All My Favourite People
I don’t think I’ve done a spring in Europe trip yet. And because I come from a country with just hot and hotter (with some rain), the concept of spring to me is just something I see in movies. Flowers seem to be blooming and people seem to be wearing light jackets. All good, I can handle that.
Let’s just say, global warming and the movies aren’t in cahoots because everything I knew about spring was just debunked. It wasn’t bad at all, don’t get me wrong. Just not what I was expecting. At all.
And though I usually do my solo sojourns through Europe, this time, I thought why not throw in some of my favourite people. After all, there were so many of them in that side of the world at the same time. It was a very good decision.
Edinburgh & Glasgow, Scotland
This entire trip started when Chinggay told me she wanted to go celebrate her birthday in Edinburgh. I have never been to Scotland. And so of course, I said yes. The only hitch was that I needed a visa (with the UK not being part of the good old Schengen region). Lucky for me, I got one and we were off.
Because I knew I would be with Chinggay, I didn’t bother doing extensive research on things I wanted to do. I just wanted to get away. And get away, I did. Arriving in Edinburgh on a Friday afternoon, there was a sun! We’re off to a good start. Only to realise this would be the only day with sun and the rest of my Edinburgh visit would be marked by lots of fog and a drizzle.
Still, it was beautiful. I love old town architecture and having new things mixed in with the old, so this was a perfect first time. I didn’t realise (again) that Edinburgh is full of ups and down slopes. And though I’m not a fan of uphill climbs, the downhill ambles are always lovely.
Our hotel was super lovely and central and much bigger than I expected (we had a sitting area!) and the food was really good (and not too crazy expensive even with alcohol!) so my bias was in favour of Edinburgh already. But because we were literally across the street from the train station, we thought, why not take a day trip to Glasgow. Also, we must be honest, we saw Sam Heughan posting about him going about Glasgow. We’re that easy.
Glasgow was very different from Edinburgh’s small town charm with it’s “big city” feel and just less than an hour away. It was a nice impromptu side trip with Chinggay that I’m glad we took. Mostly though, it was nice to find that Chinggay and I had a similar travel style — we were both pretty laid back about things and our energy levels had the same ebbs and flows. Great first time outing together!
This is the first trip to Europe where I’m returning to cities I’ve been to before. And the only reason for that is now I actually have family to visit. My cousin Nikki and her adorable son (my godson) are based in Bergen, Norway and though the summer last year was pretty cold, I was more prepared this time around.
Also, I just wanted to hang out with my godson who was turning 2 years old in 2 weeks. It killed me that I wasn’t going to be there for his actual birthday, but at least we had time to hang out before he turned two.
My cousin was worried I wanted to do things and get out of the house, but really, I just wanted to relax in their super pretty house. I only see my cousin’s house via her very gorgeous Instagram, so it was pretty surreal to be there in real life. One day, home ownership will be something I will achieve (I don’t have a solid plan to make that happen yet, so instead I shall live vicariously through others).
And Bergen itself is just gorgeous. I’ve never really lived in a ‘small town’ but I see the charm and the laid back vibe and just an all around awesome place to be. The weather was still pretty crazy cold for me — I had to wear like 3 layers of clothing while my godson was literally in a onesie.
I can see myself visiting over and over just because I want to see the little man grow up and I don’t mind this freezing break with a view of the fjords.
The first time I went to London was back in 2012 for the Olympics and I literally just pulled these photos from the ten million collages I did back in filtered Instagram days. So it was my second time in England and I didn’t feel like I needed to do all the tourist stops, because I think I covered everything back then — or at least, everything my 25 year old self who had never been to Europe thought she wanted to do.
This time around, I was here to welcome my cousin Acid and her husband, Toby back home. I had hung out with them extensively in Singapore — my sports parents, essentially. And it was really sad for me to have them leave but I wanted to make sure I welcomed them to the their new home.
Little did I know, Toby’s family lives faaaaar from London, in the beautiful and picturesque English countryside and hot damn, were the movies correct. Just breathtaking. On the ride from the airport to their country home, I was seriously just in floored with the vistas. Rolling hills, winding roads, sheep, country manors and just everything my Jane Austen-trained brain could conjure up.
Form quaint pubs that are 45 minutes away to quiet walks in the morning, the place was just a super awesome retreat from the city. And though I did swing by Victoria & Albert because I couldn’t not visit my favourite museum ever, it was still such a different and welcome treat to slow down and relax in the countryside.
We did eventually head down to the city to catch my first English Premier League game at the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium. Thanks to Toby’s dad who has season passes, we were blessed to catch the Huddersfield game with a crazy 4-0 outcome. I honestly couldn’t’ believe I was in the stadium, much more seeing these players I had only seen via a stream or on social media play in real life. Also, when your favourite player, Jan Vertonghen comes out on the pitch with his family after the game and waves at you? Life over. Fangirl dreams, done. A great end to my holiday for sure.
It’s been nice to take a very chill approach to travel again. I didn’t have as many checklists or spreadsheets this time and I let my ‘hosts’ take the lead (which I rarely ever do). I also was able to jog a lot — for my level of fitness. I guess jogging in a new city (where it’s pretty cold) also has its perks.
And it showed — my sleep efficiency the entire vacation was at 95% and above whereas in ‘real life,’ I’m only in the line of 80s. Maybe I’ll try again next time.