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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Silence

When I was eleven, I joined my school's Amnesty International group. I spent hours writing letters and sending them across the globe in an attempt to free prisoners of conscience. I argued with classmates over whether the death penalty was moral. I took books out of the library about human rights injustices and spent hours pouring over them, learning what I could about Gandi, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass. 

The list goes on and on. 


I believed that I would grow up and study philosophy. And spend my university days in study groups debating ethics and morals. (I think what I perceived to be philosophy is actually closer to sociology but I didn't even know that was a thing). I was strong-willed, loud-mouthed and fiercely passionate. 

And well, maybe like all young teenagers, I was also incredibly naive. 

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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

5 Mistakes To Avoid When Visiting Edinburgh (From a Local)

Do you ever travel somewhere and afterwards think 'I had a great time but I wish I hadn't done x, y and z'? Sometimes I feel that way and it got me thinking about the sort of mistakes that people would make in Edinburgh. Having lived there for a few years and being raised 20 miles away, I feel like I'm in a pretty good place to give some advice on mistakes that tourists often make that can easily be avoided. So whether you're planning a trip or just like reading travel fails... here we go! 


1. Getting the tram to and from Edinburgh Airport.
Edinburgh's trams opened a few years ago and haven't been met with much happiness from the general public because a) they were expensive and b) the routes appeal to tourists more than they do residents of the city. The trip to the airport on the tram is slightly more expensive than the bus (only £1 but ok) and the journey is the same time. But the buses run 24/7 whereas the trams run only roughly between 6am and 11pm which may not be the best for those early morning/late night travellers. I've heard of people buying a return trip for the trams and then realising that they need to get back to the airport when the trams aren't running and then having to buy another ticket for the bus anyway. 

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Sunday, 10 December 2017

Sunday Spiel #3

I'm not going to lie, the last few weeks have been really difficult for me. Social media is a funny thing because whilst it may look like I'm having a fantastic time, I'm probably the lowest I've ever been in my life. There are few reasons for this but I don't want to get into that on social media. But I was at the point where I was considering returning to Scotland. For now, I'm sticking it out and trying to keep on going so I think it's important to focus on the positives. So I thought I'd do another Sunday Spiel where I talk about 10 things that I've been enjoying recently/things that have made me happy.



1. Knowing I'm going home for Christmas soon.
Two weeks today I'll be arriving at Edinburgh airport to spend 2 weeks back at home in Scotland and I cannot wait. Not only will it be fantastic to get to spend time with my family, my parents got two puppies after I left for the states and I'll be meeting them too. I can't wait! Hopefully, I'll make it into Edinburgh a few times too and get a refresher of my favourite city in the world. New York has nothing on Edinburgh's charm - sorry not sorry.

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Sunday, 3 December 2017

November Reading Wrap Up

November hasn't been the busiest reading month for me. I think this is mainly because the first book I read was almost 600 pages and quite slow paced, so it took me a while to get through it. I brought my Kindle with me to America and to be honest I haven't used it at all so I'm on a mission to try and finish as many Kindle books before I go home for Christmas and I'm going to leave it in the UK until I move back home in June. This also thankfully coincides with it getting cold outside so that I don't have to make as many frequent library trips. I don't have any wintery/Christmas books lined up for December but if anyone has any recommendations... fire them at me!


Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I've been on a Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie marathon and making my way through all of her books. This novel follows two childhood sweethearts as they both grow up and leave Nigeria for America and England. This is a really slow moving book which I found a little frustrating at times but the writing is beautiful and descriptive. It really captures the feeling of confusion at living in a country that is not your own (even if my own experience doesn't compare to the difference between America and Nigeria). I gave it 3/5 stars as its slow pace struggled to capture my attention. I still think it's a fantastic book, just probably my least favourite from the author. 

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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Is The New York Pass Worth It?

When I visited New York for the first time last summer I didn't know if I'd ever return to the city and wanted to try and see as much as possible. I was recommended the New York Pass by a few people and decided to purchase the 3 day pass for my trip. It definitely wasn't a cheap decision but I was able to get the pass on sale for $203 so I decided to go for it. The pass can get you entry into over 90 attractions around NYC and also allows you to skip queues in some locations (also queue skip options will still have queues because hello, New York). I was able to gain back the monetary value of my pass but I've often wondered if it was actually worth it for other reasons so I decided to put this post together for anyone who may be considering purchasing one. Before we get down to the numbers I just want to discuss what I thought the pros and cons were of the pass.


Pros:
  • The pass enabled me to skip the queues at several locations which was really handy as New York crowds are unlike any other city I've been to (except maybe New York).
  • The free guidebook and map of New York was really handy for when I wasn't able to use Google Maps.
  • The pass overall saved me money. 
  • I was able to buy my pass on sale and have noticed that they often have sales, so if you're planning your trip in advance it's unlikely that you'd have to pay the full retail price.
  • Multiple bus tours are included in the pass. I didn't do these but they are pretty pricey so if you want to do one it almost guarantees you'll make the money back.
  • I did some activities I wouldn't have initially thought of because of the pass. 

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Wednesday, 22 November 2017

NYC for Book Lovers

I am a book fiend. The library has kept me satisfied for the last few months but I found myself feeling some urges.... urges to shop. Urges to shop for books. I suggested that I wanted to do a little book tour of New York and some of my friends were also keen so we found ourselves dedicating a rainy Sunday to visiting some of New York's best bookstores and libraries. We arrive in NYC through Grand Central so we decided to get the subway as far downtown as we were going and work our way back to the train station. And due to timing, we limited ourselves to Manhattan only - although I'm sure some of the other boroughs have some fantastic options!


Our first stop was the Housing Works Book Cafe, a secondhand bookstore and cafe that is run entirely by volunteers and raises money to fight AIDs and homelessness. We were a little hungover so got some coffee/tea from the cafe and sat for a little while before perusing the shelves. I also had a cheddar and spring onion 'biscuit' (scone) which was delicious. I was particularly drawn to their uncorrected proofs section where I picked up two books that are being released soon. The books were both $5 but they actually had some sort of sale on so it was $7 something. I rounded up my purchase as a donation as it's a good cause!

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