I am finally home ( well, my Scottish home) from my amazing 7 day spring break trip. It was an exciting, frustrating, and exhilarating week that I feel blessed to have been able to experience, especially with my mom and Aunt Kelly. I won’t go into all the details of every waking hour of my trip, because there are plenty of details, but I will highlight my favorite sites and experiences in each city.
Although I have already visited Glasgow, it was nice to be able to navigate and take the pressure off of my mom and aunt to get around. I finally got to see the Botanic Gardens, although they closed shortly after we got there. I took Mom and Kelly to the Kelvingrove Art Museum which I think they enjoyed (none of us are artsy people). Mom and Kelly were jet lagged and tired that night, this I knew because of how Kelly fell asleep while I was looking straight at her, answering a question she asked me! Definitely made my night and I giggle every time I think about it:) The next day was spent visting the Glasgow Cathedral, which we visited on Good Friday and we were able to listen to part of the service. The rest of the day was spent shopping around and enjoying some Scottish street performers.
On Friday night, we flew to London and had a night long lay over. The hotel we stayed in was right next to the airport and was very nice. I was really just excited to be able to watch TV! Sadly, we weren’t able to explore any of London due to the fact that we got in around 11:00 that night and had a flight the next afternoon to Venice. Everything at the airport went well and we arrived in Venice around 4:00. Then we had to figure out water buses and once that was achieved we entered the lovely city…in the pouring rain…with no idea of how to get to our hostel…and attempting to get directions from Italians. We walked for 45 minutes through streets that looked like alleys and over I don’t know how many bridges. All the while I just wanted to fall to me knees, and scream into the night, “WHY ME?!” I was soaked to the bone, and my suitcase was only getting heavier with the water. When we finally made it to our hostel, someone blew the breaker so we were stranded in Italy, soaking wet, in the dark. We threw the contents of our suitcases all over the room to dry and went to find food, since we hadn’t eaten since noon and it was coming on 8:00. The restaurant we found was nearly empty, but had good food and a kickin’ playlist of 90’s American chart toppers was playing on loop. Nothing like eating spaghetti and listening to Brittany Spears while in Italy:)
The next day we had planned on going to the Islands of Murano and Burano, but since we first got on the wrong boat, and second, it was starting to get sunny, we decided to stay in Venice and visit the Piazza de San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square. We ate some pizza and drank some wine outside then roamed around the square, admiring the Cathedral and Doge’s Palace and eating gelato. We then took a great gondola ride, although our gondolier didn’t sing to us like I thought they were supposed too. We then went on a hunt to find the Rialto bridge, and after making many stops along the way, we found it and it gave a great view of the canal. We ended our day with yet another meal of pasta and leisurely made our way back to the hostel.
The next day we took the water bus out the the Islands of Murano and Burano. Our first stop was Murano, the island known for its handmade glass pieces. We got to watch a demonstration, and I got in free because of my childish good looks;) We visited a lot of glass shops, were Mom finally bought something for herself and Kelly found some gifts for herself and friends back home. The next stop was Burano, the island known for it’s hand made lace and colorful homes. I thought some the pictures were photoshopped because the colors seemed too bright, but those pictures were true to the islands colorful homes. They looked like a piece of continuous, colorful artwork along the canal. In many shops, there were women making lace right in front of you. It is such a long and tedious process. I am very confident it was Mom’s favorite place by far;)
The next day we packed up our suitcases once more and headed off to Paris! We arrived around 2:00 and had troubles with getting subway tickets. We finally found an actual human being to help us instead of those lousy machines and decided to take a taxi to our hostel instead of wasting more time getting there, since we only had that afternoon and the next day to see all of the sites we wanted too. The Loft, the hostel that we stayed at, was great! It is very new and modern with free breakfast, a bar downstairs, an open courtyard and great rooms. We had a 4 bed bedroom and our roommates the first night was a large Hawaiian-Asian man who snored, and the next night an older Asian woman who got the floor of the bathroom soaking wet and wore the squeakiest flip flops ever! Either way, it was nice to have our own bathroom in the room, no matter how small or wet it was.
That same night we got our dinner and successfully made our way to the Arc de Triomphe and then the Eiffel Tower. It’s crazy how surreal it is to see these famous monuments in person when I have only seen them on TV or in movies before. I felt as though it was a mirage, or I was inside a theme park and they were simply replicas of the real thing.
Our last day in Paris we were up bright and early and on our way to see the Notre Dame. It was beautiful although not quite like how the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’ movie makes it out to be. It’s better:) We stopped for a caffeine fix and a chocolate and banana crepe:) We then headed toward a shopping district and mozzied around for a few hours before stopping for lunch and then headed for the Louvre Museum and Sacre Coeur. The Louvre is HUGE and known for its glass pyramids which became more famous for its appearance in the movie “The Davinci Code.” We thought of going inside but realized we could spend an entire week inside and not see anything we wanted too. We took some pictures with the iconic glass pyramids and headed to the Sacre Coeur.
The Sacre Coeur is a cathedral that over looks all of Paris. It is in the artsy part of town, where many artists have their own small shops. We stopped in one for Mom and Kelly to use the bathroom and I ended up buying one of his small paintings of the Sacre Coeur for only 5 euro. I also bought a small compact with an Edgar Degas painting on it, since I didn’t get the chance to see his paintings in person.
We then walked up the ridiculous amounts of stairs to get to the actual cathedral. The view was worth it! The cathedral itself was magnificent as well. We went inside and made a loop around, where I snuck a couple of pictures when I wasn’t supposed to (sssshhh). I did get caught taking the last one, but he only gave me a disapproving look, so I don’t feel too guilty:) We noticed on the map that the Moulin Rogue site was near the cathedral and decided to go and find it. We kept coming to streets that weren’t shown on the map, which was frustrating, and it was even more so when we showed up and the site of Moulin Rogue wasn’t the original windmill structure but a newer building with restaurants, modern shows and a shrine to the movie franchise.
It had been a long day so we went back to the hostel, ate dinner at the same place we ate the night before and turned in. The next day we were on our way back to Scotland, only this time I got to show them around Stirling. Although we arrived later in the day, the sun was still shining and it was some of the nicest weather I could remember. Mom and Kelly got to see the university and my closet of a room and we were so lucky to be given a ride by my porter, Dougie, up to the Castle. Seriously, he is the sweetest man! Sadly it was closed but they were able to get good pictures from the lookout at the Holy Rude Cemetery. We then stopped into Conway’s pub, the oldest pub either in Stirling or Scotland, to have a cider and then walked over the historic Stirling Bridge back towards the B&B.
For our last dinner together, we ate at a restaurant called Birds and Bees, which is a converted barn. It was a great place, with great food, and a good looking waiter;) We stuffed ourselves full and walked it off getting back to the B&B. I spent my last hour with them watching TV before I caught my bus back home, where I reacquainted myself with dorm life.
My mom and Kelly are now making their journey back to the United States, leaving me with a little over 4 weeks left in Scotland. Seeing them definitely made me miss my family and friends back home, but I am not ready to say goodbye to Scotland or the great people I have met here. It would all be great if everyone back home could just migrate this way and we could all live in Scotland together (think about it)! Now, I just have to make the best of my last month here and figure out how the heck I am going to get all my stuff back home!