BRITAIN AT ITS GREATEST
FLY TO LONDON FROM $706 (flights recently seen)
I participated in the Intern in Britain program after I graduated from LSU. I spent 6 months interning in London, and travelled throughout the UK and Europe as often as I could.
How I got my Intern in Britain Visa
I got my Intern in Britain visa from BUNAC. This allowed me to take an internship in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland for up to 6 months. Once I got to London to start my internship, I attended an orientation to walk me through everything I needed to do to get a National Insurance number and a bank account.
Living in London
Before I left the United States, I booked a week’s stay in a hostel for when I first arrived into London, and luckily I found what would be flat for the next 6 months within a few days. To say it was small in U.S. standards would be an understatement, but it was relatively cheap and it was mine. I quickly learned that I really didn’t need the extra space as the local pub is like an extension of your living space – a place to pop in for a few minutes (or hours) several times a week to catch up with my neighbours, have a pint or two and grab a bite to eat. London also has amazing parks and museums for when you feel like you want a little extra space.
Four words will solve almost all of your London transport needs: Get an Oyster Card! The Oyster card gives you access to the London Underground and buses which will take you all over the city, and even out to Heathrow Airport.
Getting Out of Town
As amazing as London weekends are, I made sure to take as many quick getaways as I could. Not only is getting to the rest of Europe very fast, but with the right planning you can get some pretty cheap flights and accommodation. Paris and Brussels are super easy to get to on Eurostar (the train that goes under the English Channel), but there are cheap flights to the continent as well... Just a word of advice - getting to any of the 5 London airports for early morning flights can be super expensive... the trains and Tube don't run overnight, and a taxi will probably cost you more than your plane ticket. Also, you can't miss exploring the rest of Great Britain. Edinburgh and Brighton are two of my favorites, and both can easily be reached by train. You can also get good deals on car rentals, but be sure to factor in the higher cost of gas and the added stress of driving on the other side of the car and road.
Written by: Robert Corban from USA
We took Tully Smyth (from Big Brother Australia), Astronautalis (an American musician) and the girls from Our Wild Abandon (photographers) on a trip across the UK to experience the best of what Great Britain had to offer! For Tully we're talking about the music scene in Edinburgh - home of La Roux and Franz Ferdinand - a bit of Harry Potter scenery, and some local soccer culture in Manchester. While Astronautalis is getting into the sunny English coast in Brighton, Roman ruins in Bath and music in Manchester and Liverpool. Together their adventures show you a wild side of Great Britain, while giving you some insights and "must-do" tips along the way. Enjoy!
Follow Tully here:
Follow Astronautalis here:
Follow Our Wild Abandon here:
There is still time for you to see our musical adventurer @Astronautalis coasteering off the coast of wales >> http://t.co/aLh9vmQlEe— STA Travel U.S. (@statravelUS) September 14, 2014
There is still time for you to see our musical adventurer @Astronautalis coasteering off the coast of wales >> http://t.co/aLh9vmQlEe
One of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Edinburgh also plays host to the famous Fringe Festival every August. With fireworks exploding, music thumping and spirits high, become immersed in exhilarating celebrations where the streets come alive with theatre, dance, cabaret and comedy. Take in the city views from the historic castle, stroll down the Royal Mile to visit Holyrood Palace, or time your trip for Hogmanay. This is one city that knows how to party!
"Visiting my first real life castle was exciting but I tried to play it cool!" @ Tully Smyth
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WANDER THROUGH TOWN…
Britain is full of towns and cities that exude the very best of ‘Britishness’ including the winding country roads, cobbled streets and ye olde fashioned buildings we are famous for all over the world.
Bath, Somerset is one of the best examples of this – a city made up of beautiful, sandy coloured Georgian architecture, sprawling parks and Roman Baths. It’s hard to imagine a more stunning place to spend a sunny day.
Just 20 miles down the road is Bristol which is without a doubt the most hip city in Great Britain (yes, yes I am Bristolian but it’s true!) Home to drum and bass, cloudy cider and Banksy, this is a city with a seriously cool legacy.
Then there’s Edinburgh. With its famous castle gracefully casting its protectful eye over the Scottish capital from the top of Castle Rock, Edinburgh is one of Great Britain’s most trendy, culture filled, and vibrant cities. Try and visit during the comedy festival for an extra buzz.
Great Britain is home to some of the most gorgeous countryside to be found anywhere in the world, it’s what we’re famous for so make sure you get out of the city and explore.
Head to the Cotswolds for an authentic taste of quaint, English county life. Stay in a cottage with a roaring fire and ivy crawling up the side of the brick walls, the perfect romantic weekend away – just don’t forget your wellies!
Then there’s the secluded beauty of the Lake District National Park in the North West of England. Sprawling lakes and huge mountains make it the perfect place to be as active or as inactive as you like – if hiking is your thing you’ll find Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England and if it’s not – well, then just enjoy the view – it’d be hard to find better anywhere in Britain.
ABSORB SOME CULTURE AND HISTORY
For a small isle, we definitely pack a cultural punch. It’s what makes this our great nation tick – millions of people passionate about the essence of both old and modern Britain. Head to London and visit the Tate Modern, Buckingham Palace and take in a show at the Royal Albert Hall to be a proper tourist. Then head east to Brick Lane and Shoreditch for a cooler experience with some super hip locals.
Then there’s what is probably Britain’s most famous historical landmark – Stonehenge. This amazingly ancient, prehistoric monument dates back to 2,600 BC and is thought to be an ancient burial ground, so it’s no surprise that it’s a famous pilgrimage site for worshippers from all over the world. Go for sunrise for the ultimate peaceful atmosphere.
INDULGE IN SOME SERIOUS FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
We may not be the original home of the Onion Baji, Pad Thai or Saag Aloo but we have some pretty yummy food for the taking here too. And a lot of the time, we don’t just eat it for the taste – it’s the entire experience.
A few of the best include eating fish and chips as you walk along the promenade of Brighton beach, or taking afternoon tea at the Ritz (go on spoil yourself!) or sampling a famous pie and mash concoction at an East End café in London.
Maybe even scoffing a kebab from the Turkish place in the city centre after a night out. Ok, maybe not.
VISIT THE COAST
The coastline of Britain is hugely diverse; you can expect a dramatically different experience wherever you go. For example, the famous white cliffs of Dover, stand tall and proud along the country’s South East coast while just a mere 200 or so miles along the road you come to Weymouth, with it’s beautiful sandy beach and traditional ice cream stands and sticks of rock.
My own personal favourite place for some serious beach time has to be Newquay, Cornwall. A huge stretch of sandy meets some of the best ocean to be found anywhere in Great Britain. It’s a big surfers town and you’ll find no better place to spend time surfing and body boarding.
There’s no way I could mention the incredible coast lines of Britain and leave out Scotland. Constantly chosen by visitors as their favourite country in the UK, Scotland’s coastline is famous not only for its beauty, but also for what can be found in its chilly waters. Head to the Orkney Islands, Shetland Islands or the Isle of Skye to see colonies of seals with their pups and Minke Whales. A trip like Haggis Adventures 'Island Explorer' is the perfect way to sit back and enjoy the ride.
By Lisa Crowther, STA Travel blog writer.
For the #WildCardUK final episode we sent @Astronautalis off with @duckgossip. Find out where they went here: http://t.co/h2GwaOYyvQ— STA Travel U.S. (@statravelUS) September 24, 2014
For the #WildCardUK final episode we sent @Astronautalis off with @duckgossip. Find out where they went here: http://t.co/h2GwaOYyvQ
London is a pop-up phenomenon and even STA Travel is getting in on the act (pay a visit to our Box Park store in Shoreditch, housed in an old shipping container). The city is always alight with new experiences. Cheesy, comfort food is served up (sometimes with a side of deep fried Oreos!) at pop-up burger restaurants, food trucks offer an amazing array of global dishes across the city and an eclectic mix of music blasts out of underground clubs in the middle of abandoned warehouses and train stations. Sick of watching movies aside corn-crunching cinema-goers? Drive-in cinemas are a relatively new summer pop-up treat. You can also catch vibrant graffiti art on the streets of quirky East London, sip a brew at aromatic coffee festivals, or place your bets on bleating pets at The Goat Race in Spitalfields – a favourite local alternative to the Grand National. The city is your oyster, and quite literally anything is possible!
As someone whose life and work is so shaped by the English language, I can’t help but be fascinated by foreign languages. And for the longest time, I have been totally blown away by the complexities of the Hungarian language…till I went to Wales. Spoken Welsh is an energetic string of buzzes, lilting melodies, and soft tongue rolls, and the written language is as equally exotic to anyone raised in germanic and/romance languages. All over Wales, most signs are printed in both Welsh and English, and it is there that you see the huge difference between the two languages. We stayed in the town of Milford Haven, which, in Welsh is: Aberdaugleddau
Excerpt from Astronautailis’ blog.
As part of his #WildCardUK trip with @VisitBritain, @Astronautalis tried #YorkshirePudding. Any idea what it is? http://t.co/D8eKn6eNIi— STA Travel U.S. (@statravelUS) September 4, 2014
As part of his #WildCardUK trip with @VisitBritain, @Astronautalis tried #YorkshirePudding. Any idea what it is? http://t.co/D8eKn6eNIi
Loch Lomond: If you hop in a car and head half an hour north of gritty Glasgow you stumble across another world completely. Loch Lomond is the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain and is beautiful, serene and definitely worth a visit, especially after a few nights of drinking and live music in Glasgow city.
The Drovers Inn: Upon the recommendation of a local, we decided to pull into ‘The Drovers Inn’ for a traditional Scottish pub lunch. This place was over 300 years old and boy did it feel like it inside. The roof was so low I felt like I was almost underground, the pub was full of taxidermy animals and pieces of mismatched wooden furniture by the fireplace. It was said to be haunted and I have zero trouble believing that. Couldn’t understand half the menu (Neeps & Haggis & Tatties, oh my!) but the food was hearty and delicious and the whisky warmed us from the inside out. I also met a puppy so that was cool. Felt very traditional and special- highly recommend.
Glencoe: Driving through Glencoe was surreal. It seemed no matter how many iPhone photos or videos I took, nothing would do the scenery justice, especially not the 100 different hues of green I was witnessing for the first time in my life. I was especially impressed with it’s Hollywood history- stacks of films have been filmed in the valleys and hills of Glencoe including scenes from Hagrid’s cottage in Harry Potter, Braveheart and James Bond: Sky Fall. I kept wanting to belt out “The Hills Are Alive”, fully aware we were in the wrong country. It just felt right.
Morag’s Lodge, Loch Ness: We stayed the night at this iconic backpackers in Loch Ness where I was immediately greeted by some Aussies who recognised me from Big Brother (typical, going half way across the world only to befriend a bunch of Aussies!) This place had an awesome vibe and was buzzing with people from all around the world keen to see some of Scotland and drink a load of whisky on their way. Lucky for me it was haggis (a savoury pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs) night and there was no way the film crew were going to let me get away with not trying this local delicacy on camera. Watch the video- I’m quite impressed with their editing because they somehow managed to avoid any shots with me gagging or spitting it into my napkin.
Cruise Loch Ness: Next up was an activity I was personally VERY excited about. A big believer in fantasy and fairy tales, I was pretty psyched to be hopping on a boat in search of the unicorn of the sea: Nessy, the Loch Ness monster. We started off with a bit of a guided audio tour of the Loch Ness itself which was interesting before heading down below to be talked through the different radars and scanners. I kid you not, Nessy had made an appearance earlier on in the day and I took a screen grab of the radar to prove it. I was happy to be leaving the boat as a believer.
After the Loch Ness tour we headed back to Morag’s Lodge for some more whisky and traditional Scottish dancing which included me getting up close, sweaty and personally with some strangers as we bumped and stumbled our way through choreographed dance moves whilst a band played in the corner. Pretty sure I had a super fun night as I can’t quite remember the rest.” Excerpt from Tully’s blog.