Plans for Summer 2015

I will be leaving Madrid,Spain, at the end of May to return home for the summer. I will be working 9 weeks at a Girl Scout Camp. After camp ends, I plan on possibly going to California for 4 days and then back to Austin to spend my remaining time with friends and family. I will leave Austin, Texas, in late August to return to Madrid for year two. I will spend the first couple of weeks in Madrid finding a new home for the coming school. I plan on going on two trips before school starts: Porto and Belgium. After my two trips, work will be starting for the school year. I am excited! I coming home!!!

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My 2015 Highland Adventure

During my Semana Santa holiday, I got the chance to leave the busy city of London to the tranquil Scottish Highlands for 3 days. I covered a lot in 3 days. On my tour, I went to Isle of Skye, Eliean Donan Castle, Loch Ness, and the battlefield of Culloden. I learned a lot about the different events that carved Scotland into the country it is today. There are many tour companies that leave from either Edinburgh and Glasgow. I would recommend a 3 day tour in the Highlands to have time to enjoy the beauty of your surroundings and to see some major highlights of Scottish history. I went through the Highland Experience tour company for my 3 day tour and loved every minute of my trip. Why? I had a wonderful driver who knew a lot about the history of the land. I love history. I am a bookworm and a nerd. I gained an appreciation for the history of the Highlands. The people that inhabited the land were people who knew the land and lived in clans. I wasn’t fond of the history of  the fighting that took place in Scotland. Here’s a map of the places I covered on my tour. This map is from Highland Experience’s website.

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As you can see, I covered a lot in 3 days. Scotland is a small island that can be covered in a shorter amount of time compared to Spain, where I live at the moment, which has taken me one year to cover half of the places I want to see. I will be in Spain for a second year, so hopefully I can see more of Spain. I am very proud that I saw a lot of Scotland in 3 days. Since I was a little girl, I have been in love with the Highlands. I knew I would enjoy a 3 day trip in the Highlands, so I booked the tour.

I am very fond of  the mountains, the lochs, and green lush grass of the Highlands. My favourite parts of my trip were Isle of Skye, Eliean Donan Castle, and Loch Ness. The tour of Skye was breath taken because of all the beauty around me such as the craggy Cuillin Mountains and outstanding beautiful Trotternish Peninsula. Skye is the largest and most northerly large island in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. I like how you can leave the Capital of Scotland and be surrounded by only nature and not a jungle of buildings. The beauty of this island is something to see in person and not through a picture. There are many cute little villages on Skye where you can stay for the night. Stay one night and you will not regret you choice!  I would recommend Skye as an important place to go in the Highlands.

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Not too far from the Isle of Skye is Eliean Donan Castle. This castle is one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognised all around the world. Also, movies have been filmed at this castle too. The castle is on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery. It was first inhabited around the 6th century. The first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built. The castle was destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719.  Eilean Donan laid in ruins for 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle.

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Eilean Donan is a small castle compared to other castles I have visited. What makes Eileen Donan unique to me is the scenery surrounding the castle and the loch. The scenery goes very well with the castle. The castle is still used by the current owner. The family holds a reunion at the castle once a year to celebrity the history of the castle. I wish I could own a castle in the Highlands.

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Last place on my list of favourite places in the Highlands is the world famous Loch Ness. It is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 23 miles (37 km) southwest of Inverness. Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster. The loch contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined.  I wasn’t to fond of the idea of paying a lot of money to jump of a boat to “monster hunt”  for an hour.  I think this idea is a little silly and childish. I personal enjoyed sitting on a bench or walking around the shore  looking out to the water and enjoying nature.

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I plan to return to Scotland in a few years to revisit the Highlands. If you love Ireland, you will easily fall in love with Scotland.  I fell in love with the Scottish Highlands. There’s something about the beauty of the land that draws me in and has captivated me. The majestic scenery is what I love the most. So if you like scenery, mountains, and nature you should book a flight and visit Scotland.

A Letter to Grandmother

Grandmother,

It’s been to years since I last saw you. I miss you very much. I wish you could see all the things I have accomplished in the last 2 years. I got my masters in May of 2013. I moved to Madrid, Spain, to teach ESL in a high school. I was able to get an apartment, open a bank account, and get a residential id speaking sad Spanish. I have traveled a lot. I’ve been to Portugal, England, and Scotland. I know you would be very proud of me. I can’t believe 15/5/13 marks the 2 year anniversary of your passing form this world. I miss you more than you will ever know.

Love,

Chelsea

London on Budget

Everyone says London is one of the most expensive cities in Europe to visit. I know the Euro does not work in favour, when exchanging for British Pounds. London is one of my favourite cities in the world and I have spent many years dreaming about visiting. I believe if one saves enough money, budgets, and does research for London. Then, going to London won’t be too hard or impossible. I spent 5 days in London and it became one of my most favourite trips I have ever been on.

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I started researching on London, back in January of 2015, so I could have a better understanding of the city and tourist attractions. I learned when it was the best time to go to attractions such as Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s Cathedral. I went during worship times to get in free and enjoy the beauty of these historical buildings. I discovered that a lot of the popular museums and galleries are free to get into: National Gallery, British History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum. If you like museums and art, then London is a must for you. There are a lot of beautiful green lush parks that you should visit if you like gardening and the outdoors like Hyde Park, St. James’ Park, and  Regent Park. There’s so much to do in London. In the words of Samuel Johnson, Sir, when a Men is tired of London, he is tired of life!

I spent more money on the Oyster Card for the metro than  on anything else in London. I will suggest you get an Oyster Card, but walk around the city that’s how you become familiar with a place and soak up the city. It cost 5 Pounds the card, but you can return the card in any metro station and get a refund.  I spent money on two tourist attractions: the Tower of London and the British Library exhibit on the Magna Carta. The London Pass is another suggestion for the saving money. I did not buy one because most of the stuff I wanted to see didn’t require money.  I had a list of everything that I wanted to see in London and started to budget what I would spend on attractions, food, metro pass, and lodging. 

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I stayed at the Astor Victoria Hostel in Westminster for my stay in London. I recommend this location because it is close to everything such as the Victoria Coach Station, two tube stations, and not far from popular attractions.  You are within walking distance of a lot of things. The hostel was clean, the staff was friendly, and the environment was amazing. There’s a 50 pents breakfast and all the money goes to local charities. This is wonderful that the hostel does this for a good cause. Use this hostel on your next visit to London!

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 I will note that this was my 1st solo trip in Europe. I felt very safe in London. I will note that one should use common sense when roaming around a city alone. Be safe and don’t leave your common sense at the airport.  I walked to the coach station by myself at 4 in the morning to get a coach to the airport. London has a very efficient public transit to get you to the airport. There are coaches and express trains to get you to the centre of London. The express trains will cost more than taken a coach into London. Research before you just show up!  Please message me if you have a question about London!  London is a must for anyone! I hope you will visit this amazing city in the near future.