Sunday, November 15, 2009

Great Scot

yawwwn, good morning! So i meant to update this last night about my whirlwind of a day over in Scotland, but I was just too exhausted to string a coherent thought together. So let me try again:

Yesterday started bright and early (alarm going off a little after 5) in order for me to get dressed, get my stuff together, eat breakfast and be over in front of Laura's apartment to catch a cab to the waterfront around 6. Several days earlier, we had booked tickets for a Stena-Line day trip from Belfast to Glasgow. For 18 pounds (~ 30 bucks), I got a roundtrip ferry ride (about 2 hours each way) to Scotland, and a roundtrip bus (about 2.5 hours each way) from the port city of Stranraer to Glasgow. With the little amount of time and money I have left, This turned out being an awesome idea. I highly recommend for anyone in Belfast with a free day to get out of the city.

Anyways, we arrived at the ferry port at around quarter to 7. The ship was scheduled to board at 7 and then leave by 730. Nope. Due to crazy inclement weather in the UK, the boat ended up being delayed by over an hour and a half. Usually I'm pretty chill about delays, but this sucked! As it was only a day trip, we were supposed to have 4 hours to explore Glasgow, but now our time was shortened down to just over 2 hours. Trying to see a whole city in that amount of time is just crazy, but Laura and I were up for the challenge. They offered to give people vouchers to return again today when the weather was nicer, but neither of us could do that with our schedules.
Anyways, at around 930, we were off! The boat was sick, and that made up for a lot of our disappointment with the delay. After about a half hour of being excited on the boat, we both crashed:

The ride was smooth and before we knew it, Hark! Scotland! We arrived in Stranaur ( a verrrry cute port city), and then loaded on to a bus. Many people chose to take a day trip to Ayr instead (a much smaller town that still had decent shopping) of Glasgow because it was much closer and therefore people would have more time in the town, but we had our hearts set on the bigger city. Most people on the day trip were going to do some Christmas shopping because shopping in Scotland is incredible (a fact I did not know).

The bus ride was amazing! The first leg of it was down the rocky Scottish coast, weaving through various seaside villages. Although I was still pretty tired and had planned on napping, I was too caught up in all of the scenery to sleep at all. Scotland looked pretty similar to Ireland, but it just had a different feel to it.
The coast was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. Out to sea were all of these rocky island that looked incredibly out of place. It reminded me of Lord of the Rings or something. I didn't take too many pictures of it because I really just wanted to take it in and completely appreciate what I was seeing. At one point I saw what could easily be the most beautiful phenomena that I've seen in nature. There was a rocky island off the coast several miles out that jetted way up out of the ocean in a crazy jagged way. A rainbow had formed so that it looked like it was shooting out from this rocky island. The rainbow only went up a little bit into the sky and then disappeared in the sunlight. I'm not sure how good that description is, but I know I'll probably remember that for the rest of my life and wanted to record it somehow. Laura saw it too and tried to take a picture but with no success. I absolutely love seeing things that I would have no way to predict seeing when waking up in the morning. This is why I love to travel and why I get restless so easily.
The busride also passed through millions of fields full of sheep. millions may not even be an exaggeration. I never got sick of them though because they were just so damn cute. HOWEVER, it one field I was looking at the sheep and noticed one that was not like the others. It was laying on its back, legs straight up in the air, completely still. DEAD. I was horrified and looked around to see if anyone on the bus had noticed, but we had driven by too fast and it seemed like I was the only one who cared about the sheep anyway.

2 hours later...Glasgow! I was severely underestimated what Glasgow would be like. I figured it would be a pretty small city, smaller than Belfast even. wrooong. It reminded me a lot of Seattle. There werent a lot of high buildings obviously, but it was very developed, with tons of modern shopping, restaurants, art, and cool architecture. We got off the bus and were informed that we only have 1 hr 45 min to see the city before being back on the bus for our trip back to the ferry. AH. Laura and I took off. I hadn't eaten anything yet that day, so I ran into a a convenient store and picked up a snickers for some essential fuel.
We had a Scotland guide and on the way we made a list of what things we wanted to see, but it was really hard to get our bearings right away. We finally decided to ask a police officer how to get to the coolest things in the city. but APPARENTLY, there was a huge demonstration going on that day around where all the biggest tourist sites were so we couldn't go near them even if we wanted to. This was kind of a blessing because I know I would've been much more disappointed if I missed out of stuff that I could have done. There were also lots of little gems a long the way that made up for it:

Laura and I took a minute to make our gameplan. We decided we had time to do 2 things, and each of us would pick one. Laura chose that we should take the subway (also known as the clockwork orange) out to the University and see some of that architecture. I chose that we should go to a pub (surprise!). It wasn't just any pub though, it was supposed to be a really good one with the longest bar in the UK.
So we were off! We got to the University in about 10 minutes, and we had plenty of time to explore and take all the necessary pictures. This place was incredible. It was founded in 1451 and probably doesn't look much different from how it did then. Pictures:

After spending time there, we hopped back on the subway to the city centre so that I could get a scottish ale in my pub of choice before the bus ride back. We ran around centre for a while, taking pictures, and being lost and we finally stumbled upon the bar. I asked directions as much as I could because I just loved hearing the Scottish accent. I couldn't get enough. As if we didn't have enough hiccups along the way, we arrived at the bar to find out that it was FULL because there was a party going on inside and that no one else could enter. w.t.f. With the time that we allotted to drinking, we decided to just slowly wander back to the bus and do some souvenir shopping along the way. I got a few gifts for some people at home and a "Baby Nessie" statue for my desk. This could be one of my favorite souvenirs of all time. seee!

We also got a dinner on the go at the "Creative food company". Basically you go in and pick a bunch of indredients from a salad bar type thing and then they chop em up and put em on in your choice of dish. Laura picked pizza and I got a cous cous bowl. They chopped up a variety of peppers, mushrooms, beans, onions, jalapenos, chicken, feta, sundried tomatoes, and put them in this delicious whole wheat couscous with a sweet and sour sauce. AND it was only 3 pounds.

After picking up the food we headed back to the bus and devoured it. Soon after, we were both fast asleep for the entire ride back. It was dark out this time so I didn't have the awesome scenery to distract me.
The ferry back was a million times more luxurious than the first one. They kept promoting it as the most luxurious, smooth, and speedy ferry on the planet. All I could think about was the Titanic (built in Belfast) and could just imagine the glorious boat sinking into the depths of the Irish Sea. I'm so positive.
But seriously, the boat ride back was through the same storm that cause our delays earlier in the day. There was some intense rocking, and a lot of the merchandise at the indoor mall (yes, it had one..) was crashing all over the place. It was pretty scary, but I also thought it was fun. I'm one of those people that enjoys turbulence on an airplane haha. is that weird?
So yes, I drank some coffee and looked at my Nessie toy while Laura went and got her nails done. Yep, luxury.
We got home at around 10 and went straight home for a hot shower and bed.
Although it was rushed and hectic, I loved the day in Scotland. I would highly recommend this as a travel destination and really hope that I have the chance to go back and spend some more time.

Taking care of some other business:
I got my Northeastern housing assignment for the spring!
Pro: got placed in WVG! I've never lived in a West Village, but it seems nice enough and convenient. Hopefully this time I will be able to somewhat appreciate what on campus housing actually has to offer, even though obviously going back off campus is the ideal situation..oh well. It was way to hard to find an affordable, reliable, convenient, and clean sublet from 3000 miles away.
Con: not in a single?! shenme?! I put the highest emphasis on wanting a single bedroom on my housing preference form. I'm in great academic standing, have no little tiffs with OSCCR, and handed my form in minutes after they distributed them. I'm not anti social or anything, but after 2 years of living in my own bedroom, I've come to really appreciate the privacy. Anyways, I've already sent them an email of concern and hopefully they'll switch it up for me.

I've officially been here for more than 2 months. Thats longer than I've ever been away from home. 35 days left in europe :( / :)

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