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Wales

Hello again!  As we’re moving back into the swing of school, you’re probably wishing you were still in the vacation spot you spent spring break in.  Or at home, sitting on the couch and eating too many Girl Scout cookies.  Either way, I understand how you feel.  I think I need another whole week of break to get caught up on all the things I didn’t do during vacation.  Oh well; only six more weeks to go!

Anyway, I thought I’d share some of my adventures with you today.  But then I began editing pictures and thinking of what to say, and three hours later I am STILL editing pictures and no closer to accomplishing my to-do-list for the weekend!  Note to self:  don’t edit so many pictures in one sitting.  I have decided to give you an overview of my trip, with some photos and travel tips, and leave it at that for this week.  I will likely be posting a lot about Europe; I have so many stories and so much history to tell!

To begin…I took the trip with a group of teachers and students from Fontbonne.  The trip was put together by a travel company called EF (Education First) College Study Tours.  For the price I paid, the trip included transportation everywhere (by plane, charter bus, ferry, and London’s underground trains), hotels (nice ones, not hostels or cheap places), two meals a day, entrance fees to museums, castles, cathedrals and other historical sights, two city tour guides, and a tour guide who stayed with us the entire trip.  The trip seemed expensive, but I think it was very well priced for everything that was included.  Our tour guides were very knowledgeable and explained to us a great amount of history concerning the locations we visited.  I would definitely recommend taking a trip like this, especially as a first excursion out of the country.  It was well planned with much guidance, but also gave us some free time to see places we wanted to visit.  And our tour guides only lost us a few times, so they proved to be very capable.

A few travel tips you should be aware of:

In Ireland and the UK, nearly everyone speaks English.  However, since we speak American, you should be aware that some phrases/words/gestures do not mean the same there as they do at home.  For example, displaying the number two with your fingers is an expletive that Europeans would consider to be offensive.  If you’re going to be traveling to a different country, I suggest you research a little about their sayings before you go.

In Europe, everything is expensive.  EVERYTHING.  Our dollar only equals about .70 cents in euros and .50 cents in pounds sterling (used in the United Kingdom—England, Scotland, and Wales).  But a meal that costs ten of our dollars still costs ten dollars there, which could be 15-20 dollars in European dollars.  So bring lots of money.  Also, if you take one of the EF tours, you might be offered extra experiences that are not included in the sum you paid for the trip, so you will need funds for those if you want to participate.  We were offered rides in a jaunty (a horse-drawn buggy in Ireland), a show put on by a man’s sheepherding dogs, and tickets to see the play Spamalot in London.  And you will probably want to buy souvenirs for every single person you’ve ever met before.  So, like I said, lots of money.

Make sure you have a converter AND adaptor with you that works for the countries you will be visiting.  One of the girls in my group only bought an adaptor, which makes our plugs fit into the European sockets in the wall, and had to borrow our converters.  The electricity in other countries uses different wattages, from what I understand, than we do, so you must have a converter to change the energy into a suitable kind for your own appliances.

This post is getting long, so I’ll throw in a few quick pictures and let you go for today.

The Irish countryside. I promise these are real places!

A beach in Ireland. Very rocky, not sandy.

Same beach, but so pretty it needs an extra picture!

A street corner in Wales. Yes, it is as beautiful as it looks.

A view of Llangollen, the Welsh town we stayed in for a night.

The iconic red telephone booths in England!

I hear the next spring break trip is to Spain and Portugal, with an optional excursion to Morocco.  It sounds absolutely wonderful, so you should all sign up!

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