It's been three days since my arival in the UK and it still feels so unreal to be here. Pembroke college is beautiful as is the rest of Cambridge. Walking down the streets and around the river is like walking through the past. The people we learn about in our textbooks lived and breathed in this town, they walked these streets. The more urban part of town includes shopping centers and eateries, with the new buildings being +juxtaposed by the glory of the old. How must it be to live here all the time; where history and modernity are in opposition, yet so cohesive and complimentary to the culture? I have a month left in the country and it doesnt seem like near enough time.
As I write I am travelling by coach to Edinburgh (pronounced ed-in-bruh), and we are about three or so hours from our destination. It is about a 10 hour journey, including a few pit stops along the way. We stopped in Yorkshire village, Richmond, for lunch and to also view the ruins in the town. I walked down a spiral staircase so small I had to take care not to hit my head on the ceiling or my shoulders on the walls. Then I walked up seemingly hundreds of steps to the top of the ruined castle. It was beautiful. The walls may have been crumbled and broken, but they still managed to be breathtaking. Its's hard to imagine the magnitude of what this place once was.
All too soon we had to leave Richmond and continue along the rest of our journey. The only other places that we stopped were gas stations, where we were able to buy snacks that are not available in the US. Since we had read and seen The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, we decided to try turkish delights, which are mentioned in the story and also seem to be in every store we come across. Boy were we surprised! They tasted awful. Basically they are a perfume tasting jelly surrounded by a thin layer of milk chocolate. I spit mine out immediately. The chips, or as they would say, "crisps," were also rather odd. They seem to have this fascination with meat and potatoes which carries over even into their potato chips. Some flavors we have tried so far have been BBQ beef, which I mistakenly bought thinking they were just BBQ, Roast chicken, and most disturbingly, Prawns. None of them were awful, but I also never need to try them again.When it comes to food in general in the UK it has been a strange yet fascinating experience.
. . .
We should be arriving soon and although it is already nearly 7 the sun is still fairly high in the sky in front of us while the dark clouds have been left behind, making our first glimpse of the sea lovely. It is so different from California where all there is is sand and surf. Here there are black cliffs and too green grass followed by a gray ocean. A sort of gloomy beauty.
On a seperate but random note, we just had to pull over the bus so a girl could get out and climb up a grassy hill and into the bushes to relieve herself. Kind of embarassing, but I guess if you gotta go...
Now we are back on the road again and hopefully just about to our destination, our bus driver drives scarily fast so I'm sure we#ll make good time.
On a final note; I always had this notion that in my mind that England and the UK were rather small, especially in comparison with other countries, but despite looking small to an outsider it is actually quite large with lots of open space. This is especially clear when you want to travel from one destination to another and realize it takes hours. There is so much open space it is unbelievable, and the fields go further than the eye can see with so much green: greener than any green in California. It looks like a painting. So different from the industrial dirty look of so much of where I live near.
It has only been three days and I have already seen so much yet so little, I'm sure these next four days in Scotland will be magical and time will pass too quickly. Before I know it we'll be driving back down to Cambridge and classes will begin, while I explore the rest of the city and even the country in my spare time and energy. My motto thus far seems to be "I'll sleep when I get back on the plane to California." Until then I dont count on getting much rest for fear of missing out on something spectacular.
Until my next bit of downtime