Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Edinburgh

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Our first night in Edinburgh we arrived late in the afternoon from London. We rode the bus from the airport into town, deciding to get off at any place that looked interesting without any real plan in mind. Fortunately for us we ended up at Princes Street Gardens at golden hour. The castle and Old Town were bathed in the warmest of hues. I spotted the Ferris wheel and pushed back my fear of its apparent age, because as I told my mom "things are safer in Europe."  The attendant spotted my apprehension right away and vigorously sent our car spinning as we went up while gleefully laughing at my terror. The car stabilized as we were reaching the top and we stared in amazement at the view.

Edinburgh has Old Town and New Town, though both seem old to this American. New Town is made up from Georgian and Victorian architecture from the 18th and 19th centuries. Our Airbnb was in the basement of one of those townhouses. It was massive, two bedrooms, a long hallway, a light and airy kitchen, and a beautiful, bright living room with access to a garden. I'm mad at myself for not taking pictures. Every morning I woke up and sat at the window, drinking my tea and eating at least two scones, with clotted cream and jam of course.  I told myself I needed to carb up with all the walking we were doing.

One day I did actually walk to the top of Arthur's Seat, which is a pretty calm name for the remains of an ancient volcano. The climb to the top was quite the hike, a steady incline most of the way and the trail gets narrow and rocky in places, especially towards the peak. Stunning views of the city are the reward for getting a little out of breath. I was lucky enough to do it on a day with clear, blue skies and lots of sunshine. Arthur's Seat is in Holyrood Park beside the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The palace is the Scottish residence of the Queen. We took a few hours to go through it, taking in the architecture. My favorite part was the abbey ruins, which date back to the 12th century but have sat in ruin connected to the palace since the 18th century. They're a photographer's dream.

Another highlight of the trip was the museums, particularly the Scottish Gallery and National Museum of Scotland. The latter's building comprises several stories and has an open, bright atrium. The exhibits on ancient Scottish history were wonderful.

Besides museum hopping we spent a lot of time taking advantage of the great restaurant scene Edinburgh has going on. I don't remember having a bad meal, and there's such an incredible diversity of quality restaurants to choose from. We had acai bowls and matcha, four-course Italian dinners, full Scottish breakfasts, mouth watering burgers, and yes, haggis. I've been told I'm brave when it comes to trying food but I don't really see what the fuss is about over haggis. It was hearty and filling, and if you like sausage I don't think you'll mind the taste of it. I can genuinely say I liked it, and I had it multiple times while there!

Needless to day, we had a pretty fantastic time walking and eating our way through Edinburgh.



Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Things that will happen when you move somewhere by yourself...

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...Or at least the things that have happened to me over the past six months.


1. If you’re female, many people will assume you’re moving for or with a boyfriend.




When I told people I was moving to Houston one of the most common questions from people was “is your boyfriend there?” Then whenever I got here and started meeting people, many asked if I had moved here for a boyfriend’s job. I know everyone was just genuinely curious, and maybe it is more common for people to move for a significant other’s job than to do it by themselves. There’s a part of me though that recognizes that this isn’t a question that would be posed to men. When I meet guys that have moved here I never ask if they moved for a girlfriend or a wife, and I’ve never heard anyone ask a guy that either. 

No, I didn’t move for a boyfriend. I spent a year planning, saving, and getting ready for the move. I applied for jobs and flew out to interviews in different cities. Then I chose the best fit and planned some more, looked for apartments and arranged everything on my own. My friends and family were awesome. They helped me make decisions, and my best friend even came down to Houston with me to help me choose my apartment, but it was done by me.  

Not long before the move I was having lunch with a friend of a friend in New York, she’d moved there by herself too. When she found out I was moving alone a huge smile spread across her face. “I love hearing that,” she said, “girl power!” 


2.   People will tell you you’re brave, though you feel anything but brave. 




I feel so undeserving of this compliment every time someone says it. Goals were set, plans were made, and I took a leap of faith. Many times the stress was almost too much. Other times navigating a new place left me almost in tears. I’ve called friends and told them I was ready to come home. Anyone who has heard me whine wouldn’t think I’m brave. Yet, I’ll occasionally meet others who have moved where they knew no one, and brave is the first thing that comes to mind. 

3.  Sometimes you’ll be amazed at how quickly you met people and made friends. 



The first week I was here I met girls that are still a part of my circle. Every day, I thank God for them. In the beginning I regularly felt like I needed to pinch myself because I was so fortunate. As I’ve gone further though, I realize that people are put in your life exactly when you need them. 

     4. Other times you’ll long for the family and community that you have back home.

No matter how many friends you made and how full your social calendar is, there will still be an empty place where the people that have been with you for so long belong. Sundays are usually difficult for me because since I was a child we always had lunch at my grandparent’s house. I don’t get to see Gizmo, my mom’s dog whenever I feel like it. The community I built at work back home is continuing without me. Even when new friendships and communities are formed, the old ones can never be replaced. That will always bring a tinge of sadness. 
 
  5. You’ll be so grateful, for the big things as well as the little ones.




The first time I went home I felt as if my heart would explode with joy. I appreciate everyone back in North Carolina so much more. Like never before, I realize just how close I am with my family and how important my friends are. 

Sometimes it hits me that I’m no longer in North Carolina. It seems as if it’s a dream. Then I’ll see the Houston skyline and tell myself that I really did it. I live here now. After Hurricane Harvey I was filled with an overwhelming sense of the good in the world. Seeing people rebuild the community, hearing stories of those who had risked their lives to help evacuate flooded neighborhoods, it left me in awe of the capacity for good in the world. 

No matter where you move and what you experience, spending time alone and building a life in a new place allows you to really pay attention and notice all the good things about people.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Downtown Asheville

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I find it amusing that the next post after Nashville is Asheville. They may have nearly identical names, but they're two very different cities. Mom and I spent a weekend in the mountains, exploring Asheville, in... January (oops I'm behind). Being only a few hours west of where I grew up, I've been quite often over the years. It's only been in the last few years though where I feel like I've really gotten to know it outside of the Biltmore. Don't get me wrong, the Biltmore is an amazing place and I think everyone should go, and often, but there's SO much more to Asheville. It's a foodie and beer lovers paradise. It's alternative and hip, artsy and cool, with just the right amount of Southern.


Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. Mom is gluten and egg free though, so breakfast out can be a challenge. Luckily for her, Asheville and all it's hipness has got her covered. We walked over to Over Easy Cafe and put our names on the (long) list. Good things come to those who wait. Thankfully we found Desirant a few stores down and it didn't seem like much of a wait at all. This boutique is filled with beautiful and local jewelry, home decor, and clothing. Once we got our little table at Over Easy I got the seasonal benedict and Mom went for the GF pancakes. It was worth every bit of the wait. Some sayings are true.




After eating, and doing some more window shopping, we popped into Lexington Glassworks and ended up staying a couple hours. This gallery features live glassblowing demonstrations with the artists describing their work as they create pieces for the studio. It's amazing to see the skill and creativity that goes into every piece. They answer questions, explain the process, and offer witty remarks. My favorite was "the beauty is in the details, the detail is in the beauty." I'm still figuring that one out.






It seems like nearly everyone that lives there is an artist, or it feels that way anyway. The restaurants reflect this. That night we ate at Rhubarb. I remember the dessert the most. It was caramel and chocolate cake served with homemade ice cream, sprinkled with...mushrooms. When I read that in the description I almost didn't want to try it, but it gave it this earthiness that really worked, similar to the sea salt with anything sweet trend.




The next morning we brunched at Over Easy, again. Yes, it's that good. To pass the time while we waited for our table we went to the Herbiary and picked up a few goodies. I've really gotten into essential oils. I have more blends than I know what to do with! Being a Sunday, the wait was pretty long we went next door to Sovereign Remedies for a cup of coffee. I loved the decor of the place. The bartender/barista showed us the dinner menu and I'd really like to go back next time we're up there. Brunch was amazing, of course. Afterwards we walked it off inside the Grove Arcade. Completed in 1929, it's been fully restored and houses many shops and restaurants. You can also just stroll through it, it's that's pretty!





Stay cool, Asheville!