Monday, 1 October 2012

Ancient History Through Modern Eyes

Train tickets: £51. Museum entrance: £8. Pint of Guinness at an Irish pub: 4.50. Experiencing history and culture dating back 1900 years: Priceless. Those are the things I've done in the last few weeks. Since the last post I've taken 5 trips. The first trip was to the wonderful college town of Cambridge. On the way we stopped at the American Military Cemetery. That was the highlight of my day. I was blown away listening to our tour guide talk. Here was a British citizen who had devoted his life's work to preserving American history. The stories that he told us of American war heroes who were buried there were particularly inspiring. The next trip I took was a British Studies field trip to Lincoln. In Lincoln we got to tour the Lincoln Cathedral. Built in the 1080's by the Normans the cathedral was majorly damaged by an earthquake and rebuilt in the late 12th century. We also toured the Lincoln Castle and walked a route of Roman ruins. My third trip was to Tattershall Castle. The views from the top of this 15th century building were stunning. Next up was Hadrian's wall. This was my first independent trip of the semester. I agreed to go up to Hadrian's wall with my friend Travis for a day trip. That was certainly an interesting day. We left the manor at 7 am to make a 7:30 train to New Castle. When we arrived at Bardon Mill, our first problem of the day occurred. We were lost. We knew that we were in the right town, but had no idea how to get up to Vindolanda, the ruins of a Roman fort. Fortunately, we came across a group of Scottish hikers who kindly pointed us on our way. After a nice two mile climb we got to walk through the remains of a 2nd century Roman fort. Then it was over to the Roman army museum to learn about the Roman armies that had built the massive wall. After that we got to climb up to the wall itself. I could feel the history swarming around me as I stood atop a 1900 year old Roman wall. From there we had a little problem though. We missed the bus back to Bardon Mill and thought we would miss our train. Travis's cell phone wasn't working and the phone where we were at was out as well. We finally found a phone that would work and managed to call a cab. We caught a cab back to the train station with about 5 minutes to spare before our train arrived and got home on time. My most recent trip was to Ireland, the land of some of my ancestors. In Ireland we started out in Kilarney, a small town in the south. In Kilarney I got to experience some awesome culture. When we arrived it was September 27th. This doesn't mean much to Americans, but it sure does to the Irish. In Ireland September 27th is Arthur's Day. ON this day the Irish celebrate the country's biggest celebrity, Arthur Guinness, the founder of the Guinness Brewery. To celebrate, the Irish head out to their local pub to enjoy a pint of Guinness and some live music. Since I was in Ireland for Arthur's day I decided to involve myself in their celebration. Although I found out that I'm not a big fan of Guinness, the experience of celebrating their holiday with them was a chance of a lifetime. Some friends and I also met some of the locals and got to hang out with them for the night and experience more of the modern Irish culture. The next day I was up early for the Ring of Kerry tour. On the Ring I got to drink authentic Irish Coffee, stop off at an Irish beach, and visit the Kilarney National Forest. Then it was off to Dublin for a day. I didn't like Dublin as much as Kilarney. Where Kilarney is small and quaint, Dublin is large and crowded. I did enjoy getting serenaded by a street performer singing Seven Drunken Nights, a popular Irish pub song. After Dublin it was time for the long trip home which included a stopover in the Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the town with the longest name in Europe. There I got to listen to a Welshman playing the harp and enjoy some wonderful Welsh chicken. That's about it for the time being. I have Oxford coming up this weekend and some homework to finish. Until next time, stay classy internet.

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