OutTakes- EuroTrip Edition (Includes video clips, for once!)

This post was meant to be done about a month ago- or at the very least not right after i’ve come back from my latest travel adventure (I went to Italy but obviously thats for another set of posts) but life has a funny way of kicking plans straight to the curb and here we are: back home, still unpacking and finishing up the last set of posts. And truth time- while I was more than happy to just quietly move on to writing about this last trip and forget about my customary Outtakes post, a couple of friends and readers have been insistent about it so, here we go. (Porcsha, this ones for you.)

For those that have followed this blog for a while, I’m sure you’re used to my “Outtakes” post by now but for any new readers, here’s we go-

I’m a horribly procrastination prone writer/blogger and I like to travel. Those two things tend to intersect badly when I’m trying to post about recent travels while also trying to plan upcoming trips and it’s the reason why sometimes I forget to talk about the hotels I stayed at or the tours I took. And so, we get outtakes posts with photographs I forgot to include in other posts as well as the side stories and misadventures I got up to that didn’t fit that well in the general posts I was writing. Like I say to friends when I arrive at their homes or crash land into their lives – hope you enjoy the meds!

Dallas —> Edinburgh 

I did actually manage to cover this part of the trip pretty extensively and accurately- sharing how I lost one of my credit cards on the flight from Paris that first day (because of course I did). On the plus side I must have looked so stressed and tired on this part of the trip that the counter agent for that flight waved the weight overage fee on my checked bag, so I guess you win some and lose some (sometimes literally). 

The hotel I stayed at was the Best Western Braid Hills and I had a couple of reasons to pick it. First, the reviews on it were some of the best in the area and that’s pretty important to me when I’m traveling somewhere I’ve never been before by myself. My friend Rob who I met up with there berated me a bit (gently) as it’s located outside the city center but in general I tend to pick the quieter places where I can come back and unwind. Also I ended up choosing Edinburgh as my first stop almost in a whim, because at first I had been planning of visiting London instead and so by the time I started trying to book a room, pickings were getting slim. I definetly don’t regret staying at this hotel though, and though I plan to come back to Edinburgh in the future with my bf and probably stay in the city center, I’d still recommend this hotel for anyone looking for some relaxation with their stay and great views.

Like I said, this part of the trip was pretty faithfully covered in my original posts but here’s a video clip from the day trip my friend Rob and I took up to Loch Lomond (this would be after we mutually agreed it would be best for him to continue the hike on his own as I was probably gonna die if I tried to complete it with him and I headed back down to the lake )

(This goes without saying but I’m not sponsored by any of the hotels, restaurants, tour companies or anything else I mention in this post- it would be hella sweet if I was but that’s just not the case currently)

Post From this Part of the Trip :  My visit to the Scottish National Gallery
My visit to The National Museum of Scotland
My visit to Loch Lomond and the Last Night in Edinburgh

Edinburg –> Amsterdam 

How to start writing about this part of the trip…. Don’t choose connecting flights that have less than 3 hours of a layover in Dublin because going through customs there is like getting popped in the face by a giant time stealer? That’s probably good advice. Anyways, long story short, I missed my connecting flight to Amsterdam, ended up having to go through some odd airport backrooms to get back to the right side and get my luggage and then had to buy another ticket. Thankfully it wasn’t pricy and finally I made it to my hotel and though I had meant to maybe walk around that evening and explore a little the reality is I shot off an email to a friend I hadn’t talked to in almost a year who lives in the city, ordered delivery and then promptly crashed.

I stayed at the Quentin England Hotel, mainly because of the location which is right by all the museums I wanted to see and just a couple of blocks away from the Vondelpark which just seemed like a good idea.  Amsterdam is a pretty walkable city (at least as long as you don’t fear getting run over by the overwhelming multitude of bike riders) and I don’t know that there’s a “bad” place to stay, so at least to me it’s relative to what you’d like to visit and i’d definetly stay in the area again- though perhaps not at this hotel because my room ended up actually being in the -1 floor which was unexpected.

My first day here I made my way to Dam Square where I was meeting up with the group that would be doing the historical walking tour I had signed up for. I had never done one of these before but it was genuinely fun and I even met a cool girl to walk around with afterwards. During our lunch I got an answer back from the friend who I had emailed the day before letting me know he would be available to meet up either that day or the next- honestly I was a bit shocked he had even responded given how crappy of a friend I had been lately but we made plans to meet up the next day as I had plans to spend as much time as possible at the Rijksmuseum (I made two posts on this visit and could easily have done 3 more.)

The next day was a jam packed adventure- I woke up early to make it to the Van Gogh museum, then walked to the Albert Cuyp Market to meet up with Elsa before she headed off to Geneva and then took a break in the form of getting lost on my way back to the hotel to drop off my bounty of accidentally acquired souvenirs before meeting up with my friend Dennis that afternoon for a good couple of hours. He took me to an excellent music shop where I made a couple of purchases, namely this Toto greatest hits CD which I think he’s still befuddled by to this day. But really, it was such a good deal, I love Toto and the look on his face when he realized I was seriously gonna buy it was priceless.

Post From this Part of the Trip: 

First Day in Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum pt 1
Rijksmuseum Pt 2
Last Day in Amsterdam

Amsterdam –> Munich 

The longest part of the trip, the time I spent in Germany with my good friend, Bavarian native (and fantastic human being all around), Julia. I made the 8 hour journey from Amsterdam to Munich via train and while it wasn’t always comfy or easy, it was still an experience worth having if only so I know what to do the next time. So technically my first day in Germany was spent traveling to Munich, navigating the train-station with Julia, being stuck in rushhour traffic for a bit before she took me on a picturesque side road to get to her apartment (she lives outside of Munich thankfully, in a charming smaller town and I have never been so tempted to want to switch lives with someone then when we drove into it). 

My second day in Germany was actually not spent in Germany. Julia and I had agreed on doing a day trip to Salzburg since I had picked up a travel guide book to Bavaria that listed it as a possible day trip option and when am I ever not swayed by suggestions in guidebooks? It was honestly the highlight of the trip since it was the day we were blessed with perfect weather, bountiful energy and a beautiful city full of winding streets, beautiful churches and grand squares to explore.

We ended that day by her driving us out of Salzburg and then to find one of her favorite churches in Ramsau which we made it to right as the sun was setting and it was a perfect end to the day. On the drive home we got a bit turned around and ended up having to bust out the google maps to find the way but we were still laughing and happy by the time we stumbled up the stairs to her apartment and after a small dinner and fresh fruit we dropped off to sleep so we could wake up relatively early for the next days adventure.

A day exploring Neues Schloss Herrenchiemsee and then crossing the lake by ferry to wander on the Fraueninsel and take a look at the Benedictine abbey of Frauenwörth. The day ended with us driving in after dusk to her hometown of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and us stopping in at a Burger King to grab a quick dinner. The experience was surreal for us both but the fries were hot, crispy and delicious.  Afterwards, Julia dropping me off at the Biohotel Garmischer Hof (I booked it last minute but would definetly recommend if staying in the area).

The next day involved waking up somewhat early, checking out of the hotel since I had only booked it for one night (and booking another one for that next night as our plans changed a bit) and then taking a Julia guided tour around Garmisch-Partenkirchen before heading on our way towards Neuschwanstein Castle. I covered this extensively it’s own post but we ended up skipping the tour of Neuschwanstein and instead hopped on over to the town of Füssen to grab lunch and some Schneeball. We finished up the day at a Linderhof Palace and then drove back to Garmisch-Partenkirchen so she could introduce me to her bunnies (and her family to off course).

My final day in Germany involved heading over to her family’s house again to see her bunnie’s (Tinki, the white one, looked like she wanted to prove she wasn’t scared of strangers and would fight me- I love her) after which we grabbed a quick breakfast at a local cafe and then headed off to the town of Mittenwald. It was rainy but the colorful town was incredibly beautiful and charming nonetheless and by the time we made it back to her apartment and I started packing, I knew I would want to be back to explore more of what this region of Germany had to offer. (And of course it doesn’t hurt that Julia gifted me a fantastic book full of beautiful photos of the region as a welcoming present, or that her family put together a parting gift for me that included a little cow because of course their daughter made friends with a weird American girl who loves cows).

That last night was meant to be a quiet and relaxing one and Julia and I both needed to go to sleep early so she could help me catch my early train the next morning but, unexpectedly, I got a call from work. I mentioned in my Loch Lomond post that I had been dealing with stress from waiting to hear back for a job I interviewed for just a couple of days before I left on the trip, and I had resigned myself at this point that I hadn’t gotten it, as they had said they would be contacting candidates the next week (which would have been when I was still in Amsterdam).  So there I was, 9pm Germany time trying to go to sleep by listening to soothing music in Julias living room and thinking about my Paris plans when my phone starts to go off and I just stare at it because who could be calling me from Texas right now? Turns out, I got the job and even though I was still on vacation and would be till the following week, they would be retroactively bumping up my pay-grade from that last Sunday if I accepted the job offer. I accepted happily, told a sleepy Julia what had happened and decided to stress less about all the money I had been spending on souvenirs.

Post From this Part of the Trip: 

Salzburg, Austria pt1
Salzburg, Austria pt2 (the Churches post)
Salzburg, Austria (Finalpost)
Ramsau , Germany
Herrenchiemsee, Germany
Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany
Neuschwanstien, Germany
Fussen, Germany
Schloss Linderhof, Germany
Mittenwald, Germany (Last Post)

Munich –> Paris 

By the time I got to Paris, I was somewhat tired. Just kidding I was mother-frikin exhausted and ready to ooze onto the hotel bed. But I only had 2 full days left, so I found some extra energy reserves, called it an early the night the day I made it there and woke up the next day bright and early so I could go meet up with the tour that would take me to Versailles. I stayed at the Hotel Minerve, located in the Latin quarter in the 5th district of Paris and about 10 minutes walking distance from Notre Dame on the recommendation from Rachid for the area and because the reviews were pretty great. I don’t think i’d stay there again as the rooms where a bit cramped but, the view from my small balcony was pretty excellent and I did actually love the neighborhood a lot.

So about the tour to Versailles. I had signed up for a tour through Viator because 1. I didn’t really want to deal with getting to Versailles by myself either through the metro or by cab and 2. there was a tour that provided skip the line tickets without being an actual guided tour- they just gave you a map and audio guide and set you loose for the next 8 hours. Perfect for me. It’s operated by the PARISCityVISION Agency and they actually run a whole bunch of tours all over Paris and the surrounding area, plus their office is located just blocks from the Louvre so its super easy to find. If you’re looking to take a tour, i’d definetly recommend them.

I finished up that first day in Paris by meeting up with my friend Rachid and us taking a really wonderful night walk over some bridges and unexpected to the exterior area of Louvre which was open to us to walk through. It was a surreal experience for both of us in the best way and by the time I made it back to my hotel that night it was almost 11 but even though my feet ached I still fell asleep feeling happy and just a teensy bit enamored by the city.

I took it easy the last day of the trip, spending pretty much the whole morning repacking my mess of souvenirs and clothes and everything so that I would hopefully not end up having to pay a weight overage charge (I succeeded!) and finding a little present Julia had slipped into my backpack when I wasn’t looking apparently. I then spent the rest of the late morning and afternoon at the Louvre and I didn’t even see a third of it, which was honestly kinda fantastic. Rachid and I met up outside by Pyramid entrance and we went off to see Sacré Cœur and a beautiful sunset there was the perfect goodbye to the city.

The next morning I woke up at the ungodly hour of 4am to get ready and head off to CDG and headed home, determined to come back to Europe again soon (though after a lot of rest.)

Post From this Part of the Trip: 
Versailles, Pt1
Versailles Pt 2
Musée du Louvre pt 1
Musée du Louvre pt 2
Sacré Cœur (last post)

Misc: 

(Cappuccinos in Germany and inside Versailles- also cappuccinos were had in literally every other country I went to, hence the video below )

So thats it, finally. There so many other stories, anecdotes, videos and photos I haven’t shared here but at least you can trust I shared the best ones, the good stuff if you will. I’m working on possibly doing a whole video edit of clips from all the videos I took on this trip but 1. still need to find the perfect music for it and 2. the whole point of this post is what a horrible procrastinator I am so obviously it will be about a year before that gets put together probably. I had an absolute blast on this trip though, and hopefully if you’ve been following this adventure or even if you just read this one post, you had some fun reading it as well.

Will post sometime in the next week (no, really I will!) about this most recent trip I took to Italy and all the sundry adventures therein.

Not drowning in my coffee cups yet,
~m

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!