I've just trekked through 23 states and 3 countries... I will try to summarize that experience later in the week, but I ended my two month journey in jolly old England visiting Paul and his family. They live in Sheffield, about an hour outside of Manchester, and we also visited the cities of York and London. It was the perfect time of year for this trip. The weather, surprisingly, was perfect. It was consistently 70-80 degrees out, and despite a mild haze, clear and bright.
The highlight of my trip was seeing Little Shop of Horrors in London's West End. The show had opened less than a month ago and the cast was fantastic. On multiple occasions, I have missed catching this show in both New York City and Philadelphia, so the opportunity to catch a brand new production in London was fantastic. Other highlights from London include watching Blood Brothers, which I had originally seen a decade ago on my high school Latin trip (it was ok - I remember it being better, but this rusty cast paled in comparison to Little Shop of Horror's) and viewing the entire city from the London Eye. The eye is a giant ferris wheel with viewing capsules that hold approximately twenty people, and from it you can take photographs of Big Ben and a million other sites. Apparently we were lucky, because not only did we have phenomenal weather on our side, since we were on the early side of the tourist season, we only waited a brief half hour to board. And my last small confession may be that I spent a few pounds (stupid pounds, double the dollar) on Oxford Street. But maybe I didn't... Those Topshop bags could have come from anywhere.
Later that week, Paul, his parents, and I went to my favorite little city, York. York is an old walled city, that is somewhat busy due to a nearby university, but it is just an adorable maze of intertwined streets lined with boutiques set up in the loveliest, most charming old buildings I have ever seen. On my last trip to York (August 2004), we visited the York Dungeon, which I feel compelled to mention despite the fact I didn't visit this time. There are dungeons throughout the UK that provide both history and entertainment as they talk about such national horror stories such as Jack the Ripper and The Black Plague. This time, I wandered in and out of the shops and we ate at a lovely French cafe. As a side note, I believe I consumed about 12 baguettes in the nine days I was there... oops? We finished our day by trekking along the walls that surround the city. From the walls, you can see all the gorgeous old buildings.
Paul is in love with Sheffield. It is his home city, and while I see it as a small town with lambs and horses grazing in fields by the country roads, he insists it is England's fourth largest city. There isn't a lot to do there, but we clocked in many hours wandering Meadowhall Mall and dining at Pizza Express. One of my favorite Sheffield afternoons involved following Paul down some old footpath overlooking the countryside. We viewed Sheffield's monolith (nothing remarkable, but allegedly infamous) then had ourselves a good hike.
And no trip to England is complete without spending some time in the pubs. Forthcoming: a pic from Cow and Calf, the very old local pub near Paul's parent's house. EDIT** Ok, there we are.