Monday, 28 December 2020

València | Spain

       So after my trip to Gran Canaria last month, I followed it up with a week spent visiting some other friends in Valencia. I had a full 7 days there (not counting travel days), so I got around a lot of places in that time - even though we slept in and almost never went out before midday! This week will be split into 2 posts, the first focussing on the city of Valencia itself, and the second on the Valencian Community, the region of Spain, with some trips to the surrounding area. One of the things I liked a lot about visiting Valencia, is that it isn't as popular with tourists as many other places in Spain, so even though it's a fairly large city, it still feels quiet and calm compared to other places (of course, bearing in mind that I was there in late October, not exactly peak tourism season, and Covid is affecting travel a lot still - see this post for my note about travelling during a pandemic).

Boat shaped fountain sculpture on the beach promenade in Valencia, Spain

Saturday, 14 November 2020

Gran Canaria | Spain

      First things first, if you haven't seen the first part of my time in Gran Canaria, specifically a couple of days spent in Las Palmas, and the explanation behind my trip, then you can check it out here. I was on the island for five days, so the last three were spent exploring the island beyond Las Palmas, by renting a car for the weekend, which was surprisingly cheap! So on the morning of my third day, I took it easy while my friend was at work, then we caught a bus to the airport as soon as she was done, to pick up the car from there.

Ocean view from Agaete, Gran Canaria, Spain

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Las Palmas, Gran Canaria | Spain

     Ok, yes, I know it's been a month since my last post, that return to blogging I talked about in August didn't exactly go to plan. But I'm trying to not be so hard on myself for not being productive, when it's been such a weird year. Anyways, I actually have some decent content that I'm feeling inspired to write about again, because I TRAVELLED!

Cathedral & Plaza de Santa Ana, Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Spain

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Musings on Autumn

Close up of orange autumn leaves on a tree - taken in Edinburgh, Scotland

The nights creep in a little faster,

the wind is blowing a little harder,

and a chill starts to sweep through the air.

The leaves are donning their finest colours,

splashes of amber and crimson dancing overhead,

their final hurrah before their end comes.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Ben A'an & Loch Katrine | Hiking Scotland

      A few weeks ago, my best friend woke me up at 7am on the dot, with a very loud, bright "Guten Morgen" (she's not German, I don't know why she was speaking it). If anyone else did this to me, they'd get a slap round the face. Fortunately, she escaped unharmed, as she came offering coffee to me and proceeded to talk in a variety of accents so I couldn't stop laughing. And of course, we had agreed to get up early for our plans for the day.

    What we hadn't previously agreed, was to stay up drinking whisky with my flatmates until 3am, so I was highly sleep-deprived and somewhat hungover. But, we soldiered on. I filled myself up with more coffee, she made the sandwiches, and we tumbled into the car to get out of Edinburgh for the day. Our destination; Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

Loch Katrine from the top of Ben A'an, Trossachs National Park, Scotland

Thursday, 20 August 2020

Exploring the Scottish Borders | Hiking Scotland

      If you follow me over on Instagram, you might have noticed that last month all of my photos came from outside Edinburgh, as I was visiting my parents in the Scottish Borders for a few weeks. While staying there, I got to visit a lot of places in the area that I had never been to before, despite having grown up there. My parents moved last year, and we're a bit more central in the Borders now, which means we're closer to more places. There was a lot of walking and hiking, as well as some more relaxed outings, with some combination of family members each time, depending on who was free and keen. I wasn't blogging at the time, so there isn't going to be one post for each place, but rather this is my summary of them all, for anyone looking for things to do in the Scottish Borders (plus one bonus location in the north of England)!

Thursday, 13 August 2020

What I've Read During Lockdown

      What haven't I read really? Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but with all this free time stuck at home, I've read far more this year than I have for a long time. I used to read non-stop as a child, but while studying for English Lit degree, I stopped reading for pleasure because I had to do so much of it for my coursework, and I've never quite picked the habit back up in the same way again, what with adult life getting in the way a lot. But I've been off work for five months now, and even though lockdown has eased considerably, I've still got way more free time than usual, so I've made decent headway with my reading list!

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Quarantine Diaries | Part 2 | Feeling Drained

Hello again. Been a while, hasn't it?

     Normally when I take an extended break from blogging, it's because life has gotten busy. This couldn't be further from the truth right now. I'm now up to 20 weeks of being furloughed from work, with at least another month to go, possibly more.

Waverley Bridge and Edinburgh Old Town - empty streets during the Covid-19 lockdown

Friday, 29 May 2020

Musings after Lockdown

Sunrise through a window with tree silhouette

And the world awakens.

Cautious glances,
hesitant footsteps,
tentatively venturing beyond the front garden.
Shy waves at long unseen faces,
scarcely believing the option to do so is even real.
Reemerging from shuttered windows,
eyes blinking in the bright sunlight,
seeing the world anew.

One by one.
Slow, cautious, careful.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Braid Burn | Morningside to Holyrood | Hiking Edinburgh

     First of all, "hiking" is an exaggeration here, as this whole route is on level ground, so it's really just a long walk. But for the sake of organisational purposes on the blog here, it's easiest to include this in the "Hiking Edinburgh" series. Anyways. Since most of the world is in lockdown of some sort these days, none of us can travel particularly far from home right now. Luckily, here in the UK we've been allowed out for daily exercise, while respecting social distancing in the process. Which has led to me attempting to find new walking routes in Edinburgh itself, since I have no means of getting out the city for other options. Edinburgh is a city with loads of green spaces to choose from, one of the many reasons I like living here so much, but I have been trying to find areas I haven't been to before, or just don't go to very often.

Braid Burn, Inch Park, Edinburgh

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

How I Cope with Stress

     Not well, is the short answer to that title. But I'm going to try anyways! I've never coped with stress all that well, as I get tense and wound up fairly easily, and have a strong tendency to overthink things, so my brain takes me to all the worst case scenarios it can come up with. However, as I continue to attempt to navigate adult life, I've realised that stress is probably always going to be present, so I needed to find ways of handling it better, and not just having some sort of meltdown every few months, after being constantly on edge.

Calm ocean view at sunrise

Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Quarantine Diaries

     I've been meaning to write this post for ages, and I've been putting it off the entire time - you might have noticed there's been an absence of posts since I finished my Mexico & Cuba series. That's partly because I've been delaying this one, and partly a lack of inspiration in general. I was putting this one off because I wanted to address the current global situation, but also didn't really know what I wanted to say in regards to it. And I still don't to an extent, so this is going to be one of those free-flow stream-of-thoughts type posts, and we'll see where we all end up with it.

Coffee cup, headphones & leather bound notebook

Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Havana, Part 2 | Cuba

     So first of all, check out part 1 of my Havana trip for my first impressions of the city if you haven't yet. We spent four days there in total, at the end of our 3 week Mexico and Cuba adventure, so this post will cover days 3 and 4 of La Habana, to use its proper name. The first couple of days included a walking tour around all the major squares and sights of Old Havana, and then a relaxed day of mostly eating and drinking our way around again, making the most of the many roof terraces and outdoor seating areas under the Caribbean sun! Day three promised to be another scorcher, while day four was reserved for indoor activities in the gloomier weather.

Friday, 24 April 2020

Havana, Part 1 | Cuba

     The final destination of our 3 week Mexico and Cuba trip was Havana - or La Habana, as it's properly called - the Cuban capital. We spent 4 days there, so I'm splitting this post into two parts, rather than one gigantic one, each part featuring two of our days there. Havana was an interesting one for us, as our normal approach to seeing new cities is to check out all the significant historic sights - but Havana actually has relatively few of these. Instead, it's more about just exploring, taking it slow, and soaking in the atmosphere, which it took us a day or so to get the hang of!

Sunday, 19 April 2020

Trinidad | Cuba

     So we might have finished our time in Mexico, but that wasn't the end of our trip last month! After two weeks, finishing up in Playa del Carmen, we caught a short flight from Cancun over to Cuba, to spend another week there. Of course, one week isn't long enough to see everything the island has to offer, so we had to be selective about how to use our time there. Our flights were in and out of Havana, so as well as a few nights there, we decided we had enough time to see one other town - we could have maybe squeezed in two, but this was supposed to be the relaxing, rejuvenating portion of our holiday! - and after some research and recommendations from friends, we settled on two nights in Trinidad to start with.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

Chichen Itza & Playa del Carmen | Mexico

     Playa del Carmen is an interesting one to write about. I nearly wasn't going to bother at all, since I wrote about it last time I was there, and there's honestly not that much to see and do. It's a beach town, all full of hotels and restaurants, shops and bars. However, it's a popular base for exploring more of the Maya Riviera, especially Chichen Itza, one of Mexico's most famous pyramids and one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. Initially I thought about including that in my Merida post, and finishing Mexico with that, but I realised it was just going to be so long. Plus, although Playa del Carmen was by no means my favourite place on the trip, it was interesting to compare it to how it was on my last trip, which was almost 5 years ago now.

El Castillo pyramid, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Merida | Mexico

     Arriving in Merida late the night before after the long drive from Palenque, and only venturing out the hotel for food, didn't exactly let us see much of the town right away! But that theme did sort of continue throughout our time there. Merida wasn't a town that we immediately liked, like Oaxaca or Mexico City, but that doesn't mean we didn't enjoy it in the end. It was at a disadvantage, being quite late in the trip, as we had reached a point of near-exhaustion during our time here. However, it's a town that grows on you: on the surface, it seemed like just another colonial town, with perhaps less to see than other we'd been to, but a good gateway for the rest of Yucatan state. But once you start exploring, there's actually a lot of fun, quirky, hidden places - you just have to look for them!

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Palenque | Mexico

     To put it bluntly, Palenque is a pain in the arse to get to. It's a long drive from whichever other location you're coming from, and there's really not all that much to see there. This post cover two days out of our trip, and at least half of each day was given over to driving to and from Palenque. So why bother going at all? Simply put, the pyramids. They're located a short drive out of the town itself, tucked away in the tropical jungles, and are magnificent examples of an ancient Maya city state. We only stayed one night in Palenque town, as there's nothing else there to see, but we did make some stops on the way there, to break up such long driving days.

Thursday, 2 April 2020

San Cristobal de las Casas | Mexico

     When most people think of Mexico, they probably think of either dusty, rocky desert landscapes peppered with cacti, or tropical ocean coastlines. What you probably don't think of is having to wear extra layers of clothing, under the drizzle and misty clouds floating atop mountain ranges! But that's exactly what San Cristobal de las Casas, a small town hidden away in the heights of the Chiapas Highlands. There were still plenty of cobblestoned streets and colourful buildings to be found, bustling with locals and backpackers alike, and there's a large indigenous population, as well as an Argentinian influence, as its fairly similar to their climate. It's definitely a smaller town than any other we'd been to so far, so it's a popular base for exploring more of Chiapas state.

Sumidero Canyon, Chiapas State, Mexico

Monday, 30 March 2020

Oaxaca | Mexico

     I feel like I need to preface this post by stating that Oaxaca was definitely Cintia's favourite place on the whole trip, as she proceeded to tell me every single day after it! I liked it a lot as well, but perhaps just not quite so passionately as her. Oaxaca is actually a whole state, but we were just visiting Oaxaca City, and some of the surrounding areas. Like Mexico City and Puebla before it, the town centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site (alongside the Monte Alban ruins nearby), and is famous as the birthplace of Benito Juárez, an indigenous Zapotec (one of the 16 Pre-Hispanic groups from this state) who became one of Mexico's most significant presidents. It's also a popular location for people coming to learn Spanish, and I did get a bit of a backpacker/hipster vibe from the town centre, and it's a very artistic town, with lots of local crafts, galleries, and artists hailing from the town. From Puebla, it was a half day bus journey, through dramatic mountain scenery, to where Oaxaca lies in a valley amidst it all.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Puebla | Mexico

     The next couple nights of our trip were to be spent in the town of Puebla (well, it's technically a city since it has a cathedral and is way bigger than you think, but it's small after Mexico City!). It's only a couple of hours from Mexico City, so it's quite a popular day trip from there, but we were actually staying over for two night, which gave us a day and a half to explore the area. Puebla was one of the first towns to be built by the Spanish, when they arrived in the 16th century. It's full of picturesque colonial architecture, and is also a fairly conservative, religious city, so there's plenty of churches!

Sunday, 22 March 2020

Mexico City | Mexico

     So it's been a bit quiet over here on the blog lately. In part, this was due to my work commitments, which I explained here a while back. But then I also went on holiday for three weeks, and took a blogging break during that time. Now I'm back home in Scotland, and shit has hit the fan somewhat with the coronavirus outbreak. My tour guide work is completely gone, but I'm at least still getting some pay for managing the company from home - however, you may notice the new little coffee symbol to the right, which is a means for you to support my little blog if you enjoy it, to top up my income right now. I've never asked for this before, but it's a very uncertain, slightly alarming situation for me and the rest of the company right now, so I'm just trying to do what I can to keep going, and take things a day at a time.

     But, the whole reason I'm writing all this now is to preface the fact that I have a ton of extra free time now and therefore not excuse to write up all the blog posts about my trip, which involved 2 weeks in Mexico, followed by a week in Cuba. So, let's stop talking about the virus and instead let me imagine I'm back on holiday right now - starting with Mexico City! I was travelling with a good friend (Cintia, her name will keep coming up in these posts no doubt), and we were doing an Intrepid tour in Mexico, then Cuba by ourselves. It took us an entire day to get there, on an 11 hour flight from London. We actually flew on the 14th of February, so with the timezone change, we had the longest Valentine's Day ever, much to our disgust! We arrived late at night, so it was straight to bed once we got to the hotel.

Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City, Mexico

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Jonas Brothers | Happiness Begins Tour

     The Jonas Brothers are back, so of course we had to go see them! Well, I say 'of course', had you asked me that a few years ago I may not have been so bothered. But I'm very glad we went in the end, as it was a really great show, and a great mix of nostalgia from ten years ago, plus their new stuff released last year.

Jonas Brothers - Happiness Begins Tour - The SSE Hydro, Glasgow, UK

Monday, 3 February 2020

Twin Atlantic | POWER Album Release Show

     Last night I saw Twin Atlantic perform in what I think is the smallest venue I've seen them in before, The Caves, here in Edinburgh! It was a small album release show, for their new album 'POWER', so they did a run of small venues, playing a short set with no support act. They've got a main tour coming in March, but I'm on holiday then, so I was very happy when they announced these shows, and quickly snapped up my ticket!

Twin Atlantic - POWER album release show - The Caves, Edinburgh

Monday, 27 January 2020

Catching Up | 2019 Review | 2020 Look Forward

     So I've been planning to write this post, or versions of it, for ages now, but I just haven't had the time or energy or motivation. The reason for which, will be explained as we go in this. In previous years, I've done separate reviews of the last year, and look forwards to the new one, but seeing as I'm about a month late, I'm just combining them into one big update. So this might be quite a long one!

2019-2020 text on Edinburgh Castle & Hogmanay fireworks background

Monday, 13 January 2020

Rome City Break | Part 2

     Ok so this post is arriving much later than expected, and some of the Christmas and New Year posts I've writing in previous years are not going to materialise this time. Life got very busy in the last month or two, and blogging fell aside - hopefully I'll write more about that soon, as I still want to write my 2019 review post, and an update/look forward for 2020. For now, there's still the second half of my Rome trip last month to cover! We were there for four days, so part 1 featured the first two days, exploring the historic city centre and the Coliseum. There's still another day and a half (before our evening flight home) to cover!

St Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

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