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Archive for the ‘backpacking’ Category

Despite my complaining, I had an awesome time traveling for the past week or so. Seeing the sites in Paris was nonstop, so by the time we got to Madrid I was exhausted [see previous whiney post] and ready to just sit around. Spain pulled through and, unlike Paris, was very relaxed and the pace was much slower so it allowed for more relaxing time. So, here goes my recap…

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So, in the last two weeks, I’ve been all around Ireland, to Edinburgh, Paris, Madrid, and I’m heading to Granada tomorrow. I’ve been to see more famous works of art than I can count in the Louvre, Orsay, Prado and others.

But I really just want to go HOME. Like, not for real homesick or anything… I’m having an awesome time and am loving that I’m doing all this traveling, but I’m really craving a routine, some normalcy, a comfortable bed and a hot shower. MY room.

Okay, done whining. Back to traveling the world.

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I’m not sure that I really have the time/motivation/energy to be writing this up, but I’m afraid if I don’t document as much as I can remember at THIS point, there’s no way I’ll be able to write up anything coherent when I get back from the rest of my holiday next Sunday.

So, here goes the story of my mom and sister coming to visit me in Ireland! It was my mom’s first time out of the country, and she was a trooper! Even though I’ve suffered from the effects of jetlag a few times in my life, I’ve never been in the position I was with my mom and sister. Here I was, all chipper on Thursday morning ready to welcome my mom and sister, and when they got out of the taxi they were… rough. I mean that in the best way, honestly, because I’ve been in that position myself. But, being that it was only roughly 9 in the morning and we were staying in a hostel that night, we all agreed ahead of time that they were going to try to rough it through the day and then we’d call it an early night and they’d be able to pass out in bed, regardless of what the condition of the hostel was. This idea worked out, more or less, but I really just felt like the bad friend all day for dragging them around and trying to keep them awake and entertained when I knew how miserable they had to be feeling after traveling for so many hours.

Anyway, we made it through first day somehow… (more…)

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london holiday =)

Where to start?? London was amazing. The city is just massive; I spent 3 full days walking and underground-ing all over the place and still barely scratched the surface. My flight got delayed around 3 hours on my way there but luckily I booked my flight later in the day anyway so I wasn’t planning on doing much that day.

I didn’t want to make a massive post, so you can read more below, but to highlight: I did lots of sightseeing. I took tons of pictures. I ate and ate and loved it. There were runners EVERYWHERE, in a span of 10 minutes we could get passed by 30 of them. A ton of the really interesting museums are free, which was great (especially the art museums!). I really liked London and would honestly live there one day. Fo’ real.

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I’m about to start my train/bus/plane journey to London! I’m really excited, got a decent-priced flight through EasyJet and will be staying with a London local until Sunday! She made us a whole itinerary and I am sooooo excited! Lots of stories and pictures to come in a few days!

Bon voyage =)

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Quick trip to Dublin!


Walking down Grafton Street, the main shopping strip in Dublin. Avoided stepping into too many shops except to pick up a few postcards!

Fusilier’s Arch at the bottom of Grafton Street leading into St. Stephen’s Green, the park in the city center.

Years of bottles of GUINNESS! Just inside the entrance of the Guinness Storehouse. 11 euros for a student ticket, which included a taste of Guinness and a pint of Guinness in the Gravity Bar at the top (great place, 7 stories up with glass windows all around so you can see the entire city of Dublin from above).

My taste of Guinness in the “Tasting Lab”… I’m not a diehard fan of Guinness, but I have to admit that it tastes great at the Storehouse! Same taste, but crisper, easier to drink.

So that’s my abbreviated picture tour of Dublin! I actually went last Tuesday night to Wednesday during the day, but am just posting this now. I liked going during the week, I feel like it wasn’t as crazy as it might be on the weekend. I didn’t really see too much, but I plan on going a few more times anyway (St Patrick’s Day, a few day trips here or there) so I wasn’t worried about going everywhere.

I went down with another international student from the US and two of the players for the Ulster Elks (another side note on sports in Ireland: there is NO money, the athletes have to drive themselves to competitions and the facility they played in was honestly on the same level as the community rec center). One of the boys was from the states but has been to Dublin a few times already, and the other is originally from Dublin so it was nice to go in with some people who knew what they were doing.

Driving in, we saw more things that I didn’t take pictures of, like the Liffey River and all of the amazing bridges that cross it. I really liked Dublin, it was a fun city and not as expensive as everyone made it out to be. Did I spend too much money? Probably, but I felt there were deals to be found if you were looking for them, plus the euro is cheaper in comparison to the dollar than the pound so it all worked out in the end!

For all the photos, here’s the public link to my Facebook album: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2052130&id=1419840075&l=58cc6b48b7

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A weekend in Derry!

Walking across the bridge from the rail station… Hello Derry!

Hands Across the Divide peace statue in the middle of the roundabout as you come across the river and into the city.

My travel buddies and I walking up the steps to get on top of the wall surrounding the inner part of Derry.

A stroll along the top of the wall around the city!

View of the valley and Bogside from the wall, complete with defensive canons from the 17th century!

St. Columb’s Cathedral in Derry… A lot was under construction so I don’t have any impressive photos from inside, but it was pretty and they had a pound note from Pennsylvania from back in the day!!

The Diamond in the center of the walled in city.

Murals down in the Bogside, by the Bogside Artists.

Love that graffiti… Another mural.

The Bloody Sunday Memorial in the Bogside. We were actually there on the anniversary of the tragedy. 14 unarmed civilian protesters were killed by the British army without reason, and it’s still a sore point because a reason or apology has still not been given, even over 30 years later.

Another great mural! Actually talked to one of the three Bogside Artists and he told us tons of stories and gave really good insight into the conflict and reasons behind the murals and everything. He told us how they reproduced this mural at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2007 but changed it to include Martin Luther King in it… until I talked to him, I didn’t realize how far-reaching MLK’s influence was!

So that’s my photo story of Derry… Had tons of fun with our group of Americans, Canadians, and Australians! Stayed at the Derry City Independent Hostel, which was, well, a hostel, but had a great location and they were nice enough to give us a little discount on account of some electricity issues we had to deal with (it never hurts to ask!). We ate a couple of times at the Ice Wharf; the food was decent, portions were generous, meal prices included a beer, and they had plenty of vegetarian options so I call it a success! I did realize (a bit too late ie: the morning we were leaving) that I don’t have a proper bag for these little trips, so I had to drag around my little carry-on bag. I predict a new purchase in the near future…

Not sure what to do this weekend… I’ve got a busy next couple of weekend (indoor track meet next weekend, london the week after) so the responsible thing to do would to stay in and get some work done, plan my trip to London, laundry, groceries… You know, those necessities in life. We’ll see =)

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