As I sit outside writing this post over a month late I am overwhelmingly happy. I don’t know why I never did this before! I guess it didn’t occur to me that a cafe in Italy would have WiFi but they do. So here I am enjoying life. It would be perfect except for the cigarette smoke drifting up into my nose right now.
In the middle of February there was ski week which is basically when every school in Rome, and maybe in the whole of Italy, takes a week off school, work, etc. to go skiing. Pietro and his parents went up to northern Italy for this but since I can’t ski, the family let me go travelling. I chose to go to London and Edinburgh for 2 reason: the first being my love for the UK, the second being my yearn for different foods, the english language, and somewhere a bit closer to my culture in all aspects of life.
Getting in to London was an ordeal in itself. I was stopped by the border guard and denied entrance after some miscommunication (on his part may I add). He told me that if I did not produce my return ticket back to Italy I would not be allowed in to the country. So, after a lot of panicking, praying and a failing attempt to conjure up my return ticket I went back up to the gate and asked another (nicer) man to let me in. I promised him that I did, indeed, have a return ticket and that I was just too stupid to even think of printing it off. I cried a bit more and then the nice man let me in. This is the second time I’ve had problems getting in to the UK. I hope it is the last!
I was fortunate enough to get in contact with a new friend in London who let me stay at her place while I was there. She even picked me up at the airport! I am so thankful to Pippa for everything she did for me while in London – for listening to me rant about the border problems, for buying me mini-eggs, for giving me cheddar cheese, for showing me around – seriously, it was amazing.
Since I had already been to London I didn’t feel as if I needed to hit all the tourist spots right away. Yes, I did see Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, St. Pauls Cathedral, and whatever else there is to see, but my favourite part about being there was exploring different districts that I had never seen before like Covent Garden, the Columbia Road flower market, and Camden. I also spent a lot of my time shopping and eating food from all over the world – two things that I find difficult to do in Italy. It was so nice not feeling pressure to go everywhere and see everything. I just went wherever I wanted whenever I wanted and by doing this I was able to see so much!
Another highlight about visiting London was that my friend Marie was there as well. Marie is a friend I met when I was studying in Spain in 2009. She is now going to university in London and so we were able to catch up and just spend a lot of time together. It was so amazing – I haven’t seen her in 4 years yet we were able to catch up right where we had left off. This is the proof of true friendship.
The best part of London for me though was not the sights or really anything you’d associate with being unique to London. It was the time spent at Hillsong London on Sunday night. Since I’ve been away from Vancouver for so long I find myself craving worship and a place where I can freely worship the Lord. At Hillsong I found myself so emotional! I was praising the Lord with hundreds of people from all different backgrounds, in a city thousands of km’s away from home, in a theatre that is used for the Michael Jackson theatre production…amazing!
The weather was amazing in both London in Edinburgh. In fact, for a country that claims to have more rain then almost anywhere else in the world, it only rained on the last day in Edinburgh – every other day was sun, sun and more sun!
On Wednesday night I took a 10 hour bus ride up north to Edinburgh. I got in late in the night and immediately went to bed. I took a walking tour of Edinburgh in the morning and found that although very beautiful, Edinburgh is a very small city. This being said I enjoyed walking around cemeteries, finding names on graves here JK Rowling got her inspiration for characters in Harry Potter. I enjoyed eating at the cafe that Rowling spent hours at writing about Hogwarts and magic. I really enjoyed touring the Edinburgh (even though it was so freaking cold that my hands felt as if they would fall of). My favourite thing to see in Edinburgh though was Mary King’s Close. A close is a small street leading down a hill that branches off a main street. Off of the small street are many little doors that lead to houses, businesses and basically a whole community of people can live on one close, trading, buying and living in houses and apartments stacked on top of each other. Mary King’s Close was remade to look as it would hundreds of years ago and I thoroughly enjoyed touring the close that would been virtually unknown if people hadn’t brought light to the crazy maze of paths and streets underneath many main street buildings. I like that kind of thing. I wish I could have explored it more!
Although there was no rain in Edinburgh, it was so freaking cold that it brought the whole mood of the city down for me a bit. I think it would be nice to go back in the summer, rent a car and just explore all of Scotland, including a short stop in Edinburgh. But on Friday Marie came up to Edinburgh to be with me for the weekend and that definitely picked my mood up. We met with her friends, ate some good Indian food, did a bit of shopping, watched the WORST MOVIE EVER (seriously Mom, it rivalled movies you’ve made us watch in the past) and tried to find some Edinburgh nightlife (although we ended up spending the night in an Irish pub – go figure).
Sunday I left for home after 1 week in the UK. It was a great trip. Yes I was cold and yes I missed home but overall I was so thankful for the time away from Italy (let me clarify – I LOVE Italy. Some people think I don’t like it here and that is most definitely wrong. I just needed a bit of a break and some time for new exploration – that’s all) and a break from the regular routine of life.
I don’t think I forgot to write about anything – I sure hope I didn’t! Now my hands are tired and I’m going to watch a movie or something. It is no longer sunny out and I’m getting a bit cold as well.
The UK is the last place I’ll explore out of Italy until I no longer live or work here mid-June. Crazy huh?
Ciao friends – I promise it won’t be too long until I write again!