Friday, August 3, 2012

The Remainder of the Journey

To continue from the end of yesterday’s blog and to bring you all up to speed on the last few weeks of this journey… we left Berlin, Potsdam, and Keelin to head west once again to England for a truly special experience… to the OLYMPICS!!!!
At the train station!

 The London Tower

The family of my best friend and one of the people who has been in my life the longest, Brittany is currently doing a long distance family relationship, as all 5 of their family members are spread across the US and England. Her dad is working in Nottingham, a city about 2 hours North of London, and he was kind enough to open his doors to Becca and I. We stayed literally parallel to the Nottingham Palace and on the night of this picture Becca and I were able to get a glance and wave to the Nottingham King.
 Thats me with Robin Hood, of course...
I have been to England a few times before for different soccer purposes, but it was Becca’s first time to England so we did everything we could in the 10 days we were there. We got BritRail passes, which meant that we were able to get on any train at any time and go any where in England for 8 days. Let me just say that we got our money’s worth.

We spent 2 days exploring London. We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, the Tower of London adorned with the Olympic Rings. We went to the British Museum. They are currently doing a feature on the history of the Olympic games. In school you always learn about these buildings and those cultures, but you never actually feel like they are real.  But as I was walking through the display I have never felt such a part of real, ancient history. (Except now I feel like I NEED to go see them in real life in Greece ASAP!!) We went to Hyde Park where the Olympic torch was being brought in and there was a HUGE concert going on for people to celebrate the beginning of the games.

 The London Eye
If we needed to make a call...
Big Ben
THe Ancient Olympics
This years gold medals...

My friend took us to the Peak District, an area north of Nottingham for some hiking. It was incredible. We went from the hustle and bustle of London to the English countryside. We felt like we were walking through people’s property but turns out it is just open space that is divided by old stonewalls that cover the hill side. We walked with sheep and bulls and got lost trying to find our way through the fields. It was absolutely amazing.

We then went to one of the three opening events for the 2012 Olympics. We took the train to Coventry to watch Canada play the defending world champions, Japan. Becca and I got our Canada gear on… luckily because Canada fans were NOT as dressed as the Japanese fans were…

Who knew that all the way across the world there could be a UP alum reunion??! We were able to meet up with one of the best outside backs I have ever played with, and one of the smartest people I know, Jessica Tsao. And to make it EVER better, we were able to sit with someone whom all of you know… especially my mom if she can remember after recovering from getting a shot from one of the world’s best forwards of all time… Tiffany Milbrett. We all sat together watching Canada’s Sophie Schmidt and Christine Sinclair play. It was amazing to see them play on the world’s biggest stage. Although they lost to Japan in their opening match they were able to get through by beating South Africa and then getting a draw with Sweden. I cant even describe the feelings I had while watching them play. I was just so filled with pride and such an immense amount of happiness for them. It is amazing to know so many Olympians. And I am just beyond proud of all of them.

Then after that game we took a day trip northeast out to the coast of England to a city called Scarborough. We just googled towns on the English coast to see and we came across this city, which we thought looked cute from the pictures. BUT, it turned out to be an entire city built as a theme park for kids and parents who think they are more entitled to EVERY kiddie ride then the next. Every bit of the beach was taken up by families who had sprawled their belongings in every direction, or by flocks of seagulls picking at the abandoned or stolen food. Becca figured she needed to get some fresh fish and chips whilst on the English coast and considering I cant eat that I decided I should just go for the fresh fish. I got a miniature shmorgous board of shrimp, crab and lobster.  We both had our little plates of food and were trying to find a section of the beach to sit down when a greedy seagull swooped down knocking the plate right out of my hand throwing my fish everywhere… the seagulls were worse than kids at the Jolly Rancher Factory after a pinyata is broken.  It was a free-for-all of seagulls and they were all attacking my hands, feet, head, each other and the food lying on the ground. It was mayhem and I lost my lunch. Bumber. I went back and got more and it was worth it… very delicious.

This is where I was attacked...

Becca's HUGE plate of food... she ate it all of course

overlooking the cliffs

Then for our last day in England we took our last trip to a city in South England called Bath. This city was beautiful! The people that we stayed with live on the aqueducts of the city. There were beautiful paths that ran along the aqueducts and out into the countryside. We were staying with a generous family who had 3 young kids. We all took a bike ride down the paths and had a great time! It is always so nice to get out of the city, especially when your riding bikes, and with awesome people! But we left them shortly after to go watch the last Olympic game we were able to catch. We went into Whales for the day to watch Cameroon play Great Britain. Although I had friends on Cameroon, I had to say I was rooting for the home team. It was awesome to see the GB fans out there!!! Luckily GB won 5-0, which meant the fans were going crazy for their team! A lot of goals, a good performance and lots of cheering!!
In the nose bleeds

Then we took off for our last stop. We ended our journey where Becca began 1 month ago, in Amsterdam.

 I am Amsterdam

I have heard a lot of things about Holland… both good and bad. I was really excited to see a new place. Becca had already said so many awesome things about it that I couldn’t wait to see it! We booked a hostel called Lucky Lake hostel, which is a collection of little personal trailers painted all fun colors. The place was AWESOME!! It was located on a lake far from the city. It was a bit difficult to get into the city each day but it was nice to not be in the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam crowds at night. After flight delays and yet another long travel day we got to our hostel just after midnight and slept in in the morning to catch up on sleep. Then we took the train into town and rented bikes because Amsterdam is the biking capitol of the world, after all. Biking here was seriously as stressful as driving in Russia. It was awesome to cruise the city and see everything, but you had to keep your head on a swivel at ALL times… for people, cars, bikes, trams, and anything else that might accidentally get in the bike lane. It was crazy! It was sort of exhilarating though. I felt like I was on the Autoban for bikes.

Our little trailer
Morning cup of joe
The story of Amsterdam
bikes at the train station
Dam Station in central Amsterdam
cruisin' the city

We made our way into the Red Light district to check out the wildest place on earth and figured we should have some lunch while we were there. I must say that everyone calls Las Vegas “Sin City” but that is only because all of the stuff that goes on there is illegal in America… Amsterdam is crazier and for sure more “sinful” than Vegas but everything is legal here so it’s not that big of a deal… I suppose. I loved the city though. It is a crazy place, but I kind of like that. I mean I think 3 days is the most time I would want to spend here, but it was really fun to see for a bit!
Red light district
 The aqueducts between all of the streets... beautiful!!

the home of Heineken

Becca left today and I leave tomorrow and I cant even begin to write how I feel… in fact… I think I am going to have to make that into another blog because this one is already too long and ridiculous… so please check in one more time, perhaps tomorrow or in the next week for an overview of the last 5 months of my life.

Cant wait to see everyone when I get back home! I love you all and thank you for reading. You are the best.

For the last time as a part of this journey…



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