Mug Monday & Scotland Road Trip 2.0

WARNING: Blog post filled with my personal Scotland Road Trip vacation pics. 

Mug

Goldfinch Mug / enamel, Waterstones

Books

Will soon be revealed

Heya!

Happy Mug Monday!

Looks like I made it back from my apocalyptic Scotland road trip. Why apocalyptic? I´ll get to that in a bit…

It all started out as a thought I didn´t think through.

“Hey honey. How does a mountain climb sound to you?”

I should have known a year ago that the whole question was a huge mistake. Mountain climbing and even walking… Those words don´t exist in my vocabulary. Why I suggested we do something we don´t ever do is still a mystery to me.

Needless to say- Husbutt agreed. He even suggested we go wild camping. Why? Beats me.

And where do people love to go wild camping and climb mountains?

Scotland. The land of lochs and legends. The land of the brave. The land of food and drink. And we were going…. again.

The last time we visited Scotland was in 2016. We did the Clark Griswold Grand Canyon type of sightseeing. From Aberdeen, across the Highlands to the Isle of Skye… We made sure we saw enough in the four days we stayed.

 

This time we wanted the full backpacker experience. We wanted to see the beauty Scotland has to offer and appreciate everything for more than 5 seconds.

Said. Done.

Easier said than done.

A week before our vacation the husbutt had a tiny hysterical meltdown about the wild camping part. So, wild camping was off the menu due to husbutts fear of being eaten by an elk at night… when people his age ( he´s 38 ) have to attend to certain needs in the middle of the night. His final, rather frantic spoken, words on the subject were:

“I´m 38! I didn´t go to university to sleep in tall grass in the middle of the flipping Boondocks, on rocks! I deserve a f*****g blanket and a f*****g bed!”

Poor guy was so hysterical and desperate. I had a hard time not laughing. I´ll never ever forget his high-pitched voice.

With that being said….

We arrived in Glasgow, Scotland on Monday. And what happened after that nearly gave me a flipping heart attack. My husband, the Almighty, tight-lipped Silent Bob surprised me with a rental car.

“I hope you also rented a chauffeur because there is no way I´m getting into an english car, driving on the left side of the road with you.” 

Yes. I was scared shitless. Like any other non-British country, we drive on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left side. Neither of us had experience driving in GB. My heart sunk when I saw the smile on his face.

“Babe, it´ll be fine. Just like old times.” 

WHAT OLD TIMES?! I wasn´t ready to die!

Took him a half an hour to convince me to get in the car. He promised he´d drive careful. He promised me he´d pull over if I felt anxious.

….

The truth was- I spent 4 days with a death grip on the seatbelt. I have never, in the 18 years I´ve been with my husband, heard so many people honk at him.

We stayed a night in Glasgow. I have to say.. I´m not particularly fond of the city. It´s not a dump but it´s also far from being clean ( as far as larger cities can be clean. Which most of them aren´t ). We did visit a few areas that were said to be worth a visit and even took a trip out to the Devil´s Pulpit.

devils pulpit
The Devil´s Pulpit- outside Glasgow

 

Tuesday morning we set out to drive up to Fort William. For those who don´t know, Fort William is a town in the Highlands and is known as the gateway to Ben Nevis- The mountain Husbutt and I were ignorantly eager to climb.

What a difference 108 miles can make in landscape appearance!

We left a rather un – lovable Glasgow and arrived in a beautiful cozy town with lots of little shops and fab scenery. Fort William was just as I had imagined it would be.

Despite my hands feeling sore from the death grip I had on the car roof handle I wanted to start our vacation. Like- really start it. We had a plan:

  • visit the Steall Falls
  • climb Ben Nevis
  • eat until we pop

 

The short version: We made it. Plan conquered.

The long version: The Steall Falls was a challenge for us. A gorgeous challenge. Steep paths in a forest that looked like it came straight out of a fairy tale. Except for the DANGER OF DEATH sign. That one stood out in a slightly negative way.

Let´s go back to swooning over the green.

Everything was so green that I had a hard time absorbing the beauty. The enless hike to the waterfall was taxing but well worth the march.

steall

 

glen 2

Stunning, right? I thought so. I´m sure Stefan found it just as stunning. His commentary nearly blew my mind. Every 5 minutes he called out…

“God damn it! They got me again!”

“Son of a bitch! What the hell is wrong with this place?!”

“DON`T STOP MOVING! THEY`LL EAT YOU ALIVE!!!” ( insert my husbands newly high-pitched, panicked voice )

Of course, he was referring to the Scottish mosquitoes – Midges. The stories online are true. Midges are annoying little boogers who probably drink insect repellant for breakfast before attacking innocent Stefans.

Don´t worry. He survived. He even made it to the waterfall!

waterfall
Husbutt analyzing the waterfall. 

 

The next day was our big day. Climb the Ben Nevis, Scotlands highest mountain. Standing at 1.345 meters above sea level… a piece of cake for inexperienced mountain trotters like ourselves. ( or so we thought )

We arrived at the foot of the mountain.

We started hiking. And hiking. Hiking…hiking…. More hiking. Hours of walking up and down, over rocks and dust, taking sharp curves and suffering under the beating sun…

shoes

8 hours in total. I felt like dying. Mr. I´m – In – A – Constant – State – Of – Danger felt the same. Our legs were on fire. All I wanted was a shower and all Husbutt wanted was his well deserved blanket, pillow and bed.

Did I mention the bookstore I found in Fort William? I didn´t? Well, I found a bookstore.

All the sweating and involuntary tanning on the mountain was forgotten when I spotted The Highland Bookshop! And yes, I bought books. I had to. What kind of a book lover would I be if I hadn´t walked out with at least 1 book?

After buying a few books for me and the kids ( who were at the same time slurping non alcoholic cocktails in Croatia with my parents ) it was time to pack our things and move to our next destination.

A quick visit to Sterling then Edinburgh.

Can I just say one thing?

I fell in love with Edinburgh. Oh holy unicorn! What a breathtaking city.

I cannot begin to tell you the places I´ve seen and the buildings I´ve entered. If there ever was a city I´d want to live at then it would definitely be Edinburgh.

 

edin3

 

edin4

 

The city is so rich with history and fantastic flair. It´s surrounded by green and everyone is just…nice. I had fun. Stefan had fun. We ate until we felt like we were able to roll each other to the hotel room.

I didn´t want to go home.

Especially not after I walked in a Waterstones ( for those who aren´t aware of what Waterstones is…. It´s a bookstore!) There, I spent over an hour running back and forth with books piled in my arms, listening to Husbutts moaning and groanings.

Stefan: “You know, we have those in Germany, too.”

Me: ( half ignoring him while looking for more books ) “Have what?”

Stefan: ( grinning ) “Bookstores.”

Me: “So? What are you saying?”

Stefan: “That you don´t have enough room in your suitcase for all those books.”

First reaction.
When realization hit me.

That was a Waterstones visit gone wrong. I had so many books I wanted to buy and take home with me but he was right. I didn´t have room in my suitcase. Book blogger fail x100!

Only the golden unicorn on the Queen´s Gallery´s art gallery door was able to cheer me up again.

 

So, there you have it. My apocalyptic Scotland vacation 2.0.

Would I do it all again? Yes. I´ll definitely visit Fort William, Sterling and Edinburgh again. Without a car, though. I wasn´t able to warm up to driving on ( what I feel was ) the wrong side of the road. And not until I find a way to destroy midges.

 

I recommend Scotland. It´s magical. It´s a green treasure.

I also recommend Whittard´s tea shop. It was an adventure talking tea with someone who knew their tea. Thanks to Rachel, who recommended an English Breakfast tea. The bestie was more than happy. 🙂

 

Now that my vacation time is over and the kids are safely back at home I can FINALLY get back to my usual routine of reading books and reading the blog posts I´ve missed.

Thank you for taking your time to read about my bogus Scotland road trip. I hope you enjoyed.

Until then, my dear Padawans,

Much love,

Morgana ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books That Inspired Me To Travel

Books and traveling… Two of my most favorite things in life.

If I´m not reading / book blogging or going after my highly demanding duties as a mom and wife I´m always on tour. And by on tour I don´t mean hopping in the car and visiting surrounding cities. I mean I actually do some serious country hopping.

Some say it´s because I´m an Aquarius ( I fail to see that connection ). Some say I travel a lot because I´m bored out of my wits….

I think it´goes deeper than that. You see, I´m an Army brat. I´ve been to places. I´ve seen my fair share of countries against my will as a kid ( because moving a lot and having to make new friends at a new school ALWAYS sucked ). Years ago, once I settled down and stopped moving, I felt a certain unease. I felt caged by life. It´s funny because, as a kid I wanted nothing more than for my family to settle down. When I became an adult I didn´t want to be settled. I wanted out. And not only out of the house. I wanted out of the country. To be able to see new places, taste new dishes, meet new people and just…. enjoy what the world has to offer.

What I used to hate with a passion became by second greatest passion.

Reading books helped a lot to ease the nerve wrecking itch I felt. I had the power to dive into a story and live wherever the story was set at. But books only helped to a limited extent. I actually WANTED to visit the places I read about. I wanted to be in Paris and sit at a Café and drink hot chocolate while watching tourists and Parisians pass by. I wanted to walk through the Black Forest and feel the Snow White aura.

But reading about those fabulous places and seeing them with your own eyes are two completely different things.

Sure, I could gush over the beautiful details talented authors provide. And I do. I soak up every stinking detail authors give on certain places. Some writers are brilliant at painting a picture for a reader.

But wouldn´t it be even better to visit those places that inspired authors to include in their stories?

My grande idea: Visit the places I loved so much in books.

I´d like to clarify something real quick before I´m shoved into an unloving category.

I live in central Europe. In Germany, to be exact. And, flights are super cheap within Europe. I can be in a lot of places within 1 – 2 hours ( flight!) for a more than affordable price. Of course, taking the car is also cheap. But who wants to sit in a car for 12 hours when they can book a flight to the UK for 14.00 Euros pP. ?

 

Here are the books that inspired me to travel. Cities and countries I highly recommend any book lover ( and non book lover ) to visit soon!

 

Outlander – Diana Gabaldonoutlander

Genre – Time Travel, Historical Fiction, Romance

Set in – Highlands, Scotland

 

Outlander made me visit Scotland and boy, was I ever grateful I decided to do a short trip through the Highlands. The people were amazingly friendly, the weather was perfect ( for me ). The food was exactly the way I like it – Hearty. It didn´t matter where I went I was surrounded by the magic so many authors swoon about in their stories.

Seven Ages Of Paris – Alistair Horneseven ages of paris

Genre – History, Non Fiction

About – Paris, France

 

What can I say? I´m a sucker for knowledge. I love to learn new things. And…I love to know things. Knowing stuff rocks. Paris is my go – to place when I can´t decide where to travel next. The city is actually not the cleanest but it definitely has that special flair that´s been described in many books. You can literally smell and taste the history when you walk the old streets and visit certain areas of the city. The people aren´t as friendly as they are in the UK but since I´m used to rudeness ( yeah. Germans aren´t known to be a friendly bunch, either ) I have no problem with Parisians.

 

Goddess Of Yesterday – Caroline B. Cooney goddess of yesterday

Genre – Fantasy, YA, Mythology

Set in – Greece

I´m some – what of a Greek Mythology geek. For as long as I can remember I´ve loved stories told about the Gods. Hence the reason why I´ll read anything involving Greek Mythology.

 

Sadly enough, I only have 1 picture from my 2009 Greece vacation because my, then 2 yr old daughter, deleted them. All 200 pictures. But I have those great memories to hang on to. Greece is one of those history packed countries where you can also feel it´s ancient aura. The people are great. The food…. GOOD GODS ABOVE! You´ll think you´re in Heaven when you eat a Gyros Pita. It´s truly no wonder many authors choose Greece for their story and / or write about Greek Mythology.

 

Fingersmith – Sarah Waters Fingersmith

Genre – Mystery, Historical Fiction

Set in – London, UK

 

To be honest- this isn´t the book that set off my need to travel to London. Many MANY books before the Fingersmith had accomplished that years before. Still, a great book, though. London belongs to the cities I´ll never grow tired of. The city flair matches no other. It´s a super busy place and I get lost every time I´m there. The people “bless” me all the time ( which can get confusing because I only use the term when someone sneezes ). Plus- I get to see my bestie when I visit.  London is just THE place to be.

 

Zoo Station – Christiane F. Zoo Station

Genre – Non Fiction, Biography

Set in – Berlin, Germany

 

This was the first book I read that was set in Berlin. Of course, the true story of a teenage drug addict didn´t necessarily inspire me to travel to Berlin. The book itself is not for the faint of heart but still worth reading ( even if it´s to cure teenagers from taking drugs. THAT´S how graphic this book is). No. It wasn´t Christiane F´s story that made me want to visit the city with depressing history. I´ve always been some – what of a fan of the Golden 20´s era in Berlin.  I thought some of that magic was still lurking around ( like it does with Paris and London ) but, nope. I´d say Berlin is my LEAST favorite city in all Europe. It´s just…. super modern and super sad. You get an awful lot of reminders of how Berlin ( or Germany, for that matter) had once suffered. I understand the importance of history. But… there´s needs to be a break somewhere. Still, the place is packed with tourists from all over the world.

 

PS, I Love You – Cecelia Ahern PS I love you

Genre – Romance, Chick Lit

Set In – Ireland

 

 

Ireland is the place I want to retire at. I want to spend the rest of my glorious old days on the small Island, preferably out in the country, living in a cozy cottage, surrounded by sheep. I LOVE Ireland. Ever since I read PS, I Love You I wanted to visit. And when I did I refused to leave. What a beautiful place. The weather is definitely something you could argue over but the rest? That´s the place I want to be. I can hear Ireland calling my name.

 

Midnight In Sicily – Peter RobbMidnight in Sicily

Genre – Non Fiction, Cultural

Set In – Sicily, Italy

 

While Sicily isn´t and has never been on my Top 10 list of place I want to travel, Italy was.

This book is a glorious piece of wonderful, but I sort of lost interest in visiting Sicily. IT`S DANGEROUS! People don´t gossip for nothing. And when someone writes a great book on the good and bad of that Island then you´ll think twice before booking a flight. But the rest of Italy is fantabulous! My favorite cities are, without a doubt, Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence and Pisa ( because I tackle all the tourist favorites before getting lost in the middle of nowhere).

And then there´s Pasta. Need I say more?

 

Fairy Tales Of The Brothers Grimm – The Grimm Brothers grimm

Genre – Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Children, Classic

Set In – Germany

 

I really REALLY don´t want to toot my horn, here. Seriously, I don´t. But there is NO WAY I can leave this one out. I live just a handful of miles away from where the Grimm Brothers were born and where they grew up. Yupp. I´ve walked through the forest where they got some of their inspiration for their Fairy Tales. HOW COOL IS THAT?! Yes. My all time favorite Fairy Tale story tellers. Of course, I was unaware of that fact for years ( It took 5 years after moving to Germany for someone to point that little fun fact out. 5 YEARS!), which makes the whole situation more exciting for me. their history is just a short car drive away from my house! It´s a feeling that comes close to winning the lottery.

 

Of course, there are quite a few more places I´ve been to but those countries / cities had nothing to do with books / story settings.

 

Is there a book that inspired you to travel somewhere? Where was the destination? Or have you ever taken a literary – themed vacation? Is there a book place you´d love to travel to?

 

I hope you enjoyed my little travel / book inspiration adventure. Thank you for reading! ❤

 

Much Love,

Morgana ❤ ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review- Play On by Samantha Young

Book Description

Nora O’Brien chased a dream from Indiana to Scotland, so sure it was the right thing to do. Three years later she was left in her adopted country with nothing to her name but guilt and regret.

Until Aidan Lennox entered her life.

Older, worldlier, a music producer and composer, the sexy Scot should never have made sense for Nora. But somehow, in each other, they found the light they were looking for, the laughter and the passion—the strength to play on despite their past losses.

But when life dealt Aidan another unlucky hand, instead of reaching for her he disappeared. The agonizing loss of him inspired something within Nora. It fired her spirit— the anger and hurt pushing her forward to take control and reach for her dreams.

Finally pursuing a career on stage while she put herself through college, everything is how Nora wants it. She’s avoiding heartbreak and concentrating on her goals.

Sounds easy but it’s not. Because Aidan is back. And for some reason he hates Nora.

He’s determined to be at war with her. And she has absolutely no idea why.

My Thoughts

Samantha Young is my go-to author. When I´m in need of a gut twisting romance I always think of the author first.

`Play On` did not disappoint me. I´m a total confused mess when it comes to keeping track of new releases or even stalking authors. I´m always late when finding out the author published something new. I don´t know how late I was with `Play On` but it didn´t matter. I´m so glad I didn´t miss this one completely.Play On

I won´t bore you with my own synopsis or any spoilers but I will say this:

If you love the author´s work then you´ll definitely like this one as well. If you love a slow grow romance where the characters have their own demons to tackle while finding love then this story is for you!

`Play On` is emotional. Heart breaking and heart mending at the same time.

I know some readers have a problem when characters have big age gaps. If you feel like you belong to that group and can´t stomache a 12 year age difference then I advise you to skip this read. Personally, age gaps don´t bother me. I like to read about a struggle ( if there is one). I´m a firm believer in young people having a beautiful old mind and older people who are older but young at heart. Love it. That´s what I got with `Play On´..

The only issue I have with this story was the Heroine, Nora. I liked her but that poor girl had no confidence what so ever. That usually leads to a character constantly questioning their own self-worth and that get´s slightly annoying with time. I would have liked for her to have more backbone despite the issues she´d dealt with before she met Aidan.

Besides Nora, the rest of the characters were fab. All loving, caring, fierce figures who were super engaging and interesting.

The end of the story didn´t knock me off my feet but it was still good.

All in all a great read. I´m looking forward to read the next book!

Would I reread this book? Yes. Probably.

Would I recommend this book? Yes. This is a must have for Samantha Young fans. It´s also a great read for romance lovers.

The Cover – 5 stars (It´s playful. It´s soft on the eye. It reflects the story. I think it´s great.)

The Story – 4 stars ( Nothing I haven´t already read before but since I like the author´s writing I enjoyed it alot.)

The Characters – 4 stars ( Nora was a small thorn in my thumb.)

My emotional state after finishing this read – Happy.

I´m giving `Play On` ( Play On #1) by Samantha Young 4 out of 5 starsstars14

Purchase Links

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.de