Exploring the United Kingdom

My friends who have studied abroad in the past always say that traveling is one of the best parts of the experience. During the next three months, I definitely want to explore as much of Europe as I can. But so far, I have traveled within the United Kingdom, first visiting St. Andrews for a day trip, then exploring the Scottish Highlands in the North for a weekend trip, and finally visiting the great city of London in the South this past weekend.

1. Day Trip to St. Andrews

The International Student Office at the University of Edinburgh organizes weekly trips to different places in Scotland, and I decided to join in on their first trip to St. Andrews. St. Andrews is known for having one of the oldest golf courses in the world and for being the home of the University of St. Andrews. The University of St. Andrews is known by many because it is an extremely prestigious university and also where Prince William and Kate Middleton studied and met one another. While in St. Andrews, we also visited the St. Andrews Cathedral (once the largest church in Scotland) and the St. Andrew’s Castle. It’s a nice little town that is definitely worth a visit!

This is St. Andrews Links. Wish I could have played a round!

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Even coffee shops here shamelessly promote Prince William and Kate Middleton…

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2. Weekend Trip to the Scottish Highlands

A group of students and I did the “Wild and Sexy Highland Tour” through Haggis Adventures. It was two-day trip that visited Inverness, Loch Ness, Glencoe, and Culloden. The Scottish Highlands is a mountainous region known for its rugged beauty and traditional Scottish dress (kilts).

This is our group in the city of Inverness. It is regarded as the capital of the Highlands. It was a fun little city with good restaurants and live music at a pub called Hootananny. We expected a younger crowd at the pub, but it was surprisingly filled with old(er) people.

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Here is the Loch Ness (Loch is the Scottish Gaelic word for lake). where supposedly the Loch Ness Monster is located. Our guide made us do a dance in front of the water to try to get the monster to come out, but we were sadly unsuccessful. Maybe next time…

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The Scottish Highland cow is called a hamish. Kinda looks like a longhorn doesn’t it? 😉 Hook ’em!

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The Scottish Highlands is known for it’s rainy/cloudy/dreary weather, but this was one of the most incredible sights during the trip. A full-on rainbow – never seen anything like it.

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3. London Trip

London became one of my favorite cities after this trip. It’s definitely a big city, but there are so many cool areas to visit and things to do. I could have many more favorite cities after this semester though. London is about a 7 hour drive away from Edinburgh, and my friend and I decided to take the Megabus.

But get this. Our MegaBus had beds on it. This seemed pretty innovative to me!

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Our first stop was Buckingham Palace. We first watched the Changing of the Guards Ceremony, which was really cool. Then we did a tour of Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately, they don’t let you take pictures of the inside. But I can tell you that it is incredibly lavish and fancy. I couldn’t imagine living in a place like that. I would be too afraid to knock over or damage something gold (which is pretty much everything).

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We visited all the traditional touristy things such as British Museum and National Gallery (BOTH FREE!), Westminster Abbey, Big Ben Tower, Hyde Park, Tower Bridge, etc. I got my Chinese food fix when we visited London Chinatown (finally). Since the Vikings vs Steelers game was in London this past weekend, we participated in the NFL on Regent Street festivities. A little taste of America in London! We also watched a play at the famous Shakespeare Globe Theatre, which was a great experience.

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On the last day, we rode the Emirate Air Line cable car across the Thames River. We were able to see an incredible view of the city!

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Til next time London! You were very expensive and I came back cashless, but you were worth the visit.

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