The United Kingdom & Ireland
Tufts Traveler Spring 2010 1
table of contents
letter from the editor
21 essential UK experiences
queue up and mind the gap
10 reasons to see a west end show
being irish in boston
the isle of shadows
hiking in the highlands
history of the eurostar
patagonia is beautiful
city life and island time
[focus] erin kestenbaum
interview by traveler staff
experiencing chile’s earthquake
Here at the Traveler, we try to focus our magazine on countries or regions that many Tufts students have the chance to visit. We’ve been to places like sub-Saharan Africa, China, France and Israel, where Tufts offers study abroad programs or regular trips. We’ve traveled to more unconventional locations like the Caribbean and India, where we aim to highlight students’ out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Yet for as long as I can remember—and that’s only four years mind you—we’ve never highlighted the United Kingdom and Ireland. This is surprising to me, considering how many Tufts students go there during a semester or year abroad. When the editorial staff sat around last December trying to decide where to focus this issue, it was a unanimous vote: we just had to hear about your experiences in jolly ol’ England, Ireland and Scotland. And man did you guys deliver! We have some fantastic travelogues smattered throughout this issue including a funny account of a rainy day in Oxford, recollections of verdant hills and exhausting hikes through the Scottish Highlands, and more recommendations for visiting the Guinness factory than you can shake a stick at. We most definitely approve! We hope you enjoy reading these tales of wanderlust as much as we did. Thanks for sharing your stories! Cheerio! - Ally
editor-in-chief • ally gimbel • managing editors • anna simon • laina rosebrock • staff editors • becca weinstein• denali hussin • eva parish • jenna liang • rachael brill • rebecca grunberg • nancy wang • layout editors • ally gimbel • anna simon • eva parish • denali hussin • contributing writers • renee leck • brianna beehler • jenna liang • denali hussin • rebecca grunberg • laina rosebrock • michelle beehler • erin gallagher • stephanie colbert • rachael brill • ariel rosen • abi benudis • contributing photographers • ariel rosen• brianna beehler • erin kestenbaum• eva parish • jessica chow • jenna liang • laina rosebrock • michelle beehler • nancy wang •
photo by eva parish; cover photo by nancy wang
21 Essential UK Experiences...
1. Eat at Hummus Bros in Soho—it will be the
6. Visit any of the free art museums.
best hummus you will ever taste.
Walk around Soho and eat at one of the hippie vegetarian restaurants.
...from the perspective of a Jumbo Planning a trip to the UK and/or Ireland in the near future? Before you hop the pond, take a look at our city guide to the three major cities: London, Edinburgh and Dublin. These are some places you don’t want to miss!
by laina rosebrock
Walk up and down Oxford St. and go inside all the posh shops.
Go to Trafalgar Square and climb on the lion statues.
Take a tour of Westminster Abbey and admire the beautiful architecture.
Take a stroll in St. James’ Park next to Buckingham Palace and have a picnic.
photos by laina rosebrock, eva parish, and jessica chow
on one of the benches.
8. Walk through Princes St. Gardens and read a book
Walk up and down the Royal Mile and take a tour of all the closes.
12. Have a beer at the World’s End Pub.
Hike up King Arthur’s Seat for some breathtaking views of the surrounding area.
10. Visit Holyrood Palace or the Edinburgh Castle.
Visit the Fudge Kitchen for some of the best fudge in the world.
15. Visit the Jameson Whiskey Factory and listen to them make fun of Jack Daniels. 14. Visit Adam Smith’s— the founder of capitalism—
Go to Temple Bar—both the pub and the surrounding area.
17. Take a tour of Trinity College and envy all the students who attend it.
Buy a loaf of Irish soda bread at any of the many bakeries.
19. Visit the Guinness Factory and go to the top for the best views of the city.
Take a day trip to the beach town of Bray—where Bono, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde all lived at some point.
21. Visit the statue of Oscar Wilde and take a picture in front of it
Queue Up and Mind the Gap by renee leck
When I told people that I was spending my junior year abroad in the U.K, many responded with confusion. Typical responses included: “why would you spend an entire year in a country that is un-exotic?” “doesn’t it drizzle, shower, mist, or somehow leak water from a gray sky 200 out of 365 days a year there,” and “isn’t U.K. food terrible?” While such comments left me with many pre-departure jitters, once I reached London, I promptly discovered that these stereotypes were wholly unfounded. Well, two out of the three anyway--as for the weather, it didn’t so much rain as remain threateningly overcast from November to March. But as for elements of the exotic and delicious food, these I found in excess. London abounds with people from exotic locales; a girl from Prague, a girl of French/Irish heritage, a boy from Tanzania, and a half-Brit, half-Malaysian fellow numbered among my closest friends. At first, I was teased for being the brash, crazy American, but as the year went on I was just teased for being brash, crazy, Renee. Even the dyed-in-the-wool British girls seemed exotic to me. The posh Londoners embraced their fair skin and dressed in edgy combinations of thrift store finds and boutique buys, occasionally flaunting Lady Gaga-esque makeup. One of their favorite pastimes was coaching my British accent. I failed, miserably. Each time 8
I opened my mouth to parrot a phrase, they’d keel over with laughter after I uttered roughly one syllable. In my defense, I thought their heavily valley-girl tinged American accents (honed on hours of “Friends” and “The O.C” episodes) were equally amusing. London men came from all corners of the globe as well. I briefly dated a Russian banker, had a German physics student as a tennis partner, argued with a Danish journalist, and was propositioned by an Indian businessman. All of them, save the businessman, were lovely people with amazing stories to tell me and who challenged and broadened my American perspectives. London’s prolific markets constitute another expression of the exotic. Borough Market tempts passers-by with gourmet nuts and grilled chorizo and red pepper sandwiches. Petticoat Lane and Spitafields showcase clothes and antiques while Portobello Road boasts a funky mix of everything in-between. There is something decidedly urban-chic about leisurely perusing a street market, its wares laid bare and glittering--and something utterly self-sufficient and satisfying about buying only what you can hold in your arms and then whisking it away across the city. My favorite parts of London span a range of styles. Some days, a perfect afternoon meant wandering the cultural kaleidoscopes of Brick
Lane and Camden Town. The air in Brick Lane is heavy with the rich shades of saris and the scent of fragrant curries. And if you time your visit right, you can venture to Café 1001, a rambling warehouse space that, once a month, opens its doors at midnight and doesn’t close them until noon the next day. Snacks are available as long as you can keep your eyes open to eat them, and if you’re looking for a second wind, a room full of couches accommodates power-naps. Camden Town has a more hard-boiled feel, but its location among winding locks, waterways, and bridges gives it a quaint, country touch that contrasts its toughness. For a more serene outing, I often escaped to Regents Park, finding earthy comfort in acres of tended gardens and sheer relief in getting lost in so much Green after a day spent surrounded by concrete and steel skylines. Now, on to the food. Like all proper British institutions, there exists a strict hierarchy among their grocery stores. At the top reigns Waitrose, followed by the decent respectability of Sainsbury’s, and Tesco occupies the bottom tier. I usu-
ally frequented Waitrose, my home away from home and the incarnation of culinary heaven on earth. The best way to describe the happiness my soul feels upon entering a Waitrose is to draw a comparison to its American cousin, Wholefoods. You know that blissed out, weak-kneed euphoria that hits you when you gaze upon the gleaming aisles of aesthetically arranged Wholefoods products? That is Waitrose--it’s Wholefoods déjà vu. On more than one occasion I would walk into a Waitrose and wish I was on one of those old-fashioned game shows, where contestants have five minutes to race around a store piling items into their cart and whatever they can lay their hands on they can keep. In Waitrose that would be bloody brilliant mate. So pay no mind to the stereotypes; London is exotically, appetizingly amazing. I cannot wait to go back and ride through the city on a double-decker night bus, laughing with friends and sharing a bottle of hard cider.
photos by nancy wang
Oxy Love by brianna beehler
Required vocabulary for reading this rather Don’t come to Oxford. I mean it. It’s a ghastly, biased account: drizzly mess, and I don’t say this lightly. It’s absolutely horrid. On any given day you may be tute: short for “tutorial,” which is a meeting walking back from your evening tute thinking with a tutor and an average of 0-3 other stulovely and (hopefully) deep academic thoughts dents. bloody: British swearword. Ameriwhen rain will start coming down like no other. cans should not use this word as it makes Extremely unpleasant. At this point you will have them look silly. Watch me do it anyway. bisno other option than to seek shelter in the nearest cuit: cookies. Do not eat these if you are on a pub. Pull up a chair, order a cider (make that an diet as they are extremely addicting. ActualOld Rosie as I have it on good authority—myself ly, do it anyway. catch a crab: when a rowing that is—that this order never fails to impress the stroke goes bad. The oar blade slices into the bartender), and make good conversation in your water at a bad angle and gets caught under Dickensian surroundings. Invariably, however, the surface. A bad crab can catapult you out just when you’re starting to get cozy it will stop of the boat. raining and you will head back out on your way only to have it start again. Bloody weather. Take, for example, my Charles Dickens tute last week. I’m the only one in it, so I normally have to take a bit of time beforehand to mentally prepare myself for the rather humbling experience of having my highly intelligent—and frankly quite terrifying—tutor drill me on my essay as I read it aloud to her (especially since my attempts to mimic Sam Weller’s Cockney accent in The Pickwick Papers were brutally shot down in the second week). Only, that particular day I arrived to find that my regular tute had been canceled and that I was to meet with her at 9:30 am the next day at her house instead. So I got up the next day, after sleeping through my alarm, and it was raining (shocker). Having inadvertently woken up much later than planned, I had to practically fly down Cornmarket Street and up St. Giles, dodging troubadours and tourists alike with a dexterity that would have made the White Rabbit proud. Despite all superhuman efforts, I was utterly soaked by the time I arrived at my tutor’s cottage and rang the doorbell. Three seconds later, the nanny opened the door, took one look at me and whisked me into the dining room for “a cup of tea.” Two seconds after that, my tutor came racing down the stairs calling for biscuits and apologizing to me profusely. Another second later, I was contentedly munching biscuits and sipping tea while debating the relation to time in Barnaby Rudge. Not bad, considering my only class of the day was one-on-one time with a world-renowned literary critic in her home over tea and biscuits. But let’s not forget about that twenty minute walk through the rain to get there. 10
This whole rain business is really bothersome. I mean, there’s really nothing better than waking up at quarter-to-six in the morning to go rowing (of course I row; everybody rows at Oxford. Not rowing would be like only eating the insides of an Oreo, which I’ve never really approved of because you don’t get the full experience) and realizing that you are going to get wet, and I don’t mean by capsizing your boat (although some novice boats have accomplished such a feat). Rowing is really exciting, especially as a novice when all sorts of exciting disasters are going on: riggings snap, boats drift into the “danger” zones and crash into the houseboats lining the river, and inexperienced coxes panic and forget to steer. While everyone’s still learning, there can be quite a breakdown in communication between the coxes and rowers. The Pembroke boys novice boat recently misinterpreted the meaning of “Easy there!” as meaning “Nice job guys, keep it up!” when it in fact means “STOP ROWING! We are going to CRASH!” While their cox was working herself into a frenzy yelling “Easy there! Easy there!” all the guys were silently high-fiving themselves and thinking, “Niiice, easy there, we’re really looking good!” Also, just the other day I saw a girl catch a crab and actually eject herself from the boat. These sorts of examples terrify me on all the outings and every morning is a struggle to avoid going down in Oxford legend as the novice who caused the greatest crash build-up yet. It’s quite the reputationrisking venture. I mean, I guess it just wouldn’t be the same without all the drizzle and tutes and rowing and whatnot. There’s something quite special about all the bike riding and tea drinking that goes on here that makes you feel like you are in a magical place. In fact, I think it is a magical place. You should really come to Oxford.
photos by brianna beehler and eva parish
10 Reasons to See a West End Show by jenna liang
London’s West End is one of the largest professional theatre districts in the world and is known for its impeccable musicals. Not completely different from New York’s Broadway, the West End is known to host some of the largest and well put-on shows in the world.
2 3 Just as visitors flock to Buckingham Palace or Big Ben, musicals are a must-see for tourists in London. The West End holds great history and gives character to London in a different way than other tourist attractions do. The first West End theatre was built in 1663 on the historical Drury Lane.
While not everyone has seen a West End Show, we recognize the melody from musicals such as Phantom of the Opera or The Lion King. West End musicals display the producer’s musical ingenuity and are pleasing to both the naked eye and even untrained ear. Tunes of Andrew Lloyd Webber are particularly popular and can be heard constantly in the West End.
The many genres of musicals guarantee that there will be at least one that interests you. To name several popular shows: Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, The Sound of Music, The Lion King, Rent, STOMP, Blood Brothers, Singing in the Rain, Hairspray, and Mary Poppins. Newer shows such as STOMP or Rent offer alternatives to the classical music of the typical West End musical.
Professional actors and actresses will catch your attention and lead you to the edge of your seat as you brace yourself for a unique experience nowhere else can offer.
Not only are the performers terrific actors, they are also talented musically. The quality of singers chosen to perform in the West End shows is superb and they will leave you longing for more.
The acoustics of the West End theatres hone music to reach the human ear at its best.
Simply going to a West End theatre is an experience in itself. Seeing musicals is a much loved tradition in London and it is not uncommon for the British to don cocktail attire for a musical. In fact, several years ago, those indecently clothed with flip-flops and jeans were often refused entry.
You’ll come out of the theatre skipping and singing to the tunes. A trip to the West End is the cherry atop the sundae that is a wonderful trip to London.
The centuries of experience the West End has allows it to offer spectacular shows with terrific stage management. Popular shows in the West End such as Phantom of the Opera have been showing since 1950.
photo by eva parish
Being Irish in Boston by rachael brill The vibrant immigrant cultures that make up Boston have enriched my experiences in and around the city. I have indulged in sweet Italian pastries in the North End, peeked inside a Brazilian clothing boutique in downtown Medford, and enjoyed a Mexican dinner in East Boston. Still, despite a sizeable Irish population in Boston, particularly in the South End, my Irish-Boston resumé extended only to the occasional pub in Davis Square. I had the fortune of working this summer with an Irish lad, who had come to the States for a brief three-month visit. As I accompanied him on his adventures throughout the city, I learned a few important lessons about being an Irish tourist in Boston. First of all, Irish accents are apparently rather sexy. One night, our company had a fundraising party, complete with a DJ, yummy hors d’ouevres, thrilling Segway demos, a cash bar, and most importantly, a hot all-girl band. The young ladies from the band doubled as bartenders, and spent the night warding off the advances of drunken businessmen. Yet Rob, my Irish friend, seemed to have no problem wooing these otherwise uninterested females. As soon as he started to speak, his Irish accent becoming thicker and more indistinguishable with each Guinness he downed, the women were hanging onto his every word. That night he not only got the lead singer’s number, but had also secured a first date. “Rob, how do you do it?” I asked him the next morning, and he quickly replied, “I barely haf to do anythin’. It’s me Irish charm.” The second discovery I made through observing Rob is that an Irishman will always find another Irishman in Boston. Wherever we went, from the meandering paths of the Boston Commons, to the bar near Beacon Hill, to the docks of the inner harbor, Rob’s ears always perked up at the sound of an Irish brogue. He and his Irish brethren would immediately engage in lively conversation saturated with Irish slang, such as “What’s the craic?” and I soon gave up on any attempts to decipher the meaning of their foreign phrases. I remember one night in particular, when Rob changed into a fancy suit before leaving work. I asked him where he was going in such fine attire. He answered, quite simply, “Off to a gala on that Irish naval vessel in the shipyard.” When I asked him how he managed to secure an invitation to such an event, which was sure to be filled with Irish and Bostonian dignitaries, he again attributed his fortune to his Irish roots. “I met a few of ‘dem Irish naval officers, and when they found out I am Irish too, ‘dey gave me an invitation to their event.” I only sighed and momentarily cursed my American upbringing. Finally, Rob upheld the stereotype that the Irish have exceptionally large families, and as the summer wore on, I became convinced that everywhere we went, I was surrounded by his relatives. My suspicions were confirmed after I joined him for a night at his neighborhood’s Irish pub. As he ordered me a Magner’s, I turned to watch the Irish band playing in the next room. “See that woman on the harp?” he asked, pointing to a petite woman in the corner. “That’s my Aunt Sue.” Only minutes later, he pulled me towards another group of people to introduce me to his second cousin Billy, or his third cousin once-removed on his mother’s side. By the end of the night, I believe I had met most of his extended family. While Rob left the United States at the end of the summer, he gave me a greater appreciation for Irish culture in our great capital city. I highly recommend that Irish tourists visit Boston in their U.S. travels, because not only will they enjoy the colorful atmosphere of the city’s Irish neighborhoods, but as illustrated by Rob, they will always be surrounded by women, friends, and family. photo by erin kestenbaum
Funeral Crashers by erin gallagher
Studying abroad in Cork Ireland, I enjoyed an immersion in the Irish culture. Every meal was served with two types of potatoes. The fellow university students ended every sentence with the word ‘like’: “Want to meet at the Brog like?” – Brog being the popular pub in the city. While learning the Irish language, I found that no word is pronounced the way it is written – for example, bh is pronounced v. During the Christmas season, every single enclosed space (including university buildings and bars) had a Christmas tree. The popular sports, Gaelic football and hurling, were both comprised of familiar sports and uniquely Irish. It rained. My favorite quirky Irish anecdote came during my weekend homestay in a small West-Cork town, Carrigaline. When we were dropped off in a parking lot on Friday afternoon, my flatmate Amy and I were told by the program organizer that Maureen (our host) was always late, but she was a lovely woman and everyone really enjoyed staying with her. Though we were nervous to spend a weekend with a genuine Irish family, we anxiously anticipated meeting our host. Unfortunately, Maureen couldn’t make it to pick us up and thus began our atypical weekend. Instead, Maureen’s friend picked us up and brought us to her house to wait for Maureen, who was lost returning from her cousin’s wake in a more rural town further West. While waiting, she constantly offered us tea and toast—slathered in butter, in typical Irish fashion. Though Maureen’s cousin had died earlier in the week (as we found out when she picked us up an hour and half later), instead of finding a replacement she decided to take us with her to the funeral reception the next day. Neither Amy nor I brought clothes that would have been suitable for an American funeral, but Maureen assured us jeans would be perfectly suitable for this occasion. Only immediate family dressed up for funerals in Ireland. The funeral took place in a graveyard, but Maureen informed us we were too young to come in with her (though we were both twenty years old) and that we should hang out in the town. Amy and I proceeded to wander around a town whose center is smaller than our residential quad for two hours. Though we did not see many people, we could tell that Americans were not common in the town. Finally, Maureen called us to come to the hotel where the reception would be held. She had already driven over. Amy and I, unfamiliar with the town, took a while to find the hotel, even though it was small. We walked into a hotel dining room filled with 200 people to take part in the funeral reception. As soon as we walked in, Maureen and her brother told us to get drinks for ourselves and to get another one for them (they already had two each) because there was only an open bar before the food was served – a meal complete with two kinds of potatoes. Everyone ate and drank and talked and talked as I sat there and absorbed the scene. We were intermittently introduced to extended family as Maureen’s American students. They told us about funeral crashers, pointing out a woman sitting by herself, guessing she was one. They explained how every occasion in Ireland revolves around food and drink. What I learned from this experience is that the Irish love to talk, eat, drink, and share life with everyone even in death. My previous interactions with the Irish had led me to appreciate their overwhelming openness, kindness, and acceptance of everyone who crossed their paths. This funeral reception, though slightly uncomfortable, was unique to my time abroad and I found it to be more quintessentially Irish than Guinness.
photo by erin kestenbaum
Humble Farm by stephanie colbert Throughout our freshman year, my roommate and I always felt less worldly than our welltraveled peers. We are both from sheltered East Coast suburbs, so we started researching cheap ways to broaden our horizons. We fell in love with the idea of becoming “WWOOFers” through the World Wide Organization of Organic Farming, where farmers supply room and board in exchange for work during the week. After deciding that an English speaking area would be our best bet (I speak French and she speaks Spanish), we chose Ireland. Two months later, we found ourselves on a plane to Dublin. True to stereotypes of the region, it rained our first night, so much that I wondered where all the water was coming from. The Dubliners did not seem to notice the torrential rain; Rebecca and I were the only ones wearing rainboots, or “wellies” as the locals say. Early the next morning we took a train to Castlebar in County Mayo. The trains in Ireland are comfortable, with tables and a snack cart; the locals’ only complaint was that the trains only go to and from Dublin. If you were in the west hoping to go south, you would need to first travel east to Dublin, then southwest to your destination. Being less than 25 years old, we were unable to rent a car and depended on the trains, buses, and taxis for transportation. The train ride gave us a great sense for the countryside because most of what we passed was farmland. Disembarking at Castlebar, we expected little more than a cluster of barns for a town, but that was not the case. Castlebar was small enough to walk every major street in a half hour, but along those streets were charming bookstores, cafés, pubs, and boutiques. When our host, Fionnuala, picked us up, we struggled to understand her thick brogue and feared that we would not understand a word she or her children said. Many of the adults in Castlebar and the surrounding area had thick accents compared to those of the Dubliners, but thankfully the children spoke clearly. After a very fast drive down narrow country roads, we arrived at Fionnuala’s humble farm. Our main duty on the farm was to weed amongst the strawberries, tomatoes, onions, garlic, potatoes and aloe vera plants. Some days we mowed the lawn, painted the fence, cared for the piglets, or did other odd jobs. Everything depended on the weather, which changed on an hourly basis. Even when it was not raining, we would have to tailor our activities, for instance if the biting flies were acting up. As two people who love to plan, this lifestyle took some getting used to. Daily activities could not be planned ahead of time because of the weather. Everyone was very laid back due to this, which was refreshing once we learned how to relax. After the work was done, we would walk until our feet hurt along the hilly roads. We would pass by sheep, horses, and hundreds of cows. Each car that drove by gave us a friendly wave, and each neighbor we encountered was excited to meet us. Being in the country’s heartland gave a sort 16
of authenticity to our travels. We were not only able to see its beauty, but we also got a taste for the lifestyle. Our meals with the family were always delicious; however, we never figured out when they were supposed to occur. In the morning, the kids would have cereal and we would be given two pieces of toast with honey. After breakfast we never knew when to expect food. Sometimes we would not have a meal again until five o’clock in the evening; other days we would have dinner at three thirty and supper at six. Dinner would usually consist of a hearty soup of leftovers from the night before, while supper was usually potatoes with fresh vegetables and chicken or lamb. Fionnuala would have tea in the afternoon while the kids were at school; Rebecca and I made teatime into lunchtime by having many crackers or toast on the side. We ventured off the farm to Castlebar via taxi on the weekends, and we once went to a nearby town called Turlough. The National Museum of Country Life is in Turlough, and as luck would have it, they were hosting a festival when we were there. This country life festival had homegrown vegetables, pottery, jewelry, baked goods, and even basket weaving demonstrations. I found it extremely meaningful to see both the history of farming inside the museum and to see the varied work of the people of today. When our time on the farm came to an end, we made our way to the quaint seaside town of Westport. Along the water at the quay, I saw beautiful green, hilly islands with short but sharp cliffs along the water’s edge. Westport was my favorite town both for its beauty and its environment. The downtown area had two main streets, one of pubs and one of shops. Because everything was so close together, it was easy to run into the same people, which made nightlife fun. We visited a famous pub called Matt Molloy’s, owned by a member of the musical group The Chieftains. It is a popular tourist destination because of the live music, and the crowd’s age averaged somewhere around forty. Luckily, we were able to find some locals to point us in the direction of the younger crowds, many of whom flocked to the nightclub when midnight hit. After our night out on the town, we got up early to climb Croagh Patrick, the mountain where Saint Patrick spent 40 nights and from where he drove poisonous snakes out of Ireland. We had been able to admire its equilateral triangle outline from afar while on the farm, but the view from the top was supposed to be exquisite. Upon our ascent we met both mountain goats and millions of flies. From the summit, the view of over 300 islands made up for our 300 bug bites. After Westport, we took a bus to Galway, which was especially busy due to the Volvo Ocean Race, a worldwide sailing race. Because of this, there was free music along the harbor every night. We even got to see performers from Riverdance. Galway is an excellent city to make day trips from. It is only about 2 hours from the famous Cliffs of Moher and the Burren. We took a bus tour to the cliffs, which were an incredible sight, hundreds of feet tall. Taking a bus tour was much more fun than we expected because the driver stopped to show us ruined castles and other attractions along the way. We also made a day trip to the Aran Island of Inishmore, a very rural island where the people speak Irish. Along with the many other tourists who rode the ferry with us, we rented bicycles to tour the island. There are beautiful fields, stone walls, fallen castles, and beaches. We stopped for lunch on some rocks along the coast then went for a swim. A few hundred feet away, we saw some heads pop out of the water: seals! As our trip neared its end, we went to Dublin. I felt like Dublin was very small compared to American cities, which was nice because we were able to walk everywhere. We visited St. Patrick’s cathedral, Christchurch Cathedral, Trinity College, the Book of Kells, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin Castle, and the National Museum. Dining and nightlife both centered around an area called Temple Bar, which was always crowded with people and musicians in the streets. It was the abundance of musicians in Ireland that really made it a unique experience. I absolutely loved the traditional music. Even a small town like Westport would feature talented local musicians in the pubs and a walk down any Irish street was accompanied by a live band.
photo by brianna beehler
The Isle of Shadows:Tramping About Skye
by denali hussin I went with my family to Scotland some summers ago. We made our way from Glasgow to Edinburgh, and then to the highlands: our destination was the Isle of Skye, a lobstershaped island off the eastern coast of Scotland. Its name means ‘Isle of Shadows’, but as we crossed the bridge from the mainland onto the island, the sun appeared for one dazzling moment. After several hours of driving, we decided we were lost. We were supposed to be staying in a cottage in a small village, but we hadn’t seen anything but fields, sheep, and moors for several miles. Nothing, in other words, that would indicate a village. We crawled along the single-track road, held up by the Scottish version of a traffic jam, two dozen sheep. At last we were excited to see someone trudging along the side of the road. We rolled down the window. “Excuse me, but can you tell us where Balmeanach is?” The man looked at us strangely. “You’re in it.” We stayed in a tiny cottage rented to us by our landlord, “Allie,” who would invite us up to his place “for a wee dram or three.” Across the road was a field running up to a cliff overlooking the grey sea, and a slate beach that was home to several ancient foundations— old fisherman’s huts. We were woken each morning by the baa-ing of sheep. My little brother, Aidan Skye (named for the Island), was determined to catch one and hug it, “just to see what it was like.” When at last he did, to his and the sheep’s eternal surprise, he said that it was far damper, smellier, and more generally unpleasant than he expected. Most of Skye is rolling moors and impressive cliffs along the sea, dotted with sheep and “highland coos,” the long-horned shaggy cows of Scotland. But Portree is Skye’s main town, a lovely port with perhaps three restaurants and an ancient town square. The night we arrived, there was a performance (it seemed to have been for our benefit) of the bagpipe marching band. The music of the bagpipes, played by dozens of Scots from age five to eighty, echoed off the cobblestones and reverberated through our dreams for days. This was because the playing never stopped. The very next day was the Skye Highland Games, which took place (to the ever-present sound of Pìobaireachd—“piping”) on “the Tor” overlooking the port, with a view on three sides of the ocean. In a small circle surrounded by the grass track for the runners, kilted competitors tossed the “caber” (literally, a telephone pole), high jumped (without the benefit of padding or the Fosbury flop), and slung cannonballs on chains. It rained off and on all day, every day, and no one seemed to notice or care. We stopped noticing too.
Scottish rain is a light rain without an assertive presence, and it became as ubiquitous as sheep dung or shortbread. Skye is a relatively small island, but a week was nowhere near enough to explore as much as we wanted to. We did our best; traveling from hostel to hostel after leaving our rental cottage, puttering around in our tiny, gas-efficient rental car. The scariest thing about Skye roads (apart from the fact that you have to drive on the other side) is that they are literally one lane. That means if you encounter a car coming the other direction, either you or they have to back up until you find one of the little pull-outs, conveniently located every quarter mile or so. We also managed to narrowly avoid several collisions with sheep. One day, we explored the Fairy Glens of Uig. This was one of the many places on Skye where you had the spectacular experience of being able to see mountains and plains on one side, and endless ocean on the other. In the glens themselves, towering green spires rose like natural castles to the sky. Winding paths traced spirals through the brilliant green grass, and led to intricate fairy circles, decorated with the offerings of ages worth of visitors. We couldn’t tell if the massive towers of moss and stone were natural or man-made—perhaps they were neither, but the work of the fairies. This idea seemed charming until we discovered that our camera case, which held a memory chip’s worth of vacation photos, had vanished into the heather, never to be seen again. To this day, we blame those bloody fairies. Another day, we found the crumbling castle of Queen Sgathaich (Sky-Ah), the heroine of many a childhood story for us. Her thousand-year-old castle stands slightly off the mainland. According to legend, those who wanted to learn to fight from the warrior queen had to jump the gap to her castle door. If they made it, she taught them the art of war. If they didn’t, they fell into the gap, where sharpened stakes put an end to their aspirations. When we arrived, we found that there were the remnants of a drawbridge. The wooden planks had long ago rotted away, but the stone arches remained. We shuffled along them, hugging the sides, until we reached the castle. It was surprisingly small, but you still had to be careful where you put your feet. Moor grass and wildflowers hid holes where stairways used to be, tempting broken ankles and disappearing siblings. Old window ledges remained, and arrow slits glared back at the mainland. The legends say that Sgathaich was a witch and a sealkie, with the ability to transform herself into a seal. As I sat on the ancient window ledge, my hands gripping the smooth worn stones, I looked out to sea, where a low ledge of rocks formed a natural breakwater. I blinked, and the stones transformed, as twenty seals blinked back at me.
photos by brianna beehler
Hiking in the Highlands by laina rosebrock People say that going abroad is the best time of his or her life. While I ultimately found this to be true, the beginning of my time abroad wasn’t as wonderful as I expected it to be. In fact, during the first month I was pretty miserable. I chose to study abroad at the University of Dundee in Scotland. The majority of people I told this too were convinced Dundee was in Australia (Crocodile Dundee, anyone?), so I got used to adding to the end of my spiel that Dundee is about an hour and a half northeast of Edinburgh— Scotland’s capital—and is right across the river from St. Andrews (the golf capital of the world). Since Tufts doesn’t have a program in Scotland and none of the other programs I looked at seemed that exciting, I decided to be bold and directly enroll in the university. Although having the advantage of being considerably cheaper than going through a program, this meant that I was pretty much on my own. The Scottish education system is drastically different from that in the US, and the student ends up taking on much more responsibility. The first week— “fresher’s week” as they called it—I spent countless hours running from department to department, begging professors to let me take 3rd year courses (that normally run for the whole year) for only one semester, getting approval from the international student advisor, and trying desperately to fit in with my Scottish flatmates. Needless to say, I felt pretty alone, and only after meeting an international student from Canada did we decide to put ourselves out there and join one of the University of Dundee’s largest clubs: the rucksack club. Despite being the 4th largest city in Scotland, Dundee is relatively unknown outside of the UK. However, one of its biggest advantages (and tourist lures) is that it lies at the base of the Scottish Highlands—a beautiful area, hiked by thousands of people every year. Rucksack is the Scottish word for backpack (as in hiking backpack) and the rucksack club is essentially the hiking club. At the general interest meeting, my friend and I watched slides from past hiking trips and were overwhelmed by the beautiful images being flashed across the screen. It didn’t matter that I had never 20
hiked anything larger than the hills on Tufts’ campus…I was fit! I could totally hike a mountain! The leaders of the club assured us that each trip would be catered to hikers of all levels, from novices to amateurs to experts, and would of course be followed by a friendly trip to the pub. We could take multiple trails depending on our ability and there would be someone to point us toward our destination if we got lost. No jeans, waterproof pants and a hat were among some of the requirements (along with a pickax and crampons for one of the trips I went on). As I woke up at six a.m. on the day of my first hike I could barely contain my excitement. And although I felt like a pretty big daredevil, the comfort that I was not the only beginner on the trip and that we could take the easy trail assuaged my jittery nerves. So, imagine my surprise when my first ever mountain hike into the Highlands—to a place called Blair Athol, one of the Munroes, which is what the mountains in Scotland are called—turned out to be 15 miles long. No, that is not a typo. By noon, after hiking for four hours already, I realized the one sandwich I had brought would probably not be sufficient. Luckily, the other hikers in the rucksack club were generous enough to share their food with me. And although I only got home at 9 pm that night (with my legs hurting so much I could barely move) and received countless frantic calls and texts from my flatmates—who, I later found out, thought I had died, I felt incredibly proud and accomplished. There is nothing quite like standing at the top of a mountain that you have just spent five hours climbing and seeing the beauty of nature all around you. I went on two more hiking trips after the first one to Blair Athol, one to the Ochills and another weekend trip to an area about an hour outside of Inverness, in northwest Scotland. Each time I couldn’t believe the breathtaking views that surrounded me. Scotland has some of the most beautiful hiking areas in the world, and if you ever get a chance to go there, I highly suggest you take it. Your hike doesn’t necessarily have to be 15 miles, but at least try to trek as far as you can, because the things you see along the way make it worth it. And be sure to take a celebratory trip to the village pub when you’re done.
AR T S O EUR
HE T F O Y erg R O grunb T a c S c be HI by re
The Eurostar, a train connecting London and Paris, recently celebrated its fifteenth year of operation. Read this guide before planning an excursion off the Continent.
history by michelle beehler First of all, it wasn’t an easy place to get to. A train from Edinburgh to Glasgow, and then a local bus from the city center would get us to the Glengoyne Distillery. I hadn’t been paying much attention to the elderly man in the bus station, but B had. The man had given her directions; we would have to flag down a bus to get a ride back. He’d said something else about how the highland hills were beautiful, but his accent was so strong that no one quite understood what he said and no one wanted to ask him to repeat it twice. He wore a pair of kick-ass blue Wellies. At Glengoyne we bought tickets for the tour. The lady at the counter asked us if we’d driven there. No, we’d taken the bus. I noticed that our tour guide wore plaid paints. We were given our first dram of whisky (so much more in the glass than we’d expected) and sat down in front of a video about Rob Roy, the Scottish version of Robin Hood. There was probably a lot of information in the video (Parliament was mentioned; so was Sir Walter Scott), but we were all so focused on trying to finish off our dram before Arthur, our tour guide in the plaid pants, could come back and discover that we were all sissies. We were so proud of our empty drams, because we’d impressed Arthur. He taught us to say “cheers” in Scottish Gaelic. Slaandjivaa. It was January and cold, with a good couple of inches of snow on the ground. This didn’t seem unusual to us, but the Scottish water pipes seemed to feel differently and were bursting all over the place. Our tour involved many detours, as rooms were flooded and doors shut. The whole time we exchanged nervous glances, knowing that more whisky was in our future. At the end of the tour Arthur sat us down with a couple of glasses and a bottle of single malt Scotch. He taught us how to chew the whisky properly and notice the difference in taste with and without a drop of water. After the first couple of drams we told Arthur we were done with the taste testing. He insisted we tried another. “The next one is my favorite,” he said. The one after that was also his favorite. It was difficult later to flag down our bus. We had to convince S not to run up the road in search of highland cows.
The idea of a tunnel connecting Britain and France was first proposed in 1802, but plans were abandoned for almost two centuries, until the 1980s. Construction of the tunnel was completed, and service began in 1994. Today, service is offered not only between the two primary stations of St. Pancras and Gare du Nord, but also to Brussels, Belgium, and continuing past Paris to southern France.
the stations: St. Pancras in London and Gare du Nord in Paris Food, drinks, and shopping are plentiful at both stations, and the Eurostar provides a check-in lounge with wireless at each end for passengers waiting for their trains. Both stations are centrally located and well-served by public transportation. St. Pancras is connected to the King’s Cross/St. Pancras tube station, where six Underground lines meet. Gare du Nord is on Métro lines 4 and 5, as well as RER lines B and D.
the trip The trip from London to Paris takes 2 hours and 15 minutes (for comparison, a flight from Heathrow to Charles de Gaulle takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes). Passengers can choose from three classes of service: standard; leisure select, with larger seats, magazines and newspapers, and meals and drinks; and business premier, which also includes exclusive lounges, wi-fi, and an optional chauffeur service (at a considerable increase in cost). No matter which class you choose, the ride is smoother than an airplane ride and delivers you straight to the center of the city.
green Train travel is more environmentally friendly than flying, emitting approximately one-tenth the carbon dioxide of a flight from London to Paris. Other green initiatives include recycling of on-board trash, using e-tickets which can be downloaded to mobile phones to reduce paper consumption, and serving local and organic food on-board. The company also operates on a carbon-neutral basis by investing in energy projects around the globe.
other ways to get to the continent Flights- Many discount European carriers offer service from the United Kingdom to the rest of Europe. Try avoiding Heathrow and flying from one of London’s four other airports, such as Stansted, where Ryanair and easyJet are based, or Luton, with low-cost flights to destinations across Europe. Ferry- The most popular ferry crossing is from Dover, England, to Calais, France. The cities are only 33 km apart, and the trip ranges from 35 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the speed of the ferry you choose. Dover and Calais both have train stations and inter-city bus stops. Driving- If you want to take a car with you, there are car transport trains through the Channel Tunnel (a 35 minute trip), or ferries which allow cars on board. Don’t worry about ending up on the wrong side of the road- customs and check-in are designed so that you end up on the correct side without even realizing the switch. 22
Patagonia is Beautiful
by jenna liang There’s nothing quite like it. The shot. The crack. And the camera shutters clicking. I was standing on the very edge of the gigantic Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina with a half-eaten banana in hand and my camera resting on my arm, pointed in the general direction of the sound of cracking several hundred feet away from me. The only thing between the moving slab of ice and me was a feeble wooden fence and a small channel. My eyes darted about the face of the glacier, looking for the next boulder of falling ice. They say the glacier is alive. It crawls along two meters a day, destroying everything in its path. Despite its destructiveness and close resemblance to a sheet of ice, the Perito Moreno Glacier is a UNESCO World Heritage site today. The little town of El Calafate is one of best places to view glaciers in Patagonia. Los Glaciares National Park is a short drive away and home to the monstrous Perito Moreno Glacier. Known for its large size and sculpture-esque scenery, the glacier is famous. The color of the ice is described as icy blue. Some even put that color into yet another category, naming the shade glacier blue. Nevertheless, the thrill of being close to a glacier simply cannot compete with climbing one. With crampons roughly tied to our feet, we embarked on a two-hour hike on the glacier, which one can only get to by boat. It is quite an experience to dangle your head at the opening of a hundredmeter deep ice hole, or to caress the startling blue ice with gloves that prevent your fingers from severing. While we clambered through naturally formed ice fissures, I was enamored by the breathtaking scenery that served as a backdrop to the Andes mountain
range. In fact, I was so captivated that I had an extremely close encounter with Perito Moreno and was rather cold and wet from an accidental plunge into an icy pool. From there on, we crossed into Chile while our Argentinean guide attempted to make us lose our wits with horror stories about the Chilean customs. After throwing out our apples, we were met with a spectacular welcome from the mountains of Torres del Paine. As the Spanish name of the national park points out, several tall towers stand towering over the rugged mountains and teal rivers, not unlike a scene from the Lord of the Rings. Those towers are the epitome of graphite rock-climbing and from up high, climbers can see where the multiple rivers meet to form a giant rushing of water into the lakes below. This national park is one of the best places to experience Patagonia in all of its wonder. Apart from hiking, fishing is a great way to spend an afternoon especially if it means the fresh catch appears on the dinner table. Of course, we had our intimate encounters with the mating guanacos, a type of llama, which needed no privacy at all. After waking up at 5:30 am on Christmas Day, which our guides deemed a leisurely morning, we traveled to one of the oldest colonial towns in Argentina. Salta is known for being on the very edge of the renowned Calchaquí Valle. This World Heritage site contains the spectacular Cafayate Gorge. Known for its distinctive earth-red rocks, the Cafayate Gorge is situated in the middle of a desert where cacti are abundant. While walking along the windy bottoms of high canyons, one can see locals herding goat, their livestock leaving behind a trail of their existence. These wind-made formations over the centuries have created a garden of fascinating sculptures, some likening a toad, an amphitheatre, and even the Titanic with Kate and Leo at the very front. Patagonia is beautiful. To borrow an old Chilean folk story, “In the beginning, God created the wonders of the world. When He was finished, however, He saw that He had many leftover pieces. He had parts of rivers and valleys, of oceans and lakes, of glaciers and deserts, of mountains and forests. Rather than let such beauty go to waste, God put them all together and cast them to the most remote corner of the earth. This is how Chile [and Argentina] was born.” If you has the chance, you should definitely travel to Patagonia. 25
City Life & Island Time April vacation in Greece, a country of blinding sunshine, oracles tucked into mountain sides and salty card decks of feta.
by ariel rosen After debarking from an early morning flight, four girls found themselves in a taxi pulling away from the curb, backpacks in the trunk and not a clue where they were heading. Everything worked out in the end, and the driver only overcharged ten euros per gullible American, but this mixture of bewilderment, wonder and surrender marked the rest of my time in Athens and Santorini. Speeding down the highway, I’d found somewhere genuinely new, and gave in to the freedom of having no control. In the pouring rain, we found a busy café overlooking the neighborhood plaza. While we ate Greek salads and drank strong black coffee, rainwater streamed over our shoes. Though covered, the terrace was open to the downpour at the walls and, situated on a steep slant, became the site for an urban waterfall. I tucked my legs up and kept eating. Athens was hiding its face behind stormy light and muggy heat. I couldn’t get a feel for the place. I saw fabric stores and commercial chains, classical colonnades and graffitied statues, but didn’t quite know what to make of it all. After one night spent in a ground floor apartment with a balcony that didn’t lock and cockroaches that kept appearing, belly-up, out of nowhere, we headed to a hostel in Plaka. There, in the historic center of the city, Athens began to unfurl. 26
Sightseeing in the tourist sense took a backseat to exploration. Yes, I hiked past amphitheatres and olive trees to the Acropolis glowing in the sunlight. But shrouded in scaffolding and encircled by tourists, the building didn’t hint at its bygone greatness. I picked my way down through a garden dotted with the remains of temples and dwellings, and reemerged into the spiderweb of streets, seeking the real. In the city abuzz with Easter festivities, sacrificial lambs sizzling in front of every restaurant, the table called. In the warm air, the fresh, cheap food charmed me. At any street side restaurant, Greek salads came in shallow bowls; chunks of red tomato, rounds of cucumber, thin curls of raw onion and dark, salty kalamata olives tempted from underneath a slab of feta. Doused with oil and vinegar at the table and accompanied by sesame bread, here was a meal for the price of a ham and butter sandwich in Paris. If I’d had my fill of salads, I ordered warm fava eaten with rock salt and virgin olive oil, creamy, peaked souvlaki, or roasted eggplant and stuffed grape leaves. I washed everything down with a glass of Mythos or Alfa beer, then sat back to people watch. After four nights in Athens (perhaps too long for this small city), we took a five-hour ferry ride to the island of Santorini. Our hostel’s van putputted up the road carved into sheer cliff and
down the sweep of the two-lane highway to Anny Studios in Perissa, a town just barely stirring from its winter hibernation on the black sand beach. Since we arrived in time for Easter, the first day of the season, prices were unusually cheap. Lunch rarely came in over five euros, our four-bed private room with a view of the Mediterranean cost twelve euros per person, and we rented a neon Kia Picanto for fifteen euros a day. Over the course of our weeklong stay, tanned men with dark hair gradually opened shuttered storefronts and repaired palm frond umbrellas, pulling establishments from their slumber. We spent hours laying in the just-warm-enough sun by the ocean, cruising past open fields on bicycles, and exploring Thira, the island’s largest town. We visited the lighthouse perched over endless sea near to the volcano, drove to Red Beach (named for its burgundy cliffs), lunched on a rooftop in Thira and got coffee at The Pure, a café where club mixes and pound cake are complimentary with your drink. One afternoon found us in Oia, navigating tiny streets illuminated by the glare of whitewash. While waiting for the legendary sunset, we were driven indoors by gusting wind, retreating to a bar for glasses of white wine. Suspended over the glinting water that follows you everywhere, visible at every turn in the road, life turned calm. The street outside was quiet with dusk, and I, pulled from the disorder of Athens to this place of white and blue, sat on a booth, the rhythm of the island coursing through my veins. 27
Traveler: How and when did you get into photography? Erin Kestenbaum: I started taking photography seriously my sophomore year, upon taking an Ex-College class on digital photography. The class inspired me to look at photography as more than just a functional way to capture life’s moments. Traveler: Where are your favorite places to photograph? EK: I love photographing new cities, as it allows me to concentrate on the small, rarely seen details that most tourists fail to notice. Traveler: Do you prefer to photograph people or more scenic landscapes? EK: People are my preferred subject matter, as is it always an exciting challenge to capture a person’s true spirit in a single image. Traveler: What has been your favorite photographic experience so far? EK: My favorite photographic experience occurred during the time I spent in Budapest, Hungary. The city was incredibly beautiful and off the beaten path of most tourists, lending a very edgy feel to it. All the buildings were fascinating to shoot. From the outside they were covered in graffiti and downtrodden in appearance, yet on the inside they were lushly decorated and chic.
Traveler: Why did you choose to study in Ireland? EK: I opted to study in Dublin, Ireland because it fulfilled all of my requirements for a livable city: young, vibrant, historically rich and manageable in size. Traveler: What was your favorite place to photograph in Ireland? EK: My favorite place to photograph in Ireland was Howth, a small coastal town near Dublin. The town’s rocky cliffs and beaches were fantastic to explore on the weekends, as an escape from the hustle and bustle of Dublin. As an added bonus, Howth is also home to a huge population of photogenic seals.
CULTURE SHOCK (literally) experiencing the earthquake in Santiago, Chile by abi benudis Across the world, peoples, cultures, and customs vary. For me, it has always been interesting to note how greetings differ between places. For example, while in the United States it is common to shake hands, rubbing noses is the norm for the Inuits in Canada, and playfully sticking out the tongue is the universal Tibetan salutation. Imagine the culture shock I experienced when I arrived in Santiago, Chile for my semester abroad and was greeted by an 8.8-magnitude terremoto, an earthquake that literally swept me off of my feet. It was the night before the start date of my program; my travel mate and I spent the evening organizing our luggage and laying low in the youth hostel where we were to spend the night. At approximately 3:45 am, I awoke to a shaking room. At first, I thought that the subway line ran under the hostel and was causing the tremors. I soon realized that this could not be the case. My travel mate and I got up from our bed and were thrust across the room; it was as if someone had lifted up our room and shook it with full force. The pictures that were hanging began to fall and our luggage shifted across the floor. Car alarms rang and glass came crashing down in the hallway outside of our room. We ran to the doorway of our room, but it was locked from the inside, and without any light we could not find the key to exit. We instead stood in the locked entryway of our hostel, hand in hand, watching the paint crack from the foundation of the ceiling and waiting for trembling to run its course. After a two-minute lifetime, the ground stood still once again. We found the key to exit our room and we quickly made our way down the stairs to find a spattering of other hostel guests, just as confused and as terrified as we were. With cell phones and flash lights as our only means of electricity, a group of us stood in the hostel lobby, speechless and stunned that we had just experienced what we would later find out to be the fifth largest earthquake in the past century. It has been 48 hours since the big quake hit, and already Santiago has experienced a dozen or so aftershocks – mini trembles that are harmless with the exception of their ability to make my heart jump straight into my throat. That being said, I believe that the worst has passed. Chile is a country that is accustomed to temblores; much of the infrastructure was built in order to handle the natural trembles of the earth. It is also a resilient country, ready to face the devastation and move forward. As my spiritual host mother here in Santiago said to me to explain the situation at hand, “Aquí, la Madre Tierra siempre está diciendonos algo.” (Here, Mother Earth is always telling us something). Looks like Mother Earth wanted to greet me in style and give all of Chile a heads up. Watch out Santiago, Abi Benudis has arrived! 30