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11 July 2011

Nottingham and Good-Bye to England (for Now)

Day 46: Tuesday, 5 July 2011

I had a train booked from York to Nottingham. Jacek walked me to the train station, and I boarded the train, first to Sheffield, where I changed onto a second train to Nottingham. I listened to my ipod the whole way.

Nottingham is a bigger city, so it had more of an urban feel, which felt comfortable to me. My host, Luisa, came to the train station to meet me. We dropped my bags off at her place, and after a small bite to eat, set off to explore the city. It was really fun - apparently she found my antics of climbing on the Robin Hood statue quite hilarious.

We then peeked inside the oldest pub in England (apparently). And walked along the Robin Hood trail for a bit.

There was an old church that had been turned into an upscale lounge/bar, the Pitcher & Piano. We stumbled into a museum that had criminals and Robin Hood. Random explorations are fun!

The 4th of July in York

Day 45: Monday, 4 July 2011

It's the 4th of July and I'm on a train from Manchester to York. I had originally planned to travel to York yesterday, but having not found a couch to surf I decided to stay in Manchester one more night. (Frankly, I have come to dislike packing all my things up and out every time I change cities.) But I enjoyed my time in Manchester - it was a much-needed break from my non stop stream of daily activities. Everyone was really nice and polite too, very British, which I liked (although I'm still working on developing my understanding of British sarcasm and humour). I did get a chance to watch a few comedy/panel shows last night, sort of like a wittier version of those VH1 gossip shows.

Anyway, I rushedly said bye to each of the housemates either at night or in the morning, and I rushed to Piccadilly station to catch my train - but I missed it by just a minute. I kept calm and carried on to the next train, which left in 15 minutes, so no big deal. Did I mention how much I like trains? They're such a great way to travel, smooth and convenient. I remember being obsessed with trains when I was little; I wanted to be a train conductor.

York is a well-preserved medieval city, founded by the Romans and with a lot of Viking history as well. It's great to walk around the city center. There's The Shambles, a narrow street with buildings that have remained the same since the middle ages apparently.

Lakes to the City

Day 43: Saturday, 2 July 2011

England has some interesting and fast-paced cities, but I feel that England is really best experienced in the countryside. The peculiarities of British culture (politeness, formality, simple home-style cooking) just seem to make more sense in a small town atmosphere. And Ambleside is such a great example of this. There's a university, so there are plenty of young people, but there are so many more outdoor things to do. Many people were hiking up and down the many hills and mountains nearby, and as I passed them, they would all smile and greet me. The economic downturn has benefited domestic tourism here, as UK residents choose to spend their holidays in England's most scenic area instead of going abroad.

Nick had gone to work early, and after another late morning, I went for a hike to the top of nearby Loughrigg. It was nice, sunny and warm, and the views were great as well. I returned to the apartment, and Claire, Vicky, and I went to the park, where we played some card games (Egyptian ratscrew), and tried to juggle/play with Claire's diablo. Nick arrived and joined us, opting to play catch/baseball with Claire's juggling balls, and then their friend Matt came too. We all walked to The Apple Pie and I got to try some Bath bake, which is kind of like a fruit-filled bread, which wasn't as good as usual apparently. I also got a couple bottles of local ale from the wine shop where Claire works, and then Nick drove me to the train station in Windermere.