Visiting The Kelpies with the Family

Visiting The Kelpies with the Family

The Kelpies

I visited The Kelpies with my family

The Kelpies

The last two weeks my family was visiting, and  we visited a bunch of places together. I’d been wanting to visit the Kelpies for a while now, and them being here provided the ultimate opportunity to pay a visit to these equine sculptures.

I’d seen pictures of the statues, but nothing really prepares you seeing it with your own eyes. Each of The Kelpies stands up to 30 metres tall, and each one weighs over 300 tonnes! (Read: they’re MASSIVE). They’re also incredibly detailed, beautiful, and completely dwarf you.

I have always had a thing for mythology, and I love how Scottish legends depict kelpies as shape-shifting water spirits who inhabit the lochs and waterways of Scotland. Supposedy, they appear most often as a horse, and can also take on human form. These massive sculptures reflect the mythological transforming beasts possessing the strength and endurance of 10 horses. 

We visited The Kelpies on quite a rainy day, but it didn’t impact our visit at all. I had no problem walking around in the rain, admiring the great detail in these sculptures (especially since there’s a cafe close to the sculptures where you can get a cup of coffee to warm up a bit). You can go inside the sculptures as well, although I didn’t do this, as I was content just walking around snapping plenty of pictures.

I’d love to go back and visit the sculptures on a sunny (or just less rainy day), or during the night when they’re a lit up! For those of you wanting to travel Scotland: if you’re in the area, it is defintely worth putting a visit to The Kelpies on your to do list!

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Alternatives to Amsterdam when Visiting the Netherlands

Alternatives to Amsterdam when Visiting the Netherlands

The places you should be visiting in the Netherlands

The best alternatives to Amsterdam

Alternatives to Amsterdam

Whenever I tell people that I’m from the Netherlands, people often reply by saying that they’ve been to Amsterdam. Which is cool! Amsterdam has a lot to offer: the Anne Frank house, tons of art museums, a rich history, beautiful architecture, and lovely canals. However, it is also so very touristy and busy (not to mention the ever present smell of weed).

Amsterdam is a very popular destination for tourists. Personally though, I am not really a big fan of the city. Which mainly has to do with the characteristics I mentioned before: it’s absolutely packed with tourists and the smell of weed is incredibly hard to evade. A lot of people I talk to commonly mention two things when talking about Amsterdam: the Red Light District and weed. Which is a shame, because that’s not at all what the Netherlands (and our culture) is about. 

The Netherlands has many beautiful cities that have so much to offer. It’s almost a shame to limit your experience in the Netherlands to Amsterdam (and the above mentioned characteristics). Cities and things to do that, in my opinion, you should definitely consider when booking a trip to the Netherlands.

 

My favourite cities in the Netherlands:

1. Leiden

I might be a little biased here, because I lived and studied in Leiden. But if you want the canals and the beautiful houses along them (also known as ‘herenhuizen’), Leiden is the place for you! It’s much smaller than Amsterdam, and almost has that small town feel to it, in the sense that it makes you feel welcome right away  Map

2. Utrecht

Utrecht is quite similar to Leiden. It has the canals, the beautiful houses, but also the beautiful gothic Dom church, which should be way up on your list to visit! Make a visit to the botanic gardens, visit a museum, or one of the countless art galleries  Map

3. Delft

Another Dutch city that has as much to offer as Amsterdam in terms of canals, ‘herenhuizen’, and art galleries. I haven’t been here as many times as I should, but the times I’ve been I absolutely loved the look and feel of the city Map

4. Maastricht

Another beautiful city, with one of my favourite bookstores in the Netherlands: the Dominicanen bookstore. It’s a bookstore inside a church, and it’s an absolute dream for those who love history and reading (preferably both together at the same time) Map

 Also worth a mention and visit: The Hague, Nijmegen, Den Bosch

 Note: This list is not exhaustive, nor does it mention the more modern/industrial cities, like Rotterdam. I aimed to offer alternatives that are similar to Amsterdam. I personally love Rotterdam and would highly recommend a visit. It has a very industrial and modern look, and doesn’t have a lot of the typical canals and architecture (because the city was bombed during the Second World War). There are some though, if you you know where to look (askt the locals!)

Recommended things to do in Leiden, Utrecht, Delft, and Maastricht:

Kinderdijk

Close to Leiden there’s this little village called Kinderdijk. You can walk amidst the famous windmills that keep the land dry (as it is all below sea level). It’s rich with history, as it tells the story of the Low Countries, and how its people have worked with windmills to keep the water at bay. 

Museum of Ethnology

Called the museum of ‘Volkenkunde’ in Dutch, this museum is one of my favourites to date. It’s located in Leiden and has a standard exhibition as well as changing themed ones, making it very appealing to come back whenever a new exhibition starts.  

Dominicanen Bookstore

I mentioned it above already, but when in Maastricht you need to visit Dominicanen Bookstore. It is a bookstore in a gorgeous gothic church. For those among you who love history and books, it is an absolute must see!

Maastricht Underground

Maastricht has a very large network of historical caves and tunnels. In the past these tunnels were developed to defend the city and during WWII, they provided shelter from bombing raids. Some go on for kilometers and are most definitely worth a visit!

Churches 

I’m not religious myself, but I love to visit churches as they show and tell so much about the history of a city. Go visit the Dom church in Utrecht, the ‘Oude’ and ‘Nieuwe’ church in Delft, or the Pieterskerk in Leiden. There’s plenty of them to go around, and all absolutely stunning inside.

Botanical Garden(s)

Leiden and Utrecht have beautiful botanical gardens that you shouldn’t hesitate to check out. I’m not sure about the other cities (if they have them I’ve not visited them myself). If you want to escape the city for a bit, botanical gardens are the place to go.

Disclaimer: I usually only share my own pictures, but since I no longer live in the Netherlands I opted to use photos (from Unsplash) by other talented photographers! Giving credit isn’t required, but I would like to do so anyways: Amsterdam canal photo by Adrien Olichon, Amsterdam bike photo by Tabea Damm, windmill photo by  Jean Carlo Emer, bookshelves photo by Annie Sprat, church photo by Derek Story, museum photo by Nicole Baster, underground cave photo by Luis Vidal, and leaf photo by Daniel von Appen.

Best view of Edinburgh

Best view of Edinburgh

Best views of Edinburgh

My favourite walk with the best view

Best view of Edinburgh

You might have realised from the previous posts I’ve written about Arthur’s Seat that it’s one of my favourite spots in the city. I am firmly of opinion that it offers THE best view of the city. It’s a bit of a workout to get to the top, but those 30 sweaty minutes to get here are beyond worth it.

Whenever someone visits me I ALWAYS take them up Arthur’s Seat. Because you simply can’t visit Edinburg and not go up Arthur’s Seat or the Salisbury Crags. So when friends were visiting the city, I took it as a perfect excuse to take them up Arthur’s Seat (and my camera in tow).

In this post I’ll highlight some of my favourite shots during one of my walks on Arthur’s Seat and explain why they’re my favourites. I’ve also added a little gallery at the end so you can flip through the rest of the photo series.

Sea of Yellow

Once you gain a little altitute going up Arthur’s Seat, the beautiful skyline of Edinburgh starts appearing. I love this picture because it shows that first glimpse of the beauiful view that’s to come if you keep going. All that scotch broom looks like a sea of yellow framing the city, with the actual sea making an appearance just behind it.

The first thing I usually do when I get to this point is looking behind me (and taking a little breather) and you can see why. Especially on a clear day you can see so far.  

The Salisbury Crags

Right next to Arthur’s Seat you’ll find the Salisbury Crag’s. That massive piece of rock which my sister jokingly calls it the shark fin (you’ll know what she means when you see it). This walk is not as steep, nor as high up as Arthur’s Seat. The view is no less spectacular though! 

Holyrood Palace

What I like so much about the Salisbury Crags is that the incline is less steap, slowly revealing more and more of the Edinburgh. This picture was taken after about ten minutes of walking, not even halfway up. It shows off Holyrood Palace, amidst green, with the rest of the city and sea behind it. 

Can you tell that I love those yellow colours from the scotch broom? I’m pretty sure that yellow makes an appearance in almost every picture I took. 

And those were my favourite two pictures! As always, I’ve included some more pictures in the photo gallery below. Click the images if you wish to see them in a larger format. They show some more city scapes, as well as Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags itself. I hope you liked this new photo series! Do let me know your thoughts in a comment (below)! 

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Edinburgh in Bloom

Edinburgh in Bloom

Edinburgh in Full Bloom

Cherry blossom season in Edinburgh

Edinburgh in Full Bloom

When I visited Edinburgh a year ago, I was lucky enough to arrive right in the middle of cherry blossom season. Something I wasn’t aware was a thing in Edinburgh, but was a VERY welcome surprise! It will come as no surprise that ever since I moved here in August I have been anxiously awaiting the return of this pink splendour.
March came and went. April came around the corner, but still no cherry blossoms. Then, at the end of April on a very rare hot and sunny day they finally bloomed.

I live right next to The Meadows, one of my favourite parks in Edinburgh, and let it be the case that they completely transform when the cherry blossoms make their appearance. Whenever I walked past it, I did it with the biggest smile on my face. It’s just that pretty a sight. And because I love any excuse to go out and take some pictures, I decided to do a photo series of The Meadows covered in cherry blossoms.

In this post I’ll highlight some of my favourite shots and explain why they’re my favourites. I’ve also added a little gallery at the end so you can flip through the rest of the photo series.

Close up

My favourite part about walking through The Meadows in cherry blossom season is when you look up, all you see is pink. It’s the prettiest sight you can imagine!

I took plenty of close up shots, but this one on the left was one of my favourites because of the way the leaves and the branch frame the blossoms. The background is just unfocused enough to pull your attention to the center of the photo, but provides enough detail to show that there’s cherry blossoms wherever you look.

The Meadows Walkway

The next picture is from The Meadows Walkway. This is the picture I set out to make, because I walk past this point to uni and love it so much. I got up early because this walkway is usually busy with people on their way to work, walking their dog(s), or running. Even though I got there at 7.45AM, there were still plenty of people around. I had to practice my patience a bit and wait for the perfect photo oppurtunity.

A sea of pink

My patience (read: sitting around until the Meadows quieted down a bit) got rewarded with this photo. I’m pretty sure I want to frame this shot. There’s one lone person walking at the end of the walkway. Which is exactly what I was going for, because in the months I’ve lived here I’ve seen The Meadows quiet, but never empty.

I waited a week (or two) for the blossoms to start falling just to get this shot. I love how the fallen blossoms frame the path (and just ALL the blossoms in general).

That’s a wrap. These were my two favourite pictures from the MANY pictures I took. As promised, there’s a photo gallery below with some other outtakes of this photo series. I hope you liked this post! It’s a new thing I’m trying out and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it (and whether you would like more posts like this).

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Edinburgh Walking Guide

Edinburgh Walking Guide

Edinburgh Walking Guide

My favourite walks to escape the busy city for a bit

Edinburgh Walking Guide

It may or may not have escaped your notice that I moved to Edinburgh in August. One of my absolute favourite characteristics of this city is that there are a plethora of walks to enjoy. Since it has now been five months since that I moved here, I thought it would be nice to share my favorite places to escape the city for a bit. Armed with a home-brewed cup of coffee, I prepared a list of beautiful and relaxing places to walk in Edinburgh or around the Edinburgh area.

Arthur’s Seat

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

Blackford Hill

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

Water of Leith Walkway

The Leith Walkway is one of those walks where you’re still right in the middle of the city, but it doesn’t really feel like it. The walkway is about 12 miles long and goes all the way from Balerno to Leith, passing some of my favourite areas in the city, such as Stockbridge and Dean Village. When I did this walk I started out in Dean Village and just followed the trail from there. I really recommend this walk as it is really nice and picturesque and you get to see the city of Edinburgh in a different light.

North Berwick

If you want the beautiful sight of Edinburgh stretched out before you, but don’t feel like getting up early or braving the crowds at Arthur’s Seat, Blackford Hill is the perfect walk for you. You won’t be as high up as you would be at Arthur’s Seat. But the walk is slightly longer as you’ll walk through a park before you start climbing the hill. The walk is very enjoyable and much less touristy. You will probably be joined by locals walking their dogs.

The running project!

The running project!

One or two years ago I was still fit enough to run a half marathon. Then my BA thesis happened and ten months of internships happened. The past two years have been awesome, but still, a part of me mourns those hours spent running. Then again, nothing is ever accomplished simply by looking back. If you want to make changes, then the only way to do so is by actually ‘doing’. Which is why I made a promise to myself. No more sporadic runs, instead, I am back to training regularly. I am setting up a schedule and I am setting the goal for myself to pick a running event in Edinburgh.

MY running project

Part of wanting to get back into my routine is that I have a few months before my official moving date. I want to be used to my routine again so I can have some stability, something to focus on when I move. Although I am madly excited about the time to come, I do realize it’s going to be an adjustment to move away from everything I know. As The Meadows is practically going to be in my front yard, I have zero excuses for not going out and running a lap (or two). Running is going to be what I will turn to when I need some common ground.

The first run in my schedule was last Saturday. The next run was on Monday. And the next will be on Wednesday (the day after this post goes live). That’s three runs already, three runs closer to my goal of getting back into that running rhythm that I miss so much (and yet not at all, because let’s be honest, a bad run can be harrowing). That burning feeling in my lungs. That euphoria when you get back from a run and feel like you’re on top of the world.

The fun part about getting back to training was finding out that I hadn’t drifted off as far as I thought I did. On Saturday I ran 3k quite easily. I might be slower than I used to be, but I still had the stamina to run the entire distance.  However, on Monday the distance didn’t quite come as easily as it did two days before (and I believe a slight case of sore muscles might have a hand in that as well). Easy does it. I am not going to force it: I am going to enjoy getting back into the rhythm because what matters is that I am getting back into running again.

I guess what I am trying to say is: it is simple to get lost in what used to be. Try to remember that, no matter how insignificant, every run you go on is progress. And don’t forget to enjoy the process!