London + Cambridge

Sadly, this is my last stop on my trip! BUT I made the most of it with a final visit with my favorite British people. (You may remember them because I stayed with them all the way back in June 2016 and then again in February 2017.) Originally I had met them at a hostel in Barcelona in May 2015 and have visited them 4 or 5 times since then. So without further adieu…

CITY: london

HOW LONG: 3 NIGHTS

ACCOMMODATION:

I stayed at Astor Hyde Park while in London for the final time. I booked super late so there weren’t many options left, but I ended up getting one of the last beds at this hostel. This place had large under the bed lockers and an en suite bathroom. There’s a large guest kitchen and two great common areas for socializing. Also the hostel is right next to Hyde Park!! Definitely recommend a stay here.

WHERE TO EAT:

The main thing I did while in England was go to Cambridge for the day with my British friends! To start off the adventure we went to Copper Kettle for a full English breakfast. This was the first time I had one, and while I can’t get on board with beans for breakfast, the rest was delicious!

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Enjoying brunch

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Full English

After a full day of exploring Cambridge, we all went to Bill’s for dinner + drinks. It had a good vibe and could seat all 6 of us. I got a tomato soup because I wasn’t super hungry, but AJ and his gf, Chloe, split a halloumi burger and it looked great!

I went to Nandos, a staple in the UK, for the first time on my last night in Europe. I met Henry and one of his high school friends for dinner. It’s a Portuguese chicken chain and it’s pretty good, although I was surprised by how spicy it was! There are tons of different menu options. Definitely recommend a visit here if you have the time.

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The most perfect hot chocolate I got while Henry and I were waiting for the rest of the crew to show up

WHAT TO DO:

As I mentioned, the main activity of my visit to London was a day trip to Cambridge. Henry and I met up at the train station in London and headed to Cambridge, while AJ & Chloe and Tony met us there as they drove. After getting brunch, we walked around the town before finding a grassy spot to enjoy the sun. Around 2pm we loaded into a boat to go punting, which is very popular in Cambridge.

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Meeting Henry at the train station on our way to Cambridge

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Cambridge

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Enjoying the sun!

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The crew

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Busy day for punting

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Aj, Chloe, Tony, & Henry

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We made it on the boat

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The bridge of sighs

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On the boat!

After punting we again found a grassy spot and just enjoyed the rare sunny day.

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Sitting in a park

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Henry planting a garden on AJ

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My fav’s

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The most exquisite roses I have ever seen

Other than Cambridge, I did spend a day at Hyde Park reading my book. A wonderfully relaxing day.

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Hyde Park

My last day on this wonderful trip I spent hanging at my hostel, meeting some people, and working on my blog 🙂 That night I grabbed dinner with Henry and his friend and we were some of the last people to leave the restaurant.

It was really, really hard to say goodbye to my friends because they ended up being such a big part of this trip!! Each time I visited before, we knew there would be at least one more visit ahead. This time, we knew it would be an indefinite goodbye. HOWEVER, I am trying my hardest to convince them to come to CA to visit me sometime in the future.

OVERALL THOUGHTS:

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in England, and it is has furthered cemented my dream of moving here. I hope to eventually find a path to living in London, even if it’s just for a few years.

See ya soon California! While I will miss Europe with all my heart, I am excited to go home and sleep in my own bed for the first time in a while 🙂

Bath + London

 

In between my homestays I took a week to travel, spending time in England and Barcelona!

City: Reigate

How Long: 3 days

Accommodation:

I stayed with my friend Tony, who I met two years ago in a hostel in Barcelona. So while his parents are super generous I don’t think I can recommend staying at their house :). Reigate is about a 30-minute train ride south from London.

Where to Eat:

Well, we mostly ate at his house, so again I probably can’t tell you to show up there! But we did have a great sandwich in Brighton, where we visited for the day. Before visiting Windsor Castle, we ate lunch at The Carpenters Arms, a pub that has a tunnel that used to run from below the pub into the medieval Castle. Food was good and it was fun to see a piece of history with the tunnel. Also, we stopped for some tea and desserts after going to Windsor Castle at Madam Posh. It was yummy but nothing to write home about.

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AJ’s burger at The Carpenters Arms

What to do:

We essentially had two days to sight-see and we made the most of it. The first thing we did was participate in a local 5k run right near Tony’s house! It was the first race I’ve done since my marathon and it was super fun to be back in that environment. It makes me want to sign up for another half-marathon when I get home! After a lovely breakfast at Tony’s house we headed out on the road. Our first stop was South Downs National Park and Seven Sisters Country Park, which houses the UK’s highest chalk sea cliff. It was super cool and the cliffs were incredible. Definitely not a lay out in the sun kinda beach as instead of sand there were pebbles. Tony did find some pebbles that had been made from the brick in the houses above the beach, which was cool.

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The Cliffs

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Sitting on the beach

After a walk around the cliffs, we took off for Brighton, a big beach town directly South of London. I really liked it! So many cool shops and restaurants.We walked past the Royal Pavillion, an exotic palace that was built as a seaside pleasure palace for King George IV. It felt so out-of-place as it was built in the visual style closer to that of India and China, rather than Central Europe or England. Also there is a long pier which is home to an amusement park with rides, attractions, and an arcade. We managed to be at the end of the pier at sunset, which was stunning. Also we saw two swimmers without wetsuits on swim to the end of the pier and back… in February.

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The beach

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The Royal Pavillion

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The sunset over the pier as we were leaving

That night we ate dinner with his parents again, which was so fun. I really enjoyed hanging out with them. His mom and I ended up staying up late chatting about anything and everything—Including Trump/Brexit. Super interesting talking to people about their opinions and thoughts; it’s actually one of my favorite things about traveling.

We went to Windsor Castle, one of the Queen’s homes, on our second day. We met up with AJ and Henry, two of the other guys from the Barcelona weekend 2 years ago. I usually end up meeting up with the three of them when I am anywhere near London! We purchased our tickets (student rate: 18.70 pounds) and began walking the castle grounds. Despite seeing my fair share of castles on this trip, this one is a must-see. It’s one of the bigger castles I’ve been too and the rooms we got to go through were incredible. Definitely some cool history in this castle and the Queen was actually there while we were. Surprisingly I was not able to schedule a meeting with her… After saying goodbyes to Tony, AJ, and Henry, I took off on a train to Bath!

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Windsor Castle

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Windsor Castle

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Tony, Me, Henry, & AJ

Overall thoughts:

I really enjoyed my weekend exploring England by car (Thanks Tony!) It allowed me to see a bunch of new places that normally would have been tough to see all in two days. I also absolutely loved staying with a local British family! I kept telling Tony that if an American were to imagine a stereotypical British couple that his parents would be it. They are the most lovely, kind, generous couple. They made me a roast the first night I arrived, filled with potatoes, carrots, and chicken. Most importantly, they drank so much tea. To me that’s about as British as it gets 🙂

City: Bath

How Long: 3 days

Accommodation:

I really enjoyed my stay here. There seemed to be a lot of people staying here long-term (as it is cheaper to stay in a hostel than renting an apartment, especially for those only working in Bath during the week), but everyone I met was super nice and friendly! Great guest kitchen and there was common room with sofas, tables for eating, and a tv. The lockers were small so I couldn’t store my whole bag in the locker, which is always a bummer. But I was able to just put my valuables in the locker and lock it with my padlock. The staff was all super nice. Absolutely would stay here again.

Where to Eat:

I mostly ate at the hostel, having bought groceries to save money, but I did go to one café in Bradford-on-Avon called Coffee, etc. It was delicious. I had a deluxe hot chocolate and yummy sandwich. If you end up in the quaint town, I would absolutely recommend this place. However, there definitely seemed to be no shortage of cute, more upscale restaurants that were out of my price range, so don’t be afraid to explore other options.

What to do:

Bath is not all that big so to start I went on a walking tour to get a comprehensive understanding of the history of the city. Obviously the Roman Baths were a big part of the city’s history. The water was thought to heal all types of diseases so royalty from all over would come to the baths to heal their ailments. Also the architecture is very important to Bath. It is all made from Bath stone. Because the whole town is essentially built with the same stone, it is stunningly cohesive. I really enjoyed my time just walking around the town. Also the Abbey is not to be missed.

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Bath architecture

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The Abbey

Because Bath is fairly small, I decided to use a half-day to take a train two stops down to Bradford-on-Avon. It is a small town right on the river, as the name suggests. Its population is less than 10,000 people. There isn’t much to do other than take a walk through the hilly town with stops at the Saxon Church and Holy Trinity Church. I ended up walking along the river to the next train stop towards Bath to enjoy the sunny day as it wasn’t that far. After enjoying my three days in Bath, I was off to London.

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Clearly a very old building 🙂

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The bridge in Bradford

Overall thoughts:

I really liked Bath! It was fun to see a smaller British city as opposed to London. Obviously it was still touristy, but it felt much more local than London. The architecture is beautiful and I absolutely loved just wandering the city. Definitely recommend a visit to this city and if you have an extra half day, Bradford on Avon is worth the time!

City: London

How Long: 1 day

Accommodation:

I stayed at The Walrus Hostel. My sister stayed here and recommended it to me! Overall great hostel. Beds were comfortable (although the pillows were not very good) and the lockers were big enough to fit my bag. Small guest kitchen. There’s a bar downstairs that locals seem to frequent as well. I only stayed here one night and wish I could have stayed longer. The bathrooms weren’t the cleanest I have ever seen but it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. You need your own padlock here or you can buy one. Definitely would stay here again!

Where to Eat:

I was only here one night, but I met up with Henry for drinks at The Southwark Tavern. It was right by the London Bridge and clearly a popular place. It was definitely a British pub. We sat at a table downstairs where there were all these small alcoves. It gave it a more private feeling and allowed you to actually hear what people at your table were saying. I really liked this place! After drinks I headed back to the hostel and grabbed some food from a supermarket on the way.

What to do:

Essentially all I did was meet Henry for drinks because I arrived in the late afternoon and left early the next morning for my flight to Barcelona!

Overall thoughts:

Well this was a quick trip in London, so now major thoughts about this specific stay in London–but I love London, and hope to move here at some point, even for just a year or two.

 

Edinburgh + Southend on Sea

What a wild time to be in the UK! The day I arrived in Edinburgh votes were being cast far and wide. Much to my surprise, and to the surprise of almost every young Brit I had talked to, the UK had voted to leave the European Union. However, other than the stock markets crashing and many jokes about how Departugal, Italeave, Byegium, and Slovakout are soon to come, there have not been any noticeable, immediate changes to day-to-day life. That being said, I think many citizens of the UK are noticeably nervous about what the ramifications will be as no one really knows. Additionally, Scotland is already full of calls for a referendum to leave the UK again, as they almost left a year ago, and a majority of Scotland voted to stay in the EU on last week’s vote. The Scottish people I have talked to said that many of the people who voted to stay in the UK last year would now vote to leave the UK because they want to stay in the EU. This could cause another referendum to take place in Scotland.

But on to less important things: my time in Edinburgh! I arrived at my hostel and immediately really liked it! There were tons of people to meet and an awesome bar + restaurant in the hostel. I stayed in a 30 person room (!!!) which was fun, but also loud…

The first day I met up with Mehrdad for our third city meet up! We had breakfast at my hostel before setting out to see the Edinburgh Castle. It’s incredible because it lies in the center of Edinburgh on a large hill. It was constructed in the 12th century. Research undertaken in 2014 identified 26 sieges in its 1100-year-old history, giving it a claim to having been “the most besieged place in Great Britain and one of the most attacked in the world.” Pretty incredible!

After that, Mehrdad took off for his next city, but of course we will see each other soon in Norway. The rest of the day I lazily walked around Edinburgh, taking in the incredibly old architecture and admiring all the bagpipers playing for tourists.

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The Royal Mile

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Parade through Edinburgh

That night I met another Californian (this time from Monterey). I feel like all of California has taken off the month of June and is traveling through Ireland and the UK because I have met SO many people from CA. The two of us also started talking to a New Zealander and spent the rest of the night talking at the bar in the hostel.

My second day in Edinburgh started off with a free walking tour put on by the hostel. We walked by where J.K. Rowling wrote some of Harry Potter and we saw the graveyard where “Thomas Riddle” was buried. Our tour guide went to school with J.K. Rowling’s daughter at the school that inspired Hogwarts. Always fun to have a local show off his city and it always helps to learn of other things I want to do during the rest of my stay. In this case, Arthur’s Seat was mentioned as a great hike so I knew that was something I would try to do.

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Where J.K. Rowling wrote some of the Harry Potter series

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Grave of “Thomas Riddle”

I ran into the New Zealander again and we played cards in the hostel while the rain pounded down outside. Luckily the rain subsided later in the afternoon as he was going on a Ghost tour (which is pretty popular in Edinburgh) and I planned to go on a run through a park in Edinburgh called The Meadows. It was a beautiful park with tennis courts, play structures for kids, and big grassy fields where people were picnicking, playing soccer, and playing cricket. After 6 miles in the park, I headed back to shower and get dinner with Sage, the New Zealander. After dinner we had some yummy frozen yogurt and ate it while people watching in the the Grass Market area. Plenty of hen and stag parties walked on by as it was a Saturday night. I guess it is a tradition here for the groom-to-be to dress up in a tight girly dress, as we saw about 6 different grooms in this attire. After dinner the girl from Monterey took us out to some clubs that she had been to the night before, and while I had a good time, I was also glad to be in bed by 1:30am.

The next day started with a hike to Arthur’s seat in Holyrood Park, which is a 640 acre Royal Park next to Holyrood Palace, which is where Queen Elizabeth resides when visiting Edinburgh. The park’s highest point is Arthurs Seat, an ancient volcano, and it sits 251m above sea level giving excellent views of the city; it is also the site of a large and well preserved fort.  This is one of four hill forts dating from around 2000 years ago. It was an awesome hike, and the views were incredible.

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The view from half way up the volcano (Holyrood Palace on the left)

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The hike up to Arthur’s Seat

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View from Arthur’s Seat

The next day I went on a tour of the Highlands of Scotland and Loch Ness where “Nessie” the sea monster lives. It was nice to get out of Edinburgh for the day and see some of the other regions of Scotland. I can’t stress how beautiful it was. It is so rural and untouched, other than the sheep that roam the farm land. Scotland has thousands of lochs and many are very deep as glaciers created large valleys within the mountains and then they were filled with water. Although it was a long day with many hours in a bus, it was a fun. Also, I sat next to a Belgium girl on the bus and she was also traveling solo. We ended up hitting it off and spent the whole day exploring each stop together. It was awesome to have someone to talk to on the long bus rides. After the tour dropped us back off at the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, we decided to go to a pub together to get dinner and watch England take on Iceland in round 16 of Euro Cup. Although England was heavily favored, Iceland pulled out huge upset and won 2-1. I was rooting for them because they were the underdog but I was still shocked that they won.

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Train tracks in the Highlands of Scotland

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With a bag piper in Glencoe

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Loch Ness

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Loch Ness

Because the day of the tour wiped me out, I decided to sleep in the next day and take it easy. I had seen much of what I wanted to see so I found a cafe and curled up with a book and a hot chocolate.

Next, I took a 5 hour train to London and then a 1 hour train to Southend on Sea, which is about 40 miles east of central London. I stayed with Lauren, who I met last summer in Barcelona with the guys I stayed with earlier in my trip! After she picked me up at the train station we went bowling with her brother, her cousin, and her cousin’s girlfriend (also named Meg!). We became UK Meg and US Meg. Lauren and UK Meg dominated at bowling and proceeded to beat the boys, which was fun to watch! (I didn’t fare so well… coming in last both rounds).

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What a winning technique!!!

After bowling, I was lucky enough to be included in the birthday dinner for Lauren’s cousin. It was his 21st, which sounded exciting until he reminded me that he’s been drinking legally longer than I have. We all went out to dinner to a lovely restaurant and it was so fun to be a part of the family for the night! After traveling solo for a bit, I enjoyed the boisterous nature of a family meal. Also, everyone in Lauren’s family was amazing and hilarious. It seemed every time I looked away from my wine glass, it magically was refilled… not sure if it was Lauren’s mom or aunt ;).

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Birthday time

Lauren and I took a nice walk the next day around Southend and along the sea front. Quite a picturesque view! That night we settled in and watch “Everest,” which was a great film.

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Low tide in Southend

After sleeping in, Lauren and I spent a lazy day around the house and watched some British TV. That night we went to a Make A Wish fundraiser at a school where Lauren’s friend works. It was a quiz night, which I was quite excited for… however I was not much help after I quickly realized that most questions were about British history and life. But I still have a great time!

Saturday brought quite an exciting day! Lauren’s cousin had a barbecue, and most of the guys that I met in Barcelona were coming so I was quite excited to see them all again so soon after seeing them back in early June. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and there seemed to be endless amounts of food and alcohol… so not much to complain about.

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Backyard BBQ

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Josh!

After a fabulous BBQ, a bunch of us headed out to a bar and then to Josh’s house to play some drinking games. I had a great evening, although I did not manage to get much sleep as I went to bed around 4am and needed to be up at 7am to catch a train to London, to then get on a bus that would take me to Amsterdam. This led to a very long, and sleep deprived day on an 11 hour bus ride. Not so fun… but the bus ride took me from England to France, through Belgium, and finally to the Netherlands, so again, I can’t really complain!

Until next time 🙂

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Bonus photo of AJ with a plastic container on his head 🙂

First Video: Europe 2016 UK + Ireland

I can’t believe it but my first month in Europe is complete! I’ve had the most amazing time exploring the UK and Ireland, which included riding a motorcycle for the first time (sorry mom + dad), learning how to operate lochs for a canal boat (thanks Simon!), and sampled some of Ireland’s greatest exports (Guinness and Irish Whiskey). I spent 39 hours in buses, trains, and planes and visited 17 cities in 4 countries!

So grateful for the friends I made along the way and for the friends who opened their homes to me. Can’t wait to continue this journey!

Here’s a video of my first month in Europe!

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………

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!