Imagine stepping through the security terminal gates at an airport in a foreign country that you have always wanted to travel to. Now, remind yourself that you have been saving for this trip for a year and a half. Finally, get over the shock of jetlag and realize that you aren’t imagining anything. All the work, all the planning, all your hopes and inspirations have become a very tangible truth beneath your feet. The first step gives you a high that nothing else could possibley give you. It is possibley the greatest experience, thus far, in your life. This is my story.
The United Kingdom has always been a great wonderment to me. When I was presented with the opportunity of setting foot in this “fantastical” place, I took hold of it with a steel grip. NETC-LEAP, National Educational Travel Council-Learning by Exploring & Actively Participating, was the program that my school group chose to lead us through the twists and turns involved in planning a trip of this magnitude. On their website, www.netc-leap.com, we ended up choosing the “Sceptered Isle” travel program. It turned out to be a fantastic decision.
This ten day journey began with our flight, the first of seven, from the Salt Lake City Airport to O’Hare Airport, Chicago. After transferring to International Terminal 5, we did the usual Airport Loitering: wandering through the stores, watching the people around you, and hoping to all that is good that your flight is running on its scheduled time. Just a hint, it is best to only look through the stores at the airport because for some reason they believe extortion to be a virtue.
The eight-hour flight to Manchester, England and then the connecting one-hour flight to London went by quickly, seeing as I slept through most of each flight. The first step out into the British air was possibly the most glorious footfall in my entire life. My heart raced; I was living a dream.
Our tour guide, Mark Barrett (eccentric and haughty from Northern England), lead us to the van that took us to the Royal National Hotel within London. It was a massive building, easily capable of becoming lost in, but magnificently set within the city. I don’t believe I ever stopped grinning throughout the entire trip.
From London we moved north, hopping through the country-side, passing cities: Oxford, Stratford, and Warwickshire (Warwick Castle being the highlight there), and stopping for a night in the Honiley Court Hotel. A whirl of memories packed into a few short hours. Glimpses into another world, another time, another everything. Next, on to West Yorkshire to The Dubrovnik Hotel (www.dubrovnik.co.uk/), that day having gone to be fitted for chain mail at the Royal Armouries and having pun-filled conversations over the King’s codpiece. The next day started bright and early, off to see the ancient Roman wall of Hadrian, and then onto Edinburgh, Scotland.
We completed our trip in Dublin, connected with a three a.m. flight back to Manchester, and headed home. This whirlwind of emotion, people, and culture has had a lasting effect on the person that I have become. The experience gained from this trek has been invaluable to me. The educational journey gave me insight into the world that is there to explore. One could spend a thousand lifetimes searching for the final destinatino, and they would always fail to reach it. Ten days, eleven cities, seven flights, 564 photographs, and only about a million memories to show for it all.
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