Tea. Bagpipes. Luscious rolling hills. Castles. Scones. Cobblestone streets. Walk into any local pub and you’ll find friendly people always ready to share a laugh and a pint over the same solid oak tables their grandfathers sat at to swap fishing tales.
You know what I’m talking about. The British Isles. A land the world sees as an ancient place of myth, story, and legend. Mist and mountains.
The reality, I’m afraid, is a little more… well,
Try “so-bad-I’m-dedicating-weeks-of-my-life-to-writing-a-blog-just-to-warn-you-not-to-go-there”. Try “so-bad-I-ditched-months-of-planning-to-cancel-my-study-abroad-plans-and-leave” okay to be fair that was 90% the fault of the university I picked, more on that later. How about “give-me-a-volley-ball-and-I’ll-call-it-Wilson-cuz-that’s-how-far-from-kindness-I-feel”. Yeah. A little less majestic.
Right now that may seem like a huge accusation with little proof to back it up, but just you wait little chapling. I’m about to pull a Lemmony Snicket on you. The British Isles are not a fairy tale.
If you or someone you love has recently planned a trip to the UK or Ireland, I will warn you right now: cancel it. It is not a magical experience. It will not leave you with a deeper appreciation for humanity. It will leave you feeling so degraded and worthless you will rush to the airport five hours early just to get through customs and return to US soil. My advice? Just go somewhere else.
If you choose not to cancel your trip, I hope this blog at least proves helpful in showing what NOT to do while there. Which for me, my mom, and my sister, was everything we did.
So without further ado, delay, or warning: Ladies, gentlemen, graduates of Star Fleet Academy, welcome to Minneapolis MSP:
“I think you should get us some sandwiches,” My mother grins at me and pulls a 20 dollar bill from her side satchel where she has stashed, in USD, all the money we will use on this trip.
Protip #1: Cash vs Debit Card: BRING THE DEBIT CARD. The days of not getting ripped off in currency exchange are over, chaplings. It’s time to accept technology and take that 1 to 1.14 direct google exchange rate given by your VISA debit card.
I ask her what kind of sandwich she would like and—after a brief argument defining her as the tuna advocate and I as pro-Italian sub—I went to the terminal Subway with our compromised deal of getting tuna. We eat while my sister writes in her trip notebook. That Subway run is the last genuine customer service we’ll be getting for a long time.
But we don’t know that.
We are flying with Icelandair, an underrated airline which stops in: you guessed it: Reichyakbivkakvlsdvisa, Iceland. At 7ish pm, we board the plane and we’re in Rykyavichchfahdskjsd before the day is done. The airport is small and we navigate to our connecting London flight with ease. On the way we stop to pick up some candy for our youngest brother and some dried fish chips just for funsies.
Protip #2: Do not put opened fish chips in your baggage because your grandchildren’s grandchildren will be smelling it from your old travel bag stashed in the basement since your death 100 years ago.
Protip #3: Icelandair does free stopovers in Iceland, and according to some Argentinean guy we’ll meet later in the blog, it has a lot to offer the outdoor adventurer. Sometimes I lie awake at night and pretend we had missed our connecting flight and enjoyed a nice little getaway adventure in Iceland instead.
We stand in line to board the shuttle to our next plane and hear behind us a young man speaking to his friend in a delightful British accent. I turn to my sister. “So it begins.” We both laugh giddily. This is the trip we have been planning our whole lives. And it’s off to a good start.