I arrived yesterday to Bristol. This is my first time ever visiting the United Kingdom. Chewy and I entered immigration without a hitch. Whew! I received my new passport before the plane ride, rented a car and then immediately drove to Newbury to the gorgeous estate where I am staying for the next 9 days. I am watching four fantastic Doxies/Doxens and we are about to go for our morning walk. Currently, it is overcast and very green as far as the eye can see. This is such a big relief after the blazing sun and intense humidity I encountered in Spain. I chatted with a few people from the UK during my flight here and they mentioned Barcelona was extremely humid and not as enjoyable as their previous visits had been. Here in England there is a comfortable humidity in the air. Just right I would say. It’s about 20 degrees cooler as well which is absolutely fabulous!
I’ve certainly done some crazy things in my life as many of you are aware. But nothing even compares to driving a manual car on the left side of the street. This is a tremendous challenge for me!! I didn’t realize it was going to be so disorienting. The concern isn’t so much with the turns, countless round-a-bouts, or even the bikes on the left. It has to do with the spacial feel of the car. It’s like I can’t tell where the center is or how much room there is on the left or right sides. I didn’t even know this played a part in how I drive. It’s simply unexpected at how different the car feels just a few feet in the other seat. The mirrors are not where I expect them to be and produce images that are completely askew, my left hand grabbing the stick shift is awkward, and then when I get out of the car I feel completely out of whack like I have been drinking or just got off a rollercoaster. I can say with complete certainty that this is the most challenging act I have ever taken on. I mean, even walking feels very muddled! Hopefully, I get used to it as I will have this car over the next 3 months. I dread driving again but I need to go to town soon to get yet another power adapter. I also need to get a new sim card for my phone as my Norwegian one doesn’t allow me to refill it in other countries. So I will be switching phone numbers yet again. Hopefully for the last time. 🙂
I am sharing some photos of the estate I am staying at and also more of my time in Spain. The area I was staying in the past two weeks is called Tarragona. It is incredibly beautiful with both mountains and a pristine coastline. It’s hard to get a true representation of how blue the ocean is here. More spectacular than the Caribbean or any beach I’ve seen so far. I learned from my conversations with others that this area, known as Catalonia or Catalunya has the richest soil in all of Spain. Which is partly why Spain doesn’t want to relinquish this land. Catalonians are currently in a very heated struggle trying to gain their independence from Spain. This is felt within the people I engage with. Some are very angry with Spanish people as they feel this restricts their freedom and they worry about their culture disappearing. Unlike Barcelona, which is mainly Spanish speaking, in Tarragona they speak mostly Catalan. I originally thought this would be very similar to Spanish, but in fact, it’s completely different. I’m not so great with placing languages but it sounds like a combination of French and Italian with a splash of Vietnamese?? Basically, it is worlds away from Spanish. Of course the people here are just as warm and inviting as every other latin individual I have crossed paths with. Much like in Barcelona, they have more physical contact with one another here. I see it with strangers, friends, couples (all sexualities) and even within siblings. They are far more physical with one another than in the United States. It is very endearing to watch. They have a deeper level of connection than we could ever understand, I believe. At least America is better than Norway in this area. The only time I had any physical contact with Norwegian strangers was when I did a face-plant on the aisle of a bus. Then I had a few people try to catch/grab me. Which made such a ridiculous situation all the more humorous!
I hope you are doing well wherever you might be in the world. I will post more pictures of the countryside very soon.