24 hours in Edinburgh

Do you ever think about other lifetimes? I’ve been fortunate enough to have serendipitously met a few people in my life that I have instantly bonded with. Bosom friends. Sister from another mister. Love at first laugh. There’s that moment when you connect so quickly it feels like you’ve known one another your whole lives. You can go years without seeing each other and get along better than most of the people you’ve met in the same amount of time. Almost like you’ve done this so called life together before.

Ok, enough of the philosophy. If I go too far down the rabbit hole there’s no going back! After not seeing each other for seven years, my friend Elyse spontaneously decided to visit me in Dublin for a week. She’s never been to Europe before so we managed to squeeze in a quick two night trip in Edinburgh. Elyse is the first person I met at university. Some random “soph” (Definition: overly excited second year student trying desperately to relive their first year) pulled me out of the car at my new residence and proceeded to force introductions with a handful of other students who were pulled out of their cars at the same time. Thankfully, Elyse was the first person I met and we connected as soon as we discovered we were both in the same media program. We ended up spending way too much time together as we found each other equally hilarious (surprisingly, not many others shared this disposition). From thereonin we ended up living in a share house with three other hilarious girls. After spending time with each other nearly every day of the school year for four years, I decided to take off to Australia, then British Columbia, then Ireland, until suddenly we hadn’t seen each other for seven years.  We picked up exactly where we left off and made for great travel companions. Fast forward to an adventure in Edinburgh.

fullsizeoutput_7ea
Reunited and it feels so good!

I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Edinburgh four times. Every time I go as soon as I get a glimpse of the city all I can think about is how amazing it would be to live there. Panoramic views of breath-taking Victorian architecture is a treat for the eyes and a boost to the creative soul.

DSC_9399.jpg
Edinburgh Old Town. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

Edinburgh is a city that just makes sense. I’d imagine that the architects were inspired by the natural landscape and weather since the buildings are even more beautiful when it’s windy, cloudy and drizzling. Whenever I’ve gone I’ve only had one or two days to explore, so I’ve put together a little list of what to do in the city in 24 hours.

DSC_9295.jpg
Strolling around the city. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

FIVE THINGS TO DO-3

  1. Walk the entire Royal Mile
    The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets in the Old Town. The stretch between two significant historic locations, Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, is the ultimate place to imagine medieval life. You can walk right up to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, and if you can spare the time, tour the inside for £17. On the opposite end you’ll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends a week residing there every summer. You can visit the palace for £14.

    DSC_9419.jpg
    View of the Castle at the end of the Royal Mile. We. got this shot from the tower of the camera obscura. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth
  2. Arthur’s Seat
    A hill located at the end of the Royal Mile, climbing Arthur’s seat is a great way to spend a couple of hours when visiting Edinburgh. A relatively easy climb (my legs only hurt for one day after), you’ll get a chance to catch your breath while getting amazing panoramic views at the top. I’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat three times and would do it again next time I visit Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the largest of three sites of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site. Like the location of the castle, its formation is the site of an extinct volcano system.

    IMG_4365
    We made it to the top!
  3. Whiskey and Wine
    Head out to either the Old Town or the New Town and try a unique Scotch you’d never get to try elsewhere. There are so many to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. There are lot of good whiskeys to try at affordable prices so just go for something you’ve never had before. Besides that, Elyse and I came across a couple of great wine bars. We especially liked Smith and Gertrude in the New Town. You can choose different artisan cheeses ranging from £3.50 to £4.50 and cured meats from £4.50-£5.50. Or you can do what we did and order a mixed board of cheese and charcuterie (three of each) for £16. So.Good. We also treated ourselves to a great bottle of  Langhe Nebbiolo, La Ca Nova for £30.

    IMG_4436
    Smith and Gertrude
  4. Camera Obscura
    If you’re short on time, visiting the camera obscura is a brilliant way of getting your bearings in the city. A Victorian style virtual tour, you are guided through the Unesco World Heritage site that is Edinburgh from a tiny dark room. Tickets are £15.50 for adults and they’re valid all day so you can come and go as you please. There are some great photo opportunities from the top of the building as well.
  5. Walk Princess Street (and Primark!)
    On the south side of Princess Street you get amazing views of the Castle perched atop the volcanic site, giving the illusion of the castle blending in to the rock as if it’s part of the earth itself. There’s also a massive gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott, the stunning Balmoral Hotel, and the Princess Street Gardens. On the other side, you’ve got your high street shops. Ladies and gents, there is some serious Primark action happening on this street. Sprawling over about 5 floors, if you fancy a bit of shopping you’ll find some stellar deals. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there is always a ton of paraphernalia to choose from (pyjamas, socks, notebooks, etc).

    DSC_9237.jpg
    View of the castle at night from Princess Street. As soon as we got off the bus in the city we were greeted with this view. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
    DSC_9247.jpg
    Photo credit: Elyse Booth

    We did all five of the things on the list (but didn’t go inside the castle or palace) in 24 hours and had a great time. Next time I’m there I plan to check out the galleries, museums, and evening ghost tour.

The travel details:

  • Ryanair return flight from Dublin for €50
  • Two nights in a twin room at the Edinburgh City Hotel for £111 (£55.50/person)
  • Return air coach transport from Airport to Edinburgh City £7 (this bus leaves every 10/15 minutes. Great service).
  • The city is very walkable and we didn’t need public transit or taxis at all.

Edinburgh is wildly beautiful. In my opinion it’s an underrated gem in the United Kingdom. It seems almost unfair for so many gorgeous buildings to be located in such close vicinity, and it’s a pleasure to visit every single time.

DSC_9288.jpg
Walking through the Old Town on our way to breakfast at The City Cafe. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9308.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9304.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9444.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9277.jpg
Doesn’t it look like the castle is a part of the hill? Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9449.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
Advertisements

24 Hour Holiday – Top 5 Ways to Spend Time in Edinburgh Scotland

Do you ever think about other lifetimes? I’ve been fortunate enough to have serendipitously met a few people in my life that I have instantly bonded with. Bosom friends. Sister from another mister. Love at first laugh. There’s that moment when you connect so quickly it feels like you’ve known one another your whole lives. You can go years without seeing each other and get along better than most of the people you’ve met in the same amount of time. Almost like you’ve done this so-called life together before. Ok, enough of the philosophy. If I go too far down the rabbit hole there’s no going back! After not seeing each other for seven years, my friend Elyse spontaneously decided to visit me in Dublin for a week. She’s never been to Europe before so we managed to squeeze in a quick trip to spend some time in Edinburgh Scotland.

(If you don’t fancy reading a little story about university life, scroll down to my top five ways to spend time in Edinburgh Scotland).

Elyse is the first person I met at university. Some random “soph” (Definition: overly excited second-year student trying desperately to relive their first year) pulled me out of the car at my new residence and proceeded to force introductions with a handful of other students who were pulled out of their cars at the same time. Thankfully, Elyse was the first person I met and we connected as soon as we discovered we were both in the same media program. We ended up spending way too much time together as we found each other equally hilarious (surprisingly, not many others shared this disposition).

From thereon in, we ended up living in a share house with three other hilarious girls. After spending time with each other nearly every day of the school year for four years, I decided to take off to Australia, then British Columbia, then Ireland, until suddenly we hadn’t seen each other for seven years. We picked up exactly where we left off and made for great travel companions. Fast forward to an adventure in Edinburgh.

our time in edinburgh scotland, two females having a great time exploring edinburgh, scotland
Reunited and it feels so good! (Elyse on the left and Grace (author) on the right)

I’ve had the pleasure of spending time in Edinburgh Scotland four times. Every time I go as soon as I get a glimpse of the city all I can think about is how amazing it would be to live there. Panoramic views of breath-taking Victorian architecture is a treat for the eyes and a boost to the creative soul.

Edinburgh is a city that just makes sense. I’d imagine that the architects were inspired by the natural landscape and weather since the buildings are even more beautiful when it’s windy, cloudy and drizzling. Whenever I’ve gone I’ve only had one or two days to explore, so I’ve put together a little list of what to do in the city in 24 hours.

Our time in edinburgh, scotland - the view of the city streets in edinburgh
Edinburgh Old Town. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth
woman walking down the cobbled streets enjoying her time in edinburgh, scotland
Strolling around the city. Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

FIVE THINGS TO DO when you spend time in Edinburgh Scotland

My Top 5 Ways to Spend Time in Edinburgh Scotland

 

1. Walk the entire Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets in the Old Town. The stretch between two significant historic locations, Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, is the ultimate place to imagine medieval life. You can walk right up to the gates of Edinburgh Castle, and if you can spare the time, tour the inside for £17. On the opposite end you’ll find the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which is the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, who spends a week residing there every summer. You can visit the palace for £14.

DSC_9419.jpg
View of the Castle at the end of the Royal Mile. We. got this shot from the tower of the camera obscura. We had the best time in Edinburgh Scotland! Photo Credit: Elyse Booth

2. Arthur’s Seat

A hill located at the end of the Royal Mile, climbing Arthur’s seat is a great way to spend your time in Edinburgh Scotland. A relatively easy climb (my legs only hurt for one day after), you’ll get a chance to catch your breath while getting amazing panoramic views at the top. I’ve climbed Arthur’s Seat three times and would do it again next time I visit Edinburgh. Arthur’s Seat is the largest of three sites of the Arthur’s Seat Volcano site. Like the location of the castle, its formation is the site of an extinct volcano system.

IMG_4365
We made it to the top!

3. Whiskey and Wine: Restaurants in Edinburgh Scotland

Head out to either the Old Town or the New Town and try a unique Scotch you’d never get to try elsewhere. There are so many to choose from it can be a bit overwhelming. There are a lot of good whiskeys to try at affordable prices so just go for something you’ve never had before. Besides that, Elyse and I came across a couple of great wine bars. We especially liked Smith and Gertrude in the New Town. You can choose different artisan cheeses ranging from £3.50 to £4.50 and cured meats from £4.50-£5.50. Or you can do what we did and order a mixed board of cheese and charcuterie (three of each) for £16. So.Good. We also treated ourselves to a great bottle of Langhe Nebbiolo, La Ca Nova for £30. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy our time in Edinburgh Scotland. Can you?

IMG_4436
Smith and Gertrude

4. Camera Obscura

If you’re short on time, visiting the camera obscura is a brilliant way of getting your bearings in the city. A Victorian style virtual tour, you are guided through the Unesco World Heritage site that is Edinburgh from a tiny dark room. Tickets are £15.50 for adults and they’re valid all day so you can come and go as you please. There are some great photo opportunities from the top of the building as well.

5. Walk Princess Street (and Primark!)

On the south side of Princess Street you get amazing views of the Castle perched atop the volcanic site, giving the illusion of the castle blending in to the rock as if it’s part of the earth itself. There’s also a massive gothic monument to Sir Walter Scott, the stunning Balmoral Hotel, and the Princess Street Gardens. On the other side, you’ve got your high street shops. Ladies and gents, there is some serious Primark action happening on this street. Sprawling over about 5 floors, if you fancy a bit of shopping you’ll find some stellar deals. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, there is always a ton of paraphernalia to choose from (pyjamas, socks, notebooks, etc).

DSC_9237.jpg
View of the castle at night from Princess Street. As soon as we got off the bus in the city we were greeted with this view. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9247.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth

We did all five of the things on the list (but didn’t go inside the castle or palace) in 24 hours and had a great time. Next time I’m there I plan to check out the galleries, museums, and evening ghost tour.

The Travel Details:

  • Ryanair return flight from Dublin for €50
  • Where to stay in Edinburgh Scotland: Two nights in a twin room at the Edinburgh City Hotel for £111 (£55.50/person)
  • Return air coach transport from Airport to Edinburgh City £7 (this bus leaves every 10/15 minutes. Great service).
  • The city is very walkable and we didn’t need public transit or taxis at all.

Edinburgh is wildly beautiful. In my opinion, it’s an underrated gem in the United Kingdom. It seems almost unfair for so many gorgeous buildings to be located in such close vicinity, and it’s a pleasure to visit every single time.

DSC_9288.jpg
Walking through the Old Town on our way to breakfast at The City Cafe. Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9308.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9304.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9444.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9277.jpg
Doesn’t it look like the castle is a part of the hill? Photo credit: Elyse Booth
DSC_9449.jpg
Photo credit: Elyse Booth

Are you interested in travel? Check out my time in Slovakia – winter spa weekend. 

The blog is BACK!

Apologies for the hiatus. Sometimes life gets so busy you unconsciously set your creativity aside. It’s not like I haven’t been anywhere since I’ve last written. It’s been a great couple of years! I’ve travelled all across Spain, exploring the difference in culture across Madrid, Bilbao, Santander, Seville, Huelva, Cordoba, Granada, Tarifa, Jerez, Cadiz, Malaga, and Barcelona. After all that I had to take a siesta or two along the way.

11863303_10153134597208367_4086876950182495980_n
Seville Cathedral, August 2015

I’ve been to Portugal on four different occasions, visiting Porto, Lisbon, and different parts of the Algarve.

IMG_0018
Tariva, Portugal, July 2016

I’ve indulged in the best pizza and pasta in Italy, exploring Rome, Trieste, Fruili, and Venice.

IMG_0149
Venice, Italy, September 2017

I ran through the hills in Austria and belted out tunes from the Sound of Music (Number 21 on my Before 30 list) with my pals from The Western Gazette.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset
Salzburg, Austria, July 2016

Afterwards we went on to explore Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague.

IMG_0138
Vienna, Austria, July 2016

I finally visited Plitvice National Park in Croatia, a scenic waterfall haven that had graced my screen saver since I was 16. We also toured around Pula, Zagreb, and Rijeka.

IMG_3129
Plitvice National Park, Croatia, September 2017. Bucket list location.

I’ve enjoyed the liberal, forward thinking Netherlands, including Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and Delft.

15895316_10154299241408367_4838485300117366189_n
Rotterdam, Netherlands, January 2017

That’s just a taste of the what I’ve been up to, so needless to say I’ve been busy! The greatest joy of living in Europe is that it is so easy to take off for a night or two and visit a whole new country. Flights are so affordable (thank you RyanAir) and with accommodation sites like Booking.com it’s easier than ever to book a cheeky night away. I still live in Dublin and it is the perfect location to dart to and fro around Europe.

This year I’m prioritising creativity. It’s time to get back to writing and design. Time to excercise the mind. I’m planning to travel a lot in 2018, and I’ll fill you in on all the shenanigans and also give you my top travel tips and recommendations. Here you’ll find the tales of my European Odyssey. Stay tuned.

 

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

I’m a contemplater, which means I often get really philosophical about life and simple realizations tend to blow my mind. I turned 24 on Saturday, and leading up to my birthday I was bombarded with feelings of awe and wonderment at life.

I had a moment of clarity while thinking about where I was a year ago and how I thought the next year of my life would look at the time. On my 23rd birthday I was living in Armstrong, BC, having just left Australia suddenly, and I had my first shift at a job that I quickly learned to hate. My “plan” was to live in Canada for three

My good friend Candice and I at Lake Louise last summer.
My good friend Candice and I at Lake Louise last summer.
I’m sure Banff is one of the most beautiful places I’ll ever see.

months while waiting for my new Australian visa to be approved then catch the first plane back to sunny Queensland. I never could’ve predicted what was in store for me, and in hindsight I’ve realized that life is truly what you make of it. I chose BC rather than move back to Ontario partially because I didn’t want to settle in too much and uproot my life and my relationships when I left Canada “in three months”. Eight months later, my current relationships deepened, I started a brand new, sure to be life long friendship, I was stunned daily by the glorious mountains surrounding me, and I discovered new passions. What started as a transition stage of life turned into a major chapter, a chapter where I learned to be more open minded, that I love to cook with alternative food, and that I’m obsessed with mountains. Most importantly, I learned to never sit still and let life pass you by. I learned to find something good about every day — whether it was going for a walk with my sister and brother in law, having a delicious coffee, reading a good book, waking up and seeing sunshine flood through the windows, or witnessing hoarfrost twinkle on the trees, there is always something good in every day. I had a regular customer at a restaurant that I worked at in Vernon, and without fail he would always say “every day is a good day, and some are better than others.” It’s those simple things that are what’s best about life.

Now I’m 24, I live in Ireland, and I have no idea where I’ll be in a year from now. It’s an exciting age, because I’m starting to figure out what kind of

Coffee time in Stockholm.
Coffee time in Stockholm.

person I want to be and what I want out of life, but I still have time to change my mind a whole lot. I could settle down at any time or I can keep globetrotting. I can party all night or I can stay home and read a book. I can wear my nose ring and still be taken seriously. I can dance like crazy or sip on wine while discussing philosophy and values. I’m finished my degree but could still get a Masters. The options or endless, and I’m so grateful.

I want to be the kind of person that follows through. If I say I’m going to do something, I’ll do it. I said I wanted to move in October, so when I was offered a job in Dublin I did some research and applied for a visa after five days. I said I wanted to travel Europe this year, summer specifically, and I have flights booked to Edinburgh, Brussels, and Barcelona, and plans to see many more countries in the warmer months. I’ve been talking about getting a tattoo, so I went for it. I said I wanted to be settled in Dublin in a week — I did it in five days. I’ve found my favourite coffee shops. I’ve seen Irish countryside. I’ve had a pint of Guinness and different kinds of whiskey straight. I can sing along to a few token Irish tunes. I say “half three” instead of “three thirty”. I live in Ireland, and after having Australia snatched out from underneath me, I feel a sense of urgency to enjoy each day and every cultural experience. I can’t waste any time.

The world is at our finger tips and all I have to do is seize the good opportunities, have some music ready to make the soundtrack to my life, and bring a water bottle and maybe an apple or two. There are so many countries to explore, coffees to drink, songs to sing, and people to  learn from. I can’t wait. Life is thrilling and utterly unpredictable, and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

IMG_1640
The amazing Wicklow Gap.

You never know when a stranger will change your life

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/

Noun:
  1. The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

“Waiting” is a word that I have become very familiar with this year. I returned to Canada in February with the intention of “waiting” for three months for my new visa to be approved for Australia. Three months passed and slowly turned into four, five, and six months, until suddenly it was September and I had been home for eight months.

Good things are worth waiting for, and trust me, my life in Australia was one of those things. It was so good that I cannot even begin to describe the beautiful times and amazing relationships I experienced. Eventually though I started to feel the constraints of waiting, and although I never let go of my desire to move back to Brisbane, I began to dream new dreams.

One day I sent an email to the Australian immigration office inquiring about the status of our application, and received an automated email that implied our application was considered invalid. It was unexpected, freak circumstances, but our application was thrown in the trash without them directly notifying us.

I had been waiting for so long, refraining from making any future plans. And then, once I received that email, I was released from the waiting game. It became possible to take action.

That night I served a lovely couple from Dublin, Ireland. It was a slow night at work so I had the opportunity to really chat with them. As it turns out they own restaurants in the Dublin, and after I shared a bit of my travel tales with them they told me that if I were to move to Dublin tomorrow they’d give me a job. The very idea gave me butterflies and I thought “well, why not?”

Two completely random people planted a seed in my mind and got me thinking about Ireland non-stop. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland and even looked into schools there at one point, but I had been so distracted with Australia that I didn’t even consider getting a working holiday visa somewhere else. I desperately want to travel Europe, and working overseas will give me a really affordable option to experience Europe.

After that day things quickly fell into place. I got into research mode and discovered how simple it would be for me to move to Dublin. There are plenty of serving jobs, housing, and cheap flights to choose from. Applying for a visa is straightforward and I met all of the qualifications. It was meant to be!

Ireland feels right and makes me excited in the pit of my stomach. It seems crazy that I was waiting for eight months for my Australian visa to work out, and then the possibility of Ireland unfolded so easily in a couple of days. Now I am about to begin a brand new journey, filled with new cultures, people, music, food, and land to explore. My future holds the promise of adventure.

I met that couple from Dublin on September 8, 2012, and my flight to Ireland is booked for October 26, 2012. You never know when, and how quickly, a stranger will change your life.

Thinking of moving to Ireland? Here’s what I did:

Visa application: SWAP working holidays (www.swap.ca). You have to apply at least four weeks before your departure date.

Flight: CanadianAffair.ca (found a flight for $303 taxes in from Toronto)

Health insurance: applied through SWAP for RBC’s Bon Voyage travel insurance. I got 12 months of coverage for $432, which is half of what I paid for my insurance when I went to Australia.

Accommodation upon arrival: Hostel World

Housing research: daft.ie

Job research: http://www.jobs.ie/