Monday, 28 October 2013

MTT: Tues in Edinburgh, Wed Hadrian's Wall, Thurs Liverpool

On Tuesday afternoon (like 2pm - 4pm), I made my way up Calton Hill in Edinburgh as part of a hiking adventure with a bunch of other BISC kids. Honestly, the view of Edinburgh from up here was incredible. We originally were supposed to hike up to Arthur's Seat, but there had been some rain the night before and the hill would have been quite treacherous. This wasn't too much of a hike, but it was enough exercise for the most of us haha... 

The hills surrounding Edinburgh are gorgeous. In the few months I've been travelling, I've completely completely realized how in love I am with mountains and hills. (And though I'm in Europe, I often find myself longing to travel Alberta/British Columbia). 

On the very left in the picture below, you can see the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Scottish Parliament building.

The rest of the day, I wandered around Edinburgh and then went back to the Baked Potato Shop for VEGTARIAN HAGGIS on a potato.

It doesn't look super appetizing, but it was delicious. Copied from a website: "Macsween vegetarian haggis contains a hearty mix of kidney beans, lentils, nuts, vegetables, oatmeal, onions, seasoning and spices." Honestly, some of my friends tried real haggis and didn't love it - but I would absolutely recommend this glob of yumminess to everyone. 

 On Wednesday night, Jessica and I (she's shown in the instagram post I made about this) went to Forest Cafe! Here's their description from their website: "The Forest is a volunteer-run, collectively-owned, free arts and events project. We run a vegetarian café and a big block of studios and facilities to provide dedicated space for people to get involved in any creative activity imaginable." I can't really sum it up better than that - but it was a lovely place.

On Wednesday, we headed out of Edinburgh (boo...) and slowly made our way to Liverpool. Our major stop along the way was Hadrian's Wall - a defensive fortification in Roman Britain. Emperor Hadrian built it in 122 AD, and a lot of it is still somewhat standing. There were also lots of sheep strolling around.  

When we finally arrived in Liverpool on Wednesday evening (like 5pm, so it was sunny out for an hour!), we found our way to Chinatown and had a cute dinner. This was some pretty architecture along the way.

Albert's Dock, which is one of the main docks of Liverpool, was beautiful at night. I actually found it to be prettier during the daytime though - so those pictures are below.

On Thursday morning, I had a field study for my Development course to the International Slavery Museum. It was a pretty powerful museum, and though there wasn't very much information, I did enjoy learning about the remnants of slavery still displayed in the architecture/history of Liverpool. I spent a lot of time in one particular area focusing on modern slavery and cotton picking in Uzbekistan.

After the International Slavery Museum, my friend Asheika and I went to "The Brink"  for lunch. Essentially, "the Brink is a recovery social enterprise, which means that all our profits go directly back into the community to fund support for those who have suffered through alcoholism and addiction." They don't have any alcohol on site, which is awesome considering they have a good night life scene (though we wouldn't know from experience because lunch); their menu is based of local ingredients. I thoroughly enjoyed it here.

After lunch, we went on a very quick two hour mission around Liverpool! This is Albert Dock during the daytime.

This is the World Museum in Liverpool (I think... I didn't actually go in).

This is the Cavern Club - where the Beatles first played! There was so many Beatles tourist attractions in Liverpool, and some of y'all will hate me for saying this, but I wasn't super interested in finding Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields or whatever else... The Cavern Club was cool though.

We then headed back from Liverpool to the castle Thursday afternoon to night; there was lots of movie watching on the way - V for Vendetta, Pitch Perfect! I bought a cucumber at one of our rest stops (while the majority of students bought Burger King haha) and just munched on it. It was delicious and I genuinely miss being able to go into my kitchen fridge and eating whatever I want.

So there, that was my Midterm Trip!

On Friday, I went into Brighton to see Ender's Game!!!!! It came out on Oct 25th in the UK but it's still not out in Canada haha. I won't say anything regarding the movie because some of my friends have expressed threats if I do mention any spoilers (kidding, sort of)... but it was well worth a watch! If you have small children, it might be kind of scary to see the attacking monster-like species.

I also got a lovely shot of Brighton's burnt down pier thing before I left. Sometimes I regret going into Brighton because I just spend money on cupcakes oh my goodness delicious but then things like this happen and I realize how much I LOVE the city. I really really feel trapped sometimes because we're in the middle of nowhere at the castle... The travelling is good though!

Class today (Monday) was weird because we hadn't had class for a week and a half... I'm excited to get this week over with; I'm going to Shared Planet 2013 in London this weekend AND I'M SO EXCITED. It's the UK's biggest student conference (300+ students?) on environmentalism and human rights. Everyone there will be 16+, and I've been DYING to meet actual British people. This fake exchange thing is a little off putting at times; being around Canadians 99% of the time makes it hard to feel like I'm living in Britain for so long (2 months down, 6 to go).

Have a fantastic week everyone! 

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Midterm Trip: Day 1 (Coach Bus) & 2 (SCOTLAND)

A key part of my ridiculous university program is our midterm trip. We have one each term, after our big assignments and exams for some courses (though I had none) in Week 6. So instead of going to classes for Week 7, we headed off to Edinburgh, Scotland and Liverpool, England. Next term, we're off to France (but that's really far away in late February.) Our adventure started at 4:30am on Sunday morning and we returned back to Bader Hall residences at late Thursday evening. 

On Sunday, we basically just sat on a coach bus for hours and hours. We did all stop at the National Coal Mining Museum though, which was interesting. The tour was a little too long and a tad suffocating underground; I can't imagine how miners do this for years. 

We arrived in Edinburgh (pronounced ed-en-borough) Sunday evening. Within an hour of being in the city, a group of us headed out to pubs. In celebrating our being in Scotland, we had some scotch. Later on in the night, we found a sketchy night club called the Hive.

Monday was more interesting! We started off the day early with a tour of Holyrood, the Scottish Parliament building. This was my first Politics Field Study! One of the NSP of the MSP (members of Scottish parliament) agreed to do a question and answer period with us, which was fascinating. He shot down the one question I asked, which was reasonable, though I would have liked an answer. 

Then I grabbed a bite at the Baked Potato shop (which I visited twice during my time in Edinburgh) before going to the Edinburgh castle! I didn't take a picture of the first potato I had (avocado salad). 

Edinburgh Castle was stunning though. Edinburgh is stunning.

It's like, far off to the right.

After the Edinburgh Castle, a few of us visited the Elephant House - where JK Rowling wrote part of Harry Potter. I had relatively good tea there, and the view from the window was lovely (as pictured in my last post). 

We headed back to our Travelodge afterwards, found a super noodle box place for pretty cheap, and went out again that night. 

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday is coming up on the next post! Hope y'all are doing well - please leave me comments or email me or contact me in whatever way! Lots of love.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Instagram from Bexhill, Edinburgh & LIverpool

Saw Brave today at the De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill, UK. Scottish prep before Edinburgh tomorrow! (Posted Saturday, October 19th). 

The view at the Elephant house, aka where JK Rowling wrote most of Harry Potter!

Forest Cafe ( in Edinburgh had lovely tea and a charming atmosphere.


Had a super lunch today at the@brinkliverpool. Love supporting social enterprises!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Geneva & Vevey, Switzerland (TRAVEL TIPS AT END OF POST)

Geneva, Switzerland (Mostly Day One except the last two pictures)

Oh Geneva: the home and headquarters of so many international organizations, some of which I would be more than happy to work for. Switzerland is one of those places I was ridiculously excited about visiting... and so I did. Oct 4th-6th was our first free weekend (free being no mandatory field studies for classes) and the vast lot of us decided to venture about and go on exciting independent travels. My friends went all over, from Barcelona (my roommate) to Amsterdam (Eunice, who was featured before in the Bergues post) to Rome (Jessica, featured in the Brighton post).

The pictured are posted mostly in chronological order. I got off the plane pretty early in the morning, 10am? and had all day and the next day to indulge in all things Swiss (EXCEPT THE JET D'EAU BECAUSE IT'S UNDER MAINTENANCE IN OCTOBER............)

Woot! Solar powered train! 7 CHF ($8)!
I walked around a lot, browsing Old Town mostly and hanging around the Lake front. Eventually I hopped on a Solar Powered Train that showed me a good amount of the lake and points of interests around it. Taking the solar powered train made me feel like I was supporting sustainable initiatives there, to try to make up for the ridiculous carbon footprint I'm going to have by the end of the year.

Oh look at how typical lake-like Lake Geneva is, without the Jet D'eau...

Old Town Geneva!
Free City Taxi Boat - that I should have gone on and didn't... Oh well!

Ile Rousseau behind me, on the left. And construction on the right...

International Red Cross Museum!

Vevey, Switzerland 

So I hopped on a train, one in the afternoon...

But actually though, I woke up, had breakfast, went to the Red Cross Museum (pictured above) and then decided that while I'm in Switzerland, I might as well travel on a train through mountains or something. It was a bit of a ridiculous impulsive decision, and thus surpassed the amount of money I was planning on spending this trip, but it was so lovely.

Vevey is home to the Alimentarium, aka Food Museum. Therefore, there is a fork in the water...

There are also white plastic chairs drilled into the rocks... I sat on one for a good while, just taking in the breathtaking view of the lake and the mountains. However, my legs were getting decently splattered when the tide crashed a bit higher than average. I imagine that they're super popular spots during the summer!

The Alimentarium actually was pretty interesting; there was a good 3D video about digestion and different foods being broken up by the various parts of the body and the molecular processes of digestion as well. There was an art section with still life fruit and other foods. There were rooms about processing and packaging and history of all of that.

All in all, I had an incredible time in Switzerland. I'm glad I got to go to Geneva and try my hand at speaking French every once in a while (like the Museum cashier people, locals to ask for directions). It was a good test run in how much I'll enjoy solo-travelling, and I'm even more excited about December now.

OVERALL - Things I learned in Switzerland: 

- Switzerland is expensive. Travelling is expensive. Regardless of how strictly you want to stay on a budget, there are going to be unexpected things you really want to do.

- Try to keep to a budget anyway, even if you're bound to stray from it. Figure out how much you're willing to spend on food (factoring in how expensive food is) and how much major attractions are going to cost you!

- Look into the opening times of attractions - even if it doesn't seem necessary to do so. For example, I got to Switzerland on Friday and assumed that the UN Palais de Nations would be open on Saturday (because it was in a park, right?)... but it's only open Monday to Friday!

- Find out free attractions, and make sure you have a good map! I got to go into the "Musée international de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant rouge" or the International Red Cross Museum for free on Saturday, because it's "pay what you wish" on the first Saturday of each month.

- Transportation can get super pricey! Most (if not all) hostels in Geneva will provide you a "Free Transport Card" that will get you free public transportation, so check into your hostel early and get around faster with public transportation. 

- Hostels are expensive. It was super clean (Geneva Youth Hostel) but I felt like I spent a ton of money on staying a night.)

- It is almost impossible to not look like a tourist if you are constantly taking pictures of things... take pictures anyway and just be cautious!

- Dress nicely! Make sure to have comfortable shoes (especially because lots of Europe is cobbled streets and it's ridiculous). It's nice to have some nice pictures of yourself in lovely travel shots (or a gazillion in my case), and it's best to be wearing outfits you look great in.