Crinkled Maps, High Hopes and Rain Clouds- Loch Lomond, Scotland

The day started earlier than I expected, at 5am. Jetlag sucks, but at least it helped me get an early start to the day, which included a brisk walk down into the center of Morningside (the district in Edinburgh my hotel was located in) to pick up some breakfast and grab pastries to bring along the planned roadtrip up to Loch Lomond. The day was already a bit rainy but I had hopes that maybe it would clear up as it went on. I also had hopes that I wouldn’t completely collapse on the side of some Scottish mountain while trying to keep up with someone who was much more accustomed to being out and about in the woods than me. Only one of these two would be fully realized (lets take a guess which one).

Fun side story: the week before I left for this trip, actually just 4 days beforehand, I endured a grueling hour long 3-person panel interview for a new position at work that I still wasn’t even sure if I actually wanted. The reason this is relevant is because I couldn’t help from worrying about hearing back about it, as I can be a tight-knit ball of stress sometimes that doesn’t know how to relax even when on vacation. I do honestly still feel bad that Rob had to deal with that while just trying to enjoy this mid morning hike up around Loch Lomond that we eventually decided on, but then again he’s been my friend for a good bit now and knows my personality can be a fun grab bag of both good and bad. 

The thing about this hike was, I didn’t realize till about a 3rd of the way- at the point where I needed to take a break every 15 minuets- that we would only be going straight up and the landscape wouldn’t level out till we started making out way back down. It was at this point that I decided to just gracefully bow out of further physical exertion and head back down to the lakeside to rest and de-stress. Though it would have perhaps have been more interesting for me (and this blogs readers) if Rob had followed me down and we had tried a different trail or continued exploring the area together, I urged him to finish the hike as he had been really excited to do it and I didn’t feel it was fair for him to miss out on the experience just because i’m a dumpster fire mess sometimes.

So after we parted ways, I took my time on the winding trail heading back down to the lake, photographing the beautiful landscape as it was laid out before me, the air so crisp and clean and scented with something I still can’t quite put my finger on. Green, wild and unknown. Eventually making it back down to the lake I spent the next two hours writing in my travel journal, talking to my boyfriend back home who helped me stop worrying about everything (the lost credit card, the potential job I was waiting to hear back from, the idea of meeting up with a bunch more people I had never met in real life and wondering if we would all get along, the stress of traveling through all new countries mostly by myself, ect) and by the time Rob made it back from the hike my head was clearer than it had been in weeks.

We headed back to Edinburgh to drop off the rental car, enjoying a leisurely drive that was full of more genuine conversation and laughter than had been there before and we wrapped up the day at The Worlds End pub complete with fish and chips, haggis and of course, surprisingly good warm beer.

The next day was another early start as I headed off to Amsterdam and though it wasn’t as quick or as easy as I had hoped (I missed my connecting flight and kept mistakenly buying sparkling drinks even though I hate sparkling drinks), eventually I made it to the city I had dreamed of visiting since I was 16 and all the struggles to get there were more than worth it.

~m

Coming up, Amsterdam (Walking tour around Amsterdam and the canals, the Rijksmuseum, Albert Cuyp market) and then Germany (Bavaria and King Ludwig II’s castles) and Austria (Salzburg).

Under The Ribbed Archways- The National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

After leaving the Scottish National Gallery and getting slightly lost on our way to and back from a market that Rob was keen on visiting (it ended up being much more crowded than the museum we had left and the walk there and back made my very jetlagged body want to call it a day) we made our way back to the area we had begun the day at, to visit the National Museum of Scotland, which, to quote their own website features a stunningly diverse collection that will  “take you on a journey of discovery through the history of Scotland and around the world, taking in the wonders of nature, art, design and fashion and science and technology – all under one roof.”  We again went our separate ways once inside the museum and after a I took a quick sit down to check in with friends and get my slightly tired spirits back up, I happily went off to explore and make my nerdy dreams come true.

The area I spent the most time in was the Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites exhibit, and I can honestly say it was time really well spent. No area of the museum I went to was overly crowded but this part even more so was wonderfully quiet and it was a rare pleasure to get to take as much time as I liked to linger over the exhibits, reading the descriptive placards and just really taking it all in. Every item on display I got the chance to see seemed like it was so lovingly and perfectly curated and you could get the sense of trying to accurately and fairly represent the story of this period in time as honestly as possible.

Eventually I finally finished poring over bank notes and letters (seriously guys, I wish I was cooler than this but i’m a genuine history nerd and I make no apologies for it ), headed on to the rest of museum and then of course, to the gift shop to pick up postcards and other goodies for friends back home before meeting back up with Rob on the first level. We stayed until near closing time (17:00) and then headed back out onto the bustling streets to scout out dinner and then after that it was time for me to head back to the hotel because even though there was a huge part of me that wanted to explore the winding streets of Edinburgh, my body was ready to collapse in bed and melt into the sheets to rest in preparation of the next days adventure.

And what was the next days adventure? Well a very beautiful though slightly ill advised hike around Loch Lomond, of course.

~m

Among Cold Marble Stares and Brightly Coloured Walls- Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh

The day started with a cluttered bed in a beautiful hotel room on the quiet and calm outskirts of Edinburgh… and the realization I had lost one of my credit cards somewhere on the flight from Paris. One of my only two cards, as I had left the others at home because yes, you guessed it, I didn’t want to risk losing them. Sometimes my life is a quiet riot of irony. So after turning my luggage inside out and rummaging through every crevice possible, I called my bf (who turned out to be the real MVP of this trip) and we came up with a plan to overnight my other cards to Amsterdam. After that I booked a taxi to actually go and begin my day, by meeting up with my penpal-turned-good-friend Rob who had taken a train up from Manchester to meet up with me in Edinburgh.

After an impromptu stop to exchange some euros for pounds we found ourselves outside the The Scottish National Gallery . If you’ve followed this blog at all over the last few trips i’ve taken, you’ll know that if there’s a museum around even just a teensy bit interesting, i’m there.

We checked out the Northern Renaissance and Gothic Renaissance exhibition first, though separately because Rob said he liked to go at his own pace. Considering I was photographing every other piece on exhibit it was probably for the best, though I did rather miss the chance of having someone to enjoy the descriptive placards with- I think this exhibition was my favorite both for the aesthetics and the inadvertently humorous stories being told through the scenes on display. Once done there, we headed back down to the first level to pursue the rest of the artwork on display.

As you can see from these photos, the crowds were minimal even though it was a late Saturday morning. The atmosphere was serene and there were whole rooms where it was just me peering up at the gigantic paintings, the stoic statues beside them looking down like silent guardians. These two paintings above are part of the “Constable & McTaggart: A Meeting of Two Masterpieces ” exhibit and are even more beautiful and awe inspiring in person.

The Rococo to Revolution section was a real treat for me to wander, featuring some personal favorites like The Campbell Sisters dancing a Waltz (1st photo, statue on the right) by Lorenzo Bartolini and The Ladies Waldegrave by Sir Joshua Reynolds (3rd photo, lower left) . The last photo is from the Seventeenth – Nineteenth Century Scottish Art exhibit.

Even knowing I would be heading to Amsterdam next, I still spent a goodly amount of time in the Dutch and Flemish Art section. Two other personal favorites here, Flower Still Life with Bird’s Nest  by Jan van Huysum (2nd photo)  and  A Singing Practice by Gerard ter Borch(last photo) . 

We met back up near the front after which I made a dash into the giftshop (ok to be perfectly honest I stopped in at two giftshops here because I have no impulse control) and then we headed back outside to seek the next adventure, which turned out to be a walk towards a market he was interested in visiting, lunch and caffeine for me and then a walk right back to where we had started to go visit the National Museum of Scotland.

~m

Here we go…- EuroTrip2017

It’s been a while huh?

I guess I should probably start this blog post with an apology for anyone that I follow who follows me as well, you’ve probably experienced straight silence from me on all fronts for over a month now with nary a reason why. That being said, you can be sure i’m about to make up for both- be prepared for a multitude of likes/ comments on your posts if I follow you and also be on the look out for my own posts.

And what will I be posting about? Well, lets take a look shall we….

To give a (very) brief overview of the ambitious two week trip I took, let me give the destination breakdown: Dallas–> Edinburgh (by way of 3 flights via CDG, gods save me) –> Amsterdam (via Dublin)–>  Bavaria –> Salzburg (day trip) –>  Bavaria –>  Paris –> Dallas.

The trip included visits to Loch Lomond in Scotland, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, almost every castle built by Ludwig II in Germany, what feels like all the cathedrals in Salzburg, the gorgeous gardens of the Palace of Versailles and a nighttime stroll through some of the most enchanting parts of Paris. I met up with a friend in every country I visited and i’m gonna take this moment to both thank and apologize to each one profusely for putting up with my over-caffinated adventurous personality- Rob in Scotland, Dennis (and Elsa, if you’re reading this, you as well!) in Amsterdam, Julia in Germany and Rachid in France.

When I say that this was the most amazing trip i’ve ever taken while simultaneously being the most challenging, I hope you know thats a severe understatement. I have so many stories and photographs to share that i’m honestly not sure how long it’ll take me to get through it all but well, lets get started.

~m

p.s Yes these were all iPhone photos, i’ve yet to get the time to edit a single shot I took with my actual camera. Soon though!

Joshua Tree Sketches, Postcards and Travel Plans- Frisco, TX



First up- Travel Plans!

I’ve been a bit hush-hush about this since the end of March when I bought my plane ticket, partly because I had no idea where I was going and partly because I didn’t want to utterly jinx anything. But with less than a month left before wheels up and an actual workable itinerary on hand, I think it’s probably time to share the plans.

So back at the end of the last roadtrip taken to have adventures in Colorado , while we were waiting for the snow to stop falling enough to be able to actually leave CO and head home, a price alert came up on flights to Paris. And I remember sitting there on the couch in the living room of the cozy cabin we were staying at and deciding after two minuets of solid thinking, yes, i’m buying it. Did I particularly want to go to Paris? Not really, but I have a good friend there and Paris is an excellent gateway to the rest of Europe so that settled it for me and the ticket was snapped up.

Fast forward a good few months later and it’s July and I still didn’t have a single clue where I was actually going to go, never mind the fact that I had yet to apply for my Passport (I did have an expired one …but it was from when I was a minor and not valid for renewal, though it was valid to use a second ID somehow). And so last month consisted of me getting that ever so important task taken care of- shout out to that lovely lady at the passport office who waived the fee for my photo and who I believe is responsible for the near miraculous turn around time (considering I didn’t pay for expedited service)- and also figuring out my itinerary.

Two weeks was the allotted time I had to work with, and while I know plenty of people would choose to pick just one country and spend the whole time there, i’m that kind of person that loves to just exhaust myself trying to see as much as possible. With that being said, I did hold myself back from going too country-hopping happy.

The itinerary, as it is now (and trust me I wish I could say i’m 100% sure it’s not going to change anymore) is as follows:  leaving Dallas —> literally almost a full day of traveling –> Edinburgh, Scotland–> Amsterdam, The Netherlands–> Salzburg, Austria–> Bavaria, Germany —> Paris, France –> home to Dallas

More as to my actual plans in these places next month when I actually sit down and think through that part more, but at least for now, i’m glad to actually see the full scale of my travel ambitions written out and so close to coming true. This will by first time in Europe and to say i’ve dreamed of doing this for almost 10 years is only just a slight exaggeration.

Apart from setting down those plans, I finished up the Joshua Tree sketches I had mentioned wanting to do and also sent a bunch of postcards to a new penpal in Poland, as well as a couple to one in Germany that i’d really love to fill with enough wanderlust as to make her visit the USA for a roadtrip one day. It’s been a good end to the month and hopefully September brings more creativity, less storms and maybe some more interesting people to send postcards/snailmail to.

~m

p.s If you’ve been to any of the cities/places I mentioned above, feel free to leave me suggestions of places I should see in the comments, i’m very much still at odds as to what exactly i’m going to try and see or visit so it’ll be appreciated :)