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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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, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Denver was a complete and total surprise to me.

I had tried to do the most research I could before I left for the U.S. but for some reason, I couldn’t quite figure Denver out. There didn’t appear to be a central hub (like San Francisco had with Union Sq or most cities have with their main shopping streets and squares). To be perfectly honest, I thought I was going to be bored. I remember reassuring myself as I got off the plane that if I didn’t like it, I could just watch Netflix for five days.

I was so wrong.

I was so incredibly wrong.

I take it all back.

Denver was just a treasure trove of surprises. I walked around on the first evening with my jaw on the ground, I couldn’t believe this city; the cleanliness, the friendliness, the pure atmosphere of excitement, of something always going on. It was busy but not in a large bustling city kind of way. I walked around the heart of Denver on that first night and felt more relaxed than I had on my entire trip.

I had been there three hours and was already planning a return trip.

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What’s Been Going On

What’s Been Going On

It’s been a mental three weeks and I’m nowhere near done yet. I’m finding myself over tired a lot, meaning my emotions are jumping to extremes, I’m a little lightheaded and I’m struggling to fall asleep at night. It’s nothing I haven’t come across before but it seems that when I need time off the most, the stuff keeps piling on.

I’m excited though. I have another few big weeks ahead of me which I’m so looking forward to sharing.

Vienna

It was the little things in Vienna that made this trip so worthwhile. The cruising down the Danube in an electric boat, dog sitting the quietest and most placid but lovely puppy I have ever met, sitting in the garden til late with new friends, a cacophony of languages rising above our heads, sitting in Rathausplatz watching people dance, watching the world from the coffeehouses, even just watching old movies and quoting word for word all we knew by heart. It was just what I needed right then and I’m so fortunate to have had the chance.

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