A Look Back to my First Travel Love Affair..

By Posted in - England & Featured Post & Ireland on April 17th, 2011


Before Beers & Beans existed I took a quick jaunt across the pond to visit my cousin Sarah who was living in Scotland while working on her PhD. I did a whirlwind tour of Scotland, Ireland and London and it was much too quick but it only fueled the flames of long term travel in my soul. Although 10 days was simply not enough for me I loved every minute of it and felt like a changed person when I came back to the U.S.

Sarah at the top of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Since my cousin was busy finishing up her thesis I did a lot of traveling on my own. One day we were able to hike up Arthur’s seat together but most of the time I was left to wander by myself.

The first day I decided to visit the Edinburgh castle. I love history and I love old places so strolling the grounds of the castle was a fantastic way to start the trip. Walking around knowing that I am retracing the same steps as someone else did hundreds of years ago is really exciting to me. I constantly wonder about who else was there and what their life was like. Were they wrongly imprisoned when they carved their names into the centuries old wooden door that still stands? Was the Queen’s chambermaid jealous? Did she think about plucking the crown jewels and wearing them herself? What happened during dinner – did people laugh or eat in silence? My imaginative walk around the castle was really fun but it did bring a bit of bad luck. As soon as I entered the castle walls I dropped my camera on the cobblestone walkways and busted the lens. The rest of the trip I had to handhold the lens in the camera, hold the camera in the other hand and then attempt to focus and shoot. It wasn’t easy but I endured because I didn’t want to buy a replacement in Scotland. As a result most of the pictures from this trip are blurry but I like blur so I tried to work with it the best I could.

Besides the camera debacle Edinburgh was perfect for me – I was able to indulge my imagination continually because the entire city is steeped in a gothically beautiful & bloody history. They even have a heart shaped marker on a street (sorry can’t remember the street name) to mark the spot where many unfortunate souls were burned on the stake. Creepy! While I was there I also took the famous tour of Mary King’s Close and explored the once vibrant streets and homes that eventually ended up underground and are still buried under the Royal Mile today. Rumor has it that the buried streets imprisoned the city’s plague ridden residents as the victims were walled in and left to die. It’s a great tour regardless and if you’re visiting Edinburgh I would definitely recommend it.

Edinburgh is strange – as you’re walking around the city it seems like you can literally see what it would have looked like hundreds of years before. I won’t lie – I liked the city but I felt slightly uncomfortable walking the streets at night. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel safe there (overall the city felt very safe) it was more the fact that my imagination really got the better of me. I kept thinking that some Jack The Ripper style character would jump out from one of the small streets around the city. This strange fear was based solely in my imagination and from movies I had seen that were set in a stormy, rainy, foggy Scotland. I liked Edinburgh but what I really wanted was to get out of the city and see more of the Scottish countryside. I would’ve liked to visit the Isle of Skye, maybe spend a week in one of the holiday cottages in Scotland but I didn’t have the time. In a couple days I was to jump a cheap flight to Dublin where the Gin Palace awaited me.

Hello Ireland!

With it’s beautiful green pastures, toothy smiles, Guinness, gin, gin and more gin (did I mention I like gin?) Ireland did not disappoint. After a visit to the Book of Kells at Trinity College and visiting the Guinness storehouse I ready to move to Dublin. Who wouldn’t want to? The people are ultra friendly, the city is walkable & cute and it’s full of hole in the wall pubs. Perfect! I even thought of getting my Masters at Trinity College – until I saw the out of country tuition – ouch. I came back to the US armed with enough Guinness chocolate bars to last a couple months and little seed packets of lucky clovers to plant in my yard.

Only having a few days in Ireland led to the same sadness I experienced when leaving Scotland. I wanted more. I wanted to see more of the countryside, I wanted to explore the cliffs of Moher, marvel at the Giants Causeway & spend more time drinking my way through Dublin. It was with a bit of a heavy heart that I was back on a plane – this time headed to London.

From Leicester Square to the London Bridge I spent a day wandering the streets, listening to my IPod and falling deeply in love with London. Edinburgh was dark & stormy, Dubin was cute & fun but London was the real deal. It took only about an hour but my affection for London quickly blossomed into a full blown love affair. It included all of the important aspects of any relationship – a shared love of ethnic food (the Indian curry was out of this world), a trip to the red light district (I know how to entertain myself!), a few pints of good beer and of course – a heavenly desert! It was such a good day – I actually got lost in the streets of what became the first city I truly fell head over heels for. I didn’t find my way home until after midnight and like any great date – I didn’t care how late it was.

But alas, during this time in my life I was busting my butt in San Diego and had to fly home so I could get back to my extremely stressful job. What a bummer. I couldn’t stay in London long which of course made me love it even more.

A few years prior to this trip I had almost moved to London but I chickened out. There was no reason for the move except the fact that I just felt inside that England held something for me. I had just graduated college, I was single and wanted to surround myself with cute English boys and their awesome accents. Even now whenever I visit London I never get sick of hearing someone call me ‘love’. When we were there in September I needed to ask for directions and when I walked up to someone I was greeted with – “Can I help you love?” I smiled – Why yes, of course you can! The British accent never gets old and being in London just energizes me. I’m not sure why I always felt some sort of London calling but still to this day I’ve never been able to spend any large amount of time there and I definitely have never been able to realize my dreams of living in London. But until I get the travel bug out of my system waving to the queen, riding among the hills of England, enjoying a Peak district holiday and retracing the steps of Anne Boleyn will have to wait.

During this fast trip I entirely missed Northern Ireland and I never even made it to Wales. I guess it’s obvious, now that I’m a full time traveler with an unlimited amount of travel time – I have to go back to the UK and Ireland. My ultimate goal is that I can grow the website enough so I can move to London for a few months. Maybe I can squeeze in a trip to Wales and rent one of the Welsh cottages where I can crochet endless amounts of winter hats & scarves. I’ll also be able to visit all the museums I missed in London, run around the hills of Scotland and maybe jet back to Dublin to get a picture of Randy kissing the Blarney Stone.

*Please remember all photos on this website, unless otherwise noted, are copyrighted and property of BeersandBeans.com, NarikosNest.com & Bethany Salvon. Please do not use them without my permission. If you want to use one of them please contact me first because I do love to share and I would be flattered. Thanks!

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(3) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • Seri -

    April 20, 2011 at 4:15 am

    Really lovely article, also the “heart shaped stone” you mentioned is the heart of midlothian and is located on the Royal Mile.

    Seeing your photo of the top of Arthur’s Seat really makes me want to climb it now – I was going to do that when I visited for Hogmanay but didn’t quite want to make the trek in the dark so hopefully will get a chance next time I visit!

    Sorry to hear about your camera, but all the photos on here still turned out lovely, especially the ones of London which are now trying to call me back there too!

    • Bethany -

      April 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

      Hi Seri, Thank you for commenting and filling me in on the name of the heart and it’s location! I couldn’t remember at all and it’s great to know that! Thank you so much. 🙂 @Seri,

      • Seri -

        April 20, 2011 at 11:55 am

        No problem, I vistied it once when I was little and have always wanted to go back and it’s on my list of things to see next time I visit Edinburgh (along with the statue of Greyfriars Bobby which apparently I walked past without realising XD@Bethany,