My ideal trips to Paris, India, and Germany do not involve the Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, or Heidelberg Castle, respectively. I went to England and I didn’t see the golden rafters of Big Ben, or the glass baubles of the London Eye, or the shimmering summer water of the Thames.
Instead, on my first travel foray alone, I spent two and a half weeks in Poole, England, staying with a friend of my mother’s and her family. Located within South East Dorset, Poole lies on the cusp of land and water. As a result, sailing and fishing are of paramount importance.
Each day, I would meander on to the downtown area, which is peppered with treasures. Walking along the cobblestone paths, through the streets lined with furiously flapping British flags, I would pass shop after shop. On the first day, I ate at Pete’s Fish and Chips, home to rich, creamy slabs of fried fish and tangy French fries.
On the next day, I walked to the Dolphin Centre, otherwise known as the mall. There, I bought from a stand and subsequently gorged on the British phenomenon of pasties: meat, vegetables, herbs, and sauces stuffed into a pocket of piecrust.
Combing through the stores in the Dolphin Centre, I was particularly struck with the shop Bazaar, home to crafty, eccentric souvenirs. Artsy posters, all for sale, align the walls, depicting elements of trademark British culture: the Beatles, phone booths, and Buckingham palace. Although sorely tempted by the Will and Kate memorabilia, of which there was a seeming infinity, I ultimately purchased three key chains.
The Poole Museum is located in the center of town. Free of charge, the museum offers an abundance of artwork and history. The new addition balances modern and antiquated styles with skill, while the original section is raw and old-fashioned. Nestled within the original section is a peaceful, lush medicine garden.
Walks by the quays, marinas, and ever-present seaside were a calm, relaxing experience. Perched by the side of the water lies Sea Music (pictured), a giant, interactive sculpture cleaving its’ way into the sky. Colored in deep vivid blue redolent of the water beside it, it takes the shape of a convoluted music note. Anyone can climb the stairs encircling it and admire the impressive view.
Because tourists are few and far between, having an American accent is a prime conversation starter. Anyone, from the man who rings up your food order to the woman you accidentally bump into on the street, has the potential for friendly conversation.
There are few travel destinations devoid of full-time inhabitants; one person’s vacation spot is the landscape of another’s life. The raw reality of other cultures is an eye opening, mind-altering, life-changing landscape to visit.
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