12 Hours in Edinburgh

I’ve been desperate to visit Scotland for years, and I was determined to finally get there on my most recent trip to the UK. But with just a few days overseas and my trip to Highclere inflexible, I found myself with only one day to spend there. I’ve done quick city breaks in the past (a day in San Francisco here, a day in Amsterdam there), but trying to see Edinburgh in just 12 hours was probably my most ambitious to date.

Here’s what I managed to fit in. Continue reading “12 Hours in Edinburgh”

Christmas at Downton Abbey

As my long-suffering Twitter followers are very well aware, I’ve been full of feelings about ITV’s soapy costume drama masterpiece Downton Abbey for, uh, a few years now. I think my social media #brand has basically been narrowed to obnoxious Downton content, so this fall, to do some field work with the series finale imminent, I made it my mission to visit Highclere Castle—real-life Downton Abbey—on one of their few winter opening days.

After some failed attempts when I actually lived in England, I managed to snap up a ticket for the December 6 opening, which was how I found myself booking my second transatlantic voyage of 2015. That drew not-so-thinly-veiled judgment from coworkers, friends, and a UKBA agent, but you know what? Worth it. Continue reading “Christmas at Downton Abbey”

30 Hours in San Francisco

After abandoning this blog for nearly two years(!), an adventure-filled 2015 (and, with any luck, a similarly exciting 2016 ahead) made me think I should get back to documenting what I get up to in a medium other than the series of postcards I end up mailing back to my apartment in DC.

One of this year’s excursions? A whirlwind 30ish hours in San Francisco, capping off my busiest month at work with a decidedly un-leisurely city break. Continue reading “30 Hours in San Francisco”

25 Minutes in Brooklyn

My best defense against people who accuse me of being a huge hipster d-bag is the fact that I’ve spent all of maybe four of the 187,564 hours I’ve been alive (yes, I did just look that up specifically for this purpose) in Brooklyn. I’m a plebe who just likes wandering around the Met and tracking down Wafels & Dinges and stuff when I go into the city. But last Friday I was feeling at least sort of adventurous and ventured to Brooklyn for a few minutes by way of the Brooklyn Bridge. This sounds super corny until you find out that although I’m a lifelong resident of New York State and a three-year temporary occupant of the tri-state area, that was my first time crossing that bridge.

Maybe it’s still super corny.

Who am I kidding, it was totally corny, but it also lived up to the massive hype, and it got one more thing on my senior year bucket list accomplished. Continue reading “25 Minutes in Brooklyn”

The World’s #2 City: Budapest

Despite CNN’s tendency these days to use its Facebook page mostly to share stories of extreme weight loss, I’ve yet to unlike them, and today that decision paid off when they linked me to a story about Condé Nast Traveler’s list of the world’s top 25 cities. To my great surprise, my personal favorites like Budapest, Krakow, and Prague prevailed over typical tourist choices like Paris. Let me tell you, that list was doing it right.

Reading the list reminded me that I still(!) haven’t posted anything about that 10-day Central/Eastern European odyssey I embarked on back in May, so today seemed like as good a day as ever to finally write my love letter to Budapest. Continue reading “The World’s #2 City: Budapest”

Eurotrip

Yeah, yeah, I’ve let the blogging fall by the wayside again. But this time I’ve got a decent excuse, at least for 10 days of my absence — I was busy seeing Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Vienna! I guess the rest of the silence can just be chalked up to laziness (or, if you want to be more charitable, to being consumed by travel prep before I left and travel-weariness in the days after I got back to the UK).

Of all the cities I visited, Budapest has to be my favorite. Even though it was a bit chilly and drizzly for some of the time I was there, the city was breathtaking. But I enjoyed my time in all four places, so in the next couple of weeks I’ll post about some of my favorite things, like where I went running in Berlin, what served as my birthday cake in Vienna, and the high points of my visit to Budapest. For now, I’ll leave you with a few photos: Continue reading “Eurotrip”

A Day on the Isle of Wight

Just about 24 hours after I handed in my 10,000 words to the Law, Politics, and Sociology Department (yes! I’m finally done!), an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she was selling a ticket to the International Student Office’s trip to the Isle of Wight because she still had a paper to finish. Obviously I snapped that up — and with just 12 hours to spare before the trip was set to depart from campus.

I was kind of apprehensive about this impulse-buy (as I’ve mentioned before, I usually like to book stuff like this months ahead of time, so this was a bit of a walk on the wild side), but it turned out to be such a good idea. We visited a beach and some cliffs and the natural beauty of the island was just incredible. I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking. Continue reading “A Day on the Isle of Wight”

Spoiler: There Wasn’t Money in the Banana Stand

As I’ve already mentioned a couple of times, it’s finals crunch time here at the University of Sussex, and like every other college student in my situation, I’ve become desperate for procrastination methods. I just added the second book in George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series to my iBooks library. I’ve actually been remembering to blog. And I finally finished watching season three of Arrested Development (after binge-watching all of the episodes I’d already seen, of course).

Turns out, that procrastination choice was not a huge mistake. Actually, it was incredibly well-timed. I already sort of knew that because the internet has been going insane as the launch of the Netflix reboot gets closer. But I didn’t know that just four days after I finished my Arrested Development marathon, the show would be setting up shop in Leicester Square. It literally took me less than ten minutes on Wednesday night to read about the event, process what was happening, and find myself staring at a Southern booking confirmation page for a spontaneous trip to London the next day — some next-level TV-related procrastination. Continue reading “Spoiler: There Wasn’t Money in the Banana Stand”

Things to Do in Ireland

I tend to have a pretty weird travel strategy. With certain things, I’m incredibly type-A and obsessive – I research my hostels as extensively as possible before picking one and then book them (along with my plane and train tickets) weeks or months in advance. Sure, this doesn’t lend itself so well to spontaneity, but it’s saved me quite a bit of cash in some cases and it saves me from the anxiety of making decisions on the fly.

Despite this neurotic planning of accommodations and transportation, I’m woefully bad at planning out how, exactly, to fill the days I’m spending in a certain city or country. I always ask friends who have visited or lived in a place before to give me some recommendations, and I always check to see what places I can cross off in that 1000 Places to See Before You Die book (with which I have a semi-unhealthy obsession), but if I’m going to a less popular destination, I sometimes find myself with vague ideas of things to do but end up sitting around in a coffee shop. Don’t get me wrong, one of my favorite things about traveling is finding new favorite cafes, but hanging out and drinking coffee is something I can do anytime in Brighton or back in the states. Continue reading “Things to Do in Ireland”

Hosteling in Ireland

Coming from a family with a history of strong identification with its Irish roots (I recall a St. Patrick’s Day when my dad considered pouring Jameson — or maybe Bailey’s — into his mother’s ashes and the only reason he decided that might be a bad idea was that he feared it would reanimate her), I couldn’t go to Ireland and only see Dublin. I wanted to do at least one reasonably long train ride through the countryside and really see as much of the country as possible in my five-day time frame. So my trip ended up involving three cities and two quite different hostels.

Generator Hostel in Dublin was sleek, hip, and polished, with some of the most updated furnishings I’ve seen in any hostel (power sockets — yes, plural — built into each bunk bed headboard? Yes, please!), a nice-looking bar and cafe (which I never actually tried, but it looked like everyone else was enjoying it), a spacious and comfy lobby, and a great location just around the corner from the Old Jameson Distillery and a quick walk from the Smithfield Luas stop. The front desk offered everything from towel rentals to the range of toiletries hotels always have around in case you’ve forgotten something (although, this being a hostel, those toiletries definitely weren’t free). They seemed to take a lot of care to make you forget that you were in a place where rates start at €9 a night, an illusion I was totally willing to buy into. Continue reading “Hosteling in Ireland”