Day Trip to Loch Ness

Sightseeing

Hello!

Welcome to another short post of the sightseeing variety. On Saturday, I went to probably the most famous tourist attraction in Scotland – the Loch Ness lake. I didn’t find the Loch Ness Monster (also affectionately known as Nessie) but I did manage to have a great time on this one day trip.

I, and the group of students from my university’s International Society, set off from Aberdeen at around 8am in the morning. On our way to Loch Ness, we stopped at Inverness for food and other supplies. Before noon, we reached the lake itself and paused to take pictures of its northern side, where River Ness flows into Loch Ness.

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The first proper attraction on our list was Urquhart Castle or the ruins of it. Situated on the shores of the lake, this castle was a perfect stronghold for various Scottish lords and clans, until it was destroyed at the end of 17th century. Nowadays, the ruins are an excellent place for historical sightseeing – they are massive and it takes at least and hour to walk around the remains of the castle and check out all nooks and corners of it. There is also a cafe, a gift shop, and a film theater, which screens a short movie on the history of the castle, nearby.

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Next stop of the trip was the tiny village/settlement of Fort Augustus, located at the southernmost point of the Loch Ness lake. Not only does this tiny town is super cute to walk around and has an amazing view of the lake, it also the place of the Caledonian Canal – a massive structure of locks, bridges, and aqueducts used to regulate the water levels in the surrounding lochs. Speaking abut the stunning views – during our visit to the town, it started to rain a bit and the sun was also shining quite brightly (it was starting to set), so, we managed to catch a glimpse of a full rainbow above the Loch Ness lake. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a full rainbow, especially in such an open and unobstructed place. The sight was magical and I couldn’t stop taking photos. Fort Augustus also had a gift shop, in which I treated myself and my family to some souvenirs.

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The following photos are of the postcards and other gifts that I purchased. I got a variety of cards to add to my collection as well as few to send to my aunt and a friend. Also, I got a fridge magnet for my parents and a plushie of Nessie, because it is the stupidest and the cutest thing ever and I couldn’t just not buy it.

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I highly recommend you visit this superb place if you get a chance. The more of Scotland I see, the more I fall in love with its nature. Last spring, I went to the Isle of Skye and Glencoe Valley and blogged about it, if that interests you.

Have a great week!

Movie review: Deepwater Horizon

Movie reviews

Hello!

Welcome to another film review. This time, we’re discussing the latest Berg-Wahlberg collaboration – Deepwater Horizon!

IMDb summary: A story set on the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon, which exploded during April 2010 and created the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

Deepwater Horizon’s story was based on true events that actually happened on an oil rig called Deepwater Horizon back in 2010. Although this particular platform was located in the Gulf of Mexico, a similar disaster has also happened near the city that I currently live. I’m talking about Aberdeen, also known as the oil capital of Europe. The oil rig called Piper Alpha, located 120 miles to the northeast of the city, exploded in 1988, killing 167 crew members. while only 11 lost their lives at Deepwater Horizon.

This movie shares certain similarities with other biographical survival dramas. All pictures like this follow a formula – they developed the characters and form an emotional connection between the characters and the viewers, only to then allow the members of the audience to feel utterly helpless while watching how the characters on screen are trying (and failing) to overcome various challenges. If you’d like to see more films like Deepwater Horizon, you can check out 2015’s Everest, which had a similar fall release date. Last year, we also had The Finest Hours, which told the story of an oil disaster as well, only this time on a ship rather than on a rig.

Now, let’s move on to discussing the various aspects of the feature that this review is for.

Writing

Deepwater Horizon’s screenplay was written by two Matthews: Matthew Michael Carnahan and Matthew Sand. Carnahan wrote the World War Z big screen adaptation and has also worked with the director of the film Peter Berg on another movie called The Kingdom. Sand hasn’t really worked much, although, he did write 2009 film Ninja Assassin. Deepwater Horizon’s script was based on The New York Times article Deepwater Horizon’s Final Hours, written by David BarstowDavid Rohde, and Stephanie Saul.

As I have mentioned, the narrative of the film was formulaic. However, it did work. The set-up was fairly clear (some of the specific terms went over my head) and the character development – sufficient and efficient. The picture had more than a few nice instances of friendly banter between the co-workers and was also really attentive to detail, for example, in showing the OCD of the main character through his orderly office. There were also a few subtle and less than subtle foreshadowing moments – one with the can of coke and the other with that safety award.

Deepwater Horizon also had some interesting commentary on capitalism and big business. It very obviously established the hierarchy based on money – rich owners and executives lived and had all the charges dropped, even though they were the ones who allowed this disaster to happen, while the innocent workers lost their lives. I also liked that idea about how any business consists of thousands of moving parts. Well, it seems like all of those parts stopped working on Deepwater Horizon that fatal night in April of 2010. The ideas of who is accountable and who has the right to order the evacuation and a shutdown were also fascinating to watch.

Directing

Peter Berg, the creator of Friday Night Lights and the director of such films as Battleship and Lone Survivor, directed the film and did a good job. He had some really amazing visual effects and some scarily beautiful shots of the old rig on fire. Moreover, everything looked uber realistic, except the CGI on the inside of the pipe. The real recording of the hearings as well as the actual footage of the rig burning were nice additions to the film. Not only did a decision to add them both at the beginning and at the end of the film tied everything together, but it also connected the film’s narrative to the actual real life events.

Deepwater Horizon felt like a quite a short movie. Despite its runtime being over 100 minutes, the fast pace of the film made it seem more like a 1h feature. The set up was a bit long but it didn’t drag. Furthermore, when the disastrous action started to happen, the time just flew by. The wrap-up was also quite speedy.

Berg managed to craft a fine film, which was both emotional, sad, and difficult to watch. The last few scenes – the aftermath of the disaster – were the most moving. Seeing the characters on screen deal with the horrors that they endured made my eyes water, I’m not gonna lie. The instrumental score also contributed a lot to the feelings that arose while watching this film.

Acting

The movie had an ensemble cast, but a few stand-outs were, of course, Mark WahlbergKurt Russell, John MalkovichGina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien.

For Wahlberg, this was his second collaboration with Berg (first being Lone Survivor) and they also have another movie coming out this year – Patriot’s Day, based on the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing. He was really good in the lead, I liked his chemistry with Kate Hudson, who played his character’s wife and the cute moments with his character’s daughter. Kurt Russel was amazing too. Lately, he seems to be re-establishing himself on the big screen once again, starting with last year The Hateful Eight. He will also be in the next Fast and Furious film and will play a crucial role in Guardians of the Galaxy 2.

Another silver-screen veteran John Malkovich was also great – his character was an awful person but Malkovich did a marvelous job making me hate him. The two younger members of the cast were also excellent. Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez had some nice lines and her final moment with Wahlberg’s character was just amazing, while Dylan O’Brien played his usual likable and a little bit quirky boy-next-door type of a character. O’Brien is best known for starring in the MTV series Teen Wolf, but he has also played the lead in The Maze Runner series, whose final installment has been pushed back because of a serious injury that Dylan sustained on set. Nevertheless, he seems to be back on his feet and working.

In short, Deepwater Horizon was a fine film. It had solid writing and directing and wonderful acting. It is not a type of picture to rewatch multiple times, but if you enjoy good movies, I suggest you check it out at least once. Besides, it is a sorta original film (still an adaptation) in a sea of remakes and sequels.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: Deepwater Horizon trailer

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Color Me Rad Aberdeen 2016

Sports

Hello!

Welcome to another post about a sports event that I had a chance to participate in – Color Me Rad Run in Aberdeen, UK.

This was the second time that the color run was held in Aberdeen. For me, though, this was the first ever color run that I ran in and I gotta say – I have never had so much fun at any running event before.

Around 3k people participated in this colorful celebration and ran or walked (the majority of people walked, which was quite frustrating to those who ran, including me) the 5km distance. We all set off wearing white T-Shirts and colorful sunglasses to protect our eyes. Throughout the race, we got splattered with colorful powders and colorful gel, so, by the end of it, our white T-Shirts were far from white. All of the paints were non-toxic, so the event was safe health wise.

After the run, all the participants basically raved, danced and were jumping around by the stage. The songs were a bit old but still great – everybody knew them and could sing along. The hosts were amazing – their organized some games for the runners and were throwing prizes into the crowd. We also did a few color throws, where we would all count down from 10 and just go crazy with the color bombs (packets of colorful powder) – we would all end up in a giant cloud of colors. It was amazing to see ‘it’ from the side but even more magical participate in the throwing and be inside that ‘cloud’.

The event took place in a beautiful park in south-east side of Aberdeen. I live on the north-west side of town, so I had to take a few buses to reach the location of the event. The best part was going back home via the bus through the city centre, where tons of people were staring at my dirty clothes and face.

The event was organised nicely: there was enough free water for all the runners, a food stall and a merchandise booth. I got a Color Me Rad wristbrand to remember this day. Bellow, I have included a few ‘before’ photos of the event. If you want to see more ‘colorful/after’ photos, I suggest you visit Color Me Rad Official Page or their Facebook.

If you ever get a chance to do something like this, I suggest you take! It is really fun for and enjoyable by both  children and adults!

Have a nice day!

Sightseeing: Isle of Skye & Glencoe

Sightseeing

Hello!

I haven’t done any sightseeing post in a while because I haven’t travelled anywhere, except flying between Scotland and Lithuania. However, this past weekend, I channelled my inner tourist and visited the Islands & Highlands of Scotland or Isle of Skye and Glencoe valley, to be precise. So, I’m guessing by this point you know what this post will be about – I will tell you about a few of the many beautiful places of Scotland that I had a chance to visit.

I was travelling around Scotland with my university’s international society, whose sole purpose is to help international and home students to see more of the country and make unforgettable memories. I’m sure that after you read this post, you will be able to recreate the trip to the smallest detail if you wanted.

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This is an approximate map of my trip. The lines definitely do not represent the actual roads that we took, they only show you the order of the trip. Red lines and red dots represented the distance we covered and the objects/places we visited on the 1st day of the trip (Friday), Blue lines and dots – Saturday (2nd day) and the Green dots and lines – Sunday (the last day).

We set off from Aberdeen early in the morning – around 6am. At around 9-10 am we stopped on the outskirts of Inverness to buy some food – especially snacks and a lot of water. Then followed another 1.5h on the bus before we reached our first location for photo opportunities – Loch Carron.

Loch Carron is both the name of the village and the narrow lake in the Highlands – only a short drive from the bridge to the Isle of Skye. We took photos from a few angles but all of them very equally beautiful.

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Then, we went to a few locations on the actual Isle of Skye. First, we drove and walked (around 1 mile through hills and valleys) to the Claigan Coral Beach – the view was absolutely stunning – the sand and corals were pure white – and the water – light and deep blue. The weather was also spectacular – sunny with a few clouds in the sky.

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Next, we drove pass the Dunvegan Castle (sadly, we didn’t have time to visit it) to the south of the isle – the Glen Brittle glen, where we hiked to the Fairy Pools. The view was magnificent, the weather – pleasant (sunny but a bit windy) and the path to walk on – interesting. We had to jump over quite a few streams or use stepping stones to cross them. I wish we would have had time to reach the actual bottom of the mountains, though. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing all the waterfalls and pools.

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After visiting the Fairy Pools, we drove back up north to the town of Portree (King’s port). There we spent the night at an independent hostel. The hostel’s building was really cute (light yellow colour) and the actual hostel was clean and comfortable. In the morning, I went around Portree to get some water for a trip, some money from an ATM and I also bough a few postcards. Basically, the town is full of all the necessary shops and the major banks.

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We started our second day of the trip with the hardest challenge of all – a hike to the Old Man of Storr. When we started our hike the sun was still shining, however, the higher we walked, the worse the weather became. By the time I actyally startedclimbing up the mountain, it started to snow and hail. The wind was also crazy. Nonetheles, the extreme hike was worth all the energy, becase the actuall rocks of top of the hill were really cool and the view from the mountain was also nice, In addition, after climing this hight – this was the highest hike I have ever done – I felt a sense of accomplishment. Moreover, for me as a cinephile, it was really nice to be standing in the place where Ridley Scott shot the opening of Prometheus.

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When we climbed down and got back to the bus, the clouds cleared and the sun appeared, so our drive back to the Highlands was pleasant. Although we were all quite cold, since we were soaking wet and frozen after that climb through a hail storm.

At around miday, we reached the Eillean Donan Castle, which is located in the meeting pint of three lochs – Loch Duich, Loch Long, and Loch Alsh. It has been destroyed at the begining of the 18th century and rebuilt between 1919 and 1932. Now it is used as a tourist atraction – various collections are on display. The historical kitchen model is also recreated and displayed. The castle also serves as a filming location for movies and TV shows. One of the films that was shot there and that I’ve seen is Highlander. The castle has a big gift shop full of iconic Scottish souvenirs, so I picked up a fridge magnet – the most stereoytipacl souvenir of all.

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After visiting the castle, we drove down south to a very special place to me – the Harry Potter filming location. I have always been a massive fan of both the books and films, so standing in the place where the movies whre shot was surreal. We visited the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which serves as a bridge that leads to Hogwarts. On the other side  of the road from the viaduct, there is a beaituful lake – Loch Shiel or the Black Lake/Great Lake that is near Hogwarts and was mostly shown in the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire film, during the 2nd event of the Triwizard torunament.

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By this point, we were all pretty tired, so we just sat silently or napped on the bus on our way to Glencoe, were we stayed at SYHA hostel in the middle of nowhere. The hostel was surrounded my hills and mountains and all sides. The rooms were comfortable, the kitchen and bathrooms – convenient and clean.

On Sunday, we didn’t have any plans as a group, so all of just basically divied into pairs or smaller groups and when for a walk or a bike ride (there was a little vilage near by where you could rent a bike for 10 pounds) around the Glencoe valley. Films like Braveheart, Higlander and even Skyfall where shot around those parts. This valley is also famous for being the location of the real life Red Wedding. The Masscare of Glencoe in 1692 was the event that inspired Goerge R.R. Martin wen writing the Song of Ice and Fire.

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At around 3pm we left Glencoe and headed back to Aberdeen. We made a short stop at Perth for some food (McDonalds) and reached the city of Aberdeen at around 8pm. I was home by 8.30 pm and extremely tired, so I just caught up on the news, took a shower and went to bed.

Although the trip was echausting, I enjoyed it immensely. Rocky mountians and water (oceans, lakes, rivers and seas) are my two favorite things to visit in nature, so this trip was perfect for my taste. I highly suggest that you at least visit the places that I have mentioned if you ever in Scotland. There is so much more to visit, though, and I know that I will defintely be going back to both the Islands and Higlands of Scotland. They are quite hard to reach via the public transport, so I would suggest for you to either rent a bus and find a group of friends or just get a car and go solo. This trip would also requre you to be able to walk or hike quite a lot, so remeber to wear comfortable clothes and shoes and bring lots of fluids.

What was the last place that you have travelled? Have you ever been to Scotland or are you plan on visiting it ? Bye!

Swimathom + Sport Relief Mile 

Sports

Hello!

Welcome to another post about a sports event! I haven’t done one in a while because I haven’t participated in any events since December. However, this past weekend I swam and ran in the Sport Relief Games!

Sport Relief is an organization which is trying to make our a world a better place through sport. Every 2 years, Sport Relief holds various running, swimming and cycling events all over UK and half of the money raised go to people in need in Africa, while the other half is spent in helping people in the UK itself. You can get more info about the actual events as well as the specific issues that Sport Relief helps to fight in here.

I started my Friday with a healthy 1km swim with my university’s girls’ swimming team! All 5 of us did a kilometer each and we finished the 5km in a bit over an hour! This event – Swimathon – was not about speed or racing but about spending time with friends/acquaintances/strangers and raising money for a great cause.

I started my Friday with a healthy 1km swim with my university’s girls’ swimming team! All 5 of us did a kilometer each and we finished the 5km in a bit over an hour! This event was not about speed or racing but about spending time with friends/acquaintances/strangers and raising money for a great cause.

All of the participants represented a particular team. My university’s girls’ swimming team was put into the Green team. If you look up the hashtag #TeamGreenSwim, you can see people from all over the UK, swimming while wearing the green cap (pictured below). Since the cap is a tiny bit too small for me to wear in an everyday practice, I will probably frame it and put it on my wall.

In addition, all of the swimmers got a commemorative medal to add to their collections. Nevertheless, all of these material possessions are nothing compared to the awesome feeling one gets when one does something good for others! And that’s what Swimathon was all about!

I am sorry that I don’t have any photos from the actual event. The Aquatics Centre that I did this swimming challenge in has very strict rules about privacy and a strong no-photos policy.

On Sunday, I’ve also attended the running marathon for the same cause. People could choose to either run or walk 1, 3 or 6 miles. Since I haven’t been jogging much and was sick at the beginning of the week, I chose the middle distance. It was also quite weird for me to count the distance in miles since I usually use kilometers.

The Sport Relief Mile Running Marathon was held on the Aberdeen’s Sport’s Village’s brand new outdoor running track. I have never run in an actual stadium before. Kaunas Half-Marathon would start and finish in the stadium but we would only run a few hundred meters in there.

Running in the stadium, on an actual running track, also meant that we were running in circles, which is also not a thing that I usually do – I am lucky to be able to jog in a nearby park or even by the sea whenever I want.

However, running laps (I did 12) also has its perks: you always know how many laps  you have left and there is always people in the stands, cheering you up the whole way through.


  

The Sport Relief Mile in Aberdeen had only 100 to 150 participants, the majority of them were families. I was surprised that this event didn’t have a bigger turnout.

I enjoyed running my 3 miles, I was going at a steady pace and finished my fastest run this year! The weather was also perfect for running – warm but not too sunny, cloudy but not rainy. I only wish that the wind would have been weaker, however, this is Aberdeen – it is always windy in here, so I’m kinda used to it.

All of the participants of the run received a commemorative medal and a runner’s number. The organisers also supplied the participants with bottles of water and bananas to snack on after the run.


Overall, I had a really great time, participating both in the swimming and running challenges for Sport Relief. It was nice to do one challenge in a team, and another one alone. If you have never done anything like this before but would like to start participating in public sports events, I highly suggest that you try your hand at charity runs/swims/else. The main goal of these physical challenges is to have a great time while raising money and awareness for a good cause, rather than competing, so it’s a perfect place to start!

If you would like to donate to Sport Relief, you can still sponsor me here. Thank You!


  

Christmas Run: Aberdeen Santa Run 2015 

Sports

Hello!

Welcome to another post about a running event! My last post on running was published  back in September, when I participated in the Night Run just before I left Lithuania, and you can find it here. Since then, I have literally been jogging only 3-5 times, so I wasn’t in my best shape for this run. Nevertheless, I had a great time and I want to share my experiences with you!

Aberdeen Santa Run 2015 was an annual charity run organized by WildHearts charity. This was obviously my first Santa Run in Aberdeen (since I’ve only moved there 4 months ago) as well as my very first Christmas Run in general (although, I think I will participate in a Christmas-y Run in my hometown of Kaunas when I get back to Lithuania for a Christmas break). Speaking about Santa Run in Aberdeen: all the proceeds from this event went to the aforementioned WildHearts charity and will help to fund various projects that this charity undertakes. Next weekend, a different WildHearts Santa Run will take place in the nearby town of Inverness, so, if you are in the area, I highly suggest that you participate! It’s not only a fun afternoon activity but a great charity event for an amazing cause!

I, personally, found out about Aberdeen Santa Run through Facebook and instantly decided to register. The standard payment for the run/donation was 15£. For this price, upon arrival, all the participants received a full, one-size-fits-all type of Santa Suit (trousers, jacket, hat, beard and  belt, which I have lost while running) and a number card. After the run, all the runners received a commemorative medal, a goodie bag with snacks (caramel bar, coconut chips, yogurt raisins and shortbread cookie) and a bottle of water. The youngsters could participate for a cheaper price -10£- they received a special event T-Shirt, a hat, and a number.

The run started outside the Pittodrie Stadium and the route ran  by the beach and the seafront. Throughout the whole run, I could  see the North Sea, so, from my running experience, this was definitely the run with the prettiest view. Having said that, running by the sea was not easy because of the harsh wind! However, the sun was shining the whole time and there were zero clouds in the sky, so it was a nicely balanced weather.

The organization for the event was really good, except for one mishap with the first turn in the route. All the runners (725 runners participated in the run) divided themselves into two groups and took two different paths, however, we managed to join back into one crowd fairly quickly. The whole mass of runners was also accompanied by a group of men in Santa costumes on motorbikes – that was an amazing spectacle as well.

I was quite happy with the time that I’ve managed to finish the distance in. This event wasn’t meant to be a serious competition. It was just a super fun Sunday afternoon, doing something good both for one’s own health and a bigger cause. It also helped me to get into a Christmas Spirit.

If you want to find more information about the event, you can click here. Bellow, I have also included a few photos from the actual run, a photo of the Santa Suit, a number and the medal. The snacks are already in my stomach, so I can’t show you those!

Have a great week!

Aberdeen’s Christmas Trees

Sightseeing

 Hello!

I hope that all of you are getting into the Christmas Spirit. I, personally, can’t wait for this year’s Christmas, because I get to go home to visit my family: finally, the song ‘Driving (or flying) home for Christmas’ will actually be meaningful. Anyway, in this post, I just wanted to share a few photos of my town’s Christmas Trees, so as to lift up your mood or pass on the contagious Christmas Spirit. Don’t worry about the deadlines and the exams if you are a student – bad grades do not mean that your life is over. If you are out of school and in the workforce – try to enjoy the things you do or be brave enough to change them – end 2015 the way you want to live the rest of your life!

A few sentences about the photos: the first Christmas Tree stands on campus of University of Aberdeen, the second one – the book tree and the third – the plastic tree are both in the university’s library (The Sir Duncan Rice Library) and the last one is the city’s tree – it’s located on the corner of Union street and King street.


  
       

Sightseeing: Edinburgh to Aberdeen

Sightseeing

Hello,

I’m keeping my promise – this is not a movie review! It’s a post of the photos that I have recently taken on my iPhone. I’m not a photographer, but when you see the scenery that I saw during my travels to UK (Scotland, to be precise) and the view that I’m still seeing in the city of Aberdeen every day, you cannot not take photos!  The first 3 photos were taken on an early morning train ride from Edinburgh to Aberdeen. Other pictures represent the nature and the historical architecture of Aberdeen. I’ll be spending the next 4 years in this town and I couldn’t be happier. I fall in love with it more and more every day. I will stop rambling now and will just let you enjoy the photos. I’ll do a textual post about my experience studying and living in the UK in a near future, so be on a lookout for that! Bye!


  
  
  
  
  
 My Instagram: @luknexx

Night run: running in the moonlight

Sports

Hello!

So today, on the last day of summer, I’m here to tell you about my latest running event and the last sports event of the summer and probably of this year as well. Here we go!

I’ve started participating in running marathons in 2013 and last Friday’s ORION Night Run (official page) was my 16th running event, however, it was the first of its kind. I have previously only taken part in daytime runs, so running during the night was an interesting experience. ORION run was also a charity run and those always make me feel good about myself. This time, the athletes raised money for children from poor families, so that they would be able to buy school supplies.

Around 700 people ran the 8 km distance. We started and finished the distance in Nemunas island, but the majority of the route was located in the Old Town of Kaunas. Since the roads in the Old Town are made from stones, it was very dangerous to run on them, since you couldn’t see properly. The organizers have lighted the route to the best of their abilities, but it still was too dark in some places. Luckily, I neither broke nor sprained my feet.

We set off at around 9.20 pm and I, personally, finished the distance at around 10.10 pm, so it was pretty dark by then. My time was definitely not the best one in my 2 years of amateur running, but, more importantly, I’ve enjoyed running those 8 km immensely. I’ve missed that feeling of loving to run and not needing to force myself to run faster.

Since I’ve moved to Scotland, I won’t be able to participate in the autumn running events in my hometown of Kaunas (Kaunas has like 4 different running competitions in October only, so I’m missing a lot). However, I would like to participate in a marathon in Aberdeen, so if any of you know about upcoming running events in this northern harbor of Scotland or any other city near it, please let me know. Thanks and Bye!

Some photos from the event:

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