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United Kingdom

Curious what backpackers do in the UK? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.
  • A great joy this, being able to walk a beautiful city. A pleasure shared by many of the residents on a Sunday morning, the streets thronging with folk. An aside, Edinburgh appears to be the UK capital for Hen parties; curious phenomenon and the equivalent of bachelor parties, but far better organised. From early on parties of determined looking women emerge from the railway station, having traveled from all over the UK, dressed in regalia of their choice, the bride to be very much in evidence with bows, garters and ribbons. They then move from pub to pub to restaurant, eventually staggering back to the station, stiletto heels over cobbled streets, a sight which could probably have the prospective groom heading for the hills. .

    I struggle to define Edinburgh, it is far more European in look and feel than a UK city. Long curving streets, lined with granite buildings, little or no ostentatious decorating apart from the glorious window boxes. Thankfully they also have very stringent building regulations and no late 20th century horrors are visible,at least not in the city as such. Curiously, some of the pre-Victorian buildings are quite Dutch in appearance. Perhaps the shared Calvinism? Equally strange, the ubiquitous yellow paint one sees in Germany also makes a frequent appearance here.A verdant city, immense parks and pockets of trees virtually everywhere.

    Hein treated us to lunch at The Scran and Scallie on Sunday. This is Tom Kitchin's gastropub in Stockbridge. A holder of a Michelin star, he produces plain food that is very, very good.. I had the stargazy pie, but sadly without the little fish peering at the sky, presumably not to offend or upset sensitive customers. Waitress very Nordic in appearance, turns out to be from the Isle of Skye. Quite often come across Scots who seem to have just left the set of a Viking movie.

    Wandered through book and charity shops after lunch. Huge number of both of these and really makes one understand what poor bookshops and selections we have back home. I shall come back with a sack of books! And the charity shops have good quality clothing at silly prices, no shame in buying from them at all.

    In praise of leggings: the majority of young women here have wonderful legs, and this year they are all wearing leggings.Watching them stride about is like peeling onions. To be young again.

    Visited the National gallery on Monday, exhibition featuring Daubigny, Monet and van Gogh. Beautifully curated, showing Daubigny's influence on later Impressionists. In contrast I later walked past the Fruitmarket Gallery, exhibition by Damien Ortega featuring random lumps of clay. Much of abstract art seems to be fraudulent and cynical,a mere attempt to hoodwink the public to part with money for what is essentially rubbish.


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  • It didn't occur to us how Belfast in Northern Ireland was a city with such recent history that is still evident in everyday life. Northern Ireland which is its own country is full of modern day religious/political tension dividing the city of Belfast between the Protestants who support British rule and the Catholics who support the traditional Irish culture. We took a black cab taxi tour to the various parts of town and saw murals that depicted the history and even saw the gates that are still closed every night between the two parts of town. The craziest thing for us was to learn that not many people are religious anymore but still practice this hatred for each other. Almost 90% of schools there are still segregated in 2016!

    Our favorite quote from our taxi driver was "these Protestants are more British than the Brits!" He did a great job giving us insight into the traditions still held including the annual bonfires by the Protestants which are quite massive and held right in the center of town and showed us the steel walls put up to divide the two sides which now a days has messages of peace and love written on it from tourists, as well as dents from rocks and burn marks from molotov cocktails. We got to leave our little mark as well!
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  • From Ireland we flew to London where we spent three nights. It was nice relaxing and not doing any of the tourist things in the city which we've done previously. This time we focused our trip around visiting several friends we have living there which was a lot of fun! We went out to local pubs and restaurants and even got to catch a football match. We had great seats a few rows behind the goal in Fulham's supporter section. They were losing 0-1 most of the match until they tied it in the final minutes of stoppage time. Great game and great atmosphere in a 100+ year old stadium.Read more

  • Argh London. If you had asked us a few months ago whether we would miss you, the answer would have been a little hard for you to bare. We certainly have had a love/hate relationship with you. From amazing experiences at events like Wimbledon to the ritual weekend dance of dodging vomit walking to the gym, you have been blissfully annoying. Living here for the past 3 years (Yes 3!) has allowed us to experience a new way of doing things and we have been fortunate enough to also travel to so many new and exciting places which is almost impossible to do living on the other side of the world and earning NZD.

    I guess London, if we were to look back on our time together, we'd not only see your exciting never ending sleeplessness but also your geniune acceptance of all races, all cultures, living side by side and for the most part being treated very much alike. I guess that is what has made me proud to call myself a Londoner for a few years, even if people have been known to take a late night shit on our beautiful doorstep in Clapham (True Story).

    The hardest part of leaving any place that you have come to know, is leaving behind the people who have helped made it great. London, you have some bloody good people left here. People who will make others feel just as welcome as they have us, people who will make others laugh and people who will make this city just so much better for being in it. To all of those people who have made our lives here so much easier when we've been homesick or nervous or lonely, to those who have educated us on the "British" way of doing things, and most importantly to those who have become life long friends, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. Our experiences here have been so greatly enhanced by having you in our lives (even if you continually get us drunk on mojitos/espresso martinis). Our door is always open, you just need to fly to the other side of the planet to come on in.

    So London. It is with great sadness that we must now go our seperate ways. Thank you for teaching us patience at train stations (haha jokes), for introducing us to all different types of cuisines we have never tried, for providing lots of little parks for squirrels and for being so bloody accessible that we could visit many of our dream destinations.

    As we take the train to Glasgow today, we embark on a three month travel odyssey. We will spend one more week in UK travelling around by car before we fly to Finland to commence our 9 country tour through Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore all without stepping foot on a plane (with the exception of London- Finland) before arriving back in our beautiful NZ on the 23rd December. We plan to blog our entire journey, alternating days of writing so you can hear it from both sides. If there is anything you are keen to learn about or find out about, let us know and we will make a note to point it out.

    One adventure is over as another begins. Goodbye London. It has been a blast.

    To Finland and Beyond!

    Courtney and Jamie
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  • Bloody Sunday – sometimes called the Bogside Massacre – was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland. British soldiers shot 26 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment. Fourteen people died.

  • Made it to the University two days ago and had a looong day at the conference yesterday, 11 hours of papers, including my first presentation, feedback on 4 papers for the participants, and having to stay awake for the rest of it. The material is great, but I somehow wasn't able to sleep much after the ride, so I struggled to be inside and not moving for so long! Still, the campus is beautiful, we are surrounded by neoclassical architecture and AI Weiwei sculptures. Everything is immaculate and ancient. Our hosts have been very generous, treating us to a lovely dinner last night, and the dorm rooms really feel like you could comfortably hole up here and write a dissertation.Read more

  • It was a normal September morning in the Scottish HIghlands, when New Zealander, Courtney Fagan and Man who doesn't know where he is from, Jamie Armstrong arrived at the Glen Nevis Visitors Centre and embarked on their journey towards the highest peak in Great Britain.

    The majority of their walk was uneventful, Mr Armstrong tried to name all songs which had a step theme to it, and decided that Stairway to Heaven was the most appropriate song for their Journey. Miss Fagan decided she had enough of Mr Armstrong talking crap about stairs and pushed him down the mountain to show him what the stairs really felt like (in her mind). Their ascent continued and at about 800m the clouds set in, and Mr Armstrong could no longer see through his mist covered glasses. Miss Fagan took this as her opportunity to run and hide to scare Mr Armstrong, but got too cold because Mr Armstrong had to constantly stop because he couldn't see where he was going.

    Fast forward an hour, and Miss Fagan and Mr Armstrong reach the summit in a time of 2 hr 25 min - Not bad considering the mean time is 4 hours to reach the top, but when the record to run to the top and back is 1 hr 25 min, Miss Fagan felt slightly inadequate. Mr Armstrong reports that a few photos were taken, however due to Miss Fagan being a weak NZer and nearing hypothermia, the view of the heavy clouds and mist could not be enjoyed for more than 10 minutes."I told her to put more clothes on, but she just yelled at me and told me she didn't want another penguin biscuit". It was after this point where Miss Fagan conceeded to putting her gloves on but because her fingers oouldn't move anymore, Mr Armstrong had to dress her like a child "She couldn't move her fingers, so I did the manly thing and put her gloves on for her, except her little finger wouldn't fit because it was frozen solid at a 90 degree angle, It took me 5 attempts to get her gloves on, but eventually I covered her little sausages".

    Due to the cold setting in, Miss Fagan decided it would be a great idea to jog down the mountain and convinced Mr Armstrong of her plan "It was pretty easy, he just does everything I say anyway, that's how relationships work don't they?". Although Mr Armstrong conceded that he had agreed easily to "jog down the mountain" he disagreed with the insinuation that he had only done so because he is whipped "I just wanted another Penguin Biscuit and they were in the car". They proceeded down the mountain, saying hello to everyone they met. A local climber who did not wanted to be named, said that they were disguistingly happy with themselves, especially the girl who had a weird little grin on her face "They came whizzing past and I stopped to ask them how much further to the top, the girl turned to me and said you're almost there, then laughed and told me I had two hours to go. Bitch"

    Towards the bottom of the Mountain, Miss Fagan and Mr Armstrong slowed and spoke to other climbers who were starting their ascent. encouranging them along their way. Miss Fagan continued to walk on, when stepping off her 1 millionith rock of the day, disaster struck "I don't know what happened, one minute I was standing up, admiring the view and rocking my hot green jacket when nek minute I was on the ground". Miss Fagan apparently grabbed her ankle and once Mr Armstrong stopped humming stairway to heaven for the 100th time and realised what was going on, proceeded to quickly pick Miss Fagan up, took off her shoe, and noting the swelling, said "You'll be fine" and proceeded to drag her down the mountain, knowing if she stopped her foot would have seized up and would no longer be able to walk. Mr Armstrong made promises of Shetland Ponies and Highland cows if Miss Fagan was able to get down off the mountain without the mountain rescue being called, which to his delight and because she is so tough, she made it back to the car in relatively one piece.

    On return to the Vistors centre, Miss Fagan's ankle was inspected and was noted to be heavily swollen with slight brusing. Miss Fagan reported hearing a snap at the time of impact with the ground, however, no medical attention has yet been sought due to Miss Fagan wanting to see if it improves overnight. An XRay may be required at a local hospital in the morning. "It is quite painful, but I can kinda walk on it. Just take me to my Shetland Ponies" Unpreterred by the potential break in her ankle, Mr Armstrong and Miss Fagan went to celebrate climbing up the highest mountain in the United Kingdom with Chickpea Soup, followed by a search for Highland Cows.

    In other news, the Loch Ness Monster has still not been found after another extensive day of searching. Jamie Armstrong, media whore, took to Loch Ness in his Speedos this afternoon hoping to scare Nessy out of the water with his pasty white legs. It appears that the only things Mr Armstrong was able to scare was the water out of the water when he waded in to discover the water depth was only 5 inches thick as far as the eye could see. "It was a heavily disappointing day" Mr Armstrong stated "My speedos are still dry".

    Mr Armstrong and Miss Fagan's evening concluded with a Bon Fire at their little AirB&B located at Speen Bridge with some wine, cheese and a fat ankle.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Vereinigtes Königreich, United Kingdom, Groot-Brittanje, Ahendiman Nkabom, እንግሊዝ, Reino Unito, Geāned Cynerīce, المملكة المتحدة, ܡܠܟܘܬܐ ܡܚܝܕܬܐ, সংযুক্ত ৰাজ্য, Reinu Xuníu, Birləşmiş Krallıq, Vaeinigts Kinireich, Вялікая Брытанія, Великобритания, Angilɛtɛri, যুক্তরাজ্য, དབྱིན་ཇི་, Rouantelezh-Unanet, Velika Britanija, Regne Unit, Ĭng-guók, Regnu Unitu, Velká Británie, Y Deyrnas Unedig, Det Forenede Kongerige Storbritannien og Nordirland, ཡུ་ནའི་ཊེཊ་ཀིང་ཌམ, United Kingdom nutome, Ηνωμένο Βασίλειο, Unuiĝinta Reĝlando, Reino Unido, Suurbritannia, Erresuma Batua, انگلستان, Laamateeri Rentundi, Britannia, Stóra Bretland, Royaume-Uni, Royômo-Uni, Grut-Brittanje, An Ríocht Aontaithe, An Rìoghachd Aonaichte, યુનાઇટેડ કિંગડમ, Rywvaneth Unys, Birtaniya, Ujedinjeno Kraljevstvo, הממלכה המאוחדת, ब्रितन, Zjednoćene kralestwo, Wayòm Ini, Egyesült Királyság, Միացյալ Թագավորություն, Regno Unite, Kerajaan Inggris, ꑱꇩ, Nagkaykaysa a Pagarian, Unionita Rejio, Stóra-Bretland, Regno Unito, イギリス, დიდი ბრიტანეთი, Ngeretha, Ұлыбритания, Tuluit Nunaat, ಬ್ರಿಟನ್/ಇಂಗ್ಲೆಂಡ್, 영국, شانشینی یەکگرتوو, Britanniarum Regnum, Groussbritannien an Nordirland, Bungereza, Vereineg Keuninkriek, Regno Unïo, Angɛlɛtɛ́lɛ, ສະຫະລາດຊະອານາຈັກ, Jungtinė Karalystė, Angeletele, Lielbritānijas un Ziemeļīrijas Apvienotā Karaliste, Angletera, Kīngitanga Kotahi, Велика Британија, ബ്രിട്ടന്‍, ब्रिटन, Renju Unit, ယူနိုက်တက်ကင်းဒမ်း, Storbritannia, Vereenigt Königriek vun Grootbritannien un Noordirland, संयुक्त अधिराज्य, Groot-Brittannië, Rouoyaume Unni, Reiaume Unit, Yhtys Kuningaskundu, ବ୍ରିଟେନ୍, Стыр Британи, Pisanmetung a Ka-arian, Zjednoczone Królestwo Wielkiej Brytanii, Regn Unì, برتانیه, Hukllachasqa Qhapaq Suyu, Reginavel Unì, Phandlo Thagaripen la Bare Britaniyako thai le Nordutne Irlandesko, Ubwongereza, Marea Britanie, Unitit Kinrick, Stuorra-Británnia, Ködörögbïä--Ôko, එක්සත් රාජධානිය, Spojené kráľovstvo, Združeno kraljestvo (V. Britanija in S. Irska), Mbretëria e Bashkuar e Britanisë së Madhe dhe Irlandës së Veriut, Storbritannien, Uingereza, பிரிடிஷ் கூட்டரசு, బ్రిటన్, Reinu Naklibur, Подшоҳии Муттаҳида, สหราชอาณาจักร, Nagkakaisang Kaharain, Pilitānia, İngiltere, Paratāne, بۈيۈك بېرىتانىيە, Сполучене Королівство, سلطنت متحدہ, Бирлашган Қироллик, Vương quốc Liên hiệp Anh và Bắc Ireland, פאראייניגטע קעניגרייך, Orílẹ́ède Omobabirin, 英国, i-United Kingdom