The Real Harry Potter World {Edinburgh, Scotland}

You guys rock.

Thank you so much for all your support and input on last week’s post ♥︎ Having a loving community is a gift that fights half the battle.

But it’s been a good while since we’ve caught up! The highlights of this past week include:

1) Celebrating two birthdays of people in my study abroad program. Last week was one with an ice cream sundae party. I brought the peanut butter (and original) Oreos, naturally.

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On that note, I’ve been eating a lot more chocolates than usual here in Ireland. I say I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but Cadbury has a way of making me [literally] eat my words.

Last night, a few of us went out to dinner for another birthday at an Italian restaurant. I got the linguine with meatballs in a tomato basil sauce. Mm.

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Happy birthday to the awesome ladies!

2) Finishing our last final on Friday. Oyyy that was a cram exam, but I think we all did well. Our professor went pretty easy on us, thankfully.

3) Visiting Edinburgh, Scotland!

Megan, Cristen and I packed our knapsacks and set off for Scotland on Friday evening. We started with a 20-piece chicken nugget order from Burger King to share at Dublin Airport for “dinner” first. Twenty pieces for only 5 quid! This is why fast food is a problem.

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But I had not eaten meat this processed and non-filling in so long, and I LOVED IT.

We had just an hour-long flight before we landed in Glasgow. Flights were oodles cheaper into Glasgow than into Edinburgh, but we still had to pay a little over £16 and 2 hours to get to Edinburgh from Glasgow. You could argue that “time is money,” but even the return flight times from Edinburgh weren’t great on Sunday, so I think we ultimately made the right decision.

(Plus, I had more time to read Harry Potter.)

A trip isn’t a trip for Megan and me until we run into some public transportation issue the night we arrive at our destination city. This time wasn’t so bad, but we took the last local bus in the wrong direction, so it took us probably 45 minutes more than it should have as we had to wait for the bus to turn back around.

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adventures with the front pack return

At least Cristen was still smiling. Megan on the other hand was crying and drying her tears with [clean] cat socks.

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she’s actually only crying because something was in her eye

The bus driver was very kind though, and he let us camp out on the bus for the whole round trip.

We finally arrived at our Airbnb pretty late at night, but all things cheered up (for Megan at least) when we discovered that the hosts had a nice cat.

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She was living her BEST. LIFE. I’ve never seen Megan come alive like this.

Sleep was short that night because we had to be up early for our day tour of the Highlands! The days are so short here too. The sun rises at 8:30 am and sets at 3:30 pm, so we entered and returned to Edinburgh city centre in the dark on Saturday.

This awesome breakfast spread from our Airbnb host put a little pep into our morning though.

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We took the Highland Experience Tour, which took us to Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness, Inverness, and the Cairngorm Mountains. It usually does the route the other way around, but since daylight was limited, they started with Glen Coe and and ended with Cairngorm Mountains, which we thought was wise.

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allllll the haggis at one of our short pit stops

After a couple hours of snoozing and listening to our Scottish tour guide, we arrived at Glen Coe.

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“Three Sisters – Faith, Hope, and Charity”

The history of these places is fascinating (even though I was a sleep/daydreaming for half of it, the parts I caught were cool)!

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our tour guide, Stuart, with everything Scottish you could ever imagine

Ben Nevis as the sun went down:

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Commando Memorial

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I’m gonna miss all the sheep in Ireland 😦

We had our longest stop at Loch Ness, so we grabbed some lunch.

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chicken, mozzarella, pesto sandwich

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very sub-par carrot cake, but it was still carrot cake!

Then we went in search for the Loch Ness monster (aka Nessie).

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idk why I made myself so vulnerable to Nessie here

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There were some trails we hiked up that may have led to lookout points of the lake. We started on them but didn’t have time to finish them, but it was still SO nice to move the legs after sitting on the bus all day.

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Thereafter, the sky darkened quite quickly, so here was my last photo of the trip — Inverness, the capital of the Highlands.

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the RIVER Ness

It was kind of humorous coming back to Edinburgh, because although it was pitch black outside by 5 pm, Stuart kept saying things like, “If you look out to your right, you’ll see ___. It’s a little hard to find it in the dark.”

Poor guy was probably just obligated to say those things, because there was no chance we could see anything at that point.

We arrived back to Edinburgh at around 7:30 pm, so we searched around for a restaurant (NOT a pub) for a while before choosing Mum’s, a cozy British comfort food restaurant.

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We needed to go to a British/Scottish restaurant because Cristen and I were dead set on trying haggis. If you don’t know what haggis is, read here (unless you’re extremely queasy with weird foods).

Mum’s fortunately had an appetizer portion of “haggis, neeps, and tatties” (aka haggis, parsnips, and potatoes), so we all shared that.

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it also came with gravy on the side

It’s not bad at all! I like it, but I don’t love it. I would eat it, but I wouldn’t order it. It tastes like pate + shepherd’s pie. That doesn’t sound like the worst thing, right?

My main course blew the haggis out of Loch Ness the water though. I got the venison and redcurrant pie with veggies and chips, and it was everything I had been wanting in my 3.5 months in Ireland/the UK.

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I didn’t think I would be able to finish the pie, but I totally did. The puffy crust was absolutely perfect, and the stew underneath was savory and seasoned just right.

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Mmmm the wannabe-British-speaking part of me was comforted for sure (p.s. I have no idea how to speak in a Scottish or Irish accent still).

Cristen also ordered a glass of rosé for us all to share at the end. I had one sip. Not my jam.

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We finished our night with a short stroll around city centre and the Christmas market right before it closed.

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We knew we had to come back to see it in full the next day!

Sunday morning, we got up fairly early again to go to Mass in city centre at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Then we met up with my friend Mayu and her roommate, who are both studying abroad in Edinburgh. Mayu and I know each other from high school and haven’t seen each other since graduation!

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We met up at a cute French cafe called La Barantine Victoria, where I had vegetable quiche and peppermint hot chocolate.

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It was so good catching up with her for a bit and meeting her friend!

After we parted, Megan, Cristen and I meandered our way through town via the Royal Mile.  There were a couple guys who were playing the bagpipes on the street, so our Scottish experience was complete.

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Edinburgh is such a cool city. The buildings are all old, gothic, and kinda dark, but it works. It’s not depressing; it’s mystical. (Fun fact: J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh, and you can definitely see the HP inspiration in this city. Maybe that’s why I love it so much?)

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We made our way back to the Christmas Market eventually, which was teeming with people of all ages, craft stands, and food stands.

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Megan and Cristen got some treats for themselves (including fudge and sugar roasted almonds), and I got these mini pancakes (of Dutch origin apparently) with Biscoff cookie butter drizzled overtop.

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These were so delicious!!! Freshly made, doughy, and satisfying.

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They’re ebelskivers, I think!

We ventured into SantaLand at the Christmas market too, but it was really just toddler land with overpriced rides.

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It was such a fun experience though! We definitely felt the warmth and excitement of the holidays 🙂

Other stops of the day:

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Edinburgh Castle

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we didn’t have time to go inside, unfortunately, but the view from the top was still magnificent!

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we didn’t have time to hike up Arthur’s Seat, but you can see it in the background!

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I also purchased a Scottish wool stole (large scarf) at one point during the day

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how thrilled do you think this new HP fan was to be petting a tawny owl in Edinburgh!?!?

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the moon hangin’ out at 3:30 pm

Before we departed Edinburgh for Glasgow airport again, we stopped by Oink for some pulled pork sandwiches to take away per our friends’ recommendations. Megan and I bought one each to eat at the bus station.

Warning: Vegans/Vegetarians/Animal Lovers, shield your eyes.

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I got my pulled pork with BBQ sauce and onion sage stuffing on a wheat bun. This was delicious!! Super cheap too!

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We said goodbye to the wonderful city that is Edinburgh and then headed “home” for Dublin. Real home is coming in just four days though, and I can’t wait 🙂

So tell me: 

Have you ever been to Scotland?

What is the weirdest animal-based dish you’ve ever eaten?

Have you ever been to a Christmas Market?

Two things you did this weekend!

Our First 5 Days of 2015

Well hey there, I haven’t talked to you all since last year!

Last year being five days ago, but still! Happy New Year! I hope you all had festive celebrations and fun times with family and friends. All the good F’s.

Besides some lingering sickness (read: hacking death coughs), we’ve been having a great time ringing in the new year in Florida! So much happened, but instead of boring you with a lengthy recap of everything, let’s do this alphabet style. I would like to share the fact that I do indeed know the alphabet. 😉

Ringing in the New Year: By the Letters

Avocado toast // Saturday night’s dinner along with sloppy joe meat and roasted cauliflower

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Beach trip // played frisbee for a couple hours

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Crepes // using Alton Brown’s recipe

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Ducklings // spotted in our neighbor’s backyard

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Ebelskivers // delightful Dutch round pancakes made by my aunt and uncle

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peanut butter-filled aka happiness-filled

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Forecast // looks very pleasant for the upcoming week here in FloridaScreen Shot 2015-01-03 at 8.48.38 PM

Group photos // ’tis the season

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Humbling // doing pistol squats and this leg workout after a week of being sick

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matchy matchy

Ice cream // of the cookies and cream variety on NYE

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Jokes // trying to come up with some to incorporate into my Boston University tour guide script with only minor success

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Kansas family friends // who now live in Florida and are like family to us (they came over for NYE dinner with us, and then we went to their house for dinner on Friday night!)

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Luau // Disney’s “Spirit of Aloha” dinner and show was a blast!

(Besides the fact that I had to stand outside due to intense coughing at the end. Two people thought I worked there as I stood outside and asked me to point out the bathrooms. One of them was a little boy who called me ma’am!)

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those dinner rolls would be PINEAPPLE COCONUT rolls!!!

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I spy Madre

Marshmallows // roasted over hot charcoals for NYE s’mores

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Char, peel, eat, repeat

New Year’s Eve // spent at home with family and friends eating pulled chicken sliders, salad, ice cream, and more

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Overnight oats // with way too much peanut butter left at the bottom of this jumbo jar…never thought I’d say that

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doughy, peanut butter goodness

Pancakes // green silver dollar banana ones on Tuesday and “Melt-in-Your-Mouth” Bisquick ones on Saturday

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Quiet time // I need to set this aside for at least an hour before going to sleep

Ricola // cough drops are a hot commodity in this household currently

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Spinach in my smoothie // with frozen banana, vanilla protein powder, almond milk, cinnamon, nutmeg

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Typhoon Lagoon // Ben and I spent our Sunday there with our relatives

(There was a WICKED wave pool that reminded me of the huge wave that swallowed the world in the movie, The Day After Tomorrow. It was intense.

Dinner eaten at Downtown Disney, followed by the most difficult mini golf ever at Fairways.)

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Ben: “Again [with the selfies]??”

Upride down // did ten handstand pushups in a row with an abmat underneath my head!

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Visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios today!

Wawa walk-through // because Ben heard so much about this high class gas station chain

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Xylophones // one of the only practical words that start with X

Zzzz’s // caught some during several naps throughout the week

To all those going back to school and work today/sometime this week, I wish you good luck! You’re all rockstars, so let. it. ROCK.

{Happy birthday to my best friend and partner in ridiculousness, Daliza!!!}

So tell me:

Some letters that describe your weekend!

Have you ever tried Ebelskivers before?

Do you like wave pools?

Are you starting work/school today or later? Or have you already been on the grind?