Well, the trip is done. It’s been just over two weeks now since we got back and I’m now writing this after having spent a week in our new home (and a week at his grandparents while he found a new car)
The road trip was certainly a lot of fun with its ups and downs and I got to see and experience things that I never have before and it has definitely left a lasting impression on me. Scotland was by far my favourite place, just everywhere there. Such tremendous beauty and so much of it! I did see a lot of beauty in England and in Wales but Scotland was something else. When we were in the Highlands it was like setting foot in a Scandinavian fairytale for the majority of it. The question I have been asking myself though is if I would ever do this kind of road trip again? Well, no I wouldn’t. I might go on a road trip again, much farther into the future, but we would have to do everything differently and for a start hopefully, have more money to get a proper camper van and just have much more stops and spend longer in each place. It’s my dream to drive all across North America especially since I’m Canadian and I have never seen more than just Vancouver; we would obviously do it though…when the states are experiencing a drastically different political climate. Overall though, I learned that road trips aren’t for me. They make you restless and tired without having actually done any exploring and when it rains, it becomes easy to just spend all day inside the car which is a bit of a downer. Actually, if I could, I would probably travel around North America by train if the trains were better and cheaper. I much prefer backpacking and just walking for miles or hitchhiking (only in Japan, I’ve never done it anywhere else and I don’t know if I’d want to) or randomly getting on a train and seeing where it goes. I love train journeys, one of my favourite things about traveling. In general, I definitely love a trip where I can be more active, meet more people, explore more nature and see things that I could never see in Canada. I guess that’s what traveling is all about? Experiencing a completely different culture to your own and appreciating it all the same. I want to travel around Africa, South American, South East Asia, and learn new languages and experience new things. When I traveled around Japan and Europe, I met some amazing people and some…not so amazing people but I still wouldn’t take back my experiences because I got to fully experience every city and country I went to. Although, of course, walking through a big city with a big back was daunting at times and when I was in Italy, I met a few people who were unfortunately robbed and that sucks. I was fortunate enough to not have anything too major happen to me while I traveled around Europe and Japan. But anyway, this reflection is about my time traveling the UK not anywhere else (I will post detailed reflections, probably in parts, about my time traveling Europe and Japan on my own, there is a lot to say). Even though it ended in the most unexpected way and even though the road trip was tiring, I am still quite content with the trip in general, but I would probably never do a trip like this one, again. The bf thinks so as well, but I am very excited for our next adventure, whenever that may be…we’re pretty broke now… The UK is much more expensive than we thought, we were under the impression that traveling domestically wouldn’t be too bad, but we obviously didn’t put enough thought into it, I sincerely think taking a flight to Eastern Europe for example and traveling around there would have been much cheaper, but oh well.
Here are some of my favourite photos from the trip.
Wander lusting through downtown Portland, Oregon today.. saw some beauty that I didn’t know was there. Hidden beauty within this city that is very much worth checking out.. sometimes you just have to throw the 80’s rock on and lust for beauty. My fav pic is the couple sitting on the bench together cause well, I’m a sucker for love and it has that cool statue in the background.. it’s good just to get lost in the moment at times, there really is beauty all around us, and if you are filling your mind with beauty.. you can’t be thinking about bad stuff at the same time. - eUe
“Portland is a city of beauty with roses along it’s streets, the kind people are beautiful too.. I think without them it wouldn’t be as complete. A place of flowers and kindness, and love by handfuls.. if I had any word to describe this place, I would use the words, ‘soft and beautiful.’ This place is a fun place to be sure, to live exciting at least to me.. a different kind of world, like living a dream.”
And I’m scared if I don’t write today about the storm in my head, I’ll forget what it’s like to express. Some people don’t deserve the poetry you’ll turn them into but you need to write anyway. And you need to read them, exactly a month or a year or even five years from now so you don’t make the same mistake thrice. So you don’t build a home and let them burn it down.
But here’s where you truly start; by saying – I want to keep you alive within me. For being the best and the worst thing that ever happened to me. I can’t promise that I won’t hate you because I forgive never to forget.
I want to keep you alive within me for choosing not to stay. Holding on right now would be emotional masochism and letting you go with grace is the only way forward.
I want to keep you alive within me for all the times you chose to deliberately hurt me because I know I will never let someone else do it to me again.
I want to keep you alive within me for showing me dreams that my practical self didn’t want to see in the first place. We all know it’s wrong, but where’s the fun if it didn’t consume you anyway?
I want to keep you alive within me for all the places I choose to no longer visit because I don’t think I can reclaim them simply as my own.
I want to keep you alive within me even though I choose to leave people before they can leave me.
I want to keep you alive within me for all the pain you still cause, long after you’re gone but you should know, I don’t deserve one bit of this because I’m so proud of being someone who tries to make things work.
I want to keep you alive within me for all the times I had to beg to get an hour with you, because I know now, that I have people, an entire city in fact with whom no amount of time will ever be enough.
I want to keep you alive within me for being disrespectful because there’s good out there in the world and I see that in seats given to the old in metros and free hugs just because you can. I now know exactly what I don’t want in a person.
I want to keep you alive within me for not being someone who puts in the effort, because how do you love someone else without loving yourself first? I hope you’re okay even though I’ll never ask.
I want to keep you alive within me for all the lies but know that I look for red flags just about everywhere with everyone now.
I want to keep you alive within me for all the times I look at blue T- shirts on streets and wonder if it’s you. I wonder if someone will make the same kind of jokes and if I could laugh at dark humor again.
I want to keep you alive within me because if it wasn’t for you, I’d have gone my whole life believing I was too selfish to put someone else’s needs before mine and not want anything in return.
I want to keep you alive within me because I don’t regret a thing. I forgive you for not being right for me and I’ll keep taking chances because life’s too short to have regrets.
And want to keep you alive within me because you made me love you in a time when I believed I couldn’t.
We drove from Inverness to Fort William today. The road there was gorgeous with lots of lochs, valleys, and mountains. I mean, it’s nothing we hadn’t seen before on the NC 500, but I do feel bad about not filming it. I was just so focused on admiring it myself. I do need to get the hang of filming more of the amazing sights I see if I want to start a youtube channel at some point though. I did film a herd of sheep with their shepherd so that was cool. Shortly after that, we saw a fenced-off area full of male and female deer. We think they’re being protected. The antlers of a stag are just so beautiful. Whenever I see a stag I think of Harry Potter or Princess Mononoke because they look so magical. Once we got to Fort William, we drove through the city centre and came to the decision that we’d be hiking Ben Nevis the following day. We grabbed lunch at Aldi and then drove to Glenfinnan which is just the next town over and home to the Glenfinnan viaduct where the Hogwarts Express famously goes over in the HP movies. We explored Glenfinnan station and I bought a postcard to add to my postcard collection of all of the cool places that I’ve been to. Later on, we walked down to the viaduct for photos. It was pretty interesting and not as crowded as I thought and I pictured the Hogwarts express going over. Luckily we parked near Glenfinnan station and were actually able to watch the train go on the tracks near there and through the valley. Afterward, we drove back to Fort William and had a bite at the Costa and tried to watch the fourth Harry Potter movie, but couldn’t get through it, I had just read the books so I was too confused by how much they skipped and it was hard to watch. We ended the night with the usual, by finding a layby and pitching up.
We hiked Ben Nevis, the tallest mountain in Scotland and the British Isles! I’m glad we managed to in the end. We were both somewhat apprehensive about it because we were so tired and weren’t sure if the weather would stay decent enough for it. We took our time getting ready which isn’t smart when you’re going on a long hike but what can you do when you’re tired. We wanted to make sure we’d had our coffee this time. We finally set off at 10:36 on the hike. It actually took us about the same time to hike it as it did for Snowdon even though Ben Nevis is 260m taller but that’s because we didn’t have to walk through as many valleys and ridges with Ben Nevis as we did with Snowdon. It was a bit steeper though, but we didn’t have to scramble up anywhere like Snowdon either. The bf tells me that I shouldn’t compare the mountains because they’re different but I can’t help it because I’ve never done hikes before like this and none that were more than a couple of hours at most. It certainly wasn’t as crowded at the Ben Nevis summit. But you still had the inconsiderate fools smoking there and during the hike which made it harder for people like me who have sinus/breathing issues to breathe after a strenuous hike. It was honestly pretty upsetting that there was such a large amount of people smoking everywhere on the trail. Then we also had two young girls playing music loudly on speakers that were inside their bag and then the foolish tourists wearing the most inappropriate clothing for a hike (dresses, fancy sandals, jewelry, flats, jeans.etc). Ugh, I sound bitter, I’m not. Really. I should know that with a tourist mountain like this one, unfortunately, that there are gonna be fools. Overall, even though the weather wasn’t as great as when we did Snowdon, I really enjoyed it and I’m proud to say that I did it. It reaffirmed my wish to try and hike many more mountains and definitely a bunch when I get to Japan; especially Mt. Fuji. The bf and I even met some older men on the trail that had just come back from hiking Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. We were pretty impressed since they said they did it twice. The bf and I would definitely like to hike that too someday. I mean he’s already done it, (he’s done many hikes, I’m pretty jealous) but he said he’d do it again with me. At another point on the trail, we met someone doing the 24-hour peak to peak challenge where one tries to hike Snowdon, Scafell Pike, and Ben Nevis in 24 hours…I couldn’t do that…I wouldn’t want to do that, I mean kudos to him but why would I want to kill my legs like that for no reason. I do love hikes and I feel so good after a hike, exhausted, but overall good, you know? If I did something like that without rest though…I feel like I’d be bedridden for at least a week afterward. I’d rather enjoy myself and the wilderness and just accomplish major hikes like that one at a time with lots of rest in between. My goal is to start doing nice long hikes/walks in the lake or peak district every other or every weekend before I leave the UK. Our knees were destroyed by the time we got down from Ben Nevis so I definitely need to buy knee braces before my next big hike. We ended the day by watching the Liverpool game and taking it easy.
Today we rode the Hogwarts Express! Aka the Jacobite and well not the exact model apparently but similar and..actually kind of a waste of money, but I’ll get to that in a bit. I woke up at 6:30 am and I was super excited about what lay ahead, but I also woke up so early because I was restless all night and awake until 2 am. It was the first hot night we’d experienced in a while and I just felt hot and dry all night and not to mention sore and in pain in my legs/knees from the Ben Nevis hike. Eventually, the bf woke up and we drove to Fort William station to get ready for the train ride. What struck me as disappointing right away is that it looked nothing like the Hogwarts Express from the inside unless you were to be seated in first class where they actually do have private carriages. The rest though just looks like a regular, old, worn (emphasis on old and worn) train. You’d think from the amount that it costs that they’d be able to afford to do some upkeep on it but nope. It is purely a cash grab that sets you back 40 pounds. It was a complete tourist trap. There were so many loud tourists, it was so crowded and people kept constantly trying to hog the window space for stunning views outside. Yes, the views were lovely, but it’s really hard to enjoy them from how loud and stuffy it was in there (since it clearly is an old train, no air conditioner). You could tell that half the people on there weren’t even fans or there for the views (which you could have gotten for much cheaper on a regular Scotrail train I bet), but just to say that they’d ridden it which was a bit annoying. There were people sleeping and elderly/middle-aged people drinking or taking selfies and I just kept asking myself what they were doing there. Curiously though, there were hardly any people from our age group, you know the people that grew up with the fandom, books, movies, etc. It was just a really disappointing experience since I had been looking forward to doing this ever since I arrived in the UK so I’m sorry, I know I sound bitter and annoyed. I’ve ridden much nicer, quieter, scenic and less expensive trains in Japan and have gone to the wizarding world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios there which I think is a much better use of my money and had a great time. I shouldn’t really compare though but it’s a shame because I honestly don’t think it was worth our time or money. They even got the HP story wrong in the 1 pound tour guide book that we bought!
We would have been much better off just finding a good spot and filming the train from there which we kinda did but a shot over the Glenfinnan viaduct would have been the perfect shot and the only thing worth doing unfortunately but I’m glad I know I suppose although I guess I should have done my research on the train journey before buying a ticket. Once we got back to Fort William on the train’s return leg from Mallaig, we hopped in the car and decided to drive South toward loch Lomond. The drive there was excellent. We drove through valleys and mountains and that paired with the good weather made me feel better about the lousy train trip. I definitely want to invest in a proper camera for my next travels because so far I have just been using my phone and I’m running out of space for photos and videos so I’m forced to have to use my phone camera very wisely for the next 5 days so as to not run out of space before the trip is over. When we arrived in loch Lomond, we found the perfect layby, made some noodles and just chilled for the rest of the night.
It’s great waking up knowing that you’re going to have a scenic drive, that’s why I love staying overnight in a national park or AONB, it’s just a lovely thing to wake up to. The plan today was just to drive from loch Lomond through Cairngorms national park and finally to Aberdeen. We decided to cut out Cairngorms for today because we figured that take too long and just save it for tomorrow. We were both really hungry so we decided to stop at a cafe called “Skoosh” along our drive in the loch Lomond national park. We both decided to get full Scottish breakfasts. We were able to choose from a list of breakfast items. I chose everything that wasn’t pork essentially while the bf chose a typical breakfast with sausage, bacon, fried egg, etc. I did also imply to the waitress that I couldn’t eat pork by asking if something that I ordered contained any and then ordering it when she said it didn’t. Unfortunately, when our order arrived, both our plates had bacon. I really enjoy ordering full breakfasts (of the veggie variety but with haggis when I’m in Scotland since the only thing I can’t eat is pork) so it was a shame that I couldn’t eat half my plate because the bacon/bacon grease was touching/mixed up with the other stuff. I didn’t complain but in retrospect, I should have said something. I just gave more than half my plate to the bf to eat and tried to eat the rest myself but felt physically ill at the thought that what I ate may have touched the bacon grease on the plate. It’s more of a psychological thing, but I felt uncomfortable and couldn’t enjoy anything else. I hate food going to waste too; I couldn’t eat my mushrooms and tomatoes because they were with the bacon and the bf didn’t want them either because he doesn’t like them in a restaurant/cafe fry up. When the waitress came to collect the plates I told her what happened and why I had left items on my plate. She apologized and then we could hear her telling the cook what we said. It was a small cafe so the cook herself came to give us the machine when we went up to pay. She half-heartedly apologized and said she must have gone into “overdrive” while cooking. I didn’t really get this because the bf and I had ordered a good 10 minutes before any other customers came in and we were the only ones in the shop at the time so it’s not like she was busy but it’s whatever, it’s my fault for not bringing it up right away. I suppose I would have just liked her to show a bit more empathy. We drove straight to Aberdeen after that. We weren’t really in the mood to sightsee and just wanted to find a place to shower and chill. After a bit of searching online, the bf found a park and ride just 5 miles out that apparently had showers. When we got there we saw that the place was huge and so oddly clean. I looked it up properly and apparently, it was built in 2017 by the city council to help combat congestion and has 1000 spaces, but unfortunately, it’s not popular for whatever reason which is a shame. It is only used by seven people a day! It had free 36-hour parking, the building itself has a big waiting room, two big washrooms for men and women with a shower stall in each and the place is spotless. It is supposed to have free wifi and hot water but since it is hardly used the council stopped providing these things. We were the only ones there so we decided to spend the next several hours chilling there and have a shower (seriously, no one else came in except for one bus driver at the end of the night for the toilet). We made dinner and it was nice to have a big, quiet space to ourselves that wasn’t the car for a while. It sounds bizarre to hang out in a park and ride, I know, but if you come here then you’ll understand what I mean. It had a soothing atmosphere to it after spending so long in the car. It was like going to a campsite and you were the only ones with access to the facilities. Later on, the bf even gave me some driving lessons in the huge car park. I have my full license in driving automatic vehicles but I have only once before had a go at driving a standard vehicle and that was also with the bf, in 2017 when I studied abroad here during my degree. Driving a standard vehicle is a lot harder then I give the bf credit for and it was pretty nerve-wracking to think about when to use each gear and the clutch but it was still a lot of fun to be back behind the wheel since I haven’t driven since I left Canada. I definitely have more respect for the bf now when he drives especially on long trips like this one or when he’s on the road with awful drivers and is always able to keep his cool–well, for the most part (mild road rage). I can’t wait for my next lesson though, I’d like to become as good at driving standard as I am with automatic and besides I just enjoy driving and don’t want to get out of practice. It wasn’t until nearly 1 am that we decided to call it a night and pitch up at a nearby country park.
Today was essentially a transit day to get back down to England and continue from Carlisle for the final 3 days of our road tour. The drive was about 5 hours long. Honestly, I was exhausted the whole time. My legs are still sore and swollen and I even fell asleep for an hour. I still enjoyed some of the mountainous views of Scotland and I felt a bit sad to be leaving. Scotland has had the most beautiful scenery in the UK and just all of Scotland in general, particularly the highlands is just my favourite place by far to explore in the UK. Once we got to Carlisle, we wandered around the city for an hour and a half to stretch our legs and to play pokemon go. Later on, on our way to finding a layby in the North Pennines AONB to pitch up, we stopped to try and help a mother and daughter jump-start the battery of their car. They had parked it in Tesco’s for two weeks (the mom works there) while they were in France on holiday and the battery had gone completely flat because the daughter forgot to turn the lights off. The mother seemed to be a French national and was really funny and friendly and interested in our travels. She reminded me a lot of what my mom can be like. After that, we made our way to the North Pennines and just before parking up we came across a sign that said:e “Castle Carrock, please dance”. We had to do a double-take when we saw it - literally, the bf applied the brakes and reversed back to be sure he read the sign properly (it was late at night on a country road, so no risk of a car being behind him!).
Today was meant to be the day that we try and see, again, if we could hike Scafell Pike. Sadly, the bf and I were still sore from Ben Nevis because all we’ve done since is pretty much just sit in a car which has also led to our ankles and legs being very swollen; we haven’t really done ourselves any favours really. Although we managed to hike the tallest peaks in both Wales and Scotland, it seems that Scafell Pike, which is shorter than both at 978 meters (Snowdon is 1085 m and Ben Nevis is 1345 m), is also considered to be the toughest owing to it being incredibly steep in some parts. So…we’ll just save it for a little later on after we’ve recuperated from this trip. Besides, it rained today anyway and I prefer dry weather on hikes. Instead, we chose to go national park/AONB hoping to ultimately end up in Whitby. We started off by driving through the North Pennines AONB. Honestly, I must be out of steam because not even 30 mins into this first AONB and I fell asleep for almost an hour. I felt bad for the bf because he does all the driving and it really isn’t fair to him. We’d gone through all the rolling hills of the North Pennines and stopped for coffee at Starbucks and I finally convinced the bf to get a Starbucks card since he buys coffee there at least once a day. We then set off to continue through the Yorkshire Dales National Park then the Nidderdale AONB and finally through the North York Moors National Park before arriving in Whitby. The scenery of the National Parks/AONBs was very similar especially since it was raining and foggy. Lovely, huge, rolling hills, lots of sheep messing about; the usual, but still great and worth a visit again in good weather. I’ve probably seen more sheep on this trip than I have seen, or any other animal for that matter, in my life. Once we arrived in Whitby, I decided that the first order of business was to get some fish and chips. I found a well-rated and cheap one online called Silver Street Fisheries. The customer service there was amazing, probably the best I’ve experienced in the UK and certainly the best fish and chips I’ve had here too. I mentioned to the woman behind the counter that I’d never had mushy peas before and wanted to try them and then she said that people here either love them or hate them and so she scooped some up in a cup for me to sample them. I didn’t absolutely hate it but it wasn’t something that I wanted to pay for either so I passed on that but she also gave me a sample of curry sauce and gravy to try which I much preferred and she said I could keep the samples (they were really big samples to be fair). The fish and chips themselves were so crispy and delicious. The batter on the fish was amazing and not doughy at all. The cod that I got was also full of flavour. I learned during this experience that I like vinegar on chips and regret not having put it on my fish (I realized this after I finished my fish). As for the bf, he ordered a large sausage and chips with curry sauce. The sausage came battered which he didn’t ask for but doesn’t regret because he also really enjoyed how crispy the batter was. After our dinner, we walked it off by strolling through Whitby and trying to find the hotel where the bf’s grandmother used to work which is unfortunately now owned by Wetherspoons. After that, we climbed the 199 steps up to Whitby abbey and then set up there for a bit and watched the gorgeous sunset over the town. We had a lovely and somewhat romantic end to our day and I’m happy that I finally got to see Whitby, I really liked it there. I hope I’ll be able to go back there soon for some awesome fish and chips!
I awoke to find that we had pretty much pitched in the middle of nowhere. Technically, we’ve been doing that a lot by parking in national parks/AONBs overnight but even as I sat there waiting for the bf to wake up and then eventually falling back to sleep myself, hardly any cars passed when normally there would be a few cars every few minutes. We drove to a shopping park in York to freshen up and grab some coffee and then grabbed lunch at Aldi (it was pretty late by the time we left the place we had parked). We managed to park near the city centre of York and began ambling towards there while hunting pokemon and working on the Jirachi quest. Our main three goals for the day was to see the York shambles which was a spot highlighted on google maps that looked interesting, general exploration of York, and to try “Britain’s second-best burger” at a place called “Burgsy”. We arrived at the shambles first and right away (with the help of all the Harry Potter shops) we noticed that it was the filming location/inspiration for Diagon Alley in the HP movies! We, of course, explored all the HP shops, the bf and I talked about how we’d like to buy the series with the newly redone illustrations on the covers. I pined over the Hufflepuff letterman’s jacket (I’ve taken the Pottermore test twice, can’t remember why, but each time I got a different result, once my result was Hufflepuff and the other was Gryffindor) and a little figure of Hedwig in a birdcage that I’d love to have at my bedside table. We soon found that the shambles was too crowded with tourists for our liking so we escaped to Burgsy for some refuge and burgers. The bf and I ordered two burgers to cut in half and share. Now, they were super delicious, yes, with great sauce and delicious patties, but the bun was mediocre and I don’t think the overall burger should be qualified of the “Britain’s second-best” title (a quick google search is what told us this). I did still enjoy them but they were rather expensive and I’ve had better burgers made at home by the bf so I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to go there again. Afterward, we wombled about and played pokemon go. My adventure sync doesn’t work while the bf’s does so he was able to easily complete the mission of walking to evolve Feebas during the Ben Nevis hike while I can only walk my buddy/hatch eggs when the app is open so that’s annoying and what I was trying to do during our stroll through the city. We later decided we were craving some Five Guys fries so we went to go get some. I wasn’t really paying attention when our order was given out but when a number was called out, the bf seemed so sure of himself and grabbed the bag and then proceeded to grab some mayo but I thought I saw something that said relish on the sheet of paper attached to the bag so I was confused but just trusted that the bf had grabbed the right bag and then took a fry out to eat it….but he hadn’t grabbed the right bag…when we sat down, we looked inside and realized this wasn’t our order because there was a burger and when looking at our receipt we saw that we were order 41, not 43 which was the number on the receipt attached to the bag that we were given. I felt so guilty for not saying anything when I was confused earlier so I rushed back to the counter with the bag to apologize and give back the order we took while getting our correct one. The employee asked if I touched it and I said no…I lied but I only took one fry out, that’s not the end of the world, you could see that we clearly hadn’t opened the burger wrapping so he could have just taken out the fries if need be and, I don’t know, eaten them himself or something (I’ve worked in fast food, it happens) and then put in new ones. He seemed like he was going to accept the bag but another employee immediately took them from him and gave it back to me, asking me to throw it away…I suppose because of food safety and they couldn’t be sure how much we had actually touched but I’m sorry I’m not going to just waste food like that and I felt bad but we took it for ourselves and had much more fries than we had bargained for. We ate it outside and watched as crowds lined up for an apparent ghost tour of of the city. We ended the night by venturing over to the peak district to pitch up.