View from the penthouse suite at The Edinburgh Grand
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 can be spotted standing tall and proud in the picture from The Edinburgh Grand above. This was the first walk I did when I visited Edinburgh about two years ago. It still remains a favourite of mine to this day. It is a short walk. You’ll reach the top in about 30 minutes if you set a good pace, but it is quite steep and makes for a good workout. However, Arthur’s Seat is quite the tourist attraction and it can get really busy at the top. The crowds can be easily avoided by going up there a little early (when the tourists are still fast asleep). Getting up early is surely worth it! It will allow you to enjoy the views Arthur’s Seat has to offer in peace and solitude.
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 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.
This walk is out of the city itself, but it is so nice that I really couldn’t leave it out. North Berwick is about a 40-minute drive from the city. When you arrive you’ll make your way through the woods before arriving at the beach, where you get to walk alongside the shore for quite a while. When I was there the tide was really high, but there’s usually quite a stretch of beach to enjoy! North Berwick is a great place to get out of the city for a bit.
That’s a wrap! If you know of any other walks that I might enjoy, feel free to recommend them to me!
Moving to a new city (read: new country) comes with the added bonus to discover and explore new bookstores. As I happened to have some spare time in the first few weeks, I explored in excess and happened upon some bookstores that I quickly found myself falling in love with.
The first thing I discovered when I looked up the various bookstores in Edinburgh was that there are a lot of them. The second thing that most of them are independent bookstores. It happens to be that both of those things make me very very happy. I decided on two beautiful, albeit different, independent bookshops that stood out to me (and which I am definitely visiting again).
Golden Hare Books
Golden Hare Books is my number one favorite in the city! It has the most beautiful storefront I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. I went there on #BookshopDay (hence the ‘Books are my Bag’ flags) and slowly browsed my way through the store.
They have a ‘Blind date with a Book’ wall that tempted me mercilessly and have baked treats throughout the store that you can nibble on (their peanut butter brownies are to die for!). The ambiance is incredibly pleasant, with music playing softly in the background and seats to sit down and read. Golden Hare Books is a paradise for book lovers and definitely worth a visit if you’re visiting the city or just find yourself in the neighborhood.
Lighthouse Bookshop is another independent bookshop you don’t want to miss out on. They market themselves as left-leaning and politically engaged, and when you step into the store you can see they truly are. They celebrate diversity, equality and free speech throughout the store and provide marginalized as well as mainstream books. My favorite discovery was the way they described YA books. They have a little sign on their shelves that states: “YA (Young Adult) is a genre melting category full of brilliant, challenging crossover books & authors, check it out.” Isn’t that the best description any YA reader can wish for?
Why you should support your local independent bookstore(s)
I do hope that if you ever find yourself in Edinburgh you’ll take the time to visit these indie stores. Do remember that bookshops like these are cultural assets: they support and promote (local) authors, they champion reading and work with the community. It’s independent bookshops like these that make buying books such fun and the city would certainly be a poorer place without them, so make sure you support them by buying a book (or two, or three).
Furthermore, to put things a bit more in perspective: the number of independent bookstores has halved in the past 11 years. In 2005 there were 1,535 independent bookstores, and in 2017 the number of independent bookshops has gone down to 867 (The Bookseller). So be sure to support yours!
If I got paid for every time I get asked ‘what’s up’ with ‘my love life’, I’d surely be a millionaire by now. Whether it be by a meddling aunt, your parents, or by curious friends that particular question always manages to exhaust me. So for everyone that’s still wondering: the ‘love life’ is non-existent. There’s no man (or woman) in my life. As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure Prince Charming took a detour in getting here (a serious error in judgment on his end). To everyone who lives through the same, this post is for you!
Most days I am totally fine with my single way of life. But some days, the lack of that epic love story makes me feel a little ‘meh.’ A friend of mine just got married and my god, it was a beautiful day that had me wiping away tears like mad. There’s just something about weddings that make you crave a little slice of that for yourself (you know, for when that detoured Prince Charming finally finds his way out of the woods).
For those ‘meh’ days:
So, for those ‘meh’ days… When your cat, best friend, dog, or sister isn’t enough to keep you company: here is a short list of books (YA and NA) with great epic love stories that I turn to when I need a reminder that my one is (somewhere) out there:
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Let’s be honest, Simon vs.the Homo Sapiens Agendacan’t really miss from this list. I only recently read this book (in anticipation of Love, Simon) and LOVED it. It is such a beautiful and meaningful story about falling in love for the first time. This book will make you laugh, cry, and laugh again.
Wait for You by Jennifer Armentrout
The Wait for You series was one of the first NA series I read (I mean, I read EVERYTHING by Jennifer Armentrout) and I wholly recommend not just the first book, but the entire series. It deals with some heavy themes, without becoming too heavy and losing that feelgood vibe. The third book in the series, Stay with Me is my favorite book in the SIX book series.
Havoc by Jamie Shaw
A rockstar romance, need I say more? Havoc is the fourth and last book in this series and my absolute favorite. Although all other books in the Mayhem series are thoroughly enjoyable, this is the one that gives me the most feels. This love story is one that builds slowly and develops beautifully (and the love-interest is so damn sweet).
The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout
Hey! Another Jennifer Armentrout book! And this time a YA. This one is a little heavier than her previously mentioned series. A lot heavier actually, but so good! It’s about pushing yourself to go beyond your past, getting to know yourself, and finding love in the process. The Problem with Forever will wreak havoc (see what I did there?) on your emotions, but it can’t miss from this list. Because if this isn’t an epic love story, then what is?
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Whoah, it’s been a while since I read Eleanor & Park… This is not really a simple love story. It’s a story about two star-crossed lovers that aren’t really given a chance. It’s a love story, but at the same time, it’s not (it is so much more). All I can say is that if you haven’t read this book, you’re seriously missing out!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Yup! Two Rainbow Rowell books! Because ‘Rainbow Rowell’ and ‘epic love story’ pretty much go together. Fangirl holds a special place in my heart, as it is the book that helped me greatly when I was seriously anxious about starting university. It’s a wonderful coming of age story with a lovable heroine (who develops greatly throughout the story) and a fun love-interest. This entire book is so relatable!
What epic love stories do you turn to when you need a reminder to believe in love?
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!
At the beginning of May, my dad and I booked ourselves a trip to Edinburgh. We were there for a long weekend and found ourselves right in the middle of cherry blossom season. Princess Street, The Meadows, and many more sights were colored pink with all the cherry blossoms in bloom and it might have been the prettiest sight I have ever seen.
I honestly love anything that has to do with Scotland, and Edinburgh has stolen my heart. The people, the architecture, and the whole feeling to the city. What’s not to love?
I felt pretty gutted that I had decided against bringing my SLR camera after one day of walking around (and we walked a lot) because even though smartphones take good enough pictures, pictures taken with an SLR camera are just clearer and brighter than any picture I could take with my phone. Translation: the former picture will just have to do.
Those of you that follow me on Instagram might know this already, but we made the trip with a very specific goal. About half a year ago I was admitted into the MSc Publishing programme at Edinburgh Napier. The academic year starts in September and I needed a place to stay (preferably where cats were allowed, because this crazy cat lady is taking her cat with her). I scouted ahead and had two appointments scheduled during my 4-day stay. The rest of the time we could spend whatever way we wanted… and that we did!
The weeks leading up to this weekend were quite stressful. Something to do with life handing you lemons, as I was handed a lot of them. However, I got through them and on Friday, fresh out of work, I headed over to Schiphol (where my dad was waiting) and boarded the plane to Edinburgh. One flight and a taxi ride later we arrived at our hotel and I pretty much fell asleep a second after my head touched the pillow.
Fast forward to the next morning, where we woke up to 20-degree weather (say what?) and the whole day ahead of us. If I had to sum up our trip in just one sentence, it would be something along the lines of ‘lots of walking and good food.’ But that wouldn’t do the trip justice, of course, so prepare for a (slightly) more detailed account.
The first morning we didn’t really have a plan and decided to just walk in the direction of Princes Street. Armed with a cup of coffee we headed into the direction of Princess Street and wandered through St. Cuthbert church cemetery. It offered a beautiful view of Edinburgh Castle and became our next destination. We didn’t go in, mainly because the line was ridiculously long, but we people watched for quite some time and just took in the sight of Edinburgh stretched out before us.
There was so much to see that we pretty much just wandered around the whole day. Beautiful weather, good food, plenty of museums, and a pitstop at Waterstones. That Saturday was the bomb!
On Sunday we visited the campus that I’ll be studying at, made a visit to Nelson’s monument, and had an apartment viewing. We were really early (as in two hours early) and because the apartment is right next to The Meadows, we spent the remainder of that time on the grass. Did I mention that The Meadows was fully decked out in pink? See for yourself!
We had our flight home on Monday, but we didn’t have to be at the airport until 5 pm. Wonder above wonder we actually did have a plan for that morning. We walked to Holyrood Park and climbed Arthur’s Seat. Now, I did this the last time I was in Edinburgh as well and it was one of my favorite activities. It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top, and the view is so beautiful!
Fun fact: we almost added another day to the trip (that’s how relaxing it was), but alas, the next day it was back to work for the both of us!
What about that apartment?
When I returned home Monday evening I had an email waiting: the room was mine if I still wanted it. So not only did I spend a glorious weekend in Edinburgh that had me returning ultimately relaxed, it also resulted in me finding a place to stay for the upcoming academic year. The best part? Fury (the cat) is very welcome as well. I’d call that a win-win situation.
Have you ever been to Edinburgh (or Scotland)? Tell me about your experience!
There are a lot of comparisons I can draw between 2013 and now. Smal ones and very big ones. But today I would like to start with a brief recount of what prompted me to start this blog. Back in 2013 I – and believe me, I had to think back real hard for this – I was still in high school. Or rather, I was in my last year of high school. A year I had to retake because I failed my year by 0.1 points. I was angry, hurt, and above all insecure that even my best wasn’t good enough. That year I learned that sometimes, even though you work really, really hard for something, things don’t always work out just because you put in the effort. That sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, take a step back and then go at it again. During that particular year (in March) I decided to start my own blog: a little piece of the big and unknown interwebs carved out for me, to share with you. And although I have been many things as a blogger; passionate, consistent, chaotic, struggling motivated, inconsistent, and more; starting this blog is a decision I will never regret.
Blogging Then vs Now: Differences
When I look back at the girl I was then, I see some things I still recognize in myself nowadays, but there are also some things that I lost along the way. As I am feeling a bit sentimental (blame it on all the hard work getting this blog GDPR proof) I really feel like sharing some with you.
Books were my everything. Let me clarify this. Back in 2013, I think reading was a way of escapism for me. I spent most of my time with my nose in a book, instead of going out and experiencing things for myself. I was really insecure and wanted to avoid situations that made me uncomfortable by simply reading about them (it is very easy not to get hurt or your ego bruised that way). But over the course of that initial year, I realized that I, like those characters, wanted more for myself. I wanted a career, experience an epic love story, have badass friends that I could count on, and, above all, be more daring. If you add checkboxes in front of that list, most of those would be checked off (except for that epic love story, maybe all those books have set the bar too high). Books still are a huge part of my life: I am aiming for a career in publishing and I still read a lot of books, but my life is no longer wholly made out of books.
I used to be a (somewhat) consistent blogger. Unfortunately, that is proving to be rather difficult for me nowadays. I am officially amongst the top 10 of most inconsistent bloggers… Which my inner control freak loathes, but I am grudgingly coming to the realization that this is just how it is at the moment. Frankly, I am quite happy I can still call myself a blogger. And who knows, maybe in another few years I’ll do another one of these posts and will be the amongst the top 10 of organized bloggers. (Probably right around the same time when hell freezes over…)
The sheer amount of books I read for my blog is another thing that has really changed. I used to read and review ANYTHING I could get my hands on. Boy, do I have respect for people who are able to do that for all this time! Looking back I also realize that I felt like I had to review everything as well. And I really just don’t have the heart or time to do that anymore. Some books I want to review and write about, and others I just don’t. So that’s what I do. Blogging should always remain fun, and in order to do this, I incorporated other types of posts. Now, amongst those bookish post, you’ll also be able to find a plethora of post dedicated to other subjects.
Blogging Then vs Now: Similarities
Aside from all those differences, there is one thing that will probably always remain the same: my love and gratefulness for blogging. For without blogging I would never have taken the step to study English Language and Culture. Without it, I would never have interned at not only one, but two publishing houses. Without it, my love for books would have probably been something that I would have kept to myself and I would never have gotten to meet so many other readers (and authors!) that share the same passion.
So, sorry – not sorry – for the sentimental downpour in this post, but I can’t help but come to the conclusion that, to me, blogging is and will forever be something to cherish. I might be terribly inconsistent and sometimes feel so uninspired that I want to bang my head on a table, but there has never been a moment that I have wanted to pull the plug. Because, in the end, blogging played a huge part in shaping the person I am today, and that person I am pretty damn proud of!
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