A Travellerspoint blog

Scotland

Hello!

So I'm really not good at the whole "keep the blog updated" thing... Sorry. I am still alive, and there will be two posts today since I've been bad and as far as you know I am in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh was awesome. It is a very lively city, with lots of bagpipers who, according to a local, play the same song all day. I arrived on a Saturday night and got to the hostel at about 10:45pm. It was right by Edinburgh castle, and was decorated with a castle theme, which was cool. I then got food poisoning, as I think I mentioned. The next day I went on the "Book Lover's Walking Tour", which was two hours with a delightful old Scottish man. He took us to the medical school where Conan Doyle came up with Sherlock and Watson, and told us about the people that inspired the characters, and showed us the cafe where JK Rowling wrote part of the first Harry Potter. I'm sure none of you will be surprised to here that I went back and had brunch there. I went up a big hill where the national monument is and took a bunch of pictures that afternoon. The next day I hiked up to Arthur's Seat and stood at the top trying not to get blown away. There are pretty amazing views from up there. I went to go into Edinburgh castle, but they charged an ungodly amount of money to go inside, so I just took pictures of the outside. I wandered around the Royal Mile for a while (which the book tour man called "the tartan ghetto") and looked at probably a billion scarves. I caved eventually and bought one... It was just so soft!

From Edinburgh I took the train to Inverness. The countryside is beautiful, but in Inverness itself there's not much to do. I found a bunch of incredible day tours, but all of them needed advance notice for booking. I especially wanted to do the one that went to the fairy pools on the Isle of Skye. I'll have to go back at some point on a trip that is more planned out.

I took the train from Inverness to Aberdeen on March 25th, and then flew to Dublin. I will report on that shortly.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 14:23 Archived in Scotland Comments (0)

England (Hogwarts and Brighton)

Hello!

On the 15th, I went to Hogwarts, and it was fabulous. I spent six hours there in total experiencing a wide range of emotion, the most prevalent being awe. All of you should be aware how Potter-obsessed I am, so this should come as no surprise. At Warner Bros studios, there are four sections of the Harry Potter Experience. The first section you go through is all about sets, props, costumes, and the beginning of the "worldwide phenomenon" that is Harry Potter, all with explanations. You get to see the cupboard under the stairs, the Great Hall, Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor common room, the Burrow, Hagrid's hut, and they explain how other sets were built and taken down, or greenscreened. The Hogwarts Express is also featured, which is a real train that you can go inside. The second section is the backlot, where Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, and the bridge Neville runs down in the last movie sit. There is also a cafe there that serves Butterbeer, which is delicious. The third section is all about the creatures, with videos explaining the construction and animatronics behind all the mythical creatures like the dragons, goblins, Lupin in werewolf form, Buckbeak, and Aragog. Buckbeak is actually there, and he moves! It's startling, but really cool. Finally, right at the end is the huge, lit-up replica of Hogwarts and the grounds that they used for all the aerial shots in the movies. I'll be honest, I got goosebumps when I saw it! I sat on a bench and just looked at it for a good half an hour. One of the guards actually came up and made fun of me for sitting there for so long! As you leave, you go through a room that has hundreds of wand boxes, each one with the name of someone that worked on the movies, including all the cast and crew. Then, to the gift shop! I actually went into the gift shop first, because I got to the studios early. But I went back afterwards and made my purchases. It would have been very easy to spend all of my money in there. However, you should all give me a round of applause, because I only bought three things, two of which aren't even for me (you're welcome Jill).

That was the highlight of my time in London. That evening I met up with Hayley, one of the girls I met on Contiki who is living in London, and we had dinner. Then the next morning, I took the train to Brighton, where I have decided I now want to live. It is so cute and cheerful! I stayed in a tiny hostel that was really relaxed and had colourful curtains, and was only a minute from the beach. That evening I went to a movie, Allegiant. It was good, but was totally different from the book, which annoyed me. But since they omitted important stuff from the first two movies that were key to the plot of the third one, I guess they had no choice. But still, they could have done the first two movies properly! The next morning I went to the grocery store, and then had a picnic on the beach, where I read an entire book. Then I walked to the pier, got sad because the roller coaster wasn't open, and continued walking down the beach. I got lunch, sat down, and read all of my next book. It was a very relaxed, happy day. And even though it was beautifully sunny, I didn't get a sunburn! Another round of applause, please. My second day in Brighton I took the bus and went and took pictures of the house where Mom lived 40 years ago. Apparently it still looks exactly the same, except across the street there is a golf course where a forest used to be. I then walked around the town, going in and out of shops and drinking tea.

The next day I took the train to Gatwick airport, where I got the sandwich that I blame for my food poisoning! A quick flight later and I arrived in Edinburgh, which is where I am now! I am loving Scotland. More on that later.

Sending home lots of hugs.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 09:53 Archived in England Comments (1)

PSA

Hello!

I've been told that some people have been posting comments that do not show up. I have no idea what is happening with that, as every time someone comments, whether they have been approved before or not, I get an email. There are no comments currently waiting for approval or anything, so something must have gone wrong along the way. If you have tried to comment and nothing has happened, send me an email or a Facebook message instead :)
Also, I'm working on the next post. I was going to do it when I arrived in my current location, but then food poisoning happened and I was in no shape to leave the bathroom! Yuck. Stay tuned.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 09:47 Comments (0)

Prague: The Weekend of Randomness

Hello!

I have officially been gone for two months! Who misses me!? ....... *crickets* ........ As this very helpful website likes to point out, my readership is way down! So clearly you all are tired of me and don't want me to post anymore... :)

I have greatly enjoyed my weekend in Prague with Shelley. It may have been the strangest mixture of events and random giggles that I have had since the end of my Contiki tour. Czech people are not boring, to say the least. I arrived on the evening of the 10th, and checked into Hostel Ananas. The reason for the name escaped me entirely. And in the morning, I made my way to the airport and received a big hug from a travel-weary Shelley. One cab ride with a swift-speaking Czech man later, we were at the hotel and more than happy to drop our bags and go for a walk to Old Town Square.
Obviously the square itself hadn't changed since I was there seven weeks ago, but it was furnished entirely differently. Where before there was a snow-covered open space around the giant statue, there were now dozens of wooden stalls set up for what I assume is an Easter market, considering the trees all had coloured eggs hanging from them. While there were lots of stalls, they all seemed to be selling the same things: meat, creepy witch puppets, cheesy souvenirs, and Trdelnik - a classic Prague street dessert. Trust me, it's delicious. However, i was able to give a quick tour of the square before we headed back to get our room keys and have a rest. That evening we decided to do a dinner cruise down the river, with a tour guide whose English was good, but who did not quite understand what she was saying, on one of many boats with BOATS4U in neon lights along the top. It was an amusing, very touristy evening. The highlight I think was when the tour guide was describing the architecture of the Presidential and Intercontinental hotels.. We think she was trying to say that they were examples of Soviet architecture, but instead she told everyone that they were "communist hotels". Personally, I doubt that is how they would like to be advertised. (However, apparently in Prague, some hotels do try and differentiate themselves while advertising, as one of them boasted about their very own fallout shelter!)

The next day we accidentally slept until 10:45am and missed breakfast. Oops. So instead, we walked back towards the square, decided against eating pork knuckle or goulash, and found a place to get some quiche and coffee. Then, it was back to the hotel spa for our Thai massages ;) It was a bit of a decadent weekend.. Other than when the massage women randomly hit you (is that a common part of Thai massages?!), it was lovely, and I left feeling a bit noodley. A hot tub sounded perfect right about then, but when we were taken there we discovered it was barely lukewarm. But there was a sauna, so warmth was achieved. After that, dinner and the opera! "Turandot", the Chinese princess with a very high voice who wants to kill all men but ends up happily married twenty minutes later. It's a wild ride.

On Sunday morning we awoke in time for breakfast, and then headed for the chocolate museum. Now that is an entertaining way to kill an hour. First of all, free chocolate, which is always a welcome bonus. Then combine what would have been decently interesting, informative posters with horrendous spelling and grammar (don't roll your eyes at me, I've been trained to notice these things), and you get me giggling my way through the chocolate-making process. At the end of the museum section, there was a praline-filling demonstration, which is where I could not keep it together. Not only did the demonstrator forget to turn the machine on, he also dropped his gloves on the floor (which were cloth, not even plastic) and then put them on anyway and kept going... It doesn't really sound that funny now but at the time I could not stop laughing. The pralines were delicious though. After the chocolate museum was our walking tour from our hotel up to the castle and the monastery, and back down to Old Town Square. The highlight of that for me was definitely the libraries at the monastery. They were absolutely gorgeous, and I just wanted to go lay on the floor in the middle of them. Unfortunately that was not allowed, so I settled for pictures.

After the walking tour we had a snack in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the astronomical clock, and then went back to the hotel for a quick internet fix. That evening we went to the Bed Lounge, which was suggested by my Contiki manager last time I was there. It is exactly what it sounds like - a bar where there are big, comfy, bed-couch things instead of chairs. And they had a very extensive drink menu. At dinner afterwards, we learned our last lesson from Prague: always get the suggested side with your meal. Neither of us did, and while our mains were delicious, the sides were really really not. I'm not sure how it's possible to mess up corn on the cob that badly, but there you go. We decided that the chef was insulted by our flouting of his suggestions, and wanted to punish us. Oh well.

This morning I flew to London, where it was delightfully sunny. I made it to my hostel after another 4km walk carrying my backpack, and then went and sat in the nearby park and read my book. It was lovely. Tomorrow I am going to the Harry Potter studio tour, which might warrant its own post on here, who knows. But I am very excited. You're welcome for spoiling you with what could be my longest blog post ever!

Hugs all around. I miss you guys!

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 14:15 Archived in Czech Republic Comments (3)

Schwanstetton

Hello!

I have to say, my own room, a real bed, a clean shower, and home-cooked food makes me very happy. Very big thanks to the Zieglars for allowing me to camp out in your basement for a few days. And thank you to Ischa for always being 100% willing to cuddle! As far as travelling goes, this stop was not particularly exciting. But it was definitely refreshing. We went into Nuremberg for one day and walked around, and I have gone on a few walks around the village of Schwanstetton with Ischa. However most of my time has been spent talking, napping, eating, playing with Ischa, and watching Netflix. I am leaving here today with the bags under my eyes having shrunk, and a new obsession with Prison Break (it is such a good show...).

Today I am travelling back to Prague via bus, which for some reason was cheaper and faster than a train. It is only a 3.5 hour trip. Depending on the wifi at my hostel in Prague, I will try to upload some more pictures of Salzburg and anything else I have missed tonight.

Sorry for the skimpy post - there's not much to report! Hope everyone is doing well.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 04:15 Archived in Germany Comments (0)

Salzburg

Hello!

I have spent the last few days wandering around Salzburg, Austria. I would definitely recommend it as a place to spend a vacation. I got the perfect mix of weather. The first day it snowed, which made the park I walked through look like Narnia. I got some cool pictures of trees and the city all dusted with white. It was beautiful. I went up to a park that doubled as a lookout over the city, and there was also a mini fortress up there that was probably once where guards and sentries hung out. One one side of the park you can see out over the town and the river, and on the other there is a view of the Austrian countryside. I walked through the old town that afternoon, had lunch, and found a great little Christmas shop. I really wanted to buy ornaments, as there were so many that were absolutely gorgeous, but there was no chance of me getting them home in one piece.

The next day was beautiful and sunny. Once again, I did not look at the distance on google maps, and I walked the 8km to Hellbrunn, which I think is technically a castle, but just looked more like a mansion. I spent the day taking lots of pictures. The grounds are full of trees, flowers, fountains, and statues, and there were very few people there to get in the way of my camera. There is also a zoo there, so obviously I went to that. It was full of interesting animals, like Guinea pigs.... Are Guinea pigs considered exotic in Austria? I found that quite funny. No elephants unfortunately, but I did get charged at by a lion. He probably just wanted me to pet him. After the zoo I climbed up the hill that was there and got a great view of a mountain that I decided was probably where the Grinch lives. Facing the other direction I could see over the grounds of Hellbrunn, and see the town in the distance. My photos do not do the view justice.

I took the train from Salzburg to Nuremburg yesterday, and I am now staying with the Zieglers, the family that we stayed with when we were in Europe nine years ago. The kids are a lot taller now. Ischa, their dog, is still here, so I will be soaking up as much puppy love as I can over the next few days.

Happy birthday to Brendan!

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 06:50 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Vienna, Part 2

Hello!

I have spent the last few days in Vienna. Honestly, I probably have not utilized my time as best I could, but I am totally exhausted. But that's okay. This is my adventure, and if I want to curl up and watch Captain America, I can and I will. However, that is beside the point. I have done a lot of walking in Vienna, and oh my goodness is it a lovely place to walk around. Austria is so clean! And the architecture is consistently gorgeous.

While I have been here, I have visited the Hofburg palace, the Prater amusement park, a cat cafe (!!!), multiple parks, and the big open air market that I cannot remember the name of... And then I have walked. The day I went to the amusement park was easily my longest walk. I think I walked about 10km. On the backside of the fairground is a huge park with one straight road running down the middle. When I looked at the map, I saw that if I walked to the end of the road and turned right, I would come to a big horse farm. It was only half an hour later that I realized the road stretched for 4 km, but by that time it would have been silly to turn around. Once I reached the horse farm, again looking at a map, I decided to do a loop around the farm and then head back. The map failed to mention that the connecting road 3/4 of the way around was gated, so when I reached it I had to go back the way I had come. I did see a lot of gorgeous horses though, and it was sunny, so no harm done.

I think Vienna will be a city I will return to, although I should put it at the beginning of my trip next time so that I am able to more fully appreciate it. But I have mastered the transit system, so next time I can be energetic AND efficient! Tomorrow morning I am taking a train to Salzburg, where I will be spending three nights. Someone please remind me to watch the Sound of Music while I am there, since I will probably forget by tomorrow morning. I will go through my pictures now and post some on here, for those of you who are not following my Instagram. A common complaint so far has been "post more pictures!", so I will try to oblige.

Hugs to everyone. I think I'm at about the halfway mark of this adventure.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 12:03 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

Vienna, Part 1

Hello!

I'm in Austria! I arrived yesterday morning, after my very long train trip. Although, thankfully, I did get to sleep, so it didn't seem like 14 hours. I arrived at the train station and tried following the directions to the hostel, only to realize that the directions I had were from an entirely different train station... Oops. However, two quick metro trains later and I was where I was supposed to be. From that point it was only a five minute walk to the hostel. I am loving this hostel, so thank you to James the Australian for the recommendation.

Today, I had a shower in a clean bathroom with a door that didn't fall off, which was a good start (I'm looking at you, Rome hostel #1...). Then I took the metro to the centre of the city to the big cathedral, and spent a few hours wandering around that area. The church itself was under construction, so only parts of it were visible. That's one thing I've noticed in Europe.. So many of the classic sights have scaffolding! As a photography-focused person, that frustrates me. But I guess it's better than having the buildings fall down. There is a lot of shopping around this area, and a lot of it is very expensive. I looked, but did not touch! I happened upon a big park with an ice skating rink while wandering, which was cool. And then I found a giant palace! I walked into the grounds, but did not go in anywhere else. I wasn't in the mood to pay for any attractions today, but I will most likely go back. The grounds were beautiful though.

Short update today, since I haven't done much. But I haven't been updating this as much as I'd like, so I figure I should take advantage of the quiet time and reliable wifi. Hope you are all doing well. There is a sizeable knot of homesickness hovering around right now, so if you would all send me telepathic hugs, that would be great. Miss you.

Love,
Jenna

Posted by jennamiller 10:50 Archived in Austria Comments (1)

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