Tag Archives: Travel

Breath of Fresh Air

Seattle, you’re a dream.

Thank you for a much-needed weekend of nature, city, memories, and fresh air. Here’s to our next rendezvous…

 

seattle washington space needle queen anne kerry park seattle whale watching anacortes washington ferry seattle whale watching anacortes washington seattle whale watching anacortes washington seattle whale watching anacortes washington seattle whale watching anacortes washington seattle whale watching anacortes washington ferry seattle whale watching anacortes washington ferry seattle deception pass washington seattle washington union lake bridge seattle washington space needle queen anne

 

 

The Lark

 

Château de Sceaux

Temperatures in Southern California are rising into the 90s and all I can do is reminisce about fall in Paris last year. Scarves, boots, auburn trees – it all served as a reminder of the season we were leaving and the one we were quickly approaching. There’s been no shortage of change for me this autumn, but as usual it seems the weather has not quite gotten the memo.

 

When Emilie and I were studying abroad in Paris together, one of our absolute favorite adventures was visiting Château Vaux-le-Vicomte just outside of the city. On our return trip to Paris a year ago, we knew we wanted to set aside at least one day to visit another château in the area. This time, we took the RER out to Sceaux, built for Louis XIV’s minister of finance, Jean-Baptiste Colbert. Most of Colbert’s original estate, however, was destroyed during the French Revolution. The grounds that were originally designed by the famed André le Nôtre were used for crops and all of the contents of the château were sold for the benefit of the nation.

 

The château as it exists today was restored by the duc de Trévise in the style of Louis XIII. Since 1922, Château de Sceaux has been open to the public living in the surrounding city of Sceaux. It was such a nice, fall day and I particularly loved to see the grounds populated with families and joggers enjoying one of the last few days of nice weather before the rainy season.

 

Paris Château de Sceaux

 

Paris Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de SceauxParis Château de Sceaux

 

signature

Scottish Highlands | Day 1

I’m not usually one to chase after a large, group-style guided tour. I usually prefer to take things at my own pace, allow experiences to unfold in an organic way, and have a general rough framework for a trip but allow the rest to fall into place naturally. However, I will be the first to admit that there are some situations and places that call for a guided tour of some sort. Knowing that my family and I wanted to get up to the highlands and Loch Ness and such, I began searching for a tour we could take from Edinburgh. After some internet research I came across Highland Experience Tours. This company had tons of options to choose from, but I was particularly drawn to one of their 2-day tours that would take us on…the……Hogwarts Express.

Yep. The Hogwarts Express.

Okay the tour actually included a ride on a Jacobite steam train from the 18th century, but this also happens to be the train that is used in the Harry Potter films during the students’ journey to Hogwarts.

Harry Potter aside, this tour looked like it promised to show us everything we wanted to see. We’d start from Edinburgh and make our way Northwest through Cairngorm National Park, Inverness and Loch Ness, the severe yet breathtaking landscape of Ranoch Moor and everything in-between. This ended up being the absolute perfect way to spend two of our days in Scotland. Our tour guide was a wealth of knowledge and Scottish history, and he would narrate our drives through misty mountains and sweeping vistas with stories of warfare, gore, and folktales. I would definitely call this a highlight of our entire trip.

We began at the Forth Rail Bridge, which dates all the way back to 1890. This bridge was constructed at a great cost – 7 years, 10 times as much metal as the Eiffel Tower, and a jaw-dropping 98 lives. One man fell beyond retrieval, and the only solution for his comrades was to lower him poisoned food in order to grant him death as humanely as possible. (His body is still somewhere in the depths of the bridge…!)Scotland Forth Rail Bridge

Our first stop was Dunkeld, a small town north of Perth. We walked to the Dunkeld Cathedral and learned about the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689, when the outnumbered Cameronian Regiment fended off the Jacobites by securing themselves within the cathedral. The Jacobites sought shelter in the abandoned thatch-roof homes of the village. In the middle of the night, the covenanters went around to their former homes and quietly locked the doors. They proceeded to set fire to the village and miraculously won the battle against forces that had been so superior to their own.Scotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands DunkeldScotland Highlands Dunkeld

Next was a quick stop at the ancient burial ground of Clava Cairns. Very few of these centuries-old structures have remained in-tact in Scotland due to the Victorians taking a great interest in these sites and claiming their contents for themselves, however this particular one is well-preserved. Dating back 4,000 years, Clava Cairns is an example of a circular burial chamber exhibiting prehistoric rock art. We then hopped over to the battlefield at Culloden, the site of another battle between Jacobite and government forces.Scotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland HighlandsScotland Highlands Culloden BattlefieldScotland Highlands Culloden BattlefieldScotland Highlands Culloden Battlefield

Our last stop of the day was probably the biggest. Loch Ness. No, we did not see Nessie 😦Scotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessScotland Highlands Loch NessAfter a short catamaran trip on the loch we arrived at Castle Urquhart, originally a medieval fortress but used between the 13th and 16th centuries as an important stronghold in the Scottish Wars of Independence, then as a royal castle, suffered quite a bit of destruction in the 17th century to prevent use by the Jacobites, and is now one of the most-visited castles in Scotland.

Scotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle UrquhartScotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle UrquhartScotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle UrquhartScotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle UrquhartScotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle UrquhartScotland Highlands Loch Ness Castle Urquhart

We then made our way to Ft William for the night, passing Scotland’s tallest mountain, Ben Nevis, along the way.

Scotland Highlands Scotland Highlands Scotland Highlands Ben NevisScotland Highlands Ft William

Few! We covered a lot of ground and this is only the half of it! I know I mentioned the Hogwarts Express, but I just don’t think I can fit everything into one post. That’s up next, I promise!

signature

St Andrews

Over the past few years I’ve come to realize that I love re-visiting places I’ve traveled to almost as much (and maybe sometimes a little bit more) as I love visiting someplace new. There’s something special, insightful, and nostalgic about re-entering a city after a while to discover the ways in which you’ve both changed or remained the same. I also absolutely love introducing people I love to the places I’ve been, and this was exactly what I had the blessing of doing with my family in Scotland. I was so excited to introduce them to Edinburgh, and I also knew that I had to take them up to St Andrews for a day sometime during our trip. When I first visited St Andrews I was instantly drawn to this pristine little seaside city that exists primarily as an aloof and prestigious university town. All of this changes when the world of golf descends on this corner of Scotland for the Open Championship, which has been played at St Andrews more than 27 times, thus designating it “The Home of Golf.”

Though it is by no means a major passion for either of them, my parents have been recreational golfers for years. Our trip to St Andrews, though, confirmed that for golfers of any degree there is truly something special about this place. When we rounded the corner towards The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews I could see my dad’s excitement mounting. Once we made it to the links we all just had to stand there and soak it in for a few minutes.

 

St Andrews Scotland The LinksSt Andrews Scotland The LinksSt Andrews Scotland The LinksSt Andrews Scotland The LinksSt Andrews Scotland The LinksSt Andrews Scotland

 

We OF COURSE had to hop over to the beach to come face-to-face with that magnificent opening sequence from Chariots of FireSt Andrews ScotlandSt Andrews ScotlandSt Andrews Scotland

Something that I hadn’t yet done was tour St Andrews Cathedral and St Andrews Castle. The cathedral was a pretttyyyyy breathtaking. This was once the largest church in Scotland, and was the last structure of its size to be built for 600 years. Today the substantial remains of the cathedral tell the story of an abandoned religion left to crumble. In 1559, Scottish clergyman and leader of the Protestant Reformation John Knox delivered such a fiery and moving sermon in St Andrews parish church that the cathedral was cleansed and ultimately abandoned two years later. After being replaced by a parish church as the chief place of worship, this former headquarters of the Scottish Church was left to fall into ruin.

St Andrews Scotland CathedralSt Andrews Scotland CathedralSt Andrews Scotland CathedralSt Andrews Scotland CathedralSt Andrews Scotland Cathedral

A short walk from the cathedral, St Andrews Castle is another impressive landmark that similarly bears the scars of wars, harsh Scottish weather, and sieges. As the Scots love their grim history, the museum docent was quick to advise us to take a look at the “bottle dungeon,” which I didn’t snag a picture of but oh boy does it bear mentioning. This prison was an airless pit carved into the rock the castle was built upon. Local miscreants would be lowered into the cell with no hope of escape, light, or fresh air. Makes me cringe just thinking about it.

With that said, here are some pictures of our bright, sunshine-y day at St Andrews Castle 😉

St Andrews Scotland CastleSt Andrews Scotland CastleSt Andrews Scotland CastleSt Andrews Scotland Castle

 

Seriously, I can’t believe how blessed we were by such amazing weather in Scotland!

signature

Edinburgh | Arthur’s Seat

On one of our first mornings in Edinburgh we decided to bundle up and make our way past the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace to climb Arthur’s Seat. I have to confess that this has been a dream of mine since reading the book One Day by David Nicholls. It was a blustery, COLD morning, but we made it to the top despite the wind’s greatest efforts to blow us off the surface of the earth!

Edinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat ScotlandEdinburgh Arthurs Seat Scotland

I loved the sense of unspoken camaraderie at the top. Though we were all strangers to each other, there was something to be said for the shared accomplishment of making it to the pinnacle of Arthur’s Seat. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to climb an actual mountain…

signature

London

Two weeks ago today marks the beginning of my family’s trip to the UK together. As you may have read earlier, my parents and I ventured across the Atlantic to visit my brother during a break between two study abroad programs – one at Oxford and another in Edinburgh. Our visit could not have come at a more perfect time, sandwiched between his week-long sailing trip in Turkey and the start of his semester in Scotland. My parents and I had promised to do all the grunt work planning outings and adventures for us so that he could abdicate all travel responsibilities while we were with him. With that said, we packed a TON in. The start of our two week trip was in London, and some highlights looked a little bit like this….

Victoria and Albert Museum | Cromwell Rd, London, United Kingdom

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Victoria and Albert Museum London

Notting Hill Carnival | Notting Hill, London, United Kingdom

Notting Hill Carnival 2013 London

Notting Hill Carnival 2013 London

Notting Hill Carnival 2013 London

Notting Hill Carnival 2013 London

Breakfast at Duck & Waffle | Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London, United Kingdom

London Duck & Waffle

London Duck & Waffle

London Duck & Waffle

London Duck & Waffle

London Duck & Waffle

Tower of London & Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Tower of London Tower Bridge

Walking Along the River Thames

London England River Thames

London England River Thames

London England River Thames

Natural History Museum | Cromwell Rd, London, United Kingdom

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

London England Natural History Museum

In all honesty this post barely scrapes the surface of everything we did in London. It was definitely three days of nonstop exploration and sightseeing. I’d say we made the most of our time! I will say that I have yet to fully understand London as a city…its vastness and diversity continue to puzzle me a leave me feeling like there’s much more to discover before I can truly feel comfortable there. This, however, is not a bad thing. There’s always a reason to go back!

signature

Somewhere between the North and Irish Seas

Today marks the halfway point of my trip to the UK to visit my brother, who is on break between a summer session at Oxford and a fall semester in Edinburgh. I realized that I’ve made no mention of this trip at all…so here are a few iPhone captures before I can get to editing the rest of my images! Follow along on Instagram for more 🙂

20130831-104429.jpg

20130831-104503.jpg

20130831-104550.jpg

20130831-104516.jpg

20130831-104543.jpg

20130831-104624.jpg

20130831-104605.jpg

20130831-104634.jpg

20130831-104840.jpg

20130831-104917.jpg

20130831-104831.jpg

20130831-104906.jpg

20130831-104947.jpg

20130831-105029.jpg

20130831-104932.jpg

20130831-105018.jpg

20130831-105003.jpg

20130831-105035.jpg

20130831-105118.jpg

20130831-105042.jpg

20130831-105103.jpg

20130831-105111.jpg

20130831-214503.jpg