Thursday, August 20, 2015

Home Ownership Adventures

Words cannot describe what happened today, but I'll try my best.

A lot of you know my home buying process has a been a total mess. I've worked for two months trying to get everything finished to close only to be told twice I didn't have a complete to-do list from the bank (and hence couldn't close). Despite my best efforts (and the best efforts of my agent and those working with me), two closing dates have come and, as of midnight tonight, gone. I felt completely defeated.

Naturally, the seller was upset as well. But there's more to the story.

The seller grew up in this home. It's been in her family since it was built in 1963. It was her mom's home. She's selling it because her mom passed away. She had prayed and prayed for an offer before the one year mark of her mom's passing. I put in an offer the day before. As if that didn't blow you away. There's more.

I totally understood her frustration and the extra emotion behind the sale. I sold my mom's house in May of 2013. It had been in my family since I was two years old. I was fortunate to have a quick and easy closing. There were no complications, only an emotional move and closing date.

That all leads to today.

Normally, I leave work around 3:15. Today, I was there later working out with two friends. This late after school, I didn't expect to be called to the office, but I was.

I thought perhaps it was an angry parent had come to talk to me about the kid I reported as truant earlier in the day.


It was the seller. She said she had found out where I worked and wanted to talk to me.

My heart sank. The closing date was supposed to be today. I just knew she was there to tell me why she wanted to back out.

Wrong again.

She told me she was just looking for answers. I explained to her what was going on with the loan process, my frustrations, my tears, and how I truly understood the emotions of selling your late mother's home to someone you don't know.

She teared up as she told me her side of things. How she refused to make me give earnest money because that's "not how Momma would have done business," especially with a young teacher, despite being encouraged to ask for it. She said she was just losing faith in the sale because the bank wouldn't answer her questions.

She told me about growing up in the house. She shared her apprehensions about it being remodeled. She told me about the neighbors. She talked about her siblings who had passed away while they lived there. She described her mom.

We were both in tears by the end of it. We had so much in common. We had both lost the same amount of family members in our old homes. We both knew the pain of selling part of our childhood. Even deeper than that, we both knew the fresh pain of losing our moms.

I invited her to see the renovations when they're complete, and I asked her to introduce me to the neighbors.

By the end of our brief meeting, we were both in tears. She hugged me over and over despite my sweatiness. We exchanged phone numbers and have already talked since. She even offered to let me move in early for next to nothing in "rent" if I needed to do so.

What really made my heart smile was when she told me she'd be my momma if I wanted. That was the sweetest offer a stranger has ever made me.

Sometimes things are meant to be.

I can't wait to call this place home. 

Closing date is still TBD as of 9 PM today

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Adventure Awaits

I know everyone has different ideas of adventure, and I try to keep a positive outlook when it comes to adventure. I seek it. I daydream about it. I act on it. 

Since returning from Spain at the end of June, I've made it my mission to go to different places within driving distance for me. I've gone to Dallas, Fayetteville, Atlanta, St Louis, a cavern, Memphis, an Andy Grammer concert, new stores, new restaurants in my town, small towns I've never explored, and a few other places I'm sure I'm missing.

I say all that to say I'm getting nervous. Well, that will make sense to Spanish speakers. I guess I'm more antsy than nervous to English speakers. 

I have less than 20 days until my next big trip, but because of the cost of this trip, I haven't traveled since December. By the time we leave, It will have been nearly three months since I've gone on a trip. 

I never realized my intense need for exploring until this moment. The anticipation of moving to Spain wasn't even this extreme. I want to get out and go somewhere new. I don't care where, when, how, etc... I just want to get out and go somewhere. This is going to be killer if I'm stuck in my apartment for a few days with the winter weather. 

Two and half weeks. I can and will survive. 

After all, adventure awaits ;)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I see London...

Hello from Texas! Fancy meeting you here!

I'm sure you're not new here. If you are, feel free to take a look around and familiarize yourself with who I am and what this is all about. Or, if you're feeling frisky, just start reading this post with no background knowledge whatsoever. Ha. This blog is the furthest thing from frisky you could possibly find. Is this getting awkward for you? Vale. Moving on, then.

Once upon a time, I almost forgot about my trip to London! It was the first time I went on a trip by myself. Let me tell you, it was just what I needed. Living in a small apartment with four other people can make you long for time to yourself. So, to celebrate my 23rd birthday, I decided to jet off to London by myself.

Oh, Barajas. How I love thee

The journey to London wasn't bad. There were some flight delays. Stansed airport is not my favorite. It took over an hour and a half to get to London. My hostel wasn't my favorite, but it was conveniently located. Let's just say I barely found it and got settled in before sunrise. Hey, there's an adventure in there, right?! Optimism strikes again. 

But when I slept, oh was it glorious! Until the cleaning lady came in. She was insistent that it was time for me to check out. On the contrary, lady! I had just arrived! She asked me at least ten times if I was sure of my reservations. Yes. I finally simply left the room to take a shower.

I hate it when hostels advertise that they have great showers and it turns out to be a lie. I'll leave it at that.

Cleaning lady was nearly done in the room by the time I got out of the shower. I got dressed and ready and went out to tackle London!

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Tower of London. Fun fact: it's not a tower

Another view of Tower Bridge

Buckingham Palace!
Big Ben

Okay... so... I cheated a bit. I took a tourist bus around London. But really, the city is HUGE. I couldn't have seen much of it if I had relied solely on the underground and my to-do list from Janelle! Plus, the bus had a stop less than five minutes from my doorstep. Hello, convenience!

It's me on a bus! 

I toured the city for most of my time in London. I learned about the city and its rich history. I hopped off and wandered the streets on foot. I took silly pictures. I asked people to take photos for me. I did some people watching at the park. I generally just enjoyed a relaxing time in the city.

In the afternoon on my first full day in London, I met up with some lovely ASU alum that happened to be in London at the same time. We had all been teaching in Spain, but had never met. We chilled at the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, went to a few museums, visited Harrods, and had a great time. It was great to finally meet y'all, Addy and Jeremy!

I met Ana in Harrods!!

Me and Addie at the Victoria and Albert Musuem

You were waiting for this photo. Admit it.

Day two in London consisted of more sightseeing and a river tour of the city that eventually took me all the way to Greenwich. I wandered the streets of the city eventually finding my way to the park. It was open, lush, and overlooked the city. I could have sat on the hill for hours. I think I walked around like a lunatic with a huge smile on my face my entire time in Greenwich. Exploring such a lovely place with my own company was overwhelming in the best way.

Overlooking the city.

East and west!

I loved the park!

I stood in two hemispheres at once, bought a magnet, and headed back to London for dinner and a quiet evening with a book before going to sleep.

I made my way back to Madrid and baked brownies for my birthday for school.

This is as close to my name as I will ever find. I didn't even plan on buying a diet coke, but it was fate. Smart marketing, Coke. 

Thus ended my trip in London. My birthday at school the next day was wonderful! My students sang to me and gave me birthday hugs and kisses all day. I went out for lunch with some coworkers after school. Claudia and Alex lit candles without adult supervision to sing to me. Tuesday night was when I celebrated with friends by going out to eat and enjoying my fair share of tinto de verano. I'm so lucky to have celebrated my 23rd year.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


By the way, that's one of the few times you'll see me use excitement when saying that city name. I would hate to be confused as an FCB fan! ¡Hala Madrid! 

So… I’ve been behind on writing about my trips thus far.  Sorry about that. Packing up to move across the world takes a lot more time, energy, and emotions than one would initially think.

Anyways, I have had the great pleasure of going to Barcelona since we last talked of travel (okay,and London, Istanbul, Athens, and Milan… but I’ll get there!). Barcelona was somewhat of a last minute adventure. Five of us rented a car and took a road trip. Six fun hours later, we arrived to the famous coastal city. We stayed a little outside the city, but it was a great hostel. It was a short metro ride into town.

We got settled in went into town for food. Kelly previously lived in Barcelona, so she showed us her old stomping grounds. It was wonderful. I tried leche de pantera (panther’s milk: gin, triple sec, and cream). We went to a great pizza place, and we overall just enjoyed spending time as a group. Six hours of travel caught up to us and we headed back pretty early.

The next day, we went to see la Sagrada Familia: Gaudi's famous unfinished church. I had expected it to loom over me like the cathedral in Cologne. It didn't. The crazy mismatched architecture was a sight to behold. The line to enter wrapped around the entire building. We cut our losses and ventured around the town instead of waiting in line for hours on end. 

We tried so much good food that weekend. I don’t remember which night was which. I want to say this night was the night we did Chinese tapas. It was unexpectedly amazing. We also tried some local food: bombas: think fried potatoes mixed with meat in a small ball of awesome with a spicy sauce on top. Conclusion: strange texture, but a great taste! I ate artichoke hearts for the first time without being in a dip. We even had Lebanese food one night!

On our last full day, we ventured to the beach. Well, the girls did. We took a train up to Costa Brava and spent the day eating, drinking, taking pictures, and enjoying the beach (I put my feet in the freezing water, but that was enough). I then proceeded to fall asleep before putting sunscreen on my legs. The entire back side of my legs got the worst burn they’ve ever experienced. I could hardly sit down without wincing. The cool benches of the Barcelona metro became my best friends. The sunburn was bad enough that it made me feel sick. I hope to never make that mistake again. On a much funnier note: my legs are half tanned now!!

Costa Brava

Leaving Barcelona was another adventure. We stopped at Mont Serrat: a monastery that was built around the finding of a black Virgin Mary statue. The story is that it was found at the top of the mountain and it got heavier and heavier as they tried to bring it down. When they could finally move it no further, they left it there and built the monastery around it. The monks there now make specialty foods, beers, and sweets (and tasty ones at that!).

People come from all over to touch the golden orb and make a wish.

We got back to Madrid around midnight. I caught a cab home from Chamartin to Sanchinarro.

Oh! I also might have tried to climb a city monument. I'm not at liberty to confirm or deny this photographic evidence.

1. Barcelona is cool, but I'm still totally in love with Madrid.
2. Speaking of that, the RM game is in Dallas in two weeks!! HALA MADRID!
3. I sometimes hum the Spanish national anthem when I'm sad.
4. I'm getting my apartment set up nicely. More on that later.
5. I'm in AMERICA.
6. It genuinely worries me that I don't know when my next flight is.
7. Except that I'm totally going to Buffalo before September because it's on my calendar!
8. I have forgotten to eat dinner three times this week. I guess I'm still on Spanish schedule. Oops!
9. My classroom needs some serious work. Poor thing has been neglected for over six months.
10. I don't miss jamón yet. I definitely miss the cheap and abundant baguettes!
11. Walmart is incredibly overwhelming (more on that later as well!)

I'll continue to edit and post about May, June, and my move back to Arkansas over the coming weeks.Until next time, friends! Goodnight from NEA.

but you can call me Kirt ;)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dear Spain...

Recently, I was approached by a charity volunteer on my way out of Starbucks. I don't like ignoring people, so I usually start speaking to them in English. About 75% of the time, the unexpecting person simply smiles and says, "Oh English," before backing off. Unfortunately, it didn't work this time. We got to talking about what I'm doing here and if I'm staying for the next few years. Upon telling him that I'm going home, he said, "Why are you leaving us??"

Why am I leaving you? Well, Spain, I don't know how to put this lightly... but...

It's not you; it's me.  
I think we should see other people. 
I'm just not ready for a life-long commitment. 
You’re perfect in every way, just not for me. 
I need to focus on my career. 
I'm still in love with my ex. 
My dog doesn't like you, and I value her opinion. 
We can still be friends, right?

I'm not exactly breaking up with Spain... but dadgumit... it feels like it. Nearly every classic breakup line expresses how I feel about Spain right now. 

Not only do I feel like I'm breaking up with Spain, I'm also getting graduation goggles for Spain.

What are "graduation goggles," you ask?

Oh, my friend... I have so much to teach you.

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful show entitled "How I Met Your Mother." I'll allow you to fully enjoy the series on your own time and skip right to the moment in the episode to which I am referring:

It's the only clip I can find and I can't figure out how to embed the video here (I don't speak Japanese). 

At the end of my time in Madrid the jamón suddenly tastes better. The sky is bluer. Speaking Spanish all the time is wonderful. Not having a car is great because you can take more walks. The Metro is great because you don't have to drive. Your two hour lunch breaks seem like a wonderful way to spend time with your students or having a relaxing lunch. Questionable tapas taste better than ever. The double kiss is how you want to greet everyone. The crazy children seem endearing. The teacher who seemingly hates you suddenly doesn't seem so bad. The long distance from home is manageable.

Robin goes on to say not to trust graduation goggles. They're similar to beer goggles and bridesmaid goggles. I made my decisions with a lot of time and consideration. Although I can't imagine leaving this wonderful place, I also can't imagine not coming home to my wonderful friends and family back home.

Like any good breakup, there will be tears. There will be chocolate. There will be crazy nights with my friends. I'll feel like I lost a huge part of my life. But, slowly, those feelings will be replaced by nothing but good memories. The pain of the separation won't sting as much. Moving on will be bittersweet, but once I embrace it, I'll be reminded of why I chose this path.

1. I listened to breakup music while writing this entire post for inspiration. 
2. I really should have used that next to last breakup line in the introduction with a former boyfriend. Seriously, Maddie knows what's up. 
3. If you Google "new beginning quotes," you end up with a bunch of quotes that are very obviously about breakups.
4. I'm super excited about teaching Spanish next year!
5. I finally booked a place to stay in London.
6. I put a deposit on an apartment in Jonesboro this week.
7. I'm surrounded by authentic Spanish material, but I don't know what to take home with me to use in my classroom.
8. I need to Sykpe some of y'all back home to offset graduation goggles. Shoot me a message and let's have a Skype date, please!!!
9. Someone has dialed the wrong number and woken me up in the wee hours of the morning twice in the last week. I'll learn to sign out of Skype before going to sleep eventually.
10. No more two hour lunch breaks! Summer schedule begins on Monday! School gets out at 1:30 instead of 4:30 (no lunch break and one less class)
11. I only have one class left with my professional school students. They'll be allowed to talk to me in Spanish. It's going to be interesting.
12. I can't believe I'll be in the USA in a few weeks.
13. I need to take pictures with all my little students this week. We don't have pictures together.

I'm going to London to celebrate my birthday next weekend. I'm super excited! Diet Mtn Dew and English speakers! Bring it on!!!

Until next time, friends!

Love from Madrid, XOXO,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Semana Santa: ROMA! (Part Tres)

If you ever ask me about my time in Rome, I'll probably roll my eyes and let out an over dramatic sigh.

We had a rough start in Rome.

It all started at the Prestwick airport in Glasgow. That airport is tiny. The wifi doesn't work. You have three options and a convenience store for food. That's it. One of my least favorite airports ever.

Next thing you know, our flight was delayed. Hooray. 45 extra minutes in that place was just what I wanted! However, Ryanair is pretty good about scheduling extra time into their estimates so they can be on time 96% of the time (actual statistic). I didn't think much of it.

We boarded our plane without any problems. Then, right as everyone was getting ready for the doors to close, the flight attendant at the front of the plane says, "Ma'am, that is inappropriate behavior. I'm going to have to ask you to get off the plane." I've never seen a passenger get kicked off a plane before. Whatever she did must have been bad. The pilot came on the speakers to let us know that they had to take statements and do some paperwork before we could take off. Half an hour of paperwork, four police officers, and several statements later, we were ready for takeoff.

Well, we weren't getting to Rome on time. No big deal. We just wanted to go to sleep when we arrived anyways.

The flight was a long and bumpy one. When we arrived in Rome, we had to circle the airport for over an hour waiting to see if the weather would clear.

It didn't.

We were deferred to another airport. The pilot had no idea how we would be transported to the original airport (where our hostel was located). We simply got off the plane and aimlessly wandered around for an hour before someone said we should check the bus line for buses. No Ryanair official announced anything to anyone. We all just had to ask bus drivers and airport staff.

We finally found the bus that would take us to the correct airport, but when we arrived, there was even more chaos (and in the pouring rain!).

Happy Easter from the bus in rainy Rome!

Two flights were diverted. And those two planes were supposed to be taking passengers elsewhere from the original airport. So, there were four flights of people all at this tiny airport and all stranded with absolutely no information. In fact, Ryanair staff simply left the airport and said to check back in the morning. One girl told me that they had gotten to the boarding gate and then got on a bus (assuming it would take them to the new airport). Instead, it dropped them off at the entrance of the original airport without explaining that the flight was cancelled entirely. We explained what happened to us and they were shocked that no one had mentioned this to them. We wished them the best of luck getting home, and headed outside to try to get to our hostel. I ended up chatting with a Scottish family who asked if I knew anything. I told them about circling the airport and finally landing elsewhere. They said they were thankful that everyone on that plane was safe (such a sweet family). We then stood in the line to catch a cab.

But wait! There's more!! Taxis weren't showing up to the airport, and those that did insisted on charging extra for the "late time" and "large amount of people waiting." Totally illegal, by the way. The city has set fares from both airports.

We talked to a few locals and they helped us figure out how to get to our hostel (wait on a taxi and tell the driver that you know the city fares before he takes off). We shared a taxi with two Spaniards (who thought we were Spanish) since we were all going to the same place.

Scariest taxi ride ever. Worse than Morocco. The man was FLYING and was obviously infuriated that we wouldn't pay his extra fees. When we got out, he tried to charge us double for being two separate pairs. It's at that point that I got into a fight with a taxi driver.

Yep. That happened. Mr TaxiDriver started speaking rapid-fire Italian before realizing that I was speaking Spanish. Then, after measuring me up, he started speaking to me in slooooooooooow English like I was an idiot. He got a Southern scolding in Spanish and English at that point. Italians think they're passionate. They obviously haven't met an angry Southern woman in the pouring rain at one in the morning. That taxi driver was a complete jerk, bless his heart.

We got to our hostel quite easily after that. It was clean, nice, and the staff was friendly. Our heat didn't work at first, but they came in the middle of the night to fix it.

It was the deepest sleep ever.

I woke up looking like this. Ready to take on Rome. No rainy chaotic night can overcome me.
Judge away. This selfie completely fits my attitude from that morning!

We woke up later than we originally planned, but we were well rested. We grabbed a cappuccino (Italian coffee was amazing!!) and a croissant before taking the train into town.

From there, we wandered down the main streets until we got to the Roman ruins. The line wasn't bad at all. That park is HUGE. It doesn't look big from the entrance. Looks like it will take twenty minutes tops. No. We could have easily spent all day there. We spent a few hours meandering through the park and taking silly photos before heading to eat and go to the Colosseum.

Gelato! Yum!!!

The Colosseum. 

The thing that blew my mind about Rome is that everything I went to see was thousands of years old. And I could touch it. Sorry, my American is showing. We put up walls and glass around anything that's over 150 in my country. It was so mind blowing that I could sit on ruins in the Roman Forum and nobody batted an eye. I felt like this: 

Yeah... that reference just happened. Go with it.

From the Colosseum, we wandered around town for a while (getting lost for about an hour, which was my fault, sorry!). But we found quite a few well known places.

 After all that, we just wanted pasta and a warm bed. We stumbled on a place that looked promising. When we were seated, one of us had to basically crawl into the corner. I chose to accept that challenge. We made friends with the table next to us as a result!

Pretty good food. Great company.

It wasn't fun being tired with full stomachs and trying to find our way back home in the drizzly Roman night. However, when I saw this, I knew I was on my way home: 

For those of you who don't get it, I live close to Memphis, TN back home. I just tell people I'm from that area if they don't know where Arkansas is. Finding Memphis Hotel was basically finding home!

We eventually made it back to our hostel. We settled in and geared up for our flight the next morning. 

Lines were crazy at the airport at 5 AM. 


We made it on the plane and to Madrid without any problems. In fact, while we were getting off the plane, I spotted a Razorback symbol. It threw me off seeing it outside of my apartment. I immediately asked the guy wearing it if he was from Arkansas. I met my first random Arkansan while traveling!! From NEA at that! Small world. 

I committed to taking a photo in every airport when I use my passport. The no makeup and sleep deprivation left me no choice but to cover most of my face and add a filter. It's for your own good, really. 

So. Rome was chaos, but it was amazing! We got to see the Pope on huge screens in the city center. We had a million street vendors claim that they loved us in English (does that ever entice a woman to buy from you?!). We saw the main sights and had a blast on our last day of holiday.

I do need to give some fun facts about life and Semana Santa:


1. A scam artist in Paris grabbed my wrist. I hit him with my water bottle and cursed at him in Spanish. 
2. Grocery stores were hard to find in Paris. 
3. The people of the UK are the friendliest Europeans I've ever met. 
4. Dublin bars aren't typically open all night.
5. Jameson is no longer produced in Dublin.
6. Today is San Isidro in Madrid.
7. I'm going to be the new Spanish teacher at Harrisburg in the fall!
8. I bought my season tickets for Arkansas State football this week
9. I'm almost done with professional development for this school year.
10. There are only four weeks of school left before summer. 
11. I'm going to London, Istanbul, Athens, and Milan before coming home in about 40 days. 
12. I'm super indecisive.
13. I need to finish my PD before Saturday so I don't lose a burrito bet. 

Well, that's all I know for now. I need to post about Barcelona. But I can summarize it for you if you want a sneak peek: Friends, Food, Beaches, Burn, Ow, Food, Friends, Ouch Sunburn, Monserrat, Road Trip, SleepyKirt. 

Hope all is well with you. If you're reading this from Arkansas, I'll see you next month!


Monday, April 28, 2014

Semana Santa: Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow (Part 2)

I'm baaaaaaaaaack!

In the spirit of completing the deadlines I give myself, I'm here again to tell you about the second part of Semana Santa. Side note: I didn't make this deadline. Oops!

I think I left you in Paris (sorry about that... I hope you speak French).

Well, from Paris, we flew to Dublin.

That flight wasn't great. I usually like to make small talk with the person next to me. I need to exchange at least one kind word or witty remark with them. I mean, we're stuck in a plane together for a while. Might as well be pleasant, right? The woman next to me was having none of it. On the contrary, she insisted on jabbing her elbow into my side the entire ride. I fit perfectly in those seats. They are like a little cocoon of Kirt. Yeah, that happened (and I'm leaving it for your entertainment). Oh no... she had to take up her seat and half of mine with her stupid elbow. I eventually took over the arm rest and refused to let her put her elbow back into my seat. If she would have looked my way, she would have received a smug look of victory.

We made it to Dublin and ate lunch at the airport before catching our bus to the hostel. Did you know they have curly fries at McDonald's in Ireland?!?!

More importantly, the UK has Diet Coke. None of that "Coke Light" business. God bless the United Kingdom!!!

I might have hugged this machine. I'm really not at liberty to say.

This is the face of a happy Kirt. 

We made it to our hostel (which was a terrible place to stay, but with the free airport bus, the place paid for itself), and got ready for a walking tour of Dublin.

New Europe tours are great! Our guide was great. Shout out to Sean in Dublin! I really love walking tours here in Europe. Take them every chance you get. 

Afterwards, we found the Molly Malone statue. I learned the song when I was in third grade choir. It has stuck with me in the years since then (I have no idea who my music teacher was, but thanks for teaching me that song!). 

I tried to get a selfie where our faces were together. Turns out, I'm really short and couldn't get next to her face. Ah, well...

I felt like it was obligatory to try Jameson while in Dublin (since I don't care for beer [Guinness]). It was pretty good, I suppose. 

We went to bed very reluctantly that night (questionable hostel). 

The next day, we toured St Patrick's cathedral. We also stopped by the Guinness factory (which is actually quite a walk). It was interesting to see. We didn't tour it. 

Stained glass in the back of the cathedral. The entire thing has very rich history. It kind of felt like the entirety of Ireland wanted to memorialize their loved ones here.

We then picked up our luggage to fly to Edinburgh (pronounced "Edinburra" by locals). 

Our hostel there lived up to its name "KickAss Hostels." It was new, modern, super clean, and the wifi was great! We briefly talked with the girls in our room before going to sleep.

When we woke up, there was only one other person asleep. The girls from the night before were already gone. So, we quietly started to get ready for the day. Right as I went to unzip my suitcase, a voice from the bunk above said, "No way!!!!" I looked up to see Diana! We knew that we were in the same city. But not the same hostel, and definitely not in the same room. 

When the shock wore off, we decided to go for a walking tour. We met with the Spanish tour group first, so we decided to join them. The guide was convinced that we were guiris that just thought we spoke Spanish (seriously, I had to keep convincing him that I understood him perfectly, like a constant Spanish test [I almost offered to show him my teaching license that says I'm a Spanish teacher]). The tour was somewhat lackluster, so we bailed halfway through to go eat lunch.

We went for lunch at a place called Oink. They do one thing, and they do it well: pulled pork sandwiches.

Being from the Southern USA, this piqued my interest. I have high expectations of pulled pork. They were met. It was amazing!!!

After lunch, we decided to hike Arthur's Seat. 

We were hopeful at first. 

The going got rough.

My hair was escaping the pony tail. I finally decided to embrace it. Diana got this shot and said, "You're going to love this!"
And I really do. 

We eventually made our way back down. We found a lake filled with these giant swans. Seriously. These things were huge. I was nearly accepted as an honorary swan, but we decided finding our way back to town was more important than my initiation. Next time, swans!

SCOTLAND HAS DIET MTN DEW!!!! Excuse the crazy eyes ;)

We went back and cooked dinner. Then, we decided to get a few drinks with our new roommates (special hello to Ana, Ludmila, and Max: the best new roommates I've ever had!). There was a ping pong table, so I decided to teach everyone how to play Jungle Pong. Yes. That happened. I also slipped in someone's spilled beer and landed hard on my knee. The bruise just now faded (this is nearly two [okay three] weeks later!!).

We ended up playing Jenga until about 12:30. At that point, Diana wanted to go out for "just 30 minutes" to hang out and chat with Max and Jamie. The group consisted of two American girls, one Scottish/Spanish guy, and a Swedish guy. We all had very different ideas of personal space. The awkward dance between the four of us in a booth was utterly amusing. However, it was great company. We ended up staying out until three thirty in the morning (which is way past my bedtime, but well worth it).

The next day, Aliyya and I packed up, took a few photos, ate at Oink! again, and set off for Glasgow.

Can we talk about how much I enjoy the trains in Scotland? Yes.

The train was wonderful. It was a high speed train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. The train only cost ten pounds. It was an hour long trip. The train was clean, comfortable, had free wifi, and reasonably priced snacks. And we haven't even mentioned how stunning the Scottish countryside was. Seriously.

Best train experience ever!

Getting to Glasgow was super easy. I wouldn't recommend our hostel to anyone. I've decided that any hostel is survivable if you compare it to summer camp! Seriously, though. Yikes.

We walked around part of Glasgow to see the city. There wasn't much to it, to be honest. I wish we had more time to give it a better chance, but a day and a half didn't impress me much.
We kept joking that someone must put an "i" in "To Let" signs as a prank. We found this a few days later!

We went to Kelvingrove park the next morning. The park was lovely and had a great museum! It was full of the town's history and tons of information about the UK. It was my favorite part of Glasgow (besides the crazy amount of Diet Mtn Dew I consumed).

This was too funny not to take a photo. This place exists in real life... 

After our adventure to the park and museum, we gathered our things to head to Rome. Which was one of the most interesting journeys I've ever endured. I look forward to telling you all about it!


PS I feel like I've rushed through this post. I have so much that I want to add. However, that would be an insanely long post. Sorry xoxo