America for the Holidays: New York

Last stop New York City! And we stayed in Brooklyn. In an Airbnb. We’ve had great experience with Airbnbs in the past. So we hoped for the best on this one. It ended up being in an area that was a little further out than I thought but it seemed good enough. The apartment was a fixer upper, but it had everything we needed. The first thing we did being that we were in Brooklyn was head to the bridge. We crossed the Brooklyn Bridge and even though it was totally packed we still got to see amazing views. The first stop in Manhattan was Katz’s Deli. Is 30 minutes queuing outside, 30 minutes waiting inside and fighting for a table worth it for a sandwich? YES! It is. Honestly it was the best sandwich or two sandwiches actually (we got one corned beef and one pastrami). The pastrami sandwich is slightly better, but even now I would wait ages for another one of those sandwiches.

We headed to New York City to see my friend Abby and to celebrate New Years Eve in THE place to go. Well seeing Abby was as amazing as ever. She is one of the best most consistent friends I’ve ever had. She is and always will be the friend I can’t wait to see, and can always rely on. Abby cleared her schedule to spend a great deal of time with us. But before she came back to NYC for NYE, Col and I did some more touristing. That included a crazy Times Sq the day before NYE and geez that was crazy. I’ve been to Times Square before and it’s always busy, but that time of year it was insane. We also headed to the Whitney, which is one of my favourite museums in NYC. The exhibition is always changing but I like the focus on American art. PLUS the building… It’s got some amazing views and I just am inspired by the building itself. Once we left the Whitney we went to what may have been my and Col’s favourite exhibitions: Rolling Stone’s Exhibitionism. I am not a crazy Stones fan or anything. I mean yes I like them, but I really never expected to like the exhibition as much as I did. But with videos, music, costumes and set ups of flats, studios and backstage, you delved straight into feeling like you were getting an exclusive on the Stones. If you’re in NYC go!

Earlier I said that Times Square was busy, well it wasn’t just there it was NYC. Apparently everyone wants to be in NYC for NYE which means all tourist things were jam-packed. If you are wanting to see true NYC don’t go in between Christmas and New Years. Oh and DON’T go to the Top of the Rock. The Top of the Rock is the observation deck of the Rockefeller Center and while I think it is probably great any other time of year, when we went it was the worst experience I have had. We tried to get in the first day but the queue outside looked like it’d take an hour. So we tried again the next day where we went from one queue to the next to get to a counter where we could exchange the tickets we had bought for ones with specific times on them. We opted to go the next day rather than wait around for hours. When we went on the day and time we had on our ticket, the queues didn’t end there we had several and security to get through before we finally got to the top. Once up every inch of glass was covered with a crowd of people 5 people deep. The views were completely obstructed and there were way too many people at the top. We were so angry that the experience wasn’t enjoyable. Overall I think it was 8 queues up, 2 queues down, all over 3 days. Not nice. (OK the view was nice I guess…)

The last bit of our trip we went to the Guggenheim. Although the exhibition was a collection of white canvases, the building is and always be a remarkable piece of art on it’s own. We also had dinner with Abby at one of the best places ever. Peaches Shrimp and Crab was amazing. Lobster clubs, shrimp and grits, grilled salmon and even fried chicken what more could you ask for. The last day we were there we took the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty slightly closer up. Then after a quick bite to eat we went to the Comedy Cellar. This was a request of Colin, because famous comedians like Louis CK, Aziz Ansari and more have performed there. Honestly if you love comedy, you have to go there! You have to pay entry and buy a minimum number of drinks and they choose your seats for you. BUT you will have time best time and you will be able to see and hear. Seriously it was the best time.

Well that was the end of our little Americas trip and I’m so glad that Colin came with me for Christmas. It was so much fun and we got to see and do things that not even I had done before. I really can not wait until we can go again!

America for the Holidays: St. Louis

img_5165I love St. Louis. It is my hometown and even though no one has ever heard of it, it is a city worth visiting. It was Colin’s first time in my hometown and seeing where I grew up. I’ve been to his childhood home a lot and I just wanted him to like it.

For a city with just under 3 million people it’s a small town where you see people you know where ever you go. Mostly that means avoiding eye contact and walking past people you’ve known for years. But this trip I arranged to see people I really wanted to plus some ridiculously touristy stuff and it was one of the best times I’d had.

So the touristy stuff. Well we did the Arch, Wash U, the Budweiser Tour and the Art Museum. Sort of. The Arch was closed for repairs, well you can go into the museum but not up in the Arch. And being that I’ve visited the Arch loads… what is the point of that?! So we just went to see it. Then Wash U the tour was on me and my friend Amy. She took us around the Kemper Art Museum on campus and showed us a few of her favourite things. While I just walked Colin around the main campus. I love Wash U and it felt great walking around campus again. The Budweiser Tour is a classic for people visiting St. Louis. I know what you’re thinking Budweiser, yuck. But in the Brewery it tastes better, crisper and more expensive. Plus the tour is free and you get a free beer out of it. My favourite part of it is the Clydesdales and the Dalmatians. Yes the horses and dogs are the best. I mean the one Clydesdale’s was at least a foot or two taller than I was. They are impressive and gorgeous creatures. Last tourist stop was the St. Louis Art Museum. Like lots of other stuff in St. Louis, the museum is free. Much like the Art Insitutute of Chicago SLAM recently added a modern art extension. The museum is great and getting to go with Colin and my mom is just what I needed.

Like I said previously a great deal of the trip to St. Louis was for friends and family. Plus it was Christmas. I love Christmas with my family and this was lots of family and puppy time. Ok Riley isn’t a puppy, he’s like 5-6 or so. We played board games, ate lots of food and laughed a lot! Meeting with my friends was no different. There was a Christmas pop up bar and my friend Kelly was determined to get us in there. With wrapping paper every where, fairy light all around and Christmas themed cocktails, it was definitely worth the wait.

Being that Colin had never been to America before, he wanted to go through as many American cliches as possible. Those ranged from eating at a diner late at night, going to dive and regular bars to various foods. I think we covered Corn dogs, hot wings, dinner food, breakfast food all while in St. Louis. I even made gooey butter cake from scratch. As far as going places I think my favourite was the bowling alley. We dragged my mom along with us and although she said she had never been bowling, she beat us. It was embarrassing, but so much fun. The trip to St. Louis was a great time and I think Colin really enjoyed it as well. He even said St. Louis was his favourite of the 3 cities we visited! 😀

 

It’s Electric!

After Primavera and Croatia Rocks, I didn’t think that any music festival could live up to my high standards. But in comes the small, intimate, Scottish music festival that is Electric Fields and you couldn’t be more wrong. I had never been camping for a festival and I honestly didn’t think I’d like it. It was amazing though. Located at Drumlanrig Castle in Thornhill.  The campsite is just the right size and the festival venue is just a short walk away. I couldn’t believe the time I had. My favourite performance with Everything Everything, but everything I saw from Teen Canteen to Primal Scream was amazing. The best part was that we had absolutely amazing weather. That made exploring the castle grounds an amazing time in addition to the great festival. Honestly I just want to do it again right now!

Work from Berlin? Yes please!

I am lucky enough to have a job that I can do from essentially anywhere. Whether that means in bed, in Dublin or last week in Berlin. Berlin yay exciting right!? Well I wasn’t really there to party, I mean I did of course (it is Berlin…).

Off to Grandmother's House

Off to Grandmother’s House

I was there to visit my grandmother, who is in her late 80s and lives essentially alone in Berlin. She’s lived there all of her life and there is no way that she is leaving the house she’s been in for decades. She is doing alright though don’t worry the end of this post won’t be and she died… No I mean she’s old so her health isn’t going to be amazing, but she seems to be doing alright.  I did try to take full advantage of being in Berlin and seeing her almost everyday. I mean she is the cutest and she’s a huge part of the little family I’ve got. 😀

Working @ the AirportBUT now on to less personal stuff. The trip began with a flight to Copenhagen. Ok yes Edinburgh to Berlin isn’t that far and yes there are direct flights, but the difference was almost £100 and I’m not made of money haha.  But being that it took forever for me to get to Berlin, there was lots of working at the airport. This included several Skype calls with clients while wandering around trying to find what to eat for lunch. The Copenhagen airport is insane, there is literally everything you can dream off in a clean but dark style. Also they have Joe & the Juice which is apparently everywhere but I’d never heard of it. And although I didn’t give it a try (I wanted to eat real food not just juice, plus limited time), it looked impressive. It was like a juice/ coffee bar that was pretending to be a club. I’m not going to lie I didn’t think I was even cool enough to be in there. Still the airport is absolutely amazing.

IMG_6508Then there’s Berlin… what can I say about Berlin. I’ve been going about every other year since I was 18 months old. It’s like a 3rd home to me (St. Louis, Edinburgh, come on keep up). Upon arrival I went to the apartment that I was staying at and its covered with graphic street art and above a tattoo studio. Um it was pretty amazing. Also it was a lush apartment which was huge. I stayed with 3 guys who will remain nameless because they want to stay off the grid or whatever. Haha. (Yes their faces will be shown because it’s 2015, what is privacy, deal! ha)

shh don't tellThe trip consisted of a dose of touristy things, a dose of catching up with family, working and clubbing. First there was Tresor  which was cool. Clubs seem to be in warehouses in Berlin so that’s where this first one was. There were 3 bars, but only two were open while we were there. It was a great deal of dancing, fog and some alcohol. Even though we were out till 4:30am it was a relatively tame night. But we realised quickly going out before 2 am is early. Definitely would have to get used to that. They were also really against any photos so I took this one somewhere (who knows where, I won’t tell you hehe). The club we went to the next nice hated it even more, they physically put stickers on to your cameras when well if you got in. It was called Berghain and it is crazy. I mean they turn away so many people. I was so nervous that we were not getting in but after almost 2 hours in the cold and a staring contest with this guy: 

Who is apparently the notorious for not letting people in. Check out this article about the club if you want to know more. But a quick quote from the article says it all:

“…Don’t look too glamorous; look queer; don’t act like a tourist; don’t look too young; don’t show up as a group of straight men or women; dress eccentrically; go alone…”

I doubt the guys I were with would like that description but hey I’m 25, straight, showed up in combat boots, ripped tights, shorts and a leather jacket and got in! It was as though the entire club was pulled straight out of a vampire movie like Blade or that scene in the club of the 2nd Matrix movie… Wow those are cool references. Ha.

Berlin in general is one of the most inspirational cities that I have ever been to and every time I go I feel refreshed and a burst of creative energy. Whether it’s the new stores/ restaurants popping up all over the place, the graffiti or the Buchstabenmuseum. Yes if you know German that is the letter museum and well it is basically that, a Typography and sign museum. I loved it completely. I’m not going to go into detail here, because if you love type you’ll see in a few photos why I loved it and if you don’t meh look anyway!

Other then that we did lots of walking around being tourists, eating amazing food and some shopping. Oh and going to bars and galleries all in East Berlin for the most part. Don’t want to bore with minor details so here are more photos! Warning: I’m completely obsessed with the TV tower if you can’t tell. Let me know if you want to know more about anything else :D.

All photos taken on iPhone 5, some snapchats, snuck in there too ha 😀

Croatia Rocks: Sunday

thumb_IMG_5088_1024 So day 1! We didn’t catch any of the acts on Sunday, mostly because we were way too exhausted but we managed to get our wristbands, groceries, into the apartment and to the beach. Well 2 beaches actually. We stopped by Zcre Beach and the beach near our apartment. For anyone thinking about going to Croatia Rocks, I have some point to remember:

  1. Stay in Novalja. We stayed in Stara Novalja and trust me its not the same. It was great for us because we had a car but if not the bus to Zcre beach was a 20 -30 minute walk in 35 degree heat. Plus it was probably dark as well.
  2. Taxis are pricey, but worth it. First off we had one of the best chats ever with the Taxi driver, but also it seems to be the safest and easiest ways to travel at night. BUT they might try and rip you off, so remember how much you pay.
  3. Acts might not show up… Yeah that sucked. But if you’re ready for it, it hurts less ha.
  4. Enjoy your days. The nights didn’t start till 9-10ish so you have the entire day to do something. Don’t sleep into late, there are some beautiful beaches in the area. Go explore.

Here’s some photos from driving and the evening:

Check out the next day of Croatia Rocks here!

(Missed previous Croatia posts? They start here)

2 weeks in Paradise! ( A little Croatian Holiday)

IMG_5101The last 2 weeks have been some of the best in my entire life. Helen and I had been organising this 2 week holiday to Croatia for a few months and when it finally came around we couldn’t believe it. After an early morning of waking up at 5 to get to the airport on time the excitement really kicked in.

It all began with the flight to Split, but that lead to trying to find our rental car company. Of course which didn’t have an office at the airport, but after a creepy car ride with a stranger to an “office” (it was an empty apartment with a desk) we managed to get our car. Then the real adventure began…

croatia_map

We began driving up to Novalja for the Croatia Rocks festival. Post festival we hopped back in the car and drove all the way down to Dubrovnik. Then began the sailing from Dubrovnik to Sipan to Mljet to Korcula to Scedro to Hvar then a long pit  stop in Brac for gas when we ended our sailing trip in Split. Details and more images in posts to follow.

Check out the day one of Croatia Rocks here!

Island Time

Every once and a while you just need a weekend away. Luckily my friend, Helen is from the Isle of Arran (Scotland, not Ireland, but that one might be nice as well!), so running “home” for the weekend wasn’t an issue. Course it wasn’t my home, but hey take what you can get! Any way I loved it and it was totally beautiful. It was a completely relaxing and refreshing experience to just go on walks and be with family (yes again not mine but still). I can’t wait to go back.

Photos of course from my iPhone (I mean what can you expect from me):

Random leap over to Dublin

Besides the fact that I’m terrible at keeping a blog! [I will get better I promise, haha probably won’t] My best friend from home randomly appeared in Dublin a few weeks ago. [You should go check out her blog actually it’s way better than mine >.< thebloomingartichoke.wordpress.com] Anyways she showed up and I made last minute arrangements to head to Dublin and I of course brought my camera. Unfortunately I did have to work while over there [yes, my bosses are awesome and let me work from Dublin], but I did manage to do as much site seeing as possible. Below is a little [not really sorry] collection of my photos from the trip:

The “Real” Camera:

 

And some more “fun” iPhone photos:

Visits from Home!

ImageSome how when things seem rough then everything flips around. I had been slightly down, because of my lack of being social (which is totally my fault). Then today I got reminded of all of the love I have at home and people I have cheering me on to succeed here. I got a lovely visit from the one and only Kelly. She has been my friend since we happen to be in the same sixth grade home room. We have been through almost everything together. We have even through distance and time apart, managed to hang on to that friendship. Seeing her made me realize I was doing the right thing and I was going on an amazing adventure. I still can’t believe that I live in this city. I was in no way depressed or upset that I came here, but I was still nervous about the whole thing. I’m so glad that Kelly came, because it confirmed that I am totally doing the right thing here. We had a lovely dinner complete with pies, mash, chips, peas and cider. Next weekend we are off to Glasgow and I’m super excited about it. This year is going to be quite an adventure.