When I was little my Dad would go out of town to England for work, and bring back little gifts for me. One of my favorites was a small, red, double-decker bus. That bus was different than the yellow school buses I saw outside and on “The Magic School Bus”. At that age I never thought I’d get to be in England and see the real thing.
Unexpectedly when I became a freshman in high school I was presented the opportunity to travel with some of my social studies classmates and our teacher to England and Scotland for 14 days during the summer of my sophomore year. Our social studies teacher planned this trip through Explorica Tours (www.explorica.com). After several meetings over the course of the next school year, we found out that we were going to have to pack enough clothing and travel items for two weeks all in two carry on items. One personal bag and one luggage bag under 40lbs. This seemed like a daunting task for a teenage girl!
We finally set off the morning of June 26th 2008, and we met at the airport at 4:45 in the morning! It was ridiculously early. When we finally arrived in London, customs took a few hours, but was exciting because my friend almost had her camera confiscated because, unknown to us, you cannot take photos while going through customs! Many of us were completely jet lagged, but we had almost a whole day of touring to do with our local tour guide.
The first hotel we stayed at in London for 6 nights was one of my favorite. It was the Express by Holiday Inn-London Royal Docks. The hotel was only a five minute walk from the Canning Town Tube Station. The Tube System in London is absolutely fantastic! We went everywhere in London via the Tubes.
There is so much to do in London and I could have easily spent the entire 14 days there. Some of my favorite places included: The London Eye which gave the most spectacular views of London and especially of the Parliament Building. The Towers of London gave us a glimpse into medieval London and a chance to see the spectacular crown jewels! The British Museum is the largest museum I have ever visited. We only spent four hours there, but we could easily have spent days wondering through the museum. St. Paul’s Cathedral is huge! Between the main hall, the whispering dome and the lower catacombs, it was simply spectacular. We could even attend the service occurring in the center of the church. And finally, Wimbledon, this was a lucky coincidence that it was occurring while we were in London. I got to see the Williams sisters play live. During my time there I got to see the huge double-decker buses.
All too soon we packed up and traveled north toward Scotland over three days. Along the way we visited the famous Stonehenge, Lacock Abby (where some of Harry Potter was filmed), the Roman Baths (built by the Romans and still working today) and the York Minster Abby which has some of the oldest surviving stain glass in the world.
Once in Edinburgh, Scotland we visited the Edinburgh castle and the Palace of Holyrood where the Queen stays during the summer! On our last day we went to St. Andrews, where some did golf, and the rest of us toured. There I had the most wonderful fish and chips.
Overall it was the most exciting vacation I have ever taken! I hope I will be able to visit again someday.
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