Michaela's parents took us back to Madison and I visited with my family and gave them souvenirs for a while before my boyfriend came to pick me up and take me to Brookings. By the time we got here, I had been traveling for 20 hours that day (as I said), and had been awake for all of them, so I slept pretty well last night!
Overall this trip has been an excellent experience! I've seen and done so many things that I don't even know where to start when people ask me about them. I loved seeing the ancient Greek and Renaissance-era sculptures in the Louvre, the Impressionist and Post-impressionist paintings in the National Portrait Gallery, as well as the Rosetta Stone and other Egyptian artifacts in the British Museum. I'll never forget walking along the ramparts at Warwick Castle and hearing the music they played there, a mix of epic-sounding music that at different times reminded us of the soundtracks of Pirates of the Caribbean, Lion King, Narnia, or Les Miserables. And of course I'll never be able to forget the texture of haggis, the really cool pub where we tried it, or the street performers playing bagpipes in Edinburgh. I loved all six castles/palaces we got to see, and especially the ones we got to go inside! I loved Notre Dame and the bridge with 'love locks' behind it, and seeing the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero that first night we were in Paris. I think someday I'll go back to London, as there is so much to see and do there--the museums, the West End musicals (Wicked was amazing!), Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben and Parliament, Leicester Square and Chinatown...I'd still like to see a play at the Globe Theatre and go on the London Eye on a clear day. I really enjoyed this trip and learned and experienced so much, it's really indescribable.
I have to say though, one thing that happens when you travel, and one of my favorite parts of it, is that you grow in appreciation for your home and the place you come from. Even little things, like having garbage cans everywhere (we had a really hard time finding them in London), or the waiter bringing the bill without being asked (which is considered rude in the UK) are more appreciated now. I'm also much more grateful to live in a smaller city, with fewer people, as crowded places can make me anxious, and to see so much green around here. As much as I loved our whole trip, it's really good to be back. After all, there's no place like home.
Day 1. London: Trafalgar Square, Big Ben & Kings Cross Station
Day 2. London: Hampton Court, Leicester Square & Chinatown
Day 3. London & Warwick: Warwick Castle & Wicked West End Musical
Day 4. London: Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral & Camden Market
Day 5. London: Tower of London
Day 6. Edinburgh: Train from London & Princes Street Gardens
Day 7. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle & the Royal Mile
Day 8. Edinburgh: Calton Hill, Firth of Forth, & Greyfriars
Day 9. Paris: Chunnel & Eiffel Tower at night
Day 10. Paris: Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, & Notre Dame
Day 11. Paris: The Louvre & Montmartre
Day 12. Return to London: Westminster Abbey & Piccadilly Circus
Day 13. Return to London: Harrods, Abbey Road, Beatles Store, & British Museum