All posts by Mimi McFadden

Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The Atlas Heart is a space where you'll find anecdotes on slow travel, craft beer, outdoor adventures, and all the eccentric bits in between that this world has to offer.

Wrap Up: August 2018

Wrap Up: August 2018 | Pena Palace, Sintra, Portugal | The Atlas Heart

*Note this post contains affiliate links

I arrived back to California a few nights ago and I already feel like a weight has been lifted, as if my shoulders can finally relax from carrying around the backpack that I’ve been living out of for the past 5 and a half years.

Without a doubt, it feels good to be home because I know this is exactly where I want to be right now.

It’s the first time in a long time where I’ve been content to not have any future trips planned at the moment. Mostly, I’m excited that I moved into my new place in San Francisco yesterday and that I’m already starting to set up a more fixed life in the Bay Area.

When I was walking around the city on my first full day back, waves of excitement kept washing over me with the dawning realization that this is my city now. It’s a place that I can start calling home and get to know in a more detailed and nuanced way.

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I’m Moving (Back) to California!

I'm Moving (Back) to California!

After 5 and a half years of slow travel around the world, I’m ready to have a more stable life in California. This is why. 

When the wheels lifted off the tarmac for Iceland in May, I felt my heart sink and float back down to San Francisco. 

A realization set in. I was leaving for yet another indefinite amount of time abroad, and all I could think about was how much I was going to miss California. 

I rarely get homesick, and the fact that I was already feeling a homesickness creep in during takeoff was proof enough that, at least for now, California is where my heart and mind are at.  

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6 Local Experiences to Have in Calgary in the Summer

6 Local Experiences to Have in Calgary in the Summer | Alberta, Canada

Note: this post contains affiliate links 

A few local experiences to have in Calgary in the summer to show you why it’s still one of the most underrated cities in Canada.

The Atlas Heart is a place to find the best local experiences in cool cities around the world, and to throw out misconceptions we might have about other cultures. With this in mind, I sometimes seek out other perspectives on this blog to help with a more layered view of the world. 

Today, Cat Lin, a Calgary-based food and travel writer from For Two, Please, is sharing her love for “Cowtown” through her favorite local experiences to enjoy around the city. 

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Wrap Up: July 2018

Wrap Up: July 2018 | The Atlas Heart

I moved into my sublet on July 1st, signifying the start of my summer and new life in Lisbon. It’s hard to wrap my mind around that only being 4 weeks ago because so much has happened this month. 

I’ve settled nicely into my life in Portugal, although I would by lying if I didn’t say that there are quite a few things that have surprised me about this country – both good and bad.

I knew within about 2 weeks of living here that it’s not a place that I’d want to live longterm, but I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here as a temporary expat. 

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Wrap Up: June 2018

Wrap Up: June 2018 | Porto, Portugal | Europe | Travel Blogger

Just as soon as I started getting used to life in the UK, I found myself on a plane to Portugal mid-month to immerse myself in a new language and culture completely.

You would think after all my years of travel I would have little to no culture shock by now when arriving in new places, but I always forget how challenging the first couple weeks can be in a new country, especially non-English speaking ones, and especially when you plan to live there for awhile (i.e. you’re not just a tourist).

On a whim, I decided to base myself in Porto for a week and a half before my friend Adi from San Francisco arrived at the end of June, and before my sublet started in Lisbon at the beginning of July.

Porto was a good start to my summer in Portugal (partly because it included a lot of wine tasting!), and I’m glad I was able to enjoy a northern city before settling down for awhile in Lisbon.

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7 of the Most Peaceful Places around London

Kew Gardens, London | 7 of the Most Peaceful Places around London

My picks for the most peaceful places around London, to find a slice of solitude without ever having to leave the city.

London is a city of many talents. Its draw is its mind-boggling variety – the endless options for restaurants, attractions, bars, and events at any time of the day, week, or year. It’s the epicenter of the UK, and a consistent contender for the most popular city in Europe (a regular battle with Paris for that title most years).

However, the constant hustle and bustle can be as exhausting as it is invigorating. The beeping horns, loud sirens, the pollution, mad drivers that are always in a rush to be somewhere.

It’s hard to find stillness in a city of 8.1 million. And stillness is simply not the vibe of London. Its intoxicating atmosphere is one of constant movement, everyone seems to have a part to play as the Londoner who has places to be and no time to waste.

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Wrap Up: May 2018

Traveling Iceland in May - One Week Itinerary | The Atlas Heart

It’s hard to believe that it was just the beginning of May that I was still stateside. It feels like I’ve been away much longer, mostly because I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks, adventuring to Iceland, Scotland, and England. 

The month started with a round of goodbyes in California. I had a night out for my going away drinks in San Francisco, and saw some of my closest California-based friends before I took off for expat life again. 

Before the second week of May, I was on a plane with my friend Urvi to explore Iceland for a week. The country was even more awe-inspiring and understated than I thought it would be. It’s a place I could see myself coming back to regularly. 

The rest of the month was spent in the UK, in England and Scotland.

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My 28th Year: On the Places I Once Called Home

Solo traveling through Sydney, Australia in 2013 - The Atlas Heart

You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place. // Miriam Adeney

I’m currently on a train in Scotland, rolling through the lush green countryside. There are deep blue-grey lochs on my left and clean white light filtering through the many windows in my car. 

This is my life, or at least it has been for the past 5 years. I somehow find myself in the most beautiful places, usually by myself, or all to myself, if you frame it that way. 

It’s my 28th birthday this Saturday. The past years have been a whirlwind of travel memories, some of my strongest friendships, losses, and countless new beginnings. 

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Wrap Up: April 2018

April | Yearly Wrap Up 2018 | Ranch State Park, Santa Cruz, California | USA Travel

April brought good weather, fond memories, and my last full month in the US before heading off to Europe. As I’ve been doing for most of the past six months, I spent half of my time in San Francisco and the other half in my hometown of Santa Cruz.

April also reminded me of how hard it’s going to be to leave California this time around. Except for the little taste I had of living in Greece this past summer, it was the first time in a long while where it felt like I had a small community that could build into something wonderful. 

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A Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal

Guide to Visiting the Taj Mahal | Agra Sightseeing | India Travels

Taj Mahal facts and information to plan the perfect visit to a famous World Wonder.  

Although usually one to dread overly touristy spots, visiting the Taj Mahal had always been a dream of mine – as I’m sure is the case for many of you reading this post. 

When my friend Pascale and I decided to backpack around Rajasthan, we knew that the Taj Mahal would be one sight we didn’t want to miss. Agra, where the famous monument is located, is just outside Rajasthan in Uttar Pradesh, but near enough to not be (too) much of a hassle to get to. 

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