A Belated Brighton Blog Post

Soooo a few weeks ago, I went on a trip with my program to Canterbury, Dover, and Brighton! It was so much fun, I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write about it!!

While the trip was open to everyone in the program, it was required by my British Youth Culture class that I go. And I’m so glad I did. Of course, going along with my great trend I’ve had, I was sick on this trip. Having to get on a bus that Saturday morning was not where I wanted to be, especially since I had been coughing up my lungs since the Thursday before.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to experience the awesome nightlife that Brighton is famous for, but I had been ready to get back in bed and just sleep my sickness away since I had woken up that morning.

The second day in Brighton really was the best/most exciting. We started the day with a tour of the town. My class had a different tour from everyone else because we were focusing on different points related to our class. It was an awesome perspective on a historic city. We went through the famous Lanes shopping district, and ended up at the Brighton Pavilion. Pictures weren’t allowed in there, but it was gorgeous. It’s supposed to be a Taj Mahal-inspired building, intended as a residence for the royal family near the coast (during the 18th and 19th centuries).

For lunch, I had the freshest and best fish & chips I’ve had since I got to England. Brighton is well known for its seafood…because it’s a beach town. Then I went and adventured down to Brighton Pier. I’ve never really been to a true pier before, and this was so cool. It was a little weird thinking that these carnival rides were on what was essentially a dock, but I just leaned into it. It was really cool. I just walked around and took a lot of pictures during my afternoon free time, so let’s go to (what I assume is) the only reason people are reading this post: photos!

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I’ve gotten really behind at writing blog posts lately. I have a lot of posts with titles and pictures in them, but no words yet. But I also have a bunch of papers due in the next week, so I’m working to find a good balance. Hopefully I’ll get caught up this week, but if not, next week for sure! Thanks for sticking with me!


lydia. 

Lisbon Landscapes

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts ONE and TWO!


Since I got such a positive response on the last photo post I did (landscapes in Scotland), I thought I would do another one! This one is focused on the landscapes and beautiful scenes in Lisbon. Enjoy! (And let me know which is your favorite, as I want to enter some of them in my school’s study abroad photo contest!)

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Lisbon was BEAUTIFUL (if you couldn’t tell), and if you have any questions about planning a trip to Portugal, let me know! I know a lot more than I did before this trip!


lydia. 

Lisbon: We Walked HOW Far?

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts ONE and THREE!


Saturday in Lisbon was one for the books. To put it simply, Kelsey and I estimated we walked about ten miles that day alone. A lot of it being up and downhill. As someone recovering from the worst blisters in her entire life, it was difficult. But it was so, so worth it for the stuff we got to see.

We got up pretty early in the morning, to the free breakfast in our hostel. I don’t know what it is with this hostel, but they kept getting better and better. They had waffles, toast, cereal, coffee, panini’s, apples, tomatoes, cucumbers, orange juice, tea, and literally so many other breakfast foods. This breakfast was probably better than any hotel breakfast I’d ever eaten. Not to mention the fact that they had nutella on the table for the waffles.

The hostel also offered a free walking tour at 10:30 every morning (seriously if you’re ever in Lisbon stay in this hostel I promise you they’re not paying me to say any of this I really believe it), so we decided to go on that. Even though it had begun to rain and that made the old cobblestone tiled streets even more slick, we thought it would be the best way to see the city.

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Turns out, it was. Our tour guide, Marco, was so great and very personable. Our first stop was literally to just chat and get to know each other. We had to introduce ourselves and give a hint as to what country we were from and everyone had to guess. I said “everyone’s afraid of our next president – even though we don’t know who it will be” and Kelsey said “we really love baseball.” There were probably four or five other Americans on the tour, so we quickly ran out of ideas as to what to say. Not to mention our accents really give us away.

We spent about three hours on the tour, walking around the main part of central Lisbon, trying not to slip on the wet ground and keep up with fast-walking Marco. He spouted off facts about his home country faster than I could talk about my hometown, and we ended our tour at a local flea market. As someone who lives about half an hour from the largest flea market in the Southeastern USA, and the largest indoor flea market in the USA (it’s the same one LOL), this flea market seemed like no big deal. But it was still a really cool market. I actually ended up getting three Christmas presents for people there. There were also huge booths that looked like mini garage sales. I’m not sure why, but that was really interesting to me.

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By the time we left the flea market and got some lunch, it was a few hours until sunset. We wanted to take a train to Belém to make it to Torre de Belém before the sun set. We had to go back to the hostel (I hadn’t brought my jacket with me and we had souvenirs we didn’t want to carry around). My feet were killing me, but I was excited to walk down by the riverside again and watch the sun set over the river.

By the time we made it to Torre de Belém I had to sit down. But the view was breathtaking and almost worth it. We even found a makeshift stand called “wine with a view,” and it is exactly what it sounds like. They sold wine right by the river so you could sit and enjoy a glass of wine as the sun went down. Which is exactly what I did. It really brought the whole evening together.

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How we felt after walking nearly three miles to get there.

We ended up back at TimeOut Market for dinner, and on our walk back, we began to hear really loud music. Assuming we had missed out on a party, we followed the noise to outside a Tezenis store, where a huge stage was set up and there were DJs on a balcony. Staying to see what all the ruckus was about, it turns out we found ourselves in the middle of Rita Ora’s launch of her lingerie line. She was performing a concert at the opening of this store, that she was partnered with, and Kelsey and I stumbled upon it at the exact moment that it was starting. What are the odds?

While I didn’t really know who Rita Ora was (until Kelsey explained to me she had contributed to a bunch of famous songs, including “Black Widow”), it was still really fun to join the crowd and cheer her on and she performed. Not only did we get the chance to see Rita Ora, but we got to hang out at a free concert that we managed to run into. It was so cool.

That night at the hostel was cocktail night, but I opted for a shower and to go to bed early. Once Kelsey and I had discussed exactly how much we think we had walked that day (boy I wish I had had a FitBit for Saturday in Lisbon), I was even more tired than I had previously been. Kelsey was FaceTiming a friend back home at 11:00PM, but I was asleep before she even got back to the room. We were both wiped out from our trek around the city that day.

Overall, Lisbon was a trip I will never forget. Even though I doubted initially if there was going to be anything to do in Lisbon, it was going to be worth it to get to see Kelsey alone. Lisbon was great, but getting to see Kelsey was better. I couldn’t have imagined a better trip with a better person. Only with Kelsey would we accidentally walk ten miles in one day, run into a Rita Ora concert, and plan our future houses based on the media room of the hostel (LOL). At first, it seemed like there wouldn’t be anything that cool to do in Lisbon, it was absolutely one of my favorite trips I’ve taken in my life.

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Thanks for a great weekend, Kels. See ya in December.


lydia.

Lisbon is for Reunions

I know it’s been a while since I actually went to Lisbon, but hey, better late than never, right? Since breaking up my travel posts worked out so well for my Scotland trip, I plan to do the same with my Lisbon trip. Check out parts TWO and THREE, up later this week!


Over the first weekend of November, I met up with one of my best friends from back at Wofford, who is spending her semester abroad in Granada, Spain: Kelsey! After a lot of confusion in planning our trip and even a change in weekend, we finally decided on Lisbon, Portugal as our destination.

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Kelsey and I posing at Miradouro de Santa Luiza!

I’m not gonna lie, when Kelsey first suggested Lisbon, I was like “really? Lisbon? What’s in Lisbon?” But boy was I wrong. Lisbon is absolutely gorgeous and is chock-full of history. Did you know it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe? And it was completely destroyed in the 15th century by an earthquake, fire, and tsunami? Talk about an apocalypse. Lisbon was a part of the Roman empire, and is still home to some Roman ruins.

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But without a doubt, the best part about going to Lisbon was getting to see Kelsey. If you know me at all, you know that my friends are incredibly important to me. Being away from them for so long is slowly breaking me, but getting to see Kelsey, even if for a short period of time…it was so, so wonderful.

On Friday, I arrived in Lisbon, navigating my way from the airport to the hostel by myself (Kelsey had arrived before my flight even left London), and honestly – I was super proud of myself. First things first, we had to take a reunion selfie (after the ten minute hug I initiated). Then, after checking into the hostel (Good Morning Hostel – Lisbon, I would highly recommend this hostel if you ever go to Lisbon IT WAS AMAZING), we decided to adventure over to the TimeOut Market. It’s basically a huge food market and had everything we could ever imagine. But of course, these Americans had pizza.

It was getting close to sunset (thanks Daylight Savings Time) when we finished our late lunch, so we ventured uphill (for some reason, Lisbon is SUPER hilly) to Miradouro de Santa Luzia, which essentially means “viewing point.” It was gorgeous. We got some great pictures and were completely blown away by the views. For a while, I was under the impression that we were overlooking the ocean, but I later learned that it was just a river.

On our walk back, we stopped every few blocks to take pictures of the tiles on the facades of the buildings. That’s one thing I didn’t expect in Lisbon was the beauty of the architecture. Yes, they had Spanish-style buildings, but also they had the facades decorated with elaborate tiles. It’s something that really makes Lisbon unique, and something I really loved.

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While these are not the actual tiled walls, these are some tiles from former facades that were for sale at Feira la Ladra!

Our hostel (which is so amazing), had a free sangria night on Friday night, and we both took full advantage of that. We got the chance to meet some of the other people in our hostel (people from everywhere – USA, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Czech Republic, Mexico – all over), which I really loved. It was something that I feel like you don’t get the chance to do in most hostels, and even though I was super excited to be spending time with Kelsey, it was really cool to get the opportunity to meet people from all over the world.

Our final adventure for our first day in Lisbon was an attempt to locate a Tapas bar. Kelsey had been raving about how wonderful Tapas bars are in Granada (you can apparently get appetizers and a drink for like two euros). But that was not the case in Lisbon. It’s not Spain (obviously), so there weren’t many places that were like Spain. We did end up finding a really cool restaurant where we got food, but it took way too long for our liking. Kelsey had been up since 4:30AM and I had been up since 6:30AM. Neither of us wanted to wait very long for food, but Europe takes their sweet time in restaurants. Needless to say we were ready for bed when we finally made it back to the hostel.

More than anything though, I am glad that I took this trip because I wanted to see Kelsey. My friends are very important people to me and not being able to see them is really starting to get to me. Spending this time with Kelsey really helped make up for it. Kelsey is such an amazing person, completely genuine and tells it like it is. But she’s also kind and caring and the person you want to have around if something goes wrong, because she always keeps a level head. She is not judgmental and loves with her whole heart.

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I had been going through a small bout of homesickness the week before I went to Lisbon, and Kelsey cured that for me without a doubt. There is no one in the world I would rather adventure around Lisbon with, attempting to not completely wipe out on the slick tiled hills. It was a random adventure, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way with any other person.


lydia.

Scotland: I Made A Reindeer Friend

My trip to Scotland was jam-packed with adventures, so I had to break it up into multiple posts! Check out parts ONETWO and FOUR!


Yep, you read that title right. I MET REINDEER.

Being from the hot and muggy south of the United States, I never, ever imagined that me, a girl who has only never seen more than four inches of snow at once in her life, would get to meet real live reindeer.

Thankfully, my feet were no longer killing me to the point where I couldn’t walk, so I was able to join my group as we went to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre at the Cairngorm National Park in Scotland.

We spent another few hours on the bus (see post number two for photos), stopped for lunch, and arrived at Cairngorm Mountain for the hike to the reindeer. I had a lot of faith in myself and my blisters, and I was so excited to meet reindeer, I think that helped in my walking ability a lot more than I think.

Once we made it to the reindeer enclosure, I caught a glimpse of the creatures that I had thought were fictional until I was eleven. REINDEER.

It was an experience I can’t even begin to describe. Being surrounded by the Scottish Highlands, getting to hand-feed reindeer, pet them, and take selfies with them…reality seemed suspended for the hour we spent with those reindeer.

Please enjoy the multitude of pictures I took with reindeer, of reindeer, of my friends with reindeer, and of the scenery. (I know you can’t see my face in a lot of them but it’s okay…I was in the midst of discovering a life dream that I never knew I had.)

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The first glimpse we got of the REINDEER. (It’s been over a week and honestly I’m still as excited about it as I was the day it happened.)

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Colin’s attempt to befriend the reindeer. Needless to say, it didn’t exactly work.

 

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JUST LOOK AT THIS VIEW (and ignore that it’s mildly blurry, my camera was acting up that day).

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My new best friend and I hanging out in the Scottish national park.

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Honestly I think feeding a reindeer was something that was never on my bucket list but it should’ve been. CHECK!

I didn’t intend for this to become such a photo-heavy post, like the last one, but y’all. REINDEER.

You know what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words? I have about a million words to use to describe my experience hanging out with reindeer, so those pictures are going to have to do the trick.

Stay tuned for my final post from Scotland, which will include my hunt for Nessie at Loch Ness!


lydia.

Scotland: Landscapes

My trip to Scotland was jam-packed with adventures, so I had to break it up into multiple posts! Check out parts ONETHREE, and FOUR!


I promised I would be back with more Scotland posts! Since I’m writing them all after the fact, it’s going to be more difficult to make it feel like one narrative. But I’ll do the best that I can!

We left off on Friday, on the bus to Oban. Like I said in the last post, the drive through the Scottish Highlands provided some of the most beautiful landscapes I had ever seen. Honestly, there’s no better way to describe this scenery than with photos. So, this will  be a very photo-heavy post.

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While not all of these were taken on the same journey, they were still all from the different bus rides we took. Regardless, gorgeous (and shoutout to me for getting decent pictures while on a moving bus).

That’s pretty much it. It was an amazing view, and it was basically four hours long. I’ll be back soon with the next post about Scotland! Stay tuned!


lydia. 

Scotland: Limping Through Edinburgh

My trip to Scotland was jam-packed with adventures, so I had to break it up into multiple posts! Check out parts TWOTHREE, and FOUR!


If you’re friends with me on snapchat (@beinglydia), or follow me on instagram (@put.a.lyd.on.it), you know that I just spent four days in Scotland with my program. In the simplest terms: it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

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I have to break this up into multiple posts because there is just way too much to talk about. I didn’t have my computer with me, so I have to write about all of it after the fact. I’ll try to put every tiny detail I can remember in, because it was so wonderful.

Wednesday

First things first, I woke up on Wednesday morning with the biggest blisters I have ever had. They were basically the entire ball of my foot (on both feet) and absolutely painful. I couldn’t walk, and I was in so much pain, I couldn’t believe it. I honestly didn’t even think I was going to be able to make it to Scotland, I was in so much pain. So I basically spent the entire day laying in bed and soaking my blisters in epsom salts. I packed my bag as simply as I could and went to bed early (I had to get up at 6:15 the next morning).

Thursday

Waking up at 6:15, my feet not feeling any better than they had the night before, I made my way down to the lobby in order to get to the train station with my group. Thankfully King’s Cross is only about three blocks from where we live, so I figured I could do the walk and then sit down on the train for the next four hours and not stress about my feet.

Clearly, I should never go into a job as a psychic because that is not what happened. After limping as best I could to King’s Cross (while also dragging my somehow overpacked suitcase behind me), our train was delayed just enough for my friend Madeline and I to think that we could grab something from Starbucks. Just before we got to the register, I turned around and noticed that our group was gone. We dropped our un-purchased items and bolted to where we had left our suitcases.

To say we had started the day off on the wrong foot was an understatement in more than one way.

We did make it on the train in enough time, just without the snacks we wanted. It was a shorter ride than I thought mostly because I was dreading the walking tour waiting for me in Edinburgh, but also because I slept a good portion of the train ride.

We arrived in Edinburgh, made our way to the hostel, and were given an hour to grab lunch before meeting back at the train station for the walking tour I was dreading so much. My feet were still absolutely killing me and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it and no one who would care even in the slightest. After taking far too long at lunch, we had about a mile to trek in less then 10 minutes in order to make it in time for the walking tour. I ended up losing my friends because my blisters had me going so slowly, and by the time I caught up with the tour, I had ended up running on my blisters and was in tears from the pain.

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JK Rowling’s handprints

Bless Kimberly, one of the IES chaperones who walked (limped) with me through the entire two hours of the walking tour. It was a wonderful tour, and I wish I could’ve had a better experience when in Edinburgh. The highlights of the tour were, of course, The Elephant House Cafe (where JK Rowling wrote a good portion of Harry Potter), the graveyard where JK Rowling got many ideas for characters names in Harry Potter, and so many more places.

After the walking tour, we ended at Edinburgh Castle. It. Was. Stunning. I honestly have no words for the view from this castle. It was completely marvelous I am honestly running out of adjectives to use to describe how amazing Edinburgh was. I still couldn’t walk very much (or very well), so I mourn the amount of the Castle I was unable to see (prison cells, crown jewels of Scotland, and so many other areas). Of course, the highlight of the castle was the Scotch whiskey tasting. The Castle has their own whiskey, and it was delicious. I bought myself some and felt like a real adult buying alcohol that wasn’t cheap. I also got a shot glass for my international shot glass collection (it’s a long story).

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The view from Edinburgh Castle. So so beautiful.

Again, I honestly wish I was able to walk around more (specifically up more stairs), and see more of the beautiful views that this castle had to offer, but I began feeling my feet forming new blisters (because of the weird way I had to walk in order to reduce the pain), and I knew I needed to quit moving. I sat on a bench for a while and just enjoyed the views that the castle provided. I honestly can’t put into words how beautiful this place was. I hope the pictures can even provide you a tiny glimpse of how amazing this place is.

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My selfie from as far to the top as I could get of Edinburgh Castle. Please enjoy lol.

Once we left the castle, we walked about a mile and a half (if my feet weren’t already killing me, they would be at this point) back to our hostel. Once we got back, I got in my bed and pretty much didn’t get up until the next day. I did get up to shower and put antiseptic cream on my feet. But then I pretty much passed out. It had been an incredibly long day with the best views (and some of the worst foot pain) I had ever experienced.

Friday

Our second and final day in Edinburgh, Friday was no improvement in how much my feet hurt. We had free time pretty much the entire morning, and most people opted to hike Arthur’s Seat. I wanted so badly to join them, but I knew that the last thing I needed to do was make my feet hurt any worse. Besides, we had a big hiking day coming up on Saturday, and I knew I needed to save my energy.

I ended up sitting at the hostel for a while, reading my book. I did make my way to a grocery store to restock my already huge collection of blister bandages and first aid supplies.

Eventually, we all loaded onto the bus that would become our home for the next three days, and I ended up in a seat all by my lonesome. It was kind of nice though, because it allowed me the chance to sleep on the bus if I needed to.

We had a four hour bus ride ahead of us to Oban, where we would have some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my entire life.

With that, I’ll end this post. Not to end on a cliffhanger or anything, just because it’s really illogical to try and cram four days of Scottish adventures into one post. I’m going to break this up into a couple other posts, so keep an eye on my Facebook, Twitter, your email, or however you follow my blog for the next post about my amazing long weekend in Scotland!


lydia.