Miriana joined us on a UK work placement at the beginning of July and finishes today. In her time at Atlas, she spent many of her weekends travelling to different cities across the UK.
Part I: Birmingham
It was my first week in the UK, and I was really looking forward to start visiting new places! My idea was to start with the most important ones. Of course, I had already visited London, and so this is how Birmingham became the first place on the list to visit.
Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the United Kingdom, and the most populous city in the English Midlands and frequently referred to as the “second city” of England. Cool, isn’t it? So I was like ‘’Why not?’’
There’s not a lot to see from a tourist’s point of view. The most interesting thing was this kind of super-modern building made of balls. We didn’t see any museums but we did visit a shopping centre.
You can take the train from Watford (around £35), it takes 1h to get there from London so in the meantime you can enjoy the beautiful fields of the Midlands through the train window.
Part II: Oxford
This town is of course a must-visit. Especially if you’re a Harry Potter fan!
Let’s start from Christ Church; founded in the time of Henry VIII and alma mater to no fewer than 13 British Prime Ministers. Its Great Hall inspired the Great Hall of Hogwarts, while the grand staircase and its cloisters actually pop up in the movie!! The entry price for this college is £10, £9 if you’re a student.
The museums are free: I decided to visit the Ashmolean Museum (oldest one in the UK) and the History of Science Museum.
The architectural style of the colleges and buildings is my favourite thing about Oxford: the Radcliffe Camera (part of the Bodleian Library, and the earliest example of a circular library in the country) the University Church of St Mary the Virgin and The Bridge of Sighs.
You can get to Oxford taking the GWR from London Paddington, the ticket is around £50. Totally worth it!
Part III: Cambridge
Who are we? Is there life after death? Do aliens exist? Is Cambridge better than Oxford?
Ok, let’s get right to it.
I think that they’re quite similar, aesthetically speaking. But I feel like I should give a point in favour of Cambridge just for the river! The Cam is so nice, surrounded by lush green parks and crossed by amazing bridges.
The King’s College Chapel: astonishing! A perfect example of English Gothic architecture. And the entry price for students is only £6.
The Fitzwilliam Museum (free): there’s a lot of stuff here, paintings, applied arts, antiquities from Egypt, Greece, Rome and so on.
Cambridge is easily reachable from Hatfield, the ticket is around £25.
Part IV: Bath
Oh God. That morning. It was raining, and when I saw the price of the train ticket from London I lost two years of life. The journey was e n d l e s s.
Nothing seemed to be going well. But I was wrong.
Bath is one of the most beautiful cities that I’ve visited in the UK.
If there’s one thing that I love about a city, it’s when the buildings are all similar and of the same colour. Bath is exactly like that. A collection of perfectly placed limestone houses surrounded by dark-green woods. And it’s so quiet!
If you go there you can’t miss the Roman’s Baths (the ticket is £14) and the Pulteney Bridge. It was beautiful in the rain, but I think it would have been even better on a sunny day. There are some really nice cafés on the bridge, and in my opinion, this is the best way to enjoy the view.
£70 is the price of the train (GWR from London Paddington) but it is definitively worth it.
Part V: Brighton
By this point I was starting to miss my sunny and hot hometown. And the sea! So I thought to myself ‘’the sea here is nothing compared to the Sardinian one, but better than nothing, right?’’ So I took the direct train from St Albans headed to what it was supposed to be a summer day.
Nice try, Miriana.
That day all the winds of the Compass Rose decided to blow at Brighton. And it was really cloudy. Brighton that day was anything but Bright! The wind was blowing away everything, rubbish, chairs, kids, and all of my chances to take a dip in the English sea.
Despite the weather, Brighton looked like a really nice place! It’s a sort of hipster city. It’s also considered the Gay Capital of UK.
I spent some time playing games at the Brighton Pier (cool place actually) and it’s here that I had my first taste of Fish and Chips.
Part VI: Canterbury
At this point I should change the blog’s title in ‘’The Canterbury I don’t want to come back to Italy anymore Tales’’.
I used to know of this city only because of Chaucer’s work, but now what comes to my mind when I think of it is the beautiful river that crosses the flowering Westgate Gardens, the narrow streets of cobblestone (no I’m not singing), the amazing Cathedral and the lovely Tudor-style houses all around the city.
Fun (?) fact: Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can take the South Eastern train from London St Pancras, it takes about two hours to get there and the ticket is around £30.
Part VII: Windsor
The first thing that you see once you’re out of the station is the Castle. WOW. What a welcome!
Windsor is soo pretty!! I decided to take a stroll along the Long Walk. What’s the Long Walk?
Literally a long, very long walk. (picture below)
It’s located in the middle of Windsor Great Park, it starts from the castle gate and it ends at the bronze statue of George III. You may have seen it during some Royal Wedding carriage ride.
Not the statue, the Long Walk I mean.
You can go inside the castle. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for this. Maybe next time.
Part VIII: Edinburgh
Scotland has always been one of my must-visit places, and I took this as a good opportunity to finally go there. So I booked the flight and the next day I was on a plane headed to Edinburgh!
My first solo trip! It was just me, myself and… the rain of course.
Well, in my opinion, Edinburgh is even more stunning with the rain! I’m not kidding. It’s like London. I love London when it’s raining, it’s all more… British!?
By the way, if you want to enjoy one of the best views of the city, Calton Hill is the perfect place! Here there are some monuments as well, like the famous Dugald Stewart Monument.
The Castle of Edinburgh is situated on a hill so you can easily admire it from every point of the city. Of course you can visit it, the entry price is £17.
I could list lots of spots worth a visit but seriously, every street, shortcut, building or park is full of character.
Oh and Edinburgh is like Bath! It has its own colour, a sort of hazel, wooden colour which it matches perfectly with the grey of the clouds.
And if you think that English accent is difficult, you will certainly change your mind once you hear how the Scottish speak!!
Part IX: Bristol
Bristol is really nice, it’s a shame it was raining so badly that I couldn’t really enjoy it fully!
The reflection on the river of the coloured houses was such a lovely view!
If you are interested in street art you should know that this is Banksy’s hometown: in fact, all around the city you can find some of his works!
Unfortunately, because of the weather, I couldn’t reach the Clifton Suspension Bridge, which is one of the major landmarks in the city! Did you know that the first ever bungee jump took place here?
Well, as they say: all good things must come to an end. Sadly, this was my last trip around the UK!
This was my summer, between word counts and new cities to explore!
My advice to future visiting work placements, interns and students:
Take this as a good opportunity to know more about the UK, not only places but its culture and its people.
I know, it can be a little bit expensive, and maybe the weather here is not always the best for trips outdoors, but you definitely won’t regret it.
Because, despite everything, I had my best summer ever!