Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

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On our third day together, exploring in the Borders, Clan Maitland toured two magnificent structures. Rosslyn Chapel and Thirlestane Castle are each impressive in their own right, and full of historical significance. One intrigues visitors, due to its many mysteries and connection to popular culture. And the other, well it is my family’s ancient home. I felt excited to see both!

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle title meme

History of Rosslyn Chapel

This beautiful place is another that I’ve had on my list of places to see in Scotland. Honestly, I didn’t know exactly where in the Borders Rosslyn Chapel was located. How exciting to receive our Clan Maitland Gathering itinerary and realize the chapel was a planned stop.

Founded in 1446 by Sir William St Clair, the chapel, originally called the Collegiate Church of St Matthew, took forty years to build. The chapel today, located in the village of Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland, is a portion of the intended structure. Building stopped and the larger church was never completed.

After the Scottish Reformation in 1560, the chapel closed to the public. It reopened in 1861. Since the 1980s speculative theories have connected Rosslyn Chapel to the Knights Templar, the Holy Grail and Freemasonry. These speculations continue to circulate due the chapel’s feature in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and the film adaptation by the same name.

Rosslyn Chapel remains privately owned by the St Clair family.

Rosslyn Chapel
Rosslyn Chapel exterior. Photography was not allowed inside.

Touring Rosslyn Chapel

The Maitland group arrived on our coach, just before the chapel opened. And shortly after we gained admittance, a wonderful guide shared some of Rosslyn Chapel’s mysteries and stories with us. She had a wonderful Scottish brogue and spoke with passion and humor about the chapel. I could have listened to her all day!

The chapel contains 14 pillars that form 12 arches around three sides of the nave. One of these pillars is called the Apprentice Pillar and has a good story associated with it.

Legend says that in the 18th century, a master mason, in charge of the stonework in the chapel, traveled to see an intricately carved column. He left his young apprentice behind while he sought inspiration. Upon his return, he discovered that the apprentice had created a gorgeous carved column on his own. Enraged and jealous, the master mason struck and killed his apprentice. As eternal punishment, the master mason’s face was carved into a corner opposite the pillar, to forever gaze upon his apprentice’s work.

Rosslyn Chapel Doorway
Such a beautiful 15th century structure.

Carvings in Rosslyn Chapel

One of the most intriguing features in the chapel is the collection of carvings throughout the building. There are nods to Celtic and Norse mythology. Hundreds of cubes protrude from the pillars and arches and carved stars adorn the ceiling. Stone angels, including one playing the bagpipes, share space with dragons, flowers and a figure known as the Green Man. In fact, there are 110 carvings of the green man, depicted as a human face with vines coming out of his mouth, in the chapel.

Over the years there have been many theories about the symbolism behind Rosslyn Chapel’s carvings. No one really knows. They do seem to tell a story, however what that tale is remains open to interpretation. I could spend days in Rosslyn Chapel, studying those fascinating carvings.

My sister and I concluded our explorations of the chapel by going down into the crypt. There are burial chambers beneath Rosslyn Chapel. The entrance to those was sealed off many, many years ago. However the crypt, or lower chapel, is open to the public. Debbie and I had our own mysterious experience while in the crypt. While looking around, we began to feel short of breath accompanied by a tightness in the chest and throat. Climbing the stairs back to the upper chapel, both of us suddenly felt very dizzy. A walk through the gift shop did not ease the dizziness. We headed back to the coach and only when we reached its interior did the strange feelings pass. What caused it? We don’t know! It’s our very own Rosslyn Chapel mystery.

Rosslyn Chapel Mystery
I love the moodiness of this photo.

Thirlestane Castle History

The majority of the day, for Clan Maitland, was spent at Thirlestane Castle.

Maitlands originally occupied a tower, built in the 1400s, near the present location of the castle. In 1586 John Maitland, Lord Thirlestane, bought land just outside the village of Lauder. The large house built in 1590, with its corner towers and turrets, now forms the core of the present castle.

The Duke of Lauderdale remodeled and expanded Thirlestane in the 1670s, adding on wings and creating a new front entrance. The ninth earl added more wings, to the south and north, and installed modern living accommodations.  However, by the 1840s the grand old castle showed signs of age and decay.

In 1972 the castle passed to the grandson of the 15th Earl, Capt. Gerald Maitland-Carew. He assumed the huge task of restoring the castle and preventing further deterioration. He also opened the castle to the public and created the on site café and tea room. Eventually the castle and its contents became a part of a charitable trust that brought in much needed funds to help with the upkeep of the gorgeous structure. The Maitland-Carew family occupy one wing of the castle as their personal residence.

Gerald’s son Edward Maitland-Carew and his wife Sarah now continue the care of Thirlestane Castle. They host events such as weddings, car shows and outdoor plays, and created five apartments for guests to lease for short term stays.

Clan Maitland at Thirlestane Castle
Our Clan gathers on the front steps of Thirlestane Castle. That’s the Clan Chief in the middle, next to me, and Edward Maitland-Carew in the blue jacket on the far left, front row.

Touring Thirlestane Castle

I’ve visited the family castle three times. However, this was the first time I’ve explored the castle with members of my clan, listened to Ian tell family stories and met Edward. Truly, it was a magical experience.

We began with a wonderfully prepared lunch in the former castle kitchens and then walked outside to begin our tour at the entrance to the castle. How amazing this place is and how full of history. I marvel at each room, study the paintings of long ago ancestors on the walls, smile at the familiar tingles of energy that tickle my scalp.

This tour, this time, seemed surreal. Ian entertained us with memories and stories handed down through time. Edward shared his experiences growing up in a castle and playing hide and seek in the corridors and secret passages with his brother and sister.

Edward is passionate about being “this generation’s caretaker” of the castle. I appreciated his earnestness about his role and his obvious love for this place.

Thirlestane Castle Grand Dining Room
The grand dining room at Thirlestane Castle with family portraits on the walls.
Thirlestane Castle Sitting Room
Exquisite plaster ceilings in one of the sitting rooms.

Tea at Thirlestane

After wandering through rooms in the castle and viewing the new apartments, we all met in the tea room for afternoon tea. I didn’t even take photos. We simply gathered in small groups at the tables and enjoyed chatting together as we sipped hot tea. Edward introduced us to his lovely wife and then moved around the room, telling more stories and answering questions.

As I have on previous visits, I felt a bit sad leaving Thirlestane Castle. I’m so appreciative of all the measures that have been taken, to keep this historical treasure standing and thriving. It’s no small feat. I’m deeply grateful for Ian and Edward, for sharing their wealth of information about the castle and the family. And I’m thrilled that I spent time at Thirlestane with kinsmen who feel the way I feel about this place. Strong connections now existed with these dear people who were strangers only a few days before. The afternoon was a shared experience I’ll cherish always.

What a day, between the mysteries of Rosslyn Chapel and the beauty and connection at Thirlestane Castle. One more day together, and our Clan Maitland Gathering would draw to a close.

The cranes of Thirelstane Castle
Posing with the Thirlestane Cranes. I have my own crane story that connects to these Scottish counterparts.

Learning more:

Discover more about Rosslyn Chapel HERE. And pick up a copy of The Da Vinci Code below or order the film on DVD.

 

Learn more about Thirlestane Castle and accommodations  HERE.

And read about other Clan Maitland Gathering fun with these posts:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

 

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Dean Village

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On this activity-light day with Clan Maitland, in between two very full days, my sister and I checked another “must see” location off our list. I’ve been drawn to Dean Village, in Edinburgh, for years, based solely on beautiful photos that I’ve seen.

Checking the map app on my iPhone, our destination seemed walkable. On this gorgeous sunny day, Debbie and I left the apartment and set out on our own on foot, bound for one of Edinburgh’s hidden gems.

Dean Village Title Meme

Dean Village History

This former medieval village, founded in the 12th century, began as home to the milling industry. A river winds through this valley, located a short distance from Edinburgh’s New Town. Mills sprang up along the Water of Leith, and cottages soon followed, to house the mill workers. The area became known as the Water of Leith Village.

The village was a successful center of milling for 800 years. However, due to the development of larger, more modern mills the village fell into decline. By 1960, the community was filled with poverty and decay.

Fortunately, in the mid 1970s the area’s beauty and tranquility inspired restoration. The warehouses, mills and workers’ cottages transformed into desirable residential homes. Now called Dean Village…”dene” means deep valley…the area attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Dean Village Well Court
One of the most well known renovated buildings in Dean Village…Well Court.
Dean Village Upstream
View from the metal bridge.

Walking to Dean Village

From our apartment on Thistle Street, Debbie and I walked three blocks to Charlotte Square. Intuitively, we knew which direction to go from there, to reach Dean Village. However, my map app took us along a longer, out of the way route.

Ultimately, we came to Queensferry Street and walked down it to Bell’s Brae. If you continue on Queensferry Street, which becomes Lynedoch Place, you cross over Dean Bridge. The village lies below, in the valley.

Walking down Bell’s Brae, we arrived at Miller Row and the Water of Leith. There is a circuitous path through the village that crosses two bridges, a stone one and a metal one. The gorgeous photos that I’ve seen posted are taken along that path and from the metal bridge.

Dean Village Metal Bridge
The metal bridge in Dean Village.
Dean Village Stone Bridge
The stone bridge

Exploring Dean Village

This area is still residential. There aren’t any pubs, cafés, shops or public restrooms. Instead, there are flats and cottages, a school and at the edge of the village, a museum.

We walked Dean Path, exclaiming over the adorable stone cottages, the abundance of flowers and the incredibly homey vibes of the village. Even though there were many others strolling in Dean Village, people respected the fact that this is a neighborhood. It’s a charming neighborhood, to be sure. But people live here and raise families in this beautiful place. Visitors remained quiet, talking softly as they walked.

We all paused to take photos, and smiled at each other as we traded places along vantage points. However none of us laughed loudly or called out to one another or behaved in a boisterous manner. I appreciated that. I’m sure the residents of Dean’s Village do as well.

Laundry in Dean Village
Such a homey scene in Dean Village.
Container Garden in Dean Village
A cottage in Dean Village. I love the Scots’ appreciation of flowers and gardens.

Another Dream Realized

Walking through Dean Village was another dream realized for me. And the photos don’t really do it justice. It is such a gorgeous place. Beyond that, Dean Village is peaceful and idyllic. How wonderful to stroll along the Water of Leith and experience the incredible feel of the village, basking in the warm Scottish sunshine.

Realizing that dream birthed another. Debbie and I peeked into a vacant flat and imagined what it must feel like, to live in this tucked away place. Although Dean Village is only a 15 minute walk from Princes Street and Old Town, it feels like a country burgh, far from the busy hub of the city.

As we climbed back up Bell’s Brae….brae means steep bank or hillside and this road is aptly named…we paused to rest on a bench and allow our dreams of living in such a beautiful place to expand. I don’t know how or when it will happen, but that day, my sister and I released into the universe the desire to own or rent a flat or cottage in Dean Village. The strong desire is released and out there now. I just need to be me and stay in the flow of life, trusting the guidance of the Dream Giver. I’m content with that.

Dean Village Upstream 2
Gazing downstream from the metal bridge.
Dean Village Upstream
Gazing upstream from the metal bridge.

Gratitude for Dean Village

I’m so glad we had opportunity to discover and walk through Dean Village. After the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, this was the other place I absolutely wanted to see while in the city. I’m grateful Debbie was willing to explore this hidden gem with me and appreciated its beauty as well.

Walking back to the apartment I put the map app away. We trusted our instincts to get us back. They served us well, guiding us quickly and unerringly along picturesque narrow streets back to Charlotte Square. Technology is often helpful, however, I can always trust my instincts.

Have you heard of Dean Village? Would you love to visit it as well? Someday, I’ll be back there. I know it.

Check out these Scotland and Edinburgh finds:


 

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Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

On this, my third trip to Scotland, I traveled with less of an agenda. At least, this was true for the time that my sister and I had apart from the Clan Maitland events. We built in six days of exploring on our own.

Our primary intention, while in this beautiful and intriguing city, was to wander about and soak up the city and the culture while enjoying our encounters with the people we met.

I said less of an agenda. I did hope to visit several places that I had yet to experience in Scotland. One of those was the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh.

Royal Botanic Garden title meme

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, founded in 1670, began as a garden to grow medicinal plants. Today the garden actually occupies four sites across Scotland: Edinburgh, Dawyck, Logan and Benmore. Each offers its own special collection of plants. The Edinburgh site is the main garden. Its outdoor collection consists of more than 13,000 plant species and almost 300,000 individual plants.

Originally the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh flourished near Holyrood Palace, at the foot of what’s referred to as the Royal Mile. Hence the name. It is the second oldest botanic garden in Great Britain, after Oxford’s. That first medicinal garden occupied a 40 foot by 40 foot plot, and housed almost 900 plants. When the site became too small, the garden relocated in 1676 to Loch Nor, not far from High Street. Today Waverly Railway Station occupies that space.

In 1763 the garden moved again to Leith Walk, away from the more populous part of Edinburgh. And in the early 1820s the garden moved to its current location adjacent to Inverleith Row. The garden occupies 70 acres and includes a variety of collections including Alpine Plants, Chinese Hillside, Rock Garden, Scottish Heath Garden and Woodland Garden. There’s also an Herbarium on site, that houses more than 3 million specimens.

Royal Botanic Garden Entrance

Creating Time to Explore

On my first visit to Scotland, in 2014, I learned about the botanic garden and yet lacked the opportunity to explore the grounds. In 2017, on our girls’ whirlwind trip through Ireland, Scotland and England, lack of time prevented a visit once again.

However, on this visit, my sister Debbie and I built in time to explore. Rather than fill our days up with activities, we spent our hours exploring the city and getting around on the famous hop on/hop off buses. When we purchased tickets for the bus rides, we learned that we could upgrade our one day pass the next day for a three day pass that included the Royal bus line, which included a stop at the Royal Botanic Garden. Oh yes, a trip to the gardens became very doable.

Scottish weather is typically cool and rainy. And so it was, our first few days in Edinburgh. We chose Monday as the day to spend outdoors in the gardens, based on the weather app.

Royal Botanic Garden Pathway

Green Lawns at Royal Botanic Garden

Visiting Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

What a surprise when Monday turned out to be a rarity in Scotland….hot, sunny and windy! We opted for lightweight shirts and left our jackets at the apartment. Carrying our metal water bottles and pulling our hair back into ponytails, we hopped on a bus…and hopped off at the garden entrance. Admission is free although there are nominal fees to some of the greenhouses and exhibits on the site.

I’m a gardener. My soul finds great joy and peace in the gardens. I believe my love of working the earth is a result of my Scottish DNA. The Scots love their green lawns and patches of flowers and herb gardens. It’s one of the reasons I feel so at home in Scotland.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh delighted me on so many levels.

Debbie and I wandered slowly through the grounds, making no attempt to see all 70 acres. We agreed to stroll some paths and enjoy our surroundings and find a bench to sit on, amid the beauty found in the gardens.

That’s exactly what we did.

I love that the gardens are not formal. Instead, they are in a natural state. There are beds, of course, and groupings and pathways. However the overall feel of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is abundance, in a wild sort of way, and it seems so fitting for Scotland.

Woodland Garden

Clematis in Royal Botanic Garden

Refreshed in the Garden

We sat for a time on a bench, watching people walk by, sipping our water and laughing as the wind played with our hair. Just as it does when I’m in my garden at home, nature restored and refreshed me.

Simone Weil wrote,

There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction.”

Beauty pierced my heart that afternoon, bypassing my mind completely. In fact, I walked through the garden and turned off my need to know the names of all the plants. I saw many that are not familiar to me. And yet, it seemed enough to take in beauty and the sweet scents from a variety of flowering plants and bask in the warm Scottish sunshine…and just be.

My sister and I were simply the Lauderdale girls, walking through the garden, sweaty from the sun, wind blown and incredible happy to be in Scotland. The experience at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh was perfect…and worth waiting five years for.

Lauderdale Girls

 

In the sun….and windblown….and look how happy we are!

Check out these fun finds, for your visit to Edinburgh!

 


 

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Overcoming Jet Lag with Voke Superfood Supplements

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to Voke Superfood Supplements for sending me their product to try while on my trip. As always, all opinions are my own.

Although I love traveling, one very real issue with long international trips is jet lag. As my sister Debbie and I flew across the Atlantic, toward bonnie Scotland, we passed through several different time zones.  Adding to our weariness was the fact that our plane experienced a 5 1/2 hour delay in New York City.

We landed in Edinburgh almost 30 hours after we began our adventure in Tulsa, Oklahoma. And sleep? Neither of us ever slipped into a deep restful sleep, napping for brief periods of time instead on our red eye flight.

When we at last arrived at our destination, we had no desire to catch up yet on sleep! We had our first afternoon tea time waiting for us, at Beetroot Sauvage Café. What a great time to try out Voke Superfood Supplements.

Overcome Jet Lag with Voke Superfood Supplements title meme

Creating a Balanced Supplement and a Family Business

Kalen Caughey came up with the idea for Voke ten years ago, as he rode in a chairlift up a local ski hill in Montana. A competitive skier, Kalen wanted a healthy, convenient, portable energy solution for long days on the mountain.

Together with his dad, who has a PhD in biochemistry, the two developed an organic blend that is natural and balanced without sugar, artificial sweeteners or excessive doses of vitamins.

Kalen’s brother Evan joined him to help with creative development. Together they run Voke as a family business.

Voke Superfood Supplements has fueled expeditions on all seven continents, including climbs in the Himalayas. The benefits of the tablets moved beyond adventurers to the health conscious and to health minded professionals.

Voke Superfood Supplement Pack

What’s in the Voke Superfood Supplement?

Each Voke tablet is formulated to combine superfoods that help support the body and provide energy. The formula is based on peer-reviewed, published and scientifically backed research.

The tablets are plant based, gluten and sugar free, with no artificial flavors or sweeteners. They contain 100% of the daily requirement for vitamin C.

Meet the superfoods:

Whole Seed Guarana – source, the Amazon of Brazil

Guarana improves short and long term brain function, keeping the mind refreshed and focused. It brightens mood and reduces anxiety, improves cognitive performance, manages weight and appetite, and decreases fatigue while it energizes the body.

Acerola Cherry – source, the Amazon of Brazil

The acerola cherry is one of nature’s most powerful fruits. It is high in antioxidants and it’s full of nutrients, vitamins (especially vitamin C) and minerals. This cherry supports the immune system and helps the body recover.

Red Beetroot – source, United States

Red Beetroot is naturally sweet and provides the light red color for the tablets. Beetroot contains bioactive compounds including nitrates, vitamin C, flavonoids, carotenoids and betalains. Together these compounds improve cognitive performance and provide essential nutrients that the body needs.

Green Tea Leaf – source, China

Each Voke Superfood Supplement contains 75 mg of natural caffeine derived from green tea leaves. They increase focus and memory function, improve mood and energize the body. Green tea leaf supports the body during physical exercise.

Voke Superfood Supplment in Edinburgh

Trying Voke Superfood Supplements in Edinburgh

The recommended dosage for the supplements is one chewable tablet in the morning and one midafternoon.

Debbie and I arrived in Edinburgh at 2:30 in the afternoon, sleep deprived and tired and yet excited to be in Scotland. Because we had the afternoon tea scheduled, we quickly unpacked at our apartment and opened our complimentary boxes of Voke Superfood Supplements.

We each took one tablet and grabbed a cab. By the time we arrived at Beetroot Sauvage Café, we noticed a definite lift in our energy and alertness. In fact, for as little sleep as we’d had, we did extremely well, enjoying our tea time and later walking to a grocery store near our apartment to stock up on groceries. Our weariness seemed to evaporate.

Ten Days of Supplements, Ten Days of Energy

For the next ten days, we took a tablet every morning, before leaving the apartment, and one most afternoons or early evenings, when we returned. I can truthfully say that I did not experience jet lag as I normally do. Yes, we retired early the first night there, and several other nights after very long days exploring Edinburgh and the Borders. However, we had energy to spare and I did very well physically, walking all over the city. While in Scotland we logged more than 40 miles of walking. I appreciated the natural boost that Volk Superfood Supplements gave me!

The only downside for me is that I do not like chewing supplements. I never have. I prefer to swallow a capsule. However, after experimenting with several options, we found that it was best to chew the supplements, after breaking them into four smaller pieces, and then wash them down with a glass of water. The taste isn’t prohibitive. In fact, knowing how natural they are helps me to accept them, with gratitude, just as they are.

Victoria Street EdinburghOne of the many streets we explored, and climbed, in Edinburgh. This is Victoria Street.

I Recommend Voke Superfood Supplements

Can I recommend this chewable supplement? Yes! By way of comparison, I did not take the tablets when I returned home from Scotland. As a result, I’ve felt extremely tired this past week, often falling asleep late afternoon as my body struggled with jet lag.

There’s a marked difference in how I felt while in Edinburgh and how I felt at home the first week. Only today, one week later, am I finally more myself, energy wise.

Voke Superfood Supplements will accompany me on every trip and adventure I embark on. I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience the difference these tablets make. And I look forward to traveling again, knowing I don’t have to miss a minute of my time in another country, due to jet lag and fatigue. That’s incredibly valuable to me!

Voke Supplement AppreciationDoing well, exploring Edinburgh.

Order your Voke Superfood Supplements HERE. Get 15% off your first order AND try them risk free for 30 days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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At Home on Thistle Street

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One difference, on this trip to Scotland, was using Edinburgh as home base. Rather than traveling around the country and staying in various accommodations, we stayed in the Braid Apartments in Edinburgh for the duration of our visit. We took several day trips into the Borders, however we returned to Edinburgh each evening.

Thistle Street, in the New Town section of Edinburgh, became home for 10 glorious days.

At Home on Thistle Street Title Meme

In the Heart of Edinburgh

When we planned this trip to Scotland, my sister Debbie and I gave our travel agent, Ken, very specific requests about accommodations. We hoped for a central location close to Old Town and within walking distance of Charlotte Square in New Town. When Clan Maitland activities began, we’d need to catch the bus in Charlotte Square.

Ken’s choice of the Braid Apartments on Thistle Street served us so well. We found ourselves located minutes from Princes Street, the Royal Mile, the hop on/hop off buses and Charlotte Square. In addition, we discovered nearby vegan restaurants and cafes, a grocery store and we easily located the specified meeting places for Maitland family teas and dinners. The location proved to be perfect!

Thistle Street ViewThe cobblestoned Thistle Street.

The History of Thistle Street

New Town, in Edinburgh, is not new by most standards! At more than 200 years old, it is only new in comparison with Old Town, which is considerably older.

New Town, created during the reign of King George III, is set up in a grid pattern with streets named after the king. There is a George Street and one named Princes, Queen Street and Hanover.

Two smaller streets in New Town represent the union of Scotland and England. Rose Street is named after England’s flower emblem, while Thistle Street represents Scotland’s national flower.

Thistle Street is a small commercial lane, filled with tiny shops, pubs, cafes, boutique hotels and apartments. The building that currently houses the Braid Apartments served as a hub for offices previously. The interior underwent a renovation two years ago, creating 20 modern apartments for short term leases, while retaining the charming exterior.

Braid Apartments Thistle Street

Window View on Thistle StreetView from the living room window.

At Home on Thistle Street

The cozy apartment on Thistle Street housed us well during our stay in Edinburgh. Large windows offer spectacular views of the city as it ambles down to the Firth of Forth.

The spacious rooms provide homey comfort and plenty of storage space. I loved unpacking and putting clothes away, rather than living out of a suitcase for 10 days. Apartment amenities include two large screen tvs, an ironing board and iron, a blow dryer, toiletries, use of a free cell phone, towels and robes and daily cleaning service.

My favorite room in the apartment was the large fully functional kitchen. The refrigerator, stove (called a hob in Scotland) and microwave meant we could cook at home. We shopped for groceries our first evening in Edinburgh and prepared healthy, wholesome meals during our stay, for a fraction of the cost of eating out. I enjoy cooking. And cooking in Edinburgh? Precious.

Cooking on Thistle Street

All the Conveniences of Home

The apartment also provides a dishwasher and all the kitchen essentials such as pots and pans, cutting knives, silverware, plates, cups and glasses. Braid Apartments stocked the kitchen with a large assortment of teas, a loaf of bread, milk, juice, jelly and butter. I loved the electric tea pot. It made creating cups of hot tea a snap.

A washer/dryer unit in the kitchen allowed us to do laundry, which was a great help. How wonderful to pack clean clothes for the trip home.

And due to the recent renovation, the bedroom has a wall air conditioning unit. Most buildings, homes, hotels, restaurants and businesses in Edinburgh do not have air conditioning, since Scotland is so cool, even in summer. However, during our visit a rare occurrence happened. All of Europe, including Scotland, experienced unusually hot temperatures, creating a host of heat related problems. Debbie and I felt gratitude for that air conditioner unit! We slept comfortably with it running. Thankfully the extreme heat only lasted a few days before more typical Scottish weather returned.

Apartments on Thistle StreetCute apartments across the street. I love the different colors on the doors.

Grateful for Thistle Street

During our stay, I became quite fond of our little apartment on Thistle Street. We spent most of our time out exploring Edinburgh or traveling with our Maitland/Lauderdale family members throughout the Borders. But as the days wound down and the light softened toward dusk, our steps always led us back to that quiet cobbled lane.

The Thistle Street apartment was many things during our visit: convenience, sanctuary, pit stop, shelter, personal café…and for 10 days, it was home. It’s where we dwelled in peace and comfort, rested tired feet, refreshed ourselves with healthy meals, pots of tea and hot showers, and set out on new adventures.

We felt sad, locking the door of the apartment for the last time, and yet grateful for all that it provided. I highly recommend the Braid Apartments at 27 Thistle Street, Edinburgh. I hope to stay there again…soon.

Check out this Guide to Edinburgh:

 


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Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant

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Thank you to Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant for providing complimentary lunches. All opinions are my own.

 

On this fine summer day in Edinburgh, my sister Debbie and I hopped in a cab, excited to experience lunch at Seeds for the Soul Vegan Restaurant. Living in a city in the Midwest, USA, my vegan restaurant options are limited. It is a real treat to enjoy all that Edinburgh has to offer for plant based dining.

Seeds for the Soul Title Meme

Seeds for the Soul

After a short cab ride, we arrived at our destination in a part of Edinburgh we’ve not visited before.

Seeds for the Soul, located at 167 Bruntsfield Place, delighted me the moment we walked through the door.

Before I even spoke to Katie, the manager, I spied a table with a little chalkboard sign on it.

“Reserved from 12PM Cindy”

How’s that for a sweet welcome?

This 100% vegan restaurant provides intimate seating in a cozy area at the front of the restaurant and a larger room at the back. We enjoyed a table in the front, with views out the large window.

Seeds for the Soul front

Seeds for the Soul back

Changing the World, One Plate at a Time

Seeds for the Soul offers an impressive menu. From full vegan breakfasts to an assortment of hearty and healthy lunches and specialty drinks, this cafe believes in changing the world one plate, one meal at a time.

They make most of their food from scratch using organic and locally sourced produce. And they take to heart the words, “be the change you want to see in the world”, offering cruelty free meals, always.

We ordered Soul Bowls for lunch…the Middle Eastern one for me and the Asian one for Debbie. And of course, we requested a pot of tea to accompany our meal, Breakfast Tea this time.

Seeds for the Soul lunch bowls

Soul Bowls

How beautiful our meals were, when they arrived, visually pleasing as well as delicious.

The Asian Soul Bowl (top of photo) features seasoned tofu, rice noodles, avocado, lettuce, carrot, coriander and black sesame seeds with a ginger-garlic tamare dressing.

The Middle Eastern Soul Bowl (bottom of photo) is filled with falafel, hummus, roasted curried chick peas, spinach, cucumber, carrot, red cabbage and sesame seeds with a mango chutney.

We savored our incredible lunches. This is soul food indeed, real ingredients thoughtfully prepared and lovingly presented. Each bowl came topped with a perfect pansy, which is not just a lovely garnish. These pretty flowers are edible.

As we dined, Debbie and I enjoyed people watching out the window. We also appreciated the artwork on the wall, by local artist Samantha Fung. Her art is whimsical with important messages about treating all living creatures with kindness. Samantha happened to come into the restaurant while we were there, accompanied by her adorable dog.

Seeds for the Soul Artwork

Casting a Vision

I so appreciate the lunches provided by Seeds for the Soul. And even more importantly, I appreciate the mission and the vision the owners have.

They recognize that wholesome, clean food creates health and happiness. Therefore, they make it a priority to use the best ingredients available, free from preservatives, chemicals, refined sugar and all sorts of other nasties. Seeds for the Soul serves food that nurtures the body and the soul, that’s why it’s made with great love and care. 

And I LOVE that this company has the mission of reducing waste and pollution.  All takeaway boxes, bags, cups, cutlery, and napkins are 100% biodegradable. And all the waste that’s produced when preparing food is composted or recycled daily.

The owners’ vision is to plant ‘Seeds for the Soul’ in every city in Scotland.  Doing so would support and promote natural food and local organic producers. And they can educate people about the benefits of a vegan diet while keeping the planet healthy for future generations.

Seeds for the Soul intends to spread love and health to as many people as they possibly can.

I can wholeheartedly agree with that intention. Please visit this restaurant  in Edinburgh and be fed, on many levels. And watch for great and mighty things from this company.

Seeds for the Soul for Cindy

 

 

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Afternoon Tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

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Our afternoon tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe was provided for us by the restaurant. All opinions however are my own.

My sister Debbie and I arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland yesterday, after 22 hours of travel. Originally scheduled to land in Edinburgh at 9:10 am, we actually arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon due to a five hour delay in New York City.

Tired but excited to be back in Edinburgh, we unpacked at the Braid Apartments by Mansley and headed out into the misty rain.

It was tea time. And we had an afternoon tea at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe waiting for us.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

Being Vegan in Edinburgh

Maintaining a vegan or plant based lifestyle is easy in this busy city. There are many, many vegan restaurants to choose from. And, most regular restaurants have vegan options.

I researched many of the all-vegan cafes before the trip and reached out to several. In exchange for an afternoon tea or lunch, I offered a blog post feature and social media shares. There were two cafes in particular that caught my interest. Both responded positively.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe exterior

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe sign

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe & Wellness Centre

Beetroot Sauvage offers a vegan cafe plus wellness activities including yoga and meditation, holistic therapies and events for the community.

The cafe’s menu features plant based meals for breakfast, brunch and lunch. They also provide sweet treats that are vegan, with some desserts that are gluten free as well.

And, they offer a vegan afternoon tea.

During my first visit to Scotland in 2014, I adopted the practice of afternoon tea. I love that refreshing pause mid-afternoon. At home I enjoy an herbal tea and a simple treat such as a piece of fruit.

How exciting to experience my first vegan afternoon tea, in my favorite city in the world!

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe gardens

Outdoor seating in the back gardens at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe. Live music is offered on Sundays.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe Outdoor seating

Exploring the Cafe

Upon arrival cafe manager Diana greeted us kindly and directed us to a table. We selected an herbal tea called Strawberries and Cream. While our treat was prepared, Diana gave me permission to wander around and take photos.

The cafe is attractive, homey and pet friendly. Tired as we were, we felt the peace and joy that permeates the entire space.

The pretty back gardens provide outdoor seating in a natural environment. In fact, Sauvage is a French word meaning “wild” in a natural way. Beetroot Sauvage Cafe perfectly fits its name.

Upstairs I slipped into the empty yoga studio to snap a couple of photos. Natural light fills that large room due to an abundance of windows. Marie-Anne had graciously invited us to attend a 10:00 am yoga class that morning, however our plane did not arrive in time.

Yoga studio upstairs

Cafe interior

Vegan Afternoon Tea

Shortly after I rejoined Debbie at our table, a pot of tea arrived along with china cups and saucers.

As we exclaimed over the pretty teapot and cups, Diana carried out a three tiered serving stand, filled with treats both sweet and savory…and all vegan.

Sampling each delicious offering, one wouldn’t know they are plant based.

In the previous 30 hours, Debbie and I had only eaten airport or airline food. We limited our meals to simple vegetarian options as we flew. This magnificent afternoon tea completely wowed us and revived us.

More than a snack, the tea time meal satisfied our hunger, physically and soulfully. We didn’t eat again until this morning.

Beetroot Sauvage Cafe

A Special Beginning to Our Time in Edinburgh

I deeply appreciate Marie-Anne, Diana and the staff at Beetroot Sauvage Cafe for their warm welcome and for the amazing vegan afternoon tea. The cafe and wellness centre is located at 33 – 41 Ratcliffe Terrace, Edinburgh.

I highly recommend Beetroot Sauvage Cafe for the food and for their dedication and commitment to feeding others in a way that nourishes the body and warms the heart while promoting healing for people and for the earth.

They kicked off our visit to Edinburgh in the most phenomenal way by showing that it’s possible to explore a city and eat in a healthy way at the same time. We are grateful.

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Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

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On the eve of my trip to Scotland, it seems a great time to share tips for traveling with a carry on. This is my third international trip in which I’ll live out of a carry on for 10 or more days. I learned on my first trip to Scotland in 2014 that lugging a large suitcase around was not the best idea. Vowing to do better, I discovered the benefits of traveling light.

If 10 days with a carry on seems impossible, read on!

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On Title meme

Plan, Practice, Pack

These are some of my favorite tips for traveling with a carry on, when preparing for an extended trip. I’ll be in Scotland for 11 days. I’m traveling with a carry on and a purse.

Plan

Planning for this trip began a year ago. I can’t speak highly enough of my travel agent, Ken, with GalaxSea Cruises & Tours. Ken and I sat down together last year and put together a phenomenal package that saved my sister Debbie and me money.

We are staying in an apartment in the center of Edinburgh, close to everything that we want to experience. The location is important as it is near the hotel where Debbie and I will meet with other members of Clan Maitland a few days after we arrive. An apartment is preferred over a hotel room because of its full kitchen. I can cook part of the time and prepare my own plant based meals.

Tips:

Whether planning your own trip or working with a travel agent, know what your needs are and prioritize them. High on my list…an apartment with a kitchen in a specified area.

Be aware of any events going on that might impact travel. We learned that an international rugby competition is going on in Edinburgh while we are there. The Fringe Festival begins August 1. These events draw hundreds of thousands of visitors to Edinburgh, limiting accommodations in July and raising rates. That info prompted us to create travel plans much earlier than we normally would, ensuring a place to stay at a great rate.

Using a weather app, add your destination and begin watching the weather. This helps with packing appropriate clothing. Scotland is cool and rainy, even in summer. Today’s high was 65 degrees with a low of 52. Long sleeves and a jacket are essentials.

Create a list of all the items to pack in your carry on.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry OnI’m excited to try out these travel supplements, from Voke.

Practice

I find it helpful to do a practice run…or two…packing my carry on. I had to toss my last carry on, after an incident on an escalator. My daughter Elissa loaned me a hard-sided carry on to try out. I’m glad I practiced packing several days ago, because this carry on is very different from the soft-sided piece I owned before.

My first thought was “I can’t make this work!” This carry on seems much smaller due to the suitcase being divided into a clothing compartment and a laptop one. However, after a practice packing session, I found I could fill the computer side with clothes and other items, since I’m not traveling with my laptop.

Tips:

I’ve tried rolling clothes, and that worked well with my last carry on. With less depth in this carry on, I used Marie Kondo’s folding technique to create small, flat rectangles with my clothing. Success! Try both methods and see which works best for your carry on.

Eliminate clothes that you don’t need. Most people pack too many clothes. Practicing makes it real. You can see what’s most important to take and what’s nonessential. My practice pack helped me to cut down on the number of shirts, socks and underwear and settle on one jacket. Since we have a washer and dryer in the apartment, we can wash clothes while in Edinburgh. That helps greatly.

And try on ALL the clothes you intend to take. Make sure they still fit and that they are in good repair. If you don’t like an outfit for any reason, don’t waste space taking it. Create multiple outfits from a small capsule wardrobe to maximize space.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

Pack

Tonight I completed packing, for real. I only need to add a couple of toiletries in the morning, after getting ready. After my practice pack, tonight went smoothly and I feel confident about the clothes I’m taking.

Tips:

Fold or roll each article of clothing to make it as small as possible.

Don’t waste any space. I tuck underwear into shoes and fill in empty spots with socks and supplements. Fill pockets in the carry on with toiletries, small items such as jewelry and thin documents or books.

Speaking of supplements, I travel with vitamin B12, to keep my energy up. And I take along MSM and Cat’s Claw to keep inflammation at bay in my left knee. Be mindful of your health while you travel. Carry prescriptions in their bottles with your name and doctor’s name on them.

All containers of liquids and gels MUST be 3.4 ounces or smaller and MUST be in a clear quart size zip lock bag. Keep this bag in an easily accessed part of your carry on, as it is placed outside luggage as you go through security. You are allowed one zip lock bag. (See TSA rules for carry ons.)

Keep travel docs handy as well. I placed mine in a pocket in the laptop compartment. I used the airlines app to precheck and have an online boarding pass ready to go, on my phone.

Be sure to pack phone chargers, earbuds, sunglasses and a journal. I’m including a rechargeable battery pack so I can charge up my phone while out for the day.

Wear your bulkiest articles of clothing on the flight. Tomorrow I’ll be wearing jeans, a short sleeved shirt and boots. Smaller, easier to pack shoes and slacks are in the carry on. I save space by carrying a jacket over my arm and toting a large plaid wrap as well. The wrap will double as a blanket on the flight.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On Packed

Extra Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

If souvenirs are important, leave space for them in your carry on.

It’s okay to take an empty metal water bottle through security. Carry it rather than pack it. After passing through security you can fill the bottle for use on the plane.

Make sure family members have your travel itinerary. Keep your copy in your carry on.

Arrive at the airport approximately two hours before your flight boards.

Never leave your carry on unattended.

Keep your passport handy. I have mine in my purse, rather than in my carry on.

Make sure you’ve added an international phone plan and contact your bank prior to leaving, if you will be using a bank debit or credit card.

Most importantly, have fun! Travel is a wonderful way to expand the mind, heart and soul. Create memories. Try something new. Get lost at least once. Talk to people on the plane, the bus, the train, and at the café. Follow curiosity.

Do you have favorite tips for traveling with a carry on? I’d love to see them in the comments.

My next post will be from Edinburgh, Scotland! I can’t wait to share my trip with you.

Tips for Traveling with a Carry On

Travel Essentials from Amazon

 

 


 

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We Carry Kevan Book Review

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Thank you to SMITH PUBLICITY, INC for sending me this book, We Carry Kevan, for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

Image developing, at age 29,  the intense desire to travel and explore the world with close friends.

And imagine, after a year of planning, fund raising and making arrangements in France, England and Ireland, seeing that dream become reality.

A group of seven friends parked their van at the airport and gathered up their gear, ready to depart on the adventure of a lifetime. One item they deliberately left behind…a wheelchair belonging to Kevan Chandler.

We Carry Kevan Book Review

 

Kevan Chandler

Born with a degenerative neuromuscular disease, Kevan is the youngest of three children born to Peter and Diana Chandler. And, he’s the second in his family with spinal muscular atrophy, a rare form of muscular dystrophy.

His muscles grow weaker, as he ages, and he has very limited use of his arms and legs. However, Kevan is not limited in the way he lives his life. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in counseling and he is an avid writer and storyteller.

Kevan’s compassionate  heart and big personality draw people to him.  He  often joins friends for dinners, road trips or spur of the moment parties.

And Kevan dreams big dreams. One wistful idea, of traveling in Europe, met with encouragement and enthusiasm from his friends. In the summer of 2016 Kevan spent three weeks fulfilling his dream by vising three countries with six friends, without the aid of his motorized wheelchair.

Riding in a custom made backpack, Kevan’s friends carried him everywhere they went, including to the peak of an island mountain in Ireland. We Carry Kevan is the story of a shared adventure, yes. However, it is primarily a story of faith, trust and incredible friendship.

We Carry Kevan Book ReviewParis, France. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.

We Carry Kevan in Paris France

The friends arrived in Paris, France on June 20, 2016 in time for summer solstice celebrations the next night. They quickly discovered that the people of Paris go all out when they celebrate, with music and singing and dancing in the streets.

And music is what drew Kevan to Paris in the first place. His desire to visit the home of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt became reality when the group attended a festival honoring the musician.

Kevan feels a connection to the guitarist, who lost the use of his ring and pinky fingers on his left hand after an accident. And yet that didn’t stop the musical genius from adapting. He emerged stronger and better, becoming one of the greatest known guitarists.

We Carry Kevan Book ReviewLondon, England. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.

We Carry Kevan in London

London offered the opportunity for Kevan and his friends, Ben, Tom, Phillip, Luke, Robbie and Mr. Hill, to meet up with online friends.

As the group planned their trip, people from the countries they intended to visit provided places to stay and acted as tour guides. From the small town of Oxted, the friends returned to London to mark Kensington Gardens off the “must visit” list.

While in London, Kevan seized the opportunity to stop by the Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital and view the Peter Pan statue in Kensington. Author J.M. Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan and made contributions to the children’s hospital, inspires the storyteller within Kevan. Standing where the author once stood, as he perched on the back of a friend, Kevan considered the great legacy Barrie left behind, and pondered what his own might be.

We Carry Kevan Book ReviewSkellig Michael, Ireland. Photo from We Carry Kevan book.

We Carry Kevan in Ireland

Finally the friends explored Ireland. Although they traveled throughout the country, their ultimate destination was Skellig Michael, a craggy island in County Kerry. Known for its rugged and stark beauty, Skellig Michael is the tip of a mountain jutting up from the ocean. An ancient monastery rests at the peak, which is accessible by climbing 600 stone steps.

Scaling the island mountain marked the pinnacle, literally, of the trip and presented the greatest challenge for those carrying Kevan on their backs. And yet, the men trained and prepared themselves, physically and mentally, for this very challenge. Up the mountain they went, to the very top. Taking turns carrying Kevan as they climbed, they ascended and descended, to the applause of others visiting the site.

Here is where the love of his traveling companions shone so brilliantly. About the unconditional love of friends, Kevan wrote:

“They were driven unexplainably to carry me, literally, through the impossible. Not because I’m cool or because I’m an inspiration to them, but because of a true love beyond themselves, beyond any of us. And this put us on a wonderful adventure across the known world.”

Be Inspired

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Authored by Kevan, the story moves expertly through the grand adventure shared by this amazing group of friends. He writes honesty and openly about his disabilities, with a style that is imaginative and compelling.

I felt humbled by all that these young men accomplished and deeply moved by the compassion and trust that the group shares. Kevan requires assistance for everything…bathing, brushing his teeth, using the bathroom, getting dressed. And yet, he is definitely not a burden. Kevan is a courageous and bright adventurer with extraordinary friends who care for him and offer their very best…and their backs…to make his dreams come true.

Together they saw the world, says Kevan, as we all are meant to see it…big and beautiful and full of life. After their first trip, Kevan  started a nonprofit organization to redefine accessibility and to assist other disabled people in fulfilling their adventures. Check it out HERE.

I’m inspired to continue my travels, and see the world the way Kevan sees it. I feel renewed gratitude for my left knee. Although it sometimes falters, my knee does the very best that it can, to take me where I desire to go. And, I see what Kevan does, moving beyond his comfort zone, on so many levels, to manifest his dreams.  I know I can do the same.

Grab this book and settle into your favorite chair, with a cup of herbal tea. And prepare to be inspired as well.

We Carry Kevan Book Review

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Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

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I recently saw a simple quote, a list of words really, that so resonated with me.

Travel. Learn. Grow.

Those words brilliantly capture what I love about traveling and why my heart sings when I visit new places. As I pondered the quote I came up with six ways travel helps me grow.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

I had the opportunity in 2017 to visit four countries…Italy, Ireland, Scotland and England…during two separate trips. Those trips were so fun! Beyond enjoying travel, I experienced expansion and growth. This is what I learned.

Strangers can become family

I traveled to Italy in the company of my daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan. We joined with a group of other travelers from around the world. Not only did I learn new things as a result of the Italian culture, I learned from the people in the tour group. How amazing and enlightening to see Italy through my own eyes, and through the eyes of Australians, Iranians and a couple from India. Our diverse group very quickly formed strong family bonds.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Family can be strange

Just kidding! If we are strange, we consider that Divine. I traveled with a group on my second trip as well, all family members. I learned that it is very doable for five people to plan a trip that makes everyone happy. Ensuring each person has a say in the itinerary and gets to select favorite activities is important. We watched out for each other, listened, and made compromises if necessary. Above all, we looked for the adventure in each day.

Adventures appear in unexpected ways. Go with the flow.

Elissa, Dayan and I learned this truth immediately when storms in the Charlotte, North Carolina area caused our plane to reroute. As a result we missed our overseas flight. I had the choice of railing against what happened or staying open and watching for other opportunities. When we let go of expected outcomes and stayed open, miracles happened. We were among the few who flew out of Charlotte that night, thanks to the appearance of an angel named Jason who got us onboard a plane bound for London.

Getting lost can lead to finding what one is truly searching for.

In Scotland my brave sister Debbie drove us all over the country in a rental car. When the GPS system went awry, we ended up off our chosen route. And yet that’s when the magic happened and we encountered sights we did not expect to see. Because of our wandering, I got to cross several places and attractions off my wish list.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Embracing new experiences guarantees that more will arrive.

When traveling in a country for the first time, every sight, every experience is new. The food is different. The language requires concentration, even when it’s heavily accented English. And the culture is fresh whether it is ancient or constantly changing.

The less preconceived ideas I have about what I will experience, the more I learn and grow. In Italy I initially wasn’t excited about visiting the churches and cathedrals. These magnificent structures are the heart of every city and town, village and piazza. The architecture and the museum quality art within astonished and moved me. I would have missed incredible sights and opportunities if I had dismissed visiting those basilicas and chapels.

Travel enriches my life and expands my soul.

For me, nothing in this life is more expansive than seeing new places and meeting new people. The history, the magic, the mystery and noise and spirit of a place, all call to me. Each country that I visited has ancient stories, symbols, songs and art. It’s more than knowledge that I collect as I travel, it’s a knowing, a recognizing, and a greater awareness of the richness and diversity of life. I love watching people. And I love taking time for solitude and deep inner reflection.

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

Where to Travel to Next

For me, there are many reasons to travel. Learning and growing and becoming more expansive tops my list of why I travel and why I long to experience more. Wandering is in my blood, exploring in my DNA.

I am creating a life that allows my heart, soul and body to be untethered and free to roam about the planet. These six ways that travel helps me grow is just a beginning, as is the list of countries I intend to visit.

There are many places I want to explore and get to know. I have so much more to learn.


Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow

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Six Ways Travel Helps Me Grow