I am a woman of many talents.. just kidding, I am a woman of many ethnicities! It is such a cool experience to visit the countries where my relatives are originally from. In addition to being Irish (yay Dublin!) I am also Scottish! My last name McKinney is from the Scottish decent and apparently I have some random family members roaming around somewhere. Yoohoo! If you are out there I love the country, lol.
Anywayssss, over the weekend I took a quick trip to Scotland with other people from my study abroad program. I must say it is an insanely beautiful country, partly medieval-esque other part completely green! The only down fall was the fact I saw it all from a bus window.
So let me break this down for you: I left London at 14:00 (2 pm peeps, keep up) and arrived in Edinburgh at 7pm by train. A very rough train ride I might add. Now the next day we got up at 8am to get on a bus to explore the mountains and other random towns in Scotland. We were literally on a bus nearly 9 hours in which we only spent time long enough to get a picture at each stop. Then we stopped off in Inverness for the night. We woke up bright and early once again for a 6 hour bus ride to only have to sit on a train for 5 hours to go back to London.
But enough complaining here is all the beauty I saw:
So because we arrived in Edinburgh in the late evening there wasn't exactly much open. We couldn't even go to the castle because it was closed! Imagine this princess' disappointment. Basically all of my pictures were of the city at night which is super annoying.
My friend and I didn't just want to go to sleep instead of exploring so we thought a haunted ghost tour would be so fun! The city is so historic and old. The buildings were 100% the original structure complete with a medieval theme. This made the ghost tour that much more intriguing. We walked around with our guide for about an hour ending up in underground vaults. These vaults were originally used for storage but evolved into brothels and other cringe-y things. Of course they made for the perfect scary story where I got a few chills up my spine.
The majority of Saturday was spent stopping just long enough to take a picture. To be honest I can't remember the name of half of the places because we weren't there long enough. But what I can tell you is how pretty each location was! Everything was SO green, like SO SO SO green.
One place that I will never forget is Loch Ness. As in where the infamous Loch Ness monster is hiding. This was a super cool experience because on my bucket list I have that I want to visit this place! I didn't know we were going there until a few days before. I literally unintentionally checked something off my bucket list!
Well that's pretty much all I have to say about this spectacular country. Maybe I can come back one day and see it my way!
Well it is official I am addicted to English breakfast tea and require it at every meal. I sure am in trouble now because only sweet tea is offered back home! I am going to sound extra prissy when I demand hot tea with milk and sugar.
I am also addicted to pub food, meaning fish and chips. Chips being french fries of course. I no longer know who I am anymore, lol! I have to admit this place is something more than magical. With my second week officially over, I cannot imagine leaving this place in only 5 days.
To start my second week off, everyone in my program went on what can be considered a booze cruise. Now I have been on a few of these types of events before but I don't think any of them can compare to downing bottles of wine while watching the sunset behind Big Ben. It was nothing short of beautiful especially when it ended with a firework show.
The rest of the week consisted of attending class, eating the equivalent to prison food (campus cafeteria food), and attending any pub in a 5 mile radius.
The blue door from the movie Notting Hill!
My roommate and I set off on a trek to find a road of pastel colored houses that I had found several pictures of. Although we didn't find what we were looking for at first, we came across something even better. Notting Hill is nothing short of unique and darling. To be specific Portobello Rd. is full of cute little stores perfect for thrifting or souvenir shopping!
Also, the food and drink options are not scarce. We shared a Nutella and banana crepe followed by a massive hot dog smothered in onions and burger sauce. Great, now I am hungry just thinking about it.
Of course, I couldn't let the idea of finding those pastel houses go to rest. Lucky for us, we kind of just stumbled upon them. They made for the perfect photo opp and yes I did plan my outfit somewhat accordingly!
Cheers to my last week in London!
Check back for highlights of my weekend getaway to Scotland!
My first week in London has come to a close and I'm already dreading leaving. I am staying in the Kensington area which is the wealthiest area in London. I literally have Ferraris parked outside my front door! I am so unbelievably lucky to have this opportunity and to be where I am!
One of the first things I experienced was a vigil for the lives lost in the Orlando shooting. Thousands of people gathered in Soho for a moment of silence followed by releasing balloons. It was so eye opening and something really beautiful to witness. I was even interviewed by local news on my thoughts about the terrible day incident.
One of my favorite areas in London is Piccadilly Circus because it looks like Time Square! It is lively and something is always going on no matter the time. There is shopping, theater shows, pubs, and entertainment.
I went to see Jersey Boys in this area with people from my program. The musical was so good, I would definitely recommend it!
I live super close to Hyde Park and the Kensington Gardens. The land is so massive that I have only walked about half. It is seriously so beautiful! I can't even begin to describe how well kept the plants were. Gardeners were even planting more when I was walking!
Also, the vine tunnels and mazes are so neat and make for the perfect photo op!
I have never seen a tea place as beautiful as Fortnum and Mason. I haven't seen a tea place to begin with but still. This was literally the Tiffany's of tea. It was magical and floral and simply pristine. The whole place was themed after the new Alice in Wonderland movie. I'm talking all four floors made me feel like I was heading to tea time with the Mad Hatter.
i squealed like a little girl in a candy store when I saw Big Ben. You have these dreams of seeing famous places and things. Then when it actually happens it doesn't feel real. I might have taken 100 pictures of it.
It was the funniest moment when I was standing next to a red telephone booth while looking at Big Ben when a doubledecker bus drives by.
Please dont pinch me because I don't want to wake up from this dream.
Westminster Abbey also made me stop in my tracks. I had that "oh crap" moment when you see something so beautiful that you don't know how to react. There is nothing really you can do but stare at its fine detail.
The 90s kid in me was way too excited to stand in front of the house from The Parent Trap!
Borough Market was overwhelmenly delicious. This massive market was so crowded with people and way too many options of food and drinks. We walked around for about an hour before we could even decide what to get. When ended up eating chicken burgers with some type of sweet chili sauce. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
Fun Fact: this bridge is called the Tower Bridge. The well known London Bridge that Fergie refers to does not look like this at all. When I thought of the London Bridge this is exactly what I thought it would look like. But actually it doesn't have arches or anything, it is just a bridge over water. Interesting huh?
I feel in love in less than 48 hours. Not with a person, but with an entire country. Ireland was simply the greatest place I have ever been in my life. The miles of green, thick accents, and endless amounts of beer rang true to all cliches.
I was lost in a work of utter beauty and I will definitely be going back one day.
Note: Craic (pronounced crack) means fun, enjoyable. Thank you to the Cliffs of Moher bus driver for teaching me the term.
My first day started off with an hour flight delay, once already in the uncomfortable plane. DONT FLY RYANAIR.
Once I got to Dublin, I checked into Abigail's Hostel which wasn't too bad of a place. The guys that worked at the desk were easy on the eyes with incredible accents so I can't complain.
I walked around the area of my hostel, stumbling upon the Dublin Castle and St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Cathedral was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn't believe its size and the stain glass windows.
To finish off my first day, I went to eat with some girls from my hostel. We went to the oldest pub in Dublin called Brazen Head. It was sooooo good. I feel like completely indulged in a traditional hearty meal. Afterwards we walked around the Temple Bar district which was filled with people and pubs. We hopped around different pubs listening to traditional Irish music and other genres.
For my only full day I took an tour bus to Cliffs of Moher on the west side of Ireland and Galway, Ireland. The view from the tops of the cliffs made waking up and traveling in an uncomfortable bus worth it.
They tell you not to pass the guarded wall because of danger but of course that didn't stop me. I climbed out on the cliff to see what was beneath me and to simply get an even better view. I sat there for about 30 minutes taking in the unforgettable cliffs. I was able to cross yet another thing off my bucket list.
The tour bus took us to Galway, Ireland which was so cute! This town has so much culture and excitement. The buildings were fun and everything just seemed so playful. I had delicious raspberry gelato while watching this crazy Canadian riding a giant unicycle while juggling swords. Super casual.
That night once I got back to Dublin, I went to dinner by myself. I ate fish and chips with a beer in the Temple Bar area. I almost went back to my hostel before 10:30 pm but decided what the heck. I'm going out. Even if I was by myself! I went to the actual Temple Bar open since 1840. I drank beer (gross) and met so many people, including a German club soccer team. As much as they tried to teach me German it wasn't going to happen. So instead I taught one of them how to two step while an Irish band played Wagon Wheel.
Needless to say Ireland was an unforgettable 48 hour trip! Now I am off to begin my study abroad experience in London!
Madrid was absolutely gorgeous! I loved every single thing about it; the buildings, the color, and especially the fashion. They have just a distinct type of style that I found myself drooling over. So on my first day I spent hours and hours shopping around different parts of the city. I went in stores like H&M and Zara, which looked like museums inside. I found myself trying (and buying) clothes that I wouldn't have picked out in the states.
Going to the Chocolateria San Gines is an absolute MUST when in Madrid. It is a 24 hour churro restaurant that is world renown. The walls are covered with pictures of celebrities biting into the delicious sweet.
One evening Drea took me to Circulo de Bellas Artes where we sipped on glasses of wine on a rooftop with a view of the whole city. It was completely spectacular. From there we went to a park by the capital palace and had a picnic to watch the sunset. We purchased a bottle of Tinto which is similar to sangria. It literally cost 1 euro, I wasn't complaining at all. We sipped on that while the sun went down and the lights of the temples from the Egyptians lit up.
Mercado de Sa Miguel was absolutely amazing. It is a market made essentially of glass windows with tons and tons of food/tapas. I snacked way too much on olives, croquettes, and various cheese, while sipping on a pineapple mojito.
For the last day, Aubrey and I ate popularized calamares bocadillos (calamari sandwiches). They were so tasty, omg, but way to much breading.
From there we walked around Retiro Park, stopping at the ponds and various fountains throughout the way. Finally we made our way to the Crystal Palace! This building was breathtaking in two different ways. One being it looked amazing and two because it was like an oven inside that I found myself gasping for air. I love it though! I had been looking forward to seeing it since before I even knew I was going to go to Madrid.
To finish our night we went to the most delicious like DELICIOUS tapas restaurant called Lateral. We ate way way way to much food. I also drank probably the best mojito I have ever had in my life. Even better than the mojito I had made at the actual Bacardi Distillery in Puerto Rico. The restaurant had various flavors and I chose coconut and banana. Weird combo I know but it was too good.
Now I can say I have been to the most well known cities in Spain; Barcelona, Madrid, and Valencia!
WHERE I SHOP
The Impeccable Pig