Ireland

First off, I just wanted to thank my lovely friend Laura for giving me advice on what cities I should see through Ireland! I ended up being very happy with my final itinerary!

I arrived at my hostel in Dublin around noon and immediately met a group of guys from San Diego. They were headed to Howth, a coastal village that is a 30 minute train ride from Dublin and invited me to come along. It was so fun! The town is famous for its fish and chips so that was our first order of business. Next we decided to hike up to the light house, which was about 7.5 miles roundtrip.

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View from the Howth harbor

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Lighthouse and cliffs in Howth

 

After we returned to Dublin, we went out to dinner around 10:30pm. We didn’t realize that most places stop serving food around 10pm so we ended up at a late night “American Diner” called Eddie Rockets, which was very similar to Johnny Rockets back in the States. After, we went to the famous Temple Bar, which has been open since 1840!

The next day I went on a walking tour of Dublin and learned all about the history between Ireland and England, and Ireland in general. For example when the referendum on gay marriage came up in Ireland, over 100,000 Irish people living abroad flew home to vote. It was one of the biggest weeks for Dublin airport and the referendum passed at 62%.

I met two girls from Wisconsin on the tour who I ended up wandering around Dublin with. We ended up deciding to meet for dinner and go on a pub crawl later that night. Dublin is fantastic at night. On the pub crawl, I met Mehrdad, who is from Berkeley. After talking for a bit, we realized that we are going to be in the same city at the same time about 4 or 5 different times during our trips!

The following day I went to the Irish Whiskey Museum with another fellow Californian from the hostel. The guided tour was fascinating and after we got to taste three different Irish Whiskeys. I’ll admit that I did not like the whiskey, but it was fun to try them.

The next highlight was the Guinness Factory Tour. Despite not enjoying beer all that much, I have to say Guinness has totally dialed in the Guinness Factory experience. From learning about the beer making process, to the marketing and advertising strategy, to learning how to pour your own Guinness, the whole experience was great! The best part, however, was enjoying your hand-poured guinness at the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor, which offers a 360 degree view of Dublin.

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At the Guinness Factory!

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What can I get for you? Guinness, perhaps????

 

Next, I took a 3 hour bus to Galway, which is in the mid-west of Ireland. It’s the fifth largest city in Ireland, and is close to the Cliffs of Moher. I stayed at Galway City Hostel.

The first day was completely rainy so I spent the whole day playing cards in the hostel with fellow travelers and curling up with a good book. In all honesty, it was a perfect day, and it allowed me to rest up for the next day, which included an all day guided tour to the Cliffs of Moher! I can’t even begin to describe how beautiful it is so I am not even going to try; instead I’ll let photographs attempt to do it justice.

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In the town of Galway I went to several excellent pubs with awesome live Irish music: Tig CóilíThe Quays, and the Spanish Arch Hotel, just to name a few. I explored these pubs with Mehrdad, who I met in Dublin, as Galway was one of the cities we overlapped in. Another great find was Gino’s Gelato. I met some amazing girls from Colorado on the tour to the Cliffs of Moher and we immediately bonded over our shared love for Colorado’s nature and The Bachelorette. In fact, I even delayed going to my next city by a few hours so that the three of us could watch the most recent episode together!

Overall I really enjoyed Galway. In fact, it might just be one of my favorite cities yet. It was quaint, yet lively. It was incredibly walkable and easy to get to by bus from Dublin. I wish I had spent more time here and less time in Dublin.

Next stop was Tralee. It’s a small town near the Dingle Peninsula. I only spent 2 nights here, but I managed to do a decent amount. When I arrived at my hostel, I was immediately told I should take a bus to Killarney, which is home to over 25,000 acres and Ireland’s only native herd of red deer. It was stunning and I wish I had been able to spend more time walking around. I was fighting daylight and was only able to walk about 4 miles of the park.

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Wild deer in the park

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Old growth and new growth meet

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Ross Castle

Killarney overall was an adorable town, and I almost wish I had stayed here over Tralee. There were dozens of pubs, shops, and hostels. It was lively, even on a Tuesday night. I finished my time in Killarney with a bite to eat at Tatler Jacks and with an ice cream special from Murphy’s, which is a Irish staple. It was honestly some of the best ice cream I have ever had.

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Dingle Sea Salt and Caramel Honeycomb with Chocolate mousse and a cookie.

The following day I went to Dingle, a town on the Dingle Peninsula. When I arrived I walked into the tourism office and asked what I should do for the day. Immediately I was asked whether I wanted to go out and see the town’s unofficial mascot. I said “absolutely” and off I went. Can you guess what it was???

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Fungi, the dolphin.

That’s right… there is a single dolphin that lives in the Dingle Bay and has lived there for over 30 years. He enjoys eating, sleeping, and smiling for the camera as he swims alongside the boats.

When I got back from the fabulous boat tour of the bay, I strolled along the waterfront and wandered into Danno’s Bar and Restaurant for a relaxing lunch. After picking up a postcard (I get one in every city I go to), I wandered back to the bus stop to go back to Tralee. Because I hadn’t spent much time in Tralee, I went for a 5-mile run around town and their park in the downtown area. There was a lovely rose garden inside the park where I found my new favorite flower.

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Tequila Sunrise rose

To finish off my time in Tralee, I went to a pub with a couple from the Netherlands to watch the Italy vs. Ireland game. Ireland had to win the game to advance to the elimination round of Euro Cup, something they have never been able to do before. It was so much fun being in a bar full of total locals watching a great game of soccer (or ahem* football). It turned out to be a nail biter, but the room I think actually exploded when Ireland scored a header goal later in the second half to win the game 1-0. In fact, when I was going to bed later that night around midnight, I could still here cheering and celebrations from my hostel. Definitely one of the cooler experiences I have had since being here!

The next day, I spent about 6 hours on a bus getting to the Dublin airport to get on a flight to Edinburgh. Of course, when I got to the airport my flight got delayed 2 hours so here’s to a full travel day! Left Tralee at 9:00 and arrived in Edinburgh at 22:30 (That’s 10:30pm, but I’ve had to learn to read a 24 hour clock so you should too.) 🙂

Stay tuned for Edinburgh, and whether brexit will happen or not! It has been so lovely to talk about another countries politics for a bit instead of having to explain to every traveler I meet why Trump is still considered to be a legitimate candidate to be president of the United States of America………

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Worcester + Cardiff

It has now officially been 10 days since I have arrived- and what a whirlwind it has been. Worcester and Cardiff are the latest cities I have explored.

My time in Worcester was spent with a family I met through working at Stanford’s executive program two years ago, which Simon attended. We have kept in touch over the years, and I even met his family when they traveled to Boston this past spring. They were kind enough to host me for a couple days. Cathy, his wife, picked me up at the train station with their adorable dog Molly. IMG_6282

An adorable gate along the walk to Simon’s house in Worcester.

We went to a lovely dinner that night on the river Severn, which is the longest river in the UK. Fun fact: The Queen of England owns all the Swans in the UK and there is severe punishment for hurting or killing a swan!

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The next day Cathy and I set off for Stratford-upon-Avon, which is where Shakespeare lived and breathed- and invented about half of the English language! T’was a fascinating and quaint town. On Friday night, we went to cricket match (my first one) and I am still trying to figure out all the rules. After approximately 202 questions, people sitting around us began to chime in and collectively help explain the game to me #teameffort.

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Simon supporting the Worcestershire Rapids

Our last day together was spent on their canal lovely canal boat. Although it was a bit drizzly, it did not take away from having a delightful time. I learned how to navigate the canals and use the locks. Pretty cool when you think about how these locks were designed hundreds of years ago and still hold up today. I was sad to say goodbye (THANK YOU SIMON + CATHY), but it had come time to get on my train to Cardiff.

Two and a half hours later, I arrived in Cardiff. My first night I stayed in Nomad Cardiff and met two amazing girls from England who invited me to come out with them that night. We went to Pop World and Pryzm. It was truly an amazing night, but I’ll admit to needing a nap after staying out ’til 3am. Again I was sad to see them go, but after having breakfast at what they described as a “American Italian breakfast place” they kindly dropped me off at my next hostel in Cardiff before they headed back to England.

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My room in Nos Da Hostel

I threw my stuff in my room at Nos Da Hostel before walking through Cardiff Castle.  Every time I am in a castle I love thinking about the people that would have called it home hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Not a bad place to grow up!

Today (my last day in Cardiff) I went for a nice 4 mile run through Bute Park and enjoyed all the greenery around me. IMG_6259

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River Taff

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Bute Park

I went to Cardiff Bay after my run to do some walking around the waterfront. I managed to find a Starbucks so I could get good enough wifi to FaceTime my parents and my sister before reading my book outside in the sun. I found a cute restaurant on the water called  Bill’s and had a yummy spinach salad with some warm, freshly baked rosemary bread.

Can’t wait for what lies ahead tomorrow in Dublin. Hwyl fawr am nawr! (“goodbye for now” in Welsh)

Stonehenge + London

After a cancelled flight and a night stuck in Vancouver, I finally arrived in England! One of my friends, AJ, was kind enough to pick me up at the airport and we immediately set off for Stonehenge. We met up with two other friends there and enjoyed the day in the English countryside. It was fascinating to learn about all the effort and time that went into building Stonehenge. Some of the large rocks were brought all the way from Wales(!!).

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1st day in England after the red eye from Vancouver

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Stonehenge with Tony, AJ & Henry

After leaving Stonehenge, the four of us headed into Salisbury for the evening. It was the most British town I have ever been to. So quaint, quiet, and cute. We walked around the large cathedral and the small downtown. We settled at a pub for dinner. It was such a lovely evening catching up with people I had met in a hostel in Barcelona a year ago. By the end of the night we all decided that Salisbury would be the perfect place to retire.

I stayed with AJ at his place in Milton Keynes my first two nights as I was getting over my jet lag. The two of us explored London yesterday before he had to head back to Milton Keynes. The first place we stopped was Borough Market, one of my favorite places in London. I bought a jar of Lavender and Fig jam (yum!). Next we walked along the Thames River until it was time to meet Henry for dinner.

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Tower Bridge in London

Last night I stayed with two more of the people I met last summer in Barcelona, who live in London.

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With Guy in his backyard in London

I head to my first hostel tonight and can’t wait to meet the other travelers staying there and then tomorrow I head to Worcester to stay with some more friends.

Talk soon!

Stuck in Vancouver

UPDATE: Well we knew some things would go wrong during a 6 month trip, but I didn’t know it would be so soon! After landing in Vancouver at 10am this morning, I took off to explore the city as I have never been to Canada before. I had a 8 hour layover so I was going to be able to wander for a couple hours before heading back to the airport.

During my time in Vancouver I had no access to my phone because my minimal international plan doesn’t start until tomorrow. Once I arrived back to the airport and connected to the wifi, I was shocked to see an email from the airline that my flight to London had been cancelled due to maintenance issues. The next email said that they were putting us onto a flight leaving the next day at 1:30pm. This means I will get in on Saturday morning at 7 am and will have to navigate to a friends house after a red eye (no fun). But I decided to take a deep breath and just go with it. Nothing I could do it about now. The one silver lining was that I got to watch the Warriors win their first game of the NBA finals. Go Dubs!

Wish me luck that this next flight actually takes off!

Packing List

I am now less than 12 hours from getting on my flight to Europe! As such, I have finally finished packing! And what a task it was. Try fitting 12 months of your life into one European carry-on sized suitcase. As my mom said, “That would just never work for me!” But alas, it’s what I am doing.

I thought I would share what my packing list is so it can be a tool for future travelers… or for travelers who have never packed lightly before.

Here’s a link to the backpack I bought for this trip! I absolutely love it so far: Tortuga Backpack

Packing List For Europe:

Clothes

  • One pair of workout pants
  • One pair of Lululemon’s
  • One pair of jean shorts
  • 3 dresses (two summery, one dressier)
  • 5 Cute shirts
  • 2 sports bras
  • 2 athletic shirts (one to sleep in)
  • Nike Booty shorts (to sleep in)
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • one nude bra, one black bra
  • running shoes
  • Boots
  • Sandals
  • 2 Scarfs
  • Sweater
  • Northface
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses
  • Rain coat
  • Nylon bag
  • Running band

Electronics

  • Computer + Charger
  • iPad
  • iPhone + Charger
  • GoPro + Charger
  • Headphones (Apple)
  • Headphones (Bose)
  • Plug adapter
  • Portable charger

Toiletries

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Flosser
  • Any medication you take
  • Retainer
  • Deodorant
  • Makeup
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Razor
  • Conditioner
  • Shampoo
  • Brush
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick
  • Ibuprofen
  • Hair ties and bobby pins
  • Moleskin
  • Bandaids
  • Cough drops
  • Topical steroid cream for bed bug bites or regular bug bites to help with itchiness

Miscellaneous

  • Folder of itinerary print outs
  • Extra Passport photos
  • Thumb drive with all documentation
  • Handbag (for personal item on planes as well as day-to-day use)
  • Travel Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Ear Plug
  • Eye Mask
  • Lock (for staying in hostels)
  • Passport
  • ID
  • Money belt

Here is everything spread out on a table!

 

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It was so hard to determine what to bring with me when I knew I could only bring a few things and it would be the only things I have for 6.5 months. After doing a lot of research on what I should bring, one common piece of advice was to make sure every combination of outfit you can make from bottoms, to top, to scarf, to jacket, would work well together. This is why I stuck to mostly black, gray, and off white, with a touch of color, such as blue. I brought one warmer scarf (the dark purple and black scarf under my running shoes) and one lighter, more summery scarf (the light blue next to the purple scarf). Both serve a purpose and both worked color-wise with every outfit combination. For warmth, I brought one lightweight packable Patagonia black down jacket for cool nights and a navy shawl for style or when I only need a little bit of warmth. I used 4-5 “toiletry bags” to organize various groupings of items. One for toiletries, one for first aid kit, one for makeup, and one for all my smaller electronics and their cords.

 

Here is everything packed and ready to go!

 

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Shown: Backpack packed, Outfit for airport, and personal bag (with laptop, iPad, headphones)

Catch you on the flip side (or on the other side of the Atlantic)!