Monday, March 24, 2014

Back in the Land of William Wallace

     On February 18, 2014, I flew from Bristol to Glasgow where my friend Susanna is attending Glasgow University.  We met last year in Vietnam and when I went to the UK, she came to be a tourist with me in London.  About a month later, I stayed with her and the rest of the Foster Family in Salisbury, England.  We met back up in Rome later in the summer and now Glasgow!  It is pretty exciting to have seen one another in 4 countries in less than a year span!

     Susanna met me at the bus station when I first arrived and we headed towards my hotel.  The first evening, we just had dinner and caught up.  There isn't much to do in Glasgow and so we decided that we could squeeze in a movie in the morning.  We went and saw Monument's Men and both really enjoyed it.  This movie is about a group of men from all over the world joining with the United States Army to go out and rescue famous pieces of art that Hitler had stolen and hid.  It was special to watch since we both had traveled through Europe recently and have been to several museums, even seeing the Sistine Chapel together.  I definitely recommend this movie!

     After the movie, we walked around the center of Glasgow, George's Square and then Glasgow University campus.  The campus is very beautiful and by the words of Susanna, "very Harry Potteresque".  They have a great museum called the Hunterian where we saw a Salvador Dali original.  Can't say it enough, LOVE all the free museums in the United Kingdom!  

 George's Square

 Glasgow University 

 Hunterian Museum

 Dali original

     Later that evening, Susanna and I met up with my friend Daniel and his friend Benjamin.  Daniel and I met on a sailboat in the Whitsundays, Australia.  He is from Switzerland and when he heard I was coming back to Europe, he booked a flight to meet me.  How amazing to have such great friends willing to do that!  We all had a wonderful time hanging out.

     On February 20th, I said goodbye to Susanna.  It was so wonderful to see her and I look forward to meeting somewhere else in the world in the future!  Daniel and I made plans to see one another again in Edinburgh.  After helping the boys get set up with a rental car to drive around Scotland, I hopped on a train to head that way.  I couldn't have been more excited!

     Last year, I came to Edinburgh and met Manuel.  We became such great friends that I ended up staying in Edinburgh for 2 weeks.  A month later, he and his friend Anita were doing a trip and we all met up in Amsterdam.  Manuel and I carried on traveling to Brussels afterwards.  Manuel and I always have a great time together and I never laugh harder.  I was really looking forward to catching up and meeting his girlfriend Mar.  

     I had already seen a lot of Edinburgh, so this trip was purely a visiting friends trip rather than a tourist one.  The first day I arrived, Manuel, Patrick, Mar and I hung out and played games at the flat.  It was a lot of fun, just like old times.  Patrick took me to watch rugby one of the days and I must say I enjoyed watching the sport.  Manuel's friends from Rome happened to be coming for a visit the same weekend.  We spent the rest of our time together just hanging out and showing the Roman boys Federico, Ricardo and Davide around.  We all had such a wonderful time wandering around, trying traditional foods such as Haggis and fried Mar's Bars, walking around the cemetery at night and more.   Such a pleasure to be with great company!

On top of Calton Hill

 Manuel's creation for all of us!  Future famous chef without a doubt!

Mar made me a delicious traditional Spanish breakfast!

 Classic Manuel...

Last night in Edinburgh with the boys!

     I will be interested to see the results of the referendum in Scotland this September.  Will they be an independent nation or will they continue to be a part of the United Kingdom?  I would love to see Scotland stand alone in terms of having their own very unique culture, but economically, I think it is safer for them to stay a part of the United Kingdom as the pound remains so strong.  We shall see!

     What an incredible trip!  Only 2 and a half weeks in Portugal, England and Scotland and I was able to meet up with so many of my friends.  It was very special to me to spend time with all of them and to meet the people that are important in their lives.  Phenomenal trip and I can't say thank you enough to everyone!

"Every man dies, not every man truly lives." -William Wallace, Braveheart

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bristol with the Hughes

     On February 14, 2014, I left London to head to Bath.  When I was in England last year, I went to Bath and thought it was such a beautiful place rich in Roman and English history.  My plan was to stay with my friend Matt in Bristol, but he was just arriving back in England after 5 months of travel and I wanted to give him some time with his family before I arrived.  Bath is very close to Bristol and so I chose to go back there.  I spent the night in a hostel and wandered around town in the rain.

 YHA hostel

     Matt and I met on Fraser Island in Australia last year and became great friends.  Lucky for me, he was coming back from Thailand when I was going to be in England and he welcomed me to Bristol straight away.  The Hughes family are such wonderful people!  The second I walked in the door, it was all football all the time.  Matt, his brother Nathan, their father and I watched a lot of matches in the living room and there is no better way to watch football than with English lads that have grown up with it.  You learn a lot more whilst watching with them.  Matt's mother and his sister Shannon were nowhere in site, watching TV in another room when the games were on.  I guess I really am just that rare American woman that loves football...

 Matt and I

Night out in Bristol with the Hughes brothers.

     Over the next couple of days, we just kind of took it easy.  We spent time with Matt's family and friends, watched some Olympics in Sochi, watched football and hung out.  It was a really fun experience because Matt had just returned home and everyone was really excited to see him and hear his travel stories.  I think the most excited person was his adorable nephew Logan.  

     Matt took me to a betting center to place my first bet ever on a football match.  I bet 2 quid that Steven Gerard would score the first goal, banking on a penalty, but it wasn't mean't to be.  He was the first to score for Liverpool, but not the first scorer of the game.  I didn't win anything, but it was an exciting experience nonetheless.

Betting sheet

     On Monday February 17th, Matt took me around Bristol to see all the sights.  It was raining most of the time unfortunately, but there were many beautiful places to see.  The free museum was also great!  I have never had a Sunday Roast while in the UK and Matt's mother was kind enough to make us dinner so that I could experience this part of English tradition.  We had grabbed a quick dinner the night before and so Sunday Roast was on a Monday.  Yorkshire pudding is delicious! 

 Bristol City F.C. Stadium

 Clifton Suspension Bridge

 Matt and his whip

 Beautiful property!

 Bristol University straight ahead.

 Original Banksy graffiti

 Bristol Cathedral

 Inside Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

 The most beautiful train station ever.

 Matt and his wonderful parents!

The lovely chef on the left.

     I feel so lucky to have met such amazing people on my travels that remain close friends.  Matt, you are one of a kind and I thank you very much for welcoming me into your home and introducing me to your lovely family.  Hughes family, thank you so much for everything!  It was such a pleasure to get to know all of you and spend time with you!  This glass that you gave me is very special!  A million thank you's!

"A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life". -Charles Darwin