So I thought about writing a “summary” when I was on the plane home from my UK trip, didn’t have a pen or a laptop, so it’s coming a bit late. I’ve been back 4 days now and I’m in a bit of a post-Europe-blues phase – my trip was all too short and I can’t believe it’s over already. I’ve already started a weekly savings transfer thing so by this time next year, I’ll have enough to be able to go back, and possibly stay longer in Dublin and see some kind of awesome music festival too.
I got there to find Sophie waiting for me at the airport with a fun little sign she’d made me, and we went through London, stopped for an amazing baguette lunch (seriously, baguettes full of chicken curry are the way forward!) and Ribena, had a quick detour to the Arsenal stadium and then on to Stevenage finally. I was knackered but it did take me 4 or 5 days to get used to the time difference!
My first Saturday there was spent in London with 3 of my favourite people in the entire world. Met up with Sophie, Jayde and James and we started off trying to be all intellectual and cultured by going to the Victoria & Albert, but shortly decided we needed something far more juvenile and headed for the Science Museum instead, where we played interactive toilet-catching games and went on the Spongebob Squarepants simulator ride, which was brilliant!! Then we took the tube to “lunch” – which ended up being a surprise trip to the Doctor Who Exhibition at Earl’s Court, which I had no idea even existed. Best surprise EVER!! I love my friends!! Took tonnes of pictures, spent far too much money and then had a happy pub lunch afternoon in Covent Garden. Wrapped up the day with a posh night out in the West End seeing Wicked the musical, which was just phenomenal. I got home that night at about midnight and I just cried – partly because I was sad I didn’t get to see these wonderful people again for goodness knows how long, but mostly because I was just so happy to have spent an amazing day with people I love.
Monday I headed to Dublin – and unfortunately got a right cold that morning, so wasn’t exactly feeling great, but I got to the airport early (I was all paranoid I’d miss the bus and then miss my plane) only to find my flight had been delayed a bazillion hours, so I ended up spending the whole day in the Departures Lounge, which made for very fun times indeed. Missed out on an ENTIRE afternoon in Dublin, but eventually got there and David was still waiting for me, thank goodness!! So we checked into our hotel and hopped on the Ghost Bus Tour which was totally cheesy but tonnes of fun, and really interesting to learn about all the haunted places and creepy stories from medieval Dublin. I was definitely being hit hard with the man flu by the end of the night, and it turned out to be a bank holiday so there wasn’t anywhere open past 11, which was slightly rubbish – I’d been looking forward to a drink and some Celtic music in a proper Irish pub! But we settled for fish & chips at some random shop and just stayed in catching up ‘til about 3:00 in the morning which was lovely all in itself. The next day was a WHIRLWIND of touring and sightseeing. There was a 23-stop tour bus but we only made about 5 or 6 of the stops – I think even if we did have more than a day there, we still wouldn’t have been able to see it all! I really wish we could have had just one more day though – there were so many beautiful, beautiful buildings and just so much history to take in. I was completely awestruck when we went to Trinity College, where the Book of Kells is currently kept. Ireland has been my number one place I want to go for the longest time, and the Book of Kells is one of those “I have to see this before I die” things that you always have on these lists but never expect you’ll actually get to see. But there it was, and I just got so overwhelmed that I just started crying (again!). I can’t describe how it was to be in the presence of something so historically epic and beautiful. I fell in love with Trinity College and I’ve seriously been thinking if I do go back to school, eventually, that’s definitely where I’m going to go. The rest of the day was spent with lots of other sightseeing, including the Guinness Storehouse – we toured the brewery, learned all about Guinness and got to enjoy a free pint at the top of the plant, overlooking the entire city, which was beautiful. The flight back to England came way too quickly and I headed back to rainy old Stevenage from a beautiful day in Ireland, exhausted but happy to have spent it in such wonderful company and full of knowledge about the city. Did I mention I fell in love with Dublin??
The rest of my trip in the UK I spent visiting people, shopping, and got together with a bunch of old school friends on Thursday night at the pub. It’s ridiculous that it’s been 8 years since I’ve seen some of these people, but amazing that it’s been that long and people like Sophie I still talk to on a daily basis despite being halfway round the world. I saw a little notecard out there, with “No matter where you are, it’s your friends who make your world” written on it, and definitely took it to heart.
My last night was spent back in London, playing Wii fitness and with a proper Indian meal, before flying back the next day. I was so nervous before I left about travelling alone, but I did it all and I came back unscathed and I just thought to myself on the plane, this was another one of my new year’s resolutions from this year that I’ve actually kept. I never keep resolutions but so far I’ve learned to cook properly, I’ve got healthy and started going to the gym, I got contact lenses, I’ve been reading way more, and I’ve done something really independent. That was my biggest one – becoming really independent and being happy to do it; and I was really happy that I’d gone to Europe by myself and seen all these amazing sights and had all these amazing times. An 8 hour flight is a long time to reflect and the last 6 months have been ones of enormous growth and change and I really feel quite proud about that. I had an amazing time with some truly wonderful people on this trip and I learned so much about Ireland too. It’s sad to think that so many people in the UK itself actually don’t like living there, although I suppose I was guilty of the same thing when I did live there. I guess sometimes you only truly appreciate a place when it’s not so immediate to you any more. I definitely had a phenomenal trip, and I can’t wait to go back next year.