Blog Contest Turned Out to a Fully Sponsored Vacation
This is a story of Kisty Mea, a girl young at heart, a travel blogger, a lifestyle writer, a designer who lives in Manila. This blog describes that lucky phase of her life when she won herself a trip to England by fluke.
It was the 9th of March, year 2013 when I stumbled upon what destiny had written my way. While I was randomly browsing through new blogs I came across this online contest which was seemingly interesting. It featured the two things I am truly passionate about; one being blogging and the other, travelling. What seemed more like a student exchange plan turned out to be my very first fully sponsored, independent vacation outside my continent. The contest allowed us to swap countries for a span of 10 days and my fingers were crossed to make it to the top 100 finalists. To my surprise I did not only make it to the top 100 but was one of the 16 winners of an all expense- paid holiday . After raffling our destinations I was more than lucky to be visiting England. Oh, what a dream come true that was!
My bags were packed and I anxiously set off on a journey I was sure to cherish for life. London, Stratford-upon-Avon, Shropshire, Manchester, York, and Lake District are a few parts of England that still hold a place in my heart.
Day 1: In a short time I was in England and Stratford-upon-Avon was my first town to explore. Mr. Stephen Dodgson and Mrs. Dodgson toured me around the town. It was a bright sunny day and the area was fairly filled with charming locals basking under the glorious sun. As Stratford-upon-Avon was where the popular playwright, William Shakespeare resided we spent the day visiting some of the places owned by him and his family namely the Mary Ardens Farm and his house. Later we did watch a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
Day 2: After an exhausting yet entertaining day 1, Mr. Stephen Dodgson brought me to YHA Wilderhope Manor, where my second day begun. I was an exclusive guest at the manor and initially it started to freak me out a bit. The manor was enormously huge and possibly haunted; however, I didnt see any ghosts in there. During the day the volunteers at the hostel toured me around the area. One of the places weve visited was this museum called Land of the Lost Content Museum. The museum is filled with old British paraphernalia toys, food, appliances, even airplane seats! It was quite a fascinating and nostalgic museum to visit.
Day 3: As I was just getting a hang of the city, this woman by the name of Lucy came to the manor to take me to Manchester. She was going to be my companion for the next 7 days until we both returned to London. Unfortunately, the car we were travelling in broke down and we ended up spending 4 hours on getting it fixed. By the time we arrived in Manchester, almost all establishments were closed. Lucy however did, introduce me to Primark (the famous clothing store)!
Day 4: By now the fun was setting in and I was getting used to the wonderful places I was seeing. Before leaving Manchester, Lucy and I dropped by the Museum of Science and Industry since its only a couple of minutes away from the hostel. Then in the afternoon, we wandered off around Lake District.
Day 5: on this day we took the Mountain Goat Tours on Lake District. We spent the whole day visiting different spots and places in Lake District, which included fantastic spots to take photographs.
Day 6: Whats considered as the most haunted city in England (North Yorkshire) was actually one of the loveliest places I had visited. It was raining that day, but I didnt mind. Naturally, we joined a Ghost Walking Tour where our guide theatrically shared the citys ghost stories with us. The last story definitely gave me the creeps.
Day 7: While I was getting familiar with this country, we visited this mesmerizing town Whitby. It is located in the North Yorkshire Coast. Water is my element, so I really fell in love with this seaside town.
Day 8: It was a long drive from Whitby to Oxford, but we managed to make it there. I wish I couldve wandered more, but the chilly weather and the tourists were too overwhelming (especially after spending the last 5 days in fewer tourists populated areas). I spent the rest of the afternoon making arrangements because I extended my stay in London for another week.
Day 9: Excited about my extended trip I spent this day touring through their classic red bus. My agenda was to see the Crown Jewels since its the only thing (I think) that you cant take a photo of.
Day 10: I was glad this wasnt the end of my trip. I met up with the big bosses of Hostelling International where we had scones and tea. One of the organizers also accompanied me to Camden Market, hanging out and checking the local fashion scene.
I always call that trip my "first of many" journey because it was my first trip outside Asia. I took the responsibility of applying for my own visa and a solo travel outside my country was something Id never done before. This journey was more of a journey into myself. I did explore a different country but moreover I explored the hidden traveling traits in me. It also paved a life that's constantly in pursuit of traveling.
As told to Fedora Lobo