Tonight is our final night in England, so it is time for our last thoughts of our trip across England and Wales. Ever since our first day in Great Britain, I was struck with how similar it is to the United States. While there are many differences beyond the amusing accents, including the difficulty of finding bathrooms and the lack of proper bacon, I often felt like I was in a different state - not a different country. When we were in the smaller towns, like Helmsley, I even thought I could be in the Midwest. However, the beef is definitely not as good as at home. I think what really helped was the fact that everyone was speaking English, though sometimes even I questioned whether it was an accent or another language. I have gotten over being embarrassed about having to ask someone to repeat themselves.
My biggest surprise of this past month was how much I really love Wales. When Julia and I were walking around the cliffs near the city of St. Davids in Pembrokeshire County, Wales, we agreed that southern Wales was the England that we were hoping to find. I believe that since Wales often gets forgotten about compared to the rest of the United Kingdom, it has been able to retain some of its identity. It was fun/amusing to watch the Welsh television channel while we stayed in Tenby. Out of the many different places we stayed at or visited throughout this past month, I believe the area in and around Tenby (southern Wales) was by far my favorite. It was the one of the few places I could honesty say I would move to if I ever decided to pack my bags and head across the pond.
Over the course of this trip, I have gained a greater appreciation for medieval history. I have always preferred more modern history, especially American history, but the beautiful sites we visited have revealed that there are aspects of this period that I enjoy. I especially loved Fountains Abbey and Tintern Abbey, and I can understand why one would build a monastery in those locations. They were absolutely gorgeous and peaceful places. I will take away an interest in discovering more about the sites that we have visited, like Skipton Castle and the castles in northern Wales.
My favorite aspect of this trip, which I will take back with me to the States, is the great friendships that I have developed and strengthened since the beginning of our travels. We had an amazing group of people on this trip, and I have numerous stories that I will cherish once I get back home (including Mike from York's laugh). Overall, I have loved my time in England and Wales. While I am ready to head back home, I know I will be wanting to return very soon.
Cheers from England!