What’s your favourite holiday destination? Judging from my travel past, I would have to say Britain. That’s no surprise really, considering I lived there for 2.5 years and I am an English teacher.
Now that I am back in the Netherlands, I long for more sightseeing around the British Isles. Sadly I don’t think a trip back will happen anytime soon, so instead I decided to dwell on the past with a photo report of all my holiday trips to Britain.
This was a study trip in my last year of secondary school. I was very keen on joining this trip because I had signed up to go to teacher training college after graduation.
Highlights: first trip to the UK! We stayed in Canterbury, which is most charming around Christmas time (when we were there). We also saw the cliffs of Dover and spent time in London.
Less fun: never understood why it was called “the London trip” when so little time was spent there. We got stuck in traffic on the way back from London to Canterbury, which was horrible. Also, the programme hadn’t been updated much in six years: my oldest sister and I had both seen musical We Will Rock You on this school trip.
I was really into (cheap) analogue photography for a long time. Multiple photos from my UK trips were shot this way.
Another study trip, but this time part of my first year at uni, where I was studying to become an English teacher.
Highlights: Bath is beautiful! The Assembly in Cardiff was also very interesting, but most of all I enjoyed spending time with coursemates. It was a great opportunity to build new friendships in our first year at uni. A group dinner at Ask Italian right outside our hostel belongs to one of my fondest memories, as well as attending a play as a large group.
Less fun: I wasn’t impressed with the organisation of this trip. Again, the trip didn’t live up to the title: we only spent one afternoon in Bristol and, apart from the Assembly, didn’t see anything of Cardiff. We also got a rushed tour of the university campus in Bath, but strangely enough our teachers had disappeared and forgotten to tell us we had to make our own way back to the city.
The following year I joined the university study trip again, this time to Dublin.
Highlights: exploring Sugarloaf Mountain and Wicklow Mountains National Park. Also, our trip to Howth, a town on the shore where we had some lovely fish and chips. For the entire trip we had the best tour guide, who took us to the old studio where U2 had recorded their first album, and handed us graffiti to spray on the walls! Another interesting part of this trip was teaching in a primary school located in one of the more deprived areas of town.
Less fun: our journey to Kilmainham Gaol took much longer than anticipated. I distinctly remember a lot of us complaining about the long walk from tram to jail. An explicit description of old torture methods in the torture room was a little too nauseating for me in the early morning. – Also, one of my classmates had eaten our prize for the primary school kids (stroopwafels), so we were left with nothing to give them. So rude!
Location-wise, my final study trip with uni topped it all: I fell head-over-heels in love with Scotland.
Highlights: the absolutely stunning Scottish scenery of white-topped mountains and blissful green hills. The divide between Glasgow and Edinburgh was also quite nice, as both cities have very different things to offer. Overall this was probably my favourite study trip.
Less fun: my ribs were bruised, which made this a slightly painful memory (literally). I also was not a fan of staying onboard a ferry overnight and I felt nauseated a lot of the time on the coach.
Longing for a holiday, I set out for a 4-day city trip to Liverpool that same year.
Highlights: interesting history, architecture, and culture. We had the best breakfast at a place called Soul Café. At the time I was also glad I could do some extensive shopping in the city, though I care very little about that now.
Less fun: four days was much too long for this trip. A maximum of two days in Liverpool would do, otherwise it gets boring. Also, whilst on the famous Liverpool ferris wheel I found out I have a terrible fear of heights. Hanging up high in a swerving box is not the best place to find out!
In 2016 I got to come along on a study trip as a teacher for the first time! Lots of fun, because all your expenses are paid for.
Highlights: not having to pay for anything, obviously. Besides that Cambridge is a beautiful city with the most charming architecture. We also went to London for an afternoon, where we visited King’s Cross platform 9¾ and saw the London Bridge lifting (opening and closing). It was also a wonderful experience to come along as a teacher for the first time. It is great bonding time with students and colleagues!
Less fun: we nearly missed our flight back and experienced a 45-minute delay because of it. Why does it take so long to walk to the gate at Stansted?
Lake District, 2017
I moved to Sheffield in 2016, starting a 3-year long living abroad experience. A few months later I received my first visitors from home, which was a lot of fun because now we could explore together. In February Yoeri and I visited the beautiful Lake District.
Highlights: stunning landscapes and lakes all around! The Lake District is a must-see for everyone. It’s home to numerous cute towns with plenty of options for comfortable accommodation. We did an insane amount of walking: I think we managed about 26km in one day.
Less fun: February is not the best time of year to go, it was quite chilly. I also tore out my jeans the first morning of our weekend, and of course it was the only pair I’d brought. As a result I had to walk around with a massive tear right across my bum all weekend! Also, the drive up there was TERRIFYING. Very small dark-lit roads with hardly any space to go if there’s another vehicle coming. I’ve been on rollercoasters that felt more life-ensuring.
The last trip I made was to Scotland, a final celebration before moving back to the Netherlands.
Highlights: again, the beautiful scenery. Furthermore, I enjoyed doing this completely on my own for the first time. Edinburgh remains one of my favourite cities and I would love to spend more time travelling around Scotland – though in the future I’d prefer to go with friends.
Less fun: dirty hostels, yiiikes! The trip to Inverness wasn’t really worth it – the hostel was terrible and there wasn’t much to do in town, unfortunately.
I am not done with Great Britain yet, there is still so much to see! One of my biggest travel aims is to revisit all places I visited on study trips, because so much of it went by in a haze. But there are other places I want to see, too:
- Belfast, Northern Ireland. It’s got a rough history that I want to learn more about. Also, I like pubs… and mashed potatoes…
- Isle of Skye, Scotland. It’s supposed to be breathtakingly beautiful, so a must-visit on my list. My niece was named after the island too, so that gives me another reason!
- Snowdonia, Wales. I’ve always been intrigued by the name of this national park, which is the biggest in the UK. I’d like to see it with my own eyes.
What are your favourite places to visit in Great Britain? Do you have any travel goals? Let me know, I might add them to my travel list!