Just days ago Portugal was one of the few countries in Europe I had yet to visit. Yesterday I set out to change that. I sleepwalked over to Stansted airport at 4am for a 0.01GBP Ryanair flight to Porto. I arrived in the city at 9am, excited to start exploring.
Today I traveled out to Winchester, a town I couldn’t help but associate with the Winchester Mystery House, San Jose’s bizarre tourist attraction. Upon arriving, it didn’t take Winchester long to expunge my wrongful associations and give me new impressions of England’s once-premier city.
I seem to visit Spain at four year intervals. My first trip was when I was in seventh grade. My family went on a big tour of the mainland during Semana Santa, the festival-filled week before Easter. Four years later I traveled to Barcelona for a weekend with some friends I was studying with in Nice. Four more years went by before I was working in Brussels and took weekend trips to visit friends in Madrid and Mallorca. After yet another four year hiatus, I returned to Spain on Friday with my boyfriend for a weekend in the Canary Islands.
In all of my day tripping from London I have become quite fascinated with the history of my adoptive country. I moved here from a city with history dating back a whopping 160 years and in which we consider a building old if it was built before 1950. From that perspective, being in a country where there are actual Roman ruins is pretty exciting.
Today’s travels took me to St. Albans. Formerly known by its Roman name, Verulamium, St. Albans is home to a great many of these Roman ruins. From the old city wall to the Roman theater to the town-house and row of shops, I spent the afternoon taking in the Roman sites and enjoying the sunshine in Verulamium Park.
Yesterday I traveled to the medieval town of Rye on England’s southeastern coast. A two hour train ride from London, Rye is an intimate, picturesque town near the sea. I say ‘near’ the sea and not ‘on’ the sea because much of the town’s history hinges on its relationship with the fickle body of water to which it owes its great beginnings and its historic preservation.
My mother’s last trip to London was 20 years ago. The food was British, the weather was hot, and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. As if that wasn’t bad enough, my mother was toting around two children that were wholly uninterested in seeing London, one of whom (guess who?) fell asleep in the middle of a trip to the British Museum.
My mother is visiting, so yesterday my boyfriend and I took her on a day trip from London to Bath. We got an early start, but still met with surprisingly big crowds on the train from London. I think I take it for granted that most of my UK train travel is done on weekdays when it’s not uncommon for me to have an entire train car to myself. Nonetheless, we fought our way through the carriages and managed to find seats for the journey to the Roman spa town.
My high school English teacher used to lead a trip to England every summer. He took students to see the literary highlights of London, the birthplace of Shakespeare, and the mysterious sarsen stones near Salisbury. Students returned from England raving about the sights they saw and the beer they imbibed, but the one facet of the trip that always piqued my curiosity was the day trip to Stonehenge. I made it a goal to go there someday.
My close friends and family know that it has always been my dream to be a housewife. I love to cook and clean, sew and iron, and I can’t wait until the first of my ten children is born. What a wonderful life it will be!
Moving to London has been great so far, but sometimes I feel like I’m going to go crazy playing homemaker while I’m working on finding a job. The movers came a few weeks ago and my boyfriend and I have spent a lot of time moving our belongings in and creating a space we enjoy living in. We finished the last of the big furniture assembly work last night, and our flat is finally looking like a home and less like an abandoned warehouse.