So Kyle and I arrived in England on Friday afternoon after a 3.5 hr drive to O’Hare, an 8.5 hr flight to Heathrowe, a 2 hr layover, a 50 minute flight to Newcastle, and then a 20 minute awkward as hell taxi ride. We were completely exhausted but since we were excited, overtired and wanting to explore we set out into to town to see the Durham Cathedral.
Let’s just say for the record, Cathedrals do what they’re suppose to do. Even though I am not religious in the slightest, the moment I stepped into that space I immediately felt moved. The vastness of the space was something I have never experienced before and I had a bout of vertigo which quickly passed. The staff greeted us kindly and gave us a look when they heard our accents. Something else I thought was interesting was how much modern art was on display throughout the cathedral. The place of worship was built in 1093 and even though the stones are worn with age, they display some really provoking pieces. One piece, which I wasn’t able to take a picture of but I was able to find one online, literally took my breathe way
Beechwood Pieta source
I can’t properly describe the feeling when you see this in real life but it’s daunting how large and intimating it is. For dinner, we headed into the little village of Durham City to grab some dinner which of course HAD to be fish & chips! I had never had fish and chips and boy was I glad I saved for my fish and chips cherry to be popped by the English! The portion was HUGE and I could barely finish a 1/4 of the filet but the chips were 400x better than french fries!! After dinner, we headed back to the hotel where I feel asleep at 5 pm and woke up the next morning. (Apparently, I needed the sleep!)
The next day was Kyle’s conference which meant two things. 1. We had to be up at a ridiculous time of 6:30 am and 2. I was going to be by myself allll day. I made sure Kyle made it to his conference center and then trekked down SEVERAL hills into town. Going down the hills wasn’t so bad but I knew it wouldn’t be the same going back up.
This was taken in the morning before I made my way down into the city.
I spent the day in coffee shops, market halls, libraries, the cathedral again, and a castle. The castle wasn’t as cool as it sounded. For a 5 pound fare, I got to see only 1/16 of the castle because it’s actually still being used by the university. All and all, it was a nice day but I was lonely and in a strange country/city. I was happy to meet back up with Kyle at the end of the day but I can tell you my poor calves and feet weren’t. The real highlight of Durham was Anne our taxi driver for the entire 2 days. After the first trip, she never turned on the meter again and showed us around the lovely countryside of Durham. She even went as far as showing us her home including the new conservatory she built off the back of her house. She was a character and one I will never forget.
The following day we were able to sleep in before we headed off to York. YORK!! OMG YORK! Next time I go to England, I’m spending more time in York. York looks, feels, and smells like or what one would think England would be like. It’s a really old (like everything else in England) village with it’s own minister and everything. After we settled into our hotel, we quickly made our into to town. We had a tight afternoon seeing we wanted to check out the minister before evening service of 5:00 pm and have some afternoon tea before the tea rooms closed at 5:00 pm. It was a tight afternoon but we managed to fit both in. The tea room, though was very nice, made me feel more like an American than ever before. Kyle and I stuck out like sore thumbs in our jeans and sneakers while everyone else wore their Sunday best (seeing it was Sunday). Oh well, the tea was DELICIOUS and my lemon cake was fabulous! After tea, we made our way back to the hotel and vegged for a bit. It was the first time, we both had access to some solid WiFi so we caught up on emails, Facebook, and other internet-y things. For dinner, we had the MOST delectable Indian cuisine I have ever had in my LIFE. Seriously, I’m not be hyperbolic – it was the best I have ever had! It was nice to finally have a nice sit down dinner and not be rushing around. The rest of the night was nice relaxing as we enjoyed a night cap before hitting the hay.
The next morning we were able to sleep in even though some noisy geese had other plans. We left York around midday and made our way to London! I was very excited for London because…do I need a reason to be excited about LONDON!?! Once we got our bags settled into our room, we immediately left to go to the London Eye!!! The walk was VERY brisk. The weather said it was 50 degrees but the wind was bitter and chilly. The London Eye was really cool and it gave a great view of the city. We saw Big Ben, The Gerkin, The Shard, and Westminster Abbey. After being all touristy and such, we made out way to the Covent Garden Market where we had a lovely but very expensive italian dinner outside under a heat lamp. The next day we had the whole day in London so we got up nice and early went to the Tate Museum. That was probably the least exciting thing we did the whole time and the food I had there got me sick so that was no good.
After the museum we went back to the hotel where I took a nap, hoping to sleep off my stomach. No dice. That night we had tickets to see Blithe Spirit with Angela Lansbury.
They were front row seats so I had to tough out the night whether my stomach was going to behave or not. Well it didn’t. My stomach waged war for the first 20 minutes of the play while I helplessly hoped for the best. There were moments where I didn’t know if I was going to throw up or have to run to the bathroom. It was horrible. By the second act, I was feeling better and it seemed the worst was over….nope…by Act 3 my stomach decided it had not lost the fight. After the play which was good if not a little misogynistic, we went back to the hotel where I vegged for the rest of the night.
The next morning was our last full day in England. We made our way to Leeds and then Keighley via train and then to Haworth via taxi. Our last leg of the trip was dedicated to the Bronte Parsonage where Bronte sisters lived and wrote their tales of Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. It was amazing trip back in time. We hiked up to the moors and got to see the stunning vistas that England had to offer. We even met a adorable little terrier and its owner as we walked along the paths of Haworth.
walking around the Bronte Parsonage
moss in Haworth (did I ever tell you moss totally creeps me up)
creepy tree in Haworth
walking to the moors
country side in England
Once we visited the museum, we had a good hour or so to blow so we explored the church in the centerof town and happened upon the village center filled adorable little shops.
We stopped in a sweet shop where I got a piece of vanilla fudge and 100 grams of some non-parallels. Kyle spent some time in a book store while I people watched. We then headed to the train station where our vacation came to an end. We were all done with all of our plans all we had left was to travel back to Leeds then to Newcastle, then a taxi ride to our hotel. We crashed the rest of the night and prepared for a long day of travel the next day.
We had pretty uneventful travel day. We hopped into my ice covered car and started our 3.5 hr trip back to Iowa. By the time we hit the Iowa border, I was total garbage and practically falling asleep at the wheel. Thankfully, Kyle took over the rest of the driving and we made it safely back home.
It was an amazing trip and honestly I can’t even believe I went to England. It still feels like a dream. I’m not sure when it’s going to hit me. As soon as I was home and settled in, I came down with a horrible head cold that lasted an entire week. Not to end the blog post abruptly but I have nothing else to add other than I am so glad I got to share the amazing experience with my best friend!
Kyle and I in the London Eye Pod.