EUROPE TOUR 2013 – TRAVEL JOURNAL
1st STOP: EDINBURGH
Expectations were skyhigh, as 3M students and teachers were about to land in the first location of our 2013 Europe Tour itinerary, Scotland’s historical capital city: Edinburgh.
The first thing we could see from the plane was the vast ocean of clouds that filtered our view. Somehow, it served to increase our expectations and excitement. When we could finally see the grand city from above, it all seemed to be covered by a shroud of mystery and a shade of green we had never seen before. We could behold the tops of the beautiful brick houses and the numerous Medieval towers that welcomed us from below.
As soon as we landed, we could feel the “Britishness” of the place. The air was different, English was everywhere, and each one of our students proved to be eager to use their language skills and everything they learnt back at school, in this gorgeous land.
The first challenge was the accent, of course. At first, the Scottish dialect seemed difficult to understand, but as the days went by, it became much easier to follow. Some of our students even picked up the Scottish tone and rhythm when they spoke the language!
We stayed at Pollock Halls, a beautiful facility in the University of Edinburgh. Comfy bedrooms, spacious common rooms and a dining hall that offered us more food options than we had ever imagined! The building was quite modern, but it was built around a perfectly preserved Medieval tower.
Our first close encounter with the city was the same night we arrived. We hit the city centre, which was full of lights and life (as it is to be expected on a summer Saturday evening in one of the most entertaining cities of Europe). We could see some of the most beautiful buildings, modern and old, and the streets shone for their neatness. First city photo shooting: DONE!!
On our second day, we hit the first famous landmark of our Europe Tour: Edinburgh Castle. Kings and Queens, Royal Family Crests, swords, armours, shields, and a wonderful view of the city, which together make it one of the most beautiful places of the world, will stay forever in our memory. Then, we walked down the “Royal Mile”, and found tons of gift shops with millions of Scottish souvenirs for our families and friends.
On our third day it was time for some football and rugby, a very important part of our Scottish tradition as a school. It was a fun time with everyone involved, and we hope we can do it again.
Then, on our fourth day, it was time to say “Good Bye”. Farewell, Edinburgh! We hope we can go back to you and your beautiful green areas some day!!!
2nd STOP: YORK
The Walled City! More than 1500 years of history were right there in front of us as we reached our second destination. After two hours on coach ride, we could see the change in the landscape as one tiny blue rock placed on top of a minute hill showed us that we were entering English territory. We found ourselves surrounded by tons of charming villages with fairy tale cottages, adorning our way to the once capital city of “Britannia”.
When we reached York, or “Jorvick” in the ancient Viking language that was once spoken here, we were able to behold the picturesque alleys and very narrow streets in the city centre, which denote its ancient origin. As we were guided on a very interesting tour around the city, we could see the remains of Medieval Castles, Walls, Towers, and astonishing Minsters (religious edifications which date as far back as 1000 AC). We enjoyed our free time in the city taking loads of pictures in every corner we found. One of the most interesting spots we visited was the “Jorvick” Viking Centre, with an amazing ride that showed us the history of this early settlement, up to the arrival of the Normans.
We ended up our stay here with a very exciting rugby match against the oldest school in Britain, St Peter’s.
Thank you York for your hospitality and the beauty of your historical places!
3rd STOP: STRATFORD-UPON-AVON: SOON!
4th STOP: BATH
The legendary city of natural hot springs and stunning architecture, Bath and its people were expecting us with arms wide open and we were looking forward to discovering it all. We stayed in a beautiful complex at the University of Bath. Given its location up in a hill, we had a beautiful view of the city below! The University Campus was H-U-G-E! It literally looked like a city inside. It had everything we needed: restaurants, markets, cafés, sports fields, entertainment areas, a library, among tons of other facilities!
Our first exploration outing was to the city centre. Our first thought was how different the architecture was from the other cities we had visited. We could understand why Bath was the only entire city in Britain to achieve the World Heritage status. It was a beautiful mixture between solid Roman planning, such as the world-wide known “Roman Baths”, and careful Georgian construction, like “The Royal Crescent” and “The Circus”, built around 1760.
The Roman Baths were definitely a must-see landmark. There, we discovered the original name that the Romans had given to Bath in the times “Britannia” was a Roman colony: “Aquae Sulis”. They worshipped “Minerva”, the Roman goddess of wisdom and sponsor of arts, trade, and defence. Being there was a unique experience! We even bumped into an actor disguised as a true Roman, offering prayers to the Goddess. Top-notch!