Edinburgh

Edinburgh

When I first suggested going to Edinburgh in December, most people said ‘don’t’. They said it was miserable and dreary and yeah, at times, it was.

But I didn’t mind so much. The weather went hand in hand with the festive atmosphere that was coming to the surface at what was the first weekend of December.

The place was unbelievably busy between the Christmas markets and the many, many events the city were running. It rained a lot – the first clear day we had was on Monday, the day we left – but the atmosphere was cosy, our hotel was wonderfully warm and generous and I found that Edinburgh is the perfect size for a three-day exploration that also lent itself to daytime naps and hours-long afternoon coffee.

I spent most of my time exploring so there’s not a huge lot to say about it – the photos really say it all (and it’s photo heavy – sorry!)  – so I won’t be writing up a full itinerary but if I had to recommend a few things it would be:

  1. The Scottish National Gallery – about half the size of Dublin’s (which is already pretty small), you could do it in 20mins but is home to some beautiful Monets, Degas and some of Scotland’s own art.
  2. Victoria Street (the first photo below) – which was said to be the original inspiration for Diagon Alley. The shops are just as whimsical and chaotic as you’d imagine. It’s also home to countless Harry Potter gift shops and narrow specialist stores that are dubbed the real Olivanders and Flourish & Blotts.
  3. Edinburgh Castle – not the castle itself but the walk up to it. If you get there early in the morning, you’ll miss the crowds and get to enjoy the most famous part of the Royal Mile all to yourself complete with bagpipes, warm coffee, and cobbled roads.

But despite the crowds and the rain, Edinburgh was the best way to round off the busiest year in travel I’ve ever had (I’m talking seven cities, ten flights and infinite bus rides in ten months). I think I’ll stay at home for at least the next six years.

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72 Hours in Toronto

72 Hours in Toronto

72 Hours in Toronto is both enough and not enough.

It’s enough if you want a break from reality.

It’s not enough if you want to explore Toronto’s incredible culture

It’s enough for a layover to reduce the effects of jet lag

It’s not enough to experience Canada.

But it was perfect for me.

Toronto was a last minute decision (as much of a last minute decision as you can make 8 months in advance) but it was already the clear winner even before I decided on my third city.

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Boulder, CO

Boulder, CO

I don’t really know what I expected with Boulder, I just know that I wanted to go. You’ve probably heard of it. It’s become famous through television shows, songs and if you know your true crime history, JonBenet Ramsey.

But Boulder is famous in its own right. It’s home to the gorgeous Boulder Flatirons (that you really get a good glimpse of if you’re travelling from Denver) and the University of Colorado, Boulder. It sits just northwest between Denver and the Rocky Mountains. And it is very, very wealthy.

I got to Boulder at 9am on a Tuesday morning, the day before I flew to Toronto. Getting there was easy, RTD run two kinds of buses – an express bus and a regular and as it is run by RTD, you can get your return ticket for only $9. The trip was about 90 minutes from Union Station to Pearl Street Mall.

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Flaw

Flaw

This is a post that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while now and it stems from a long-growing issue that has been knocking around my brain for over two years. I’m going to say now that it deals with some pretty heavy stuff – weight, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, self-esteem, etc so if you think that this could be something that could cause you harm, don’t proceed. Your health is more important than this.

This is also a difficult one to write because I really want to broach it with extreme sensitivity. The last thing I want is to offend or come across like an ungrateful bitch because trust me, if there was a simple quick fix to this, you know I’d take it in a heartbeat. And if this does offend you, upset you or make you dislike me more than you might already do, I am sorry. It was not my intention and I hope I can change that perception in the future for you.

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Summer Reads

Summer Reads

I’ve almost reached my goal of reading 20 books since April. I slowed down a little during the summer – particularly when I was on holidays but I’ve picked up the pace lately with some of these.

PS, I get most of my books from Bookdepository.com where books are cheaper and delivery is free! – (but nothing beats a good browse in a bookshop on a Saturday morning)

 

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Normal People – Sally Rooney

If you’ve read my other post on what I’ve read, you’ll see I loved Conversations with Friends, Sally’s debut novel from 2017. I was hoping for the same nostalgia in Normal People and boy, I sure got it. This book is a huge improvement on an already very good debut. The writing flows like a stream of consciousness, the characters are real and recognisable, the situations familiar. Sally again brilliantly gives the mundane college life a hint of romanticism that makes me long for the life and love I had back in Trinity College. If that’s not enough to pull you in, it also made the Man Booker Longlist for 2018.

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Littleton, Colorado

Littleton, Colorado

This is going to be a long one because, to be honest, and to my total surprise, I really loved Littleton.

There’s not a whole lot to the place at first glance. The RTD light rail that goes there hardly announces the area when it passes through. Littleton is simply defined by its ‘Downtown’ and ‘Mineral’ stops. It’s pretty much as suburb-y as you can get but once you really get into it, you’ll see that Littleton is a treasure trove of American life. It’s full of colour, whimsical stores tacked onto homes and old architecture. If I had to compare it to anywhere it would be to Stars Hollow (hello, Gilmore Girl fans) and then some.

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Denver Foothills

Denver Foothills

This tour is the perfect example of Nike’s famous saying of ‘Just Do It’. I just didn’t want to do it. I just wanted to stay in the city and do nothing but I had a tour booked to see the Boulder Foothills about six weeks previous and knew it was too late to cancel. I don’t know why I wasn’t eager on going seeing as how I had booked the tour for myself without any shotgun to my head but when I got an email the evening before it was due to run that it was cancelled,  I was more relieved than disappointed

You see, I was loving Denver and felt that I hadn’t explored enough of my own area yet let alone take a tour (with other people I didn’t know) outside of it. I still get quite nervous before unknown social situations that I have no real control over (I mean, who doesn’t?) but I knew that this tour would be my only real chance to get out into the real Colorado “wilderness”. The RTD trams weren’t going to get me anywhere near the Red Rocks or Lookout Mountain and I knew when I was offered a replacement tour around the Denver Foothills, I would regret saying no.

And I can wholeheartedly say to all the lazy ones like me out there who weigh up the pros and cons of doing something they’ve always dreamed of because “ugh effort”, just DO IT.

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