Outlander-ing Our Way Through Scotland

Hello Dear Readers!

After our initial snafu with the flight situation, Joni, Brit, and I all arrived safely to Scotland. Since all our original plans were a bust (luckily most everything was refundable), we decided to make new, better plans.

And what better than going and visiting all the Outlander sites we missed the first time around?

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Brit trying to go through the standing stones
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The anatomy hall where Claire and Joe Abernathy meet.
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Jamie’s print shop in Edinburgh! (Seriously how did I miss this when I lived here?)
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The set of the governor’s mansion in Jamaica. (Backstory, we were super not allowed in here so Joni and I played dumb and wandered in as if we were lost and confused. I don’t think the receptionist fell for it.)

And although essentially all of our plans were canceled as a result of the flight changes, we still reaaally wanted to go on the private Outlander tour we had booked up in Inverness. So it was that we got up before the crack of dawn to board the three hour train to Inverness:

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Help me I need sleep.

And spent the day wandering around the highlands going to visit different Outlander things. This tour was actually pretty cool, as we didn’t go just to filming locations- we also saw actual clan Fraser lands and real Scottish history.

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Clan Fraser’s current lands
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Culloden, the home of the last Jacobite uprising.
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I can’t actually remember what this is…all I can recall is that the Lord of the castle still lives there and is hostile to visitors, so we skedaddled as soon as he came outside.
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Something else from Outlander! Maybe Joni can help me out with what it is.
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I told Joni we needed to look solemn, as we were standing at a gravesite.

We boarded the train late back home to Edinburgh, exhausted but totally happy. Next stop? London, baby!

-Carissa “I’m the Solemnest” Rawson

Flight Cancellation, Meet Flight Compensation

Hello Dear Readers!

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Carissa-town. Joni and I just got back from a week long trip to the UK, I renewed my annual pass to Disneyland, and- oh yeah- I worked at my job.

As always, my life is hectic to the point of chaos, but I’m used to it. Comfortable with it, even. I find peace on long-haul flights with nothing to do but watch movies and blog. It’s my safe zone.

But you know what isn’t my safe zone? Airports. More specifically, the Los Angeles airport. Have any of you ever flown through there? The place is a nightmare, a sprawling mess of dysfunctional security lines and angry customers, sprinkled all over with the dust of its constant construction.

So it was that Joni and I left five hours early for our flight to the UK, laden with luggage and bleary eyed, ready to spend three hours in LA traffic.

To our immense surprise, the drive took only a little over two hours, and we arrived with plenty of time to spare. In fact, we boarded our plane on time (me in peasant class, Joni flying fancy up front) and took off right as we were meant to.

Shortly thereafter, however, the pilot landed again, citing a “small engine issue.” An hour later, they had us deplane and bussed us back to the terminal, telling us to come back in two hours to board again.

At this point, we already knew we’d miss our connection in Amsterdam, so both of us were on the phone with KLM, who insisted that the plane had taken off as scheduled. You know, despite the fact that we were on the phone, talking, from a terminal in Los Angeles. The call ended with them doing a virtual shrug and advising us to call back later.

Ok, sure. So instead we headed back to our deplaning area, where a few harried gate agents were still typing furiously at their computers.

Why were they typing furiously? Well, it turns out that our entire flight was canceled, and rather than updating the system, they were instead rebooking every single person on the flight right then.

So it was that we were booked on a flight- not to Inverness- which was our original city, but to Edinburgh. And Joni? She was bumped from business to the back with Brit and I.

Ah well, at least we were going to make it? *foreshadowing intensifies*

By the time we made it out to the British Airways check in desk, which was our new airline, the entire airport was jammed full of angry re-accommodated passengers, all jostling each other for elbow room. Not to be deterred, Joni and I entered the special assistance line, which we were quickly dragged out of as British Airways informed me they ‘don’t accept dogs.’

Long story short, I ended up in a massive argument with the British Airways people, we nearly canceled our trip, and at the end of it all I ended up on an Air France flight connecting via Paris in premium economy, and Joni routed through London Heathrow on British Airways in sad regular economy. (Ok, she did purchase an upgrade to economy plus).

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I guess this is roomier?

We met up in Edinburgh, our entire trip in disarray and zero plans left with what to do.

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At least it’s still Scotland!

Frazzling? Yes.

Annoying? Also yes.

But the redeeming factor? Since we were flying to the EU, our canceled flight fell under European flight delay jurisdiction, which meant that they owed Joni and I $682 each.

Considering I paid under $400 for my round-trip flight, how mad can I be?

-Carissa “Thanks for Paying Me to Fly!” Rawson

A Thousand Photos

Hello Dear Readers!

Before I get deep into my Vietnam posts, I wanted to show you guys all these extra photos that I have. They span from the month or so after Cairo and before Hong Kong, during which I spent two weeks in Edinburgh and two weeks in California visiting family.

Enjoy!

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When I got back to Edinburgh I tried to do all the things I hadn’t yet done.
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These are from my visit to the cat cafe.
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Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
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Celebrating post-exams at the Dome (and Eleana’s birthday!)

 

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Shahnaz’s birthday at the Edinburgh Craft Beer Festival
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Took the first train out of Waverly Station. Ended up at Sir Walter Scott’s house in Tweedbank
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Business class back home to California, for which I squatted overnight in an airport like a hobo.
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The Hotel Del Coronado!

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My little sister, Jill, whose baby Charlie is almost due!
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One of my best friends, Monica, came to visit. I will literally never live this karate photo down.

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-Carissa “Help Me I Have a Travel Addiction” Rawson

The Scotland Diaries: Part 2

Hello Dear Readers!

Joni and I squeezed a ton of activities into her visit. My last post focused on Edinburgh and the things we did while there (we did approximately all the things). However, we also spent two days on a tour of the Highlands, which are absolutely stunning, and an entire day on an Outlander tour.

Now, I think it’s difficult to overstate how much we love Outlander.

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We love it this much

It’s a lot.

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Our guide took us to a bunch of random, gorgeous places. She was so cool all I want is to be her friend.

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At the Three Sisters in Glencoe

Standing stones! (No, she wasn’t sucked in)

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-Carissa

The Scotland Diaries: Part 1

Hello Dear Readers!

To say I’ve been overwhelmed here in Cairo is…an understatement. The amount of coursework we’re doing is *intensive*, to put it lightly. So I haven’t had much time to write.

But! I do have tons of photos from Joni’s (of Italy fame) visit to Scotland in the beginning of March. (I know, I’m way behind the times). I hope you guys enjoy!

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Joni tried (and liked!) haggis

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We visited Edinburgh Castle, Calton Hill, and my school

 We did it up proper with a whisky tasting

I even took her to poutine, which as a Canadian should be her favorite dish. (If my sources are correct)

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Last but not least, we enjoyed a very fancy afternoon tea at the Dome, which was exactly as posh as it sounds.

Tomorrow, more photos!

 

-Carissa

I’m Back!

Hello Dear Readers!

This has been my longest break yet- and for good reason. I’ve got a ton of things going on in my life right now, but even more than that- I’ve taken up freelance writing.

This blog has fulfilled a long time ambition of being a writer, and it’s been an incredible blessing chronicling my journeys for you all, but let’s be real, it doesn’t pay all that much. So! I’ve snagged a few other jobs writing articles, which has definitely taken up a lot of my time. I’ve also been insanely overwhelmed with schoolwork and an impending move to Egypt. (What!)

But I’m still here. I’m still traveling, making memories, having stories to share.

So I’ll be better about posting, and thanks to all you guys who’ve been here with me 🙂

I’ll see you all soon.

-Carissa “Help Me I’m Stressed” Rawson

Chrissy Wuz Here!

Hello Dear Readers!

Continuing in the same vein as yesterday, boatloads of photos with friends! This time, Chrissy (of Mexico fame) came to see me, and I showed her all around Edinburgh:

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Afternoon tea at The Balmoral, where J.K. Rowling finished the 7th Harry Potter book
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Drinks at the Dome, because obviously

Before we headed down to London, going to see…Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

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It was excellent, as you would expect. Katie and Shuaib flew down from Edinburgh for the weekend as well, and we all had a blast at the show.

Of course, we went and saw all the good touristy bits too:

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Me, immediately after getting to Big Ben and realizing it’s closed until, like, 2019.

Chrissy and I then went to see an interactive version of The Great Gatsby, in which she was hit on by one of the main characters (Tom Buchanan, the sly dog) and I chased after her in heels to save her virtue. I’m such a good friend.

We also got to stand in as background scenery simply because we were so good looking. True story.

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Hot enough to be props!

I love getting to see all these people that I care about, because while travel is amazing and fun, it’s the people you love who make all the difference.

Until next time.

-Carissa “Am I Popular Yet?” Rawson

Scotland: Friends Friends Friends

Hello Dear Readers!

Now, it may come as a surprise to you all (and most definitely to me), but I’ve actually managed to acquire quite a few friends, despite the fact that I’m bouncing all over. It must be all my witty charm. Or my lounge access. (I’m looking at you, Shuaib). In either case, I spend a lot of time being social and hanging out with some really great people.

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“Great people”

As I mentioned before, my friend Katie came all the way up from Brighton in late to November to visit for the weekend. We had an excellent time, and you all will be pleased to know that I’ve acquired a membership the the Historic Scottish Monument society, simply because I’ve visited the castle approximately 1,000 times since arriving.

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I feel like this is an accurate representation of our friendship: Shuaib front and center, and the rest of us squeezing in where possible.

We also spent a ton of time at Camera Obscura, taking a boatload of photos and being silly.

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And obviously, we went to the Christmas markets, because duh it’s Edinburgh, they’re great!

– Carissa “No But How Many Photos of Myself Can I Fit In Here?” Rawson

Edinburgh- Dinner at the Dome

Hello Dear Readers!

I truly thought that when I moved to Scotland I’d settle down. Y’know, sit a bit, rest on my laurels, establish a home and a space. And while I have got a flat (and Nala!), I’ve found that far from sitting around, Edinburgh has actually made an excellent base from which to travel.

Of course, it helps that I’ve had quite a few visitors. In fact, just last week, PJ (my older brother, of Dubai fame), came to visit. He was around for about ten days, and while I wasn’t able to skip class to hang out with him, (you know, all 10 hours a week), I did manage to show him a few cool things while he was here.

And then, y’know, we went to Sweden.

What?! It was like $50 to fly there. Obviously I was going to do it. We spent some really cool days in Stockholm, where, as you’d likely expect, it was approximately -1000 degrees.

But before that we had this awesome dinner at a place in Edinburgh called the Dome.

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It’s absolutely  gorgeous inside

Tip of the hat to Shuaib here, who took his cousin and whose photos were so enviable I went the next day.

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Shamelessly stolen without Shuaib’s consent

PJ and I now both have a new favorite drink: the French Martini, which tastes like joy and deliciousness and is deceptively dangerous.

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We experienced quite a few of these at our fancy-ass dinner, which was the best I’ve had since moving to this city.

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Go there!

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-Carissa “ohmygoditsnearlychristmas” Rawson

My New Life- Stories From Home

Hello Dear Readers!

As you all know by now, I’ve spent the last few months assuming my new life as a full-time student of Arabic at the University of Edinburgh. If you missed that post– congrats! You’re now in the loop.

That doesn’t mean I’ve stopped traveling though. Aside from making my way all around Scotland and England, I’ve also hit up a few different (mystery!) countries, which I’ll talk about in my upcoming posts. Until then, enjoy these photos from Scotland, my most favorite place in the world:

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My grandparents came to visit mere days after I moved in. We had a blast being tourists together!
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My apartment as seen from the ramparts of Edinburgh Castle. Yes, I am that close. 

 

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Me, immediately after arriving and realizing I’m wholly unsuited for Scotland’s weather. Where’s the sun?
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Photos from my weekend at Dalhousie Castle, where I drank copious amounts of champagne and practiced falconry. 
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I journeyed to the highlands to feed a “hairy coo” and even found Nessie!
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Reunited and it feels so good! 

– Carissa “Can I Live Here Forever?” Rawson