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: Chicago

Every Christmas means the same thing for me: heading to St. Louis to go home. This year it was different, because I asked Colin if he wanted to come with me. Since he had never actually been to the States, well ever, I thought it was right for us to make this trip a bigger one then just a quick trip to St. Louis. That meant first stop was Chicago.

After a ridiculous day of traveling which consisted of 3 flights, 2 buses and a taxi (all of which were delayed), we made it. We got to the hotel really late or is it early if it’s 2 am. Either way we were exhausted and hopped right into bed. The hotel was called Freehand and it was half hostel half private room hotel. It has a cute little bar downstairs and everything fits in an eclectic style with an almost native American feel. But really it was a hipster hotel located in a great part of town and I would definitely recommend it!

The weather in Chicago this time of year is always cold, but this trip it was something different. The second day we were in Chicago the weather report said the HIGH was -18C (-0.4F) and the low was -26C (-14.8F). That meant that we planned our trip around the cold.

Our first day was meant to be the warmest day so that was the day of walking outside. Being that we were in Chicago, we ran to the Bean first thing. The Bean is one of those tourist attractions that doesn’t really get old. The high shine reflects the skyline and the people and it just photographs amazingly. Right next to the Bean is the Art Institute of Chicago and that was our first stop from the city pass that we bought. 5 tourist destinations for $98. I love the Art Institute and I haven’t really been since the modern wing was complete. I realise that was ages ago, but I don’t go to Chicago that often.  Next we went up to the Skydeck which is located in the Willis Tower (former Sears Tower). This is the view deck with the little glass boxes that hang off the side of the building. We were determined to get a photo from inside the box. The professional photo ended up being so cute that we paid $30 for those crazy 3 photo packages. But oh well it was cute.

Did I mention it was cold? Yeah it was freezing or below freezing actually, like way below. But that wasn’t going to stop us. We decided that the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum was the best place to stay warm. I’ve loved the Shedd since I was little, mostly because I have a love for Beluga Whales. The two are so close to each other that the little time we spend outside didn’t seem all that cold, which is great because Chicago is beautiful in the snow.

The last stop on our tourist tours was 360 Chicago. It’s the 94th floor of the John Hancock building. The views from here were spectacular. The views may be better because from here you can see the Willis tower.

In between the times of tourist attractions were some shopping (of course) and meeting with some friends. I love Chicago and I tried to convince Colin that it’s an amazing city as well. The time there was great and I’m glad I got to experience it with him.

You’re driving on the wrong side…

Or is is the right side? Who knows. But when my mom came to visit I knew it was time for a little road trip! I rented a car from Sixt (btw they were always super helpful and reasonably priced, so would definitely recommend them). We hopped in the car and drove up to Luss on Loch Lomond. I’d never been to Loch Lomond and I heard that it was beautiful so it was really about time. As we drove up everything was gray, dark and foggy, so I thought uh oh this wasn’t going well. But once we got close the fog had burned off and the sun came out. It was absolutely beautiful and I couldn’t believe the views. We walked around Luss for a while and thought it was time to stop for lunch. I drove us down to Cameron House and we had lunch in the bar. Cameron House is really cute it massive and decorated in lots of tartan and oversized furniture. I really liked it, but of course as expected it is on the expensive side. After lunch we headed across to Stirling so that my mom could see Stirling Castle. I never been there either, but I knew it would be a treat for my mom. The drive to Stirling was quicker than expected and once we arrived the castle was still covered with just a little bit of snow. The castle is really nice and well maintained. I really enjoyed the visit there. I know that my mom did too.

Down to London Town

img_4433Some weekends you just need a get away and this one definitely could not have come at a better time. Except for the whole lack of funds due to being jobless now, but that was a problem for future Kat and I wasn’t worried about that. (I know I’ll find the next big adventure when it comes to jobs and I know I’ll be moving on to something bigger and better). Luckily before then I arranged for a little Anniversary and birthday present; I thought that I would get Col tickets to an Arsenal game. Since we decided to go down for a long weekend the rest of the trip was my present. We flew down and immediately found our cute little Airbnb. The owner was definitely an American living in London with little SNL objects and other jokes that were so American it was great. I felt right at home.

Then the touristing in London began. We went up to Sky Garden and the views were amazing. You can book tickets online for free and you just book with a time slot. There is of course a queue to get up and a bit of security to go through, but it’s maybe 10 minutes to get up to really spectacular views. Once up there are a few cafes and restaurants to choose from. And although they are quite pricey if you take the time to look there is something for every budget. You can’t complain being in an indoor botanical garden high up with amazing views of London.

It was off to the Tate Modern after that. We thought oh well it’s a quick walk over there it won’t be bad. And to be fair the walk to the Tate Modern wasn’t bad at all. What was rough was that the place is HUGE! I mean floors and floors and floors of modern art. You have to cross a bridge and go up and down floors in two different but connected buildings. I’m not complaining, it was incredible, but man were we exhausted.

Saturday was the big game day and to say we were both excited was an understatement. I had never been to a real football game. We found a cute coffee shop near where we were staying called the Shoreditch Grind. There we had a nice little pregame brunch and coffees of course before we headed for Emirates Stadium. Before the game even started I knew it was going to be a good time, because the Stadium is so well designed. There are gates all around the outside with individual letters and you were only allowed to enter into your assigned gate. Then you were ushered up to your individual section. Each section had a few bars and snack stands, as well as a good amount of bathrooms. I mention this because I’ve been in stadiums where you miss have of the show or game due to the fact that you are standing in a queue waiting for something. After a few pints at the bar we headed to our seats. The game itself was well disappointing, but it was an enjoyable time non the less.

The rest of our evening consisted of you guessed it a restaurant called Meat Liquor and well it was a great combination of the best burgers and cocktails I’ve probably ever had. Plus I mean b&w photo booth for the win! Seriously I couldn’t recommend this place enough, go now if you can! The last day of our trip we went to probably my favourite place maybe ever. No I’m not kidding it was amazing! God’s Own Junkyard is Chris Bracey’s amazing collection of neon signs, props and more. The electricity bill on this place must be insane. But you walk inside and it’s incredible. You expect that this much visual stimulation would be too much, it’s a gallery of light and colour and type. I was obsessed. Plus there is a cute little cafe in there that even does vegan sweets so what more could you want. img_4557

All in all London was a great little trip away and as you can tell I was quite the happy camper! I’m still not sure that I could live in London full time, but my next trip there will definitely be sooner rather than later!

Did someone say Beyonce?

Beyonce and a weekend in Dublin is exactly what the doctor ordered. When Helen and I heard that Beyonce was coming to the UK and Europe we were on it. We did everything we could to get these tickets, but when we saw that the Dublin tickets were the cheaper option we thought why not. When life sends Beyonce to Dublin, why not make a long weekend out of it?

We spent a great deal of time wandering around and simply seeing what Dublin has to offer. Doing so we found Marsh’s Library which was founded in the early eighteenth century. It was a different library from the Old Library with Book of Kells, so it was nice to see something else. The Book of Kells is amazing, though and I would throughly recommend both libraries. We also popped into the Irish Museum of Modern Art which is a brilliant collection of modern art and a great stop for us.

Then it was time for Beyonce. There isn’t much that I need to say about that. It was amazing. I can’t believe that I got to experience such a great show. Helen and I decided it was early getting to the stadium ridiculously early to get as close as we could. And as you can see it worked. Such an amazing concert which I could do it again.

Two Trips in one + a Festival

When we decided to go to Primavera in Barcelona we thought hey why not make a massive trip out of it. Especially when you see spending 24 hours in Paris at the beginning and the end of your trip is the cheaper option. Upon arriving in Paris we got the metro straight to the Notre Dame, because although I spent a summer in Paris Colin had never been there. Touristy things were the name of the game.

The Eiffel Tower was the next stop for us and we immediately became those people with the selfie sticks that everyone hates. Hence the stupid faces. But we did end up with cute photos. The second day that we spent in Paris was at the end of our trip, with no sleep due to a ridiculously early flight. Which meant that trying to see Sacre Coeur was not the happiest one. But with such a beautiful site, you can’t be upset for too long.

Then there was Barcelona. A totally new experience for me. I had never been to Barcelona, much less Spain. But I knew when I got to our apartment, that I was wanting to stick around for a while. I mean any city with a beach has got my heart, but oh man was that water cold. It was not swimming weather for me that’s for sure.

Barcelona is decked out with amazing sites. From Sagrada Família to Park Güell to the Dali Museum, my art and architecture love was definitely fulfilled. If you haven’t done so go to Sagrada Família and pay the extra euros to go up and check out the view. I mean take a look, you can see all of Barcelona and parts of the church up close. Park Güell was packed so it was a little harder to see everything you wanted. Still it was a stunning site to be seen. The Dali Museum was a dream and a half. It’s Dali, what else is there to say?

Primavera… just wow. A long weekend of music with some of the greatest people Glasgow has to offer. Tame Impala, Sigur Rós, Animal Collective just to name a few. With the heat of the sun and all of the stages being within walking distance, this is one of the best music festivals that you could imagine. I was so impressed and I had so much fun with this goofy bunch.

Family visit just in time!

Sometimes it’s a struggle living so far from home, but my mom manages to make it all easier. She manages to afford to appear just at the right time. This time I picked her up from Edinburgh and after a quick evening there, she flew to Berlin.

Mom heading home to visit my Oma, was the perfect opportunity for me to follow her. The three of us barely get to be in a room together, so I was so excited. This was the perfect refresh for me. They both have been such amazing rocks for me, that it was great to just have them together. Of course with 3 strong females it got a little stressful at times, so goofy times and face masks were definitely required in the evening.

After a quick catch up in Berlin my mom and I headed back to Scotland so my mom could get to know Glasgow. Unfortunately I had to let her explore on her own, but I managed to surprise her and book another Rabbie’s Bus Tour for her and I. The tour left from Glasgow and drove down Ayrshire. It was just the two of us on the tour, but that meant more Mother-Daughter time. Once back in Glasgow I thought I’d introduce my mom to gin. Even though she said she had tried gin, she claimed that she didn’t like it. Well Gin71 in Glasgow managed to fix that, with their amazing gin flights.

Brooklyn was a dream.

All the things that happened there just couldn’t happen. It was all dream stuff. Or was it all real and true and was it that she, Francie, was the dreamer?― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

NYC

I love NEW YORK! My friend Abby lives in Brooklyn and she showed me the greatest week that I could imagine! I had to work during my week there, so we decided that I’d follow Abby in the commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Then I worked from coffee shops when I got there. So much fun. I thought the commute would be terrible, but 40 minutes and 2 subways with your best friend is really not that bad. While in NY we went to the Whitney, wandered around Brooklyn & Manhattan, ate at Chobani (yes the yogurt, they have a restaurant), went to the most amazing gym, visited the 9/11 memorial and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge. I couldn’t imagine a better week with Abby. It almost convinced me to move to NY… We’ll see what happens in the future. Abby! I may be coming for you! 😀

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 😀

Sail Week Croatia: Dubrovnik

Ok so before I possibly get into a rant (I’ll make it quick I swear) about all the things that went wrong, I want to say it was an amazing week filled with great laughs, tons of chat and beautiful surroundings. That being said toilet paper, food and water were luxuries. But hey it was called an Adventure Sailing Week. Honestly I think our issues were due to our Skipper focusing more on getting laid than helping us out (but we’ve all been there so no judgements). We didn’t starve, we used the toilets fine and although we bought a lot of our own water we didn’t shrivel up into raisins. So all and all a success. For the week there were 2 boats each with 10 people plus a skipper per boat, headed from Dubrovnik to Split. I wish I would’ve seen more of Dubrovnik, because the first day in Dubrovnik was spent in the Marina and the next day we were off. My boat of 10 was surprisingly  all UK based, so in theory we should all stay friends :D.  They were all a funny group with interesting lives all 24 to early 30s. We really bonded quick and got along the entire time.

**Also disclaimer for the following posts I am doing my best to place the right pictures and explanations to the right days, but I have probably gotten something wrong so don’t hold it against me 😀 **

So the following photos are Dubrovnik pre sailing:

The rest of the sailing trip continues here.

(Missed previous Croatia posts? They start here)