Ordinary Moments for Adventure

North End, Boston, summer 2019

Dear Reader,

Today I undertook the not-so-glamorous task of getting my out-of-state driver’s license converted into a Massachusetts one. To do this you need two proofs of residency (bills, paychecks, leases, etc.) and proof of lawful presence in the U.S. (passport, birth certificate, etc.). I also opted to get a REAL ID (which is necessary if you want to travel by air without a passport after Oct. 2020!) which required more information.

While trekking to the DMV (or RMV as they call it in Massachusetts) and slowly wending one’s way through bureaucratic protocol can be tedious, I chose to make this a “fun” (or as fun as it can be!) experience.

The worst thing that can happen when going to the RMV is not having all needed documents. My advice is to fill out the application online and make sure all of your documents are in order so you do not get sent to the back of the line!

In Boston the RMV operates strictly Monday – Friday from 9 – 5pm. I generally work between these hours, so I planned to get there right as it opened this Friday morning.

North End, Boston, summer 2019

To make the trip more fun, I got downtown early and strolled a bit through the city. I don’t make it downtown as much as I would like and I could already see some changes since the last time I was there. A few new cafes lined the streets and the Fanueil Hall building is totally under construction (see American Flag building in pic at top). Luckily it was a beautiful September morning and the walk was pleasant. If you want to see Boston at its best, see it in the early hours before people are rushing to work and cars congest the streets (for more on this, see my post “Perks of Being a Morning Creature”).

The RMV is located in Boston’s North End aka “Little Italy.” This part of town is also somewhat of a historic center in Boston. Many of the buildings are protected and some of the streets are cobblestone. I walked through some of these little lanes on my way to the RMV. It is an extemporaneous sight, Dear Reader, to see men and women in suits with briefcases and iPhones rushing across the narrow brick streets between 18th century structures. 

Haymarket, Boston, summer 2019

If you come to the RMV from Downtown, you will likely go through Haymarket. Located at the intersection of the Red Line and Orange Line on Boston’s subway system, Haymarket is also a real market! On Fridays and Saturdays one can purchase cheap, fresh produce from local vendors.

RMV, Boston, summer 2019

Exiting the market and stepping in front of the RMV, I started to regret my leisurely pace here. At 8:55am there was already a line stretching outside of the building. At least in the morning the line moves relatively quickly even if it looks long. I waited my turn, took a ticket as if I were at a deli, and watched the screen for them to call my number. One clever (!?) thing about the tickets is that the ticket “numbers” are an alphanumeric combination, which makes it hard to predict where you are in line. It’s a little disorienting waiting to hear S12 called when they are currently serving O24 and Y5. How long have I been here? It’s hard to tell with this system.

RMV Waiting Room, Boston, summer 2019

Luckily, I was able to get my license (or at least the temporary, paper copy) without incident (save for a not-so-flattering photo that will be with me for up to five years….) And, to make my little trip to the RMV a bit more fun, I ended it with a visit to my favorite cafe – Tatte (which deserves a post of its own!).

Muesli bowl, Tatte, Boston, summer 2019

Sometimes, Dear Reader, we have to do things like renew our licenses, get a cavity filled, or change tires. Life is filled with these little experiences and ruminating or dreading such things will only bring us unnecessary pain. If you can, Dear Reader, find the positive in such experiences. For me, “going to the RMV” meant exploring the North End, “waiting in line” meant an opportunity to read some short stories (see my post on this “Read and Listen”), and “returning to work” meant a nice pit stop at my favorite cafe. Always open your eyes to the little joys around you, Dear Reader, if you look hard enough, I’m sure you will find them.



Read and Listen

Reader, summer 2019

Dear Reader,

When was the last time you read a book beginning to end? I mean a solid, rectangular thing that takes up space in your backpack and compels you to manually turn every page. I, personally, am very into audiobooks right now and cannot remember the last time that I read (rather than listened to) a novel.

Little Free Library, Cambridge, MA, summer 2019

This morning on my daily commute I passed a Little Free Library. These little stands are set up all around Boston in neighborhoods to allow people to take and return books. While I have taken a few myself, I have returned many more as I am currently into my audiobook phase.

While I love audiobooks (listening to about 50 books a year), there is something about reading physical books that makes me want to get back into this habit. I especially love reading (and listening to audiobooks) when traveling. There are specific books that when I hear their title I am instantly reminded about where I read them because I was traveling. “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman – Argentina/ Uruguay, “100 Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Russia, “Our Kind of Cruelty,” by Araminta Hall – Oxford, England, and so on. 

Glasgow, Scotland, summer 2019

As a teen, a “travel book” was a must, as I was no longer interested in my Gameboy and my phone could do no more than make calls and send texts. If I see a Twilight book I will remember how I read one in the series on a family trip to Los Angeles as a middle schooler. My boyfriend actually abides by the travel book tradition. Whenever he goes on vacation, he tries to find a book that he can take with him to read throughout the duration of the trip. On our Scottish adventure, we ended up finding a Tom Clancy thriller for him at a Waterstones bookstore in Glasgow.

Personally, I remain an audiobook gal. There is something about listening to a story, Dear Reader, that will always push me in favor of audiobooks. It’s so human! It’s the way our ancient ancestors enjoyed tales. Walking and listening can be a transcendent experience. With the action unfolding between your ears and behind your eyes, you are no longer on your morning commute, but right at the center of the plot. Time means nothing. City sights and sounds are muffled and obscured so you can better listen….

Book of short stories, summer 2019

I digress. Regardless, Dear Reader, I would like to read something physical every now and again and I have recently found a book of short stories that I’m trying to get through in hard copy. With my busy life, sitting and reading is hardly an option, but these short stories are perfect for a ride on the subway or while waiting for a meeting to start.

You are, of course, a reader, Dear Reader, and I wonder what combinations of curious words intrigue you most. Well, whichever they may be, I hope they bring you happiness.



Perks of Being a Morning Creature

Brookline, MA

Dear Reader,

How do you travel through the world? Are you more a creature of the day or the night? I, myself have always been an early riser. When I was in high school, I would feel that I had missed out on something if I had awoken after sunrise. I am still a morning creature. I wake up around sunrise on weekdays and am usually out the door before 7am. Seeing the first slivers of a new day is exciting for me. It’s like getting a sneak preview of the day’s events while many are still at home in bed.

I’ve had a cold for the past few days (still lingering from my Iceland/ Scotland adventure!) and I haven’t been sleeping well. In fact, I’ve been waking up even earlier with coughing fits. This morning I was up at 4:30am and I started sending emails because I couldn’t fall back asleep (I’m sure my European colleagues appreciated prompt responses today!). It felt good to wander this morning and it was an especially pretty walk with the light from the rising sun.

If you follow my blog you may remember my post “Home Sweet Boston” in which I mention that I want to start seeing the city with a “traveler’s mindset” to spark more joy at home when I’m not traveling. Well, Dear Reader, my morning commute is a beautiful way for me to see this city with new eyes. 

I have lived in a few Boston locations and wanted to share some pictures of what I have seen on my early morning walks in and around the city.

Back Bay, Boston, MA
Cambridge, MA

If you’re feeling restless at home, Dear Reader, consider setting your alarm for 5am and embarking on an early morning adventure. It’s amazing how much you can see when you are determined to look at the world with new eyes.



When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Cookies

Colorful mess in the kitchen, lemon cookies “before” pic

Dear Reader,

Are you lucky enough to engage in hobbies that you love? Or, or are you like me and have to cram your love of audiobooks, language-learning, and wandering into your morning commute? Finding time to do the things we love can be difficult, but often worth it. 

Talented woman (who regrettably isn’t me, pictured) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, summer 2016

I have a number of abstract life goals. One of these goals is to become more of a “renaissance woman” (speaking several languages fluently, knowing about fine art and architecture, etc.). My plan is to do this in baby steps. Step one, is to explore new hobbies. One hobby that I am particularly interested in integrating into my life is baking.

Ramen, Tokyo, Japan, summer 2016

When I travel I like to try foods that I would not normally find at home. Some of these dishes I end up loving, while others I only “love” for the experience (never again will I try jellyfish, the slimy Russian meat pudding ‘kholodets,’ or papayas [lol, sorry!]).

Eggs with Soldiers, Oxford, England, summer 2019

Traveling and trying new foods has also made me interested in baking international dishes that I may not be able to find at home. While I won’t be attempting to make crème brûlée anytime soon, I have started my baking journey with cookies. Specifically, at the beginning of each month I try my hand at baking and deliver my treats to a staff meeting at one of my part-time jobs. I embarked on this goal a few months ago and have already made oatmeal raisin and almond cookies. Today, I will end the summer with lemon cookies for the early September meeting.

I am not a baker, Dear Reader, but I am literate, which gives me a fair shot at following the easy-to-read lemon cookie recipe. After a busy day at work, I quickly went to the grocery store and collected all of the ingredients including a few extra lemons (just in case!). However, at home as soon as I began to pull everything out of my shopping bag I realized I forgot to buy a zester (a cheesegrater like instrument used to scrape the outside of citrus fruits), which was integral to the recipe. I was very upset, the staff meeting was the next morning. It was already later in the evening, raining hard outside, and I just didn’t feel like making a return trip to the store. 

Rainy day in Boston, Whole Foods, summer 2019

At this point, Dear Reader, I had to ask myself. What is the point? Baking is supposed to be a hobby, it’s not supposed to bring me stress. If your hobby starts to bring you stress, is it worth continuing? …. Maybe?? I talked with my ever-practical boyfriend who didn’t really see one more trip to the grocery store as a big deal (in fact he offered to sponsor my Uber in exchange for picking him up a few items), and maybe he’s right. 

The course of anything never did run smooth! 

Very imperfect, but very good tasting lemon cookies!

To give up at the first sign of trouble will make you less capable of dealing with obstacles (if only emotionally). If we think something is worth it, we shouldn’t make excuses to ourselves and allow external factors (the weather, …our willpower to leave the house, etc.) to stop us. It’s so, sooo easy to quit, Dear Reader. Life gave me lemons and I was about to say, lemons suit me just fine! But, if you want lemon cookies, don’t settle for lemons.



Home Sweet Boston

Charles River, Boston, MA, winter 2018

Dear Reader,

After my travels to Iceland and Scotland, I have finally returned home to Boston! It can sometimes be hard to return back to everyday life after an adventure abroad. The thought of going to work, paying bills, and running errands can make one long for just a few more days as a traveler.

This is not a good feeling, Dear Reader. Longing to be somewhere other than where we are will not make us happy. I’m trying to get better at enjoying the moment rather than counting down to my next trip, so I am doing my best to see Boston with a “traveler’s mindset.” I am encouraging myself to become more aware and more interested in my surroundings in order to spark some excitement into the commonplace. In this way, I hope to make my home life more of an adventure.

In the meantime, Dear Reader, I am absolutely exhausted and I have developed a bit of a cold. If you follow my blog you may remember my “Well Wishes” post. In this entry, I describe how I use vitamin C and zinc tablets to stave off the common cold. Well, Dear Reader, this method worked and kept me well throughout my Icelandic adventure and most of my Scottish adventure. It wasn’t until my last day in Scotland when my exhaustion began to catch up with me that I began to develop stronger cold symptoms. 

Charles River, Boston, MA, summer 2018

Now, it is time to take a break from being a traveler and to be happy back home. Wherever you are, Dear Reader, I hope it is a nice place, because coming home should never be something that brings us sadness.



Until Next Time, Scotland!

Dear Reader,

My lovely Scottish adventure has come to an end. In this post, I just wanted to share some of my peculiar observations about Scotland that you may not find in your Google searches of the country.

Irn Bru soda, Edinburgh, Scotland, summer 2019

Irn Bru

You see this orangey, liquid concoction above? It’s not orange soda, but an Irn Bru (pronounced “iron brew”). What is an Irn Bru? Great Question! It surely does not taste like oranges. I would almost describe it as a banana-y or caramel-y soda. My boyfriend said that the taste reminded him of cold medicine that he used to take as a child. This is not something that I would normally drink. In fact, I’m sure that my eyes skimmed right over it several times before me Scottish friends pointed out the beverage to me. I asked them what’s Scottish, they said try the Irn Bru.

Vegan Burgers

Scotland is big on meat (have you tried the haggis?), however, there are many vegan-friendly options available. And, Dear Reader, not only are these options “available,” but are also reaaally good. I am not a vegan myself, however, I ordered the vegan cheeseburger more than once. In the United States, veggie/ vegan burgers are often listed on the menu without any sort of description of what is in the patty. Typically, one can expect to find either a quinoa or black bean-based burger, but also the “impossible” burger. To me, the impossible burger is the most burger-like as the texture is consistent like that of a beef patty and the taste does not lean heavily in one direction (e.g. it doesn’t taste strongly of black beans or quinoa). The meat-like, smoky taste of the impossible burger makes this burger a hands-down meatless favorite. All of the vegan burgers I encountered in Scotland were like the impossible burger and ALL were amazing. Even if you do eat meat, try the impossible burger (or any Scottish vegan burger), it just may surprise you!

Rainy day in Glasgow, Scotland, summer 2019


I was only in Scotland at the end of August, but I think it’s worth sharing my impressions of the weather during my time here. Make sure to pack your “Wellies,” Dear Reader, as it rains a lot in Scotland and wandering around with wet feet is no fun. While I was in Scotland the temperature jumped from 83 degrees, clear and sunny, to 55 degrees, cloudy and rainy. Make sure to check the weather before coming because you may end up needing to pack both sandals and shorts, as well as, rain boots and a jacket.

There is so much in Scotland to experience, Dear Reader. Vacationing can only offer us the smallest of glimpses into what it is really like to live in a place. I would love to get to know Scotland more, so as I sit in a taxi en route to the Glasgow airport, I just remind myself that this isn’t goodbye, but until next time.



Highland Holiday

Oban, Scotland, summer 2019

Have you ever heard of a wee Scottish town called Oban? Coming from the Scottish Gaelic word meaning “bay,” this little town sits on the western coast of the Scottish Highlands. On our little Scottish adventure, my boyfriend and I spent seven short hours at this touristy destination. In this post, I would like to give a little recap of our time there, which can serve as a mini “what to do in Oban” for the interested traveler.

Oban Chocolate Company (small building next to the blue construction curtain), summer 2019


It rained a bit during our little visit to Oban, which meant that we were ducking into restaurants and cafes for the first part of the day. One cafe I would recommend is the Oban Chocolate Company. If you are lucky enough to get a seat, you will be delighted to see the assortment of sweet treats on the menu including Belgian waffles, cakes, and, of course, chocolates, as well as a variety of coffees and teas. The Oban Chocolate Company also sits right along the bay, which means you can enjoy the picturesque oceanic views while you relax in one of the love seats.

Dogstone, Dunollie Woodland Trail, Oban, Scotland, summer 2019


Dunollie Woodland Trail, Museum, and Grounds is a complex located just a few paces north of the Oban metropolitan area. Wanderers can walk down the woodland trail past the farming land and right up to the Museum and Grounds entrance. The trail is free and worth seeing if you’re in the area. However, the Museum and Grounds require visitors to pay a fee. I did not pay to enter, but was still able to see some of the ruins from the trail.

Oban Distillery, summer 2019

Oban Distillery Tour

When I first stepped foot in the Glasgow airport, I was immediately confronted with whisky ads. The Scots like their Scotch! Built in 1794, the Oban distillery is one of the oldest (built before the city itself!) in Scotland. Though rather small, this little distillery boasts a variety of both smoky and sweeter malts. Even if you’re not a fan of whisky this tour also educates visitors of the whisky-making process: malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, and aging (did I get that right?). At the end of the tour, visitors can try a few of the batches and are given a Oban shot glass as a souvenir. With your glass in hand, make sure to cheers the Scottish Gaelic way — Slange Var!

McCaig’s Tower, Oban, Scotland, summer 2019

McCaig’s Tower

If you decide to look up Oban for yourself, you will likely find beautiful, scenic views of the bay from high above the city. You don’t have to be a professional with a drone to capture these views, you just need to hike up to McCaig’s Tower. Though architecturally reminiscent of Roman aqueducts, McCaig’s tower is a rather new structure, built at the turn of the 20th century as a monument to the family of the same name. Within the tower you will find a garden with small trees, grass, and a few benches.

There is so much to do in Oban that we simply didn’t have time for on our short trip, including wildlife boat tours and ferry rides to the surrounding islands. Is Oban worth the trip. Yes! If you found the above to be interesting and fancy a day trip to a small port town. However, if you are looking for something not as touristy, you may want to reconsider. I was so lucky to be able to experience Oban. This town is vastly different from Glasgow and Edinburgh. Seeing all three places makes me feel as if I’m putting together the puzzle pieces that make up Scotland. 

If you plan to see Scotland, Dear Reader, see as much of it as you can!



Edinburgh Excursion

Edinburgh, Scotland, summer 2019

Dear Reader,

When my boyfriend and I chose Scotland as the destination for our vacation neither of us really knew anything about the place. We resorted to a flurry of last-minute Google searches that were all along the lines of “where should we visit in Scotland?,” “best city to visit in Scotland?,” “which is better Glasgow or Edinburgh?” etc. We were so anxious to book a trip; our schedules are pretty hectic so planning a vacation (and booking everything) was a challenge. When we were both in a room together long enough to make our travel plans, we jumped to book our getaway in Glasgow, because, at the time, it seemed that the internet was leaning in favor of  this Scottish destination. 

I try not to have any regrets. If I make a not-so-great decision, I can usually find something positive to reassure myself with. I say this, Dear Reader, because I must admit that I think I enjoyed seeing Edinburgh much more than our Glasgow homebase. My boyfriend and I did a day trip to Edinburgh and -by god! Dear Reader- it is truly a storybook city. You can see ruins and castles and hills and ocean! Like a pop-up book, this city has a collection of unique captivating features that are both a surprise and wonder to discover. Edinburgh is eclectic in the way it intertwines the old with the new. Bridges and thoroughfares are conduits for tourists to travel from storied structures to modern marvels. 

Debating Chamber, Scottish Parliament, summer 2019

In Edinburgh, my boyfriend and I visited the Scottish parliament for a free tour (make sure to book in advance!). The post-modern structure was designed by the Spanish architect Enric Miralles. The building itself is reminiscent of an art museum and is unlike any government building that one would see in the U.S.. The building, like Edinburgh, is a mix of old and new. Indigenous stone is splotched and layered with painted metal. Windows are irregularly shaped and obscured by dark wooden facades. Construction finished in 2004, a few years after the lead architect died. Some architectural choices remain a mystery, but many can agree that this building represents the heart of Scottish democracy.

Saint Anthony’s Chapel Ruins, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh, Scotland, summer 2019

Another thing we did on our mini adventure was visit Holyrood park. This “park” is but a monolith! With imposing hills and high-above cliffs, it is like a wall protecting and framing the old city. If you are in need of a new Christmas (or other holiday) card, go here! You can get stunning views of the city from on top of the peaks. You can also see the ocean and ancient ruins here. If you’re more natury, this is definitely a good location for a long hike. 

When traveling to Edinburgh, my best advice to you, Dear Reader, is to allow yourself enough time to explore! It was a shame that my boyfriend and I found ourselves rushing through the picturesque, old streets because we were afraid that we would miss our 3pm tour of the parliament building. Give yourself enough time to stop for a coffee, look at the shops, and wander without aim. Why not take the time to really enjoy it!



Girl on a Train

ScotRail train, Glasgow, Scotland, summer 2019

Dear Reader,

Trains are your friends, well, at least they are in Europe. While on my laptop in Glasgow I started feeling FOMO (fear of missing out) creep in as I scrolled through all of the “best things to do” in and around the city. I thought to myself, how silly was I to spend my whole Scottish adventure in one city when there are so many places in this region to explore?! Well, Dear Reader, it turns out that I didn’t have to fret for long because TRAINS 🙂 

While in Glasgow my boyfriend and I took advantage of the UK’s extensive train system to travel to two other Scottish locations – Edinburgh and Oban. Edinburgh, the Scottish capital is located 45min to 1 hour east of Glasgow by train. There are two main rail stations in Glasgow – Central Station and Queen St. station. Depending on from which station you depart you could be on the fast 45-min train or the hour-long journey to Edinburgh. The train is very easy to use. One can simply purchase tickets from a laptop and pick them up at a vending machine at the train station. There’s never really a need to purchase train tickets far in advance, in fact, you can simply select a departure time and you will be issued either an “on” or “off” peak ticket depending on whether you choose to travel during the rush hours. If your plans shift and you find yourself on an “on” peak train with your “off” peak ticket you can simply pay the difference once you are on board. If you do not need to check-in any baggage or make any adjustments to your journey before arriving at the station you need only arrive 15 to 20 mins in advance of your scheduled departure. 

I must say that my trip to Edinburgh was absolutely wonderful, so instead of describing it here, I promise to dedicate a post to this wondrous destination soon. 

Oban, Scotland, summer 2019

Our other excursion was to Oban. Oban is a resort town located in Scotland’s West Highlands. About three hours away from Glasgow by train, Oban is nestled on a bay of the same name. Oban is very touristy and is known for its Gaelic culture, ruins, castles, and aquatic wildlife. The train ride from Glasgow to Oban was absolutely incredible. 

Scottish countryside, view from the train, summer 2019

“Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands, Oh where have you been? They have slain the Earl o’Moray and layd him on the green”. — The Bonnie Earl o’Moray

These lyrics that I have reproduced above are from a traditional Scotlish 17th century ballad. I’ve known these words for years, but they popped into my head when I looked out of the train window from Glasgow to Oban. Glasgow lies in the Scottish Lowlands and Oban in the Highlands. Crossing the Low-High divide offers the unsuspecting traveler magnificent views of the sparkling waters, jutting hills, and green forests. At times, I could have guessed I was in sunny, Southern Europe and other times in the dense and woody Pacific Northwest. The views are stunning. Have you heard of Loch Lomond? There’s an old Scottish song about that one too. Please Google it, all of my iphone pics of this wonder are severely inadequate. I was on the wrong side of the train to properly capture the loch. 

Sometimes I am guilty of making my vacation my final destination. Sometimes, Dear Reader, to stay in one place for a few days is exactly what we desire and need during our time off. However, if you find yourself to be a little bit restless like me… just keep moving! Choo choo!



Faraway Friends

Scottish countryside, view from the train, summer 2019

Dear Reader,

I am now in Glasgow, Scotland on vacation. There is so much to do and see! This city is so full of culture, history, and life, I am totally unsure where to start. I also have two friends who live in the area. These two lovely ladies are friends from college whom I haven’t seen (or spoken to, or even texted) in almost 3 years. Who do you consider to be your friends, Dear Reader? I sometimes struggle to answer this question. Is there a statute of limitations to reclaiming a friendship after time and distance pass you? Is a good friend still as good friend after one year of little to no communication? How about two? Ten?? 

One evening while I was in Reykjavik a week before my arrival in Scotland, I hesitantly cast my first text on Facebook messenger to my old friends. I sent the text late at night right before I went to bed to give my friends both time to process the request to meet up and also plausible deniability should they not respond to my text. I then turned the wifi off of my phone and quickly went to sleep. The next morning I rolled over to see that I had a few unread Facebook messages. They had responded and were all too happy to meet up! What a sigh of relief that was! I had wrestled with the question of “to text or not to text” and I am glad that I had opted for “to text.” Dear Reader, do not doubt yourself before you try something. Doing so will only make you stew in the “what ifs.” No one needs hypothetical regrets in life.

St. George’s Square, Glasgow, Scotland, summer 2019

So I met up with my two friends in George’s Square in Glasgow and from there we walked to Stereo, which is a vegan bar/ restaurant. They have a lot of interesting offerings including vegan “cheese” and “jackfish and chips.” The conversation and company were also pretty great. So many things have changed: we have all moved away from our college town, relationship statuses have shifted, and we’re all working instead of studying. But, also, so many things have stayed the same. My one friend remarked that checking in with friends a few times a year or even every other year is sometimes all you need to stay close with someone. It’s not about the quantity of time, Dear Reader, but the quality. I have learned so much about my old friends in one evening. This time spent with them cannot be compared to the everyday superficial conversation with acquaintances.

Friends are friends wherever they go. I do not know when or where I will ever see these ladies again, but I am glad to know that they will still be friends when we meet again.



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