Winter wanders... Pt. 2

Mammoth, CA

Mammoth, CA

Sunday: We spent the morning slowly getting ready, packing up our bags, and loading the car - it was my birthday after all, but as much as I wanted to savour relaxing in the morning, I also wanted to get on the road so we could be in Lake Tahoe. Since we had already visited Mono Lake and took the scenic route in Mammoth, the only stop we had along the way was Lundy Lake. I was secretly hoping that we would be able to do a hike around the lake so Wick could get some of his energy out, after seeing photos of it on Instagram (of course), but we didn’t realise how much it had actually snowed the weeks before until we started driving the narrow road towards the lake. The fog was still settling around the area as we made our way to the lake, with the trees pretty much covered in snow. Once we got down to the lake, we were literally the only people there. It was absolute silence for miles, and well, the lake was completely frozen over. I attempted to try to take some photos “in the snow,” but literally just got my foot stuck and buried in at least a foot of snow. We opted for photos just standing off on the road, before getting back in the car.

En route to Lundy Lake in the fog

En route to Lundy Lake in the fog

In front of frozen Lundy Lake

In front of frozen Lundy Lake

Thankfully, the drive to South Lake Tahoe was only about 2 - 2.5 hours away from Mammoth, so we didn’t have much longer to go from Lundy Lake. Driving through the mountains though always takes my breath away, there is just so much to see and it was amazing to see the change in temperatures as we drove along. There would be patches where the trees were completely covered in frost and then as the temperatures rose, it was just all green.

On the road from Mammoth Lakes, CA to South Lake Tahoe

On the road from Mammoth Lakes, CA to South Lake Tahoe

Once we got to South Lake Tahoe, we quickly found our AirBnB, and unpacked. I absolutely loved the little cottage we stayed in. It was centrally located, in walking distance to the shops and markets, very cozy, and had a decent sized backyard (filled with snow) for Wick to run around in. After we settled in, we drove (I underestimated how close we were to the shops) to the supermarket to pick up some food for the house, and then we grabbed a quick meal at Kalani’s at Heavenly Village. We walked around some of the shops afterwards, before heading back to our AirBnB to retire for the rest of the night.

Monday: Our only agenda for this day was to make our way over to Sand Harbour State Park and have a walk around and take some photos. This place is hands down my favourite place in South Lake Tahoe - just the colours of the lake are so mesmerising, and to be surrounded by the mountains while you’re on a beach is just indescribable. Funny enough, we were the only ones there - seems to be the running theme of this trip - so we were able to get some great pictures of the lake and the mountains. We walked along the wooden pathway from beach to beach, and Wick just loved being outside with the air so fresh, but also freezing!

After we were done walking around, we decided to just continue the drive over to North Lake Tahoe just to see what was out there. It wasn’t a bad drive, maybe about 45 minutes around the lake - we didn’t end up stopping anywhere per se, but really just wanted to see and then head back to our AirBnB. Mind you, the day we left for this trip, Bret had passed his cold onto me, so the entire trip I was trying to recover from a cold so relaxing was the best method of tackling it.

Monday night, we at least made it out of the house to have my post-birthday dinner at Himmel Haus, which, if you’re ever craving a veal schnitzel, is the place to go. The food was so good, and I wished we had time to go back.

Tuesday: We got an early start the next day, mostly because in my mind, I really wanted to try to hike Desolation Wilderness and “beat the crowds and get decent parking” - but little did I know, heavy rainfall the weeks before = loads of snow up in the mountains and ice. We made our way up to Emerald Bay, stopping by at the viewpoint along the way, before parking at the Eagle Falls Trailhead. And of course, there was plenty of parking! We attempted to start on the hike, but didn’t make it very far. There were clear paths in the snow for the trail, however, under the snow was a bit of ice. There were a few people walking around further up, but I’m pretty sure they didn’t go much further than where they already were. Another hike I have to pocket for when we plan our summer trip out to Lake Tahoe later on this year.

View of Emerald Bay

View of Emerald Bay

As we made our way back down the mountain, we stopped by Taylor Creek and took a little walk around the creek in the snow before heading back to Heavenly Village for some lunch to warm up! I can’t say we did much else after lunch, as we had super yummy burgers, which means we were totally tuckered out and just ended up spending the rest of the day playing with Wick in the backyard and also binge watching The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel.

Wednesday: Before we headed back home to San Diego, we swung by Free Bird to pick up some coffee and acai bowls. They by far have one of the best acai bowls I’ve ever had, and I’m pretty sure it’s because their secret ingredient is apple juice mixed in with the acai. Once we packed up and cleaned the house, we hit the road for the long journey home a.k.a. about 9 hours. We only stopped by Erick Schat’s bakery to pick up some soup and some bread, but other than that, we were more focused on just getting home.

Overall, although we didn’t get to hike the trails I had planned out for us, it was such a great, relaxing trip, being able to spend so much time in the snow, and a perfect end to 2018. I can’t wait til we plan all our trips for 2019, so once that’s in the works I’ll definitely be posting more and a little recap on our very short weekend trip to Las Vegas last weekend!

Winter wanders...

So, it’s been awhile since I’ve last written in here, and I didn’t exactly keep last year’s resolutions. Let’s just say, 2018 was filled with us mostly dealing with some flooding every few months in our apartment due to a neighbour living above us, which then resulted in us having to pack our bags and move out of our place every time it happened. Long story short, we moved to a new apartment for a few months until our lease was up, and have since moved again to a more permanent apartment, at least for the next year.

Because of all the flooding and moving, we didn’t really travel as much as we had wanted to - we took one trip to the East Coast to visit my family, but the other trips we planned for the later part of the year were all road trips so we could bring Wick along. I’ll be updating this blog more regularly this year, as we start planning out our trips for 2019 - nothing is set in stone yet, but definitely expect a trip to Scotland and London!

For now, here’s a recap of our most recent road trip out to Mammoth Lakes and South Lake Tahoe. This was a very much needed getaway for us to both take time off work, and just unwind. We went out there early December, and spent about a week between the two places - partially for my birthday, and partially to see all the snow.

Friday: We left early morning on a Friday, since it was about an 8 hour drive for us to get from San Diego to Mammoth Lakes, and we had a few stops planned along the way. Our first stop was Randsburg - Living Ghost Town. It took us around 3.5 hours - but it was well worth the stop. The first time we came, 2 years ago, it was early morning so it was much quieter, but still - even on this visit, we were the only tourists stopping by.

Randsburg - Living Ghost Town

Randsburg - Living Ghost Town

Convict Lake in the Winter

Convict Lake in the Winter

After taking a few photos and walking around with Wick, we got back on the road to make our way to our next two destinations - Erick Schat’s Bakery and Mahogany Smoked Meats, both located right in Bishop, CA. Both are perfect stops for sandwiches, every bread you can imagine, and of course, jerky. From there, we weren’t too much further away from Mammoth Lakes. We had two hours before we could check into our AirBnB, so we made our way over to Convict Lake so we could take Wick on a little walk in the snow. If you ever make your way to Mammoth, Convict Lake is a must see. I don’t know if it was because the mountains were covered in snow, and there was at least a foot of snow covering the ground - but this was honestly one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen. It very much reminded me of Milford Sound in New Zealand, but that might also just be the reflection of the mountains in the lake. There were a few cars parked along the road, but really, we were the only ones walking around along the the lake in the snow. I didn’t want to leave, it felt so serene.

Reflections in Convict Lake

Reflections in Convict Lake

Our next and final stop for the day was our AirBnB, which, I’ll be honest, once we got to, I really didn’t feel like leaving - mostly because it was freezing out, but also because being on the road definitely makes you exhausted. It was good to stop moving for a bit, unpack our bags, and warm up by the fire.

Mammoth Lakes, CA

Mammoth Lakes, CA

Saturday: The next morning, we took our time getting ready for the day since we didn’t have much planned, other than to wander around Mammoth Lakes. We weren’t planning on skiing this trip since we had Wick with us, and we didn’t want to keep him stuck in his crate all day.

We drove out about 45 minutes away from Mammoth to make our way over to Mono Lake to see the tufa rock formations. I had done a little research beforehand to know what to look for, but once we got to Mono Lake and started walking around, it was such an eerie feeling - the place felt so deserted. Maybe had we come in the summer, there would be more people walking around and checking out the tufas, but just seeing the random formations out of the water was an other-world experience.

We spent a good chunk of time walking around, taking photos, and really just taking it all in. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe when you see the tufa rock formations and just the surrounding area, to know that the whole area used to be under water. Definitely a stop worth visiting if you are ever in the area.

LRG_DSC02294.jpg

After spending some time at Mono Lake, we slowly made our way back to Mammoth by means of the scenic route to get some snow time in. The rest of the day we just took it easy, spending some time at the shops before heading back, since on Sunday we were hitting the road again to South Lake Tahoe where we would spend another three nights before making our way back to San Diego. I’ll be posting tomorrow about our time in South Lake Tahoe - by far one of my favourite places to go, both in the summer and winter time. Until then!

New beginnings...

It has been well over 3 months since I last sat down to write in this blog, and this year I'm going to commit more time to sit down and write, even if it's just about some thoughts in my head, or just little memories I want to jot down.

It's a brand new year, and how 2017 came and went so quickly! Looking back, I try to remember all that we did, but most of it is all just a blur because it went by so fast. We did a good amount of traveling - mostly to Arizona, but then we did some side trips to Julian, Utah, Colorado, and of course, Scotland and England. There were a lot of changes and adjustments last year... getting a dog together, Bret and said dog moving into my tiny flat downtown, Bret getting a new job, then us saving up enough money to move into a bigger flat away from downtown. All in all, it was a very stressful, and anxiety-inducing year, but also a very good year at that. There's a lot to reflect back on, and it helps me to then go into this new year with a fresh mind and a list of things I want to change or work on going forward.

A couple resolutions I have written down for this year are: to finally get back into the habit of running a few miles a week; get stronger, more fit, and on a better diet (i.e. eating plan); read more books; study for and pass the Series 7 exam (hopefully by mid-May); write in this blog on a regular basis. These are all things I had on my "to do" list for the better half of last year, but some excuse always came up for me to then ignore accomplishing any of them.

I know I've been constantly saying I want to run again, and this year I really do want to commit to it. I just got a new pair of running shoes with the proper insoles my feet need for support, and we now live in a quiet neighbourhood with lots of space to do a few miles, so now I just need to make it a habit, and not just end up on the treadmill in the gym. 

I look back on my life when I was back in Glasgow and now, and I have gone through so much change, it's weird to think that only two years have gone by. Yes, I do still very much miss living in Glasgow because it's still my comfort zone, strangely enough. But I am doing my best to adjust to life out here, and this year I am going to do my best to break down all my walls that are keeping me in that cautious zone where I feel like my anxiety gets the better of me, preventing me from exploring more, especially on my own, and getting back my independent spirit.

We actually won't be traveling too much this year, as we decided earlier on - moreso, to save up money, but also because I have an exam I need to focus and study for, so we will most likely end up doing more local hikes with the pup on the weekends. Though, we will finally be making it out to the east coast in May for Bret's first trip out there, exploring my hometown, DC, Annapolis, Philadelphia, and potentially NYC. Hopefully, we will also be able to get out to Hawaii and perhaps another trip out to the UK and elsewhere in Europe later on in the year closer to Christmas time. 

On that note... I'm gonna head back to studying for my Series 7 exam, the first of many things I want to accomplish this year. Until next time!

 

Our Road Trip Around Arizona

It's been a few weeks since I've last written a post on here, mostly because we haven't really been up to much, and we've both been consumed with our day jobs = stress and exhaustion when the work day is over. As summer comes to an end and autumn begins, I'm excited with the prospect of cooler weather, mini weekend getaways for cider and pumpkins, and hopefully morning hikes without the heat. 

For the long weekend recently, we packed our bags and the car and made our way over to Arizona for a little road trip. Overall, it was a perfect getaway to escape the city life, although there were a few hiccups along the way, all of which we have learned from. And although I'd say I'm quite the planner, there are still things that can happen on trips that you can't necessarily plan for and you just have to figure it all out along the way!

One of our many stops along the way to the Grand Canyon National Park

One of our many stops along the way to the Grand Canyon National Park

We left on Friday around 2pm and our destination for the night was meant to be Fredonia, AZ where we had booked and Airbnb, but of course it was a Friday afternoon before a long weekend and we were traveling with our almost 2 year old Australian Shepherd, Wick. We hit a bit of traffic along the way, mostly entering and exiting Las Vegas, so that set us back a bit on time. We ended up having to late cancel our Airbnb and find a hotel to shut eye in for the night. We stayed in St. George, UT overnight, and thank goodness for all my crazy travel planning apps on my phone - hotels.com came in handy for this slight emergency. 

Saturday morning, we got up a bit early and started to make our way out to the Grand Canyon. Using the Roadtrippers app, I had put together a rough itinerary for this drive, stopping along in Lake Powell, Page, Horseshoe Bend, and the Desert View Watchtower (in the Grand Canyon) before we made our way to our lodge for the night. Our first stop was Lake Powell, which if you haven't been before, is gorgeous. It was quite busy when we got there, as a lot of families were camping out for the weekend, but it's a perfect spot for a weekend camping trip where you can camp right along the lake, and you've got your own little private area to swim and soak up the sun during the day. We didn't stay for too long since most of the shore was booked up by families, plus with the heat, we didn't want to have Wick be out in the sun for too long. 

From there, we made our way to Horseshoe Bend, stopping along in Page for a short rest break. This was perfect, as I got to see the Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge and get a glimpse of the canyon. I've somehow formed a fascination with bridges from living in Scotland for three years, so I was a happy camper when we stopped so I could marvel at the views of the dam and the bridge along this stop. 

My view of the trail to Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ from atop the hill

My view of the trail to Horseshoe Bend in Page, AZ from atop the hill

After taking a few photos and walking around, we got back in the car to head to Horseshoe Bend. Now, this was on my list as a "must-see," but, a fair warning - not the best place to visit when you have a very fluffy dog with you, it's 100+ degrees outside, you're slightly dehydrated from the dry weather, and it's already mid-day. I was being stubborn, so I went to go see what all the fuss was about while Bret and Wick stayed in the car with the A/C on. It couldn't have been that long of a hike - mind you, I didn't look up the distance from the parking lot before leaving the car. There's a short hike up a hill that leads you to a little patio/rest stop which was packed with people. Just before arriving to the top, Bret called to very kindly let me know that I should probably turn back around because it was almost a mile and a half hike... Once I got to the top, I understood what he meant. You for sure need to be prepared for this short hike, with water, a hat, and probably cooler weather - as you don't just hike in sand up a short hill, but the trail routes downwards a bit, and around. I couldn't see the full trail from where I was, but I knew in that moment I wasn't quite prepared. At that point, I turned back around and walked back down the hill to get picked up by Bret and Wick at the bottom.

View from the Desert View Watch Tower - Grand Canyon National Park

View from the Desert View Watch Tower - Grand Canyon National Park

From here, we got back on the road and made our way over to the Desert View Watch Tower (which is in the Grand Canyon), stopping along at a deli on the way. It was maybe about 2 hours from Horseshoe Bend to get into the Grand Canyon National Park. The Desert View Watch Tower is one of the very first turn-offs once you enter the park, so that was an easy find. We got out and walked around a bit - there is a shop and some restrooms, along with a National Park shop within the tower. The views were incredible. I hadn't been to the Grand Canyon since I was 5, most of which I hardly remember. 

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park

After walking around, we got back in the car and decided to make our way to our lodge that we had booked for the night. Hiccup. We Google'd directions to the lodge - and lo and behold, (mind you, we were in the South Rim at this point), our lodge booking was in the North Rim - a 3.5 hour drive away... pretty much very close to where we had just come from. We thought about this long and hard... and after much discussion, we decided to forego that lodge booking (as well), spend the rest of the afternoon in the Grand Canyon, and then find a hotel / motel in the Flagstaff area to stay in for that night. This would've saved us 6.5 hours, if not more, of driving time to and from the North Rim to the South Rim, then back out to Flagstaff, which was our next stop.

Trail along the South Rim of the park

Trail along the South Rim of the park

I don't regret the decision we made at all. We got to spend more time scoping out different view points in the park, walking around the South Rim trail by the Visitor's Center, taking in the enormity and beauty of the canyon, and just moseying along until sunset. Once sunset came, we decided to get back on the road and make our way down to Flagstaff. We got into town a couple hours later, picked up some dinner (and enjoyed some entertainment) at Black Bart's Steakhouse, and then headed to our tiny motel for the night. 

The next morning, we didn't stay too long in Flagstaff - our mission was to just pick up some really good coffee, check out main street, and grab some grub from Proper Meats + Provisions for the road. We really just wanted to get to Sedona and relax in our final hotel for the weekend, and rest up for an early hike Monday morning before heading home.

The drive was only a couple hours down, only because there was a bit of traffic along the way when we got to Red Rock Country - with everyone heading out for camping, hiking, and of course a day at Slide Rock State Park. We hit traffic once we got right into Sedona along the shops, stopped for a milk shake on the way, and a side trip to the dog park so Wick could stretch his legs a bit.

On our drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, AZ

On our drive from Flagstaff to Sedona, AZ

Once we got to our hotel room at Poco Diablo, I'm not gonna lie - we didn't leave until the next morning. Wick was very happy with our massive room and was running all over the place so excited to finally not be cooped up in the backseat of a car. Bret and I were both happy to just be able to relax and not be on the road for a few hours. It was just nice to finally settle, and not be moving about.

Monday morning, we did get up early around 6am to head out at 6:30am for a short hike around Wilson Canyon. We chose this one specifically because it was close by, about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying, it was dog-friendly, and it was an easy hike - 3 miles total. We didn't hike the full trail, as we wanted to get back within an hour to grab some brunch in town, clean and pack up, then have some time to visit the shops before making the drive home. The hike was perfect, it wasn't too steep or strenuous, Wick seemed to be enjoying himself, and the trail itself was easy to walk. We got there just in time to beat the rush as well. After the hike, we grabbed our things, went to a few shops to pick up some snacks and souvenirs, and made our way home.

Although we didn't get to see everything that we had planned for this trip, due to an oversight in some planning, but also the fact that it was 100+ degrees and we had our dog with us, it's a trip that we agreed we'd go on again. Though, the next time we go, it'll just be the two of us, and we'll end up doing more hiking and camping in both the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park to explore a bit more of what nature has to offer. For now, we have a few more trips planned before the end of the year, and hopefully this time around we'll get our planning down pat. Until then!

I scream, you scream...

We all scream, for ice cream!

A week after our trip to the UK, settling back into our normal routine back in California, we found ourselves driving to LA this past Sunday to visit the sold-out Museum of Ice Cream. I had purchased tickets about two months ago, as a pre-birthday gift for Bret, and with the heat rising out here, it was a pretty great way to beat the heat.

The Museum itself is located in a bubble-gum pink warehouse in downtown Los Angeles in the Arts District in a quiet part of town. We got there a few minutes early, but only had to wait about 10 minutes tops before they let us in well before our booking time.

First room with pink walls and rotary phones

First room with pink walls and rotary phones

I was ready to take about a million photos, as you do when you're confronted with brightly colored backdrops and ice cream everywhere. You walk through nine different rooms, as you go through the museum, all with enough time to take as many photos or selfies as you'd like - you start off in a bright pink room filled with rotary telephones, and then from there head to the California themed room where you get a cup of ice cream from McConnell's - ours was milkshake and fries, tasty enough to live off of! 

California-themed room

California-themed room

As you make your way through, the next room is the banana room with the infamous swings and pink and yellow colored bananas hanging from the ceiling. After this room, you enter into the mint room which is set up like a mini greenhouse, and you're given a mint chocolate chip mochi to try. Delish! From there, we headed to the next rooms which where the sherbet room, popsicle room, and the gummy bear room where you're given a heapful of gummy bears to snack on. 

Banana room

Banana room

Mint green house

Mint green house

In between the sherbet room and the popsicle room

In between the sherbet room and the popsicle room

The infamous popsicle room

The infamous popsicle room

Once we finished up all our gummy bears, we headed to the next room where ice cream in golden cones are plastered all over the walls. We were given charcoal-infused cookie dough in a cone, which to be honest - many people ended up binning, but we thoroughly enjoyed this new take on an "ice cream." Once we finished our cones, we headed into the sprinkle pool where we were given under 5 minutes to sit and play in the sprinkles, only to leave shortly with plastic sprinkles stuck all over our bodies and somehow in our undergarments.

Gummy bears everywhere!

Gummy bears everywhere!

Charcoal-infused ice cream

Charcoal-infused ice cream

The Museum ended in a bigger room that held an ice cream sandwich swing, some chairs, the gift shop, and a place to play table tennis. We were given our final ice cream here, which consisted of vanilla custard placed between two strawberry pancakes. Not a bad way to end the trip! 

Enjoying ourselves in the sprinkle pool!

Enjoying ourselves in the sprinkle pool!

Although we only spent around an hour total at the museum, we definitely enjoyed ourselves and were pleased with the different tasting options we got during the tour. It was also nice to only be placed in small groups for your arrival time to allow ample opportunity for photos and to just enjoy the day! 

Visiting the gift shop

Visiting the gift shop

People make Glasgow

It's been a week now since we first arrived in Glasgow for our quick two-day stint wandering around the city, making sure Bret got to experience what the city is really all about, while also making sure we fit in time to also meet up with some of my closest friends, and rest our feet.

I'll admit, traveling to the UK from California now is no easy feat. Somehow, it was much easier with only a 5 hour time difference from the East Coast than the 8 hour difference out here. Regardless, we managed to check off everything on our "To Do" list while we were in Glasgow for just barely under 48 hours. 

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

Buchanan Street, Glasgow

We left Stafford on Thursday at 6:45pm, and our train got in just before midnight - mostly due to a delay earlier on when we had to change trains at one of the earlier stops. Despite the long journey, it's such a warm feeling, coming back to a city that was home for three years. No matter how jet lagged, or tired you are, coming home instantly wakes you up, and makes you glad to be back. Once we got to the station, we quickly grabbed our suitcases and walked through city centre up to the Premier Inn, just off W. Nile Street - ideally located near both Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street, but only a ten minute walk from both Glasgow Central Station and Queen Street Station. Of course, once we got to the hotel, we briefly unpacked and quickly went to bed - only to prepare ourselves for the full day we had ahead of us on Friday. 

Glasgow Central Station, just before midnight

Glasgow Central Station, just before midnight

Come Friday morning, we got up early - starting the day off around half 7 to grab bacon and sausage rolls with a side of a latte from Gordon Street Coffee, and making our way down to the River Clyde. It was surprisingly a dry, but cloudy day - enough to reassure us that the rain wasn't coming down that day. We sat on a bench to have our "pre-breakfast" - while people were swiftly walking past us on their way to work, and it made me miss my running trail - running along the River Clyde, up and over the Squinty Bridge, making a loop around the Science Centre, and making my way back home. 

Sitting along the River Clyde

Sitting along the River Clyde

After we finished our rolls, we headed back to the hotel only to get ready for our brunch plans at The Butterfly and the Pig - because hey, you can't come to Scotland and not have a full Scottish breakfast (especially with Stornoway black pudding)! Let me tell you, the full Scottish there never fails. We ended up splitting one, mostly because we were so full from everything we ate earlier that week, but also because we wanted to sneak in a raspberry and white chocolate scone with cream on the side. I'll admit, I was pretty pleased to see Bret totally devouring the full Scottish, black pudding and all.

Full Scottish Breakfast at The Butterfly and the Pig, with peppermint tea, and a raspberry & white chocolate scone with cream

Full Scottish Breakfast at The Butterfly and the Pig, with peppermint tea, and a raspberry & white chocolate scone with cream

Once we finished brunch, we made our way to the West End. This was a walk I did from my flat almost every other weekend, and it's a good two to two and a half miles from city centre. On our way, we quickly stopped by the Mitchell Library to admire the architecture of the building, before arriving at Kelvingrove Museum. I must say, although I didn't always spend enough time there, it is still hands down one of my favourite museums for both the interior and exterior architecture, the placement of where it is right outside Kelvingrove Park, and I just love looking at it. We popped inside this time, and stayed awhile longer listening to the organ recital they had that day. It was nice to sit and reminisce about my days when everything we were doing that day was my every day. 

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Inside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Inside Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

After finishing up at Kelvingrove, we made our way to the University of Glasgow, another one of my favourite buildings. Although I have no ties to this uni, the architecture is just breathtaking. It's one of landmarks that you want to just show everyone who comes to visit Glasgow because it's so beautiful. It has this surreal feel to it, and it makes you feel so small, but also reminds you how warm and inviting the city of Glasgow really is. 

University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow

The Cloisters at the University of Glasgow

The Cloisters at the University of Glasgow

Once we made our way through the campus, we headed over to Byres Road to quickly swing by Ashton Lane - mostly so Bret could see the little shops and restaurants lined up along the alley way - and then we caught the subway back to Buchanan Street for one last stop before meeting a few of my friends. 

Ashton Lane in the West End of Glasgow

Ashton Lane in the West End of Glasgow

If you ever find yourself in Glasgow on a dry day, The Lighthouse, right off Buchanan Street and tucked in Mitchell Lane, is one place you need to visit. The exhibits there are ever-changing, letting you learn about Glasgow art, but there is also the Mackintosh Centre, a permanent exhibit, where you can learn a bit about the infamous Rennie Mackintosh. And of course, you can take the stairs up to the Lighthouse and view all of Glasgow from above the rooftops. It's definitely one of my favourite views of the city and worth climbing up all those stairs. 

View of Glasgow from The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane

View of Glasgow from The Lighthouse, Mitchell Lane

After heading back down to Buchanan Street, we met up with a few of my closest friends before we grabbed dinner at Cafe Gandolfi. If you're ever looking for authentic, reasonably priced, and just delicious Scottish food, Cafe Gandolfi is the place to go. I've gone quite a few times, and I always leave with a happy belly. This trip though, I had to of course go for the haggis, neeps, and tatties! The food, the atmosphere, and the service there is just on par. 

Dinner at Cafe Gandolfi in Merchant City, Glasgow

Dinner at Cafe Gandolfi in Merchant City, Glasgow

We ended the night after dinner at Cafe Gandolfi, and headed back to the hotel to get some rest. On Saturday morning, I'll be honest - we slept in because we were so exhausted from walking around everywhere the day before, but also from all the traveling. We ended up sticking around the shops, heading back to The Butterfly and the Pig for afternoon tea (another must!), and then meeting a few more of my friends for tea before catching our train to Manchester before our flight home. It was a very short, but great trip and definitely worth it.

Afternoon Tea at The Butterfly and the Pig

Afternoon Tea at The Butterfly and the Pig

Now to backtrack a bit, another reason why I was so keen on visiting Glasgow this trip, albeit short, was to be able to see some of my friends. I'll admit, it's very true statement when they say, people make Glasgow. To this day, some of my closest and best friends are the friends I made while I was living, working, and studying in Scotland. Immediately when we arrived in the city on Thursday night, you could feel a difference in the way people behaved - people were friendlier, people were more alive, people were having fun, and you felt safe - and this is what I miss most about the city. People there are genuine, they're loyal, and they're real. They aren't focused solely on work, or being the best at everything, or trying to always one up you. The people in Glasgow are focused on living in the moment, but also on having genuine relationships with people they meet, and making real connections. It's something I've noticed as I've traveled around the world, but also as I made the transition from living in Glasgow to now living in California. It's one of the reasons why Glasgow will always be home to me, no matter how much I change, or how much the city changes. And if you are ever able to visit Glasgow one day and experience the people in that city, you will be very lucky. 

Glasgow, thank you for an amazing stay, and see you soon!

Us at the top of The Lighthouse, overlooking Glasgow

Us at the top of The Lighthouse, overlooking Glasgow

Here we are, across the pond

After talking about this trip so much, I'm excited to say that we are currently in the U.K. for a week. We took the red-eye flight Sunday night leaving from San Diego, putting us in London Heathrow by around 3pm London time. It actually wasn't a bad flight, just around 10 hours straight, which I passed out for most of. Of course, we flew British Airways mostly because I'm too loyal of a customer and it was a direct flight into Heathrow. After taking a similar route (from Maryland to London / Glasgow) numerous times for 3 years, I can admit I'm pretty picky with my flights and airlines these days. 

The Moat House in Stafford / Action Trussell. 

The Moat House in Stafford / Action Trussell. 

Nonetheless, we then took a flight from Heathrow out to Manchester, where Bret's colleague picked us up to drop us off at our destination and home for the week - The Moat House in Stafford / Acton Trussell. It's been a lovely trip so far, with such a warm welcome from Bret's colleagues. To be honest, I've been lazing about the last two days while they've been working, but I'm enjoying my quiet time to relax, catch up on some reading, and do a bit of unwinding after the stressful lead up to our flight on Sunday. 

Sunday morning, we woke up to find that our just under 2 year old Australian Shepherd, Wick, potentially had conjunctivitus in one eye either from allergies or the dog park the day before. This not only meant that we had to somehow get him to the vet as soon as possible for some eye medication, but also that initially the place where we wanted to board him for the week most likely wouldn't allow him to stay there due to the potential infectious nature of it. Made sense, yes. But it also gave us both a bit of anxiety that morning, as we tried to rush around to see where else he could go. After a couple hours of research and driving around, we managed to find him boarding at a pet resort that took him in with open arms. Thankfully. We were able to have the vet see him the following day as well, and we luckily get to see photos of him playing with the other pups each day which adds that extra reassurance as dog parents. 

But back to our trip out here. We had a night out last night in Birmingham with Bret's colleagues, going out for dinner and drinks. It was such a nice time with great company and perfect weather - a little chilly, but that's how I like it. We went out to The Alchemist, right off Colmore Row, for some dinner and drinks - really cool atmosphere, friendly staff, and the drinks are delicious - perfect if you're looking for a cocktail. I opted for the non-alcoholic, Elixir, but it was nice, mellow, and tart. The starters and mains were really good, tasty, but not too heavy which was nice, especially since we started our day having a full English breakfast at The Moat House (shown below).

After dinner, we headed across the way to The Botanist - if we had more time here, I would definitely go back. It has a very cozy, relaxed feel to it with a rustic look. We split a non-alcoholic Raspberry, Grape, and Elderflower cooler - and it was hands down my favourite drink I've ever had - which goes to say, I'm sure their cocktails aren't so bad either - some you can even get in little clay plant pots!

We ended the night there, and headed back to The Moat House to rest up for the rest of the week. I'll be venturing out to the sweet shop in Penkridge later today, and will head out to Stafford high street tomorrow during the day when a friend from London comes out to visit. Then we're off to Glasgow by train, and I cannot wait. I promise we'll have more photos to post up when we're in Scotland, as we'll be able to venture out and about a lot more and the place holds my heart. Until then... !