Next travel destination? You decide!

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Post-travel Blues

If you’ve been reading my other blog, Tay at Home you would know that I have been suffering from the post-travel blues.

While training from Ottawa to Toronto this afternoon, I decided to spend my time reading some of my favourite travel blogs. I just happened to stumble upon a few good stories/articles about my little predicament.

So, in case you are also suffering from the same feeling, take a read!

This Lonely Planet article was especially awesome.

Also, this post had me nodding in agreement.

For all the non-travelers out there: Yes, we know our life is awesome. Yes, we know that we’re lucky. But, for those of us who come home after an extended trip, we know the difficulties associated with that. It’s all the same…but different.

Reminiscing Europe Day One

Hey everyone! So, I have been SLACKING hardcore with my other blog, Tay at Home.

I don’t really have a reason except for that I’ve been suffering from some serious post-travel blues and I am faced with “life” decisions: what next?

Don’t worry, after many mental breakdowns I am breathing again (remember, just breathe).

Anyways, I just wanted to say hello to everyone, especially to all the individuals who have stumbled upon my blog after my travels! Unfortunately I don’t have any awesome photos or new travel stories to share, but I stumbled upon my very first message I sent to my friends/family back home during my first day in Europe.

My brother saying goodbye before I got on my flight to Dublin, Ireland

My brother saying goodbye before I got on my flight to Dublin, Ireland

Here it is:

“So I took a bus from the airport to the city centre. The man driving the bus had such a strong accent that when I got off I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right place. And, in true Taylor fashion I tripped getting off the bus (but seriously why would there by a step from the seats to the walkway!?) anywho there was free wifi on the bus so luckily I looked on the map before getting off to get a general sense of where I was. The city is old–very old, like started being built in 898 old! But, because of war a lot of the buildings aren’t original and not ‘old Europe’ looking like you would expect. People evetwhere! I’m staying in the temple bar area–the cultural centre of Ireland, and it’s a block away from trinity college university (beautiful btw, I’ll load pics when I can). Anyways, I wandered into. The templeBar area and got lost — but then wandered into a pub and asked and I was actually only 2 blocks away! By this point I was exhausted and wanted to sleep but my room wasn’t ready until 230 — it was 10:20…shit! So, the guy pointed me to a cafe where I went to buy coffee–then to a ‘free’ walking tour (still expected to tip). Glad I went–10 or so people, 2 friends Chris and Cree from Colorado –the tour was awesome, but more on that later bc my finger is getting tired from typing! Had my first guiness, which tastes 100% better here than at home. I would load pics but for some reason it won’t work. After the tour the guys and I made plans to meet for dinner then go on a pub crawl. No worries tho, Cree doesn’t drink! Never has! We’re going to see the pub/meet ppl/ listen to music–none of us want to feel hungover so yay no need to worry! tomorrow I’m going to wander–and research where my next stop might be!
Anyways, that’s all for now! I’m alive and well! Having fun these first 24 hours!”

It’s really interesting to read that now after now being home for over a month.

 

Home

Why I love coming home:

1. Being spoiled! My birthday is near, and my lovely family bought me a new dresser! Yay! Now my room at my parents actually feels like mine!

2. My computer! Oh how I miss typing on a full keyboard, opening tabs, the ‘right click’ and more blogging options! (The ironic part is that I am typing this on my iPhone)

3. Music! I am reunited with my full music library and can now spend countless hours listening to it without my headphones!

4. Christmas time–in my closet!? No, none of it is new, but after three months that’s exactly what it feels like! That old sweater I wore all the time? My new fav item! Woo hoo!

5. Girly things: make-up, hair brushes, lotion, hair straighteners and perfume! (Yes, sometimes I can be high-maintenance)

6. Food! Hello peanut butter, avocado, salsa, quinoa, daiya and hummus! Oh, and a new panini maker!!!

7. My family! Ok, now I should make note that this is not in any specific order. My family is loud and awesome! And, they always make me feel so welcome when I come home!

8. Friends! My lovely BFF of 16 years, Leah, surprised me at home my first full-day back! Love you!!

9. My own room! Hello four-walls, closet, dresser and the a ability to sleep in only my knickers! It’s a beautiful thing!

10. The challenge of deciding on the topic of my next blog. Any ideas!?

Haggis in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Above: Scott Monument for Sir Walter Scott, a Scottish poet.
This was my first view of Edinburgh as I walked early in the morning from the bu station, through the new town, and into the old town of Edinburgh.

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Above: This was my second view. Breathtaking, right?! And lucky for me, it was a very clear day in Edinburgh, so no clouds or fog obstructed my view of the looming (extinct volcano) Castle Rock.

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Above: Edinburgh Castle as seen from Princes Street Garden.

Unfortunately I only have one full-day in Edinburgh, and although I got here early, I didn’t sleep very well on the overnight bus from London so as much as I wanted to see all of Edinburgh, my sightseeing didn’t extend further than the Free Sandeman Walking Tour. So, check out a few of my pictures (not many, as my poor fingers were frozen after 3+ hours of walking) and then at the end of this post I’ll tell you about Haggis!

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Above: St. Giles Cathedral as taken with my iPhone 4S. And believe it or not this is the original photo, no alterations! I love the bright blue sky contrasting with the stone building.

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How about a creepy graveyard? This is Greyfriars Kirkyard and There are a ton of Ghost Tours offered here in Edinburgh, and after hearing about the very dark past of this city, I understand why. Also, this Graveyard served as inspiration for J.K. Rowling as she wrote the Harry Potter series! I don’t have photographic proof but our tour guide told us that graves for many Potter’s exist, as well as a McGonagall (William) and a Tom Riddle grave!
Anyways, I learned a lot of historical facts about Scotland and Edinburgh: hangings, torture, wars and dogs.
I’ve found some other online sources to share some of these stories with you (because I’m lazy and I would probably get the facts wrong if I tried to write it on my own):
Greyfriar Bobby: the story of the loyal dog and his master (ever seen the movie Hitachi?!)

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The dark and disturbing history of Edinburgh: the Covenanter’s Prison.
Seriously, take a read, it’s really interesting (albeit disturbing).

Head into the Grassmarket and you can see where the gallows used to be, as well as the ‘Last Drop’ pub which got its name as it was where individuals sentenced to death went to get their last taste of Scotch Whiskey.

My favourite story was of Maggie Dickson. She was sentenced to death for concealing her pregnancy, which was illegal back in 1724. Oh, she also got knocked up illegitimately by another man after her husband left her, hid her pregnancy (the real crime), had a still-born and attempted to discard of the corpse in the river.
Anyways, Maggie had her last drop, was hung and pronounced dead. Then, during her body’s journey to her grave, she ‘came back’ and was heard banging and knocking from inside her coffin.
She was quickly taken back to the gallows, about to be hung again, but then the judge intervened, saying that it was double-jeopardy and she was allowed to live. Well, that’s the version I was told, here is a link to the story according to the Grassmarket website.
I could go on-and-on with all the stories I learned today, except typing on an iPhone is not very easy, so I’ll end my rambling now.

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Above: Beautiful Victoria Street.

Haggis Time

**uh oh! Sorry all-wordpress screwed up! I wrote an entire post about Haggis and it didn’t upload! :(**
I’ll write one again for tomorrow!!

Meandering the streets of Prague

There is no denying it. Prague is beautiful.
‘What’s so great about Prague?’ someone asked me the other day.
For me, the colorful tall buildings of the Old Town combined with the sound of street musicians playing Jazz in the Square and the smell of hot wine from nearby street-vendors mixed together into the most perfect Autumn scene.
But, for others Prague is something completely different.
I already wrote a fee post about Prague: Prague at Night and Foodie Haven in Peague — so check them out for some other pictures and my first impressions of the city.

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The Charles Bridge is the most famous image of Prague. Statues line the walkway and during the day there are artists, musicians and beggars as well. Every tour book will tell you to go during off-peak times such as the morning or at night. I went around 7:30 pm and it was fairly quiet, but I’m sure if you went in the early morning it would be better. If you’ve got a good camera you could get some amazing foggy-morning photos!
I walked this bridge everyday on my way to sites and just to be there. It’s crowded, but don’t rush across! Take the time to stop and admire the view.

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My advice: head to the bridges on either side for some great views of the bridge itself.
Next I wandered to Kampa Park.

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As I mentioned in previous posts, I love Autumn! This park was beautiful and I found the creepy baby sculptures by David Cerny.

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Then, not even a 5 minute stroll away is the Lennon Wall.

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Then, up to the next bridge, outside of the Kafka Museum, I found David Cerny’s Proudy (stream) sculpture. Or, as most people call it: two guys pissing.

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What’s really interesting is they move and the streams spell out famous quotes from Czech Literature into a puddle shaped like the Czech Republic! Hilarious!
Next up is a not-so-hilarious statue: Don Giovanni, in memory of Mozart.

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Yeah, it’s pretty frightening!
Next up is a Church. Yes, I know, I said I didn’t like churches. But this church was free and took zero effort to get to! Awesome! And, it does look pretty phenomenal inside and there is a severed hand hanging from the ceiling! Say what!?! Cool right!?

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Above is a view from halfway up Petrin Hill. GO THERE! And, don’t be lame like me, go to the top! Views are free!

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There are still old-style looking trams in Prague, but don’t be fooled, as they have some of the most modern transit I’ve seen so far!
Music in Prague
The real reason I left sunny Spain and Portugal for cold and dreary Prague was for the music. I had met a woman when I was in Paris last time, and she raved about the Opera she had seen, and told me how Prague is really famous for orchestras as well.
The first concert was an intimate performance with a quintet playing in the small Spanish Synagogue.

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They performed the Best of Gershwin and it was an awesome performance.
But, it didn’t compare to the following night.

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I watched the Czech Philharmonic perform in the Rudolfinum! Wow! They played symphonies by Dvorak and their conductor, Jiri Belohlavek was superb! I had goosebumps the entire performance! Honestly, the best solo moment of my entire trip!
And there you have it. That was Prague. I think I’m going to need to return – who’s with me!?

La Sagrada Familia – Barcelona

Oh Barcelona, how I wish I had more time (and energy) to explore all of what this city has to offer.
I was sick in Barcelona. Fever, stomach flu, ‘wish I was at home in my own bed’ sick.
My last day in Barcelona I didn’t plan on leaving my bed. But, all I could think was ‘I might never come back here’. So, I forced myself to eat some food (1 euro fruit smoothies from La Boqueria Market are heaven) and couldn’t resist trying one of the delicious vegetarian tempura wraps.

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At around 2pm I finally gathered enough energy to metro to La Sagrada Familia.
Now, thankfully I was visiting during low-season, so I only waited in line for about 20 minutes. Entry: 14 euro (ouch) plus another 3 euro for the audio guide. If you’re going inside the Sagrada, spend the extra 3 euro, it’s worth it. I didn’t pay to go up in the tower (another 3 euro) because there are scheduled times and the next available was at 4pm. I wasn’t sure how long I would last so I opted out of the view.
If you like art, Gaudi, Architecture or history this is definitely a must see. If you’re like me and old buildings don’t usually excite you, I would personally save my 17 euro and just look up pictures online.
It is beautiful.
It is awe-inspiring.
It is a ‘must-see’ in Barcelona.
But, I already knew after visiting the Alhambra and the Cathedral in Seville that this sort of thing doesn’t really inspire me. But, I was told by multiple people I had to see it.
Check. It’s off my list.
Seriously–I am done visiting churches and historical buildings. It’s just not my thing. Unless of course inside a church there is a famous pastry: I’ll pay 20 euro just so I can try a new food. Food is where my priorities lye.
Anyways, here are some pictures from La Sagrada Familia.

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Have you ever been to Barcelona? What were your favourite sites or activities?

Prague: A must see at night

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This is the view I had as we made our way into Prague.
If you know me, you should know that autumn is my favourite season.
1. I think it’s the most beautiful with all of the colors of the changing leaves and how crisp everything looks in cooler weather.
2. I love wearing sweaters, scarves and hats!
3. I don’t necessarily like the cold, but there is something to be said about having that chill in the air and how clean everything feels (no more constant sweating in Ontario humidity).
4. Autumn means Christmas is just around the corner: family and food (apple pie, pumpkin pie, tofurkey, Mumzie’s amazing cheesecake, cookies, muffins, hot chocolate, gravy, stuffing and so much more).

Anyways, the site of the colourful trees gave me goosebumps!

Side note: Although Barcelona was a great city to visit, I don’t think I would go back. I found it over-priced and too crowded, even in low-season and despite being told my numerous sources a taxi would cost mea 30 euro mine cost me 40! I was so shocked! There is a bus but I had to be at the airport for 5am and didn’t feel safe waiting for public transit alone at 330am.
But Prague has excellent transit and there is a bus every 10 minutes (maybe less) that connects you with the metro! Cost? 32Kc ($1.70 CAD). Woo hoo!!
The outskirts of Prague leading to the inner-city were green. Lot’s of space and very clean looking. I knew right then I was going to love it.

Now, I had been sick the past few days, so my plan was to just stay at the hostel and relax but after a free beer from the hostel, and a 20 minute nap, I felt like exploring!

First I had to buy a hat and mitts (oh how I’ve missed you), and then I just decided to try and see as many sites by night as possible.

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The first thing I noticed was all of the large sit-down cafes! They are everywhere! That is one of the things I miss about home, so I was so ecstatic! I guess I’ll have to go to a few and try their pastries (for the purpose of this blog, of course).

FYI: I will post pictures now of what I saw, but a few won’t have an explanation as I wasn’t sure what I was looking at–but that’s half the fun! I’ll go and see them during the day and get back to you!

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The above picture is of the Old Town Square. November isn’t the ‘best’ time to visit Prague because it’s obviously a bit chilly for some people, but it worked out really well for me because that meant less crowds in my pictures! Restaurants still have outdoor seating with heaters, and despite being able to see your breath, a lot of people were taking advantage.
Now, my favourite site of the entire night: the Astronomical Clock.

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If you’ve read The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern this clock may remind you of the book. That’s part of the reason I loved it so much. Also, I got some really great photos!
I went around the corner and the most amazing smells hit me: firewood, sausages mixed with the smell of crepes and hot wine. I stood there just smelling the air.

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Next I ventured to the Charles Bridge (Karlův most). I want to see it early in he morning to miss the crowds (and a photo with the morning fog would be awesome, eh?), but thought the evening could be nice as well. Unfortunately the iPhone just doesn’t do night-pictures very well, but I’ll share a few anyways.

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I’ve been in Prague for 8 hours and I’ve already seen so much! Can’t wait to share more pictures with you!
Live Orchestra, city views, parks and of course hot wine and food await!
Xo
PS — only 3 weeks left! Excited and sad at the same time: saxcited?