Returning from an Amazing Winter Break

Punting down the river Cam in Cambridge

Hey everyone,

Wow it has been a month or so since I blogged last, due to the Holiday break. This break was filled with adventures I could never have imagined. Some plans changed while others came out of no where, but they would make the break so exciting. I’ll try to refrain from going into too much detail because you would be here forever reading this blog haha, but it’ll be hard because so much happened.

The break had begun when I finished my exams on December 10th. On the 11th I flew to Derry, Northern Ireland, to visit my cousins and their kids. My cousin had married a Northern Irish girl in New York but as of a year ago they moved to Northern Ireland to be close to her family for a bit. So for about five days my cousins showed me all there was to see in Derry, like the awesome old fort walls that have been there since the 16oos, a few museums, the Irish side of the family’s old home, and much more. To end my time there I went out with my Irish cousin’s nieces who took me to some popular pubs and clubs. Then on the 15th the long train ride to Belfast in order to then change to a bus to Newry, Northern Ireland, which is close to the border with the Republic of Ireland along the East coast. The train ride from Derry to Belfast goes along the Northern coast of Ireland and it was the most scenic view and landscape I had ever seen in my life, nothing I have ever seen has been more beautiful. The bus ride from Belfast to Newry was also beautiful as it contained a lot of farms and loads of sheep haha. I arrived in Newry in order to get picked up by my old friend, David Heatley. He is a native of Northern Ireland and studied at Queen’s University in Belfast, but he came to study abroad at Albright College for a year during my Freshman year there. From that year we became really good friends and I had vowed to come visit him one day. From Newry we went to his home in Warrenpoint, which is just North of the Republic and is separated by a small gulf; we went for a nature hike up the highest mountains there, and we ate great food to prepare us for the day in Belfast. On the 16th we woke up bright and early, got into Belfast, checked out Queen’s University, we took a bus tour, David gave me his own tour of the city, and we checked out some key museums as well. It was a power packed day, but I had an awesome time. That night we met up with a mutual friend Cathy Lavery. She studied for a year at Albright College during my sophomore year and we became friends, and David had known her because they were from the same home town. So we met up with her and caught up. Then David introduced me to all his university friends and we all went out that night for a night club the old Irish way haha. We returned to our hotel in Belfast that night and the next morning of the 17th of December I left for Edinburgh.

I remained there till the 22nd and then took a flight to London, Stansted airport where my flat mate, Oscar Newlands, picked me up and took me to his family’s home in Suffolk, England. I would spend the next 2 and a half weeks there, experiencing an awesome English Christmas and New Years. His family truly made me feel at home. We went to see fox hunts, went to the Duxford Imperial War museum, we went out to see movies at the movie theater like Woman in Black 2 and the Hobbit, Oscar took me to some scenic villages around the Suffolk county area, we toured the city of Cambridge and all of its old colleges, and we punted (boated like gondoliers) down the river Cam that cuts through Cambridge, and I also was able to just relax, feel at home, and recuperate from a semester of college. On the 3rd of January, Oscar and I went to London and checked out the Imperial War Museum of London, and the National Portrait gallery. Then he left for home and I took a train to greater London to stay at my friend, Lauren Strickland’s house. The next day, her and I traveled back into London and she showed me so many cool nooks and crannies of the city. That night we went out to a club called Fabric with her friend who goes to King’s College in the city, and later that night we both slept over at her accommodation to spare us some accommodation fees. The day of the 5th I went out on my own to do touristy things and later that day I traveled back to my flat mate’s place in Suffolk.

On the 8th of January I flew to Amsterdam where I met up with my three friends who were all coming from different places. Lauren, who I spoke about earlier, flew from London, my friend Jamie McLaren from Edinburgh, and my friend Migual Benitez from Southern Spain. We all met up at our booked Hostel, and for the next few days we had beautiful adventures through the city, soaking up every essence of Amsterdam as we could. We saw more museum, had great coffee, went to bars, went to Cafes (wink wink haha), saw the sights, went to the famous Tulip Market, went on a canal tour, and much more. Then on the 11th we all took a flight to Glasgow where Jamie’s mother picked us up too drive us back to our accommodations in Edinburgh to prepare for the next semester.

So this break may have only been a month long, but it felt like a lifetime and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life that I will never forget. Alright so goodbye for now until my next blog!

The old fort walls of Derry, Northern Ireland

Me and my friend David Heatley on our Nature hike up a mountain in his hometown of Warrenpoint, Northern Ireland.

With my English family on Christmas

Near Tower Bridge in London

On a bridge over one of the many canals in Amsterdam

Cheers, Alexio

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