Welcome back, everyone!

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.”
–Saint Augustine (AD 354 – 430)

Everyone should be home now and hopefully resting up before school starts in a few weeks. On behalf of Caroline and I, I just want to say, thank you. It was a real pleasure sharing experiences with you all and getting to know you better. Thanks for letting us take random pictures of you and sharing them online through the blog. Hopefully nobody was too embarrassed. We tried to be nice.

If you have any pictures you want to share, please let us know and we are happy to add them! The blog acts as a (somewhat) permanent journal of  our adventure that we can access and share in the future, so updating it post-trip is definitely possible. There is a Facebook page for the trip as well, and maybe we can share pictures through that venue.

Hope to see you all on campus soon!

Cheers!

Day 15 – August 7

Well, we just enjoyed our final ‘farewell’ dinner at our snazzy hotel in Edinburgh. We gave Garry and Brad each a book to remember our trip by, and to say thanks for all their hard work. They’ve done a lot of behind the scenes paperwork and coordination to make this trip wonderful!

Today we each went our own ways to explore Edinburgh. It was a BEAUTIFUL day – sunny and warm, which was a nice relief after near constant rain yesterday. A handful of us hiked up to Arthur’s Seat – a mountain that overlooks the city. Others toured the Edinburgh Castle, walked the Royal Mile, visited the Scottish National Gallery, shopped on Princes Street, enjoyed the Fringe Festival and more. You’ll have to get stories when your loved ones return home! Here are a few moments from our day of exploration:

Thanks for reading and keeping up with our adventures while on this journey through the UK. We hope you’ve been able to see a bit of what we’ve been up to! We are catching a 6:50 AM shuttle to the airport in the morning – we will be on our way back home very soon.

Thanks again – Cheers!

Day 14 – August 6

Hello again! Where do I start today? Edinburgh (Ed-in-burr-uh) is amazing. We’re all in awe of this beautiful city.

After devouring several chocolate croissants at the hotel we boarded our coach for the last time today and did a brief driving tour of Edinburgh (our driver Alex’s hometown) on our way to the Royal Botanic Garden of Edinburgh. The Royal Botanic Garden is huge and really well taken care of. They had a few Andy Goldsworthy sculptures, which were pretty fun to see.We all agreed it was one of the best botanical gardens we’ve been to. And… it’s FREE! Bonus!

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Andy Goldsworthy’s “Cone”

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View of downtown from the rock garden

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Visitor center and exhibit hall

We had a couple hours to walk around the city center and do some shopping before heading out of town for the Little Sparta garden – a hidden gem out in the countryside near Edinburgh. It was designed and built by Ian Finlay and is considered his greatest work of art. You could spend hours in this garden. It was full of whimsy and surprises around every corner. Each path you came across enticed you to follow it. It was really magical.

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We said a sad farewell to our sweet coach driver Alex tonight. We really enjoyed getting to know him and hearing his stories along the way. He did a fantastic job of getting us around – we were never late and we were always safe. Thanks, Alex! We’ll always remember you.

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Alex surrounded by American girls… the smile says it all.

After dinner we walked around our hotel for a bit. We’re in an area called Leith. It’s really lovely.

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Brandon found a whale harpoon… Careful, he knows how to use it!

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Tomorrow is our LAST DAY. The time has flown. We’ll have a free day to roam the city and then join together for a group dinner. Most of us will be home by Friday evening. I think we’re all ready to sleep in our own beds, but it’s bittersweet to say goodbye. Until tomorrow, goodnight!

Day 13 – August 5

Its hard to believe we’re nearing the end of our journey through the UK – only a few days left to explore!

We left Aboyne this morning and were off to Saint Andrews – the home of golf! The course was beautiful and swarming with both golfers and visitors. We ran into a group from Johnson City!

We then headed towards Campo Estate and Gardens, which has been around since the 1100s or 1200s. The estate is well known for the thousands of Snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) which are planted around the grounds.

Following Cambo Estate, we headed to the nearby Kellie Castle. Here we got to hear from a historian who was telling stories in the walled garden. She had all kinds of props to accompany her story telling of the area’s history and dolls resembling historic figures that she had crafted herself! Garry also led a tutorial on watercolor, showing us some tips and tricks about how he goes about creating some beautiful images. He did a quick demonstration and passed around a travel journal of his own, full of beautiful sketches and watercolor paintings from recent adventures.

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We’re in Edinburgh now in our final hotel before we head back home (or on to more adventures) – the annual Fringe Festival (the largest arts festival in the world) is going on here. I’m sure many will try and catch some of that action on our free day. More adventures to share come tomorrow!

 

Day 12 – August 4

Hello from the lovely (and tiny) town of Aboyne, Scotland. We drove here from the other side of the country today. It was quite a journey and we’re all a little tired. The views outside our windows were amazing and we had perfect weather.
We stopped at Crathes Castle and toured the house and gardens. The gardens were a blend of formal and cottage and wilderness. Walking through the wilderness garden felt like walking through an ancient forest. There were California Redwood trees that had been planted there as a gift about a hundred years ago. They were huge. There were mossy rocks and ferns and blankets of sedges throughout the woodland area. We loved it.
The wi-fi has been spotty the past few days so please excuse our lack of photos. It’s taking hours to upload them! We’ll add them when we have a better connection.

Bye for now!

Sleepy travelers

Sleepy travelers

View from the front seat today

View from the front seat today

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Caroline basking in ‘Caroline’s Garden’ at Crathes

Cathes Castle walled garden

Crathes Castle walled garden

Day 11 – August 3

Hello from Scotland!

We loaded up the coach early this morning to leave Carlisle and head for Scotland. Our first stop of the day was Culzean Castle – a breathtaking 18th century castle located on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain during our time there… but that didn’t stop us from exploring the grounds and the rocky beach!

Emily on the beach

Emily on the beach

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Our second stop of the day was to Ardkinglas Castle – it was a quick but interesting stop. Located right on the lake, the property had beautiful views. It seemed really old and somewhat overgrown, but it was a fun place to explore.

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We have arrived in Oban, on the west coast of Scotland, and it is a quaint town right on the water. Our hotel overlooks the harbor – we’re here for only one night then off to Aberdeen!

view from our hotel

view from our hotel

Day 10 – August 2

We woke up to a rainy 65-degree day and headed towards Dumfries, Scotland to the Portrack House to see the famous Garden of Cosmic Speculation.

The garden was designed by Charles Jencks in collaboration with his late wife Maggie. The garden is open only once a year to the public to raise money for a cancer care charity in honor of Maggie who died from breast cancer. We were very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit the garden all by ourselves by special appointment.

It was extra special since today is Garry’s birthday. Happy birthday, Garry!

Really words can’t do this place justice. Check out these pictures and imagine it yourselves!

We’re headed for Glasgow and Oban, Scotland tomorrow. Cheers for now!

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Day 9 – August 1

Today we celebrate another birthday – Happy 21st to Brooklyn!!

Birthday Girl tonight at our hotel dinner in Carlisle

Birthday Girl tonight at our hotel dinner in Carlisle

We covered a lot of ground today as we traveled from Liverpool to the Chatsworth House and back up to Carlisle. The Chatsworth House is the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. There are buildings on the property from the 1500s, as the home has been passed down for 16 generations. We got to explore the house and extensive gardens for a few hours today. The grounds had a HUGE kitchen garden, a dizzying maze, a grotto, an impressive collection of fountains and much more. Enjoy our rainy day pictures!

Cheers!

 

Day 8 – July 31

Today was our free day in Liverpool. The weather was a breezy 70 degrees – perfect for exploring.

Many of us started the day at “The Beatles Story,” a museum dedicated to telling the story of the Beatles’ career and all the people and events involved in making them who they were. It was fun to see pictures of the Beatles standing in the same spots in Liverpool that we had been standing just the day before. And it definitely made you want to listen to some Beatles!

A lot of people took today as a shopping opportunity and walked through Liverpool’s pedestrian friendly shopping area in the city center. I know many people stopped in the official Liverpool Football Club store to buy some jerseys and other football memorabilia. Others were in search of some long-sleeves or sweaters that they didn’t think they’d need to pack! Some kept with the Beatles theme and went to the famous Cavern Club where the Beatles got their start.

Some students ventured onto the train out to Crosby Beach to see an art installation by Antony Gormley called “Another Place.”  It was really nice to see Liverpool from the seashore and watch the locals play ball on the beach and play fetch with their dogs. It was definitely away from the normal tourist stops.

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Brad and Garry packed their day with Liverpool culture, visiting two cathedrals, the Maritime Museum, and the Museum of Slavery. Liverpool was a big slave trading port at one point in time.

All in all, Liverpool had a lot to offer and everyone made great use of their time there. Especially these pretty ladies who just couldn’t wait one more day to celebrate their pal Brooklyn’s 21st birthday! Happy early birthday, Brooklyn!

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We’ll say goodbye to Liverpool and head North towards Scotland tomorrow. Cheers!

Day 7 – July 30

We thought it would be a rainy and cold day here but it turned out to be beautiful! 

We got to drive through the countryside of Wales today for a couple of hours to the Bodnant Estate in North Wales. The Bodnant Estate has a worldwide collection of plants and is is well known for the Laburnum Arch (which unfortunately was blooming in May). 

Brad taught a sketching tutorial on one of the terraces, where Whitney, Clay, Haley, Daniel, Brandon, Jack, Matt, and Caroline learned a few tips from the pro! There was also a falconry demonstration, where we got to come pretty close to some beautiful birds! Here are a few pictures from our morning there:

Bodnant House & View

Bodnant House & View

Brandon under the Laburnum Arch

Brandon under the Laburnum Arch

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Ben!

Ben!

Bodnant House

Bodnant House

Haley & Clay admiring the view of the gardens

Halee & Clay admiring the view of the gardens

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Kristen, Jack, Matt & others at the falconry demonstration

Kristen, Jack, Matt & others at the falconry demonstration

We had the privilege of stopping in Beaumaris, a small waterside town in Wales. It was stunning! There was an old castle, a beach, plenty of outdoor cafes and shops around town. It was a welcomed break from riding in the coach.

Noelle, Maggie, Miranda

Noelle, Maggie, Miranda

Clay, Caroline & Whitney

Clay, Caroline & Whitney

Matt & Halee (and Garry)

Matt & Halee (and Garry)

Sailboats!

Sailboats!

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Lastly, a shout out to this guy – Happy Birthday, Clay!

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Thanks for reading, a big ‘hello’ to friends and family from everyone here. Cheers!