Take a Page Out of My Book and Go to the Library

Libraries are one of my favorite places to visit when I’m traveling or in search of somewhere to work. Sure, coffee shops are great (I’m writing this from a coffee shop), but constanly buying coffee does a number on my wallet and my stomach. Plus, as a book-lover, being surrounded by stacks of books and that distinct old-book smell is always comforting wherever I am. If you’re not already convinced by the old-book smell, libraries also often have free wifi.

Libraries I’ve Visited (and What I’ve Learned From Them)

Rockridge Public Library

California, United States

Rockridge library
Photo Credit: Johanna Flashman

Tip: If you’re going to be working on your laptop, don’t leave it unattended.

This depends on where you are, but especially if you don’t know the area too well, don’t leave it up to chance. Especially in cities like Oakland, laptops will get stolen. If you have to go to the bathroom (another benefit of libraries: usually free bathrooms), take your laptop with you. It’s weird, but what’s worse — some weird looks or ending up laptop-less?

Other than the theft problem, the Rockridge library has everything you could want: free wifi, bathrooms, water fountain, seating, computers, charging outlets, and plenty of books. My favorite part is the puzzle table.

UC Berkeley Doe Library

California, United States

Photo Credit: www78 /Creative Commons 

Tip: For university libraries, check ahead of time to make sure you can get in — some are only available to students or faculty. Also, sometimes they only have Edurome wifi, which you need an account connected to a university.

The Doe Library is open to anyone and it is beautiful. If you’re in the area and want a student atmosphere, this is the place. Book shelves lining the walls, high ceilings, and big windows, it really is a picturesque place to get some work done. Word of warning though: if I remember correctly, the library uses Edurome wifi which might be only for students or people with an active Edurome account.

Sheffield Central Library

Sheffield, England

Sheffield Library
Photo Credit: librariestaskforce /Creative Commons 

Tip: If your laptop has minimal battery life like mine, sus out a desk or area with outlets within reach. If you don’t need to plug in, areas that aren’t close to outlets will likely be more available.

The best place I found for outlets in this library was the computer room. On the top floor the library also has a cafe, but when I was there, it was closed. Note: when the cafe is closed, so is the bathroom! You can also cross the street and hang out in the Winter Gardens which also has free wifi and you get to be surrounded by plants (but there aren’t any outlets).

Boulder Main Library

Colorado, United States

Boulder Library
Photo Credit: Zane Selvans /Creative Commons 

Tip: Libraries often have printers you can use for a small fee. If you don’t have a printer or you’re traveling without access to a printer, this can be a great option.

Boulder’s Main Library was semi-recently renovated and it is beautiful. Not old-time, dramatic architecture beautiful, but still really nice. They also often have free events and classes and are right by Boulder Creek so you can check out a book and go read by the creek.

Hulme High Street Library

Manchester, England

Manchester Library
Photo Credit: Johanna Flashman

Tip: Libraries are a great place to look at newspapers or magazines if you don’t want to shell out for a subscription or would rather share and conserve paper.

Bonus tip: going to libraries when traveling is often where you can meet locals or actually get an idea of the area — look at what books they display, hang out, meet people. They will also often have little local history or art exibits too.

This library is in connection with a leisure center, so it’s not huge, but it still has a good selection. I was especially interested to see what books they were putting on show (a lot of self-help books). Nothing ridiculously special, but the wifi was good and the atmosphere felt very local.

Beautiful Libraries on My Bucket List

These libraries look incredible and I would love to visit them. At the same time, most of these breathtaking book-houses, are not exactly you’re standard public library. Many, you can’t just get in and go on your laptop. They are tourist attractions (still beautiful though!).

If you want somewhere for refuge from the tourists or to get some work done, I would try a quick google search of the closest public library in your area. You can try university libraries, but those won’t often be open to the public. Google Maps is honestly your best friend in this case.

The John Rylands Library

Manchester, England

John Rylands Library
Photo Credit: awong721 /Creative Commons

This library is part of the University of Manchester and may be a little exclusive if you’re not a student. The website says you have to pay (£75 per year) to be an external member of the library, but for a one time visit, you can get in with a photo ID.

Bodleian Library

Oxford, England

Bodleian Library
Photo Credit: IceNineJon /Creative Commons

Again, as a university library, it’s not entirely open to the public, but you can visit and take a tour. Just think of it as visiting a castle for books.

Bibliotheque Interuniversitaire de la Sorbonne

Paris, France

Paris library
Photo Credit: Zantastik~commonswiki /Creative Commons

University library again, so maybe a little exclusive. Maybe they’d let you take a quick tour of the place? Or you might be able to pre-register as a visitor, but they seem to be pretty specific that you need to be a student, teacher, or researcher.

Admont Abbey Library

Admont, Austria

Admont Abbey Library
Photo Credit: Prof. Mortel /Creative Commons

The library of Admon Abbey is apparently the world’s largest monastery library. According to their website, “The library holds some 70,000 volumes while the Abbey in total owns nearly 200,000 books.”

The library is open to the public (huzzah!), but there is an entrance fee. It’s a tourist attraction at this point, after all. With seven ceiling frescos and elaborate, limewood carvings, I’d pay the €11.50 to spend a day here.

Strahov Monastery Library

Prague, Czech Republic

Strahov Library
Photo Credit: J McSporran /Creative Commons

Again in a monastery (did you know monasteries had this many gorgeous libraries?), but it is open to the public! For a fee, that is. Again — tourist attraction.

The library does have a reading room if you’re trying to get some research in and, as far as I can tell, it’s open to the public.

Real Gabinete Português De Leitura

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil Library
Photo Credit: Rafa.ela Ely /Creative Commons

The Real Gabinete may not be open to the public. I can’t even tell if this one is open to visitors. One can only hope though…

Rampur Raza Library

Rampur, India

Raza Library
Photo Credit: Rampur Raza Library

Even if you can’t go inside, just the outside is worth visiting. Talk about palace of knowledge.

Wiblingen Abbey Library

Ulm, Germany

Wiblingen Library
Photo Credit: Zairon /Creative Commons

Yes, another monastery. Admission is €5, but that’s for the monastery’s library and museum and includes an audio guide. Not too bad if you ask me. It’s not so much of a reading library, but you can’t say these monasteries didn’t value books.

Just Like That, It’s All Water Under the Bridge

So long for now, Iceland

It’s been almost a week since I’ve left Iceland and I cannot believe how quickly it all went. It feels like just yesterday I was getting pelted with rain and wind while attempting to cycle up hills… Good times. To sum up, I wanted to do a bit of an overview of the route I ended up doing and since visuals are always helpful:

Screen Shot 2018-07-21 at 8.09.38 PM.png

So, if I had managed to cycle the entire route, I would have travelled approximately 208 miles/335 km and climbed 4,022 ft/ 1,226 meters in six days. Since I did not cycle the entire way, my estimated total is actually something around 142 miles/ 228 km and 2,367 ft/ 721 meters in six days. Slightly less impressive, but I’ll take it. Of course, that does include carrying all the food, camping gear, clothes, and toiletries on the bike and on a bike, that weight adds up.

Funniest part of the trip was when I tried to get off my bike on the side of the road, lost my balance, and just tipped over because of how heavy the panniers were. Of course, the whole bike tipped over on top of me too. I inwardly hope some driver passing by did a spit-take or something seeing this cyclist all decked out in waterproof gear randomly tipping over.

Overall though, I’d say it was a success. It was cold, wet, and mentally exhausting, but a success nonetheless. If I had a chance to go back and do it differently, I might have tried to go up the west coast instead, because I heard the weather is sometimes better in that area and it might have been less touristy, but we live and learn.

That’s all for now. Who knows when I’ll get traveling again or where I’ll be going, but hopefully it’ll be soon!


The Best Place to Have a Cool Adventure is Iceland

Keeping it chill

As much as adventuring and traveling alone has it’s peaceful and enlightening moments, I have to admit it does have its downsides. For one, I’ve have a lot of time to think about what I’ve left behind in Scotland. The past year, I have made some amazing friends and met people I will never forget. While I hope to stay connected with many of them in this exciting world of technology, it is far from being able to send a quick facebook message and meet up 30 minutes later for a spontaneous sea dip. I miss that. I think it’ll be a long time before I stop missing the community I found in St. Andrews. Traveling alone is such an extreme difference, it’s hard not to miss it even more.

Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling alone – you meet way more new people and get to do exactly what you want without having to compromise. Just today, I’ve met an English guy named Terry who spends 6 months out of every year traveling and a German girl named Carol who also studied English and is now a marketing manager. On the other hand, when I’m by myself in my tent, it’s cold, and the wind is shaking the tent like crazy, it can be hard to remember there’s a world outside the tent where you’re not all alone.

In other news, it took me two hours to cycle just under 10 miles today because of headwind. Some horses looked at me like I was from mars then started running along the fence with me. So far, I’ve had at least seven people say in some way or another either, they’re impressed I’m cycling by myself in Iceland or I’m crazy for cycling by myself in Iceland. I’m inclined to go with the latter.

Letting Weather Rule the Day

It’s hard to beat reigning wind

I have to confess that I cheated today (and it’s only the first day!). I got my bike all fitted out from Reykjavik bike tours and as I started cycling, it started raining.

It took me approximately 4 hours to ride 12 miles and I wasn’t even close to where I’d planned to camp for the first night. My waterproof trousers were drenched and when I stood up my shoes made that squashy sound like when you step in mud. I was on flat ground, cycling on the lowest gear, and still struggling because of the headwind. Then add in the hills and I was a goner. The thing that kept me from full tantrum mode though was the little ray of sunlight that created a full rainbow right in front of me.

At the top of a hill I’d been pushing my bike up, a guy with a pickup truck flashed his turn signal and a little further up he pulled over. I struggled back onto my bike and fought my way through the head wind and rain to the truck. Ten minutes drive and one hill later, the guy pointed to the side of the road and said ‘that’s where you’d be 2 hours from now if you’d kept riding.’ We drove another 15 minutes until actually getting to Selfoss.

The Flight From the UK to Iceland Wasn’t That Long

After all, Ireland is only one “C” away from Iceland

Okay so I know I didn’t fly out of Ireland and it is very different from Scotland, but I had to do it for the pun. Geographically, it’s pretty close and I couldn’t help myself. Today begins what I am sure will be a cool (pun intended) adventure if nothing else. Traveling alone, I find I meet way more people and cycling alone will be an adventure in itself for sure. Already, I’ve met a musician moving from Detroit to Berlin and hitched two rides with different people. Today, I will get my bike and pray the rain doesn’t come in to heavy.That’s all for now!IMG_7224

Saw a Lot of Ducks and It Quacked Me Up

Okay but actually, on my walk back from successfully turning in an essay these ducks surrounded me it was really fun, stunning, and mildly terrifying.
On other news, this semester is flying by outrageously fast with spring break coming up then coming back with only four more weeks of classes then revision period and exams. But with spring break in less than a week, I am ecstatic about my plans for Spain with climbing with the Mountaineering society (in hopes that I don’t fall to far behind) then a week of exploring Barcelona, Valencia, and Madrid on my own and meeting a friend in Portugal. With tours booked, wandering expected, and camera ready I am directing my little flying carpet on another adventure I cannot wait for.

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