Since I began blogging in 2017 I vowed I would keep it up regularly; I didn’t see any point otherwise. My aim was to write one post a week (not easy when you have a full time job and other commitments) when I wasn’t actually travelling.
Having not posted in two months I have clearly let this dedication slip but I do have good reason for the hiatus: I was in New York for eleven nights, there was the whole Christmas and New Year thing afterwards, and in the weeks before New York I had something rather big to organise (see final point below).
But now I’m back in Scotland, the festive season is over, and I’m ready to get stuck into sharing my travel musings once again. So to kick off 2019, here are my favourite travel moments of last year (in chronological order, not order of preference as that would be way too hard).
Returning to my favourite pub in London
In January we went on a quick weekend trip to one of our favourites cities in the world: London. If you book London right it is very cheap to do from Glasgow (sign up to the Trainline email alerts to snag the cheapest fares and book a stay in the Travelodge Hackey which is in a cool area and costs just £49 a night). My highlight of the whirlwind trip was spending the Friday night in one of our favourite pubs in the world, The Shakespeare in Stoke Newington, amongst a packed crowd watching the Sheffield derby football match (the owner is a Sheffield Wednesday fan) while eating pizza out of cardboard boxes from the takeaway place next door. Sometimes the most familiar, low key experiences are the most enjoyable.
Relaxing on the balcony on Loubressec
At the end of April we finally took up the offer of a friend to stay in their holiday home in Loubressac, a tiny French village in the Lot region of France. Loubressac is a place we would never had visited otherwise, it’s quite remote and seems to have completely bypassed the tourist trail, but it was spectacularly beautiful, with thatched buildings and curved streets that looked like Belle’s village from Beauty and the Beast. My favourite memory from this trip was simply sitting on the house’s balcony overlooking the spectacular view of the valley with a glass of rose and a book. Most of our holidays involve non stop rushing around and I feel like I rarely get the chance to sit for a few hours and do nothing. The fact the rose wine was locally produced and delicious made the experience even more enjoyable.
Sitting at the riverside in Tours
In June we made our second trip to France for a friend’s wedding in the Loire Valley. We spent a few nights in Tours, a town I had never heard of but that turned out to be a real gem; beautiful in the way all French towns are but also boasting a host of great bars and a lively student scene. There were several highlights from our time there, such as watching France play in the World Cup and joining the crowds in the packed streets during the Fete de La Musique Festival, but I think my favourite experience was on our first night when we bought a bottle of wine and plastic cups and headed down to the Loire River. Unlike the following night when the riverside with packed for the festival, it was peaceful, and we sipped our red with the odd stray group of students nearby and the Loire flowing underfoot.
Relaxing on Dronning Louise Bridge, Copenhagen
In Copenhagen during summer the locals tend to gather outdoors, using the city’s parks, pavements and riverside to socialise in. When we visited in July we discovered the most popular place to meet was Dronning Louise Bridge which connects the city centre to northern suburb Nørrebro. On our first night in Copenhagen we arrived at the bridge to find it packed with groups of all ages sitting on the benches or on the pavement, drinking, chatting and dancing to the music from the various sound systems which had been brought along, cyclists whizzing past on either side. It was such a fun, inclusive environment, and to make the experience even more unforgettable, we looked up to see that the moon was glowing bright red (it was the blood moon eclipse which we had completely forgotten about).
Copenhagen’s Christiana is very famous for being a self governing commune, a community with its own rules and regulations completely independent of the Danish government (it even has its own flag). I had been told by a few others that Christiana was touristy but when we visited I found it to be a lot nicer and more authentic than I expected, with open air spaces, parks, bars, restaurants and shops. Aside from drug dealer lined Pusher Street, it felt perfectly safe too, with plenty of tourists and families milling around. We bought one of Christina’s own brewed beers and sat on a wall watching the hippie residents stroll past, enjoying the welcoming, inclusive environment
Visiting City Hall In New York
That thing I referenced in the intro we had to plan? Our wedding in New York City. Getting married in New York for foreigners is ludicrously easy; all you need to do is go to City Hall (or the City Clerk’s office, as it’s officially called), pick up your marriage license, then you’re free to use it from 24 hours later. We went along to the City Clerk’s Office on our first day in New York which was an experience I never expected to be quite so much fun; you go through security alongside brides and grooms, gruff guards ushering you along shouting “congratulations” in a thick New York accent. As you wait for your license to be processed you sit in a large hall with all the other couples who are either waiting to pick up their license too or to go in and actually get married. It’s such as unique experience; there are women sitting around in wedding dresses and couples posing for professional photographers. It’s a brilliant people watching spot too; beside us was a lesbian couple Facetiming someone they were clearly just telling they were getting married, we could see and hear the person on the screen squealing with joy. We didn’t actually get married in City Hall as we married on a Saturday when it was closed but I think it would be such an exciting way to elope.
Seeing Our Photograph In A New York City Restaurant
Paul and I have been selling our photography on Etsy for almost two years now and one of our first sales was our most exciting; a restaurant in New York which bought two of our Rome prints. We always wondered if the restaurant had put either of them up and on our recent trip we finally got the chance to find out. We made our way over to Trapizzino on the Lower East Side and were absolutely thrilled to see our Rome street print framed on their wall. The owner spotted us excitedly standing in front of it taking pictures and came over to find out what the fuss was. When he found out who we were he was very tickled, and explained to us what it was he liked about the photograph and why he bought it. Paul and I stayed for a few glasses of wine, taking numerous photos of the print on the wall, thrilled a piece of our travel memories was adorning a Manhattan restaurant. I don’t think either of us have stopped feeling thrilled, to be honest.
Attending The Stephen Colbert Show
Before visiting New York we checked all the websites of the late night talk shows to see if we could snag any seats in the audiences. The only one that wasn’t sold out was The Stephen Colbert Show and we were lucky enough to get tickets. On the day of filming we joined the queue early and ended up in the second row, just metres from Stephen himself and the celebrity guests (which included Julia Roberts!). Obviously it was very exciting to be close to Julia Roberts but the whole experience was so much fun; prior to filming is a several hours long prepping of the audience, which includes a stand up comedian, performance from Stephen’s band, and pep talk from the stage manager, all designed to get the crowd to clap and cheer as loudly as possible. It works: by the time Stephen came out everyone was on their feet clapping and cheering like giddy seals, including Paul and I. Everything about the experience was so slick; the set, the band, the accompanying videos, the performance from Stephen himself. It felt the room was sprinkled with stardust.
Going To The Book Of Mormon On Broadway
Speaking of stardust, another one of our New York highlights was going to see The Book Of Mormon on Broadway. It was just brilliant – hilarious, sharp and filthy and the performances were top notch. I love the romance of Broadway; the history, and its role as a beacon for the most talented, singers, dancers and actors from around the world (one of the lead cast members in The Book Of Mormon was from Glasgow!)
Eloping to New York
My final, and surely I have to say best, travel moment of 2018 was eloping in New York City. I’ll keep it private and won’t go into much detail (I might do a later blog post on the practicalities of eloping in New York City though) but what I will say is that it was adventurous, laid back and just perfect for us.