Final Week of Freedom

I’ve actually just finished my first week of work (which I’ll share more about later), but first I wanted to post some photos from my last week before I headed back to the 9-5 world…

I make poor Alex (BF) take all the photos you see of me alone. I do ask him to be in the photo with me, but he deplores having his photo taken, thus I’m often the lone tourist.

This is outside Liberty of London. If you are not familiar with their prints, do your eyes a favor and explore now! Aside from their fabrics, the Tudor style exteriors and interiors are gorgeous. London does department stores better than anywhere else, I’ll take you ’round other department stores another time.

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Cupcakes in Edinburgh

About a month ago my sister and her husband came to visit and I met them in Edinburgh for a few days. They were staying in an area  just south of George Street, which was absolutely lovely. While we were there we stumbled upon a few places I’ve been meaning to share. The first of which was the most charming coffee shops called Cuckoo Bakery, they also serve some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had (and I’ve tried a lot). 

On top of being delicious to eat, their presentation was spot on, white dishes with graphics of Edinburgh, men in kilts and birds (“put a bird on it!”), a large wooden display case for the cupcakes and best of all cuckoo clocks! If you ever find yourself in Edinburgh you must check it out.


Pretty Amsterdam

One of the things I was surprised by and completely taken with, was how incredibly stylish Amsterdam was. The people, the shops, even the bikes! Everyone was dressed in an effortless, non-pretentious sort of way. Not stuffy like New Yorkers, or snobby like Parisians, or unkept in a ‘I’m trying to look like I don’t give a fuck, but I clearly give a fuck’ San Francisco way. They seemed to enjoy fashion but not take it too seriously, as it should be.

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Deb and Stu in Europe Part II

I have been wanting to go to Amsterdam for awhile now, so when my parents said they were coming to Europe I was able to convince them they wanted to go as well  🙂 I was slightly nervous about traveling with Deb and Stu to a non-english speaking country. My parents are, well they are middle aged Americans, a breed not known for their ability to seamlessly adjust to new surroundings. But I must say, they did quite well! I give a great deal of credit to the people of Amsterdam, they were warm and friendly, spoke fluent english and seemed to actually find humor in some of the questions my parents asked.

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Deb and Stu in Europe Part I

Last week my parents (also known as Deb and Stu) came to visit me in Scotland. I had been feeling a bit homesick so seeing them was much needed! They spent a few days in Edinburgh (fell in love, as everyone does) and then took the train up to St Andrews to spend a few days here. St Andrews is not a very big place, three main streets, but despite its small size everyone seems to throughly enjoy their time here.

We walked the Cathedral ruins, where my mom lingered far too long as she has a morbid obsession with graveyards, ate at good restaurants and toured the campus. It’s always fun when people visit as you’re able to be a tourist again. Even though I’ve only been here about six months, I’ve already begun to take my surroundings for granted. Holy shit this place is old! And absolutely charming. I live in a fairy tale village.

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Hej Sverige!

One of the best things about living in the UK is your proximity to mainland Europe. Even better than that is the cheap flights you can find to most major cities, especially out of London. I didn’t travel out of Scotland my first term because I wanted to explore Scotland and  focus on my courses (although socializing tended to get in the way). However this term I have a lot of travel plans. The first of which was a trip to Sweden.

The view from the plane, landing outside of Stockholm

Sweden had never been on my list of ‘places to see’, but an invitation to visit a friend who was from Stockholm (along with a £33  return flight) changed that. My thoughts on Sweden before I visited were:


2) Beautiful, tall, blonde people

3) Cold and snow

4) Vikings

5) Swedish fish (and I’m talking about the candy)


That was, more or less, the extent of what I knew of Sweden (sadly). I discovered Sweden was so much more, as you do when you travel. Yet my pre-conceived notions weren’t too far off.

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Edinburgh, I Think I Love You

Edinburgh is quickly winning over my affection and becoming a city I might just carry on a love affair with. (London and San Francisco are the others). Monday I went back to Edinburgh for the day. I’d been a couple times before but each time had only been for a few hours and I hadn’t been able to explore too much of the city on my own. This time I took the train early in the morning so I could enjoy a full day out and about. I must say, traveling by train might be one of my favorite things to do. There is something so very romantic about it. Perhaps that’s simply because I’m an American and we don’t have affordable or time efficient rail travel. Or perhaps it is because traveling by train through countryside that is as breathtaking and enchanting as Britain, really is very romantic.

The train platform at Leuchars on a foggy fall morning

Edinburgh is one of the few large cities in the UK that wasn’t hit during the German Blitzkrieg in World War II. Unlike London, which saw so many of its medieval and gothic architecture destroyed or damaged, Edinburgh remains in glorious condition. This makes Edinburgh feel very, very old.

It happened to be a sunny, crisp fall day which made it perfect for strolling along the cobblestone streets of the Royal Mile, Princes and George Street. Because the city is on a number of hills, it winds and weaves and small narrow stairways lead to various parts of the city. Some have little shops and pubs off of them offering views of the Princes Street Gardens. All of these stairways make me think I’m about to enter Diagon Alley.

Princes Street Gardens

Being the huge Harry Potter nerd I am, I had to explore the cemetery JK Rowling used for inspiration whilst writing the first books. There is a Thomas Riddle and Minerva McGonagall buried there. Sadly I was not able to find them, but since I’m terribly morbid I still loved wondering about the place.

The rest of the afternoon was spent poking about the National Museum and National Gallery of Scotland. Both of have excellent collections, though the Gallery was much smaller than I anticipated. It did have one of my favorite John Singer Sergeant portraits, which thrilled me. The National Museum on the other hand has recently been remodeled and it is quite wonderful. Filled with decorative arts, historical artifacts and natural history items, there is something to please everyone.

Main Hall in the National Museum

The end of the day gave way to one of the most spectacular sunsets I’ve ever seen. From the top of Calton Hill there are 360 degree views of just about all of Edinburgh. The fog had began rolling in and the light reflected off the clouds and onto the spires, clock towers and domes made the city look absolutely majestic. Even as darkness descended, the temperature dropped and a low fog settled into the the cracks and crevices of the city, I thought, “Edinburgh, I think I love you.”

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