Written by: Marshal Getz
My dear readers, how have you been? I know that it has been ummm….2 months and 5 days since my prior post…I must sincerely apologize for that. Looking back at my last post, I am amazed by the speed at which time seems to have flown by. My last blog talks about the activities that I had participated in at that time such as my Saturday trip to Hampstead Heath, partying until 4am at Fabric, and going to the BBC Proms with Alexandra. Like I already mentioned, it seems as if two months has flown by, in reality, when I think about those events that I just pointed out, they seem to have happened FOREVER ago! So much has happened between then and now that I need to tell you about. However, since I have three upcoming midterms, and the fact that I don’t want to bore you all to death, I’ll leave out the extreme details and somewhat briefly explain my life from my last blog on July 30 until present.
When I last blogged, I had just completed the midway point of my internship. Things at MASECO Financial have been fantastic. I really fit in with everyone at MASSECO, I enjoyed working in the financial sector, and I absolutely loved working in London. One of the reasons I chose this trip was to see if I would be able to live/work in London in the future. I traveled to London during spring break 2008 and absolutely loved the city, however, I was only there for 9 days. This trip for me was not only to get a taste of the working in the financial sector, but to see if I would enjoy permanently living and working abroad in a foreign country. After the conclusion of my trip, I know without a doubt that I would be able to work in London. I love the United States, and bleed Red, White, and Blue, however, there is something about London that I can’t resist. Maybe it is the 2,000 year history of the city, the buildings and architecture, the British people or the pubs…I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I know that after I returned to the States, I was really homesick for London, and still am! My internship with MASECO concluded on 16 August. My last day was a pretty emotional one for me. I was amazed how fast my internship had gone, how close I had gotten to the employees in a mere 2 months, and that my time working in London was at its end. That evening after work, Yann, Emilia, and Harriett took me out to the pub for some final drinks. There they presented me a present. A huge illustrated book detailing the history of London! Now most Americans probably wouldn’t have given a damn about this gift, but for my nerdy history loving ass, that gift was PERFECT! Not only was I very grateful for the friendships that I made at MASECO, but I was very touched that they cared enough to buy me a gift. After the very eventful evening at the pub, there were a few teary goodbyes, but I told them that I will be back in London soon enough, so the goodbyes weren’t permanent.
The following day was my trip to the village of Fort William, Scotland. I was traveling solo to the Highlands of
Scotland for two days before Andrew and I left for our Continental European trip. This was the chance for me to relax and visit one of the places that I have always wanted to see. The Highlands are a place immersed with an abundance of cultural history dating back thousands of years. From the Celtic tradition, William Wallace the Braveheart, kilts, bagpipes, haggis, and mountains, the Scottish Highlands is a haven for anyone with an adventurous heart. The 14 hour train ride from London Euston to Fort William afforded me the chance to see much of Great Britain. It’s amazing that once you get outside of London, the rest of England is fields and meadows (similiar to Ohio). The scenery stays the same until we get north of Glasgow, Scotland. This is where the midlands start to become the highlands. With 5 hours remaining in the trip, the view suddenly changes. The terrain is starting to become very mountainous and rocky, streams are flowing down the slopes of the mountains, and huge lochs (lakes) start appearing everywhere. It is now I realize I am entering the Highlands. Now the Highlands aren’t particularly tall mountains, they would be on the same scale as the Appalachian Mountains here in the States. What intrigued me the most about the Highlands was when viewing all the different peaks and valleys, it looked as if someone had taken the terrain, crumpled it up into a ball (like you would do with a piece of paper) and un crinkled it. While on my trip through the Highlands, I did not see one area of flat land. Everything, even in the valleys were all jagged and rocky. It was truly a sight to behold. The town of Fort William was quite small, with maybe a population of 8,000. Having been in a city of 8 million for three months, it was kind of nice to be back in a small village.
The scenery around Fort William was fantastic. The town is situated in between Loch Linnhe and Loch Eil.
On either sides of the long narrow bodies of water, rise the beautiful peaks of the Highlands. Ben Nevis, located just outside of Fort William is the tallest peak in the British Isles, and is a haven for experienced backpackers and climbers from all over the globe. Due to the unusual extreme weather conditions in the area surrounding Fort William, conditions on the mountain can turn from perfect to horrid in mere minutes. Because of my inexperience at climbing, the fact that it was raining, along with the fact that the thickest garment I brought from London was t-shirt, I decided to forgo climbing Ben Nevis. Instead, I made some Canadian friends at my hostel and we walked around Fort William/drank in the pub the first day.
The following morning, my last in the Highlands, the weather was nearly perfect (perfect August in the Highlands being scattered showers and above 50 degrees F). I said farewell to the Canucks and all the other friends I had made at the hostel and went out to explore. I was staying in Banavie, a small village, or cluster of houses, about 5 kilometers outside Fort William. My first stop on my exploration was to Neptune’s Staircase. Located practically next to my hostel, Neptune’s Staircase is a series of staircase locks that transportes ships from the geographically higher areas of the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, the latter being some 90 kilometers away, to the lower area of Fort William and Loch Linnhe. Walking up the series of locks, which eventually led to the canal, was a nice a relaxing experience. Having been surrounded by the hustle and bustle of London, it was freeing to be in the open country with nothing to worry about. After the nice hike, I decided to walk into Fort William. Along the way, I stopped at the Ben Nevis Distillery, which is one of Scotland’s oldest and finest Scotch distillery’s. After a warming sample of the Scotch
and a souvenir bottle for back home, I continued onward. My next stop on my travel into Fort William was to the ruins of Inverlochy Castle. Built in the 13th century by one of the Scottish clans, this castle has remained unaltered since its construction some 800 years ago. I have always been fascinated by castles; however Inverlochy Castle was probably my favorite of my European Trip. First of all, there weren’t a million people crowding around the castle like you see everywhere else, in fact, I was one of 5 people exploring it. Secondly, I loved how you didn’t have to pay to explore the castle, it was basically situated in a park outside the city. Lastly, I loved how the castle lay in ruins. It was so cool to see a piece of history as nature has intended it to look, and to visit something that had not been worked on since the time of the Crusades. Too many times, you will visit some ancient historical site that has been tainted my modern society. After exploring the castle for a half hour, it was time to head on into Fort William. As I entered the city centre, the clouds started moving in really fast, and within minutes, it was raining. Luckily, I found shelter in the nearby McDonald’s. I got a British Big Mac, and waited for the rain to settle. After about 20 minutes, the rains died down, and I decided to take a scenic stroll on a path that ran alongside Loch Linnhe. I had an hour and a half until my overnight train ride back to London, so I wanted to get some final photos of the Highlands. Overall, besides the weather, Fort William and the Highlands were amazing. Not only was the hiking enjoyable, but the train ride back to London was awesome. Because it had been dark when I arrived in Fort William, I hadn’t gotten to see the heart of the Highlands. The first hour of my trip back to London, I saw some of the most beautiful scenery on the planet. I expect to be back in London within a few years, and when I come back, a trip to Fort William will
definitely be on the schedule.
I arrived back in Londontown on Friday, August 21, the last day for the OSU group in London. That following day, Andrew, Drew, and myself would be heading for Vienna, Austria to begin our Eurotrip. Friday was a very hectic day for me. Not only did I need to pack everything up, I wanted to stop by MASECO and say farewell to everyone, and I needed to try to find my sisters a present from Harrods Department Store (the Mecca of Department Stores. No it really is! I swear that I saw a mini water toy for $190,000. It was pretty sweet). Anyways, after my trip to Harrods, I stopped by MASECO and said my final farewells. That evening, us OSU kids along with our friends from University of Washington were planning on going to an Ice Bar (literally a bar made completely out of ice!), however, due to an unexpected emergency luggage crisis, that plan was nixed and unfortunately, I spent my last night in London in my room. On the bright side though, I believe that my previous two months experiences in the UK far outweighed the disappointment that I felt on my last night in London. I truly had the trip of a lifetime, one that I wish I could do again, and one that everyone ought to do once in their life.
That following morning, Andrew, Drew, and myself, departed Jolly old England, and headed for Österreich. This was
the start of my twenty day journey that would take us guys to Vienna, Bratislava, Prague, Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Barcelona, and Lisbon. The following twenty days would be unreal. I would meet, befriend, and socialize with people from all corners of the globe. I would visit places steeped in history and tradition. From the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, and Check Point Charlie, where the world stood on the brink of WWIII, to Prague’s 800 year old Charles Bridge, to the Eiffel Tower, Cathedral Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe, Europe has it all. Other amazing sights included Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral built by Gaudi in the 1800’s and still under construction, Vienna’s St. Stephens Cathedral which was built in the 1200’s and is still not finished to this day, and Lisbon’s beautiful beaches and its 1100 year old Moorish castle on the 500 foot cliffs overlooking the Portuguese town of Sintra. Not only was the sightseeing amazing but experiencing the different cultures was unreal. I was in awestruck by how geographically close everyone is in
proximity to each other in Europe. A two hour train ride and we would be in another country, with very different customs, language, and food than the country we had just left. It was really cool to see how small the world really is, and to experience interacting with different people first hand. However, like all great things in life, they end before we want them to. Though I was disappointed when my Europe trip was over, I was excited to get back home and to see my family and friends. Plus, all of my funds had run dry, so I needed to get back anyways. As the middle of October approaches, I can’t believe that it has already been a month since I was in Europe. It has taken me some time to get accustomed to being back in the US. For the longest time, I was really jet lagged, and it took some time to get back on EST. Other than the differences in the time zones, I feel myself thinking about my trip numerous times a day. Often I get sad when thinking back on this summer. I had some amazing times, and met some amazing people, and I think it is human nature to long for what makes us happy. I know the sadness will be short lived, because as soon as I get enough cash, I will make another trip to the UK and to Europe. As a closing statement am truly blessed to have had the experience that I did,
because I know that only a handful of people will ever have the kind of summer that I’ve had. To all my friends at MASECO, I thank you for not only giving me the opportunity to intern for you guys, but for also treating me like family. To all my OSU mates who traveled with me to London, this was one hell of a summer and I Love you guys! Lastly, to all of my readers, thank you for not only being patient with the extreme lapse between my blogs, but for actually giving a damn and reading what I had to say. My last word of advice is: to all of my readers who have never been abroad to Europe, I strongly urge you to take a trip over there. It will forever change how you view other people, cultures, religions, and food, and will be something you will never forget. Thanks Everyone!!!!!
P.S. My last shout out goes to all my mates at MASECO: Josh, James, Emilia, Rory, Yann, Alex, Harriet, and Toni.
…And to my roommate Heath!