Edinbrrrrrrgh and the Highlands

Just this morning I arrived back in London from an extended weekend trip to Scotland. I have an InterVarsity friend, Joe Adams, who is studying at the University of Edinburgh, so it was great to travel up there, catch up with him. I stayed with a friend of his, in a flat of five girls studying at the University of Edinburgh. I took the overnight bus from London on Thursday night, and arrived in Edinburgh around 8:00 a.m. the next morning.

Day 1: I grabbed a cup of coffee, and immediately began touring the Royal Mile. Edinburgh is a gorgeous city, with its old town almost completely composed of old stone buildings. Edinburgh was particularly cold that morning, and it began to snow, so I ducked into the National Scottish Museum and absorbed the Scottish history for a few hours before braving the cold again, and finishing up the rest of the Royal Mile.  I also visited Edinburgh’s modern art galleries, but wasn’t too impressed. Living in London, with museums like the Tate Modern has definitely spoiled me.

Map of my travels this weekend

Day 2: The next morning Joe, Johann (a friend of Joes), and I were up bright and early, heading to Ben Lomond, a 3,196 foot tall mountain near the bottom of the Scottish Highlands. The hike was 7 miles, and an absolutely gorgeous trek, the entire way up. Below is a picture of me at the top. Victorious! After our hike, I experienced true Scottish food: haggis, neeps, and tatties. The haggis wasn’t bad at all, but there were a few interesting crunches.

Day 3: Another early morning, but this time to catch a bus for a day tour up to Loch Ness. It was nice for my legs to have a rest after the big hike the day earlier. On our way up to Loch Ness, we stopped many times for the views, including the breathtaking view of Scotland’s greatest glen, Glen Coe. Scotland is a very orange country, and the leaves are still turning, so the ride was just incredible. I also visited Loch Ness, which I may or may not have wanted to see based solely on this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XCl3tPSgIA.  The bus tour was filled with stories from our bus driver about Scotland’s history, and a lovely “bed time” story about the brutal battles between Highland clans.

Day 4: Monday morning got off to a nice slow start, and after breakfast and a cup of tea, I met up with an Australian fellow who had sat beside me on the bus the day before. He was also travelling through Edinburgh, and when I told him of my plans to hike Arthur’s Seat, in the center of Edinburgh, the next day, he decided to join. The hike up Arthur’s seat was only an hour round trip, but lent a wonderful view of Edinburgh. After the hike I settled into a cafe to get some homework done. I went back to the flat that I had been staying in for dinner, and enjoyed a chatty, laughter filled evening with the Scottish and Northern Irish girls living in the flat. Their hospitality was above and beyond, as they made sure my belly was always warm with tea, and my bed warm with a hot water bottle (my new favourite thing, by the way!) I feel very blessed to have spent a few days getting to know those girls.

Love,

Rachel

In Love With London

 

 

 

Spent another rainy day in London. This time I indulged my girly side and went to the Victoria and Albert Museum and visited its jewelry and fashion exhibits. So fun! There was also a post WW1 furniture display, which is where the chairs are from.  After visiting the V & A, I meandered through some of the ritzier shops in Chelsea and Kensington. Lots of unique home and furniture stores, which I just think are great!  I then toured Britain’s Science Museum, got to see some displays on the development of health care and medicine throughout time.

 

Chairs for your viewing pleasure

British Quirk: The cheddar cheese here is white. whaaaat?

Love,

Rachel

Lovely Sunday

Things Sundays are good for:

1. Having communion in Church with fellow believers

2. Buying a 50 pence pansy at a street market

3. Getting wrapped under bedding and reading a new book

4. Chatting with family

5. Tea

Happy Sunday & rest well, my friends!

Love,

Rachel

Brits Bible Study

So, I’ve joined Christian Union, which is a part of IFES (which InterVarsity is also a part of). It’s all connected, I promise. Anyways, I went to their first Bible study last night, and I just loved their very British comments on the Bible. Imagine all of these being said in a British accent:

“I’m really just rubbish at following Jesus well.”

“What Jesus did for us is just massive.”

“I mean that was loads of people.”

Charming. And good to study the Bible too.

Love,

Rachel

A Travelers Thoughts

Having completed a few successful weekend trips around Europe, I am beginning to learn how to travel smarter (cheaper, carrying less, and more enjoyably). Over the course of my trip, I want to compile a list of  travelling tips, mostly to help me remember how to travel well, but also to help out fellow travellers. So here are a few ideas that have helped out so far:

1. Pack your lunch! The ten-year-old in me, who always wanted to eat out during field trips really cringes at this one. But when the exchange rate in Europe is as miserable as it is, packing food saves almost half of the travelling cost! And i’m not kidding. A great alternative to packing lunch is finding the markets. Food in markets gives you a good taste of local food, but is typically much cheaper than eating at restaurants. I had some delicious Middle Eastern food in London’s Bricklane market last week. Lamb, feta, spinach…yummy.

2. Load up your Ipod. Or Ipad, or Kindle.  My travelling has included alot of inbetween time. 2 hour bus rides, 1 hour waiting for a plane, etc. I have found my ipod to be really handy, as it is chock full of games, music, podcasts, and my bible! When I spend the whole day carrying my belongings on my back, the last thing I want to carry is a heavy book, so an ipod is a great compromise.

3. Bring a waterbottle/mug. This is a big money sucker if you don’t. I make coffee in the morning before I go anywhere, saves about 3 pounds (5 dollars!) each time.

4. Pack clothes minimally. I am writing this specifically for my sister, Kate. Just kidding. But it’s amazing how little you really need. I pack leggings, rather than sweatpants to sleep in, which is a huge space saver. I travel with one pair of shoes, the ones I wear.  In my backpack are necessary undergarments, long sleeve tees, one pair of jeans, and travel size hygiene supplies. My back really appreciates the minimalism.

5. Find out what you like, and do it. When you travel, find your niche. Whether it’s art museums, historic sites, the great outdoors, or restaurants. While I was in Ireland, I realized how much I really wanted to see more of Europe’s countryside, so i’m tailoring my future traveling to do so.

This past weekend, I spent Friday hiking the Cliffs of Dover with a new, good friend. Dover is on the Southeast edge of England, and you can actually see France from the cliffs, which is really cool. We were blessed with a gorgeous, sunny day, so we spent a good 4.5 hours walking along the top, and bottom of the cliff.

 

Also, just booked bus tickets to Edinburgh for the end of October!

Love,

Rachel

Travelers Envelopes

So, i’ve send out a handful of letters since being here, and in my boredom this evening, I decided to spice up my envelopes a bit. I have gathered up freebie maps from Ireland and Rotterdam, so I just used real (boring) envelopes as a template for size, used a glue stick to seal them, and ta-da! Awesome envelopes.

Love,

Rachel

Living Near London

The few blog posts that I’ve made since being here have been about my escapades outside of the U.K., so it’s about time that I give you a taste of what it’s like to live 30 minutes outside of London. First of all, I live in the county of Hertfordshire, which, for any literature geeks is where “Pride and Prejudice” is set, as well as “Bleak House” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.” Quite the place to live! The University of Hertfordshire is located in the town of Hatfield, which is a pretty small quaint town. Hatfield is full of walking paths, which make getting around pretty easy.

London is something else entirely. It’s a short train ride from Hatfield to London, so i’ve been three times thus far, and am going again this weekend.  There’s a quote about London that says:

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”

-Samuel Johnson.

It’s ridiculously true. It will take some time for me to lose my wonder of London, and it definitely won’t be while i’m here. London really just has unlimited places to go. And thankfully, most of their world famous museums are free! Just yesterday, I spent five hours in the Tate Modern Art Gallery, and still have a few more solid hours to go. Tate Modern has interactive art using hired actors, which was fascinating.  I’ve also been to one wing of the National Portrait Gallery and one floor of the Tate Britain Gallery. There are mounds of more museums and galleries, that i’ll hopefully get to visit during my stay here.

And of course I’ve gotten most of the historic landmarks/tourist must sees out of the way. Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, House of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, the London Eye, etc.

This Sunday the game plan is to attend Hillsong London, then visit the London Sunday street markets, and maybe stroll through some of the parks. If the weather permits. But that’s a whole new blog post in itself :P.

Here are a few of the sights of London:

Love,

Rachel