, and Mary Queen of Scots, and the history of Edinburgh Castle. We also learned the history of Scotland in just 5 minutes which starts over 320 billion years ago apparently but I figured I don’t have time for all that in my blog. (You’re welcome!) We went to the cafe where J.K.Rowling wrote her first two Harry Potter books, and saw where the Harry Potter world came to life. From the window where she sat each day to write, she could see a school, a castle, and a graveyard. All the necessary components to get Harry Potter started. In this graveyard were the names McGonagall and Riddle which she took and used in her books. Also in this graveyard lies the most haunted place in the world. Sir George McKenzie haunts the graveyard. He was a wicked man and he threw 1,200 men into a prison in the graveyard because of their faith, and 5 months later when they were released, only 280 were still alive. In 1996 a homeless man went into the McKenzie mausoleum to sleep and ended up falling through the floor onto McKenzie’s bones and from then on he has haunted the graveyard where the prison used to be that he threw all those men into. How fitting! hey no longer give tour there and it is permanently locked because there have been so many injuries, deaths and even a coma.
Something interesting that I noticed while I was over there was that the Scottish are a lot friendlier than the English people. We ere only there for 3 days but we met some really cool Scottish friends in those 3 days, and we have yet to make any friends here in Cambridge yet. It was strange to me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Cambridge, but people in Scotland are friendlier! I’ll have more stories to come, keep reading!
With Love,

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