Saturday, July 9, 2011

Welcome to AMERICA!!!

Today was the longest day ever! In total from leaving our B&B to getting to my apartment in Birmingham, we traveled for 24 hours!  I am beyond exhaustion, but I got the most wonderful surprise text message when I landed in Atlanta.  My parents decided to drive down and surprise me in Birmingham!  It is so nice to have them here as I am re-adjusting to the states and getting settled in my apartment.  Both of my old roommates have moved out and another has moved in, so our apartment is out of sorts.  I have a lot to do this month and the biggest is get a washer and dryer.  So if you have one you want to sell me, PLEASE let me know!

So who wants to hear about my travels…  well here is the short version… Our flight from London went really quick.  I read and watched two movies, but did not sleep due to a lovely 3 year old who would start screaming and crying every time I fell asleep.  Going through customs in Miami went smashing and really quick.  We had a three hour layover where we got a snack and called our parents.  We still felt like we were in a foreign country in Miami due to all of the Hispanic and Cuban people.  Our flight to Atlanta was full of interesting characters which made for some good laughs and frustrating moments.  We were very thankful to get off that plane and be one step closer to home.  Katie’s dad and brother picked us up to drive us to Birmingham, but of course we had to stop at Chick-Fil-A first.  Yum!!

Now I am home and the fun begins.  I have lots of laundry (which I have to go to a laundry mat somewhere) and need to clean my apartment (it is so dirty…thanks roomies?).  Also one sad thing is some not so lovely person hit my car while I was gone.  Poor Deidra is all scratched up by my back driver side tire.  Gurrrr.  Why would someone do that and not leave a note or try to tell me.  Ok now I have vented and now it is time to move on…

Well I am off to deal with the laundry.  Also Happy Wedding Day LAUREN AND RYAN!!!  Cheers Yall!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Last Day...

My last day in London.  Once again the city was crying A LOT because it was on and off pouring down rain.  I know London, I have been the best addition to you in a long time…but my work here is done.  Time to go home.  Ahhh I can’t believe I just typed that.  I am real sad but at the same time so excited!!!

Well to celebrate my last day I first went to Piccadilly Circus after getting a large coffee.  I went tourist souvenir store hopping for about an hour.  Then I went to Reagent Street to pop in a few stores.  So as I was in one store, Mango, I went to the dressing room and saw that I had spilt coffee all down my white shirt.  I can’t believe no one told me.  I walked around for an hour or two with coffee down me! Hahaha!!

After I shopped around and tried to stay out of the rain I headed over to Bourgh Market.  You know the food market that has so many different ethnicities of food.  Well while I was there I got the best veggie burger EVER.  Brilliant!!!  Then I got some goats milk ice cream even though I was freezing from being in the rain all morning.  It was my last day so I had too!

After wandering around the market I headed towards Trafalgar Square to meet up with Katie, Stacey, and Whitney (the other Samford girls).  We were all supposed to meet at one, but things came up so the three of them did not show up until 3:30.  I spent that 2.5 hours in a coffee shop/book store.  I even made friends with a guy from Holland and a girl from Canada. 

Now you are probably wondering why we were meeting at Trafalgar?  This is where the Harry Potter World Premier Red Carpet event was happening. Man was it packed!!! People had been camping out for the last 6 days.  So obviously we could not get really close, but I found a way to get a few good pictures.  So the National Gallery (museum) is right here and they had to keep a walk way clear for people to come and go.  Being the brilliant one I am (I know I am so humble, right!? Just kidding) we would get our camera s out and as we walked up the steps we would turn around and take quick picture.  We did this a couple of times. Haha! But it worked!!! Here look at the pictures!

 This poster made my day.  How funny!!! haha!

 This is where the cast actually watched the movie in Leicester Square.  

People were EVERY WHERE!!!

After stalking Harry and his friends we ran a few errands for Stacey, then went to Katie and I’s favorite restaurant to celebrate a grand 6 weeks.  NANDO’s!!!! It was Katie, Whitney, Stacey, Emma, Megan, and I who all went.  It was delish and the perfect last supper!  Then Katie, Emma and I went to a pub so I could get my last cider.  The States just don’t have the same selection which is a major bummer.  Then Katie and I took our last tube ride back to our B&B.  Now we are packing.  I hate packing and obviously I am procrastinating because I am typing this.  Good Katy.  Well I have to go pack before we have to leave our B&B at 6:30 am! Yikes that is gonna hurt!!! Cheers Yall and tomorrow I will be in AMERICA!!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back to London!

Today when Katie and I got up it was POURING down rain.  I guess Scotland was sad to see us leave and the “skye” was crying.  Get it…skye as in the Isle of Skye ha! I couldn’t help it!  But yea, we had to get to the train station and wait for our train as it was pouring down.  Not the most ideal, but we made it!

On the train we got the joy to sit by this Asian man with a cold, bad breath, and he breathed heavy.  That was the longest 5.5 hours.  I was SOOO ready to get off and so thankful when we made it back to London.  We then headed to the Daniel House to get our other bags before we headed to our next B&B.  I guess B&B’s are the theme of the week.

We had to take a taxi to our B&B because there was no way we would have survived the tube with each of us having two suitcases.  Well when we pulled up to the Tudor Court B&B they were shocked of how many bags we had and it didn’t help that we were only staying two nights.  We tried to explain that we have been here for 6 weeks, but I don’t think they cared or listened.  All they cared about was that we were going to be on the top story (6ish flights of stairs) and there is no elevator.  AND they insisted that we did not care our luggage.  I offered, so I do not feel sorry for them at all.  Also this man kept telling us all about London and its attractions and how to use the tube even though we had told him this was our second time in London and we have been here for 6 weeks.  He just wanted to hear himself talk I guess?

After quickly changing, we were back out the door to meet up with the pharmacy team we had worked with at St. Thomas.  They were going out to celebrate a few of the pharmacists because they were rotating to a new team today.  With all the craziness of training in and moving our luggage, Katie and I were running late and then the tube was delayed.  Great!  So we didn’t make it to the hospital until 6 when we were supposed to be there at 5:30.  Thank goodness Anna our preceptor waited on us or we would have missed all of the fun.  She helped navigate us on the buses to where the group was together to bowl, eat pizza, and get drinks. 

It was so fun to see everyone one last time.  It was also really sad.  I have really enjoyed working with that crew!  Before we had gotten there I was to the point that I was ready to hop on a plane, but after hanging out with the team I am torn.  Half of me wants to stay in lovely London, but the other half is so excited to see my family, friends, my car, and sleep in my own bed.  I wish I could mix these two worlds together!  I would bring back with me from London all of the parks, the public transportation, walking everywhere you go, British accents, tea breaks, my new friends, and Borough market.  Wouldn’t those be perfect additions to Birmingham or Tennessee?  I think so!!!  A girl can dream!  Well I am off, but Cheers Yall!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Scotland? Check!

My last day in Scotland and after today I think I have seen the whole country.  Whew!

 So this morning I got a very exciting text message from Emma.  She knew I haven’t had internet access so I didn’t know that Briana Gray is engaged!!! Ahhh so exciting!  I was so excited that I made Emma look up Briana’s number so I could call her even though it was 2 am back in Birmingham.  Ha! Obviously she didn’t answer since she was asleep, but at least I tried!!

Well after Katie and I had breakfast at the B&B we were off for our tour around the east coast and Balmoral Castle.  Somehow we lucked out and got a private tour by an ex-royal police officer and drum major for a band that plays for the Queen and other royals.  He picked us up in a super nice Mercedes.  Katie informed me that the S class is top notch and really expensive (well she didn’t say it quite like that…my translation).  Well told Richard, our guide, that we had not seen much of St. Andrews so he gave us a quick tour of the town and would let us out to take lots of pictures.  Pretty much we saw the highlights of the city in one hour.  We even went to the St. Andrews student union to get a sweatshirt. 
 One of the quads on the University and i look like a fool
 a tower at St. Andrews Univeristy
 St. Andrews Cathedral

 Golf is kinda a big deal here...
pretty beaches!
Then it was time to start our tour.  We drove towards Dundee and stopped off at a few places.  We drove through the mountains towards Balmoral.  Along the way he stopped at all the picturesque spots so we could get some pictures.  He knew all the great places.  Around 12 we stopped in the city of Braemar to have a tea break at the Fife Arms Hotel.  I had a cup of tea and a scone which was delish!  Then after a few more pictures, we were off again.

Once at Balmoral Richard bought our tickets and audio guides and set us loose to explore the castle.  Balmoral is the Queen’s private estate where she goes on holiday from the first week of August until sometime in October.  Balmoral is one of the Queen’s favorite estates too!  It was beautiful! My favorite part was her garden with all the crazy beautiful flowers.  I also really enjoyed going into her ball room which had a couple of her ball gowns she has worn over the years. 

After Katie and I played around the castle, we met back up with Richard to start trekking back.  Of course he would stop at different places for us to take pictures since he headed back a different way. At one point we were driving through the mountains and drive right into a cloud.  It was so cool!  It is hard to grasp the cloudiness in the pictures we took, but you can kind of tell. 

We got back to St. Andrews around 6ish.  He dropped us off at the Grill House, a local restaurant that one of the ladies at the B&B recommended to us.  It was great and the best part was free wifi!!! We haven’t had internet access basically since we left London last Friday.  I have felt sooooo disconnected and it was great to check email, facebook, and twitter!!! Katie and I could not get off our ipods ha! I bet we were quite the sight sitting there both consumed by our ipods hahahah! Yay Americans! 

Well now we are back at the B&B watching Friends and staying dry because it is raining outside.  If it is not to rainy in the morning, we may try to head out to the beach before we head out.  Well cheers yall!

Happy Fourth of July!!

Happy Fourth of July from Scotland!  It is a funny thing to basically be in the country that our country is celebrating independence from. Ha!  Our bus driver even told us (jokingly) that today is a great day in history because they finally got rid of us.  He liked to pick on the Americans, but it was usually pretty funny.  Since our group could be kind of quite at times I always piped in to keep things entertaining and this made Katie, Julie, and I good targets for jokes.  Collin our bus driver liked us since we always chatted with him and answered questions he asked.  He is a funny man, but he sure does love the history of Scotland and is proud to be Scottish.  I am kind of glad to have a break from history after today (it is our last day of the bus trip).
So to start Independence Day, we had breakfast in the lobby before taking a boat tour on Loch Ness (Loch = body of water).  The boat driver asked all of us where we were from and when we said America he made a few jokes then pulled out a small American flag for us.  I was so pumped!  For the next hour three of us took tons of pictures with it and probably annoyed everyone else.  Katie and I even said the pledge of allegiance to the flag and hummed a few patriotic tunes.  We were hamming it up and loving it!

After our boat ride which lasted about an hour, the entire group hopped on the bus to finish up our tour of Scotland.  We headed through Inverness and then to a battle ground where the Jacobites fought.  To be honest I fell asleep on and off all day because it was hot in the bus and I missed a lot of the history he was telling us.  Also I wasn’t too interested in the war stories from way back when.  Now if it had been something I had studied in school I might have cared more, but I don’t ever remember learning about Scottish wars.  We then headed to an old burial ground in the country side.  It was real pretty and we took more pictures of the cows and the stone fences.  We are easily entertained ha!  Then we stopped at a small Victorian town called Pitlochry to grab lunch (at 3pm so we were really hungry!).  Then we were back on the road and were headed back to Edinburgh to complete our trip!

The trip was great and I learned so much history.  We basically saw all of Scotland, or at least the main sites.  Scotland is a beautiful country and reminds me of so many other places.  At times I felt like I was on the coast of New England and then maybe in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  Crazy! 

After Collin dropped us off we caught the next train to Leuchars, which is the closest train stop to St. Andrews.  For the next two nights Katie and I are staying in a cute bed and breakfast right on the Eastern coast of Scotland in St. Andrews.  It is beautiful here and when we were walking on the beach earlier I felt like I was in Georgetown, South Carolina where my family goes for family reunions.  The only difference from South Carolina is that I was wearing a coat and that the buildings look more Victorian and castle like, but the beach looked similar!  Tomorrow Katie and I are taking a tour of Balmoral Castle which is one of the Queen of England’s private estates.  I think it is going to be a great tour!  Then we will bum around St. Andrews tomorrow night before we head back to London on Wednesday morning. 

Oh and I almost forgot!  So when we arrive in St. Andrews we were about an hour and a half earlier than we had thought because we caught an earlier train.  Thus when we go to the B&B no one was there and no one was answering the phone.  Both of us were pretty hungry so we decided I would sit on the stoop with our luggage and Katie and was going to walk and get us some food.  As I was sitting in the doorway on the phone with my family, a couple walked up and let me in.  I guess I wasn’t very threatening looking ha!  Then two men walked in and we got to chatting.  Come to find out they were both from Union City, TN which is about 60 miles north of Jackson.  It was such a wonderful 4th of July treat to be with some of my natives!! Yay Tennessee!!!  Right after that the lady in charge walked in and got us all settled before we headed out to walk around the beach.  On the beach I got the chance to call my grandma, Memaw, and then I called Julia.  It was great to hear their voices!

Well hope everyone has had a lovely 4th! Cheers yall!!

Isle of Skye!

Day two! To start the day off the owners of our B&B cooked a full Scottish breakfast.  It was delish and we ate with a family from Finland.  It was interesting to chat with them and we had lots of akward silences too.  Also they would switch from speaking English to another language, Swedish or something else, so that was kind of weird because we couldn’t understand them.  After breakfast we headed out the door to meet back up with the bus.

For the entire day Collin drove us around the island of Skye.  It is absolutely gorgeous!  Instead of typing out all of what we did, here is a ton of pictures that I have added captions.  Here is a list of things we did see. . . Old Mann of Storr, lots of sheep and lambs, some Heiland Cattle better known as “Hairy Coos”,  a Broch, Kilt Rock, Duntulm Castle, an old cemetery, the Black Cuillin Hills, the Dunvegan Castle, Skye Bridge, Portree, and so much more. Enjoy the pictures!

After driving around all day long, we started our journey south east toward Inverness to stop in the towns of Lewiston and Drumnadrochit where we would be staying the night.  Katie and I are at the Lockness Hotel.  The room was not as cute at the Cliff where we stayed last night, but it will do.  For dinner Katie, Julie, and I ate at a pub called Fiddlers.  I had a big grilled chicken salad and a pear cider.  It hit the spot!  Then after dinner and chatting for a long while we went to take some pictures with our favorite monster…Nessie!!! Tomorrow we are actually taking a boat ride out on Loch Ness and hopefully will run into Nessie 
in her natural habitat!! Wish us luck…Cheers Yall!!

I'm on a bus!

So who wants to take a 3 day tour of Scotland?  PICK ME!!! Ok!  So yes ma’am Katie and I are taking a coach tour all around for the next three days.  Today we were picked up in Edinburgh around 8 am and then headed north towards Skye (an island on the western coast of Scotland.  But before we headed out Katie and I grabbed coffee at Starbucks and I had a major small world moment.  Remember Kelly the teacher from California I met and had coffee with in Bath…yep she was in line in front of me.  How crazy!?!

Well then 17 of us piled into a mini-coach bus with our Scottish driver, Collin.  He drives us around telling us story after story after story of the history and random facts about the areas we are seeing.  Also he likes to pick on us Americans.  I think it is quite funny, but Katie at times takes offense.  Oh and there is one other American, Julie who lives in Austin, Texas.  The three of us have become quite the little click.  You know Americans have to stick together ha!

We first made a stop in Glasgow to pick up a few more members on the tour and then we headed north.  First on the agenda was to check out the main lochs, which is their term for body of water or better known as a lake.  The four main ones we saw were Loch Lomond, Loch Linnhe, Loch Oich, and Loch Ness.  To start the journey we drove through the lowlands first then we moved up into the highlands.  We saw Ben Nevis, which is the largest mountain in Scotland.  We made lots of “Kodak moment” stops where we got 5-10 minutes to take a few pictures of the BEAUTIFUL scenery.  We drove through Fort William, Oben, Glencoe, Kyle of Lochalsh, and lots of other places.  We toured the castle, Eilean Donan Castle, used in the movie Maid of Honor with Patrick Dempsey.  This castle is used a lot for weddings as well.  Actually right as we were leaving they were setting up for a wedding that was gonna happen right after they closed.  Then as we were walking to the bus guests were starting to arrive and a lot of the men had on kilts and tux tops. It was so funny, but is how they dress up in Scotland.

Around 6pm we arrived in Skye in the small village right across the bridge called, Kyleakin.  It is so cute and makes me think of a small, sleepy town up on the New England coast…maybe Maine? The whole group was spread out between different bed and breakfasts.  Katie and I were at a precious one right on the water called the Cliff.  Our room had a spectacular view (look at the pictures)!!

For dinner Katie and I met up with our new friend Julie and we all took a cab across the bridge to Kyle, the town across the bay.  We ate a small seafood place that is located within the tiny train station.  It was soooo good!  I had crab cakes with a salad and potatoes.  Then we all ordered a dessert and shared all three.  We had sticky toffee pudding, chocolate and ice cream cake, and then a raspberry cancashan  (?).  So good!  As we were eating we noticed a really nice train parked with people in tuxes (and kilts) and fancy dresses eating dinner.  After investigating we found out it is called the Royal Scotsman train that makes a loop around Scotland.  It is a real ritzy train and costs about 1,000 pounds a night per person.  After dinner we were all three standing on the docks by the train station and one of the passengers wearing a kilt and tux top came up to take a picture of the water and duh we got a picture with him ha!  We even tried to get on the train, but with no luck we started to head back.  This time to head out we decided to walk so we could get some good pictures from the huge bridge and that we did! It was awesome because the sun was starting to set even though it was 10:30pm. 

Since we were so north the sun is up most of the day.  It rises around 2:30am and sets around 10:30pm.  When it does set it never gets complete dark.  See…
 the view from Skye bridge!
 Found me a man
The view from the B&B and this is at 11 pm
Cheers yall!