Ten years ago last month was the last time I took a real vacation. You know, a vacation where the only real responsibilities is to show up for your flight home. When I went, there were people that actually made statements to the effect that I was nuts because I was going by myself. Where did I go? The United Kingdom. I started off in Cardiff, Wales. Well, actually, I started off on a red eye flight from Toronto to Heathrow in London. Watching the sunrise over the coast of Ireland was an amazing experience....
....as was flying in over London and seeing things that I had only ever seen in the movies.
When I got off the plane, I got on a bus. Nope, not a double decker bus. I plain old charter bus, and traveled to Cardiff, Wales.
I think that Cardiff is my favourite city in the world. Well, the favourite city in which I have visited. I stayed with my friends Nikki and Laura. And I'm pretty sure they weren't talking to each other at the time, which made things pretty awkward. But, I had fun. Laura and I went to Cardiff Castle.
And I saw the Millenium Stadium...
I bought my first non-Canadian flag for my flag collection at a small shop across the street.
Nikki and I went with some of her friends to St Fagan's Museum, a historical village about life in Wales from, well, practically the beginning of time!
See - told ya it was from the beginning of time! And then we had tea in this tea shop. I bought some Lemon Curd. I'm about 50% sure that I had it up until about four months ago when I finally tossed it.
I also went to a couple of clubs in Cardiff with Laura and her friends Simon and Gareth. And Laura and I went to see
After five days in Wales, I hopped on another bus and went to Bath, where I stayed with my friend Alanna. We did lots of touristy things. Went to the Roman Baths
And I still have my bottle of Bath bath water. Though admittedly some of it has evaporated even with the wax seal. It does say right on the bottle, however, to NOT drink the water.
From Bath, I took a train to Glasgow on my way to Bath. It was rugby four nations football Wales vs Scotland weekend. The train from Bath to Bristol was fine. The train from Bristol to Glasgow was fine until we got to Crewe, and then it got interesting! The Welsh fans going to the rugby game got on the train. They made the rest of the trip interesting. But the train was late. As pretty much, apparently, all Virgin trains were. And we got into Glasgow about two hours after the connection to Oban had already left. I finally found someone to help and he got annoyed with me because he'd "already sent one taxi to Oban!" Well dude - I got off the train AFTER you yelled "Oban! Going to Oban!" and I'm not the one in charge of the train, so not my problem. So I got in a taxi, paid for by Virgin. The meter was running - it was exactly £100 from the Glasgow main train station to the Oban youth hostel.
Which I'd post a picture of, except for the fact that all of a sudden the photo link isn't working *sigh*
Oban is incredibly beautiful. While Cardiff may be my favourite city visited so far, Oban is by far my favourite place. It's peaceful and quiet and reminds me a lot of the small town (not much above a village) where I grew up before moving to Ontario. Except for the mountains of the highlands. And that the water is right there. But the small shops, the family feeling where everyone knows each other, I would totally move there if I could.
There is something called McCaig's Folly that is there. John Stuart McCaig was this rich guy that had the local stonemasons build it over the winter when they were otherwise unemployed. Partially as a monument to his family and partially to keep them employed, he built this ... thing ... overlooking Oban that was built up until 1902. And has never been finished. And is at the top of a very. steep. hill. I know this because I walked up it. Good gracious my legs hurt the next day!
I spent a weekend in Oban by myself before traveling on to Lanark, which is outside of Motherwell. Which is outside of Glasgow. With my dad's friends Nettie and Bobby. Quite honestly, I don't remember doing a whole lot with them except meeting friends of my dad's that hadn't seen me since we'd emigrated to Canada when I was two and a half. After a few days with them, I moved on to my Great Uncle Alex's. Uncle Alex (pronounced Alec) was married to my father's father's sister. He fought in WWII in Africa. He introduced me to family that I'd heard of but hadn't met. We also went to a place in Lanarkshire called New Lanark, which is a world heritage attraction. Uncle Alex also had to drive through Kincardine - just so that I could say that I'd been to the original Kincardine!
From there I spent the day travelling south and then west and went to my friend Julie's family home in Braintree, Essex. I got to see my first (and so far only) pantomime. It was hysterical! I went into London for a day and visited with the daughter of the family I nannied for who was on university exchange in London.
I enjoyed my visit, but I can't believe it's been ten years. My friends and I have all grown up. Some of us have married and had kids, others have not. But it's just amazing it's been ten years.