Hey guys, happy…March? Guess it’s almost April now, huh? How are all my fellow Americans holding up with the weather? It’s been pretty dang cold where I am and even my hometown got some snow and ice. It’s been a weird few weeks. I was sick for three weeks or so, so that was loads of fun. Bronchitis is great….but on the bright side, we had spring break to look forward to! Well, for me at least. I don’t know about any of you guys. One of my friends from school, Julia, and I went up to Canada so we were both excited about that. We made reservations for one of the restaurants at Niagara Falls since we stopped there on our way back (on the Canadian side). Even frozen, the falls were a cool site to sight. But more on that in a later post. Also, in other exciting news, I’m going to my first conference in April! You guys might remember that I spent much of the last year writing and then presenting a paper as my senior comp. Well, my comp. professor encouraged us to consider submitting our comps to the DePauw University Undergraduate Honors Conference. I decided to try it and I got accepted! So I will be traveling to the conference in April with three other girls from my school who also were accepted. That will be fun and terrifying and exciting.
Okay, so now on to part 4 of my Spring Break trip from when I was Ireland. When I last wrote, I ended with my time in Palermo, Sicily. After Palermo, we flew to London with a pit-stop in Milan. No, we didn’t actually see anything in Milan. Bridget and I (Katherine flew back to Dublin) booked a room in a hotel near the airport and just slept the day away before catching a flight to London the next morning. Customs/Passport control in London was the strictest that we came across in all our travels for the semester. I don’t know if flying into London-Stansted had anything to do with that or not. I actually had not heard of this airport prior to booking the plane tickets because in the past I’d flown into and out of either Heathrow or Gatwick. But Ryanair doesn’t fly into either of those so London-Stansted it was. We actually almost didn’t get through the passport point. We were prepared for the usual questions like where are you coming from, what’s the nature of your visit, how long are you staying, etc. but we didn’t know that we needed the address of where/who we were staying with or anything like that.
My dad has family in Brighton who Bridget and I were going to stay with while we were in England but all I knew was the phone number I had saved in my phone and the name of their town. Didn’t know the address or anything. The lady that handled our passports and the landing form we had to fill out was not impressed and let us through with a warning after about 10-20 minutes of insisting that we needed to write down an address. That was stressful because for a few minutes it didn’t look like we were going to be allowed through and frustrating because the woman kept insisting we needed information that we clearly did not have and were not going to magically have after being asked 10 times. So, I guess the moral of this experience is anyone traveling into London, especially London-Stansted, make sure you know everything about where/who you’re staying. So we got through that and then our next step was figuring out how to get from there to Brighton where my dad’s cousin was going to meet us. There was a train option but Bridget and I took the bus. Either option was going to take a few hours given stops and transfers and such but the bus had the least number of transfers so we thought that would be the easiest. The bus trip was fine and Michael (my dad’s cousin) and Ronnie (his wife) met us at the bus stop.
Our time in England was split between Brighton and London. For anyone who isn’t familiar with England, Brighton is about an hour south of London by train. So the days we wanted to go to London, we would buy tickets and go into London for the day. But Brighton was cool too. We walked around the Lanes a little when we first arrived and had dinner in town. Michael showed us what bus stop was closest to their neighborhood and which bus we should take if we wanted to go into Brighton or back from the train station. It was just really nice. They also took us for a drive and showed us the South Downs. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to tour the Pavilion while we were there because I wasn’t feeling well the day that we would have gone. We went into London and spent a very full day in London walking around and seeing all the things that you have to see while you’re visiting like Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, the guards on horses, the London Eye, and even St. James’ Park. The night before all day sight-seeing extravaganza, Bridget and I figured out what we wanted to see and then Michael helped us map out the best route to walk to include everything. I mostly let Bridget choose what she wanted to see since it was her first time in London. It was a long day but it was so much fun. And we did get to see everything that we wanted to I believe.
One of the few things that I knew for sure I wanted to do during my year abroad was go to a concert. So I very excited when Bridget and I bought our tickets to see Olly Murs perform at the London O2 Arena! At the time, Olly Murs was someone that I had recently started to listen to and introduced him to Bridget. It was such a great show. There were three openers, two of which I’d vaguely heard of before but it was the third opener that I actually liked the most of the three. Her name was Tich. She had an incredible voice, especially for being live. Then Olly came out and did a full show. He is such a good performer. Not every recording artist sounds good live but he was amazing. And I’m not sure he stopped moving the entire time he was on-stage.
The next morning, we spent a little more time with Michael and Ronnie before packing up and heading for the train station that catch a train back to the airport to fly back to Dublin just in time for Easter. Though we only spent a handful of days in England, we managed to do and see a lot and had a really nice time.
Overall, it was an amazing two week break. I’m so happy that we were able to do it.
Until next time!