Monday, 28 July 2014

ROAD TRIP// Alligators at a gas station

Imagine this regular super hot day in the middle of Alabama. Denise and I are looking for a lake or really just any sort of WAER to swim in and hang out at. Texas is full of beautiful swimming holes, natural pools and springs and all that. We were a bit disappointed when that was not the case in Alabama, but there is a pretty good explanation for that. Alligators.

Obviously there are not alligators everywhere, but they can be in certain waters and that makes swimming clearly a bit more dangerous.
Now this swimming hole down here in the picture was beautiful and we were SO excited, but it was somehow booked for a private party and we weren't invited >< BUMMER

We then drove somewhere else, and on the way we stopped at a tiny weird gas station to get snacks. And then there was a fenced in area, and people standing around looing at something.

It all made sense when I was this sign.

So there it was, just like that. SO WEIRD!!!!!

So there was just this alligator hanging out next to the gas station.
Alright, Alabama.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

How to: Edinburgh Fringe

With the Fringe coming up SO SOON, I feel like I need to share my knowledge a little bit. Last year, I was completely clueless about the whole thing. And not only was I sort of experiencing it as a visitor, I was also working in one of the venues as a box office assistant. I had a great time working there and it was also a great opportunity to take advantage of all these people who know so much about the Fringe or the theatre industry. While working there, I learned a lot about the Fringe, the tips and tricks when it comes to buying tickets and all that stuff.
So here is a little mini guide with those tips and tricks!

First off though- What's the deal with booking tickets?
The whole Fringe ticket thing is seriously confusing, but the simple overview is this: you can buy tickets online via the Fringe website or app, which charges you an extra fee. It is convenient though, because then you can pick up your tickets in the big four venues (Underbelly, Assembly, Pleasance and Gilded Balloon) or in the official box office. You can also buy tickets for pretty much all venues in the official Fringe box office on the Royal Mile, but that is obviously just crazy because everyone will do that. For the big four venues you can buy tickets at all of their box offices. So Pleasance will sell Underbelly tickets as well. My tip is to buy them online and pick them up at the venue or go to the venue and buy them there. And one last thing: Assembly is not Assembly Rooms.

Fringe on the Royal Mile 2011 173
photo credit: byronv2 via photopin cc

1. Get on Twitter.

I am not really a big Twitter person, but I do love it when it comes to real live events and that sort of thing. Follow Edinburgh newspapers, comedians you wanna see, certain venues or companies, look up the trending hashtags in your area, check the #edfringe hashtag. It will give you a feel for what is going on, maybe there is a famous person just hanging out around the corner from you, or someone is giving out free tickets somewhere on the Royal Mile or you can take part in a online sweepstake. It's all possible.

2. How to get cheap tickets.

It all depends when you will be at the festival. There are 2for1 deals for certain days at the beginning of the festival, which is obviously great to see a lot of shows for less. Then there are codes you have to mention at the box office (or online) to get a cheaper deal, and you can find these codes in certain newspapers, in sponsored or affiliated businesses, or online (see #1). 
Another point is the Virgin Half Price Hut. Those half price deals are on daily for certain shows that are on that day and it varies every day. You get them if you go to the Mound and stand in line. I have never done this before, but this is certainly an option if you want cheaper tickets. 
My personal tip is probably just making friends with box office people. If you are nice to them, they can really help you out a lot. Being angry and shouting at them does not help you at all.

3. Sold out does not always mean sold out.

Although tickets are actually non exchangeable and non refundable, there still might be a chance of you getting the very last ticket. The code word here is restricted view tickets or sometimes, there are just last minute tickets released that have been on hold for some reason. Check back with the box office of that venue (!) early on the day of the show and then they maybe again later and then before that show. You might just get lucky!

Loveboat - Sat 28 August 2010 -0744
photo credit: The Queen's Hall via photopin cc

Just in general- keep hydrated (yes mami), be friendly and make friends, keep exploring what Edinburgh has to offer beside the main craziness of the Fringe, be prepared for weather craziness, go a bit out of your comfort zone and see a show you normally wouldn't see and just enjoy the magic of these 25 days!

Just to finish off, here are links to some other helpful guides on how to "Fringe".

performers on the Mile 0113
photo credit: byronv2 via photopin cc

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

WHAT UP, Edinburgh

It is SO SO WARM! It's crazy, let me tell you. So crazy that I had to purposely take a cold shower today. That usually never happens. We were even able to have dinner in the garden (that we just keep using, not even sure if we are "allowed"). Having the window open all day long.
Oh my, Edinburgh.
What is happening.

I really really hope that the weather will stay like this aaaall the way through August, all the way through the Fringe. Next week I will already be starting my new job and will work full time during the festival, just like last year.  Hopefully my team will be amazing, the shows will be fun and it will be all good times. I feel very lucky to be able to experience the festival for the whole time, given that a lot of the visitors are just there for like a weekend or maybe a whole week. Being there for 25 days is very cool and gives you a very different view of this madness that changes a whole city.

What I am (almost) even more so looking forward to is my summer holiday afterwards. Me and my looovely (and dearly missed) flatmates are heading out to Turkey for two weeks to get a proper tan (and swim and eat and have SO much fun). HOORAY!!!!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

ROAD TRIP// Little Grand Canyon (+ #lifewithdenise)

I was SO stoked when I found out that there was a sort of canyon near Eufaula. We only had to cross over to Georgia (actually enter a whole different time zone, which we didn't even realize) and enter the Providence State Park and there it was. The only picture I saw of it before looked something like this (^^) and I therefore suspected that the canyon is probably really tiny. It really wasn't- it has these amazing shades of red and white and brown and surrounded by all the green, it is super beautiful. The funny thing about this canyon is that, compared to the Grand Canyon, it is not actually made of rocks but sand. This thing developed the way it did because of farmers mistreating the land and not through (millions of) yeeears of erosion etc like the one in Arizona. You can just look at it from these viewing platforms, but there is also a hiking path that leads you down in to the canyon. We did that the next day and it was both scary but also really cool.You are not allowed to scratch off the walls or climb on the little sandy hills because that would eventually destroy it. Weird, isn't it? Looks totally like rocks to me from far away.

The whole area is pretty deserted it seems, but as usual in America, the park was well taken care of, but (we assume) because it was off season, there was not really anyone there. Really cool if you don't like to be bothered, but also a bit creepy. 

So on our hiking day, the info center in the park was closed as was everything else (also no phone reception!) and there were only these maps, so we took one to make sure we are not actually gonna die in that canyon. At the start of the trail there was a guest book where hikers could leave their name and stuff. All these posters at the info center about poisonous snakes and spiders seriously got me a bit scared and so I scribbled (in VERY LARGE LETTERS) our names and phone number and date etc. (In my head I already saw the helicopters coming and saving us after hours in the darkness haha). So then we finally properly started walking down in to the canyon, but still every little noise in the bushes made us jump.
You see, Denise has a lot of special talents and one is definitely that she attracts (like a huge freakin magnet) a little bit of drama and misfortune, to say the least. This was just one of those moments, she takes out the map to make sure we are still going the right way and bam, she just rips it right where the important bit is (by accident, she claims). There is really nothing more fitting (in my opinion) than the hashtag #lifewithdenise. 
This could easily turn in to a TV series, let me tell ya. So far though, only Instagram has been graced with this genius idea.

 Anyway, the hike went well and beside a dead baby boar we didn't find that much scary stuff down there. So enjoy the pictures!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

How to: Edinburgh Military Tattoo

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of Military tattoos performed by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and International military bands and display teams on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.

Sounds a bit scary I guess, but it is really just a show with a lot of music and dance and fun! Edinburgh's castle esplanade is beautiful and the whole event is simply spectacular. Last year was the very first time I attended and even though I didn't plan on it, this year I am going again. With my parents and some friends (yay!)

It is really one of those things where you need to plan and book ahead, so here is my mini guide.

1. Buy your tickets in advance
This sounds like duuuh, but it is really important. It is just one of many festivals going on during August and it can get a bit crazy, but make sure you pick a date and book your tickets. You can do this online or on the phone, but they do charge you for doing so. Crazy, if you ask me. So I went to the office today (32 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QB) and within 5 minutes it is done and you have your tickets in your hand. You can pick the seating yourself, the better the seats the more expensive obviously, but I just wanna say- we sat in the second cheapest seats last year (section 16, click here) and it was absolutely fine! We sat quite high up which gives you a cool overview of everything, so I definitely recommend those seats! You don't need to spend 200 pounds on a ticket!

2. Don't queue, just make sure you get to the venue before 9
Here is the deal. The road leading up to the castle is not the biggest and these several thousand people need to get in somehow. This is done by making them queue up for like ages and forever down the road. What we did is just turn up around 8.45 (show starting at 9) and we were able to slowly walk in and not really queue up at all. I mean, why would you want to stand in line? It's not like it gets you better seats!

3. Bring a blanket and warm clothes
Well, it is Scotland after all. Apparently there was not one show in the past 30 years that has been cancelled due to weather. Good sign, I guess! Nevertheless make sure you bring warm clothes and maybe even some snacks or drinks. You are quite high up on these stands and it can get reeeally cold.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

ROAD TRIP// Eufaula, Alabama

Alabama was preeeetty high on our road trip to do list. Nothing specifically I think, but just proper soak in what the state has to offer. In terms of our route, we entered from the south and drove up all the way up to Tennessee (Nashville, to be specific). It was SO beautiful.
I had done a lot of research on like the official tourism websites for Alabama and Eufaula was apparently one of those typical small towns with a lot of charm. Yes it was indeed.
A lot of the pretty houses are actually marked as historic and some of them are museums as well.

We stayed at the 'Quality Inn & Suites Eufaula' and I was so surprised, the rooms look so modern, the pool is great, the breakfast is better than at other hotels... We loved it, so we actually decided to stay longer than planned.

The most beautiful road is Eufaula Avenue, with sooo many amazing houses just right next to each other.

Crazy hills everywhere!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

TV show obsessions

A lot of times I appreciate a TV show more than a movie, especially if there are fascinating characters that you want to follow for longer than just 90 minutes.
Or you know, if there is just a good concept for a show- I'll pretty much watch anything.

Here are my top 3 at the moment:

Denise introduced me to this show and it is so good. Catfishing is when someone pretends to be someone else on the Internet- and who hasn't heard about that. So Nev and Max go visit people that are not sure if their internet friend is real and actually who he/she really is. They are super funny and really good at making people not feel stupid or horrible about themselves. (The only thing I just do not understand is why people do not just google and find all this stuff out on their own)

A friend recommended this show to me because he knew about my obsession with Texas. I wasn't sure about the whole thing because I am really not in to sport shows or American football at all. The show however is not just about that. It has the most fascinating characters that you just really grow fond of, and I think that makes a good TV series.

This show is something I just recently discovered on TV here. It is a proper British show, if you will. It's pretty simple, it shows people on a first date - but it has a certain sweetness to it and there are such lovely cute people on the show. Cringe moment are definitely in there as well, but I guess that's just part of the deal.

I have so many shows that I still really want to watch, such as The Newsroom, Orphan Black, Utopia and only maybe Game of Thrones, one day.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

ROAD TRIP// Florida: Dolphin Cruise

If you have followed me all the way since 2010 (I can't believe that's already four years ago), then you know that I went to Hawaii that year and sort of fulfilled my dream of swimming with a dolphin. Yes it was at the very questionable Sea World, nevertheless it was amazing and dolphins remain on the list of animals I will never be sick of (despite all the sh*t Denise is talking about them haha).
Therefore I just had to book a dolphin cruise when we stayed at the beach in Florida. As with every tourist beach destination, there are loads of operators and I always find it overwhelming. We just booked a tour that was advertised on Groupon, which made it cheap as well. Obviously it is never certain that dolphins are gonna show up, so we didn't want to spend that much money it.

So we went on this little boat, super early in the morning (okay it was like 9am but that is EARLY!) and took off. To be honest, it gets a bit boring after a while when you don't see anything but waves that really look like dolphins. However, we were lucky and saw a group of three dolphins and (very stalker like) followed them for a while until they disappeared. In my imagination, I thought it was gonna be a whole group of dolphins that are just jumping out of the water next to the boat but I guess that doesn't happen that often... (SUPER DISAPPOINTING)
Something very cool happened though: A MASSIVE sea turtle just casually swam by and then obviously it got frightened because a whole boatload of people just stared at it haha.

What I really really reaaaaally wanna do is go on like a whale watching cruise and see a super huge whale come out of the water. Like right next to me. That's the dream!

But yeah, this was cool too.

yay dolphins!

there again, three this time!

we earned this lunch at the beach

the perfect beach

super empty, thank god!

Monday, 14 July 2014

Scotland on Screen {part III, Highlands}

First of all, YAY WORLD CUP! Totally gutted that I can't be in Germany where everyone's is partying like crazy.
So anyhow, last year I started a little series of posts about Scotland in movies. We have part #1 with Edinburgh, then part #2 with Glasgow, and now this is going to be the final post featuring films that were filmed in the Highlands (& islands).

1. Local Hero
This is a quite old film and I remember watching it for a class here at uni. It's about an American business man coming to a tiny tiny village in Scotland in order to secure a deal with the locals. Obviously everything goes wrong from here.

2. Harry Potter
This is clearly not a surprise and I think it was only through Harry Potter, that the world became fully aware of Scotland and its beauty. This is just a small clip where they talk about how it was filming in the Highlands.

3. Skyfall
I am not really a James Bond film and I haven't seen this one either, despite the hype when it came in to the cinema. Anyways, part of it takes place in Scotland and it just looks gorgeous. When I went to the Highlands last year, we drove to the area where this was filmed. Just as beautiful in real life, is that's even possible.

4. The Decoy Bride
This is definitely not the most successful thing David Tennant has done, and it is not a really mind blowing piece of film.It is also shot on the Isle of Man, which is not Scotland, I admit. However, it looks very similar and in the movie they pretend that it is Scotland.So it counts for me! Again, the highlands look absolutely stunning and it just makes me want to live on on of these deserted islands where everything is just a little bit different.

Sunday, 13 July 2014


This probably sounds really snobby, but Florida has never really tickled my fancy. I love the beach, but it always seemed to me like Florida was just this lame state full of retired people and Disney World. Yes this is very prejudiced, forgive me Florida! We had a great time there and as I was doing my research, I discovered so many other things I really wanted to do or see in the area but we didn't have enough time.

Just so guys can imagine where in Florida we went, here is a little map of our route.  The pink state line you see is the border between Alabama and Florida and #7,8,9,10 are all in Florida. So we were veeeery north and pretty close to Alabama. #7 is Navarre Beach, which is where we stayed for around 4 days. #8 is Milton, FL where we went to go ziplining (so much fun!) #9 is a beautiful swimming hole called Ponce de Leon, which unfortunately was super crowded with teenagers (it was Saturday, what can you expect). #10 is Marianna, a random small town we stayed for one night.
Screenshot from our route created with Roadtrippers

These pictures were taken at the less populated side of Navarre Beach- The beach was pretty much empty and the sunset was incredible.

Stay tuned, there will be a couple more posts about Florida ;)