Student Blogs/Phil in Spain

The next part of my story involves trains, hotels, and the Canadian embassy. When landing in Valencia, I had to go to class and afterwards I tried to figure out my next step. I learned I needed to go to the Canadian embassy in Madrid to sort out the situation. On Tuesday at 6:30 a.m., I took the four-and-a-half hour train ride to Madrid. I had emailed the embassy the night before and brought all the identification that I could, and Facebook messaged some of my friends and family so they could be ready to identify who I was.

When I arrived, the embassay was very close to the train station. The embassy was in a beautiful new building and probably one of the tallest in Madrid. Thank goodness the diplomat that was assigned to me was very helpful! Cindy helped me through the process and, minus a bit of a scramble to get passport pictures, thing went smoothly.

I did however have to spend an extra unplanned day in Madrid. I managed to find a fairly nice hotel for really cheap. I was tired when I took the metro to the hotel, so I just explored Calle Gran Via, one of the more famous streets in Madrid, and saw an Egyptian temple near the palace in Madrid as well.

The next day I was notified that my temporary passport was ready. I picked up my passport and caught a train soon afterwards. The passport would allow me to travel to London and to Amsterdam where I was travelling to right after I got back from London.

I had one day of classes and then took the flight to London Gatwick late at night with EasyJet. It was around midnight when I landed. I cleared security without too much of a raised eyebrow due to my bright white temporary passport. But it all worked out.

I managed to catch an earlier bus  to Victoria Street Station and then walked to my hostel in the dead of night. I got to the hostel at about 2:30 a.m. and passed out until 10 in the morning. I highly recommend getting hotels/hostels that offer free breakfasts as it it can really save you some money! After breakfast I went to the British museum and saw some fantastic displays. One of the main attractions was the Syrian and Middle Eastern art, as well as the Egyptian mummies on the 2nd floor. But one of the main reasons I went to London was for the Harry Potter tour at Warner Brother’s Studios.

Photo of blogger Phil in front of the Harry Potter studio

Phil visited the Harry Potter Studio during a trip to the UK

The studio is just north of London and it is necessary to plan out your visit if you wish to go. Tickets must be bought at least two weeks ahead and a bus ticket, as well as a train ticket, must be bought to visit the attraction. It was a fantastic experience, the studio is massive. It is split into three parts: some of the original sets, the back lot, props and the mini Hogwarts Castle which in fact isn’t very small at all.

The original sets include the potions dungeon, the Great Hall, the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office; the list goes on and on. And that’s just the first room . The back lot includes a full scale #4 Private Drive Dursley house, the Night Bus, Hagrid’s motor cycle, the bridge in between Hogwarts and Hagrid’s Hut, and some of the giant chess pieces from the first movie. The final part of the set was fantastic, with a life size Dobby model, some of the robes used in the films as well as an interactive video that guided you around some of the wigs, warts and wands that are the props of Harry potter. There was some of the early concept art that was used in all the movies. There was a downscale size of Diagon Alley! And the pride and joy a downscale size of Hogwarts Castle, it was however massive. It was used for all the over the castle shots used in the series and is so detailed and impressive, it was almost worth all the money just to see this!

After my visit to the Harry Potter set, I took the train back where I called my friend Ella, who is a fellow Canadian working in a port town of Harwich, to see if I can visit her and spend the night. I managed to contact her and get the a-ok to come and visit her in Harwich. When I arrived in Harwich, I was in fact on the same train as one of Ella’s friends Jess which worked out perfectly. We took a cab back to her place where we had fish and chips from the coast which were absolutely delicious! Then we grabbed some good English beer and had fun catching up at her house.

The next day Ella was actually moving to a new place for the rest of her school year, so Jess and I helped move her into her new place. Afterwards we went to the nearby city of Chelmsford, which is the oldest city in England. Established by the Romans, there have been many great battles that were fought near or in this city. And to celebrate their sacrifice we had a small pub crawl.

We met another Canadian who is teaching abroad, our first stop was a pub which used to be an old theatre. It was one of the most interesting I have been in! With cut-out characters sitting up in the upper bowl of the old theatre, it helped to bring life to the pub.

As well as being a place for historic battles, Chelmsford also has some of the oldest pubs in England. One is called the Purple Dog and it opened in 1493. This pub was next on our stop which definitely had an old English vibe to it.

After a few more pubs it was time for me to head out to Gatwick airport to sleep the night as I had an early morning flight my idea was to sleep at the airport to save some extra money. I took the train back to London from Chelmsford and fell asleep on the train. Luckily, a man woke me up when we arrived in London Liverpool Street Station, otherwise I would be heading right back to Chelmsford.

I ended up walking a little bit and then taking the underground to Victoria Street where my bus awaited. I ended up getting to Gatwick for 2 in the morning and found it full of people with the same idea as me. I tried to sleep on the ground for a few hours but that didn’t work out too well.  I got up early and took my flight back to Valencia. Later that day I flew to Amsterdam for a week and to attend a conference about intercultural management in the workforce.

The last month of February was very low key in comparison. School started to catch up with me as well, with lots and lots of work. My new courses, you may ask, are gestion financiera, marketing Internacional, and calidad y atención al cliente. With all courses taught in Spanish, I believe it has helped to accelerate my Spanish learning.

UEV has a trimester system. This means six hours a week of class compared to there hours. This trimester ends at the end of March and the final trimester begins in April. March not only happens to be my birthday month but also the month for a celebration called fallas. So March is a pretty busy month.

I have a lot to look forward to as well with school, friends, travel, fallas and new found opportunities and making the most if everything that comes my way.

Monday, April 28, 2014 in , ,
Share: Twitter, Facebook