A large part of the reason why I chose Edinburgh to study abroad in was because my dad grew up not too far away, in Belfast, Ireland, so the majority of my relatives on his side are still living in the UK. This was massively reassuring when I was preparing to leave for four months because I knew I wouldn't be far from family, and a visit wouldn't be out of the question. So, not long after arriving in Edinburgh, I was in contact with my Aunt who lives in London planning a trip! We chose the weekend after my birthday, and on November 8th I headed to England.
The flight there was miserable, but it made arriving in her cosy home all the more wonderful. I got there late Thursday night, and on Friday we embarked on the hour train ride journey into London city center to be tourists for the day. The rain made it a bit difficult, but it was just an excuse to seek refuge in overly expensive shops and spy on people we predicted were shopping for the Queen. We plopped down in Fortnum & Mason for tea and scones, then braved the rain for more wandering before heading back to her home.
When we arrived, her son (my cousin) was there with his fiance and their adorable daughter. We turned the heating on, ate vegetarian chili at an unreasonable hour, and chatted before heading to sleep.
On Saturday we woke up early to head to Brighton for the day! Brighton's a seaside town about an hour and a half south of my Aunts town. Somehow we managed to stroll down the Brighton pier, play a game in the arcade, and eat traditional fish and chips (my first while in the UK!) before the rain hit. Not sure how we got so lucky, but the second we walked into the sea life aquarium right before the pier, it started to downpour. The aquarium was fun, but what made it enjoyable was watching the reactions of my cousins 2 year old daughter, Orla, to all the creatures. She kept responding to the fish by making fish faces and pressing her face to the glass. It was painfully adorable. After that, we headed home and arrived just in time for us girls to leave again into London to go see The Book Of Mormon at the West End!
We faced a few obstacles along the way that made the trek interesting and put us a bit behind schedule, but once we got off the tube and sprinted up a crowded escalator to then run to the show, we only arrived 20 minutes late, received an informed debrief on what we'd missed by the people who work there, we were showed our seats and enjoyed a hilarious and impressive show.
On Sunday, my cousin and his little family left, so my Aunt and I headed back into London to do the touristy festivities that we'd missed on Friday due to rain. We saw Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Oxford Street, etc. Later, we met up with her other son and him and I went Ice Skating outside the National History Museum. Unfortunately, I found out that I hadn't gained any coordination skills since the last time I'd been ice skating, while my cousin was practically an olympian. We bit the bullet and both got little penguin boosts to lean on. It was a dignified and sophisticated skate.
After that, we headed to a pancake shop for dinner, then to my Aunts for another cringe-worthy episode of the X Factor, had a late night to bed only to wake up 4 hours later to take me to the airport, say our goodbyes and have me back to Edinburgh in time for a morning lecture. Whew!
It was a wonderful trip and one of my favorite weekends from my time abroad. Cannot wait to go back.