I think it was more than 16 hours flight from Manila to Amsterdam and finally another one hour flight from Amsterdam to Manchester. We were on a French plane, the food wasn’t much of my liking but it filled me in anyway. I managed to watch at least four movies until the monitor stopped working so I had to content myself listening to music for the rest of the flight. It was the longest time I’ve ever been sitting, getting sleep was too hard, and I was getting so bored. "Aren’t we there yet?” the words were going over and over in my head. With two of my colleagues, we finally arrived in Schiphol Airport, I was already feeling sick and was enduring a very upset stomach - welcome to England! Being from the Far Eastern part of the world where the sun rises and sets the same way since forever, it felt so weird to be greeted Good Evening when it’s still very light and the sun was still up. We waited for a few hours for the connecting flight and made it to Manchester only to wait for a couple of hours more at the Airport because the Taxi
which was supposed to pick us up was nowhere to be found. We arrived at our apartments past midnight and jetlag was not much of a problem for a very tired, sick girl … until the next day.
Our first day in Manchester was a tour around the city (thanks to Hanno and Cathryn)
and a horrible jet lag experience. Everything looked different, the architecture, the way people live and the right-hand drive which freaked me out from time to time whenever I forget about it. England is old school in a very interesting way.
It had been first time experiences within a first time experience. I felt like a kid discovering a bunch of new interesting stuff. It was totally cool! I had my first lamb steak, I saw my first squirrel, I had my first English breakfast, watched my first rugby while eating the traditional pie (go Sale Sharks!), discovered the famous fish and chips, had Smirnoff Ice for the first time ( which I really liked!), saw the changing colors of the leaves, the undomesticated Radbroke Rabbits, and got to see Manchester Pride - the biggest gay parade I’ve ever seen.. Etc … etc.
The country side was amazing! And how the grasses seem trimmed even at the country side was even more amazing. I saw lots of sheep and cows instead of the usual water buffalo I see in my country.
The Chatsworth house is on the top of my list. It’s a large country house at Chatsworth, Derbyshire, England. It is the seat of the Dukes of Devonshire and home to Cavendish family. The gardens were really charming and the farmhouse was one of the best parts because I got to see a donkey for the first time, brown chicken eggs (I’ve only seen white ones in my country), and the tall "shire" horses. This house also served as a setting to the movies "Pride and Prejudice" and "The Duchess".
I love the Lake District too. It is a rural area in North West England, famous for its lakes and mountains. We stayed in a backpacker’s lodge in Windermere, Cumbria. The bunk beds reminded me of the old times back at home. We climbed Hallin Fell on our first day. The huge view of the Lake when we reached the summit was so lovely! I don’t know how to describe
it, the view was just too pretty. The second day was a rainy hike around Tarn Hows. We also visited another Lake District village called Grasmere where I got my authentic ginger bread. More first times right here - during the night out, I had my First Pimms, Baileys with milk, and sip of beer/wine.
More trips include Castleton Village, Derbyshire Peak District. This is a lovely little town with small houses. It was like a 19th century movie-like village to me. There were also old artifacts being sold at the stores. The village was like a huge movie set!
Another is the town of Stratford-upon-Avon. It is another popular tourist destination owing to its status as birthplace of the playwright and poet William Shakespeare. It was a rainy day stroll. This is also where Anne Hathaway's Cottage is at (the former childhood home of Anne Hathaway, the wife of Shakespeare). We went around the apple orchard and it was the first time I saw an apple on an apple tree - awesome huh?! Another trip was to York which is a walled city in North Yorkshire England where we got to see the Train Museum. I also
got to see the town of Macclesfield in Cheshire and the village of Haworth in West Yorkshire.
The day trip to Edinburgh Scotland seemed like a bit of a crazy idea as we were off to London early the next day. The train ride from Manchester Piccadilly Station to Edinburgh Waverley Station was four hours. It was raining cats and dogs when we got there, it was cooooold! We went around the city through a tour bus, strolled around the Edinburgh Castle and tried some free sweet-tasting booze offered at a store. Edinburgh Castle stands upon the basalt plug of an extinct volcano which is estimated to have risen some 340 million years ago. Then later in the afternoon, we were back on a train to Manchester .
Then we were off to another four hours drive to London the next day. Echo and I were just actually sleeping at the back of the car while Cathryn and Hanno drove, so it was just two hours for us. We mostly rode the tube and went on a tour bus to have a quick look around. I finally got to see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, Houses of
Parliament, Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and got a ride on the famous London Eye. The hotel we stayed in had Victorian decorative arts and I remember seeing Asian-looking statues around. I swear it wasn’t bad at all but I was not able to sleep the whole night and I blame it to old horror movies. My room kind of reminded me of the horror film "1408". I could just anticipate the sight of a bloody ghost lying next to me if I close my eyes.
It was a pain finding clothes of my size in England, but Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet and Manchester Arndale have been ones of my favorite to gos
. Cheshire outlet is the UK's largest outlet centre at Kinsey Road, Ellesmere Port while Arndale is a large shopping center in Manchester. Who likes shopping?!
Friday nights means potluck style party to welcome new comers and say goodbye to those going back home. We'd usually sing karaoke or play WII.
During one of our night out with co-workers, I was stopped at a Pub Entrance by a bouncer. That never happened to me before, I thought I did something wrong or was wearing the wrong
dress code. Apparently, the huge bloke just wanted to check if the skinny Asian girl who barely stands 5 feet is not a minor. That may also answer the question why I was often asked at airports how old I was.
The people were nice and polite, at least the ones I met. I was expecting a huge cultural difference but England seems milder that I thought. My 6-week stay was a lot of fun. Although I have to admit that I was already feeling homesick on my 6th week, it was still sad to leave.
I guess this is the part where the travel bug bit.
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