One of the things that I think most of us are guilty of, “travellers” or not, is not exploring your own country. Yes, it isn’t as romantic as jetting off into the sunset to visit some far-flung part of the world, but often you can find the things that you are looking for just next door. That is very much the case with this trip.
When I was living in the UK I hardly did any of the so-called “touristy” things, other than going to Big Ben and the South Bank in London and occasionally to different cities, but never for long and definitely never thoroughly. So, to now be living in Poland and to come back and actively search for things to see and do, I was genuinely surprised by just how much I had missed out on in my years there. Viewing your own country, or city, through the eyes of a tourist is definitely something I recommend that you do. It is often the “foreigner” who knows what to do in your city, as they spend the time getting to know everything about it.
One thing that always seems to surprise people about the UK, is that there is so much more to do than London. For example, 13% of it is covered in forests and it has 11,073 miles (17820.266 km) of coastline – so there has to be something else to do other than stand in an underground station, sweating whilst trying to find your way out to take a picture of a phonebox and Big Ben (even though I do this all the time).
Our first stop on the tour was the real-life wall that inspired the much greater wall in Game of Thrones – Hadrian’s Wall
Although it perhaps isn’t amazingly impressive, and was in fact built after the great wall of china, it is still full of history and definitely has something of an aura to it. This was perhaps the first trip where I realised that knowing at least some of the history of a place can really add to your whole experience. Instead of just saying “wow, that’s a pretty building”, you can instead appreciate it on a few different levels. I know that sounds incredibly pretentious, but it’s true. I hate reading for the most part, but given the different dynamic you get from understanding even just the tip of the iceberg, it’s well worth the time investment.
The “English” side of Hadrian’s wall – from which you have to walk to get to it (well at least the part where we were anyway) was really picturesque, exactly the sort of thing that you would expect when you imagine the English countryside, except there were slightly more sheep.
What I didn’t appreciate before coming here was Sandra’s love of ALL creatures, and not just cats. Which meant that we have a ridiculous number of sheep photos to go through, as well as sheep commentary on the day. Mainly about which sheep were the most photogenic and which were the dirtiest, I am still none the wiser – but our next trip will be to Wales.
We left the sheep behind on our way to Edinburgh, but there would be more sheep further up the road and another, yet undiscovered, obsession.