Tag Archives: college

Adventures in Edinburgh, Scotland

Once Johanna and I parted ways with our friend Taylor in Dublin, we ventured off to Edinburgh!

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The above photo is our view from the hostel we stayed at!  Who else could say that they slept across the street from something as beautiful as this?!

Johanna and I are both of Scottish heritage, so being in an area of such rich history and culture meant the world to us.

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Being able to casually and conveniently stroll within the castle walls was one of my favorite parts of the trip; this is something that is extra special as an American!  Our country is so new that castles are alien to us, thus why it is on many of our bucket lists to visit them in Europe.  The Edinburgh Castle is one of my personal favorites not only because of its size, but because of its deep-rooted history with England and so on.

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Mary Queen of Scots is one of my ancestors; being in the location where she and her family lived years ago is something I will never take for granted. I am truly proud of my Scottish and French heritage on my mom’s side!

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The following day, the two of us went on a free walking tour recommended by our hostel staff.  I wasn’t surprised to see two stereotypical things about Scotland on our tour: whisky and scotch signs, as well as cashmere scarves!  I had to try some and buy some…

Although I saw what I imagined in Edinburgh, it was refreshing to see things that I didn’t anticipate, such as colorful, bright buildings.

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Our tour guide was so knowledgeable (Sheldon Cooper status) and was extremely passionate about J.K. Rowling’s influence on Edinburgh, and vice versa.  He showed our group the places in which Rowling received her inspiration(s) while creating her infamous Harry Potter characters; she took character names from this here cemetery!

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Of course we had to visit where Rowling sent her sons to school (aka: Hogwarts’ inspiration)!

This little puppy statue is lucky, only if you rub his nose though!

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The above photo was taken as Johanna and I had tea in the cafe in which Rowling penned her ideas for Harry Potter: Elephant and Castle.  The bathroom was filled with what I’ll call “Potter Postings” from fans; her brother-in-law who owns the cafe tried covering them up at first, but fans are “too” passionate for Potter!

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The two of us also climbed (part of, a VERY small part of) Arthur’s Seat.  We were ratchet and didn’t feel like climbing the entire thing; all the rich and sweet food we ate must have had us out of shape!  From what we did see, it was as incredible as expected!

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Simply wandering around Edinburgh was enough to make Johanna and me happy; the contrast between the day and night in the city is parallel to Edinburgh’s light and dark sides (of history, culture, etc.).

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And obviously, the food was solid in Scotland.  If only this macaron place was in my hometown…

The Luck of the Irish

Almost one month ago, I left Sweden for Dublin, Ireland.  I had never had an impulse interest to visit Dublin, although I have always wanted to see the rolling, green hills of Ireland!  I was pleasantly surprised by Dublin, as well as Ireland as a whole!

The first thing I did with my friends, Johanna and Taylor, was visit the Cliffs of Moher, which meant renting a car.  Taylor and I have never driven a stick before, so it was all up to Johanna!  Fortunately, she was a pro at driving manual.  Unfortunately, she didn’t consider that the stick would be on the left of her (given that she was in the right, front seat this time)!  Needless to say, depth perceptions were distorted, a rear view mirror was knocked off, and her left shoulder was extremely sore!

Being scared of hitting something else (including other cars on the narrow, winding roads of Ireland) and the reattachment of the mirror (twice) was by far worth the views we experienced at the Cliffs of Moher.

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Leave it to the Americans to hold the flag incorrectly! (Taylor, Johanna, me).

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The Cliffs of Moher provided me with the most breathtaking sights of my life.  I can’t say that I have ever seen such vibrant green and teal blue-colored water.

Words really don’t do it justice, nor do photographs.

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Once returning the car and having a relaxing night at some great pubs, we visited the Guinness brewery that is infamous to Dublin!  Now that I can’t have gluten, it was devastating being surrounded by great beer and not being able to have any; my friends loved it because I was able to share my free Guinness with them in the process.

Having a relaxing last day in the town was just what we all needed after nights of pub crawls, driving along the coast of Ireland, and drinking some of the best beverages we’ve ever had!  The accidental traditional Irish dance performance was the ideal commencement of our adventures; we were truly lucky in Ireland!

Kalmar Castle at Dusk

Taking evening bike rides has been one of my favorite things to do in Kalmar.  And with the weather getting better by the day, taking photos has become even more enjoyable!

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Things have been bittersweet for me lately, with many of my close friends from home graduating and all, but having an escape with my camera is something I’m thankful for!

Lund International Food Festival

Lund, Sweden offered more than just great food; there was so much to do, see, and experience in one of Sweden’s southernmost towns.

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Once we arrived at the train station, we wandered around the town and discovered the beautiful architecture and springtime feeling in the air.

Of course, anything that pertains to food and all things international draws me in!  The food market was packed with vendors from all over the world; servers from Spain, Australia, France, China, and the United States were there, just to name a few!

I stuck to what I knew for my first lunch (yes, I usually eat two lunches…): good ole fashioned Mexican nachos!  They were loaded with cheese, salsa, sour cream, homemade guac, and extra jalapenos.

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Obviously I had to check out the French cheese stand after I ate my lunch!

The eight of us who traveled from Kalmar wanted to visit Lund’s cathedral; it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have visited.  I wouldn’t imagine my favorite cathedral to be in Sweden of all places (compared to Italy and France).

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All of my friends (myself included) were amazed by the craftsmanship in the woodworking of the cathedral.

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After our cathedral visit, we all decided to go outside and enjoy the warm sunshine!

What I love most about Sweden is her mix between old, colorful buildings and modern architecture; Sweden really embraces contrast and provides tourists with the best of both worlds.  After all, Sweden is known for Ikea, as well as timeless, quaint homes.

 

My favorite buildings in Sweden are the ones painted golden yellow with olive green accents.  The colors are both so bold that one might see it as overpowering, but I see it as unique to southern Sweden, which is very special in my opinion.  As a child reading about Sweden in school, these are the homes and shops I imagined in my head; to see my view come to life is really incredible!

Because the weather was spectacular that day (which is rare in Sweden!), we couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to stroll through Lund’s largest garden.

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I was bummed to find that the university library was closed that day; it is one of the oldest libraries in Sweden and it has a large collection of books!  Who doesn’t love the smell of old books?!

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At least we gained more time in the city because of the library being closed!  The signs and advertisements in front of the little shops were picture worthy for sure.

Lund was a riot!  It was the perfect day trip for a group of food-loving and fun-loving people!  I’m so thankful that I visited Lund, and I was definitely grateful for the food and sunshine along the way.

My Personal “March Madness”

To whoever is reading this and for those who keep up with my blog, I sincerely apologize for not writing in awhile!  Hopefully after you see these photos and read these stories, you’ll understand why blogging has been out of sight this month!

For starters, I went to Prague at the end of February/early March.  Prague was beautiful, cheap, and gave me a true taste of what central Europe has to offer!

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Myself, Bethany, and Johanna enjoying the castle tour and the gorgeous view!
The castle tour was freezing cold, but it was totally worth it! The next day, the three of us also went on a city walking tour, which was something I got more joy out of than I imagined!

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Prague was flawless; it was equally beautiful and dirt-cheap (something that I appreciate having been in Sweden for a little under three months now)! And of course, being the Beatles fan that I am, we couldn’t leave without seeing the John Lennon Wall!

The next adventure was Swedish and Norwegian Lapland!  I went with a group of fifty-something from my university in Kalmar, Sweden; it was great becoming closer with so many students I don’t usually see on a regular basis.

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Stockholm was our first stop, and I wish we would have had more time there.  The Gamma Stan, or “Old Town,” was so medieval and old-fashioned!  The town square was beautiful with all the colorful and rustic buildings; the photos from my low-quality digital camera don’t do it any justice!

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After Stockholm, we finally arrived in Lapland!  It was bitter cold, but worth every shiver and shake!  We stopped at a reindeer ranch and met a Sami couple.  Samis are the native people of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia!  They live off of the reindeer and their lives, meals, and conversations revolve around these magnificent creatures.

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The Norway-Sweden border was such a neat experience; being in two countries (essentially) at once is something that I thought was pretty awesome!

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Although Lapland was full of traveling between hostels, long days of sledding, dog sledding, and snowmobiling, the travel bug didn’t become tired in me!  The next weekend, I visited one of my best friends in Germany!

She was a foreign exchange student at my high school during my junior year (five+ years ago) and we have remained close friends ever since!  I visited Hamburg, Germany in 2012 before I began college, but this time was different; I felt like I was coming back home in a way.

Saskia and I have remained so close, and I’m so blessed for that!  Whenever we get together, it’s as though we never missed a beat; we pick up right where we left off!

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The two of us went dancing two out of the three nights I was there; we had to go out on St. Patty’s Day!  Aside from the excellent nightlife that Hamburg has to offer, we were able to have a nice dinner by my favorite spot: the Alsterhaus!  The walk along the harbor the next day was lovely, too.

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My teddy bear, @pierre.the.bear, had to join us, too!
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I returned on a Sunday feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.  Then, the very next morning, I left on a school trip with a small group to Estonia, Russia, and Finland!  I expected Russia to steal my heart, and although I enjoyed all three countries, Estonia was by far my favorite.  The culture was rich, the food was delicious and gluten-free, and the nightlife may have even been better than Hamburg’s (dare I say it)!

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Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, was so peaceful and medieval at the same time.  The town was almost an eerie kind of quiet, but the kind that all of us needed in between the hectic ferry rides and hostel-hopping!

I honestly didn’t want to ever leave Estonia, but I was excited to see St. Petersburg, Russia!  I just wish my time in each country didn’t feel so rushed.  Despite the trip being so fast-paced, Tallinn stole my heart.

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In less than 24 hours, I saw a Russian folk show, went on a limo tour of the sites at night, walked around in the Hermitage, and stayed in the sketchiest hostel I will ever stay at!  Russia brought just what I thought it would: adventure!

The last stop was Helsinki, Finland.  Two students are on exchange from Finland and downplayed Helsinki so much; I was amazed to find out that Helsinki had quite a bit to offer!  All of us (especially the Americans) LOVED Finland’s capital.

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Helsinki had the most unique churches (made of wood and rocks) that I have ever set foot in!  Also, surprisingly, it had one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever experienced!

So now do you see why the title is “March Madness?” 😉

For more photos, visit my photo site: https://catherine-yankley.squarespace.com