Monthly Archives: September 2012

Worthy of it’s own post

In Vancouver, over the SeaWheeze weekend. There was a day I never got around to posting about.  Chicago came and all of a sudden Ireland and here I am at home base with a small bit of free time to explain.

On our last free day in ‘Couv, we took a bus to the edge of the city.  We took a ferry to the other side. And another bus to Lynn Canyon.  A short but dangerously full suspension bridge led us to the canyon.  As you can see, when we want to get somewhere, we get there.

Here are tons of hiking trails.  Large trees and vines everywhere. We hiked along until we found an opening that led us down to a creek. A huge creek. Fresh water running like a bubbling brook. A large, powerful one.  Washing over the smoothest, biggest rocks you’ve ever laid eyes on.

It was here that we stripped down to our swimsuits and worshipped the sun for the afternoon.  There were very few other people… we just about had the place to ourselves.  A little further down were 20 foot cliffs and waterfalls that daredevils were jumping off of. It felt like our own little slice of heaven. People packed picnics, read books, smoked a little dro.  It felt straight out of The Beach and we spent many hours there.  Who knows how long, time seemed to stand still. It didn’t matter. I could have stayed the rest of forever.

For some reason this spot meant so much to me.  It felt so, pure. As silly as that sounds. All we needed was a swimsuit and a bottle of water.

The brook flowing over the rocks was absolutely freezing. We dared each other to dunk all the way underwater. I have never felt more refreshed, or alive in my life.  You know that spot you go to when you close your eyes and daydream?  This one is mine.
The other day, I got an email from Canvas on Demand about a special they were having. Order a canvas of any Instagram pic and it is 50% off.

Can you guess which picture I chose?

xo

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Excuse this interruption in life

Dublin hangover turns into shots of DayQuil, neti pot parties, loogie-hawking car rides, sweaty restless sleep, balloon-inflated head, Kleenex blowing marathons and begging on my knees to the wellness Gods for a reprieve.

This liquid is my saving grace.
Xo

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Dublin -> Minnesota

Oh. My. God. My body. It hates me.
I feel like I’ve been smashed in by a pot of gold.
I feel like I’ve been on a month long Jameson binge.
I feel, for lack of a better word, like shit. With a capital ‘s’, Shit.

It’s been ages since I’ve had a hangover and now I remember why I avoid it like the plague – because it is the absolute worst feeling ever. Aside from childbirth I hear, but That Is A Miracle Happening, people! You cannot compare the two. They’re not mutually exclusive. (good phrase, right dad?)

Apparently, I let my tolerance guard down a little. I should have said no when I said yes and I won’t be making that mistake again.

In the wee hours, I even had a mini-pass out session. Mini because I stopped it just before it happened, but felt as if it still occurred. My body passes out on occasion. It’s like a reboot. More often than not it happens around alcohol, but not always. I’ve passed out on a plane, in my bathroom, in other peoples bathrooms, heck, in the bathroom of Ed Debevics in Chicago just two weeks ago…

I ran to the bathroom, stripped, jumped into the tiny 3’x3′ shower and blasted the water freezing cold. Ten minutes like this and I felt the feeling pass. Afterwards I always feel uncharacteristically tired and very weak.

I slept a bit longer and dreaded the alarm clock that woke Chelsea and I at 6:45am. We didn’t start moving until 7:00 and by that time, we were already running behind. They say to get to the airport at least 2 hours early for international flights, right? Our flight leaves at 10am, boarding starts at 9:15.

We pack speedy fast, rouse the sleeping boys, and load into the car. No coffee, tea, breakfast. I couldn’t have handled it anyway.

Ian drives us in his sporty car to the airport. The windows are down (by request) and the cold air is refreshing and energizing (it’s the simple things in life, right mom?). He pops in a Michael Bublé CD and turns it up.

Here we are: four people, packed into a car, weaving thru the streets of Dublin with the windows down and Michael Bublé blasting.

I just wanted to recap for you because, hangover or not, it was the best exit ever.

We arrive at the Dublin Airport and get our boarding passes at the American Airlines counter. The lines are short but take longer than necessary. I waver while I stand and I’m nauseous as all get out.

We get thru the first security checkpoint. I get buzzed when I walk thru the sensor so a nice woman asks if she can “pat me down”. What are my options? Closed room strip search or in-the-open pat down? I’ll take the pat down. Unless the strip search agents are Michael Bublé and David Beckham. In that case, I hope there’s favorable dim lighting… 🙂

I don’t know how I could have caused it to buzz. I’m wearing Lululemon socks, yoga pants, a sports bra and tank top…

We hear the overhead PA say, “Passengers flying on American Airlines flight XX to Chicago, make your way to the lower level U.S. Preclearance“. We walk a bit faster, just to stand in another line. This is US Customs, it is nice to get out of the way now versus once we arrive. The time is 9:05, we board at 9:15. We get thru customs, part of which includes them showing us an aerial photograph zoomed in on our luggage after it was checked at the counter. The customs agent asks, “is this the luggage you checked earlier?” I reply in the affirmative. Holy creepy, big brother! I guess I would rather have more security than less but, yikes.

Next stop is security checkpoint número dos.. It’s 9:15. We get thru relatively quickly and find the nearest restroom (sensing a pattern here, folks? We pee a lot.)

9:20 and the gate is packed. Standing room only. They are seating individual sections and ours has been called. There’s no need to board and sit so we won’t board until the last possible minute. Nearby is a small cafe. We have leftover euros and decide to pick a few things up. A chicken sandwich, a blueberry muffin and a bottle of water. I probably would have paid €40 for that water, my body was crying out for it so terribly bad.

We board the plane and exhale a sigh of relief. We made it. What an adventure!

I love traveling and seeing the world. I love the cultures, the music, the locals, the food, the memories. I enjoy it all and feel blessed for the opportunity.

But there is nothing, absolutely nothing like the feeling of going home.

We toast one last time onboard, with oj and water.

Sláinte,
Xo

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Last full day to be Irish

We wake up to a chilly, rainy morning in Belfast. Surprise surprise! Last night was the worst sleep I’ve had in years. Roommate #4, Mike from Colorado, stumbles into the room at 4am, hammered. He proceeds to play something on his MacBook while simultaneously coughing so hard, I thought his lungs were going to dislodge. After ten ridiculous minutes of this, because really, who would subject 3 strangers to loud, icky bodily noises at 4am?! Drunk Mike from Colorado, of course. Finally, he passes out. We think the worst is over, but oh no ladies and gentleman. The fun is just beginning. He snores for the rest of the night/early morning. Not just little-baby-my-balls-haven’t-dropped-yet snores, but full grown grizzly bear man snores. And if you don’t believe me, I recorded audio on my iPhone. So come on over and I’ll prove you wrong over a pint.

I want to thank the makers of Apple, the Pandora App, the Netflix App, and all of iTunes for creating such great products. Even though sleep was impossible, it drowned him out impressively well.

We woke up in the morning with a vengeance in our blood. We made as much noise as we could, thrashing around and packing loudly at 8am. We threw open the blinds and let the streaming Belfast sun shine into our attic hostel room skylight. In my head, as it was opening I was thinking, “let there be LIGHT bitcheeeeees!”

Enough about that. Breakfast was quick, as was coffee. We’ve perfected the art of unpacking and packing up again within 48 hours, so that was quick too.

The bus station was a 20-25 minute walk from the hostel. We swiftly checked out, and headed in that direction.

Time went quicker than we planned to the point where we were within 5 minutes of the bus taking off upon arriving. We quickly found a bathroom (per usual) and boarded the bus to Dublin.

About 2.5 hours is the time it took to cruise Belfast -> Dublin. The bus was double-decker, nice seats but crappy air circulation. Our dash to make it in time left me with small beads of sweat. I had half a mind to take off layers. AKA: everything. We took off our shoes, socks, sweatshirts and spread out across four seats. After ten minutes of cool down, the bus ride was relaxing and allowed me to continue reading my book. This trip has been nothing but adventure and close calls! Livin on the edge baby!

In Dublin we were picked up at the bus station by Conor (remember? Friend from work whose playing rugby here now and whom I almost got deported?) and his adorable, über sweet, purebred Irish, wealthy flatmate Ian. I spent a small amount of time today trying to convince him we should holiday at one of his families two homes in the South of Spain.

A girl can dream! I learned early on, I could spend my life asking for anything as long as I could accept ‘no’ for an answer. (same wise man told me this)

We purchased some spirits, walked thru a park filled with swans, Ian took us to a crepe shop with killer branding called lemon, relaxed on the patio of the apartment in the sun, ate free 99s, shopped for a few more souvenirs and watched Bridesmaids. The evening hours brought drinking, Jameson of course, ideal for our last night in Dublin. We also watched a bit of the new iPhone 5 announcement. All four of us are huge Apple lovers and pretty pumped!

At midnight, after I already had my fair share of Jameson, we went out. Chelsea wanted one more Guinness in a pub on our last night, and I couldn’t argue with that logic. It was bitchin cold as we walked many many blocks to Temple Bar. A round of Guinness for all. I drank mine fast and had my heart set on dipping out after one. A few more were had. Soon thereafter I witnessed someone barfing on the dance floor and said, “yep, I’m leaving now.” Chelsea and I caught a cab back to the flat in record time.

Eat two pieces of toast.
Brush my teeth.
I remember thinking to myself, I haven’t had much for water today.

The thought passes and it’s lights out Dublin.
Xo

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A day of history in Belfast

We woke up with the intent to do a lot of activities, and we accomplished all of them. Yay! Breakfast at the hostel was your typical cereal and toast. We found a cute small cafe to get coffee from called the French Village Cafe and Bakery on Botanic Ave. I got an apple cinnamon muffin for takeaway later.

The first adventure was a Black Taxi Tour. Our driver, Walter, picked us up outside the hostel. The first few sentences with his extremely rough Irish accent had me concerned I wouldn’t understand 80% of what he said. But, turns out it was easy to pick up on. Chelsea and I were the only one on this tour (£15pp), flying solo was slightly more expensive. Walter took us absolutely everywhere. The 90 minute tour spent a lot of time explaining the turmoil between the Catholics and the Protestants (or as Walter said, the British and Irish… because that’s how most of the people living in Northern Ireland view it). There are Irish flags and British flags flying on their perspective sides. We drove along the “peace wall” that divided the two sides of the city. Chelsea and I discussed later on in the evening, how can a wall, 9 meters tall… separating two conflicting groups, be called a ‘peace wall’? Walter stopped at one part and gave us markers to sign our names. We noticed a Steve Jobs graffiti mark nearby.

There were murals protesting many conflicts, political thoughts, people in jail, hunger strikes, everything. A few that showed up quite often were the idea to free Marian Price and memorials about Bobby Sands, the first man to die while on a hunger strike whom was in jail for 14 years because a gun was found in his car… yikes.

Walter said the worst year for Belfast was 1972 when 1,370 bombs exploded and around 470 people died.

He was a wealth of knowledge and pulled the taxi over every now again for us to jump out and snap pics. He kindly dropped us off on the northeast side of the city. This was time and money well spent. To hear firsthand experience while viewing the actual locations was better than any travel book could offer.

Our next adventure was the world’s largest Titanic visitor experience called Titanic Belfast. This is a six-story, six month old, unbelievably awesome exhibit. Student admission is £9.50 and well worth the price. The level of interaction and digital multimedia was amazing – it was truly built to cater to our generation. Halfway into the exhibit was a gondola-style ride that took you thru a day in the life of a shipyard worker (recap: 63 hour workweeks, below minimum wage, paid by the number of rivets completed, death by falling into water/being hit by falling materials from above).

The extensive, real dialogue used by way of telegram was typed out on the walls from the moment Titanic hit an iceberg to when the power went out and there was no more communication. The air became somber amongst the exhibit viewers. I’ve never learned about the Titanic beyond the 21st century movie with Leo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. There were replicas of the different first class, second class, third class state room on the Titanic. Examples of linens, flatware and carpet. They really detailed every bit of the ship itself as well as the passengers. Impressive.

One small part of the first floor had the actual outfits worn by those actors from the movie, on loan from Century Fox. And last week, the director James Cameron had flown out to view the exhibit. After about 2 hours, our brains were filled up with information.

We walked 20 minutes to the Victoria Square Shopping Centre. The only Apple Store in all of Ireland was located there. We just had to request a tour since we’re so close.

Lunch, in the mall, took place at wagamama, a chic noodle bar. I had the ebi raisukaree. Coconut and lime curry with grilled chicken, peppers, pickled ginger, yum!

The mall was a beautiful covered yet open-air multilevel facility. Many restaurants, a theatre, tons of shops that we explored. Six floors up at the tip top is a 360 degree dome that showcases a rewarding view of Belfast.

We walked towards the hostel and on the way, stopped at The Crown for a Guinness. During the taxi tour, Walter mentioned it was worth visiting. The Crown was packed with both locals and tourists. A small bar with wood ceiling treatment, gold fixtures, and small booths for being separated from the masses at the bar. We shared a small booth with a handful of locals and truly enjoyed all of our conversations. The Guinness was £3.75 and after one, we both counted the pounds and pence that we had left…. not much. We had to head out after we each had a brew.

Continuing in the direction of the hostel, we stop and buy a cheap bottle of red wine to split (£4.99) and Chelsea picked up some pizza for dinner. Back at the hostel, we drink wine out of hostel mugs while eatin some grub (me: leftover wagamama). Our conversation ranged everywhere from religion to love to travel to life and death and I realized, as I have before… I’m so very blessed to have a friend like Chelsea.

It’s not where you are, but who you’re with, that make experiences memorable,
Xo

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ready or not Belfast, here we come

Everyday feels like a gloomy Sunday here, with the rain. Except for us, it’s not gloomy, it’s an adventure. But, could you imagine living here? No sundresses, no skirts, no swimsuits. Pale skin pretty much year round. I love, love passing through but don’t think I could spend my life here in Ireland.

Today we woke up and took super hot showers which resulted in very foggy castle windows. #castleproblems When else are we going to spend the night in a castle? We had to make the most of it! Breakfast was much appreciated before we packed up and shipped out. We took one of the four local taxis to the bus stop where we were dropped off our first day in Collooney. It is on the side of the road, next to a stone wall. The bus was a tad late and it was raining, drizzle-raining that Ireland is so well known for. I passed the time by perfecting my handstands and wearing my hipKNOTies in strategic placement.

The bus arrives at 11:10 and we board. We pay the bus driver in Euros (€17.50) to get to Derry. We make a 15 minute pit stop in Sligo (super cool surfer town that I wished we had a chance to visit… next time!) and spend about 2 hours en route to Derry. In Derry, we really quickly find a toilet (not restroom, or bathroom, they call them toilets) and pee. Then even more quickly we buy our bus ticket to Belfast. This happens within 2 minutes as the bus leaves on time. The currency now has changed to pounds (£) and the fare to Belfast is £11, about $17.58 in US dollars.

The train ride is about 2 hours and the majority of it is spent passing very yellow fields. How are they so yellow and dried out when it is always raining in Ireland? Don’t get me wrong, there has been a TON of greenery here… I’m just shocked to see any dry grass whatsoever.

There are these billboards that say “Old age isn’t a problem, loneliness is” and it makes me want to cry for all the old Irish folk that are lonely. Then I see the many kegs set outside the local taverns and pubs and a string of lyrics come to mind, “I stopped by the bar at 3 am, to seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend” (“Closer to Fine” – Indigo Girls). A therapeutic song, YouTube it.

I continued reading the only book I have loaded on my iPad, the second book of the trilogy series, 50 Shades of Gray… the lady a few rows up was reading it, too. Funny how those best sellers span other continents like that.

Finally, finalllllllllly, we arrive in Belfast. One of the bigger cities in Ireland. There are people everywhere, cars everywhere… it really has the hustle and bustle of city life. Urban life. We like it and we find our home at the Global Village hostel about 15 minutes walk from the bus station. I don’t know what has happened but apparently, my bag is bigger than it was. I’ll have to revise my packing strategy as I’ve only bought two tshirts?! The hostel is £55 ($88.00) for 2 people, for 2 nights. This is the way to see a country cheap people. Public transportation and hostel sleeping. You sleep in bunk beds and share bathrooms, but it’s extremely cheaper than a 4 star Hilton… and you meet other people from around the world!

We searched for a dinner spot and settled on boojum, a replica of Chipotle. But better, more eco-friendly, and their burrito bowls tasted very good. We hiked around the city and realized the Apple Store Belfast closed at 6pm. That’s a hell of a time to close?! Six!? How do they make any money? We plan to visit them tomorrow! And request a back of house tour. 🙂

The weather here is much colder than we expected. Between the 50 degrees and drizzling rain, it’s downright bitchin cold. My sweatshirt hoodie and two layers of long sleeves will have to do. A wise man once told me, “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing….”

Chelsea and I end the night sharing a bottle of wine, dark chocolate, and planning tomorrows adventures.

I got the chance to FaceTime the parents home in Minnesota and for the first time I had a pang of homesickness. It’s the people that make time for you, that I plan to make time for. Whether we’re in the same time zone or not. Technology is absolutely freaking amazing. I was able to iChat with them as I vacationed in Costa Rica a few years ago, and now as I adventure throughout Ireland.

I’ll end with a quote I read on the side of a building tonight that, for some reason, resonates with me… and very well may end up as a tattoo someday, in some form….

Today’s plan is already yesterday’s – the streets that were there are gone.

Seize the day people, you only live once,
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I could get used to castle living…

Like spoiled princesses we slept away our hangovers in the castle.

But wait, before you judge, I can explain.

Last night was straight out of a movie.

As we caught up on our daily social media, we sat where the WiFi was strongest, in the lobby foyer near the giant open fireplace facing the red grand staircase. It was around 9pm and we were tired from the day, thinking we would have a few glasses of wine and watch a flick.

Somewhere between 9 and 10pm we were joined by two Irish couples in the foyer. The ladies drank white wine and the gentleman drank Guinness. Lots of both. We all start to converse. Discussing the haunted spirit in the castle, Johnny Cash, and the beauty of dogs. One couple had a giant 140 lb dog and a 6 lb Pomeranian they left out of their rooms. The castle allows pets, we come to find out. The dogs get belly rubs as we chat about a famous guest that stayed here at Markree Castle – Mr Johnny Cash. We are seated around the red grand staircase where he sang a song many, many years ago. In the guest book is his signature as well as June Carter Cash’s.

One woman happened to be a singer/songwriter and had a guitar in her room. She went up and grabbed it. Before you know it, Johnny Cash songs are being sung loudly in the echoing foyer. The two Irish men behaved like the guys in Boondocks Saints and were absolutely hilarious.

At this point, Chelsea and I decide to forgo our previous plans and see where the night takes us. We are staying in a castle after all, in Ireland, making friends and drinking with a bunch of Irish who have excellent singing voices.

Someone complains about our loud noise so we move the gathering into the bar area a bit further from where the guest rooms were located. We joined up with two other couples already seated in the dimly-lit bar. All 10 of our chairs in a circle. The music continued, as did the drinking and laughter. We were discussing everything from Irish politics to prime ministers to Lady Gaga to Canada to surnames to U2… we were absolutely all over the map.

2:50am rolls around, people are starting to waver when they stand.. Chelsea and I bid our farewells. Not before Johnny from Dublin grasps both of our hands and tells us, we are the future. We are going to do great things and to not be afraid of whatever comes our way. Johnny was about 11 Guinness pints in, but he meant well and we will remember his fond appreciation for U2, the Wanted and behaving half his age.

Fast forward to today. We wake up and shower: 1:30 pm. Chelsea calls the Markree Riding Stables to inquire about a ride. They’re ready for us at 2pm. We throw on tops, jeans and our tennis shoes and head out. The stable is a 10 minute walk from the castle (past the mama and baby foal).

We arrive, our lead is a super cute young gal named Niamh (pronounced Neeve… crazy, I know). She is 100% Irish and was recently voted the #1 Justin Bieber fan in Ireland.

We changed into some boots and got on our horses. Mine was a beautiful fast girl named Cheyenne and Chelsea rode a more low-key one named Major. It was just the three of us on this ride, so we took off on the trail. It was an hour long and we chatted the heck out of Niamh. We rode English and it was such a déjà vu time for me. I’ve decided I’m going to start riding again. Maybe i wont jump like I used to, but at least ride. It’s been a few years, but I love it!

This was absolutely one of the highlights. We rode horses around a castle estate, in Ireland.

We discussed the idea of taking Niamh home to America with us. She is all for it. I told her we can find a nice stable for her to work at, she can stay at my place and we’ll all ride horses and drink afternoon tea together.

This is the second product of Ireland that I want to smuggle home with me (baby foal is #1).

The rest of the day was spent packing and prepping for tomorrows travel. We walked into town and bought groceries to make a homemade meal (sandwiches & Guinness) in the room while we finally watched Gladiator.

Life is so sweet.
Xo

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to the castle we go!

Our roomie from Columbia left in the wee hours this morning. We woke up slightly early and began our packing process. But not before enjoying the most fabulous cappuccinos I’ve ever had.

The weather was beautiful, slightly chilly but clear and no rain drizzles. We went back to the cafe from day one in Galway. Located on the corner of the town square. We sat outside and enjoyed a solid 45 minutes of straight people watching, sipping on our cappuccinos and basically giddy at the fact that we are on a hell of an adventure clear across the world from home.

We grabbed pain chocolat pastries (chocolate croissant) for takeaway (to-go). Coincidentally it is the best pain chocolat I’ve had. It’s true, pastries just taste better in Europe. We bought our one way ticket to Collonney (€13.50) at the bus station and said adios to Galway.

Two and a half bumpy hours later, a dozen stops along the way, we make it to the tiniest town ever, Collooney. Home of maybe 3,000 people. The bus drops us literally on the side of the road. As the bus pulls away we see Quigleys. A gas/grocery/bar/lounge. I mention that it’s a fine time to purchase some wine so we cross the street and enter. Smallest grocery in the smallest town ever. Your typical old-as-dust Irish grandpa is manning the place and he’s gosh darn adorable. We buy the only two bottles of red wine left in the place. He calls a taxi (one of four in the city), bless his heart, and we bid him farewell.

The taxi picks us up and drops us right underneath the stone archway of Markree Castle. A beautiful location with lots of history. To recap, it belongs to an untitled family named the Coopers who were gifted the land as payment for serving in some war.

Our room overlooks the back lawn with rolling landscape as far as you can see. We feel right smack dab in the middle of a Disney fairy tale.

Two separate beds, a shower and toilet all to ourselves, now this is luxury, especially after being in hostels so far this trip. Not having to wear sandals to shower? Heaven.

We drop our bags in the room. An antique desk and chair sit near the window. Chelsea braids my hair as we listen to Lady Gaga. Afterwards, we explore the grounds. Well, some of them… with 300 acres of land, we didn’t exactly cover nearly a piece of it. The castle has their own flock of pure bred fluffy white Wensleydale sheep. Of course they do. Link to sheep

On the other side of the castle we walked on the road for half hour until we arrived at the Markree Riding Stables. A dozen horses grazed the grass on top of the hill as we inquired about riding options. Tomorrow night (Sunday), there is an evening ride around the premises (€25). We agree this is a must do activity.

On our walk home a momma horse and her foal were grazing in the pasture. The baby came right on over and greeted us. I discreetly tried to come up with a way to get her thru customs and take her home with us.

I couldn’t come up with anything logical. :/

Dinner consisted of road snacks (trail mix, these hilarious things Chelsea introduced me to called Digestives, our fave traveling item Justin’s Peanut Butter), a pint of Guinness and light bar fare. We dined in the castle bar area complete with shoddy upholstery, huge windows and terrible lighting. I felt like I was a dignitary or an extra in Beauty and the Beast.

Now we drink wine, giggle like little girls and watch a movie on the iPad (probably Gladiator to match our abroad theme)… this is the perfect spot for a sleepover.

Meet us in the castle basement for scary story time at midnight?
Xo

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Rainy Galway

Rainy! Cold! Gloomy!

Today we head to the Cliffs of Moher. A student out&back ticket on the bus is €21.50, significantly cheaper that any tour we found… and we can spend as long as we like. We grabbed a lunch and got outta dodge.

The Bus Èireaan is the Ireland bus company. We ride in a nice coach bus thru the rain and fog about 2 hours away. There’s no bathroom on the bus, and for me, that’s like saying there’s no air to breath when you need it. I just have to pee. Always. Every 25 min it seems like. And not having a bathroom onboard is slightly nerve-racking. Deep breath.

Small side note: It’s amazing how much mileage I can get out of this car. Both domestic and international. Students get discounts on food, hostels, bus tickets, Jameson tours, everything. I’m going to milk it for all I can. And when the card is unreadable. I’ll regress and buy a fake… how’s that for ironic? We spend our younger years striving to have an older ID just to become legal and strive for a younger ID.

Anyway, we made it to the Cliffs of Moher. The entire ride was bumpy. Entirely. The ride home was extremely bumpy over the cobblestones, like we were in a giant blender. Despite that, both Chelsea and I fell asleep on the way there and on the way home.

The Cliffs of Moher were invisible. The fog was so heavy and thick we were unable to view any of the steep cliffs. Mini photo shoot at the teeny castle on the bluff and we jumped right back on the bus again. Really shitty too because these cliffs are in The Princess Bride, one of the best movies of all time!

Back in Galway, I take the deepest nap ever. Chelsea wakes me up and we shop for an authentic sweater for someone at home. Our reward is gelato and enjoying more street musicians. Mmm.

An old Irish man rolled many kegs down an alleyway… straight out of a movie I felt like.

Dinner turns into an exploration in other parts of this small town. We dine at Busker Brownes. The hostel gave us a free pint of Guinness there.

After dinner we pub hopped to three spots that had large crowds, intimate lighting and live music. We enjoyed Jameson at each. Everywhere we went two Jameson neats were €8.40 – no one can charge more or less.

We toasted to friendship, silly Irishmen, our futures….

Laughing all the way back to the hostel.
Goodnight.

Xo

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another day, another macchiato

Our two hostel mates (sisters from Canada) packed up loudly and left this morning pretty early. It was pretty rough trying to sleep while that went on so we started the day.

Another macchiato at the coffee shop to pair with our hostel breakfast. Fuel for a long days travel. We develop a secret code to use in case we need to dip out of a situation without offending who we’re around. (we would tell you, but then we’d have to kill you).

We pack all our belongings and hiked to the light rail. Before hoping on- we checked to see if ticket checkers were on board… nope. We rode free (scandalous!) like bandits fleeing the city.

The light rail brings us all the way to the Heuston train station. A one-way ticket to Galway (€20) and we’re off to platform 4. I looked everywhere for platform 9 3/4… nowhere to be found. Nevertheless, trains absolute rock. I love speeding past the countryside watching the rolling hills fly by. Dublin to Galway is clear across Ireland. Look it up if you’re curious!

Our trip takes about 2 and some hours. I plug in my earbuds to the iPad and the first song plays, “If I Die Young” – the Band Perry. This absolutely matches my mood. If I die young, I feel so blessed for all of the experiences I’ve had. It’s surreal to have that song play first as I’m rolling thru beautiful Ireland landscape. I can be proud that I’ve made this happen. I’ve worked hard to get here. I’ve accomplished dreams and made my life what it is. I wish more would make the most out of their time on this planet. *steps off soapbox

Halfway thru the ride, a lady rolls this giant 4-story snack cart down the aisle and I just about ask if she has any Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans.

I fall asleep listening to André Bocelli’s “Por Ti Volare” and swear there is nowhere else I would rather be in the world right now.

*sigh*

We arrive in Galway and walk thru Eyre Square to Kinley Hostel. Judging by the clothes, we are rooming with two guys. The hostel is in excellent condition and highly rated throughout the world. We are very excited for our next few days here.

Lunch is at Cafe Express, we grab sandwiches before exploring the town. Grilled chicken sandwich (€5.90) on the freshest homemade ciabatta ever. Two thumbs up.

It’s pretty interesting, there is no tipping in Ireland. Waitresses and servers don’t go out of their way to be friendly, nice, or cordial because… they aren’t working for tips. It’s something to get used to- entirely different from America. They come over and say, “what do you want?”, and leave.

The wind was blowing like crazy but we wanted to continue our exploration. All thru downtown Galway were street performers. Fire baton twirlers, a harpist, but my favorite were these 4, standing on metal poles and playing old-fashioned guitars. They got the change in my wallet.

We walked and walked all the way to the ocean. There were rugby teams playing in the tall grasses, abandoned boats tied to the pier, and greenery as far as the eye can see.

After a few photos, and battling the wind (literally), to stay standing, we worked our way back. A little downtime, a little retail therapy, and planning the next segments adventures worked up an appetite.

We found an off the beaten path ecofriendly and organic restaurant called mixgreens. The food was locally grown, super fresh and reasonable priced. Penne pasta with grilled chicken and spiced olives (€8.50). We noshed before calling it a night.

Deeply tired, blessed, content,

Xo
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