Archive | New Places RSS feed for this section

Weekly Photo Challenge : Boundaries

9 Feb

This photo of these ‘ foxtails’ were taken in the Atacama Desert in Chile in March last year. They created the perfect boundary between the oasis where they were growing and the rest of the barren Atacama Desert. The incredible colour contrast between the sky and the foxtails is what inspired me to take this picture.

Advertisements

Winter Wonderland

7 Feb

Even though it hasn’t snowed like this in Edinburgh for a few weeks, I thought I’d share the memory as the weather gets colder again. This was taken at the park just down the road from my flat – it was a beautiful afternoon and the snow was freshly fallen from the night before. All was still and quiet, and frosty – so peaceful.

Back on track!

15 Jan

So,now I have finally found a few minutes to spare where I can get back on track and keep going with my PostADay. Yesterday was a hectic day for me as I arrived in this incredibly cool city that is Amsterdam, and have been keeping myself busy checking out the town, and figuring out how to use the ( sort-of) complex transport system and finding my way around using my airport-shop bought map. It’s also raining and windy, so getting around hasn’t been the easiest, but will try again this afternoon, and see where the roads take me. I look forward to sharing all my photos and experiences when I get back to Scotland!

Q: Are you stressed out right now? A: Yes!!

5 Jan

This question seems to me to be quite timely. See, I am stressed out right now. VERY stressed out. So stressed out in fact that I have eaten 3 bowls of chocolate ice -cream, paced up and down in my living room, chatted to my mates about random things on Facebook, and procrastinated to within an inch of my life. My predicament? Booking a holiday / mini-break to Europe. For Next Friday.

I currently have my laptop open, obviously writing this post, but next to the WordPress tab on my browser, I also have another 20 or so tabs open to such places as Amsterdam. Paris. Belfast. Not to mention EasyJet, RyanAir, HostelBookers, HostelWorld….they’ve all taken up residence on my screen. I have been ‘planning’ this break for two months – and when I say planning, I mean it in the loosest definition of the word. To put it more correctly, I have ‘known’ about this trip for two months. And have spent countless hours day-dreaming of destinations, activities, museum visits ,even what I will eat. And now that the day-dream is about to become a reality, I find I cannot bring myself to book it. Not because I don’t like to travel. Travel is my life-blood, and is something that I have a great love and passion for. It’s all the fiddly bits that come before it that I feel I just can’t be bothered with – the checking of airline prices and dates, do they match up with my time-frames? Looking for a place to stay – is my chosen accomodation close to what I want to see and where I want to go? More importantly, does the bathroom look clean? And then there is the dreaded Airport Transport. I don’t know if I’m the only out there, but getting to a foreign airport, and not having an absolute clue where I am going or how I am going to get there, totally and absolutely throws me. I have had many an experience of getting to the airport, asking anyone and everyone who will listen where could I catch the taxi / bus / train / transfer which the guide-book assured me was as easy-as-done as soon as I made an appearance with my 20kg bag in tow?

But before you think I am nothing but a whiner and complainer, I must go through all this to reap the rewards of travel, the thrill of which I ultimately live for. The thrill of getting on the plane to a new destination, not knowing what awaits me but knowing that it will be an experience to cherish, that first view of land glimpsed between patchy cloud cover, the excitement of walking among a new culture, a new people, the sights, the sounds, the smells! The smile that is permanently plastered across my face, and the sensation of freedom as I walk among the locals, inspired by people and places, is something I wouldn’t trade for all the riches of this world.

So now I guess it’s time to go back to the drawing-board, or in this case, my computer screen. The tabs are still open and glowing at me, waiting for me to make my final decision. But now I have reminded myself why I put myself through the pain, I hope that booking this trip will be all the smoother.

( Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/40152966@N03/galleries/72157623070926667#photo_2129589191)

Sweet lil’ countries on the shelf…which ones do I choose?

1 Jan

Asking a question like this of a lover of travel like me, is like asking a small child to choose only 3 sweets in a candy store!  But having considered the question, I have ( reluctantly) come up with the top three countries I would love to visit – keeping in mind that I am now living and settled in the United Kingdom, and have the whole of Europe at my doorstep. For this reason I have only focused on this part of the world – I am hoping to be able to plan travels to these countries within the first 6 months of 2011, so this blog post will act as my inspiration!

1. France

What is there not to love about France? From the romantic and atelier vibe of Paris, to the rustic and tranquil beauty of the south of France and the Pyreenes, to the glamor and glitz  of St Tropez and the French Riviera, France seems have it all. Culture. History. Art. Fashion. Romance. And while I would love to travel through the whole of France, if I could only choose one destination, Paris would be It. I dream of walking down the streets of Paris, window shopping, observing the people, sitting in quaint little cafes, and oh! the food! The French seem to call national cuisine all of my favorite foods…the cheese, the pastries, the baguettes, 3 course meals, dessert ! And those beautiful fresh food markets I have heard so much about….and quaint bookstores ( Shakespeare and Co. wins hands-down)  and quirky hole-in-the-wall treasure troves scattered about the city ( Deyrolle is supposedly one of the quirkier stores around -an ode to taxidermy ) . And then there is the aforementioned culture and history and art museums (  living out my own Night At The Museum at The Louvre  -sigh) , and above all, that beautiful tower ever present in the distance.

2. Iceland

Ever since I came across Norse mythology as a child, I have been fascinated by the distant little country that is Iceland. Coming from Australia,I hadn’t really heard of  Iceland  touted as a must-see tourist destination until very recently – must be something about the weather and the amount of distance needed to travel, and of course, that Volcanic Eruption. That has hardly put me off  wanting to visit this beautiful and mysterious country of giants, fairies, and ghouls- from the cosmopolitan Reykjavik, to the Blue Lagoon, whale watching, horse-trekking, volcano climbing, puffin-spotting and that ever-present hope to catch  a glimpse of those stunning Northern Lights.  And Iceland is the only country in the world to house the fascinating-but-funny Phallological Museum. Take a look – if you dare.

3. Austria

Austria. Another European hot-spot for culture, art, and history. And Music. Classical ( Beethoven and Mozart are both close to my heart) , opera, and the thriving underground electronic / house / dance music scene in Vienna is where the appeal ( mostly) lies for me. Spending days wandering from one musical event to the other would be my idea of heaven, from a symphony performance to a bass-thumping club night.  And my trip wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the Haus der Musik – the innovative, interactive Museum of Music, and spending a few hours wandering the Zentralfriedhoff – the burial place of many a well known composer, including Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms. The other significant appeal of Austria is Salzberg – and with that comes The Sound Of Music, Mozart, and all things romantic baroque. Spending a night in Villa Von Trapp, which has now opened it’s doors to the public for overnight stays, would be a classic experience in itself. Beauty!

Copyright: Quoted from: http://www.hongkiat.com/blog.80-exceptionally-beautiful….paris/

Just a wee walk in the park….

2 Nov

So, here I am. My very first ‘proper’ blog post. Now I actually have to write something other than a ‘list’. To make the process a little less painful for me, and for you who are reading this, and to calm my nerves at finally putting myself out there in blog-land, I will share my trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh.

I had been told the Gardens were a fantastic day out by a few travellers I had previously met in Edinburgh, but due to me wanting to see what I considered more exciting sights, I had invariably brushed the idea of a visit aside. Until this morning. Wondering what to do on a day off, and the Gardens not being so far away from my flat, I decided to set out and explore.

The first thing that impressed me about the Gardens is that they are not as small as I expected. They are a wide expanse of trees of all sizes and colours, with winding pathways, scattered benches, and lovely duck-pond complete with mini cascading waterfall over which is a cute little stone bridge to watch it from.

I spent a few hours just wandering the grounds, taking photos, and enjoying the pure, fresh air. What I have found that I enjoy most about Edinburgh is the feeling that you are never quite in a big city – the whole town has more of a village atmosphere -albeit a big village – than a city vibe, and I particularly love the fact that there are areas such as this where you can take time out, and just sit and relax for a while.

Whenever I am exploring a new place, I always try and keep my eyes open for the unusual and the unexpected, and often get rewarded for my efforts. One of these moments came as I sat down on a park bench, and was joined by this little guy! 

He came over, curious and totally unafraid, and at one point even crawled onto my arm in the search for food, which I happily obliged – he was so gentle with his little tiny claws on my hand, with a cheeky glint in his eye as he returned back in the hope of seconds and thirds! I managed to take a photo of him just before he reached over the park bench onto my arm. 

After I said goodbye to my little friend, I continued to make my way around the park, fascinated by the array of autumn colours- all shades of red, orange, yellow, gold, and green. I couldn’t resist taking a few pics of nature at her best – at one point as I was walking up the hillside, I came across a bright red leaf wedged in the cross-branches of a tall yellow-gold tree. It’s sights like these that inspire me and create wonder, and what I’m always on the look-out for –  a simple kind of beauty. 

Next, I stumbled across the little water-fall. As I made my way around the park to the duck-pond, I first heard it – the sound of rushing, gurgling water. This was the sight that met me as I rounded the corner – it reminded me straight out of a scene in The Wind in The Willows.  I find it interesting just how much every stream, river, canal, or countryside brook that I’ve come across in Scotland reminds me of the book, it’s almost as if I almost expect a water-rat, or a mole to materialise. Though if they did, and they appeared together in a wooden-sailing boat or out of a hole in the bank, I would have thought I was on drugs, or to put it more specifically, magic mushrooms.

After my walk, I discovered that the Gardens were running an exhibition  ‘From Another Kingdom -The Amazing World of Fungi’ at the John Hope Gateway in the grounds, touted as a multi-media exhibition on the weird and wonderful world of fungi and all things mushrooms. Being a little skeptical at first on the potential of the exhibition to capture and hold my attention for longer than five minutes, I wandered inside, and was surprised to discover it was actually fascinating. Walking around the different sections, I made the acquaintance of both edible and poisonous-but-very-pretty mushrooms ( including toad-stools – so Alice in Wonderland!),  learnt all about the cultural and shamanic practices involving mushrooms, ‘magic mushrooms’, the role of fungi in the biological world, and what we can do to protect them. While it was all very school-excursion, I gained a new perspective on what most of us consider an edible vegetable, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all. And the one thing that I will take away with me? Judging by this Q & A sign I found in the Magic Mushroom section, I will never look at Santa’s innocent reindeer in the same way ever again.  All in all, I enjoyed my time at the Gardens, and will definitely be back, Scottish weather permitting, to walk around, read a book, see another of the exhibitions, or perhaps have a picnic with a cheeky little squirrel or two.