Scotland 2017

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Hello all, long time no see !

Sorry about that, life got in the way (work actually), and I forgot about my ambition of becoming a successful travel blogger (or something slightly less pretentious, no one knows 😀 )

So, after working for a few months, I’ve decided to reconnect with my idea to work abroad, and while everything got settled, planned a week-long trip in Scotland with my mum.

While I’m going to explain in more details what we did, I thought I’d share the itinerary and the idea that it’s ACTUALLY possible to plan for a tour which does not involve renting a car. I’m not going to get into too much detail but my mum is not a fan of driving, and driving on the left side of the road did not appeal to any of us. So, public transport was our only plan for transportation and I’m going to say it was long but worth it.

We simply did not have the time to travel to the Highlands (I still mourn the fact that I have still not seen the Isle of Skye, but it is planned for the next trip !) so we remained in the “low lands” of Scotland.

Here’s the itinerary I’ve come up with, I’ll comment below :

Day 1 : Edinburgh

Day 2 : Edinburgh

Day 3 : Tour to the Hadrian’s wall, based in Edinburgh

Day 4 : Oban

Day 5 : Three Isles tour (Iona, Mull and Staffa), based in Oban

Day 6 : Balloch and the Trossachs National Park

Day 7 : Luss/Glasgow

Day 8 : Glasgow

Day 9 : Glasgow and flight homebound

One thing for sure, we did not have time to get bored. It was quite a lot of travel, but it was suitable for our vision of a holiday, which is to cram as much in as little time as possible. We did not feel rushed, but we could have used another day in Glasgow. The 2 day trips we did, one to the Hadrian’s Wall while we were in Edinburgh and the Three Isles tour we did while we were in Oban were definitely a must do if you plan on travelling without a car, as it will enable you to get to further destinations which might get difficult to reach without a car)

We mostly used train as a means of transportation, the Scotrail service is quite good, some trips were very long (Edinburgh to Oban took about 4 hours) but the trains are comfortable and on time (which, for Belgians, is quite unexpected :D), we sometimes used a bus, I would suggest to check with the various tourist information centers which option is the cheapest/quickest.

I will also say this : it is quite expensive to take the train in Scotland, so my advise is that if you can book in advance, DO IT ! I had the misfortune last summer to take the ticket on the day of the travel and it cost me so much ! You need to check the prices, and I’ve noticed that the prices are very high when the tickets are put in the market, then drop quite significantly, then the prices go up closer to the date of travel. So compare and check the prices at different dates so that you can see how much it would cost in average and then book when you feel it is the cheapest you can get. I’m sure there’s an entire algorithm that is used but I have definitely noticed that the prices varied very much depending on which day I was checking.

We flew with Ryanair (easy and cheap, I’m not payed to say so, but if it’s a short flight you’ll survive the lack of comfort I’m sure) and we stayed in a variety of accommodation, Airbnb, guesthouses and a hotel in Glasgow). As for accommodation, we were very happy with the choices that we’ve made : everything went without a glitch and we did not get lost a single time !

We travelled early May, and we did not have a single rain shower ! Not a single drop ! In Edinburgh the weather was a bit misty but it did not rain at all, and the rest of the trip was entirely sunshine ! You’ll see in the pictures but it felt sometimes we were in Greece or in Malta !

I will try and be as detailed as I can without being boring but we definitely enjoyed our trip, and I believe I will organise a similar trip for my parents in Ireland or Scotland for the both of them to enjoy.

I’m really happy I’m getting back to blogging, I’m still learning so if you have any comments or tips don’t hesitate to share !

Thank you very much !

PS : I’m not payed to promote anything on this blog, my opinions are my own and are not influenced by monetary interests, so if I link the hotels or restaurants, it is because it was well-deserved, in my opinion !

 

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Playlist – Summer 2016

I had planned on publishing this in September when it was technically still summer, but life got in the way. So guess who’s publishing a summer playlist when it’s freezing cold outside ? 😀 Hiya !

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I would like all of you to take a moment and appreciate the random capitalization of the titles and artists —  a work of art indeed:D )

Took me a while to have the idea, to put it together, then about a gazillion years to do this amazing manipulation of a random picture from my holidays. Thanks Paint. Maybe I should invest in some software which would do it “properly” but I’m poor and I’m saving for New Zealand.

By the way, I realise that somewhere in the world right now, a graphic designer is crying because of this picture. And I will admit that it only took me forever to do it, seriously. A career in graphic design IS my future, obviously ! 🙂

Here’s the playlist on Youtube if you’re lazy and you still fancy giving it a listen. (Too Good was nowhere to be found on Youtube, so it’s not in the playlist, obviously)

Here are the details : (because I do realise that it’s not really readable, but hey, my first time, and I will probably do sth less difficult next time 🙂 )

  1. Can’t stop the feeling – Justin Timberlake
  2. Raging – Kygo (ft. Kodaline)
  3. Cold water – Major Lazer (ft. Justin Bieber & MØ)
  4. Firestone – Kygo (ft. Conrad Sewell)
  5. Final Song – MØ
  6. From Eden – Hozier
  7. Send my love (to your new lover) – Adele
  8. Too good – Drake (ft. Rihanna)
  9. Summer 2015- LEJ
  10. Of the night – Bastille
  11. Love yourself – Justin Bieber
  12. Stole the show – Kygo (ft. Parson James)
  13. Kamikaze – MØ
  14. One more – Elliphant (ft. MØ)
  15. Hip Hop Mashup – LEJ
  16. Lay it all on me – Rudimental (ft. Ed Sheeran)
  17. Downtown – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Some of the songs are very old, and not at all released this summer, but I listened to it extensively during the summer, so it counts ! My playlist, my rules ! ) I have a major fascination for MØ, which I would recommand like crazy) You will also learn that I’m borderline obsessed with Ed Sheeran, and Kygo is my go-to music when doing anything really 🙂 I will probably do a playlist at some point next month, but I’m starting a new job (a first job) on Friday, so I’ll probably be busyyyyy !

Lots of love, don’t hesitate to share/like/comment, it’s music to my ears and I’m happy people are reading this 🙂 Got to go, I have cheesecake with my name on it in the fridge !

Graduation Time : Scotland with friends

5 years of uni came with a lot of things, sleepless nights, exams, 3 different flats, a grand total of 27 differents flatmates, many memories and strong friendships. One of my friends and I wanted to go to Iceland to celebrate our graduation. However, it was super expensive, and the idea of driving everywhere was not that appealing. So we decided to go to Scotland instead. Scotland is apparently more appealing than Iceland, as another one of our friends wished to join us. The three of us travelled through the East coast of Scotland, from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, for a week in July 2016.

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I probably will get in more detail for each cities that we have travelled to. We have covered Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth and Aberdeen, with a day trip to Stonehaven. We had planned on visiting St Andrews, but the (very expensive and long) train journey was threatened by a strike, so we decided to go straight to Perth.

A small note stating that Scottish railway strikes are not like Belgium’s. First, when you have a railway strike in Belgium, no train whatsoever are riding that day. Scotland’s consisted of a group of people handing out flyers at the entrance of the station, but the train was still there (and on time! What a luxury !)

We landed in Edinburgh, thanks to yet another successful flight with Ryanair. I’m not fond of flying, I don’t really care about what kind of flight you have, as long as you remain alive during the stay. Even if the service is what it is, it is the cheapest way to travel, and for such a short flight, I did not see myself complaining. Sure, I’m sceptical about the long flights they start to offer, but we had our return journey to Scotland for 75 euros, quite nice if you travel to an “expensive” country, like we did.

The weather was ok, colder than Belgium at that time of the year, but we were expecting it. A piece of advice : do what the locals do when it rains. It took us a while to understand that they don’t struggle when it rains. They simply shelter themselves and wait until it’s done. Once we did like the Scots, we avoided getting soaked to the skin thanks to a 10-minute downpour and went on our merry (and dry) way when it was done !

Edinburgh is wonderful, such a nice city, and the Scots are soooooooo nice. Very welcoming and happy to help. We spent two days in Edinburgh, we took a hike just outside the city center.

It amazes me that you can get that kind of landscapes when you are still 5 minutes away from the shopping center.

We stayed in hostels in Edinburgh and Stirling, a B&B in Perth and we rented an Airbnb in Aberdeen. It was the perfect balance between budget and comfort, and we would recommand it and do it again for any future trips we might do.

After the first two nights in Edinburgh (and being woken up at 7 am by an actual cortege of bagpipers (I shit you not)) we postponed slightly our train journey to Stirling so that we could see the Queen ! We heard she was there to open the Parliament, and my (taller) friends saw her ! I’m too short to have seen above the crowd, but I was in Her Presence, which I guess is as good as it gets !

Then we travelled to Stirling, to visit the Castle (great, even if I’m not overly fond of castles) and then took the train to Perth, where we all thought this was an amazing city to live in. Amazing open playground for children. I did not take any pictures because I’m not in favour of scaring children by taking pictures of them, but seriously, AMAZING. Where was this when I was 8 ?

After Perth we travelled to Aberdeen, by train again, which was quite expensive. I would recommand buying tickets in advance, as you get quite a good discount ! We rented a Airbnb appartment, which was great and had Netflix (the temptation was great to do nothing else and watch stupid movies 😀 )

Once in Aberdeen, we decided to take the bus to see Dunnotar Castle in Stonehaven. There is a short hike (45 minutes, at snail’s pace) but everyone, from the bus driver to all the people we met on the hike was stunned to see that we had walked there. Seriously, the easiest hike ever. I’m not ever sure it qualifies as a hike.

I will do a longer post on Dunnotar Castle, as it was great and a must-see if you travel in that area !

In conclusion, Scotland was amazing, and I’m sad that we did not get to travel longer there ! The Scotish people are very friendly, and happy to help ! If you look slightly lost in the street, at least 5 people will stop you and ask if you need help. I guarantee it !

Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or say hi, and share if you enjoyed the article ! 🙂

Leicester, England (2013)

Aaaah, Leicester. (nostalgic sigh)

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I cannot believe it’s already been three years, although my Facebook really insists on reminding me everyday how wonderful my life was then. If you’ve never been to Leicester, have no fear, neither did I before I was selected to go there for my Erasmus exchange. And I would recommand it a million times to anyone wanting to study abroad for a while  ! The most famous thing about Leicester (if you don’t count the fact that they’ve won the English football championship last year) is that it’s where the English have dug out one of their kings from a parking lot. That’s England for you. Nobody quite liked Richard III apparently, so they didn’t really care that his body was missing for some centuries. Anyway, his body was discovered just before I arrived there, so it was THE thing they put forward in all of our student/international meetings.

I stayed there for about 4 months, and it gave me a strong and undying love for Britain. It’s soooo nice there. People are helpful, and the city is clean, and everybody calls you “love” or “luv” and it’s magical. I never thought I would enjoy the stay so much, and it is my unhidden masterplan to return to live there permanently. Brexit or not brexit, I will succeed !

The city is great, with a good balance between history and modernity. The uni, which is very well organised (my Belgian university was put to shame. To shame. ) and the campus is well thought. They do have some strange things, such as the Lit building (mine, of course) that they affectionnately refer to as “the cheese grater”. It was fine and all, but had some kind of a deathtrap of an elevator where you had to jump to your floor, which was not scary at all !

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It does look slightly of a cheese grater, I have to agree

The Uni campus was great, I could have lived and die my entire life in the library and I would have been happy ! (A gift shop AND a café within the library ? Unbelievably amazing for my sad little library at home. Which has neither.)

The town itself is great, with a very decent city center, an amazing amount of shops and plenty to eat !

The clock tower, the market, the city center is full of things to see !

I spent quite a large portion of my time at the “New Walk”, which is a pedestrian street very nice, except when you have to walk back home in the dark and a drunk guy tries to harrass your Italian roomate. Fun. In. Every. Country. Regardless of that, look at how pretty it is

Look at how pretty it is.

Still one of my favourite pictures of all time. My beloved Olympus camera was at the top of its game then. (Now my amazing Canon100D has replaced it, but it will not be forgotten)

This Erasmus exchange was the best way to discover some unknown festivities, such as Diwali, the Indian festival of light (which I would have much more enjoyed if I was not dying from a nasty cold — My other Italian roomate bought me icecream so that I would stop moaning — it worked) and seeing a rugby match (still not sure about the rules though)

 

I will talk and talk and talk about my Erasmus exchange forever, as it is the spark that has ignited the need to travel and the desire to discover new things and new countries. Plus, Leicester is quite well located if you want to travel in England, so we def took advantage of that.

Don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment, I’m still new to this blogging thing so if you have any advice, I’ll appreciate it !

A sisterly city trip to Bordeaux

or how to survive in hot weather when you are used to Scotland !

My sister and I have a beautiful, beautiful relationship. Except when we have to decide where to go on our annual sister-time break. Every year it’s slightly nightmarish, as we do not have the same ideas when it comes to travelling. My sister and her boyfriend go every year to some European country, a trip organised by the same travel agency and do not really get involved with the planning. I love planning the journey as much as actually travelling, so we started with a fundamuntal difference in expectations.

My sister has an unbelievebly long list of “must have” before she actually agrees on the destinations, which ruled out every single destination by plane we envisioned. So we took the train. As we live quite close to the French border, it’s fairly easy for us to use the TGV, and be half a country away in 5 to 6 hours. So Bordeaux it was.

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We only took a small trip there, only 3 days, which is far than enough when you do not have the slight interest in wine. (Why we chose this city remains a mystery to me). But a beautiful city indeed.

As we had planned very little beforehand, we decided to walk everywhere and see what we thought was nice and where we wanted to stay. While not a terrible idea, it was not a very good one either, for two reasons.

First, we found a very cute street (filled with shops and bistrots and stuff) on our journey back, without enough time to actually explore it, while we did the same street at least four times when we were there ! The (not so hidden) gem is the neighbourhoood around the “Place Fernand Lafargue”, if anyone wants to try it out and tell me all the great things we have missed on.

Second, while I really enjoy getting lost in a city as a way of exploration, it’s a very bad idea to do so when it’s sooooooooo hoooooooooot. Really. Bone melting hot while we were there. The “coldest” temperature we had while there was 35° ! We actually saw a chemist’s office annoncing 40°. There is a reason why I travel in Scotland and stuff. I hate hot weather. No, I might enjoy hot weather when you are at your friend’s private swimming pool and stuff, but not when you are planning to sightsee.

But, because there’s a silver lining to every overly hot situation, Bordeaux number 1 attraction, the Miroir d’Eau, saved us all.

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Miroir d’Eau

This is quite lovely. The reflection of the beautiful architecture in this water miror really gives something more to the city.

And with this hellish temperature, we were not the only ones to enjoy it !

 

We also spend quite a lot of time shopping, in the Rue Sainte Catherine, which –  apparently – is the longest pedestrian street in the world. I remain doubtless about that, especially because I haven’t checked the fact and I might be misremembering.

We ate a lot. The Place du Parlement has a really hipsterish brasserie, with a kitchen open pretty much all day,  called Karl. This was quite weird as I do not know whether to recommand it or not. The food was good quality and not too expensive, but the staff was, let’s say, not very friendly. I guess I’m unfair, only one guy, I believe the manager, was quite rude. My sister and I did commit the capital offense of sitting at a table for 4 (which was very small, in our defence) which led the guy to run and not so nicely moves us to… a table for 6. (3 tables of 2 next to each other, OK, but we still remained just the two of us on this very long table for the vast majority of our meal). But still, regardless of that, good food, nice staff (very cute waiter — not the grumpy one), and good price/quality ratio, so I would recommand it. Beware of where you sit though !

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Place du Parlement

I would also recommand two ice cream parlors, which are quite nice, located a throw-stone away from the Place du Parlement, La Maison du Glacier, and another one which I cannot find anywhere ! It’s the second to last shop to your left when you walk the Rue du Parlement Saint Pierre to the Place Saint Pierre. It’s really annoying that I don’t remember the name of the icecream parlor because the woman who works there is very nice and helpful. You can taste a sample before making your choice, which is very helpful when you want to try something different you are not sure you will like.

As for the accommodation, we had rented a Airbnb flat in the neighbourhood of the Gare Saint Jean. Which is a, how should I put it, very colourful neighbourhood. Between hobos and sex shops, you, strangely, cannot really feel at home. But, very close to both the station and the city centre, so I guess it was fine for a couple of days. The flat was very nicely furnished and confortable, so I guess it was not that bad.

As a whole, it was a very good trip, Bordeaux is a beautiful city, very young and where you cannot get bored, but I would only recommand a short trip if you do not plan to leave the main city. I was told that visiting a wineyard or two might be interesting if you are interested in that sort of thing (trips are organised by several companies, ranging from 35 to 100 euros, roughly)

 

Miniature disasters, minor catastrophies and general merriment

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Leicester, New Walk

Slightly overwhelmed and unemployed university graduate is looking for the meaning of life through her blog.

Hi! *waves to the unsuspecting visitor of this website*

I’m Flo. I’m from Belgium and I’m twenty-something. I’ve decided to start this blog because my friend told me I would be good at it and I’m very impressionable. Not really though. (She did tell me I should do it but I’m not very impressionable). I feel this would be a good way to get back to writing after five years spent reading. My 100-page thesis does not count as something I wrote. Although I did write it. I just didn’t particularly enjoy writing it, so I’ve decided it does not count.

I have many talents (overthinking being the main one) and many interests and I thought I would share them with the world ! How generous of me, I know ! This is going to primarily be a travel blog. However, as I have no money, I don’t get to travel much. This might be a blog about all the trip I want to take, who knows ? I’ve recently acquired a decent camera, and I’ve decided to take up photography, to fill in my sad sad days waiting for a call back from a company that might hire me. Finger crossed. So travel blog. Pictures by me with the decent camera to illustrate the wonderful articles I will surely write. Yup, that’s the plan.

As I said, while this is meant to be a travel blog, I will probably digress to other subjects. I’ve pretentiously called that section “lifestyle”, as I have any style living right now. (You have to understand that I’m writing this from my parents’ couch in my jammies — real lifestyle gourou, I’m telling you). You know those Instagram famous people that are unbelievably pretentious and seem to have their lives together ? I pity them. Nah, to be fully truthful, I envy them. I don’t really know if I can but I sometimes try to resemble them. I might try to do artisty pictures of my mug of tea (I drink tea by galleons, be prepared), who knows ? You have to keep in mind that I know this is ridiculous and that I do it ironically. Maybe. Maybe not. A girl’s gotta keep her mystery. I will also share some playlists I make, because I spend a lot of time making them perfect for me, so I figure I should share them. What a philantropist. I know.

I really like talking you see ? You thought this “about” section would be a small introduction to this blog. You fool. I talk. A lot. Which introduces the final section of this blog, the “general merriment” section. I will share my thoughts, sometimes well constructed, sometimes much more inspired by my sister’s continuous quest to find the world’s worst question. “Do you think pinguins have knees?”

(They do. We’ve checked.)

English is not my first language, this also (how great at multitasking this blog is ?)  is a continuous exercise for me to keep the level I have struggled to reach. Writing in English is also a good way to keep this blog and the things I tell about them from my parents. They believe that all the time I spend behind my computer is devoted to job hunting.

It is. I swear. I have applied to a gazillion job already. All in good time. We’ll see. I’m very fond of very long sentences followed by very short ones. You’ll see.

Don’t hesitate to contact me. I’m nice. I swear.

(I do realise it makes me sound desperate to have friends and such. I don’t care. I’m slightly desperate, I’ve accepted that)