UK, Solo

May 19, 2004 – June 9, 2004

First solo trip

I took this trip fresh out of my first “real” job, post-college. I filled a journal full of poetry (yeah, I really did) to keep me company, packed a bag, hiking shoes, a BritRail pass, and took off.

I liked traveling by myself. It was the first time I got to be the only filter for my experiences, make all the decisions, and force myself to push past my shyness. I was anxious a lot of the time, but I’m glad I did it: I played pool and drank with locals, sat in a room alone with a mummy, and hiked around the beautiful Welsh countryside. It will always be one of my favorite memories.

The map

Itinerary

May 20

Bath

Because every Austen character goes to Bath. The reality is more mundane (nobody was even in costume), but still charming.

May 21

Cardiff-Swansea

Toured Cardiff Castle, Swansea Museum (where I made friends with a mummy to escape from the heat), and visited the Dylan Thomas Center.

May 22-23

Llanwrtyd Wells, Part 1

I (awkwardly) hang out with some locals, and hike around in solitude. Wales is beautiful, green and full of sheep.

It is Spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and- rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea.

– Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood

May 24

Shrewsbury-Chester

Because I was reading a lot of Cadfael novels then. I was also told Chester was lovely, which it was.

May 25-26

Carlisle-Glasgow

Intended to visit Hadrian’s wall, but decided to avoid the crowd. In Glasgow, visited a cool old cemetery and a couple of museums.

May 27-28

Fort William-Stirling

The cold in Fort William sent me south. My B&B host clasped my hands between his and wished me a safe journey. I visited the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle.

Everything you have in this world is just borrowed for a short time.

– Welsh proverb

May 29-30

York-Oxford

Walked around York with an Australian girl, then wandered around Oxford’s gardens and dreaming spires.

May 31

Stratford-upon-Avon

I meandered through a bank-holiday-weekend fair on the Avon, then attended a Royal Shakespeare Company production of MacBeth.

June 1-9

Llanwrtyd Wells, Part 2

Tired of moving around, so I returned to Llanwrtyd. I drank with a trust fund baby, a professor, a sheep farmer, miners and a long-distance truck driver. I hiked, and nearly got sunstroke. I’m called an elf.

Gallery