Castles, churches, fish’n chips, museums, the sea — and a whole lot of walking. The United Kingdom is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and all are uniquely incredible. Spending the past week in the U.K. has been a wonderful opportunity to visit new places and learn new things.
Unfortunately, this time around I was only able to visit England and Scotland, but I know I will be back to visit both Wales and Ireland. London, England and Aberdeen, Scotland were the two places where I spent most of my time, but I also visited Cullen, Stonehaven, Banchory, and Braemar all in northern Scotland.
Having lived in both London and Manchester as a child, my experience going back to London as a tourist was both unique and refreshing. London through the eyes of a child and through the eyes of an adult are two very different things.
Filled to the brim with different cultural groups from all over the world, one of my favorite things was being able to hear a whole host of languages all within a 5 minutes walking distance from each other.
London lived up to, and even succeeded, all of my expectations. After all, there is a reason why it is one of the most famous cities in the world. There are so many places to visit there that a traveler could spend an entire year there and still have more to see.
However, the most famous places like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Soho, the National Gallery and Trafalgar Square are all within walking distance of each other. Other places like the Tate Modern and St. Paul’s Cathedral are only a short tube (subway) ride away.
My personal favorite was visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral which stands 111 meters (364 ft) tall, soaring high above the surrounding buildings and providing a spectacular view of the Thames River and the sprawl of London all around. The inside of the dome had breathtaking paintings and light coming in from the center, illuminating the paintings and the cathedral floor below.
Visitors can climb to the top of the dome and stand on the outside of the church and view the great city below. I was lucky enough to visit on a sunny day and I could see for miles and miles.
Perhaps, the best part was not the view but the whispering gallery. This gallery is situated at the top of the dome with a view down into the rest of the church and gets its name sake from its quirky architectural aspect. The dome was built in such a way that if a visitor whispers along the curved wall a listener can hear them on the other side.
Aberdeen, Scotland is an oil and fishing city located on the coast of the North Sea. It has beautiful parks, delicious food and a charming city center.
Aberdeen means the place between, and is between the River Dee and River Don. This was my second time visiting Aberdeen and I have fallen in love with a park right outside of Old Aberdeen.
Though much smaller than Central Park, Seaton Park is behind the ancient St. Machar’s Church and has paths all along the River Don. Every inch of the park is filled with stunning flowers, trees and ivy. Its many picnic spots were charming and the view of the River Don was serene.
Dunnottar Castle is located 1.5 miles outside of Stonehaven, Scotland. The castle was built in the 13th century and is perched on the edge of a steep cliff plunging to the sea below. Most of the walls to the buildings still stand with the keep tower standing the tallest.
The castle ruins can only be reached along one path that winds up the side of the cliff to the castle’s stone walls. My love for castles started at a young age and this seaside castle has the most breathtaking view you could dream of. I hiked from Stonehaven along the cliffside and by fields of rye and barley to see this historical and visual gem.
I would have loved to spend more time in the U.K. The landscape and history are captivating and there is so much to see. However, I am on to the next leg of my journey — Norway.
Megan Holmen is a freelance news and culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.