Going Solo, Aberystwyth

(Don’t forget to check out my website – Velvetspice.me !!)

There’s a strange sort of freedom to travelling by yourself

Don’t get me wrong, having a companion with you has its benefits. Besides from having a partner in crime for your adventures, it’s always fun to have someone share in your experiences

But for some reason I didn’t care about any of this on my trip to Wales.

I was completely content with my own company

And beside, I couldn’t possibly get bored when all the toilet breaks were mine and there was no argument over where to have lunch

And I got to experience the curious challenge of taking meaningful photos of myself with just the timer on my camera…

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In all seriousness though, I recommend travelling alone as a must for any willing traveller

It offers some truly unique experiences and can completely change your trip… in ways I hadn’t even imagined.

With no one to talk to you can appreciate more

Aberystwyth has a great deal to appreciate. The pier seemed like a good start, considering I was staying with my sister who lives about 2 minutes’ walk from the sea

And at 9am, with no tourists around and the locals at work, walking along the beach was probably one of my highlights of the trip.

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Just beyond the beach lay a grassy mountain, sloped at one side and a cliff at the other.

As I drew closer I spotted a sign with ‘DANGER’ printed on it. ‘UNSTABLE CLIFF,’ it read

And so of course..

…I climbed it

So while I definitely insist you all try travelling by yourselves – I do NOT condone this erratic and arguably idiotic behaviour.

If at any point during a trip you have even a single doubt about your safety and, more importantly, sanity – ABORT. I REPEAT, ABORT

That being said, I did get some spectacular views

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Although this hill was so fun to climb and held breathtaking views… it was also the strangest hill I’ve ever encountered

Located at the edge of the countryside, after either a long(ish) walk or ridiculously dangerous cliff-climb, the top of the hill is home to..

…a bowling alley..

…and a camera obscura..

…and a bouncy castle

It was honestly the most confused I have been in my life.

And all around me, happy families looking at this sweating girl who just clambered over the cliff from seemingly no where

Whatever the case, a great spot for a coffee and rest.

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After a pleasant descent (down the sloping path, I’m happy to say) past a number of wild berries and the tram which travels up and down the hill each day, I found the seafront to be a bit busier.

And I was a lot hungrier.

However, I wanted to make the most out of my single day in Aber, so I decided to wait for lunch and instead have a coffee.

Coffee #1 is a cafe chain across Wales and South-East England – as a Scot, I had never visited before

To describe it in one sentence; the homeliness of Tinderbox with more variation than most contemporary cafes.

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Back at the pier afterward, and it’s busier still

Instead of walking by the water, I’m off the beach and heading along the wall. At the other end of the bay lies a ruined castle, offset by a tall war memorial statue.

The view from here is different, but equally nice.

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The castle looks out toward the sea again, but to the south you can see the land mass curl back in on itself as it connects to another bay.

The castle has been reduced to a lone tower, a collection of broken stone and a small segment where you can almost make out something resembling a room.

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On my walk back to the town center I took a walk through the buildings, passing the children’s park, the university, a number of restaurants and hotels until I found myself back where I started.

By this point, I was ridiculously hungry, but looking around all I saw where some pretty pricey restaurants

#treatyoself

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Oysters with lemon and Tabasco..

Oh yes please..

After an ice-cream on the beach (who knew pistachio with summer berry tasted exactly like a Bakewell tart?) I went in search of more adventure

And after a brief fallout with Google Maps which took me up a giant hill and into someone’s garden… I finally made it to the National Park

Access to the golf course, a distant view of the sea, a surprisingly dense forest; who’d have thought you can find all of this in one small town

Aberystwyth is basically a Tardis

I met my sister after work and we sat by the ocean together for a while. The waves were coming in much faster now23998481_1752761234796023_1251085386_o (1)

And after all of that, I wanting nothing more than to go relax

Until next time, Wales.

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Malta

Smooth waves, sunny skies and soft scoop…

Having never been to Malta before, I had no expectations whatsoever about the country prior to my visit. During my time there, I found the island to be historically rich, with a culture heavily influenced by various countries which had occupied Malta at some time or another. I also had an amazing time sampling the food…

While visiting Mdina, an ancient city dating back to the 8th century, I experienced a few new foods. One such food that stood out was Ftira, traditional Maltese bread. My Ftira 18452249_1518468864891929_1246488470_o (1).jpgwas served sandwich style with chicken, salad and herb sauce. Interestingly, the McDonalds in Malta also served Ftira… however I would still recommend Mdina’s version.

We also sampled a variety of meats. While in Bugiba, I tried different cold meats and hot meats, but the shining star was the portion of ribs with sticky sauce. You see, I have had my fair share of ribs in my time, but none quite like these. The meat on the bone – endless. The sticky sauce – delicious. and the combination of the two made these the best ribs I have ever had. What I would give to have those ribs again…

The last thing I would mention is the ice cream. Now of course, like many warm countries, the ice cream was in great supply. But as an intense ice cream lover, excluding them from this 18450039_1518468834891932_1512580749_n.jpgarticle would be scandalous. There was ice cream everywhere in Malta. Specifically, there was always pistachio ice cream in Malta. Which meant I was always happy in Malta. The best ice cream shop I found there was in Gozo, the island north of Malta. There was a tiny ice cream shop there which a waiter had recommended for me. The ice cream was oh. so. creamy. The creamiest ice cream I have ever had. Lacking slightly in flavour but oh the creamy-ness. Amazing.

I feel bad for not mentioning any shellfish or fish-related food in this segment. But my stomach was slightly off during the trip, and my one regret is not feeling secure enough to try any. I will say that there was A LOT of fishing going on. And there was fresh fish being sold EVERYWHERE. If I ever get the opportunity to return, I would jump on those oysters in a flash…18451820_1518468828225266_2044415605_o

Malta is an amazing island and I fully endorse any thoughts you may have on travelling there. The entire island is overflowing with beauty, from its history to culture to food.

Velvet Spice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ireland

Fantastic food and where to find it…

Even though Ireland is a hop skip and a jump away from Glasgow, I had never actually visited before. It had always been a dream of mine (after a passionate school project on the Giant’s Causeway) and last week I finally got the 18426886_1517642558307893_1499092231_o.jpgopportunity.

My apartment was in Dublin city centre, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t travel. I was able to see Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway, Howth and various Game of Thrones sites (amazing) in addition to Dublin. And the food…oh the food…

The first restaurant of note  was Sophie’s. Near the city centre, this restaurant was a bit pricey but ultimately fantastic. The restaurant is high up with seating available indoors and outdoors, with heating. The view from the top is great, the food even better. We shared a pulled chicken, red onion, gorgonzola and porcini mushroom pizza, with roast veg and parmesan chips… coupled with the active yet dignified atmosphere, the restaurant was amazing. 18451820_1517643368307812_142959669_o.jpgEspecially at night when the city is lit up and the energy in the restaurant reaches its peak. I highly recommend this to any traveller willing to pay extra for more.

Furthermore, there were little surprises I found along the way, such as the Eatyard in the Rathmines area. While wandering the city we came across this market. Comprised of various stalls, the Eatyard sold a number of different  goods. Plants, food, your general flea market. I eventually settled for a cone of fried chicken with lemon mayo, grated lime and linseeds… pretty damn amazing.

Howth had some amazing fish on offer. To be completely honest, we spent a full hour ignoring the sea and instead focussing on the fresh fish available at the many many fishmongers. After a chilling walk along the coast, we found a cosy place to eat 18379312_1514568318615317_1988187048_ocalled The Bloody Stream. They used fresh, local fish in their meals. I chose a prawn and parmesan linguine while my friend opted for a fish platter. Her prawns were slightly disappointing, but aside from that the meal was a success. Howth: recommend, recommend, recommend.

Our last day included a trip to a confusing pancake store. While they had a variety of toppings on offer, it wasn’t entirely made sure which toppings we could have, especially since our waiter pretty much chose for us. The pancakes also turned out to be high protein, which you could tell once the food settled in your stomach and then STAYED THERE. However, we learned about ‘Cleantella,’ a healthy form of Nutella, which sparked some interest an potential experimentation…

Our last meal embodied the phrase ‘best til last.’ After visiting the Guinness Factory, we ate at the restaurant on the top level. This was the cherry atop a perfect trip. We shared sticky Guinness wings, oysters and mushroom crostinis. All of it was outstanding, to the 18426902_1517642541641228_1868824831_o.jpgpoint that we were completely stuffed and still eating. Incredible food with an equally incredible view of the city: since the restaurant was on the factory’s top level, and our seat was right beside the window, the entire city was visible.

I definitely recommend a trip to Ireland. Besides the outstanding food and whiskeys that could even rival that of Scotland, the people here were great. Incredibly helpful and pleasant, they really made our trip.

There were, of course, other places we visited but these were the highlights. You can find the review of Queen of Tarts in my ‘Review’ section. It was too good to mention briefly.

If you are a lover of good food, good sights and good people, I recommend Ireland 100%… Just remember your jacket.

 

 

Velvet Spice