So Brighton was a very nice surprise. It’s a fun, eclectic, colorful city and not what I expected at all. It was also unexpectedly hot. I’m so used to associating England with rain and gray skies. However, the heat was good prep for arriving in Mexico, which I did yesterday afternoon. The pilot of my plane even joked about it when he gave us the local weather report upon our descent: “The weather is…not too different from where we came from. Which is highly unusual for me to say here.”
I’m in Tulum now which eh, I’m not super stoked on. What I am super stoked on is my friend Tatiana will be arriving here within the hour. I’ve visited friends during my trip but this is the first time someone from home is coming to meet up with me. I’m almost nervous because I’m so used to traveling solo and not having to compromise so I’m going to do my best not to try to take over and do things my way. Mostly I’m just excited to see her.
The countdown to sweaty hugs (ugh, humidity), and tacos begins!
The first day I was fully alone at the house I’m looking after in North London was delightful. I strolled around the neighborhood with no real plan aside from trekking to a cheese shop about 25 minutes away. I took a walk through Waterlow Park and got a latte from a guy with an espresso machine in a van parked outside Highgate Cemetery (thank you, Apemen and the Bean). On the way to the cheese shop, I kept seeing signs for a “Food Market.” I figured this meant farmer’s market and I thought I might as well pop over and get some fruit. I was wrong, but far from disappointed.
There were maybe 12 or so small tents in a school parking lot. One tent represented a bakery. One sold Mexican food, one offered African. There were olives and olive oils. One tent had an impressive selection of French cheeses and meats, saving me a trip to the out of the way cheese shop. I love stumbling upon stuff like that.
I went back to the house, watched movies, and played with the cat. It was a perfect, relaxing day. But just as I was getting ready for bed was when I heard the news about the terror attack on London Bridge. I’m far enough away that I didn’t even hear sirens but I tailspun into fear and sadness anyway.
I’m officially housesitting as of today in a lovely home in a lovely neighborhood in lovely North London. There’s a lovely cat who is very, very slowly warming up to me. I plan to make her my new best friend by the end of my two weeks here.
Before arriving in London (and getting here was bonkers, by the way—my bus was completely stuck in one place on the M4 for a full hour due to a gnarly accident blocking all lanes on the motorway)—I spent a few days each in Bath and Bristol.
After Edinburgh, I took a train south to York for two nights. It’s a very pretty medieval town, but I felt one full day there was sufficient. I took yet another great free city walking tour, and this one was really free–my host explained that she and the other guides don’t accept tips. They volunteer their time because they just really love York and are happy to share it while we spend money elsewhere in town.
Aside from the walking tour, I didn’t do much in York. I wandered around the Shambles a bit (their main touristy commercial thoroughfare) and went to the same wine bar by the river two nights in a row. I kept thinking of the Theodoric of York sketches from the 70s era of Saturday Night Live. I don’t think they have medieval barbers anymore.
I passed up what is probably Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attraction: Edinburgh Castle. And it was directly across from my hostel. It would have been so easy.
I literally took this from the front door of my hostel.
I don’t know what to tell you except I just wasn’t interested enough to spend the 18 pounds necessary to enter. Maybe I even liked the idea of it just being that nice big castle on the other side of the road. Plus, there’s always already an Edinburgh Castle I’ve been to and loved. It’s a dive bar in San Francisco my dad introduced me to. So that was that.