The best travel companion is a really good book, but a group of exciting study abroad students is a close second!Toward the beginning of the term, I met a couple American girls studying at Edinburgh for the year, and they quickly introduced me to a whole group of American kids who had met through Arcadia (study abroad program that plans weekend trips for its students). Though Caltech is not part of this program, tech kids still travel all over Europe on a student budget– we just plan our travels ourselves.
In early October, my little sister(who ditched school to visit me) and I stayed in London for three days. The trip was a blast, and we acted like absolute tourists, but I can’t count this trip as a college student vacation because:
A. My sister likes traveling comfortably so we stayed in a nice hotel.B. My parents paid for the trip.C. My sister is in high school (and under 18).
My sister is pretty camera-happy and took many beautiful pictures, but this is my favorite photo from our trip:
The first time I met my American group of friends, most of them were sitting at the dining table, furiously typing away on their laptops. ‘Not a very social bunch,’ I thought. But, I soon learned that everyone was actually making crazy travel plans for the rest of the term. By the end of the night, after drinking lots of delicious cider, everyone wasyelling out destinations, hostel deals and flight prices, and that night, we made plans for Dublin, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Rome. (I decided to go on two of these trips).
Ryanair is well-known for its cheap prices and notorious for its bad service and lack of ‘perks.’ But when you’re paying 16 pounds for a flight, you can’t really afford to be picky.After planning and coordinating via facebook and google docs (my favorite thing ever) we finally flew out to Dublin during mid-October. We flew in Saturday morning and flew back Monday morning, just in time for 9 am class.While parts of Dublin are picturesque, I didn’t think the city was nearly as charming as Edinburgh. Still though, we managed to fit in a walking tour, trip to the coast, visit to the Guinness factory, and lots of Temple Bar pub hopping during our two day visit.
We were in Dublin for 48 hours; we slept for 3. The nightlife is great and the live bands especially made each night memorable. Strangely enough, every pub and club we visited had one common aspect– flirty middle aged Irish women. Needless to say, the guys in our group were both flattered and weirded out by all the unexpected attention they received..
One of the guys’ many suitors. I think she added them on facebook.
Other than the typical beach trip and bicycle tour through the city, my favorite part of this vacation was the group of people we met at the hostel.
Patrick from Wales: Your typical pop science nerd. He seemed to genuinely enjoy listening to me ramble about epigenetics, so I liked him the most. He studied anthropology in college, has Chinese symbol tattoos on both shoulders, and is currently trying to ‘find true happiness and bliss in an otherwise cruel world.’ He recommends the book Diceman.
- Casey from Sydney: Middle aged woman who quit her government job to travel around Europe for 6 months. She had planned to stay in Faro for a week, but a week turned into an entire month of surfing and scootering. She has an intoxicatingly positive outlook on life and recommends the movie, Into the Wild.
Annelennenenene from Belgium: Ok so that’s not how her name is actually spelled but I don’t remember how to pronounce it and only recall that it had many n’s in it. She’s a tomboy who works in radio and insisted on calling us ‘the young ones’ but we enjoyed her company nonetheless. During her stay, she was reading Franny and Zooey, which happens to be one of my favorite books (and, believe it or not, is better than Catcher in the Rye).
- Diego from Lagos: The hip local and one of the hostel owners, Diego told us tidbits about the Portuguese music industry and made us vegetarian quiche, rice pudding, and pasta salad. An all-around cool, macho guy.
My third and final ‘college kid trip’ this term will be to Barcelona, and I promise to blog about it as soon as I get back to Edinburgh.I hope this lengthy post makes up for my briefblogginghiatus! And if not.. I still have to catch you guys up on the Higgs lecture, Scottish rugby, a Celtic/Halloween parade, and the Edinburgh Christmas lights show. Yeee!