Scotland Road Trip: Part 2

So here goes…..probably the most awe-inspiring days of my road trip!

Day 4: Drumnadrochit to Portree

During breakfast our host mentioned that just down the road (ok like an hour, but in the middle of nowhere that is down the road) was a place called Loch Affric and that me and my dad MUST go see it before we left. We decided to that whilst we were here f**k it let’s go see why this place is so good. The drive down was along a single track road behind the fastest moving bin lorry that seemed to go on and on. We eventually made it to the last car park of 3 along this road to Loch Affric as we were told to just go straight to the end. We couldn’t really see much under all the trees so we followed a quick ‘view point’ trail and as we reached the top this is the view that greated us…

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The view point at Glen Affric 

Seriously standing here for about 20 minutes me and my dad just felt like we were staring at a painting. I have never seen such a stunning view in my life. It wasn’t until this moment that i really appreciated how truly beautiful this country could be. If we hadn’t have listened to our host we would never have gone here. In fact i had never heard of this place in my research before coming or highlighted on any of my maps i had. This place really is an untouched gem of The Highlands.

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The father

Once we could tear ourselves away and start making a move to our next destination we followed the A87 to Kyle of Lochalsh. Again this is another road where you stop every 5 minutes to admire the view. The great thing about the roads in Scotland is that there are always stopping points along the side of the road and they have made them in the best view point.

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Loch Cluanie

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As you drive down the A87 you’re able to see a mountain range called the Five Sisters on your right as well as plenty of other beautiful mountains. The winding road continues on to Loch Duich. At the end you come across quite possibly the most iconic of all the Scottish castles…Eilean Donan Castle

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Eilean Donan Castle

I’m not going to lie i actually didn’t go inside to have a look around as i needed to get going to Portree to reach my hotel. But it was nice to see such an iconic symbol of Scotland. Onwards to the Isle of Skye!

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Thew view across to Isle of Skye and Isle of Rassay

The last leg of the day was the drive up to Portree on the Isle of Skye. Apart from the endless pictures on Instagram i was not prepared for quite how magnificent this island is!

But of course in typical Scottish weather as soon as we reached the Cullin Hills the heavens opened and a gloom set down upon the island and so i couldn’t see much at all haha

Day 5: Isle of Skye touring 

So today was the one day of the trip we were not heading somewhere else but actually staying in one place. Ok i say one place, we still circumnavigated the majority of the island. Except countless pictures and very little writing..

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Portree
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Old Man of Storr
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Kilt Rock

Of course the must sees on the island are the Old Man of Storr, Kilt Rock and the lovely little town of Portree. As we went north around the top of the island we saw the Trotternish range and even could see across to the Isle of Lewis. We travelled across to the west of the island to see Dunvegan Castle (which is stilled lived in by the Macleod Clan) and the Duirinish range. The end of the day saw us head back to Portree via The Cullin Hills to try and get a better view than the day before….of course it rained, again.

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View towards Loch Dunvegan
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Dunvegan Castle
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Cullin Hills

Next up Day 6 – 9 (coming soon)

If you missed Days 1-3 it’s here: Scotland Road Trip: Part 1

Happy reading fellow travellers 🙂

Scotland Road Trip: Part 1

On Good Friday me and my Dad ventured on our first our first road trip to Scotland for the week. To sum it up, Scotland was STUNNING!

Day 1: London -> York

Instead of doing the drive to Scotland in one go, we decided to break the journey up and stop over near York for our first night. Neither of us had ever been to York so we thought ‘two birds one stone’ we’ll pop in for a couple of hours. We heard it was beautiful and it did live up to the reputation, but, you only need a short amount of time to see everything. A city that is perfect for a day trip. If you do go i recommend popping into Crumbs Cupcakery (yummy) and of course no trip would be complete without seeing York Minster Cathedral! We were not allowed to take photos of the inside as the Good Friday service was on. All i can say is it is the most amazing cathedral i have ever seen, the architecture and decoration was unlike anything i have ever seen.

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York Minster in the glorious sunshine

Instead of staying in York itself we decided to stay the market town of Wetherby just off the A1 in a pub called The Royal Oak. OH MY GOD! The best pub grub i have ever eaten and i am a massive pub grub eater, can’t beat it.

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Day 2: York -> Edinburgh

This drive wasn’t the most interesting today i have to admit. As i was looking at the map i thought oh we could stop in Bamburgh to eat our lunch as it was by the coast. I was behind the wheel and as i came over a hill in the road all of a sudden i saw this immense castle. Then it occurred to me…..oh this is Bamburgh Castle! So stupid of me haha. We spent 3 hours in the wind and rain exploring the grounds.

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Further north of Bamburgh the scenery of the A1 picks up a bit and you start to feel more and more remote. Again we didn’t stay in the city, but in a village outside. We stayed in Laswade, in a pub called the Laird & Dog Inn. Nice little pub once again with good food and friendly staff (not that my Dad could understand the the accent here). However out night was ruined by a couple of drunk, high, arrogant people who decided that their night didn’t have to end so they would keep everyone in the hotel up. It got so bad they even threatened to punch my Dad when he asked them to quieten down. This was thankfully the only low point of the trip and the rest and every Scottish person we met after this were lovely and helpful.

Day 3: Edinburgh to Drumnadrochit

So this was the day we officially started the Scottish part of our road trip and the reason why we traveled all this way. From the off we were not disappointed by the scenery! We made our way north along the M90 and then the A9 towards the Cairngorms National Park.

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Cairngorms National Park

We didn’t drive into the depths of the park, instead we turned A880 and then onto A86 towards Fort William. I swear we stopped every 5 minutes to admire the  view. The great thing is if you ask a local what to see they know exactly where the good views are. In Roybridge there is a cafe that has all the glacial history of the area and one of the women told us to go down the track road just down from them and to head up to Glen Roy to see the ‘Parallel Roads’. These ‘roads’ are not actually roads but ancient glacial shorelines depicting the different heights of glaciers 11,000 years ago. As a geography graduate i was in awe of them and how they were created by these vast glaciers.

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Glen Roy

After seeing this impressive view we carried on towards Loch Ness along the A82 towards Inverness. Without realising we cam across a view point of Ben Nevis and man i was taken aback by it’s size!

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Ben Nevis

From here we drove north to Loch Ness trying to stay ahead of the rain clouds and in the sun. To see Loch Ness it is best to stop at Fort Augustus but i warn you it was full of tourists but it is where you can pick up all the boats in search of Nessie. I wasn’t overly impressed by Loch Ness. Don’t get me wrong it is cool to see but that was all it was for me.

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Loch Ness

From here we drove to our next pub stay in Drumnadrochit just off the A82 near Inverness.

Safe to say it was a busy day!

Next up Day 4-5: Scotland Road Trip: Part 2

 

A dilemma: Long-term travel or career?

ll start back in May 2015…i came to a fork in the road where i was given an opportunity to meet my friend out in New Zealand and travel for a while or take a job that i had been offered. At the time i was so torn; either go and explore a country i have always wanted to visit and spend some time in South-East Asia or chose the job that i had spent 4 years at university and months of job applications and interviews to eventually get so i could start my career.

What did i do? I freaked out and took the job.

I thought that after so long of working my ass off studying and getting nowhere with job searching that i couldn’t pass up the chance to get my career going in the field i want to work in. I did regret not going to New Zealand, but i thought i would regret more not taking the job.

Fast forward 6 months. I still regretted not going to New Zealand and seeing so many other friends go off travelling and living their dreams upset me. I thought ok in another 6 months i would have gained a years’ experience and i could go off travelling for a few months, maybe even longer. A friend of mine said he would go too. I started saving as much as i could after rent, bills, food and petrol. I started collecting ideas off Instagram and Pinterest and making plans. Only after a few months i found out that friend was keeping from me that he actually couldn’t go and hadn’t told me for months. It broke our friendship and it broke my dream.

Fast forward another few months. I still can’t forgive my friend for the betrayal. I know it may seem petty but it hurt so much that something i had been looking forward to for as long as i could remember was ripped out from under my feet. They lied to me that it was their dream too. More and more i thought how many times i can i keep not going travelling. But, I had to remember that i was and still am gaining experience in a field that i love and that is always advancing and i need those skills for the future. I love my job and adore the people i work with…but…everyday i still think about travelling. My other passion apart from my career.

So….i get stuck in a dilemma. Do i stay or do i go?

One way i am feeding my travel bug is to be better with my annual leave, taking more long weekends for trips to Europe as well as longer breaks further afield. I spend most days searching deals on various sites, reading travel blogs, and am always on Instagram stalking other travelers for ideas. I think i have found a balance for now. A way to suffice both areas of my life.

However, i still save, hoping that one day i will go off exploring. I know i have to give up on the idea of someone coming with me and that i will probably have to go alone. The thought of going this terrifies me and does not help my anxiety. I am not great with meeting new people as i feel too shy and crumble. I’m not sure how i would cope in a foreign country if i had an emergency. But the wanting to go is over-weighing my fears more and more each day and so i grow with confidence that i could do it. If it didn’t work out i could just come home. At least then i know i tried. I don’t want to regret anything in my life anymore.

There are so many options with travelling these days…live the nomad way, join group tours, working-travel visa. I have so much to think about and research. Maybe in another years time i’ll be sitting on a beach in The Philippines as part of en extended tour of Asia, or maybe i’ll be at work after a lovely weekend in Lisbon. Who knows? I still have that decision to make. I just hope i would be content with the decision and that at the end of the day is important to me.

 

 

My Top 5 things to do in Paris!

So recently i came back from a short trip to the city of luvvve….with my housemates (no romance for unfortunately).

I wanted to share my top 5 things that i did in the hectic 3 days i was literally wandering around!

  1. Eiffel Tower

This one is probably a given. It was my third time going up it and this time i finally made it to the top floor! Ok for about 1 minute as it was so windy i could feel it swaying, but, for someone with a fear of heights like me this was a massive thing for me to do and yes i think that one minute counts. I was also lucky enough to be right there for the lights show that happens at 10pm every evening. It sounds cliche but it was magical!

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2. Wandering the streets of Montmatre

For this one my housemates and i took part in a free walking tour around the neighbourhood (i have a whole blog post on just this alone!). This little part of Paris is home to Moulin Rouge, Scare Coeur and of course all on a massive hill. Be prepared for artists, great little restaurants and winding streets.

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Moulin Rouge

3. The foooooooood

Goes without saying really but Parisians know how to eat……baguettes, pastries, chocolate, Macarons, Croque Monsieur…..i could go on! This trip happened to be the first time i ever tried a Macaron and unintentionally ate a baguette from the patisserie, Le Grenier a Pain, that makes the ‘best baguettes’ in Paris. It was good. It was all good.

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Where i had my first Croque Monseur in Montmatre

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4. Getting Lost

One thing i do in every city i visit is just go for a wander to see what i come across. Walking the streets in Paris means you see incredible architecture and come across parks and cemeteries and so much more.

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5. Notre Dame

Not for the obvious reason, but just behind there is a little park on the side of the river with very few tourists and amazing views of the back of the church. Total serenity for me.

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A walk through Montmatre

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The artist’s square

During my recent trip to Paris i decided i wanted to know a bit more about the area known as Montmatre. My hotel was just beyond the Sacre Coeur and i’d only ever heard of this place in association with good food. One sunny but slightly chilly morning i joined one of the free walking tours of offer in the city by Discover Walks Paris. We met outside Blanche metro station. My guide was a lovely, knowledgeable and funny woman called Anna who had lived in the area for nearly a decade. Over the next hour and a half she proceeded to role of fact after fact but also her own little tales.

We started at the infamous Moulin Rouge. I have to admit i knew very little of this place or ever seen the movie (side note, i watched it when i got back…….i’m not a fan of musicals). Anna took us into the entrance and told us all about the history of the building right back to it origins. She informed us that this area was just outside the Paris city wall and so there was no tax and building restrictions. The people here did class themselves as Parisian. At the time the Moulin Rouge was seen as very modern and one of the first buildings in this part of the city to have electricity. The windmill on top is representative of the windmills that used to stand here and are a symbol of Montmarte.

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Moulin Rouge

As we walked through the cobbled back streets, avoiding the tourist drag, we were shown the different styles of buildings and even the cafe where Amelie was filmed. This was exciting to the rest of my group, but i have to admit i haven’t seen that movie either. As we continued our walk we came to the fashionable street, Rue de Abbesses, where all the best restaurants and shops in the area reside. Anna informed us of one restaurant, La Mascotte, where celebrities often dined. However, her favourite was a little charming place called Un Zebre de Montmatre, where i have to admit i had a cracking Croque Monsieur after the tour. It also turned out the day before i had a baguette from La Grenier a Pain which has been voted the best baguette in Paris….and yes it was good!

As we continued on Anna went on the talk about the artists that have lived here over the many years including Picasso and Renoir. It used to be a cheap place to live but over the years has been gentrified and many buildings are now owned by actors and directors. One famous woman who still has a large influence on French culture was Galida. A statue of her is over the back of the hill by the ‘Alley of Fog’ and it is said that to touch her breasts is to bring you good luck. The area over the back of Montmatre is also popular for movie shoots as it is often quiet.

We also passed La Passe Muraille, a statue of a man stuck in a wall. It is based on a popular book of the same name set in Montmatre of a man who had a gift where he could walk through walls, except one day the gift suddenly disappeared as he was walking through a wall and so was stuck forever.

The tour ended at the back of the Sacre Coeur. We were the only people in a small park behind the impressive structure. Anna explained the history of why it was built. After one of the bloodiest rebellions in French history the government built the church on anit-revolutionary ideals. For years the Parisian’s hated the building and what it stood for but now it is appreciated for it’s beauty. The bells is said to 19 different tones (if you can hear them, Anna said she only ever counted 12) and is made of a stone that means dirt just washes off and so it always looks white. But one thing you can not deny in the view!

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My 2016 Bucket List

So like many other people I have an extensive bucket list that seems to grow rather than get shorter. But I have narrowed down my top 5 that I would love to visit if I could in 2016!

  1. New Zealand. Where do I start with this place…honestly where do I start? Everything about this country that I have seen and heard about this country has given me such an urge road trip the entire length of the two islands: from the 90 mile beach in the north to Fiordland in the south.

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    Fiordland, New Zealand. Courtesy of Planitnz.com
  2. Bolivia. For two reasons. One, Yungas Road. I am a bit of a petrol head for a climate change student (my dad is a car lover, it runs in the family!). But the opportunity to drive the ‘worlds’ most dangerous road’ would be a dream. The adrenaline rush would be insane. Second, Salar de Uyuni. To see this natural expanse can only be comprehended in person!

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    Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia. Courtesy of thousandwonders.net
  3. Toyko, Japan. As a geography student having studied urban population and sprawl I have to see just how big this city is and throw myself into the middle of it all.

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    Tokyo, Japan. Courtsey of japan-guide.com
  4. South Africa. There is something about this place that has always attracted me and I just can’t quite put my finger on a reason why. Maybe it’s the the vast array of ecosystems and animals that screams to my inner big kid and the chance to see Hippos and Penguins and everything I can.

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    Table Mountain, South Africa. Courtesy of cometocapetown.com
  5. Washington, USA. Ever since I went of my uni trip to Vancouver I have wanted to see Washington. You’re probably like but Vancouver is in Canada? Hear me out…I was up Cypress Mountain at a lookout point and with the glorious clear skies I could see as far south as Seattle and Mount Rainer and I just wanted to see these places for myself. I’ve always been attracted to exploring forests and mountains and volcanoes and I feel this state has all of that to offer.

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    Washington. Courtesy of grouptravelleader.com

My Favourite Place in 2015

So this year I spent more time travelling in the UK than abroad. In fact I only went abroad twice. I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Toronto and Fenton, Michigan visiting my fav American friend Jordan as well as a long weekend in sunny Marrakech whilst it was freezing here in the UK. But, my favourite place…….Swansea!

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Swansea Bay

I spent four years at university in Swansea up until late 2014 so I am always excited to go back, even just for a night. Swansea is a place I hold dear in my heart. A part of me will always be in Swansea, it’s like a second home to me. Not only is it where I made some of my cherished memories, it is also where I met some of my best friends, including my fellow travel buddy, Jodie. This year alone I have lost count of how many weekends I spent there and I still have New Years to come!

But there is more to Swansea…..oh so much more!

To start off with the people are some of the friendliest yet bonkers (in a fun way) people around. The Welsh always know how to have a good time and where else to have a good time but by heading to a street full of bars. Bring in Wind street. My favourite bar is Jack Murphys……£1 jaberbombs, old school music, sweaty dancefloor and always the best night. What more do you want? But, if that is not your cup of tea you are spoilt for choice with Yate’s, Revs, Fiction, Bamboo, Kon Tiki, Prohibtion. Another amazing place is Sin City. Here you can watch some amazing bands as well as stay after to carry on partying. Finding out they give out toast at like 2am in the morning was a personal highlight.

Ok less of the drinking highlights but the other amazing parts of Swansea.  A massive, literally, massive part of Swansea is the beach, 5 miles of it, running all the way from the west of Swansea to the Mumbles in the east. It’s great for a coastal walk and with stunning views. A great place to stop for a bite to eat of drink is 360 on the waterfront or Verdis at the end of Mumbles near the pier (amazing ice cream). I used to spend many evenings walking back from uni along the beach in my last year.

If you want to get out of town then the Gower Peninsula is stunning. Accessible by bus or car there are a number of great beaches to explore. You can walk the coastal path from Mumbles all the way along the coast to Caswell Bay. A great beach is Three Cliffs Bay, a short walk from Penmaen. However my all-time favourite beach is Rhossili Bay. It’s only been voted by Trip Advisor as the 9th best beach in the world! It is 3 miles of gorgeous sandy beach running from Worm’s Head in the south to Burry Holms in the north. Worm’s Head is great though slightly tough walk out to the island at low tide. After this walk you’ll want to stop for drink or snack at The Worms Head. At the other end of the bay you’ll find the small village of Llangenith which has access to beach from here which is great for surfers and kayakers. A visit to PJ’s surf shop is a must for those renting boards. Across the road is The King’s Head pub. I’ve driven all the way here just for the food one afternoon. I also witnessed a wedding party getting merry before the wedding even took place in the church opposite.

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Caswell Bay
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Three Cliffs Bay
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Looking back at Rhossili Bay from Worm’s Head

At the other end of Swansea and within 30 minutes’ drive is Waterfall country and just on from there, Brecon Beacons National Park. One time my parents and I were driving back Pen Y Fan (a must for all hikers, it’s the highest point in South Wales) when we got lost and ended up along this country road that went over one of the hills nearby. It was a clear day and not a car of person in site. From the top we could see the Brecon Beacons on one side and Carmarthenshire and its the rolling hills from the other. I was so in awe of the view, not photo would have done it justice.

So if you haven’t guessed by now, I love Swansea!

Why did I start the Wandering Rebecca Blog?

Why did I decide to start the Wandering Rebecca Blog?

 

If I am honest, it is for a mixture of reasons…

 

First, and of course most important to me, is my love of travelling and need to explore new places. As soon as I am back from one place I am already thinking about my next holiday, even it is a year before I eventually have the money or time to go. I definitely feel as though I have the wanderlust bug, constant itchy feet and a serious addiction to Instagram to look at pictures from all over the World. I am always making note of where I want to see with my own eyes. For me the only way to keep track of where I have been, where I am going and where I want to, is to create a place where I can record it, therefore, this blog.

 

Second, I needed a hobby, an outlet to express myself. I still work full time doing something else, a job related to my Masters degree and I love it! But, I felt outside work I had nothing else that was for me, something I could put my extra energy into. However, I warn you all, I am not writer or photographer, but I wanted to write about and show images of my travels and inspiration. 

 

Third, I would absolutely love if people read my posts. Whether it be on places to go or learning from mistakes I have made during my trips, I honestly just hope you all like what I write 🙂 

 

So all that leaves for me to do now is to start writing…..

 

Wish me luck!

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