A weekend away to Ardbrecknish House: Dalmally Scotland

As I sit typing, snow whirls around the street outside and bangs at the window like an intruder trying to invade every crack of the city. It is the first time in 5 years that I have seen snow like this in Edinburgh. It makes the city seem like a completely different place. The dense ice crystals cloak the landscape from view, walling its citizens in. It feels as if it was to list and the sky was to clear it would reveal a new vastness with no end.

Perfect excuse to sit in and write about my weekend away to Argyll. My friend Ben is flying off to fulfill his dream of joining a J-pop group. Nah I’m kind, he is moving over for a year and as a farewell, he organised a trip away with a few friends before he leaves.

The drive is supposed to take 2 hours and 40 minutes but It took me and my road trip companions about 4. This was mainly because we stopped for coffee and chippy in Inverarary.  And I can report the local chippy provided a sizable tray of chips.


Ardbrecknish House

Although the Ardbrecknish is described as 17th-century tower house, there are maps and a map dating back as far as 1590. According to architectural historians, the saddleback tower and wall thickness suggest medieval origins. To me, it looked as though it was from two different times.  One side medieval and the other Georgian. Ardbrecknish remained as one unit until the house was converted into a hotel in 1930.

Like most houses that have stood for more than one century, it has its stories and its ghosts. One tale is of an elderly lady who is said to rise late at night to check that the laundry stored in the east wing is all prepared for the morning. In more recent times a team of craftsmen were working inside the house on a structural project. They heard a call summoning them for tea. When they made their way to the kitchen no-one was there. Whilst the team waited for the kettle to boil and contemplated who may have called them, the internal wall on which they had been working, collapsed without warning. Creepy but also I prefer these kinds of helpful ghosts that the kind in the movie Insidious. The house is not easy to get too and you will most definitely need to drive unless you want to trek from the nearest town which is Inveraray.

*Quick note, Inveraray is the nearest town with a supermarket, restaurants and an ATM.


The interior of the house was old-fashioned and basic. The rooms were clean with thick covers which kept me nice and warm on the cold nights.  The section of the house we stayed in had many adjoining corridors connecting the rooms to the kitchen area and living room. The bathroom like the rest of the wing was clean. They do not provide towel so that is something you will need to add to your packing list. This was a bit annoying as its something you expect most places to supply. The view from our wing was striking. You could see the mountains and lakes from the main room with a large window for viewing. I was up before anyone else. I find it hard to sleep in, in a new place so I usually am the first to rise. It was really nice getting up and sitting with a cup of tea just enjoying the scenery.

The house has a bar attached which you can get rach through the maze of corridors in the house. The bartender was also the owner of Aedbrecknish. She was a lovely woman who told us that she had been there for 19 years. It was great having the bar as it had a pool table, darts, and booze, all the makings of a good night. Usually, there is a restaurant but as it was off season it was closed. The rooms are dog-friendly and cheaper offseason. It cost us 315 for two nights with an extra 25 for our doggo. companion.

If you want to see more photos of the house click on the link.

Loch Awe

Loch Awe is the third largest freshwater loch in Scotland and is famed for its trout fishing. Salmon pass through the loch, coming past the barrage in the River Awe and continuing into the River Orchy. At the northern end, it has one of the most photographed castles in Scotland, Kilchurn Castle which I saw on our journey back but wasn’t able to pull over to have a proper look. I really want to visit the area again and see that Castle close up.

We decide to rent a boat and explore the lake. During the summer season the lake is full of fisherman and other tourists but as this was off season we had the pick of the boat fleet. There were a few options from motorboats with or without tops and rowboats. We chose a boat with a top as from afar you could see dark clouds sweeping over the mountains towards the lake. The boat allowed a maximum of 5 people and cost 25 to rent and an extra 5 pound for every additional hour. Make sure you bring cash as they don’t take card payments.

If you want to learn more about boat hire for the lock follow the link: Boat hire.

Inishail is distinguished by its distinctive grassy surface, which is probably why it was giving the nickname “Green Isle”. There are fragments of the walls of a small building, enclosing a space choked up with stones. A larger space is protected by an iron fence. Which I have no idea why its there. Maybe the used to have animals on the island?

The island is full of colour, green moss, reds, yellows animate the terrain with lichen springing from the branches reaching out into the fresh country air. It felt alive and safe on this tiny little island.

If you go looking for the other ruins down from the cemetery be aware and then prepare for a lot of fun surfing the marsh. We went searching for more ruins and got our wellies stuck in the waterlogged earth. When we moved our feet while submerged it created a mossy wave. Make sure you wear wellies or expect your shoes to soaked through.

Possibly a Knights tombstone? I can’t be sure but my imagination runs wild all the same.

On the way back to Edinburgh we decided collectively to stop off in a few places on the way. We all made our way to Inveraray first. Inverary is a town in Argyll. It is on the western shore of Loch Fyne and it is also the retirement home for the Vital Spark. The Vital Spark is a fictional Clyde puffer. I had to google what that is and apparently, it a steamboat that is run by a coal fire and only has one mast. This particular boat came to fame on a BBC TV show written by Scottish writer Neil Munro. The Argyll brewer Fyne Ales, situated close to Inveraray produces a beer called Vital Spark in tribute to the series.

Some of my group went to the Inverary jail while two of us decided we would rather not pay the £11.50 entrance fee and instead visited the castle. The Inveraray castle took 40 years to construct and the work was designed by Willaim Adams and Roger Morris. The building gives me Wizard of Oz vibes. An emerald Castle that hides a powerful wizard inside. Who dare walk the red brick road?

After Inveraray, our group parted and went their separate ways. My party of three plus a little pooch made our way to view Loch Tay from the hills. There are impressive newly built houses situated along the hills of the lake and in the summer season, many people use the lake for fishing, swimming, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding. But as it is winter the lake was quietly resting to reenergize before the warmer seasons.

We went to Kenmore,  a small village in Perthshire located where Loch Tay drains into the River Tay. If you go bring duck feed witness an army of webbed-feet, waggles along the lake’s edge. The ducks swarm visitors looking for a tasty snack and will happily get in your personal space to get one.

Next, We stopped off at Killin, a village which lies at the western head of Loch Tay in Stirling. The moment you step out of your car you are welcomed by thunderous roars of the rushing water. This ferocious river drew a lot of curious travellers.

I would absolutely recommend visiting Loch Awe. There is so much landscape to explore in the area and just a drive away that is if you can drive, if not make friends with people who do. 😂

Want to see more? Press play below and follow me to Loch Awe. ⇊⇊⇊⇊⇊

Hiking and exploring Fuschl: Austria

Put on the costume and the character is created.

An illusion of strength buttoned up in a uniform of black.

Watch as the scripted lie burns away the ink,

and sincerity sings for an audience who cannot hear its intention.

The performer is a master of their craft but the scene will unravel the thread until all that is left its honesty.

The truth speaks and we have ears to listen.

Are the flowers worth the struggle?

I think so.

In 2016 I moved to Austria to start working for Red Bull Media house. I didn’t know much about the country other than The Sound Of Music was filmed there and that they spoke German.  But I quickly fell in love with its landscape and luckily after the original plan was to only stay for 6 months, I was offered another contract and stayed for an additional year. I had an unforgettable time working with the craziest most amazing people and enjoying summer days by the lakes and winter days sledding down mountains.

To show some appreciation of Austria I am going to take you on a tour of the places I visited during my time there. I am going to start with one of the first places I visited outside of Salzburg: Fuschl am See.

How did I get here?

It easy enough to travel around Austria if you have a car but there are public transport options too if you don’t drive. If you are feeling a little more adventurous you can bike there but be aware that it isn’t a flat route. I traveled from Salzburg on the 150 bus (because I would die if I biked) from Salzburg HBF (main station) to the small town beside Fuschl Lake. The trip takes about 35- 45 minutes depending on traffic. If you suffer from a stomach that likes to regurgitate your lunch if you so much consider traveling in a moving vehicle (like I do) the journey is a bit winding but not too uncomfortable. But if your stomach is your friend (not like mine) you can enjoy the countryside views on your way to Fuschl am See. The first time I saw this small Austrian town I felt as though I was looking through an Instagram filter. You know that feeling that it can’t possibly be naturally that picturesque. Such deep blues and greens just waiting to be admired up close. The bus turns down a hill towards the town and stops beside many Austrian restaurants and even a pizza place which is pretty good by the way. You can rent e-boats (which goes well with pizza and radlar), canoes and stand up paddle boards from the hotels in the area. There is even a golf course if none of the above is for you.

In case we have any Red Bull Fans reading this, below is a picture of Red Bull’s headquarters. A lot of people mistake it for a spa which is not surprising. Just look at it!

The lake itself is not that big but it can take about two and a half hours to walk the whole way around.  It is defiantly worth it. Top tip: If you do decide to walk around the lake, make sure you wear good walking shoes. The path isn’t paved and can get muddy if it has been raining. There may also be snow still on the ground if you visit during the end of winter or beginning of spring so it’s a good idea to wear waterproof shoes or shoes with good grip or you may fall on your backside and end up with a wet arse. Nobody wants that! The dock below is on the far side of the lake. It’s a great place to take a break on your walk and have a picnic.

Just watch out for the swans!

Bring it on Schober

(1,328 m) Elevation: 1,328 m

Happily, Austria marks all their hiking routes well. They are yellow signs usually at key junctions that show you different routes and sometimes restaurants that are on the way. The Austrian flag is marked sporadically on trees along the way to keep you on the right path which is good because If they weren’t there I would probably have gotten lost. Years later I would become one of those headlines “Wild girls found in Austrian mountains just off the main path”. and instead of surviving as part of a wolf pack, I would be with deer and mountain goats. There are usually one or two easier hiking paths for you to choose from for those who want something a little less elevated. I opted for the harder route which resulted in me feeling the burn and suffering out loud. The hike usually takes about two hours but it can take longer if you stop and take photos of every leaf, tree or different view angle. Definitely not me she says as she snaps a selfie while the light perfectly hits her face at just the right angle. For anyone who has a fear of heights, it does steepen and become narrower at the top. The first time I climbed it I was clawing my way up and trying to keep my cool. ‘My cool’ is me giving myself and audible pep talk. “You can do this, it’s not that high. Oh god, it’s so f**king high!. No, no its grand, just keep going. Pretend you’re not 1,000 meters high and practically touching the clouds”. Eventually, you make it to the top and the struggle and fear become totally worth it. Not only do you feel like you have accomplished something but you also get the most amazing view. I have been lucky enough to set eyes on that view multiple times now and I tell you it is just as beautiful as the first time I stood gazed


What is really nice about this hike is that a lot of it is through a wooded area. Cars cannot go up this mountain so there are no road trails and there isn’t a cable car, so you have to work for your panoramic view.

Near the top is a small wooden hut. If you stay on the mountain it’s a good place to keep warm. It is also a nice place to stop and take a break, that is if some else hasn’t got there first! I once did a sunrise hike and we decided to go into the hut to warm up and eat something before climbing back down. We got a bit of a surprise when we opened the door and found a bear hibernating for winter… Jokes ! it wasn’t a bear. It was just a couple of hikers wrapped up snug as a bug in their sleeping bags. They welcomed us into the hut a lot more politely then I think a bear would have.

A cross stands a the very top. A feature you will find on most mountains. When you see the cross you know you have made it.

I took my friend Michelle and Lucy up Schober with me when they visited. I don’t think they expected it to be quiet so difficult but they did it and I am so proud of them.


I put a short video together of my visits to Fuschl am See. So, if you want to see more of the lake area, check it out!

Jess x



The Golden Passage of San Francisco

         A rumble.

     A beat.

       A thrust.

 A lift.


A Girl lays one side of her head on an open window ledge. The wind sweeps salty air lightly through her hair. The sun travels alone overhead with not a single cloud nearby for company. The sun warms her face and reddens her cheeks. With her right ear, she listens to the waves that break along the seashore.  A city draws closer from the right. Buildings in neat rows pass her by. She follows them with her eyes until the effort strains her neck.  Ahead of more buildings appear. They grow and grow reaching towards the sky. A glinting golden Gate waiting to be explored.

San Francisco is the final stop on my 3 months traveling adventure.  I chose to finish it here and spend some time with a friend who had moved there with her partner. Together all 3 of us would experience the city. Them as new residents and me a visitor.

As I have so much to show you of the city, I have separated it into multiple posts. My first post is dedicated to the modern wonder that is The Golden Gate Bridge.

If you type in ‘San Francisco’ into google one of the first images you see is this beautiful red bridge connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The name mirrors the strait in which it is built over. As far as I have discovered it was named by an explorer in 1846. John C. Frémont named the strait between the bay and the ocean “Chrysopylae”, or “Golden Gate” for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.  According to the legend, the Byzantines threw so many valuables into it during the Ottoman Conquest that the waters glistened with gold.  The other story around the campfire was that the name was given because of the golden light at sunset. I think I prefer the aforementioned. I like the idea that fish have golden houses to live in. The bridge took almost four years to construct and opened its roadway in 1937.

The Golden Gate bridge is super famous. It has been in so many great films over the years and will probably be seen in many more to come. But the award goes to its stand out performance in Star Trek: The Voyage Home where is stood in the background of a scene with Captain James T Kirk and Spock. It also gave a strong performance in the scene where the crew almost crashed a Klingon space ship into it. It also guest starred in both the Star Trek TV series spin off’s and other films that were part of the franchise. If isn’t obvious yet, I would just like to say I am a huge Star Trek fan!!!!! I grew up watching The Next Generation with my da and was hooked. To get the chance to stand somewhere the characters had stood made me very happy. eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!

Below is a squinty-eyed photo of a very happy human.

On the left side of the bridge, you can see a red brick building. This was the Fort point, a masonry seacoast fortification. It was built by The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1853 to protect San Francisco which was seen as Americas most important Pacific port at the time. Now it is a National Historic site.

We decided to walk the trails beside the bridge. The below photo was taken at the Golden Gate Overlook. I like this view because it gives a different angle of the bridge and it is a lot less crowded than at the welcome centre.

The trail we took was the ‘Battery to Bluffs Trail’ It takes you around the bridge and along the coastline towards bakers beach. It gives you wonderful views of the ocean and the surrounding area.

I discovered when strolling along Bakers beach that it is a nudist beach. Not exactly the type of environment that is welcoming to tourists with cameras so below is the path to nude beach and ladies and gentleman this is where it ends. Let’s leave the locals to be free to strip off without silly tourist whipping out their cameras to take pictures of their bare arses.

The trails are a wonderful way to enjoy the sun and see the landscape in the area. Go for a walk and check out the trails. And if you feel a little brave, throw away your clothes and your inhibitions and take a dip in the sea. 😉

Jess x

Chapter 2: Spinning around the Golden Circle of Iceland

 Life encased inside the womb, the origin and the educator.

A deafening push of a fruitless tree.

An effort silenced by the weight of evolution

and ignored by the young who step off the path of realisation. 

A fairy tale created to scare with wooden lies.  

But the lie recedes and melts with time.

All that is left is the knowledge that we will forever be tied to faith, a pledge sealed within a hot kiss.

Under layers and layers (and then some more layers) of rock and dirt stirred a fiery monster travelling swiftly along canals, never knowing but always wondering what was above the red glow it emanates. Millions of years pass and the hot flames that licked at the surrounding rock grew angry. Time continues on its journey but something was changing. The rock above began to shift and move to create a crack between its plates. The entity seizes its chance. With all the power it possesses it forces its way through the gap and explodes into the light. Its red-hot form flows across the land like a river of flames melting everything it touches and reworking the land as moves over it. The lava moves across the surface. This moment is what it has been waiting for all those years. For so long it moved in the darkness and now it is part of the light. The idea calms the monster’s rage and with that, it began to cool. Slowly the river was no longer turbulent but became still and finally hardened. Small plants began to sprout into life through the volcanic rock that was once the monster. It has been transformed into land and is now the earth in which we stand.

Geysir Geothermal Area

Not sure exactly what a Geysir is ? its a geyser… okay okay,  it is basically surface water that seeps down into the ground and meets hot rocks. When that happens the hot rocks heat up the water and BAM! the pressurized water boils and shoots back up through the vent spraying steam high into the air. It is a spectacular sight to see. But don’t make the same mistake my friends and I did. Well, we placed ourselves behind the barrier as you’re supposed to and waited impatiently for the first act of the show: The water on the surface began to move. The second act: The water began to recede into the pit. Now we wait for the final act… As we did, I looked around and noticed that everyone seemed to be on the opposite side of the geyser from us. I then looked down at my feet and noticed that the ground around me was wet. Oh … too late. Woosh!!! the ground exploded with hot water. Hot water and steam that was now falling down upon us ( picture in slow motion for comic effect). We didn’t have a chance. We were drowned. A lesson to you all. Always watch where you stand near exploding water holes or seal your faith. On the upside, it was like taking a warm bath (I’m sure the other tourists on the dry side got a laugh). There were many other geysers in the surrounding area but most just blew hot steam from there vents. The hot steam was nice to warm up in but stank of rotten eggs due to the sulfur. A stinky but fascinating geographical location.

Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can see the cracks that traverse the region with the biggest being Almannagjá canon. It’s so cool ! you can walk through the canon between created by tectonic plates. This also is apparently the cause earthquakes that often shake the area. Some of the rifts are full of clear water. My picture doesn’t show it very well but the water was a deep blue. I wish I could have taken a dip. Some of the waters around the area you can even go diving in.

Faxi – One of Many Waterfalls

Iceland has an abundance of waterfalls and on the Golden Circle tour, you will visit just two. Faxi is a small waterfall that drops from the Tungufljót river. Its full of salmon (and I am convinced it is also full of sea dragons, see image below) and is a great spot for fishing (not that I did any). There was a Salmon run beside the waterfall which was a fun little excursion if you didn’t want to walk up the hill.

Is that a dragon!?

Waterfall Number Two: Gullfoss

This is the cinematic waterfall. The one you could see in an emotional moment in a Jane Austen novel (Yes I am a fan, don’t judge me!) If you stand over its edge it looks as though the water spills into the earth and disappears. As the water hits the bottom the water sprays upwards and creates a beautiful haze and if the light hits it just right, a rainbow can be seen within the mist.

Let’s talk about Hermann

The best tour guide you could ever hope for is the man in the photo below. He is a guide who takes pride in his job, loves his country, is excited to talk about geography and is a ball of light. He didn’t just sit inside his bus and wait until his passengers came back from venturing around each sight. No, this man got off with us and talked to us about geography, the plants, the land the tectonic plates. He chatted with everyone and was so much fun. Absolute top guy! If you get him as a tour guide you have got your hands on a golden ticket. Below he is talking to us about the wildflowers and the wildlife in the area. Absolute gent!

Kerið volcanic crater

Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in the Grímsnes area (Western Volcanic Zone) in south Iceland. It was created when the land moved over a localized hotspot. It has the most visually recognizable caldera (crater) still intact and its volcanic rock is a beautiful red with (from what my eyes saw) a purple tint. I brought some of the loose rock back home with me as a memento. Just a tiny piece of Iceland.

Our last two stops were a farm that Hermann likes to visit and the point where two rivers meet. The horses were very friendly but they seemed to take a liking to my friend Michelle (not a hint of jealousy there) now formally known as Horse Whisperer McAlinden.


Great tour overall. I would definitely recommend it if you are at all into waterfalls, Geysers or Craters. Who isn’t !?

Like the blog? Keep reading! I have more Icelandic adventures for you to check out.

Jess x


Chapter 1 – You come from the mountains I come from the sea, Iceland I fly to thee

If you look up in the sky at any given time thousands of planes fly above you in every direction. One of these many aircraft’s flies north across the lower stratosphere travelling passed Europe’s borders. The hum of its engines vibrates through the cabin. Passengers sleep in their identical chairs while a flight attendant walks idly along the aisle. The entire plane is lulled, a giant hammock swaying 1000’s of feet in the air. All except one. A young girl sits with her nose touching the frosty window by her seat. She exhales releasing warm air that causes the window to steam up. Her face pushes harder against the window in an effort to improve her view. The night sky is pitch black except for the starlight that has been travelling for thousands of years just to greet us.  The land under her feet is constantly changing bringing new features for her to gaze upon. Greenland moved closer under the belly of the plane. A white landscape as far as her eyes could see and she thought what a complete contradiction its title was in this moment. As she Continues to gaze out over Greenland it dawns on her that soon she would step onto new soil. A place where earthquakes shake the ground and reform the landscape. So many stories have been told about this magical place and now she finally gets to tell her own.

Iceland I fly to thee…

We landed at Keflavik International Airport at 1:00 am. I discovered that unlike most international airports you can’t just walk out the door of this airport and catch a bus or a taxi that brings you straight to your desired destinations.  Shuttle buses are pretty much your only option unless you rent a car. The shuttle bus service will drop you off at your hotel or hostel as long as you remember to book ahead. The service we took was run by Flybus. Flybus also doubles as a tour company offering a range of bus tours around Iceland.  A lot of the bus company’s run both shuttles services and tours or at least that was my experience. We didn’t stay in a hotel but rented an Airbnb for our stay in Iceland so we got dropped off at the nearest hotel to our accommodation and mapped our way from there.

We stayed in a converted garage in an Icelandic suburb.  The owner was a young university student who rented out the flat during the summer period. It was artistically decorated and even had a funky free standing duck light in the bathroom (My favourite item in the flat). It was perfect ! and a mere 40 minute walk into town. All the more reason to explore.

The next morning we were completely shattered from the previous travel packed day, so we decided to sleep in a little. It might read like a waste of precious hours but we would have never been able to appreciate those hours walking about with how exhausted we were.  When we were fully rested and ready to explore we mapped out our route and off we went. 40 minutes later after seeing nothing, we arrived in the town where the average suburbs faded away and a beautiful seafront town opened up in front of us. The land was only separated from the coastline by a rocky border. Mountains lay still cross the water and birds rested upon the shore before continuing there journey to warmer climates. We strolled for hours along the coastline trying to take it all in.

Every great country has famous landmarks that tell a story of its native history.  The Sun Voyager is a sculpture by Jón Gunnar Árnason.  When I first saw this stainless steel structure it reminded me of the sinking Viking Ship Sculpture in Dublin city (created by Betty Newman). That sculpture was a little less grand and a lot more sunken but they both reminded me of a time long passed. It also struck me as being very similar to the boat that took the Elves and Frodo out to sea, towards the unknown (but that might just be the geek in me coming out). What does it represent to you?

The Sun Voyager wasn’t the only creative structure we stumbled upon along the sea’s edge. We also found a quirky house that looked as though someone had put it together with rusty objects they found in a scrap pile. But on closer inspection, it looked as though every piece was placed in that specific spot for a reason. I later discovered that the house had a name. It was called ‘The Raven House’ and was once the home of Bjork. Now, however, it belongs to the film director Hrafn Gunnlaugsson.  To me, this house is a physical representation of an artists mind, so full of ideas that they couldn’t possibly keep them all inside. Instead, they carved them into the world.

I wonder what the interior is like?

Up a slope, you will find Hallgrímskirkja, a Lutheran church. This church has a very distinctive architectural design which I think you can guess from the second picture below. Inside the church, a choirs song echoes high into the air and is trapped by the ceiling above. We stood and listened before continuing stroll.

The Horror Of SD Corruption

I am sure can all understand when I say technology can be unreliable or even turn against you. Well, sadly it happened to me at the worst time possible. I lost all the photos  I stored on an SD card. NOOOOO!!!! An Absolute betrayal! Damn unreliable artificial piece of metal and plastic. I know it sounds as though I took it very hard but I did actually get over the loss quickly. I came to the realisation that photos are great for showing people where you have been and to mount them like a small accomplishment. But its the experience and the memories that really matter. Until we invent a memories video recorder my friend  Michelle kindly allowed me to use some of her photographs to fill in the gaps within this visual story.

Thanks, Michelle !


Across from the church, we found an open garden with statues placed all over. Each statue evoked a strong emotion. But some were a little stranger and as I stood looking at these particular ones I thought some explanation was needed. The museum is called The-Einar-Jónsson-Museum. For more information on the Icelandic sculptor, check out their website: The Einar Jónsson Museum



The rest of the town looked like a trendy place full of young people. On the outside, they had a vintage vibe like the city itself but also had a touch of modernisation painted across the surface.


Iceland You Ain’t No Cheap Date

I mean exactly how the title reads. Iceland is not a cheap getaway. The transport, restaurants and tours all cost quite a lot of króna.  But like anywhere if you are on a budget there are always alternatives to spending big in restaurants and that will still fill your belly (eg noodle station = big portions & affordable) but unless you drive and rent a car there is no avoiding paying big on transport. The shuttles services and tours packages are the only way to see everything Iceland has to offer. So my recommendation is to plan your trip well or you may have to miss out on some amazing sights the Island has to offer.

But staying positive! If you do have the cash there are plenty of places to eat amazing Icelandic fish.

Something To Consider Before Dinner 

Being a bit of a whale fan and someone who believes in the protection of endangered species it would be wrong if I didn’t mention that only 3% of Iceland’s population eat whale or shark and they only hunt them because tourists are willing to pay for it.  So if you are up for preventing more whales and sharks from being killed needlessly then look out for whale friendly restaurants!

The three explorers walk down an empty street. No one seems to be around. All of them have open jackets and were not wearing their usual hat, scarf and glove combo.  It was one of the warmest days they had experienced since arriving on the Island.  The sun can be seen etching its way down towards the horizon to give way to the night sky. Until now their path was silent. But slowly, distant indistinguishable tones can be heard from the town ahead. Closer they go and louder Reykjavik becomes. They see a blurry mass moving along the town streets. One of the girls squints to try and figure out what it could be. As they move closer her question is answered. The blurry mass separates into thousands of bodies flowing among each other like a leisurely river that sweeps up a reluctant bystander.  The streets themselves have become one giant outdoor marketplace. The smell of different food sizzling on grills cling to the surrounding current.  Icelandic music surfs the waves and collides with the chatter that moves among the stalls lining the pavement. Crafts swing from every newly erected display, calling to the shoppers who happily answer. The three girls stand stunned at the scene in front of them. They all thought the same thing, that this is definitely a sight to see.

That was August 18th, the anniversary of Reykjavik City. And what is an anniversary without one hell of a celebration! This is Iceland’s, Culture Night (Menningarnótt). The Culture Night welcomes 100,000 guests who flock from all around the country and beyond to enjoy the marvellous festivities. A delicious menu of art, theatre events, rock bands and graffiti artists served on a city-sized plate with an explosion of colourful fireworks for dessert. And if you don’t want to miss out on the appetizer,  a wonderful selection of museums that are open between 5 pm – 10 pm to keep you busy before the main event (free of charge). Full yet?

The whale museum at the whale sightseeing tour boat. 

The night is organized by the events team at Visit Reykjavik in collaboration with other city departments, organisations, artists, societies and countless others. It is an absolutely spectacular event that you should call on at least once in your life. DO IT!!

Iceland was an amazing experience that I couldn’t possibly cram into one post. If you want to learn more about Iceland keep posted!  I will be writing more about the tours I took, the spectacular natural landscape and the wonderful wildlife that I was lucky to see, very soon.

Have you been to Iceland? What was your favourite moment?



Jess x

Rovinj & Picasso’s love for Pottery

Light skims the reflective surface,  

a dance between partners across time.  

Waiting each night for its return never doubting the meaning of affection.

There cannot be one without the other,

the act of devotion in its truest form.

They had been travelling for 12 days now. The heat from each city clung to their skin and clouded their minds. The adventure as far had been monumental but the arches that hauled them across each border and the spines that carried their load called out for relief.

One of the three wanderers were awoken by the light that passed through the window of the moving bus. It tickled her eyelids until they opened. Her eyes adjusted to the light quickly and revealed a city slowly crawling towards her as the bus travelled down a narrow road.  She lifted her head slightly to get a better view of what was ahead. The sight swept away her clouded mind and gave her body the first glimpse of its desire. Her eyes watched as the sun hovered over the sea and the boats that drifted in its light swayed against the current. She imagined the sound of the sea being carried along the wind and the noise the boats made slapping against the waves, too far away for her ears but not for her imagination. Natural melodies being played to usher in a brief moment to recover that she could hardly wait to grasp.

We all stumbled off the bus at Autobusni kolodvor just up the street from Obala Vladimira Nazora docks (lots of places I cannot pronounce). We were all pretty tired and were ready to drop, but we were also so hyped to check out the city.

Our Airbnb was a bit outside of the city but our host was so hospitable that he collected us from the bus station and drove us to our accommodation. It was a lovely little apartment with two bedrooms and a small garden. The only downside was that it took 40 minutes to walk back into the city. But the nights were warm and the landscape around the outskirts was interesting so it made the lengthy time easier to ignore. Also on our path into the city, we met a praying mantis that alone made the walk worth it.

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

Picasso the potter

On our first night, we checked out the city and stumbled upon the Heritage Museum in the centre of Rovinj. Up the narrow stairs lay glass cabinets each in charge of their own ceramic piece. Before that day I never knew Picasso was not only a painter but a potter. He began his passion for creating ceramic pieces at the end of the 1940’s after meeting The Ramié family who gave him access to their workshop and in return they produced and sold his works. Each piece is as unique as the last with so many dynamic shapes and colours. I recommend you pay a visit if you happen to venture into Rovinj.

A woman moves swiftly through a narrow street. All of the windows above are closed and none carry light to guide her way. With every few steps, she jerks her head checking over her shoulder. Nothing but silence moves between the walls of this narrow confinement.  She can’t explain it but she feels a presence lingering in the shadows surrounding her. Her pace quickens and her breathing follows. She wraps the material covering her skin tighter around her body while continuing to accelerate. A new street opens up ahead of her and veers sharply to the left but as she closes in on it she looks behind again.  The woman turns her head back and stops abruptly, fright covering her face. But there is no need to fear, for in front of her is a friendly face. The woman laughs in relief and walks forward into the night, no longer alone.

Narrow streets cover every inch of the centre of Rovinj. The windows of Each building are accompanied by colourful shutters to shade their occupants from the morning sun. It could have been claustrophobic but it wasn’t. The twist and turns combined with the elevating cobblestone paths made it feel alive.

Island Hopping

Croatia has 718 islands, 389 islets and 78 reefs floating a boat ride away from its shore. Along the coastline of Rovinj there are plenty of ways to visit these islands. You can go by boat taxi or on a boat trip where you can party, relax or strip off your inhibitions on one of the beach island  (Nudest beaches, if you didn’t get my subtlety). The boat trip my friends and I bordered included a trip over to, two of the Islands. One of which was a Pirate Island that had a hidden cave and pirate teamed tiki bar overlooking the sea.  The other had a beautiful beach cove where dinner was included in the price of our boat ticket and a free musical performance by the boat captain (A big fan of Abba). A boat trip, beach cove, pirate bar and dinner,

what more could you want?

A feature of the city I will always remember was the rocky beaches that projected their gravel claws towards the sea. Being able to descend down uneven stone steps and enter the salty waters that makeup 96% of all the worlds water was a wonderful experience.  If you visit the city, these small rock features are a great place to swim and lay in the sun wearing nothing but factor 50.


Let’s not forget to protect our skin!

This short break in between constant travelling, feeding on culture, walking many city streets and getting lost at least 4 times each day was welcomed by us all with open arms.  If you have the chance to give yourself a few days within your trip to re-cooperate then do it! It will recharge your batteries and give your legs the rest they beg for.


I hope you enjoyed the post!

Did you have a recharge spot on your trip?


Jess x


A date with New York City

Watch as sleepy eyes flutter between dreams and reality.  

Watch as harsh melodies full of sticky intent tangles themselves on delight. 

Watch as worlds struggle to escape gravities pull towards a collision they cannot prevent. 

Watch as pain lines the skin clinging to bone. 

Watch as the fantasy grows dark and life takes hold. 

Now watch as the real adventure begins.


A rush of people walk up, down left and right and across each other’s path. None of their eyes make connect with another’s but they seem not to care if their bodies do. The only thing to stop them in their tracks is the opportunity to quickly glance at the bright screens dangling from the ceiling. The screens are full of lists of places, times, cancellations, delays, and gate numbers that change with the rhythm of the crowd’s footsteps. A girl carrying a large red backpack sluggishly pauses in the middle of the traffic of people. Her eyes find a sign that reads “Ground Transportation” and her body follows the direction of its arrow. Minutes late she is standing in front of a ticket machine. The screen shows many different ticket options. She chooses one that to her, might be the right option. Following the normal procedure, she pushes her card into the slot marked “insert here” and waits. A large error message appears across the screen. The girl stares at the 5 letters for a second. As the next step is usually to try again she inserts the card again with a little more feeling. “Error”! She is overtired and running on empty but is not quite ready for defeat. She begins to look over the ticket information again. She knows that she must have missed something. Just a few metres away a man is standing chatting to another man. Both men are wearing matching white shirts and navy trousers. He notices the girl standing in front of the ticket machine whose face is scrunched up making her look like a confused pug. Definitely, has no idea how to use the machines he thought.  He approaches her with a bright smile and asks if he could help. She turns to face him and replies: “Has the look of pure confusion given me away”? He laughed and replies: ” a little bit”.  It only took him a minute to explain how the tickets system works and proceeds to help with her first purchase. He then kindly walks her to the right bus stop. She waves goodbye to him as he returns inside the airport. As he leaves, he thinks to himself, yep that girl is going to get lost. The girl stands beside the other people who are waiting for the same bus. While she waits many things run through her head. Her travels so far and the places still to come. So far it has been an incredible trip and this next city has a lot to live up to. Do you hear that New York!

Yes, my next stop was the big city that never sleeps where a friend who was living there was kind enough to put me up for a few nights. Thanks, Rebecca! This wasn’t my first time to meet New York but it was the first time we were unchaperoned. All we had was two days together so I decided to let New York guide my feet.

My second time there and I was still struck by how daunting the concrete towers were. They seemed to bend inwards to block out most of the sky and if I stood gazing for too long they seemed to move towards me. On my previous, of the city, I didn’t have the chance to see everything I wanted to. This time I had a few stops on my list I was determined to see and which required me to use the subway. That might not sound like a big deal but for someone who comes from an island where buses are the usual transport option and not an underground train, it makes the experience a little bit more exciting for me than maybe for you. Did I also mention confusing too? The reason for this was that the destination above the platform doesn’t list each stop. The signs only have the direction it is going and not each stage so if you’re not super familiar with the grid system it takes a minute to get your bearings.  First, I took a shot at trying to figure out the subway system myself but that just led me to walk on and off of the same train several times before making a decision. Happily, when I wasn’t 100% sure which train to get on there were plenty of people around to ask. I have never had a fear of talking to strangers and there happens to be a lot of them in New York so you will never have a problem getting a little help. Being alone forces you to talk to people you wouldn’t normally and I feel like this is definitely a plus for traveling alone and also a good way to kick yourself out of your comfort zone.

Warning, Flashing lights, and billboards!

I feel like there isn’t a time of day that Time Square is empty of people or as quiet as a whisper. It is the best place to see a multitude of different cultures packed into one area and it’s a great spot for people watching. So many different types of people, tourist & locals who all have different styles, mannerisms, and languages. But if that’s not your cup of tea (cue to stop typing and sip my tea) it’s also a great place to shop, eat and buy tickets to Broadway shows. Yes, Broadway! Music, plays, comedy & dance. On my previous visit, I bought tickets to see Avenue Q. There were other shows and plays showing that day like “Equus” starring Daniel Radcliffe but I chose foul-mouthed puppets over Mr. Potter as I didn’t actually know much about the play. The masterful puppet show was a hilarious take on coming of age in modern society. I think it is still running on Broadway so if you’re into puppets who sing about internet porn and not wearing underwear then you should check it out!

You might recognise the below building in movies like Home Alone 2, Arthur and in Crocodile Dundee when he meets a bidet for the first time (he was all of us). The Plaza Hotel really is a landmark in its own right.

Across from The Plaza is one of the entrances to Central Park where you will find people relaxing in the sun, listening to buskers and taking selfies (yes I was one of the selfie-takers). What you will also find is a lonely Big Bird and rodents having a great time swimming in its ponds. OK so that doesn’t sound so picturesque but if you can look past the rats (because it’s a city and they are everywhere) it is actually a really nice park to walk around in.

Do you agree this is the saddest Big Bird you have ever seen? I just wanted to give him a hug but thought it was probably a bad idea to go up and hug a stranger. Even if that stranger is Big Bird.

A few years ago I had my possessions (including large caricature portrait) scanned through an x-ray machine, then I  travelled up 102 floors to the top of the Empire State Building and gazed over the view in front of me. This time I opted for a different view. I chose to walk along one of the oldest bridges in New York ‘The Brooklyn Bridge’. I really like bridge architecture and this one was a beauty. Not only is it a wonderful bridge to stroll across but you also get a great view of different sections of the city.

 Bonjour Lady Liberty.

It’s not a trip to NY if you don’t visit its leading lady and I did just that. I stepped aboard a ferry that takes you over to say hello to the Statue of Liberty. The first thing to know is that there are different ticket options you can buy. You can purchase a ticket to visit the island where the Statue of Liberty is mounted and Ellis Island or you can get a ticket that also includes entrance inside The Statue of Liberty. But that does not include access to the top of the statue. You need to book that privilege way in advance (as I was told by the ticket inspector guarding the entrance to the top of ladies head). Inside the base of the statue is a museum detailing the history of the statue. I didn’t really know anything about the statue beforehand so the museum was a great way to learn a little of her history before climbing the 354 steps towards the top.

A bonus of visiting the island is this great view of the city. Look how amazing it looks in the sun! From the island, it looks as though the city is floating over the sea and could drift away at any moment.

The face below shows the original colour of the statue. The bronze turns green from constantly being battered by the elements. Her eyes are intense don’t you think?

And here is the spiral stairs I never got to walk up…

The Island Border

If you decide to visit both Islands I suggest you visit Ellis Island first. Why? Because the information and history behind the island are grim and actually quite sad. So going from beautiful views to gloomy examination rooms inside Ellis Islands walls is a bit of a downer.

If you know anything about the history of this island, (or if you don’t) this is where people from all over the world came first to start their new life in America. After spending weeks on crowded boats they then waited to be inspected on those same boats and hoped that they would be allowed to enter. For some who were deemed not healthy enough or who didn’t have the money to pay the entrance fee, the view from the island was all they saw of New York City.

My two days in New York City came and went so fast. I would really like to spend more time there one day or even live there to really get a feel for the city. But until then I will remember my time there fondly.


Have you been to New York?

What was your favourite thing you remember about the city?

Let me know your thoughts or if you have any recommendations for my next visit.


Jess x


The Bronze Poets of Zagreb

Cloaked in skin, struggling to escape the decay crawling towards hopes remains.

Light its only salvation, One touch,

or forever forgotten inside a glass of lost passages.

The sun travels slowly over our heads, a spinning ball, on a colossal journey. Three woman walk hunchbacked dragged down by weight of their burdens. In the distance, a sign reads Hostel 54. More than Six hours previously spent aboard a train. A hot box reaching 40 degrees occupied by bodies drenched in sweat and in dire need of sustenance. Sadly as they stood in front of a young woman wearing a masked smile they realised that they were standing in front of an obstacle blocking their release.


Welcome to the beginning of my first bad review.

On arrival at our Hostel, we were greeted by a smiling receptionist. Hidden behind her smiling mask and politeness was bad news. She informed us that our room was being equipped with air con and would not be ready for another hour. We were obviously not over the moon about this but thought, OK, we can last another hour. We hiked the many levels to deposit our bags inside our rooms.

This everyone is where the plot thickened. Inside our room was two builders bent over a building site with tools and equipment littering the floor. All three of us looked at each other and walked straight back to reception. It turned out when the receptionist said an hour what she actually meant was 3 – 4 hours. How I ask, can an establishment think that it is OK  to charge guests for a room when they cannot even use said room. I can tell you now, that with a lack of sleep and hungry bellies we did not take this news well. All three of us voiced our anger at the completely unacceptable situation. Eventually, we were able to enter our rooms to sleep after much discussion with the management. Unfortunately, this situation didn’t stop with us. Other guests had been put in the same situation and like us their rooms were disappointing.

I would recommend this Hostel as a last resort only.


Cathedral of Zagreb is a Gothic revival style church and is also the tallest building in Croatia. Beside the Church are the remains of tower spikes that have been defeated by erosion. It was really interesting to get close and see the lines and holes designed for times breath. One is the older sibling to the other, a glimpse of their combined life cycle. It really shows you the power nature has overall structures whether they belong to her, or us.

The Church of St. Mark is a beautiful church planted on the upper level of Zagreb.  On its roof are tiles that are laid out to represent the coat of arms of Zagreb and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia. It is from the late Gothic period and has some Romanesque features. It’s also a hot spot for selfies so get your selfie sticks ready for a battle of the poses.

Lotrščak Tower which dates back to the 13th century was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. Now it is used to provide a beautiful view for whoever is willing to battle against the dragon that circles its peak, or you can just pay the small fee.

Behind the tower is a picturesque walkway where you can sit and allow yourself to be lost in thought. I take pleasure in finding that one spot where you can breathe in an enjoy where you are in the moment.

I saw the past in front of me. A dip inside the pages of a Sherlock Holmes Novel. I watched as a man riding a motorbike lit lanterns with a lance.

I closed my eyes and saw that same man on horseback, lighting each lantern through the fog. Each one became a blaze reveling the path ahead. ‘But as minds do wonder’ I left Mr. Holmes behind and delved deeper in time, the Man and his horse alongside me. A man sits on horseback waiting in the distance. He wore armor over his entire body and carried a lance aimed at his opponent, ready for the game to begin.

The Consolation of Your Hair

I gazed at you last night. You dreamt. With sadness. Dead.
In the fatal hall, in the idyll of flowers.
On the high catafalque, in the agony of candles.
Ready to surrender my life as a sacrifice.
I didn’t cry. I didn’t. Dazzled I stood there
In the fatal hall, full of magnificent death.
Wondering if the dark eyes were clear
From whom a better life for me once shined.

 Everything, really everything is dead. Eyes, breath, and hands.
Everything I wanted to animate with despair
In my blind dread and in passion of suffering,

In the fatal hall, with gray remembrance.
Only your hair was still alive,
And it said: Stay still! For dreaming, death is.

A poem by Antun Gustav Matos who’s Sculpture turns nobody away from the empty seat beside him. The city of Zagreb is full of Sculptures celebrating the lives of writers and poets from Croatia. I never knew that it was full of so many creative people.

Another such person is Marija Juric Zagorka, Croatia’s first female journalist and one of its most widely read authors. Marja was born in the village of Negovec.  She married young to a much older man. But after some years she fled from her husband and escaped to Zagreb. There she had the freedom to blossom, writing nineteen novels in her time there. she also founded Women’s Papers, the first magazine in the Austro-Hungarian Empire to focus on women’s issues.


I noticed from wandering around the streets of Zagreb that there was a lot of interesting Graffiti.

I have always felt drawn to colours and even though not all Graffiti can be seen as artistic I feel it is an expression in itself and the colours reflect the emotion released onto its concrete canvas.

Like most of inland Europe the buildings are all so different, so contrasting from one another, yet they fit in together (the typical diverse family) making up a beautiful coloured city.

I have visited Zagreb twice now and though my first trip to its city was ‘rough’ on returning  I experienced a fresher feeling for its narrow streets and came out the other side with a more pleasant memory to share. I guess given a second chance,  it can surprise you.

What Lies behind every locked door is truth, But though certainty is seen as valuable,

opening a door is not always wise,

Human is to blunder. 


Jess. x


Bathing in Budapest

Light reaches a dark boundary,

never passing into its gelidity.

Just beyond lurks a soul trapped inside its fleshy prison,

Never to escape until its captor steps into release. 

149.6 million km’s above our heads orbits a plasma ball that beats down light upon the earth. The heat lingers like a mirage hovering over car bonnets and road surfaces. Small wispy clouds float by giving no release from the blaze that reddens our faces. We are exposed with nowhere to hide but under the branches of a nearby tree that does not deny our please for liberation.
This makes it’s sound like Budapest was a horrid place when in fact it was one of my favourite cities. The city is stunning and like Prague, it has two sides, old and new. By now we were becoming more travel savvy. We booked our walking tour for our first day there to get an idea of our surroundings to make walking around ourselves a little easier. We met at the fountain in the centre, waiting with the hordes of people who also awaited our guide to everything that Budapest has to offer. There were so many bodies that we had to be split into three separate groups. I can only assume the reason it was so overloaded was that we happened to be here right in the middle of the famous Sziget festival but I will speak more about that a little down the line.
Our tour guide recited many entertaining historical facts about Budapest including how the water of Budapest has magically made a whale and cow pregnant. I’m not sure if I believe this myth but it was an amusing story to listen to while sitting in the grass, hiding in the shade.

Buda- pest, old and new is separated by the Danube, a memorializing river that pulls you to its edge daring you to enter its spirit only to be swept away and lost.

In Budapest, the tallest buildings are the Governments and the Church’s. Two powerful symbols dominating the architecture that surrounds its domain.

Planted atop a modest hill called Budapest Castle Hill Funicular is the President’s residence. We were lucky enough to see the change in guard, which was a brief but entertainingly rhythmic sight. Along the perimeter, you will receive a beautiful view of Budapest’s city but that is not all the lies along the surface of this turtles back.

If you continue on you will see a beautiful church just past a street of traditional cafes and restaurants. Matthias Church is a 14th-century church named for King Matthias, who married there. The roof of the church is absolutely beautifully coloured. The ceramic tiles reflected the light beaming from the sky upon us all.

Once upon a time water covered the hill and weaved its way through its unyielding rock. Slowly over an age, the rock succumbed to the might of the water. The Water pushed the rock apart carving caverns out of its cage. A man came, turned the caverns into caves which became the prison to a dark and mysterious force whose name would bring fear to all who know it.

Apparently, as the wall tells us inside these caves Vlad the Impaler was imprisoned for trying to run off with a kings daughter. For his treachery, the king sentenced him to these caves for 20 years. If the story didn’t hook you your interest then what also lies in the bowels of the caves are scenes of eerie mannequins staged in events from long past. I warn you they are far creepier then the faceless mannequins we are forced to look at every day when we enter clothing stores. It felt as though they were watching you, waiting for you to turn your back, giving them time to pounce.

My beating heart pumped in its boned asylum covered in shadows with the only light emanated from a small gas lantern that swung in my grasp. It felt like we were being stalked by the hunter that had been trapped in these caves for so many years hungry for the veins hidden under our skin. I absolutely loved it! It was such an unexpectedly Gothic adventure that I never knew I needed to have in Budapest.

Széchenyi Thermal Bath is an outdoor giant communal bath. It is somewhere I recommend you visit. Inside there is a salt bath that is supposed to heal and also help with fertility. If like me you have no interest in the second it is a really relaxing environment, worth trying.

On the grounds of Városliget city park sits the Vajdahunyad Castle. It was built in 1896 as part of the Millennial Exhibition which celebrated the 1,000 years of Hungary since the Hungarian Conquest of the Carpathian Basin in 895. There are restaurants just across from the castle which has comfy pillows for you to relax and unwind on while you take in the view.

Budapest is famous for its ‘Ruin Bars’ or ‘Rom kocsma’ which translates to the pub in ruin. After the war, there were many ruined buildings that’s space was not being utilized. Instead of creating another Irish bar to go along with the numerable others, they used the existing interior to produce a kooky ambience. Old Dentist buildings were the tools and decor made the hair on my arms stand to attention. The echo of drills hitting its enamel target and a body awaiting the needle that approached its cavity. It was as if we walked absentmindedly onto a film set where you were handed a drink instead of a script. Some moulded themselves around natures arms, leaving us open to the elements that beckoned. It’s remaining hold on society, a metal roof full of old-fashioned toys dancing along its trusses. All its Sisters cover the city Like X’s on a treasure map. The air outside was warm on your skin and the drink in your hand was everything you could ever need at that moment. The Bars and such interesting pieces of Budapest that I think everyone should see for themselves.

Sziget festival is a music festival that takes place on Budapest’s Island Obudai – Sziget. If you are in or around Budapest during the festival and are not at the festival you are definitely missing out. The atmosphere of this festival is electric. A beautiful mix of chilled and energy. The musical performances are by amazing Artist from all over the world and Hungary itself. The festival is completely capable of battling against the heat too. A water tank patrols the arenas to give ease to the baking bodies flailing around the Island while the stages are equipped with sprinklers to cool you off as you dance into the night.

We happened to find ourselves in a taxi whose driver had gone to Sziget the previous night and was full of chat about the festival especially Robbie Williams who performed on stage the night before and who supposedly bleached his hair blonde for the occasion. The conversation transitioned from festival chit-chat to a taxi tour of Budapest’s highlights. I will remember that taxi driver fondly and comically as our last view of him was driving into the distance blaring music with his trunk wide open. I guess what you can take from this is that the people of Budapest are an interesting and friendly bunch. A lyrical end to a wonderful trip to Budapest city. I will see you again very soon.

Hope you enjoyed the read and come back for more.

Jess x