We planned on staying in York for two days to break up the city life of Edinburgh and London, but due to our Scotland mishap, we got cut down to one. I never had originally planned on visiting York, but my mom (world traveler) said how much she loved it and so I decided it was a must see place.
When we got there, we grabbed a taxi to our hostel. Our taxi driver was born and bred in York and had previously done bus tours around the area, so he took the opportunity to give us a brief history/tour on our ride. The town of York is enclosed by old roman walls and is absolutely gorgeous. It also has a lot of shops, a huge cathedral, and parks to hang out at. We spent most of the day on a walking tour of the town, but unfortunately cut that short due to rain. We decided to eat lunch inside and then went to the “York Chocolate Story” tour. This is a chocolate shop/museum where they basically claim chocolate was discovered. While I don’t quite believe that chocolate is all credited to York, it was a cute tour and we got a lot of free samples. That night in York, we took a ghost tour. Since it is such an old and historic town, they claim to have a lot of ghosts in the area. Our tour guide walked around ringing a bell and wore an all black cape. He was an older man and was absolutely hilarious. While it was titled ghost tour, it was much more funny than it was creepy and I loved every second of it.
While we only got one day in York, I did love the quaint feel and the beauty of the city. I would definitely not mind returning in the future because there is still so much to see and do! On Wednesday morning we caught our train to London!!
When we arrived off our train at London Kings Cross, we were kind of at a stand still. We actually didn’t remember the name of out hostel besides that it was by Hyde Park because our other friend we were meeting had booked the room for us. We walked to a starbucks right next to the train station and used wifi really quick to look up the location. Moments like this make me so excited to be back in the states and have data again. We then decided to take the underground aka the Tube to Hyde Park because our hostel had Hyde Park in its name. Turns out, Hyde Park is HUGE!!! We ended up dragging our suitcases for at least 30 minutes through the park to our hostel door. Please do remember, I am traveling with a 50 pound suitcase and a stuffed backpack because I am a genius. So once we finally make it to the hostel and check in, they tell us that our room is up a few sets of stairs. I’m like “ok no big deal.” Actually HUGE deal. We were again, on the top floor which meant I was lucky enough to drag my suitcase up at least 6 flights of stairs. Let’s just say I am going to have great upper body strength by the end of this semester. By the time we had all settled in, we were exhausted and it was late in the afternoon so we went out to grab dinner and came back to crash.
This hostel in London was similar to the one in Edinburgh as far as the people I met go. The London hostel’s staff consisted of about 15ish people from all over the world just traveling or stopping through. It was such a fun environment and you could tell how close all of them had become as friends through the job. I talked to 2 boys from New Zealand who finished their degrees back home and then came over to travel and find work. I also talked to a girl from South Africa and a girl from Spain both looking for jobs as well as trying to see the world. They all had different stories and I was intrigued by their lives. Most people from the States have such a structured plan of going straight to college then straight to a job. Gap years and traveling are way more common over in the UK and Europe and I am trying to learn as much as I can from people who get to experience that way of life while I am here. I am sure I sounded like I was interviewing them at some points during conversation, but I can’t help how much it truly does fascinate me. I actually sent my dad a text that night saying if vet school didn’t work out I was coming to Europe to work in a hostel and travel.
Thursday and Friday in London were both spent exploring the city. I hate to say it, but we mainly did the top tourist attractions. If I had more time I would’ve love to experience more, but days go so quickly when you’re traveling. We saw the parliament buildings, Buckingham Palace and the changing of the guards, London Eye, Tower of London, Tower Bridge and more. On Thursday night I also ate a delicious dinner with two of my good friends from Indiana who have been living in London this semester!
The city uses a form of public transportation called the underground or the tube, which is similar to New York’s subways. I was intimidated by it the first time I rode on it to the hostel, but afterwards, I was obsessed with it. The tube is by far the easiest way to get around and is so quick and simple to learn and understand your way around a big city. The buildings in London are all gorgeous architecture and never gets old to look at, but if you do find yourself bored of the big city buildings, there are plenty of parks everywhere to get a nature fix. As I strolled through Hyde Park, it was easy to picture myself laying out reading or having a picnic, or playing with my dogs or biking and jogging. Even though Carmel raised me to love and appreciate the suburban and sometimes “country” lifestyle, visiting places like London or Paris (blog coming) make me feel like I could love the big city life as well. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be returning to London many times in the future throughout my life.
Friday night, we met up to head out to our ferry ride from the UK to mainland Europe. With that, my first full week of break had ended and I was ready for the next 2 weeks of adventures to come in Europe.