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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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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Urban Staircase Tour, San Francisco

Urban Staircase Tour, San Francisco

If you’ve seen my Instagram, you’ll see I went on a mega trip by myself (that’s another one off the 101 in 1001 days list!). I had the pleasure of exploring some familiar cities and some new ones with friends and by myself. To say I learned a good bit would be underestimating my experience greatly. I got so much more from it than I imagined.

My first stop was, of course, San Francisco.

San Francisco has always been a deeply personal place for me. It was the backdrop of many films and books that I grew up with, it was the first stop on my first ever American tour, it’s where I lived and worked for three months, it’s where I laughed, cried, grieved, stressed and made many fantastic friends.

I think Herb Caen put it best:

If I do go to heaven, I’m going to do what every San Franciscan does who goes to heaven. He looks around and says, ‘It ain’t bad, but it ain’t San Francisco.‘”

–  (USA Today, February 16, 2001)

I’ll be doing a few posts on different parts of not just San Francisco but my full two week trip across the U.S. and Canada. Disclaimer (!!): these posts will be photo heavy but worth it.

SO, let’s get started.

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Vienna

Vienna

Today’s post is more of a photo diary (with photos in no particular order to reflect my life). I spent the last five days visiting friends in Austria, taking a much needed break.

Vienna was ten times better this time around – probably because I had a friend to show me around rather than just scrambling about for myself. We had a lot of good coffee, good Aperol and plenty of indescribably great experiences (such as one time on The Danube, struggling to steer our electric boat whilst treating to the shores of the river to Beyonce). It was good. I feel rejuvinated. And most importantly, it was soul-healing.

(thank you so much, Fi and Hannes for a really incredible trip and letting me invade your home, you guys are truly the most welcoming hosts)

Ps, Fi took some of the photos on this post – I think someone should get her a camera stat. Also, a puppy.

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101 Things in 1001 Days

101 Things in 1001 Days

Mackenzie Horan’s Design Darling has come back onto my radar lately. If any of you saw my tweets about wanting to raise a labrador in Nantucket, this is the site where I got the idea (except she has a Cockapoo!).

I had heard of Mackenzie a few times before from other blogs. Lots of big names tend to crop up on what I call ‘The Big Three’ (carlytheprepster.com, thelondoner.me and nursefancypants.blogspot.com – ie, the blogs that I religiously refresh). But Mackenzie’s is like looking into a portal of what perfection would be. Not necessarily all clean and colourful Nantucket vibes with the beautiful furniture and needlepoints (which are incredible ngl) but the idea of doing your own thing with someone you love and having fun whilst doing it.

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