Edinburgh, Scotland

A medieval town with the addition of a new town, Edinburgh is the perfect city to visit for a weekend.

If you decide to go during springtime, be sure to bundle up. I spent the first weekend of March here, and I arrived to a thick layer of snow and saw more snow fall during my three days there.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

Patagonia Parka: If there’s anything I’ve learned about being cold, I feel best when my backside and bottom has some extra length to it! This parka is from last season, but I linked a similar one. The one linked has a hood with it, which I wish mine had!

J. Crew Jeans: I love these jeans because they’re thicker than your usual denim and keep you warm. They stay right in place, too! I’m 5’4″ and they hit at the perfect place on my ankles.

Boots: These are a classic pair of light brown, heeled boots that I have on in this photo that did keep me warm, but were NOT hiking-friendly for Arthur’s Seat (I’ll talk about this later).

Boots I DO suggest for snowy Edinburgh: I have these boots in the color “sand,” and they are insulated with sheep’s fur on the inside, keeping your feet SUPER warm without the need for thick socks. MAN, do I wish I would have had these packed with me! These have laces so you can loosen and tighten them as needed, which is nice if you need to tuck your pants into the boots. Also, the tracking on the bottom is excellent to keep you trekking through slick and snowy areas.

Beanie: I just have on the classic CC beanie, with a detachable pom on top. A layer around your ears is necessary to keep you from completely going crazy in the cold!

Friday, March 2:

After settling into our hostel, we set out to explore Arthur’s Seat. This is a beautiful set of hills located in the “Old Town” of Edinburgh.

And this is why I mentioned earlier that I made a mistake with the boots I was wearing- they were NOT hiking material. I tried to hike as far as I could, but let’s just say I didn’t exactly make it to the top.

Partially up the largest hill – Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

If you visit Edinburgh, don’t make the same mistake I did by packing the wrong shoes. Make sure you pack hiking shoes so you can make it to the top and experience the full outlook over the city! Partially up the hill will still give you a beautiful view, anyway.

If you’re able to visit when there’s snow around, I highly suggest gathering your family and friends and taking a few sledding boards. I saw so many families out pushing each other around and it looked like so much fun!

I also suggest taking a snack and possibly a hot drink with you. I stopped at a little cafe, Holyrood Coffee Shop, which was between our hostel and Arthur’s Seat.

Photo Credit: Katherine Penney

I got a hot, fruit tea with a mixed berry scone. I loved this little place so much that I did go twice during my short stay!

Mixed Berry Scone & Hot Fruit Tea

After finishing our hike, my friends and I decided to do a little shopping to warm-up. We found the cutest vintage shop called W. Armstrong & Son. There are three locations in Edinburgh, and we made it to two of the three. I was so impressed with this shop because of the organization. They had a section of sweaters, blue jean jackets, leather jackets, kilts (of course), even wedding dresses and much more!

For dinner, we ate at The Last Drop. At this point, we were all so cold that we wanted to stay right around our hostel. I highly recommend staying at Budget Backpackers in Edinburgh because of the great location and great price (per person per night ranges anywhere from €9-€14).

The Last Drop has such a neat history behind it- it’s all about a young girl named Maggie who was on trial, hung, and then survived for 40 years after the hanging. The waiters here were very friendly and the restaurant provided a great atmosphere.

I had a lentil cottage pie, which was a lentil and vegetable pie topped with sweet potato and carrot mash, served with a side salad.

Side note: I’m not really sure why it was called a “cottage pie” because there definitely wasn’t cottage cheese in it- in case you were worried/grossed out!

Also, The Last Drop has GREAT cappuccinos!

After dinner, we ventured out to find some dessert, and ended up at Vittoria Restaurant.

I had the sticky toffee pudding, which was topped with hot toffee sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was excellent!

Sticky Toffee Pudding with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, topped with a waffle crisp

Saturday, March 3:

To start the day, we began with breakfast at the Filling Station. I had french toast with fresh berries on top and a berry compote sauce. I also had a hazelnut latte (I’ve been deprived of hazelnut and french vanilla creamer while in Italy)- it was so yummy and a taste of home.

Filling Station French Toast with fresh berries & a berry compote sauce

Next, we took a Sandeman’s Tour of “The Royal Mile.”

If you’re in Europe and are looking for affordable tours, I highly suggest these tours.

The way it works: they are technically “free,” but at the end, you tip your tour guide whatever you found the tour to be worth. These tours are typically anywhere from 2-4 hours, and you can easily spot them at the meeting location with their red umbrellas.

P.S.- I stopped at a Starbucks before the tour to have something hot while I was walking through the cold. I had a matcha tea latte (and added a bit of sugar). I highly recommend trying it! It’s a nice switch up (and healthy too).

While on our tour, we stopped at the Grassmarket Centre. Ironically, this was right across from our hostel.

At the cafe, I had a chai masala tea and a raisin scone.

Grassmarket Centre- Scone with raisins

Lunch: Olly Bongo’s. This was a cute, small restaurant with lots of different options. I had a baked potato with chili, a side salad, and cole slaw.

I also needed an afternoon pick-me-up, so I had a cappuccino there as well.

Cappuccino at Olly Bongo’s

After lunch, we visited the Scottish National Gallery. Bonus: free entrance!

I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I visited a catfe while I was there. I’ve been missing some animal time! We went to Maison de Moggy and it was a nice way to stay warm.

Cost: £8 for one hour. While you’re there, you can order dessert and coffee.

Sunday, March 4:

I went back to Holyrood Cafe for breakfast, and had a cappuccino and a blueberry muffin.

Hollyrood Cappuccino
Hollyrood Blueberry Muffin

After that, I did some souvenir shopping throughout The Royal Mile.

For lunch, we went to The Elephant Room, which is where J.K. Rowling got her inspiration to write the Harry Potter series.

I wrote my post cards here and enjoyed a flat white and a chicken pot pie with brown gravy and mashed potatoes.

Chicken Pot Pie with brown gravy & mashed potatoes
Writing post cards at The Elephant Room

This is a place I HIGHLY suggest eating if you go to Edinburgh!

Thanks for reading along with my travels,

-Rach

Venice, Italy

This is the most magical little town and I would go again at anytime.

The train ride from Rome to Venice was beautiful. We passed through snowy mountains and little villages which made the ride pass by so much quicker.

The first day we arrived, we unloaded our stuff at the hotel and made our way to find dinner. We ate at Enoteca Rio Martin, which is my new favorite place EVER! I wish I could eat this same exact meal over and over. The restaurant was small with a beautiful set up and wonderful service.

For appetizers, we had a caprese salad and a charcuterie board.

 

Caprese Salad
Charcuterie Board

For my main entree, I had gnocchi made with Gorgonzola cheese and walnut. I don’t think I’ll ever find a better gnocchi dish than this!

Gnocchi

Lastly, for dessert we had tiramisu and panna cotta. This was my first time ordering panna cotta, and it’s definitely my new favorite dessert!

Tiramisu
Panna Cotta

The weekend we decided to go was actually the same weekend as the Venetian parade. I’m really glad we went this weekend because it was such an experience to see everyone’s beautiful costumes and of course Venetian masks!

If you go to Venice, be sure to buy an eye mask as a souvenir.

In San Marco Square, you can pay €8 at Campanile to take an elevator to the top and look out over the beautiful island of Venice and see how beautiful the water is.

Campanile

Not going to lie, it was very freezing at the top and extremely windy! Excuse my crazy hair!

Crazy Hair Don’t Care
Campanile Pt. 2
Campanile Pt. 3
Campanile Pt. 4

While in San Marco square, we also visited the Doge Palace.

P.S. – they offer a student discount!

This is an outstanding building – I loved seeing all of the court rooms and the detailed ceilings!

Palazzo Ducale

While you’re still in San Marco square, be sure to check out St. Mark’s Basilica, too!

St. Mark’s Basilica
San Marco Square

Also, be sure to try Rosso Pomo Doro. It’s an amazing Italian cuisine chain throughout Italy.

I tried fried pizza – it was great, but more like a dessert. It was too savory to eat as an entree!

Thanks for stopping by!

Venice Selfie

 

 

Travel Necessities

Due to a lay over of a total of eight hours, I am updating you with my list of everything in my bag that is necessary to survive for a month abroad.

Stay tuned for a post over what to include on your carry on!

Main Suitcase Essentials:

Hair:

(1) Curling Iron – You’ll thank yourself for this one. Just clamp in the middle of a two piece section, then twist the clamp with your thumb away from your face, and you have a nice curl that will hold for the day. The nice part about this curling iron is that you control the heat settings, and it takes no time to heat up or cool down!

(2) A small bottle of purifying shampoo – this works very similar to a clarifying shampoo, and after one use product build up removes itself from your scalp. I use this once a week to fight back all of the hair spray! *Tip: Mix in a tiny amount of baking soda to really help with build up and give you better volume!

(3) A small bottle of purple shampoo – this can be used once every week or every other week. This is for the blondes who tend to pick up a brassy tone and give you a nice golden blonde tone. I use the conditioner with every use on just my ends. To use the shampoo, I put it in my hair at the beginning of the shower and then rinse it out at the end so that it gives the shampoo time to do its work!

(4) Wide Tooth Comb – to help with all of the tangles after showering/swimming.

(5) Shower Cap – Simply put, for when you’re too lazy to wash your hair!

(6) Dry Shampoo – For the days that you skip your wash (it helps your hair smell like you’ve had a fresh wash, no worries)

(7) Hair Brush – I use this for styling while blow drying and basically everything else!

(8) Moroccan Oil – to help combat the summer heat and fight against dry ends. I use this once a day either before styling it, or before I go to bed, then I put it in a messy bun to avoid breakouts.

(9) Your Everyday Shampoo – this really helps with color treated hair and renews the strength!

(10) Hairspray – this doesn’t weigh down your hair too much but gives you a great hold on all styles!

(11) Heat Protectant – You can put this in your hair while it’s still wet, then you’re good to go with every heat tool you use on it!

(12) Leave In – this is also to be put in damp hair. This is good for detangling, damaged hair, and anything else you can think of.

(13) Travel Size Hair Dryer – This will save MUCH more room than the normal sized hair dryer.

(14) Lastly but not least, a little kit containing classic ponytails, no-crease hair ties, bobby pins, and hair clips.

The Girl Basics:

(1) Lint Roller – for the uh ohs on your black clothing.

(2) Tampons – because lady cycles are VERY unpredictable.

(3) Deoderant – and an extra one for your purse in case of an emergency!

(4) Lotion – especially because Europe has a dry climate currently.

(5) Nail Polish Remover – to help clean up the sometimes messy nails.

(6) Nail Kit – I love this one because it is tiny but has every little tool that you could possibly need. Also, the little scissors are very beneficial.

(7) Vaseline – you can use this for cracked lips or dry heels before bedtime.

(8) Facial Sunscreen – to keep away the wrinkles 😉

(9) Make-up Remover – I’m a strong believer in these. I just recently started using this brand and I love them!

(10) Toothpaste – just stating the obvious!

(11) Facial Night Cream – just to give you some nice moisture and keep your face from drying out.

First aid kit:

Everyone knows their preferences, but this is what I keep in mine:

(1) Cough drops – just for sore throats.

(2) AZO tablets – in case of an urgent UTI.

(3) Mucinex – to combat coughs, colds, a runny nose, or a sore thoat.

(4) Bandaids – everyone kind you can think of, including blister bandaids!

(5) Off- bug spray!

Happy Packing!!

XOXO,

Rachel