As I look out the window I see only the quiet green fields of the Italian countryside. The train rocks us back and forth and a subtle gray peacefully fogs over the landscape. It is Christmas Eve and we are on a train to Rome. I know I have said this before, but the feeling is surreal! I always jokingly said I would visit Italy, half knowing it would never happen, and yet here I am. This is my first Christmas away from home, and surprisingly it hasn’t been too hard; mainly because the demands of travel have kept my mind elsewhere. In fact, had my friends not reminded me, I would have forgotten it was Christmas tomorrow! We have seen and done so much so far, it is hard to condense my experiences into words; therefore, I will try to brief the events that have occurred in the past few weeks.
MU game and my early birthday celebration:
Getting to go to a Manchester United game is definitely one of the highlights of my time in England. Visiting Old Trafford was something I was so excited for, especially coming from a family of soccer fanatics. My excitement was only elevated by the fact that Chicharito played for MU. He is a family favorite. The game was great, and while MU lost that night, I still had a blast! The following month was my birthday celebration. My birthday is the day after Christmas, typically during Christmas break. Well, because we knew we would all be away for the holidays at this time, my blockmates decided we needed to celebrate my 21st birthday early. We all went out to watch Happy Feet 2 which I really enjoyed! We had such a good time and that night I received the best gift. It was a framed collage of all our block members. Now I have a little something to take back home with me to remind me of my new UK D Block family.
Trip to Scotland:
Before we left for Europe Kate and I decided to take a weekend trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. It was an amazing three days. We got to do some shopping on the famous street The Royal Mile and even had a celebrity sighting. The morning of our departure we stopped into the Starbucks and who else but Rod Stewart was standing in line in front of us. Pretty cool experience! We also went to the Edinburgh castle, which was very pretty, and heard our fair share of bagpipes. We climbed up to Colton Hill which held the city’s unfinished monument as well as looked over the city. I could sit up there for hours--the view was breathtaking! The next day I met up with another friend from Nottingham and we went to Loch Ness. I may or may not have seen a monster. The last day was a Harry Potter day as we went to the Elephant cafe where J.K. Rowling is said to have thought up Harry Potter. We also went to the nearby cemetery where the graves that inspired her characters Tom Riddell and Professor McGonagall are found. We experienced deep fried Mars bars and ended the day with a trip to the museum. This museum was huge and had so many fun exhibits. My top three favorites included the displays of animals from the different animal kingdoms, artefacts and representations of cultures from around the world and Dolly the cloned sheep. I left that weekend in love with Scotland’s beauty!
Spain greeted us with warm weather and palm trees. The beaches had blue water unlike anything I had seen on the coasts of Oregon. The sight of the sand and ocean water looked straight out of a postcard. It was so comforting to hear Spanish being spoken all around me. To hear it and speak it was something I was obviously not able to do back in the UK, and it covered me with warmth and familiarity. I became the group’s interpreter and translator during the trip, as I was the only one who could speak Spanish. We visited the Alicante castle, which gave us an unforgettable view of the city and the ocean all at once. We enjoyed an endless amount of churros and chocolate and did some shopping on the famous street of Las Ramblas in Barcelona. Also in Barcelona we got to see a lot of Gaudi art and even a Gaudi church, La Sagrada Familia. This church is by far the most intriguing and remarkable church that I have seen on this trip. The detail in the exterior art, along with the use of bright colors in the interior, was something I had never seen before. Spanish food had us eating delicious tapas and paellas and more chocolate. In fact we ended our trip with a visit to the chocolate museum in Barcelona where they had skilfully built chocolate figures of things ranging from Spongebob to the Barcelona stadium. I definitely got myself a souvenir at that one, Spanish chocolate is good! Now let’s see what Rome has in store for us!