A Postcard from LA

It’s been one month since we arrived back in Glasgow from our US road trip and I’m honestly still processing a lot of it! I can’t believe the distance we covered (about 4,000 miles – not including flights!), the things we seen (seven beautiful states!) and the places we visited. Mountains, deserts, towns, forests and cities – you name it, we probably went there!

We started our journey in California and, after a few days in Anaheim, spent four nights in LA. It was our first time visiting this awesome city and I really wanted to share a few highlights with you guys.

Here’s a postcard from LA…

Shopping

LA is ridiculously good for shopping and the mix of stores is perfect! We loved the indie streetwear, vintage treasure and high-end designer stores on Melrose, alongside specialist stores like Drake’s OVO and the adorable Pigmy Hippo Shoppe just a short walk away.

We stayed near The Grove which is a really nice outdoor shopping mall, filled with all the usual retailers like Sephora and Zara plus a really great farmer’s market. I had to be super strict with myself in LA, otherwise I’d have needed an extra suitcase!

Food

You’ll never be stuck for a bite to eat in LA and we noticed that tacos were the most popular dish (though we couldn’t get near the Mexican bars on Cinco de Mayo – too busy!). One of my favourite places we grabbed breakfast was Eggslut… so much so that I’ve been trying to recreate the sandwich I had ever since!

We also adored Cake Monkey, which came highly recommended by some of you over on Instagram. Amazing cakes and delicious coffee – it’s probably for the best that we discovered it on our last day in the city…

Sightseeing

In just a few days, we managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. It was fun to tick the Hollywood Walk of Fame off of our list but, if you go, be prepared for it to be extremely crowded! Seeing the hand and foot prints outside of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre was like taking in a little bit of cinematic history and we also couldn’t resist going on a studio tour while we were in Tinsel Town – we chose the Warner Brothers tour and loved every minute!

The Griffith Observatory at the top of the Hollywood Hills has stunning views and is well worth the hike/Uber ride up there – especially on a clear day.

We also hit a couple of beaches for some laid-back, California vibes. Venice Beach was iconic and exactly how it looks in the movies and Santa Monica was perfect for people watching (and posing!).

Staying

While in LA, we stayed in Fairfax at The Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. I’m not going to mention too much about the hotel itself (there’s a separate review post in the works!), but the area itself was very well-located for shopping and food. Plus, you could see the Hollywood sign as soon as you stepped out of the door!

I think the best thing we found about spending time in LA is that you can really make it any kind of trip you want. If you want to take it easy, there are plenty of nice places and beaches to hang out at or, if you’d rather to be a tourist, there are plenty of activities to fill your day with too.

We left the city with lots of great memories but still hungry for a little bit more. I have a feeling we will be back in this babe of a town someday… watch this space! In the meantime, for more photos from our road trip, hop over to my Instagram and take a peek.

Have you ever visited LA? What are your favourite things to do in la la land?

Put Your Wallet Away: Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

It always makes me happy when far-flung friends, friends of friends and ‘internet friends’ decide to visit Glasgow and see for themselves the city that I’m always talking up so much.

Of course, I can never resist sharing a few ideas on how to spend an hour, a day or even a long weekend and, before I know it, I’ve emailed a list as long as my arm! But, more recently, I’ve been asked for budget-friendly activities from people looking to get a taste of Glasgow for little to no expense at all.

Never one to turn down a challenge, it got me thinking about how much there is to see and do here. I wondered if I could come up with a list of completely free things to do in Glasgow, so that no matter what your budget, and whether you’re local or a visitor, you’re guaranteed to have fun!

So, put your wallet away – this one’s on me…

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Tour some street art. This city is bursting with talented local artists and you can find their work brightening up quiet corners, vacant buildings and some of Glasgow’s most historic streets with splashes of colour, humour and heart. You can discover them for yourself while out and about or hit the mural trail and catch ’em all, Pokemon-style! See the full trail and map guide here.

Live that park life. A Blur reference? REALLY? Oh, just go with it! As well as there being a ton of city streets to stomp around, Glasgow is also home to some beautiful green spaces and parks that you just have to see. A summer afternoon at Kelvingrove Park is hard to beat, though a Saturday morning seeing the ducks quacking around Queen’s Park is a contender. Picturesque, sprawling and free of charge, what more do you need?

Take in some views. Speaking of Queen’s Park, you can stroll / be pushed up the hill towards the viewing platform, which gives some amazing views of the Southside, the Clyde Valley and The Trossachs. Meanwhile, in the city centre, pop into the Lighthouse on Mitchell Lane and use the lift to zip up to the 6th floor to get another impressive view of the city.

Free Things To Do in Glasgow

Get totally tropical. Glasgow’s Botanic Gardens turn 200 years old this year (!) and are still home to a stunning collection of tropical plants at the Kibble Palace and glasshouses. There’s nothing like being able to take a stroll under some palm trees while it’s 2 degrees and raining outside! Only in Glasgow…

Go behind the scenes in an iconic building. Overlooking George Square you’ll find the City Chambers, an imposing building which holds an important place in Glasgow’s history. It’s also home to such grandeur as the largest marble staircase in Western Europe, a Banqueting Hall and stunning vaulted ceilings. But don’t take my word for it – the City Chambers run free tours of the building twice daily from Monday-Friday!

Soak up some art and culture, dah-ling. We are extremely lucky in Glasgow as a lot of opportunities to check out museum and art exhibitions are accessible to everyone. As well as having festivals to celebrate art and culture, entry to our most popular art galleries and museums is free of charge (though donations are gratefully received!). Gallery of Modern Art, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and Riverside Museum are all excellent places to start.

Free things to do in glasgow

Say hello to the coos. As well as attracting visitors to its woodland walks and the world famous Burrell Collection, the award-winning Pollok Country Park is also home to a rather special (and rather cute!) herd of Highland cattle. Huge, hairy and owners of the sassiest fringes on 4 legs, is it any wonder they have so many admirers?

See Glasgow’s story. The People’s Palace, located at Glasgow Green, is THE place to visit if you’re looking to get a close-up look at life in Glasgow through the ages. Using its collection of historical artefacts and a variety of mediums, the People’s Palace shares an insight into the city and its many residents from 1750 to the end of the 20th Century.

There are many other free activities and attractions in Glasgow, but these are (in my opinion!) some of the best ones to get a real flavour of what this vibrant and exciting city is all about without spending a single penny. If you’re joining us for the first time, you might just fall a little bit in love with this place, and if you’ve lived here forever, maybe you’ll discover something new about your neighbourhood.

I hope this little round-up of free things to do in Glasgow inspires you to get out and about, and let me know what you get up to if you decide to do any of them!

Love,

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A Day in Edinburgh: The Great City Swap

The Great City Swap

Over the last year, I’ve visited Edinburgh quite a few times. From staying at friends’ houses, to attending events and most recently spending the afternoon at the LUSH Spa; one thing is guaranteed: I will ALWAYS have a good time.

A few days ago, I was invited to spend a fun-filled day in the capital as part of The Great City Swap by ScotRail and experience one or two new things while I was at it.

The Great City Swap

Encouraging the people of Glasgow and Edinburgh to literally swap cities for the day, The Great City Swap is all about sharing must-do activities, hidden gems and celebrating what makes these two destinations awesome!

Before I hopped on the train, I made a plan for my day out using another new feature from ScotRail…The Swapatron! This name immediately conjured up Futurama-esque robots in my mind, but what it actually involves is a bank of knowledge and insider tips from the people who know the cities best – their own residents!

The Great City Swap

Yup, within the 200 (and counting!) suggestions for a grand day out in Glasgow and Edinburgh you’ll find unique attractions, shopping , foodie recommendations and much more. You just enter the kinds of things you’re interested in and the Swapatron does the searching and sifting for you. Easy!

As a firm believer in supporting local businesses, I was over the moon when the app brought up several suggestions based on independent boutiques and cafes! My personalised itinerary also included a trip to Dynamic Earth, which I’d never heard of before but liked the sound of.

The Great City Swap

With my plan in hand (literally – seeing as it was emailed straight to my phone!) all that was left to do was sit on the train for the 50 minute journey to Waverley Station.

The Great City Swap

First up: lunch! I’m no stranger to the award-winning Hula juice bar, but I hadn’t been back to visit since the cafe had been redecorated by none other than the fabulous Karen Mabon. I was excited to revisit them and fuel up for the day ahead!

I had the avocado on sourdough toast and had to order one of their famous juices (I tried the Whirling Dervish – it was delicious!). So far the Swapatron got things spot on!

The Great City SwapNext, I headed for a walk through the quirky and colourful shops of the Grassmarket area and on towards Dynamic Earth – which you couldn’t possibly miss on Holyrood Gait because it is HUGE! Before stepping inside I was already impressed by how cool it looked, it was obvious why it is currently rated as the top visitor attraction in Edinburgh.

The enthusiasm of the team was infectious, “are you ready for some science?!” one whooped at me when I arrived, with the same manner you might expect from someone warming up the crowd for Beyonce. Yes, yes I was!

The Great City Swap

Over the next few hours I experienced walk-through simulations of The Big Bang, active volcanoes, icy tundras, tropical rainforests and much more. Oh, and watch out for raptors! Clever girl.

I really enjoyed it and if it hadn’t been for The Great City Swap, I might have never have thought to spend a day there. I didn’t do every single thing, but since Dynamic Earth hold special events from time to time I am sure I’ll find a good excuse to go back one day.

The Great City Swap

Thanks to another walk (this time back towards town), I got to appreciate all of the vintage touches dotted over Edinburgh. From original buildings, to old street signs and even a fully restored red double decker bus, the city seemed to ooze retro charm around every corner!

I finished my day cosied up at Hendersons for a vegan dinner and a slice of home-made pumpkin pie. It felt like the perfect finish to the perfect day out and, as I headed back to the station with the sun dipping down and the castle sitting looking all majestic in the distance, I was already wondering what I would get up to on my next visit.

The Great City Swap

The Great City Swap

The Great City Swap

What I wore…

Dress: River Island at Intu Braehead 

Jacket: Topshop

Bag: Marc b

Boots: Dr Martens

Sunnies: H&M 

If you fancy planning a trip to Glasgow or Edinburgh soon, take a tip (or three!) from the locals by visiting one of the Swapatron information hubs (located on Buchanan Street in Glasgow and St Andrews Square in Edinburgh), or click here to use the Swapatron app and learn more about The Great City Swap. You can also see what other people are up to on their visits by checking out #GreatCitySwap.

Tell me some of your favourite things to do in your city. Where should I visit next time?

With trains, toast and tundras,

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This post was created in collaboration with ScotRail, though all experiences, thoughts and Futurama daydreams are my own.