Travel Series Part One: England & Scotland 2013
Welcome to my second blog post and thank you for reading! Over the next multiple blog posts, I'm going to walk back in time through my travels and point out fantastic places to see, where to eat, and even where to stay. I know during COVID currently, it's a bit difficult to plan for travel, but traveling makes me happy and so does talking or writing about it! So, here we go...
In August 2013, I started dating someone from Birmingham, England- don't ask how we met, it's a stupid long story haha, but here's the short version, he spent summer 2013 with me in Canada, as a friend, and yup, we ended up together. I believe he left in September 2013, and we didn't know when we'd see each other next. I was in my senior year, plus it was an insanely important year in hockey too so I really wasn't able to miss too much of either school or hockey. Well, luckily we found some time where I wouldn't miss too much hockey and with school, I didn't really care too much about it back then lol whoopsies. November 2013 was when I had my first-ever transatlantic flight which shoutout to my ex he paid for my entire trip because I wasn't working due to hockey and school so I will FOREVER be grateful for that.
Do you want to know how that first flight went? I got severely motion sick and threw up the whole seven hours of the flight. Yeah, I know, fml.. It was miserable. I landed at London Gatwick airport and England is five hours ahead of Toronto, so the flight was through the night and I think it was about 7 or 8 am when I landed. I got absolutely no sleep because of the motion sickness, so when he saw me at the airport I looked so rough, I was miserable and just dead inside... Oh, and did I mention that I met his mom at the airport for the first time after that miserable flight? Yeah, that happened too. Alright, now let's go through the itinerary of the trip. The dates were November 13th-23rd, 2013. Our trip included a road trip from Birmingham, to York, to Edinburgh, Scotland, and back to Birmingham.
So we drove from Birmingham, England, to Edinburgh, Scotland- what a beautiful scenic drive that was, I can't speak highly enough of it. It was autumn, and the colours plus the coastal waters were just breathtaking. Highly recommend doing that drive on the east coast of England if you ever get a chance to. We got to Edinburgh pretty late at night so we wandered around and found a Hard Rock Cafe nearby and ate there, then we went on an Edinburgh Dungeon tour, which was unbelievably cool. Filled with stories from the Medieval Times, actual torture devices there, explained how they were used and what crime would be punished by what device.
I'll make a list so people can read where/what to see do in the places I am talking about too!
Anyways, we only stayed in Edinburgh one night, but we actually saw quite a bit, and I have some really beautiful photos of Scotland too. The next morning, we woke up SUPER early to catch a glimpse of Edinburgh Castle, damn that was a tough walk- and I was even in shape back then! Did you know, Edinburgh Castle sits on an extinct volcano? Well, now you do. We didn't go into the Castle, because it was too early and not opened yet, and we had to continue our journey back to England through York.
Here's my list of must-see/do etc for Edinburgh:
EDINBURGH CASTLE- if you can, definitely go in if you're not on a time crunch, I bet it is absolutely STUNNING on the inside, it was so neat to see it from the outside, plus the views of Edinburgh from the top of it were just something else, and don't worry- I do have pictures for proof!
HARDROCK CAFE- Probably cliche, but I am not a foodie so Hardrock is always a safe choice for this picky eater.
EDINBURGH DUNGEON TOURS- I have a really funny picture of my ex and I, that I will be posting so you all can get a great laugh at. This was the neatest thing for me though, I am a huge Medieval Times nerd, so learning even more about how criminals were punished back then was just insanely cool and informative for me- plus it was very interactive with the stories. I won't give it away, because you have to see it for yourself!
EDINBURGH OLD TOWN- This is a unique UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area has preserved a lot of its Medieval and Reformation-era buildings, along with mixing in the New Town era of the 1700 and 1800s. It's just so neat to see through architecture how things advanced.
Now, we travel to York, England. It was about a four-hour drive if I can remember correctly, it was such a cool town! Right as you get there, there's something called the Fortress
Things to do/see in York, England:
THE YORK SHAMBLES ARE A MUST- it's a very old street in York, dating back to the 1300s. The buildings are timber-framed and with the shelves on the buildings, that is where butchers would hang their meat. It was used as recently as 1885 as well! It was unreal to see, one of my favourite parts of England as a whole was seeing these medieval buildings everywhere!
BETTY'S TEA ROOM- Holy smokes, this place had THE BEST hot chocolate (I don't like coffee or tea), and they also had probably the best breakfast food I've ever had. Yes, I ate that for dinner.
ONE OF THE MANY YORK GHOST TOURS AVAILABLE- Doing a ghost tour was honestly so cool, we walked around the York Minster, walked through a graveyard, and I learned the meaning of "Saved by the Bell" I guess in the Medieval/Renaissance times, there was this mysterious disease going around where people essentially would fall into a comatose state and be buried alive, so they'd have a bell above their grave with the string that hung down into their coffin, and if they woke up, you'd hear DING DING DING. Pretty crazy stuff! This tour also showed us where Guy Fawkes was born- the man who was involved in the Gunpowder Plot also known as the Jesuit Treason, on November 5th, 1605 (Remember, Remember, The Fifth of November, V for Vendetta mask, you know, that guy). ROMAN ARTIFACTS- In York, throughout the little town, there are a few Roman times artifacts, the one I remember most was this random little column, it was pretty cool to see it still standing from those times. We weren't in York very long, but another neat historic fact about York is that it was involved in the War of the Roses, which lasted from 1455 to 1487, which is why I think York basically looks like a surrounded Fortress, in the pictures I have, you'll see what I mean as you drive into the town you drive under what would've been a gate back then! I don't really have tons of pictures from York, since it was dark when we arrived- I also didn't know much about photography back then either, haha.
So now I'm going to dive into a bit of the Birmingham and surrounding area activities that we did. I saw Shakespeare's house, in Stratford. I also saw the Royal Air Force Museum, which was SO FRICKEN COOL. I love war history and seeing the old planes was so so interesting! Things to do in Birmingham and Surrounding Area:
STRATFORD, SHAKESPEARES BIRTHPLACE- Shakespeare's birthplace was so cool, it's still structurally sound, and a fun fact I learned there is that beds were shorter in those days because people would sleep sitting up, apparently demons thought if you slept sitting up, you were actually awake so they wouldn't bother you. Door frames in homes were also shorter as well to keep the heat in, so the misconception that people were shorter in the 1300-1500s is actually a myth!
The Oldest Pub in Stratford is called "Garrick Inn" it is estimated that parts of the pub are from the 1300s when you go inside it's so crooked and old, it's fascinating to stand where at one time Medieval people stood there too, and ordered drinks.. The food is also fabulous!
The streets surrounding Stratford are so interesting too because you're essentially walking through time, from Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Georgian, Victorian and modern architecture, it's just so astonishing to witness, all in the same area.
ROYAL AIR FORCE MUSEUM: COSFORD, ENGLAND- Man, this museum was cool. I'm absolutely terrified of flying in planes, but it was just so cool to see how far we've come in technology with the planes that were flown in World War One and Two. They had planes hanging from the ceiling of the place everywhere, and because England is a little island surrounded by water, they still work on the recovery and restoration of warplanes.
Well, that's it for this time! I have another bunch of blog posts coming out soon about more of my travels too and yes, more involve England! I have tons of recommendations for England, along with many other countries so STAY TUNED! Thanks so much for reading. - Bri