Home Sweet Home

From England to Minnesota. That was weird. I spent my last couple of nights in England hanging out with the amazing friends I had made, staying up late laughing, singing, dancing, and making some final memories. We woke up early to watch the sunrise from a rooftop to really put a stamp on the occasion. Then my roommate and I left for London. We saw the musical Wicked in London’s West End, which I was so thrilled for! That production gave me goosebumps! We got back to our hostel, went on our last midnight McDonald’s run, pushed our beds together, and talked for hours. Needless to say I was exhausted but so content. The following day we parted ways and boarded different flights. Before I knew it, I landed at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport and was greeted by my father. Tears were shed upon our reunion. Then we got right into the car to drive the four hours to Detroit Lakes. We talked a lot in the car about my adventures and simply catching up, but I felt distracted. It was so bizarre to have been in England in the morning then driving through part of Minnesota’s countryside that evening. It did not feel real. It almost felt like a weird dream, like I couldn’t quite find my balance or my voice, as if everything was teetering on an edge. I guess it was a little bit of shock. I had grown so accustomed to England and Europe that America literally felt a little foreign to me. I was also really sad honestly. I wanted to turn around and find a flight back to England. I did not want to be in Minnesota. I was already missing my home across the pond and my friends so much. I genuinely felt sad and angry that I was in that car. But then I remembered how happy I felt when I saw my dad. I figured it would take some readjusting to get back into the swing of things, and it has.

It has been about two weeks since I have returned to the states. The most bizarre thing is that it almost feels like I never left. Everyone here is the same, everything looks the same, my routine has been reestablished, everyone is talking about what’s new in their life and gossiping like they always have, and here I am sitting thinking about my amazing adventures in Europe while trying to listen in on the present. It’s just bizarre, almost un-nerving, but I know this is normal. I was gone for so long, nearly half a year. I had readjusted already to a different life back in England. I think for me, what made my transition so much harder was feeling like I finally had some roots in the ground in England after I returned from my European adventures. Landing back in England felt like returning home and it was such an awesome feeling. Then less than a full two weeks later I have to uproot everything and just . . . leave. I’ll be honest, I’m still a little sad, I’m still readjusting to my American life and trying to find where my old roots are. But a part of me doesn’t necessarily want my old roots. I want to plant new ones again, or maybe not plant any roots. My semester abroad was truly inspiring for me and I do not want to settle. I want to continue to find adventures and opportunities. I don’t want to feel tied down by anything or stuck. On the other hand, I did so much traveling that I just want to relax and find some stability, at least until I can find my sea legs again.

Just the other day I went on a drive by myself, just around the lake going back to my dad’s house listening to my favorite tunes, windows down and just breathing in the air. The air is even different. It smells and feels different. Less cool, even less clean. But then I pulled my car over to watch a bit of the sunset on the lake, to have a moment to myself in peace. Hearing the water gently lick the rocks, feeling the breeze on skin, smelling the lake, seeing the beautiful Minnesota trees catch fire from the gorgeous sun reminded me that I love Minnesota. That moment really made me feel more at home again. It’s great to talk to my family and friends back home, but I needed a moment to myself to catch my breath again, to check in on how I was doing. I feel more at home, although I still miss England. The saddest part is I have no idea when I will get to go back, or worse when I will get to see my England friends again. I made friends from the states whom I can much more easily visit and catch up with, but England is so far away. It’s expensive and time consuming to go just for a visit. Sadly, it will probably be a long time before I go back. But I do know this, I WILL go back to England, if not for a visit but to move and live there because I genuinely felt so much more comfortable in England than I do in the states. Now I do love the country I live in and I love seeing all of my family and friends, but there was just something about England that clicked for me. I cannot ignore it. But have no fear, I have not purchased any plane tickets . . . yet.

Needless to say, it is good to be home. Cheers to England for giving me a home, my new friends who provided me endless memories, the seven other countries that hosted me, my parents for their support, and to me for taking the bold step to go on one of the biggest adventures of my life!

Cheers! Slanché! Salté!

Venice…the tragically sinking city…that is not actually sinking…oh and Rome

One thing I learned is that Venice is not sinking! Actually, the water is rising because of global warming. How tragic! A beautiful and historic city is drowning in the effects of humans’ disregards for the Earth. That was the more upsetting and morbid fact I learned.

Buuuuuut Venice was absolutely beautiful!! That place is a damn labrynth or maze! Sometimes you turn to a dead end and have to turn around and go right instead of left, or you have to go left then over the bridge then immediately left again then take a sharper right turn down a narrow alley leading out to a larger walking path but you still have to be looking for your next right turn down another narrow alley. I feel like I’ve given you an idea. It would be so easy to get lost in that city!

We got two-day passes for the water buses which worked really great for us as that is literally the only way to get around and our hostel was not on the main island. There’s the main island and a separate island; the distance between the two makes up the larger canal that cruise ships use. On the main island there are six districts which are useful in knowing which part of the island you are, they help in terms of a reference point. We got delicious pizza, basically toured the city by water bus (I could stay on that boat all day long), had delicious treats, walked around and got lost, miraculously found the best and cheap places to eat, found a park, learned about the history on a walking tour, got to do laundry at our hostel (it was necessary believe me), and did some shopping around. I honestly think my favorite thing to do in cities is roam around and just happen upon cool stores, places to eat, landmarks, monuments, etc. It is such a fun and laid back way to discover the city. I have always been happily surprised. Kind of like that phrase ignorance is bliss. I don’t know what to expect always so I am happily surprised anytime I learn, see or do something that is known for the city. Speaking of which, I did not do a gondola ride because it was €80 for only thirty minutes and that is simply too expensive. I could take myself on a kayak for the whole day around Venice for not even half the price. I don’t really know what else to say about Venice. It’s amazing how it was founded, built upon, how it’s developed and so on but I’m not going to talk about it on here. I think it would be cool for whoever reads this to research it yourself because it has been fun to learn and I want you all to have fun learning. I also have horrible internet connection so I can only write so much.

Rome! The last Italian city we visited. We did it all! Saw the colosseum, the pantheon, roman forum, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Vatican museum, and the Vatican City. Wow. Rome is a city whose history has been taught to me through bits and pieces throughout my life. I’ve heard stories and I’ve seen pictures….but when I walked into the Sistine Chapel and saw the iconic image of mannearly touching fingers with God being held up by angels, I was overwhelmed. The entire Sistine Chapel was absolutely beautiful. Oh my gosh. Thinking about it again I still feel speechless. It was forbidden to take photos but I was fine with that. I wasn’t distracted by taking pictures so I just stood and admired everything. I really got to absorb it all. I was with a tour so my time with the Chapel was limited. It would take way too long to admire each image. But wow. Speechless! Also, St. Peter’s Basilica is the most extravagant interior I have ever witnessed in my life. It really made me think why a holy place had to be so extravagant. But religion is not what these blog posts are about, although I did say a prayer in the chapel inside the Basilica which felt so amazing to do. It was absolutely beautiful. I don’t know that I will ever see a more expensive, holy, over-the-top, sacred or beautiful interior like that ever again. It cannot be compared to.

A fun fact about Rome is all of the ancient structures (such as the colosseum or the pantheon) are lower than the buildings and roads of modern day. This is because the city of Rome today, modern Rome, is built upon the rubble of Ancient Rome. So wherever you walk, you are essentially walking over the historic and ancient ruins of one of the most innovative, progressive and impressive cities of the ancient times. That was so weird to hear and wrap my mind around. I definitely looked straight down at my feet when I heard that one.

It was also so much fun to toss a coin and make a wish in the Trevi Fountain! Ever since The Lizzie McGuire Movie when Hilary Duff made a wish in th  Fountain and she sings this is what dreams are made of, it was definitely a small dream of mine to make a wish in the Trevi Fountain! Dreams really do come true! I remember exactly what I wished for so when it comes true, I’ll have the Trevi Fountain to thank!

Rome was bittersweet because we had been in Italy for two weeks so we got used to the language, the food (oh my goodness the food), the culture (although each city has such a different culture), and of course the wine. It was also a sad reminder that we only had one more stop before returning to England and then back HOME to the states. I am currently in Greece and cannot wait to blog about it. Please enjoy a few photos (a few because it’s difficult and time consuming to load a lot) from Venice and Rome. Know that someway and somehow I will load more pictures as well as I will be back stateside in just over two weeks! Time flies by way too fast. We cannot waste our lives! Carpe diem!

Fire! I mean Firenze … and Levanto too

Two Italian cities down! I’ll be covering Florence and Levanto in this blog post. Both were amazing for different reasons. But first, we eat!

Having arrived in Florence in the late afternoon/evening, there wasn’t much left to do but eat (we were also starving). How excited we were! About to have our first reali Italian meal in Italy! Our enthusiasm showed as we treated ourselves to a bottle of Chianti wine (regional wine that is very famous in that area), we split a starter of bruschetta, each got our own pizza, each got our own dessert, and oh! we got a basket of bread with olive oil and balasamic vinegar. Suffice to say, we are every bite and drank every drop. Such a delicious meal. There was one point when I literally started to tear up. Not at the food (although no one should be surprised) but because I felt so privileged! How many people my age can say they got to eat an Italian meal made by Italians in Italy? Not many. It was amazing. 

We had to stay in an airB&B this time around because all hostels were booked or only had one bed left. It was pricier but we had to do it. We stayed at Il Mercato Centrale. Being the silly American tourists that we are, it took Emma and I aa day to figure out our airB&B was given such a name because directly across the street was the central market. Oh man. Let these pictures do the talking. 

Okay, I have to talk about this market. You can literally watch them make the pasta from scratch, boil it, then serve it to you! Sorry mom, but this was the BEST pasta I have ever had or probably ever will have in my life. You can taste the ingredients in the pasta itself like the egg and the salt. There’s also a fresh produce market open during the day directly below this market. I love how easy it is to get cheap and fresh fruit to go in Europe! Oh and the gelato! I don’t know what the hell other countries are serving but it is not gelato! Every lick tastes as if they took a syringe and sucked out the juice directly from the fruit and put it into the gelato. Freaking good! 

Florence was cool but honestly by the time we reached it, we had been traveling for two and a half weeks. You could say we were hitting a wall. I was mentally overwhelmed and just kind of tired from the tours, the history, the learning. My mind needed a break! We really took advantage of having our own room and bathroom. Long showers, sleeping in, lounging in bed after dinner with the lights on (not worrying about if other people wanted the lights off), and just catching up on some much needed rest! 

We walked around the city, saw a woman singing opera (such a compelling and melodic voice) in the square, admired all the leather work (Italy loves their leather!), enjoyed the view from a bridge, did a couple of tours (much less informative than the Sandeman’s tours), learned we are awful at speaking or understanding Italian, enjoyed the hell out of that food market, and relaxed. But my absolute favorite part was when we went to the Boboli Gardens! These gardens are huge! They are located behind the Pitti Palace (once owned and lived in by the wealthy and powerful Medici family). This entire garden is located on a hillside so there is some serious incline going on! When we got to the top, we were treated with a stunning view not of the city but of the beautiful hills and homes hiding in the lush, green vegetation. There was also a costume gallery which included pieces worn by the Medici family (not allowed to take pictures). It was really cool to see outfits worn by people from so long ago and to see how they’ve aged. Super cool! From the time we entered the palace/gardens to the time we exited, it took us a grand total of four hours! Sounds like a lot but the time flew by. There was so much to see and it was beautiful. 

So Florence, thumbs up!

Onto Levanto!

A small village that is the next stop on the train after the five villages that make up Cinque Terre. Our first afternoon/evening was spent in Levanto swimming in the ocean (eek!), got a delicious dinner and planned out the next couple of days. This region is famous for its pesto (honestly life-changing) and this delicious bread called Focaccino. Obviously we are helping ourselves to this region’s plentiful and delicious resources. You can bet your bottom dollar we are satisfied! Italian food is simply delicious. Our second day we ventured the villages of Cinque Terre but only hitting three of them: Riomaggotie, Monterosso, and Vernazza. 

Each village is a little different especially in terms of layout because each is set onto a hillside next to the ocean and nonhillside is the same. We took a train (so cheap and so easy) to two villages and back to Levanto with the exception of hiking along the cliff side to get from Monterosso to Vernaza. We hiked TWO HOURS and all I can are two things: booty work and gorgeous views. It was honestly painful; the most intense incline I have ever experienced but the view was nothing to be compared to. 

Our last day Emma and I split up. She wanted to see the other two villages of Cinque Terre and I wanted to RELAX. Plus, I was in serious need of alone time. Anyone who knows me KNOWS I need just Brookie time and I got that on my last day. Emma enjoyed herself but so did I. I laid on the beach, collected sand glass, walked around the city, walked through the water’s edge, got food, walked more, journaled A LOT, and took a wonderfully hot and long shower as no one was in our hostel room. Emma and I met up again for a bottle of wine then some cheap dinner. Relaxing night in to pack up our backpacks and prepare for an early morning to ride a bus all day. Joy to the world. So that is half of my italy excursion! Excited for the second half. Enjoy the photos. 

Cheers everyone! 

Photos of Florence and Levanto/Cinque Terre!

Let’s Pretend We’re Dancing in the Streets…of Barcelona!!

Thanks Ed for giving me a great title to my blog for Barcelona! You did that just for me right? Of course you did! Ed sheeran and I are great friends everyone. I’ll get to Barcelona in a second but while I’m talking about Ed Sheeran, fun fact! It turns out Emma and I have been unintentionally stalking him! He was in Amsterdam at the same time as us, but we didn’t know that until we had left. Then a few days ago we learned that he gave a concert in Barcelona while we were in Barcelona! My question is why hasn’t Ed tried to find us and hang out?! Clearly Emma and I are a fun time!! Maybe he’ll figure it out in Italy. 

Beautiful Barcelona! Such a beautiful city. That is probably my biggest compliment to Barcelona. It’s beauty. So unique, colorful, refreshing, lively and beautiful! Second biggest compliment is the food! Delicious food that always tasted fresh! Beautiful and fresh are the two words I could use to best describe Barcelona. Any time I had fish, it tasted like it was right out of the ocean and never frozen! Exquisite seafood. Had some fruit a few times and felt like a Greek goddess. Why isn’t fruit this fresh in the states? Nevermind, I don’t want to go there. But there was this one instance when Emma and I walked through a food market (one of my new favorite activities) and got a cup of fresh juice to go. I got a pineapple and orange juice. I kid you not, it literally tasted as if someone squeezed all of the juice from the pineapple and all of the juice from the orange into my cup, gave it a good stir, then put a straw in it and handed me basically the Holy Grail. I don’t think I will be able to drink store bought orange juice when I get back because I’ll know it’s not fresh. It will not taste like I’m putting a straw directly into an orange. What a bummer. I also had paella, a specialty cuisine in Spain. It’s a big pan of rice with seafood, like mussels, shrimp, crawfish, and clams (but you can get meat or vegetables instead). Very tasty! Not really sure what seasonings were used but it wasn’t spicy (I was a little worried) and tasted really good. The U.S. definitely cannot make paella. Don’t get paella in the states folks. 

Our first full day in Barcelona was probably my favorite. We didn’t do any tours and had no plans whatsoever. We roamed the streets, found ourselves at some coin market (that was kind of funny, very random), came upon markets (so many beautiful scarves, jewelry, purses, all handcrafted), found the ocean (beautiful but FREEZING! Too early in the year for a swim, even for me), got great food for lunch, and really just took in the city. At the beach, men are walking around yelling “mojitos!” because they’re trying to sell small cups of mojitos just like the guys sell cotton candy and cracker jacks at a baseball game. It was funny but also kind of annoying because they come up to you and try to get you to buy their mojitos so roughly ten different guys came up to us offering mojitos. No gracias! (Although we caved and got two for super cheap because we were “bonitas” (; ). The beach we were at was pretty crowded, passed by two topless women, some happy, chubby older men jumping into the freezing water and laughing, an older woman who didn’t care who saw her and took her shirt off, and the beautiful blue ocean. I love myself a beach. 

We had three full days total in Barcelona so the other two days we did walking tours, got food with people from our tours, roamed more of the city, and learned a lot more about the history and architecture. Speaking of architecture, I HAVE to tell you about Gaudi! I didn’t know about him until our tour. He is FAMOUS in Barcelona, absolutely beloved by the people, and famous all over the world. Sadly he passed away many years ago (1940s I think) but the city still remembers him. That is probably because so much of his astounding architecture is all over the city! When you think of Barcelona, Spain, you picture buildings with no straight lines but curves and swirls, unique structures and visually appealing fronts, definitely nothing bland, right? That’s Gaudi for you! He has such an interesting life story. At the age of 31 (I think), he had a divine intervention and became completely devoted to God, thus why he took on the project of La Sagrada Familia. He was not originally on the construction plans but took over a year or so into the process. La Sagrada Familia is a massive cathedral still under construction today! It has been under contraction for roughly 135 years! It has taken so long because no government money has gone into the project. It is all family money and donations from the people and tourists. You can tour inside the cathedral but unfortunately it was all booked up. However, the outside of the cathedral is just as interesting as in the inside! I’ll have to explain more in detail to those I’ll see in person back home because it’s easier to explain while pointing to certain images on a picture. But essentially, the story of Jesus is structured into the walls of the cathedral. It’s insane, not only is the entire story of Jesus literally on the walls but every little detail has a religious meaning. Gaudi was an absolute genius. My pictures cannot do justice to his brilliance. That’s the saddest part about traveling, none of my photos can capture the entirety of the beauty that I see. Only in person can one fully appreciate the view because it’s not just the images you see before you, but the sounds, the heat of the sun, feeling the breeze on your arms, and your eyes darting everywhere noticing so many different details that you almost get light headed because your eyes can’t focus. A picture cannot capture that. It’s an experience, not just visual. 

Scenery, architecture, palm trees, all beautiful. Food all fresh and delicious! I would definitely go back to Barcelona! A lovely, laid back culture full of creativity and passion. Makes me want to visit more of the country. 

Obviously there’s more but it feels impossible to share every single detail so please enjoy the photos and treat yourself to a tasty sangria! I did! 

Thanks everyone! Cheers!


Waffles, chocolate, beer, and fries. The four most amazing things Belgium is known for. The beer is STRONG. One pint and that is ALL you need. Let me assure you that I am not exaggerating. Belgian beer ranges from 8-12% so don’t get cocky with Belgian beer! I did not take the advice of our tour guide and helped myself to a pint extra and found myself not feeling great the next day. But I learned a great little fun fact that French fries actually originated in Belgium! Fries are a Belgian dish! It was during World War (2?) when American soldiers were eating fries in Belgium, but because half of the country speaks Dutch and the other half speaks French (the American soldiers were in the French-speaking half), the Americans heard everyone speaking French so they thought they were in France. They traveled back to America and introduced French fries. Way to go America. You nailed it. Spot on. Ha! What a funny story. Spread the word! Fries are Belgian! The waffles are DEEEEEEEEEELICIOUS. I don’t know who we are trying to kid when we make “Belgian waffles” back in the states because waffles in Belgium cannot be replicated! They are more dense, and almost taste as if there is caramel (?), or hell, maybe honey in them. There is such a subtle yet more satisfying sweetness to Belgian waffles, that are from Belgium. Tastey!

Now that I’ve got us on the topic of sweetness, let me just “mention” Belgian chocolate. Belgian chocolate is, how should I say? …………………………………………………………… A GIFT FROM NEPTUNE AND VENUS AND THEIR LOVE CHILD. Yeah, I guess that description will do. That was not in any way a dramatic way of emphasizing the magnificentness that is Belgian chocolate. But in all seriousness, I have never experienced an overwhelming satisfaction from a mere taste of chocolate like I did in Belgium. Family and friends, you all know quite well that I truly and sincerely love chocolate with the entirety of my being so you should know that I mean business. My sweet and generous friend Megan got a three-tier full of mini treats at this wonderful “The Old Chocolate House” in Bruges (north of Brussels so they spoke Dutch, not French!) and she kindly shared her treats. HOLY CRAP! Every small bite of chocolate mousse, brownie, cupcake, and every sip of hot chocolate was a life-changing experience. Literally, the first five minutes of us receiving our treats was silent because we were both staring in amazement at the sweets before us and we were simply speechless at how good everything tasted. Wow. I really hope you’ve all guessed how good Belgian chocolate is. I don’t know how much more dramatic I can get in my descriptions of Belgian chocolate. By the way, did I mention Belgian chocolate is amazing? There. I think that just about does it.

So the food was great as you can all decipher. The city of Brussels was honestly not my favorite though. There isn’t anything special about Brussels, it just happens to have great food and it’s a biggish city in Belgium. I learned about some of Belgium’s history but it was kind of like reviewing a history class. I wasn’t intrigued. Although, I will say I found it funny hearing the story behind the statue of the little boy peeing into a fountain. So there used to be a market right in front of where the statue is, right? Well, back in the day, tanning (process of making leather) required a special ingredient…..pee! Also back in this day lots of people were poor but children couldn’t work so the only way they could help their families get any money was……if they sold their pee at the market! Know the phrase “piss poor”? That is where that phrase comes from. It’s a story I’ll tell my grandkids!

Aside from Brussels, the city of Bruges (also known as Brugge), is a beautiful city in Belgium! It feels like you’re stepping back in time! Granted a lot of tourists travel there, but even with all the people, you can walk around and find quiet paths, alleys, benches, cafes, shops, and time just slooooooows down. It was honestly relaxing being in Bruges. And every time we turned a corner we all said “oh wow, that’s pretty” because everything about this town is simply pretty and beautiful! So although I don’t highly recommend Brussels, if you find yourself traveling to Belgium PLEASE try to find your way to Bruges because you will not be disappointed.

Total sidenote, but every city in Europe has Christmas shops. It’s ridiculous. (No, I don’t enter all of them….just most of them). But there was this Christmas store in Bruges and holy sweet lantis of Belgian chocolate, there was the most beautiful hand-crafted Christmas village decor, ornaments, nativity scenes, aprons (randomly enough) and oh my gosh. Everything was just so beautiful and pretty and it made me feel really happy on the inside and so excited for Christmas which is less than 270 days away. None of my sentences are structured grammatically correct anymore because I’m just too excited about chocolate and Christmas. Is this what love is? It must be.

So Belgium wasn’t my favorite stop on this crazy five week adventure but Emma and I got to see our friend Megan and visit Bruges. In total, a good trip with friends. My next blog will tell the tales of Barcelona! Enjoy my Brussels/Bruges photos below!

Salté! (how the Dutch say cheers but not sure how it’s spelt)

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Copen-hagen out in Amsterdam 

That’s a bad title. Definitely not my best. So I’m going to do a two-in-one blog post because it is actually pretty hard to keep up with blog posts and technology in general. This post will include my time in Copenhagen and Amsterdam (in case the title didn’t clue you in). I know for a fact that I will miss details but if you’re lucky enough to know me, I’ll get to tell you more in person back in the states. 

So Copenhagen! I’ll be completely honest. I had no idea what to expect (basically hoe it had been for every city so far) and I very quickly realized I knew essentially nothing about Denmark. But I can also honestly say I genuinely enjoyed myself and the city of Copenhagen. The first day was cold and rainy. It sucked. But our tour guide (we did the free walking tour again) was very witty and optimistic so he made the weather seem not so bad. We did the free walking tour (amazing) then quickly after did a food tour! The food tour was phenomenal. I quit the vegetarian lifestyle for three hours to try some authentic and delicious danish meat. (I have since returned to my vegetarian lifestyle). We had a hot dog from a hot dog cart (they are everywhere in the city which is why it was part of the food tour), then sampled some beer at this beer tavern (that sold 61 beers!!), then had an open-faced sandwich (basically a regular sandwich without the top face bread) which is extremely popular in Denmark, then had a fiskefrikadeller (kind of like a mashed fish patty I guess) in this super cool market where we also finished it all off with a delicious chocolate-coated meringue dessert. If my very few and limited words do not relay to you how delicious the food was, then let me say that everything I had was absolutely delicious!!! Danish food is great. And expensive. Absolutely everything in Denmark is freaking expensive. Emma and I ended up getting a loaf of bread, some Nutella to spread on the bread, and, I kid you not, baby food ( I’ll admit it was tasty, must be nice to be a baby). So that’s what we wait for breakfast and sometimes dinner. ALSO, Hans C. Andersen was from Copenhagen, aka the man who brought The Little Mermaid to the world! My man! The bomb dot com! So there is a little mermaid statue in Copenhagen and I think you can all imagine how excited I was to see the statue of THE little mermaid that I was (and still am) obsessed with since a child. It was a good moment. Emma and I did a lot of walking around, just enjoying the city; we stopped and sat on a park bench and just talked and told stories for an hour. That’s what I really love about this trip. Emma and I have managed to find time to sit and appreciate the city we’re in and end up talking about nothing and everything. It doesn’t matter what city we’re in, we are having memorable conversations that make the cities more meaningful and memorable to us. Absolutely wonderful. But moving on. We also did an alternative tour that showed us the red light district of Copenhagen, taught us about the drug situation, and took us to Christiania. Okay. I had NO IDEA what Christiania was but it was mind blowing. Basically, Christiania is its own small city/society within Copenhagen that has its own currency and laws. I can’t recall if it is officially recognized as a city by the country’s government or not, but everyone knows about it. So with Christiania, everyone has to unanimously vote you in to their city and they help you build your house. That’s right. You build your own house. Oh yeah, everyone openly smokes giant blunts. So we basically walked through a huge stoner, pot festival except that was normal daily life for them. Now one would think because of the weed that people who lived there are in their twenties or so, but guess what? There are three kindergartens in Christiania! People raise their children there! Now not everywhere in Christiania are people smoking pot. There are some non-smoking kind of areas but honestly the whole experience was kind of bizarre and like I said, mind-blowing. Very cool and interesting to learn and see a city within a city that functions so differently. So all in all, I really enjoyed Copenhagen. It has an interesting history, which I can explain to you in person or you can Google it, everyone is generally happy, over 50% of the citizens don’t own a car and just get around by bike, and the food is delicious. Cheers to Copenhagen!

Now to Amsterdam. Okay. I LOVE the canals! They bring such a beutiful scenery to the city. Again we did a free walking tour where I learned there are 1,300+ canals and 94 islands. That’s insane! It was so cool. So far, I think Amsterdam is fighting pretty hard to be my favorite city scenic wise (don’t get me wrong, I still love the Ireland countryside more). And like Copenhagen, everyone is riding bikes (the canals make it hard for driving). Unfortunately, I did not get to go in the Anne Frank house. When we were booking and planning for Amsterdam, tickets were already sold out. You have to book really far in advance so that was a bummer but I know the story and history. Plus Anne Frank is not the only one who hid. Our tour guide reminded us that there was roughly 1,800 people in hiding throughout Amsterdam. So tragic and solemn to think about. But into much different tones, I saw the infamous Red Light District. It was bizarre to see prostitues in windows trying to get customers. Yeah that was just weird. And then the coffee shops! Okay, to clarify, you go to a cafe for real coffee and you go to coffee shops for uh, how should I say this, uh Christmas trees!  Sure, that’s a nice and fun way to replace the “mari-Juana” word. The coffee shops have to sell coffee, legally that is, but they are exclusively known for selling Christmas trees. Everyone knows about it, the police, the church, grandmas and grandpas, even adolescent children, but there is a silent agreement between everyone that as long as no one is being harmed, then it’s all good. Enjoy all the Christmas trees you would like. That system would NOT go well in America. Granted a few states have legalized Christmas trees but a majority of the motherland is not for Christmas trees. Bah humbug to them! But I just thought it was so different that even though Christmas trees are illegal, everyone still buys them! People even take and um light up their Christmas trees on the streets. So again, as long as you’re not harming anyone, no one is going to stop you. Again, interesting. Aside from Christmas trees, Amsterdam has some other cool things going on like the Van Gogh museum! Super cool museum! Learned a lot about the artist and it was simply amazing to see so many beautiful pieces of work up close. I love art. His paintings are so abstract and yet so clear and definitive. It was bizarre; I could see every individual brush stroke that made up the whole painting. Beyond cool. There was also a cool tulip market that we walked through. Okay, there are literally SO MANY DOFFERENT KINDS OF FLOWERS THAT ARE NOT IN THE UNITED STATES. Ever heard of a black tulip? Neither had I! Honestly so many different kinds of flowers, it was so cool. The market mostly sold seeds and bulbs to plant all these wondrous different flowers but there were some flowers for purchase too. OH! So every country I’ve been in (including my current country of Belgium) has at least three vintage stores. Europe loves its vintage! And I totally scored and was blessed by the gods and found a wonderful oversized jean jacket that is probably from the 90s and it is glorious and was made for me. I felt like the newest and bestest version of myself when I put it on. It was amazing. 

Okay. I definitely did not include everything in this post but it is really hard to blog on an iPhone when I always have shitty wifi so my apologies for not having the most amazing and fulfilling blog posts. I do my best as a traveler. I’m currently in Belgium and I leave tomorrow evening to go to Barcelona! So next week there will be a Belgium/Barcelona blog! Also my pictures. I’m only going to put a few up with the blog post because it takes a lot longer to upload the photos onto the blog through my phone. It’s just easier for me this way so again, I’m sorry that this is not the all-inclusive blog you hoped for. But the main thing is I’ve been safe this entire time and I’m having a wonderful time. 


Oh! Ps- I still am unable to caption the photos so more apologies!

On the Streets of Dublin! … and the Cliffs of Moher …and the Guinness Storehouse … now I’m just giving everything away … crap

Wow so Ireland was amazing. What’s really weird is that I’m lying in my hostel bed in Copenhagen, Denmark writing about the time I spent in Ireland. Craziness. Side note, I had already written up this entire blog but then technology decided to take me back to the home page of my phone and the blog didn’t save so this is the second attempt at this blog. Hopefully it’s better than the first! (This is why I dislike technology). Also I’m doing these blogs on my phone from here on out as I did not bring my laptop to backpack through Europe so because it is harder to type so much on my phone, my blogs may not be as exquisite as they could be. Apologies in advance. Oh and also, just so you all know, I’m going to try to do a blog per country which could mean two blogs a week! Or less. We shall see how easy it is to keep up. I also don’t know how much detail I will go into for every single day of my visits. Some of the blogs may become vague or generalized but I’ll be sure to let you know of the most memorable and important (to me) experiences. 

So Ireland! Emma and I got there last Saturday and left Wednesday afternoon. We were extremely lucky because Saturday through Monday (3 whole days) was pure sunshine! One day of sunshine in Ireland is a miracle but three days? No, that is just pure Irish magic in action folks. Someone must have wished really hard for sunshine. Our last full day (Tuesday) we received some authentic, gray skies and rainy Irish weather. You have to expect to experience some authentic weather in the countries you visit, right? Of course so Emma and I couldn’t complain. . 

So our first day we go straight to our hostel to check in and refresh from traveling. We stayed at Kinlay House in Dublin if you want to look it up. I enjoyed it and so did Emma although our beds weren’t super comfortable, but I’m learning you cannot have high expectations for hostels if you want to enjoy your stay in anyway. But it was still light out and we were in Dublin (!!!!!!) so we headed out and found Temple Bar!

Temple Bar is both a singular bar and also the name of the strip/walk of a multitude of pubs (mostly) with a few restaurants/cafes/eating places. So we walked around there feeling hungry (we barely found a cheap place to eat), ate then decided to try a pub! We went to Auld (or Ald; it’s spelt with an Irish accent to spell old) Dubliner pub and got ourselves a Guinness (cheers dad!). We stayed for a bit listening to the live music. Generally all pubs in Dublin (probably all of Ireland too) have live music. Musicians take song requests, but mostly sing Irish songs. By the way, Irish music is my new favorite music. It’s so fun and happy!!! The music was good and of course the authentic Guinness was grand, but we decided to head out. We were so exhausted from getting up at 6 am. However, walking back to the hostel we came upon another pub/restaurant with live music and decided to check it out. I loved the live music here; it was two guys roughly in their 50s playing a banjo and an acoustic guitar singing only Irish folk songs. They were such good singers! Every musician we heard in a pub had such good vocals. Oh my lantis I can’t believe every musician in Ireland doesn’t have their own album yet! So we stayed there awhile and enjoyed the music then eventually headed back to the hostel for SLEEP. (I’m learning very quickly how severely important it is to get rest while traveling).

Sunday! We did a free walking tour with this company called Sandemans. 

I have to interrupt myself. Sandemans does free walking tours in a lot of really big cities here in Europe. The tour guides always have a wonderful energy and have a vast knowledge of the city and country. You get to see some highlights of the city, some aspects maybe you didn’t even know about, get suggestions on places to eat or other places to go and it’s just a really great starting point for a trip to help you figure out what other amazing things to do during your visit. I did one in London then Dublin and this week in Copenhagen. So I’ve done three and they were all fantastic. Okay. I’m done advertising. Back to the main topic. 

So Sunday we did the free walking tour (lasted about three hours, a little less). Then Emma and I joined some others from the tour for lunch in the park! The sun was shining and the park was packed with everyone trying to get some fresh vitamin D. Emma and I departed our tour friends and strolled through the park, then strolled past some beautiful artwork, and we finally found Oscar Wilde! Or his statue that is. Good old Oscar. We roamed the streets, went into a few shops, got some cheap supermarket food for dinner and headed back to our hostel. We ate then headed out for a pub crawl! That was fun and we got to meet some cool people from Germany, the states, Argentina, Spain, Greece and probably some other countries. But we headed home early because Monday was an early one. 

Monday! Emma do I had a tour booked though Paddywagon tours. We had to be at the pick up point at 7:30 am (that was a doozy) to leave on this giant bus (think like a rockstars tour bus kind of size). It was cool because we listened to Irish music the whole time. What was really cool about this tour bus/company was (for one the awesome Irish music it played) the bus does not take a direct route to the Cliffs of Moher because that would mean staying on a boring highway the entire time. Instead we went indirectly and drove through a few different small towns and saw more genuine Ireland countryside. Honestly Ireland is so beautiful. More beautiful than England without a doubt. So we saw more of Ireland and got more bang for our buck! We stopped s couple times for picture opportunities and honestly the tour before the Cliffs would have sufficed for me because our driver also spoke through his headset on the overhead system and told us all about the history of the land and the people as we drove along. Really it was a wonderful day trip. But then we got to the Cliffs of Moher and the trip got so much better. Holy freakin lantis. Words cannot begin to describe how beautiful these Cliffs are. I could have walked all along them and stared at them the entire day. That’s not an exaggeration. If I ever go back, I already have a plan to be there when the sun rises and not leave until supper time. The Cliffs were just so so so so green, at least on the top, and the sides of the Cliffs were wet from the Atlantic. The contrast between the BLUE Atlantic Ocean and the green, brown, grassy beautiful clifffs was astounding. Pictures will never do this place justice. It’s simply impossible. The camera cannot capture the vastness of the ocean, the reality of how big the Cliffs are, or …. I was trying to think of a third thing for a whole 60 seconds but I’m really just kind of speechless about these Cliffs. Honestly. I’ll just leave it at that. So eventually we left and drove back through another small town and headed backward to Dublin to crash and burn from fatigue. I felt like a kid in the back of the car falling asleep from all the excitement from Disneyland or something. Oh! Because we took an indirect route, our giant bus got to drive on narrow and winding roads. That was fun. 

Tuesday! Tuesday was beer day. Emma and I booked a time to tour the Guinness Storehouse. It is not the actual brewery, more of a museum, but it is directly next to the Guinness St. James Gate Brewery. Okay. I left this place with such a deep appreciation and respect not just for Guinness beer but for Irishmen everywhere and all of Ireland! You don’t even have to like Guinness or beer at all to enjoy this place! For one, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year contract to lease the land the brewery is on…………..um, what was that Brooke? Did you say 9,000 years? Why yes I did Brooke! I said 9,000 years!!!! ……. holy lantis who does that? A genius named Arthur Guinness I suppose. And they’re only just over 250 years into that 9,000 year contract. I don’t even want to save the planet for the animals or the ocean but we need to save the planet so Guinness can live out their lease! Did you also know that Guinness gets its dark ruby red color from the nearly burnt barley it bakes? Well now you do. When I come home ask me how they make Guinness and I can tell you. I also learned about the various forms of transportation over the years and the vast variety of advertisements (some were just weird). I learned how to properly taste a Guinness and how to pour a Guinness from the tap correctly. I can show you all that too when I get home! We were there. Early 3 hours. It was great. The rest of the day we explored some more and did the pub crawl one last time, again meeting really cool people from all over the world. Unfortunately we had to leave the next day. 

Ireland was amazing. An absolutely beautiful country with the most friendly, warm, welcoming, and open people I have ever met. The music is grand and everyone just wants to have a good crack (which means a good time basically)! So here’s to Ireland and the wonderful memories made. I sincerely hope to go back again and explore more of the country. 

Cheers! Or as the Irish say, Slanche! 

Ps- because I’m doing this on my phone, I can’t figure out how to caption the photos soooo just enjoy the pictures 😊 

5 and 1/2 weeks = 39 days = 936 hours = 56,160 minutes = 337,000,000 seconds

Hey everybody! Nothing out of the ordinary is happening this week other than the fact that I have been busy writing essays for classes, packing, last minute travel-size shopping, and just preparing to leave for 39 days . . . as I think you may have guessed by the title.

Holy hidden City of Atlantis. I will be traveling throughout Europe for 39 days. Never again in my life do I think I will be able to say that. I haven’t even left the United Kingdom yet and I’m ready to cry for joy at the thought of traveling. I’m probably going to be sobbing when I have to leave Europe! Oh my gosh, I do not want to think about that.

No tears! Moving on! I wanted to make this post so my friends back home (whomever of them read these, thanks and I love you very much, I’m sure you’re busy with school) and my family could know what I would be embarking on! I am not going to state the exact dates or specify how I will be traveling and when as you never know who may be creeping on the internet trying to find people to kidnap or just be terrible human beings. BUT I will tell you that I will not be traveling alone in Europe. I will always be with my friend Emma, and sometimes we will be in a bigger group as well with some other international students. I met Emma the very first day I got here and we bonded right away because she’s a theatre major too! Obviously we get along great; we’re both bubbly people, we have a similar sense of humor, and we talk about theatre! I am not theatre deprived here in England thanks to Emma.

Side note: I sadly will probably only see one theatre performance in London in the few days before I leave again. I feel bad that I have not tried to see more theatre but let’s all be honest, I have been having plenty of other fun adventures.

Now back on track. I will mostly be traveling with Emma and we will be going to, *drum roll please*, Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Italy, and Greece. Holy cow. I will be visiting 7 countries in 39 days. What? I am still waiting for someone to step out with a camera and say “Gotcha!”. When is that happening? Because this cannot be my reality. This is insane! I had no idea I would be doing any of this in the beginning of my fall semester. If someone told me everything I would get to be doing one year ago, I would jump and shout and let it all out! This is insanity. I also did not expect to be visiting the countries that I will be visiting. Emma and I both agreed we did not want to travel alone but we did not want to visit all the same places. We decided to both come up with a list of the countries we did want to visit. There were a few countries we had in common so we kept those, and then there were one or two we both sacrificed. But I’m okay with this because thanks to Emma, I will be seeing countries I did not expect to see. Unexpected adventures can sometimes turn out to be the best ones. Let’s all knock on wood that Emma and I have some great and unexpected adventures together!

Also, we are in fact going to be BACKPACKING. No suitcases or extra luggage. Just a purse and a backpack. We ordered new backpacks (for a good deal, I promise they were not expensive mom and dad) for this trip. Below is a picture of my backpack and cute little travel-sized stuff. I captioned them so be sure to read the captions! And before you can say anything, of course I picked the backpack with the cool water design. I am not completely packed but this will give some of you an idea of how I will be living for five and a half weeks. I can only bring so many shirts and pants and shoes. I really am not sure how I am going to do this. I am sensing there will be a lot of trials and a lot of errors on my expedition but I honestly cannot wait! I am going to return home a well seasoned traveler!

Speaking of the term traveler, Emma and I have been doing a little bit of research and have discovered a couple articles discussing the differences between being a tourist and being a traveler; there is a huge difference between the two. A tourist hits all the hot spots the internet or travel agencies told them to hit and basically has the stereotypical experience that literally everyone else has that is visiting the same city they are. Whereas a traveler does so much more. A traveler not only walks the streets of the cities but talks to the locals, learns about the hidden treasures that only the locals know about, tries different foods that only the locals know about, ventures outside city limits to see more of the country and get away from all the money-eating, tourism venues. I read an article about this woman who ended up going to some hidden swimming hole with people she met at a market; she said it was so quiet and beautiful, away from the tourists. Not many people knew about the swimming hole to begin with, only the locals. She got to have really interesting conversations and learn a lot about the country, city and its culture. That to me sounds so much more interesting than doing the same thing as everyone else. I want my experiences to be unique and different. If we all have the same experiences, then our lives are not interesting because they would all be the same. We might as well all try to fit into the same, small, cramped wagon that only goes to point A and B and back again. Um, no thanks! I would like to visit points C, D, E, S, V, Y, and don’t forget about X! Have to visit point X. I’ve heard great things. But back to the point, do you see what I mean? A traveler has such a different experience than your average tourist. Emma and I both love the idea of being travelers and that is what we hope to accomplish on our expedition.

I’ll be honest. I am a bit nervous. But I think it was super helpful living in England and visiting different cities the past couple months because it has helped me become accustomed to traveling by buses/trains and just getting into the groove of European travel. If I had just come straight from the U.S., visited England for a couple days and then continued on with the rest of my travels, I think I would have been more stressed. I feel much more confident about traveling now, but my lovely father gave me a good, helpful reminder. He thinks I am becoming too comfortable and he’s right. I am very comfortable in England right now but I still need to practice caution because my comfort could make it very easy for someone to pickpocket me or worse. Thank you for the reminder dad!

I feel like I should mention some of my English friends because I’ve come to really love them and I always have so much fun with them so I shall! In my house is Izzy, El(eanor), Tajasvi (T), Clara, Cormac, and Jordan. At least those are the English roommates that I hang out with. There are other housemates who I haven’t met because they’re just never around. Then there is Ralph, Jonah, and Niren who all live elsewhere in the village but they hang out with us a lot too. I really am going to miss them. They have all made my England experience so much more; they taught me about their political system, what their education was like, what the social norms are, they showed me the night life, and basically helped me adjust. They also showed me this really cool song called “Dance With Me” by Adam Green. Every single night we all hang out, this song always comes on and everyone starts singing at the top of their lungs! For the longest time I didn’t even know what the singer sounded like because all I could hear was my friends’ voices!  Izzy even told me she thinks I can sing . . . clearly there is something in the water here in England because no one has EVER told me that before! Or maybe I can sing well in England? Who knows. So many fun memories with these guys. Luckily I don’t have to say goodbye just yet. I’m returning to Leicester for a week before heading to London then flying home. So I can sob and blubber when I say goodbye to them then!

Now that I’ve talked about my English friends, I definitely have to mention my roommate Meggie. Her real name is Megan but no one calls her that, she just goes by Meggie. I totally scored with her as a roommate. We get along so well, have similar music taste (she has a freaking rocking taste in music, best I’ve ever seen), slightly similar sense of humor, she has a super fun personality so obviously we have that going for us, and she’s honestly just the sweetest girl! She is also an absolute GENIUS and gave me the most perfect idea AND title for a book to write. I’ve been working on it ever since she gave me the idea. I don’t want too many people to know about it yet so the rest of you will just have to wait and see! But when that book is ready for the world, you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be a dedication to Meggie in it. Thanks Meggie!

I feel like I easily could have made a similar post to this either at the very beginning or end of my time here in regards to talking about my friends. But leaving for 39 days makes it feel like I am saying goodbye to them and I didn’t want to forget to mention them. When the time comes for me to move back to England (which I truly believe I will someday), I know for a fact I’m going to meet up with these guys again and we will celebrate my return like there is no tomorrow!

I will still be posting every week but I will not be bringing my laptop whilst backpacking so my blogs may become shorter as I will have to do them on my phone. I promise to try and include the main parts of my adventures but they may become more limited. BUT THERE WILL STILL BE BLOG POSTS! Regardless, there will be a MOTHER of a blog post when I return to the states in which I will try to recap everything I did not get to say and how I feel about the whole experience. That is a promise!

Until next week folks.


Great Scott!

Surprise! I went to Scotland as a little spontaneous trip by myself. That’s right. I traveled far and wide (mostly just north) all the way to the great capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh (just for your information, it is pronounced Ed-in-burr-uh; as someone corrected me on the pronunciation, I thought I would inform you as well). Wow. What a great city. There is SOOOOOOOOO much to do and see. I spent all day on a bus there Sunday and all day on a bus back to Leicester Wednesday. So I got two full days in Edinburgh and I know I could have done more. Buckle up folks, this is going to be a LONG post as I journaled each day to remember everything I did and saw.

I feel like I barely know where to start. The landscape was beautiful on the way there. Rolling hills (all green I might add, unlike the brown wastelands of America [just kidding, America is beautiful too]), hundreds of sheep, and quaint farms. I was lucky in that each bus I took was fairly empty so I had room to move about and sit sideways in two seats. I took a bus from Leicester to Birmingham (only about an hour) then from Birmingham to Edinburgh (with many, many stops in different cities to pick up and drop off), which was about eight and a half hours. So I do not lie when I say I spent all day on a bus. It was much the same on the way back. Riding a bus all day is utterly exhausting as you can never get comfortable and the bus does not drive smoothly so it is always a little rickety. But who cares about the bus? All that matters is I got to my destination and I returned home.

So upon arrival it was dark out. I had directions to my hostel and I went straight there. I barely saw what buildings I was walking past let alone knew where I was. I arrive at my hostel, Castle Rock Hostel (highly recommend by the way), check in and go to my room. This place is like four stories (two of which are more underground) and each floor has high ceilings. I stayed on the second floor, so underground right? Kind of. My room had a large window which led me to discover that we were located on the side of a hill. So the entrance to my hostel was on the street side whilst the back of the hostel came off the side of the hill and faced the city. The rooms were each named (mine was Whiskey) and each room houses about 12 people. There are bunk beds and lockers to keep your personal belongings in. Each bed has its own reading lamp above the pillow base and plug ins for laptops/phones/etc. The room was very spacious too, lots of walking room. Then there are community-style bathrooms and showers. Individual stalls (completely enclosed by walls and a real door) for toilets, sinks, and stalls for showers (again, completely enclosed and private). This all suited me just fine. Was perfect for a solo traveler. There were some big groups there, some older people (mid-40s) just passing through, school trips, etc. Hostels are literally for anyone! This particular hostel also had activities each night like movie night, Scottish dancing tutorials, game night, etc., but I did not attend any of these. Each morning they had breakfast for a pound-fifty which is about $2 so I had a cheap, but good breakfast every morning consisting of cereal, juice, bread and some fruit! What else could I ask for?

So my first full day in Edinburgh I had no set plans, but I knew there were things to do and I just had to find them. Remember earlier when I said walking to my hostel I didn’t know what buildings I was walking by and couldn’t really see because it was dark? Well, upon walking out the door of my hostel in daylight, directly to my right is a CASTLE. On a hill I might add. It was the Edinburgh Castle so no wonder my hostel was named the Castle Rock  Hostel because it was right across the street from a castle sitting on a giant rock. So obviously I decide to go to the castle! I’ll say this right now. I never set any strict plans for myself nor did I ever know what I would be doing next but it ended up being the perfect plan for me.

The Castle of Edinburgh is strictly used for museum purposes now and it is really cool. I got to see the original sword, scepter, and crown used for coronation ceremonies (I was not allowed to take pictures as harsh flashes can be damaging), which are nearly 1,000 years old! If that is not cool to you then we can’t be friends because that is probably the coolest thing I have ever seen! It was all real gold, real pearls, real jewels, and real silver. Absolutely amazing. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the castle because it is well worth the visit and I have photos below for you to see. I also don’t know if my fingers can take all the typing that would entail. But it was very historical, even housed prisoners of war during the first World War (I think, suddenly I’m not sure if that is right). It gave me a great view of the city, great insight to just how old the city was, which made me think of how old the country was and then the world and then I got a headache. But honestly, America is so YOUNG in comparison to the U.K.  America is not even three hundred years old whereas Ireland, Scotland, England, Europe are over a thousand years old! Is that not an insane thought? Millions upon millions of feet have walked the same ground that I was walking, on the steps and stones of that castle. The thought gives me goosebumps. Walking around the whole castle took me nearly two hours and I didn’t even stop to read or admire every single plaque or post there but it was absolutely amazing and so historical. Everyone: go to Edinburgh! I ended up having lunch at the castle, which was very delicious and felt super classy. I mean, I ate at a castle! Wow. I can’t believe the experiences I have had here so far. Okay. Can’t get mushy on you on. Moving on!

The street leading directly from the Castle of Edinburgh goes straight to the Palace of Holyroodhouse (I’ll get to that palace later on). The whole stretch is called the Royal Mile because royals would use that stretch of land/road to walk to the castle in procession so it eventually earned the name The Royal Mile. The whole street is filled with restaurants, cafes, gift shops, pubs, more shops, more pubs, more tourist-themed gift shops. It is basically tourist central but there are some really cool shops including the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition. This place was really cool because the basement consisted of the factory where they would make the scarves for the shop. This shop was gigantic! Picture is included. There were bagpipes, pure 100% wool and 100% cashmere scarves all crafted right in the basement from Scottish sheep. Super cool! Literally, scarves on scarves on scarves on scarves. All super warm and soft. There was even a section of swords and weapon made of REAL steel. Ouch! Another cool shop was The Scotch Whisky Experience that housed a restuaraunt, did tours and had a really cool shop FULL of different Scottish whiskies, scotches, scotch-whiskies, anything of that variety all from Scotland. There was one bottle priced at 3,500 pounds, which is about $4,300. Uh, excuse me? Who peed in that bottle to make it worth so much? I mean that’s insane! But I digress. I walked the Royal Mile probably about five times because it led to a lot of different things and brought me back to my hostel.

Everything else I did on Monday can be seen in the photos I’m including with captions. It is so much easier to explain everything I saw with a picture because otherwise this blog post would be a mini novel and I’m not mentally prepared for that.

On to Tuesday! I started Tuesday walking down the Royal Mile because it brought me to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which was directly across the street from Arthur’s Seat! For those of you who don’t know, Arthur’s Seat is a giant hill, or is it a mini mountain? We’ll go with mini mountain. It is a mini mountain that anyone and everyone can climb; there are paths, trails, steps that all lead to the top where once upon a time a man named Arthur sat and . . . I actually do not know the reason it is called Arthur’s Seat. There were no plaques with fun information on them and I have not looked it up yet. So I climbed this mini mountain on what felt like one of the windiest days I have ever experienced. I mean I could not have picked a worse day to climb this thing. Friends back in North Dakota, you know how windy it gets back home? This was WINDIER! Grand Forks has not seen wind like the wind I saw at the top. I was literally at a slant the entire time. Taking one step, literally just lifting my foot a little bit, almost sent me plunging to the ground. It was ridiculous! I was holding on for dear life and could barely stay at the top for more than ten minutes. BUT it was quite the view. I did manage to take some photos although I was scared of the wind knocking my phone out of my hands. Looking back, maybe I should not have climbed Arthur’s Seat, but it was the only chance I had and I was determined. I tried to take a video from a different vantage point and you cannot hear a single word I say. It sounds like white noise; that is how bad the wind was. Again, still absolutely beautiful and photos are included. I hiked around the mini mountain for a bit as there were a lot of different paths and trails. It was a really good way to start my day. Once I was done (nearly three hours later), I crossed the street and went to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. I had no idea what this place was. It turns out, the CURRENT LIVING AND BREATHING Queen of England comes to this palace and resides there each summer. Being that her husband is the Duke of Edinburgh it makes sense. But still, I had no idea! I got to walk through one of the Queen’s homes! You know who else lived at this palace? Mary Queen of Scots! Otherwise known as Bloody Mary! You know that creepy chant you do in the bathroom? You say Bloody Mary three times to see a scary figure in the mirror. That chant is for this queen! I was baffled. I also felt stupid for not knowing any of this ahead of time but I was very pleasantly surprised. The palace still functions as a place of work for the queen so not all floors of the palace were open for visitors, only the 1st floor and the grounds. I was also not allowed to take pictures inside the palace as everything visitors are permitted to see are hundreds and hundreds of years old. I saw the BED Mary Queen of Scots slept in five hundred years ago. There were huge, intricate tapestries in nearly every room and apparently there are about 60 (shoot, or is it 90?) in the entire palace. The rooms are all so well preserved and I was simply speechless. The tour came with audio so each room I got to listen to a different story or explanation of the room. Please do not ask me about each room because there were honestly so many different artifacts, paintings, tapestries, jewels, chairs, carpets, beds, and more to take in that I probably only remember about 70% of everything I saw. It was absolutely insane and so beyond cool. DEFINITELY go there should you ever find yourself in Edinburgh.

What did I do next? Basically walked around the city. I tried to go to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which was on the other side of the city, but there is a story here. So I decide to go the gardens, right? Well, it is quite a journey to get there by foot. I did not want to pay for a taxi or figure out which bus could take me there so I walked. I got lost trying to find this place and literally had to climb over a wall in the process. Don’t ask, it’s just part of the adventure. It also took me nearly an hour to walk to this place! I finally found it aaaaand it was closed. You could say I was disappointed. It took so long to find this place. Bright side I saw more and different parts of the city than other tourists get to see. So I start walking back to the castle (where my hostel is and FOOD), and it started to drizzle. I couldn’t see the gardens and I was getting rained on. Not the highlight of my trip. But I couldn’t be mad. I didn’t look up the times of the gardens to see that it was closed and I didn’t look up the weather for my entire trip. That’s what I get for not doing any planning or research. Oh well. Lesson learned. I spent the rest of the day walking around the city and just roaming. I did SO MUCH WALKING. I’m surprised I’m not a size 2 yet. Just kidding. That’s extreme. But I really did do a lot of walking. My feet killed and it felt so good to fall asleep every night.

I did more than what I have put into my post but I have captioned nearly every picture so you will see nearly everything I saw and know what each picture is. I seriously wish I could have seen more of Scotland, especially the Highlands or the lake where the Loch Ness Monster lives, but I had a wonderful time in Edinburgh. I would definitely go back if someone asked me to. Enjoy the photos and leave whatever comments you would like.


OH! ALSO! I have completely forgotten to include this on my past few blogs, but I have an update for you all. I have decided to try out the vegetarian life! I started February 26th and have kept it up since! Not a single bite of beef, chicken, fish, ham, anything with a face! This will be a struggle to keep up whilst traveling throughout England but I am determined to stick to this new diet! Wish me luck folks. ❤

Cheers! Again!


The Two B’s: Bristol and Bath

I like to think I am super clever with my blog titles. But anyways, I went to the cities of Bristol and Bath last weekend and had a pretty good time!

First, I must say that I was VERY pleased with the scenery going into Bath. Bath is located in a sort of a lower point of a valley so driving into the city, our bus was on a higher road and out the window I could see rolling hills of sheep, grass and those amazingly stereotypical short stonewalls used to divide property. Finally seeing that side of the countryside was so satisfactory because that is the image I have had of England in my head for so long and I finally got to see it! I’ll be honest. I love visiting the different cities of England, but I could easily be just as satisfied if not more so walking over hills and petting sheep and simply breathing in the air of England. I love landscapes and scenery more than cities I would say and England showed me just how pretty its landscapes were! So the ten minutes before we arrived in Bath were pretty amazing for me. I was just leaning my head against the window and smiling, enjoying the view.

Glad I could share that moment with you. Moving on! Okay so in Bath, there are the infamous Roman baths which are natural hot springs that the Romans built around so they could be utilized as, you guessed it, bathes! However, you have to pay to view them and the day I went, the lines were long, I didn’t have a lot of time, I really wanted some food and didn’t feel like spending the money. So I sadly did not see the Roman bathes but I’m not all that disappointed. My friends who did see it said it was cool to see in person but it was the same as opening up a history book or going online and seeing a picture or video of them. Then I didn’t feel so bad. Bath was different because it did not have the same red brick I have seen everywhere else in England. Instead the buildings were made of limestone, so they were much lighter in color and more flat because they lacked the texture of hundreds of bricks. Visually it was appealing because I have been seeing the same red brick so limestone was a nice change of pace. I mostly stuck with my one friend, Megan, and we basically just walked around the city, saw the outside of the Abbey, sat and enjoyed the sunny (yes, it was sunny in England; a freaking miracle) in a park next to the river with a name I can’t remember but you all have access to maps so if you really want to know look it up. Anywho, it was bizarre walking the streets of Bath, through the city centre (again, that has the same meaning as downtown or shopping centre) with all the modern stores and tea shops because above the stores were the limestone walls. I stopped to look up at the buildings and ignored everything else, and it felt like I was almost transported in time. I imagined Romans walking the streets in togas and sandals, discussing politics or gossiping about their neighbors, and then I look back down and see the modern world and it is just such a bizarre feeling to be standing in such an old city that has seen millions of other people over the course of centuries. It was bizarre. I wish we had more time in Bath but we eventually had to leave to drive to Bristol, which was not far at all. They are nearly neighboring towns. (Pictures from Bath directly below, if you click on them, they each have a short caption).

It was really weird to go from the historic, Roman city of Bath to the more industrialized, bohemian port city of Bristol. Bristol has two parts: the super rich, classier part with $3-4 million apartments (maybe someday I’ll be there) and then there is the graffiti-filled, urban part of Bristol. In the classier side is the first ever suspension bridge. That sounds cool. But let’s all admit what we’re thinking. It’s a bridge and it was not life changing. So then we took a walking tour of Bristol (which took so much longer than I thought and we barely had any free time to get dinner before we left; I promise I’m not bitter) and saw some street art and other cool stuff, which I will get to. Once upon a time there was this street art graffiti festival/competition so there was actually really cool, giant paintings on buildings which you can see in the photos provided. Then we walked down Leonard Lane which was an alley way basically but the walls were all covered in graffiti and paintings. I guess it’s against the law to do graffiti so this one artist decided to paint on pieces of gum. Stop and think for a minute. There are literally drawings by an artist on pieces of gum on the ground. That is both kind of dumb but really freaking awesome and pretty damn hilarious. What a genius. There was also a painting done by the famous artist Banksy on the side of a building (picture included) of a man hanging onto a ledge because the husband just came home. There was a whole story about it but seriously folks, you cannot expect me to remember everything. I am not a sponge, I am a human being who is also still in school and has a lot of other things to remember so sorry if I disappoint you (that was not meant to sound rude but slightly sarcastic and cute. We came across an old pub that Blackbeard frequented. That is pretty freaking cool.

Okay so moving on there was streets and stores and buildings and artwork throughout Bristol but there was one thing that stuck out to me the most. It was the end of the tour and we came to port area next to a statue. The statue was of an Italian man, he was a carpenter (I think) in a lot of debt and guess what he did? I shall tell you. He sailed to the new Western world, came back and TOLD CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS TO SAIL TO THE NEW WORLD! It was not even Columbus’ idea, he got it from a broke Italian carpenter! Our tour guide said basically only Bristol knows of this dude and the rest of the world gives all credit to Columbus. There is a missing piece of information in our history books folks and I thought that was so freaking cool! That stuck out to me the most. Bristol is probably a really cool city to a lot of people but for me it was too urban, industrialized, and contemporary for my tastes. I’m a traditional, old-fashioned, romantic kind of gal. (Below are more captioned photos from Bristol).

That is essentially my trip to Bristol and Bath! If you visit England and do NOT see these cities, you will NOT die, but if you get the chance, check them out. But again, you will not die without having seen these cities. I did not take a picture of every single thing I saw because I don’t want to get hit by cars and it’s annoying constantly stopping to take a picture when my eyes can see everything just fine. If you want more pictures, see these places for yourself. I like to be in the city and see it, not let a phone control my actions. Again, this probably sounds rude and I apologize but I am simply sharing my experience the way I experienced it. So I hope you at least enjoyed my story and my blunt honesty. Enjoy the pictures!