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Posts Tagged ‘Adventure’

Keeping Busy

What every writer dreads – writer’s block. It has finally hit. I am having a hard time sitting down to write for this blog now that I am home. When you’re not travelling every day, you are sometimes hard pressed to find inspiration.

So you make your own.

The past few weeks have been endless attempts to find adventure in my own backyard – hanging out with friends and exploring my home.

I’ve done more hikes, some outdoor climbing, built forts, played with my dog, and begun to get my life in order. School is just around the corner. Literally. I start on Wednesday. I’m excited but terrified to start my final semester. It’s going to be an interesting semester. I’m taking 2 history classes – one is on theory and perspective of the past, while the other focuses entirely on the Holocaust. Both are going to be super interesting, especially after my Epic Euro Trip adventures. I’m also taking an anthropology class on religions around the world, and a media and communications class about Canada.

With all these classes and working, I’m going to be quite busy.

Which brings me to some other news: I got a new job! I’m very excited to say that I will be working as a blog editor for the Study Abroad office at my university. It is the best of both worlds – writing and editing a blog about something that is very special to me. I’m looking forward to being in touch with other students who have studied abroad or are right now, and to encounter other institutions that my university is partnered with. Once it’s up and running, I will definitely tweet a link or something.

Over the next little while, I’m not entirely sure what will happen with this blog. I really want to continue it, but with no travelling or adventuring during school, posts may be further and farther in between. I imagine that I will probably be posting about once a month if I am able to.

For now, I’m going to focus on school and my two jobs, trying to keep busy. Hopefully, I will be able to save up enough money for a trip after graduation or another Euro Trip soon. Once the travel bug bites, it tends to stick pretty close.

Some pictures of my recent adventures!

My goddaughter and her brother. It was great to be a kid with them for a day, jumping on a trampoline & building blanket forts.

My goddaughter and her brother. It was great to be a kid with them for a day, jumping on a trampoline & building blanket forts.

Setting new climbs at the gym. Lift selfies!

Setting new climbs at the gym. Lift selfies!

One of our many outdoor days, Christy & I found ourselves in Squamish many times. This time, we were with the Teams at Chek!

One of our many outdoor days, Christy & I found ourselves in Squamish many times. This time, we were with the Teams at Chek!

Just some kids chillin at Gold Creek. Awesome day with some crazy cold water...!

Just some kids chillin at Gold Creek. Awesome day with some crazy cold water…!

Relaxing at the top of the Chief. Awesome weekend with K & Trev at Gold Creek and then hiking!

Relaxing at the top of the Chief. Awesome weekend with K & Trev at Gold Creek and then hiking!

Chillin at the top of the Chief after a hike. This was our adventure weekend.

Chillin at the top of the Chief after a hike. This was our adventure weekend.

Hanging off a cliff and taking selfies at the Bluffs - cause why not?

Hanging off a cliff and taking selfies at the Bluffs – cause why not?

Coming home, I spent a lot of time in Squamish. Ain't it pretty!?

Coming home, I spent a lot of time in Squamish. Ain’t it pretty!?

"Falling" off a cliff in the Bluffs - close to Pixie's Corner. Such an awesome day!

“Falling” off a cliff in the Bluffs – close to Pixie’s Corner. Such an awesome day!

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”Nora Roberts.

From

JH

Epic EuroTrip: Old Friends and New

So, with one last flight for a little while, we left the beautiful land of Italy and headed to Budapest, Hungary! We were all super excited to begin our explorations of some of the countries that we didn’t know as much about. And as I mentioned in my last post, I was extremely excited to meet my friend Kitty!

We caught a bus and then a metro into the city from the airport, and I was overwhelmed with excitement when I got off the metro and spotted Kitty! It was great to see her again after a month. She came with us to check into our hostel, we all settled our stuff in, and then we set out to explore with our very own Hungarian guide.

First stop: a tradition of the youth of Budapest – to drink in the park at Daag Square! We grabbed some beers and champagne, and found a spot on the grass. It was crazy to be drinking in public, but it is legal there. It was kind of fun to have that experience, as the only other place I had done that was in Belgium. We walked through the city to the beautiful Danube River, or Duma in Hungarian. It was beautiful, and it was just turning to dusk, so the sun was low on the horizon and the sky looked amazing.

 
Hanging out at Daag Square, our first Hungarian experience!

Hanging out at Daag Square, our first Hungarian experience!

 
The stairs to enter our hostel were so cool! Loved walking the spiral steps.

The stairs to enter our hostel were so cool! Loved walking the spiral steps.

 
Budapest at sunset is brilliantly amazing. A must see. This was looking across the Danube at the palace.

Budapest at sunset is brilliantly amazing. A must see. This was looking across the Danube at the palace.

 

We walked across Chain Bridge – the English translation of a Hungarian name that I cannot spell or pronounce – and headed up a very large hill to the palace grounds above. From there, we had an amazing view of the Danube and the city of Budapest beyond. I was overwhelmed and fell in love with the city immediately. It quickly continued to climb the charts as one of my favourite cities that we visited!

Continuing along, Kitty led us to a beautiful church on the hill, and the famous Fisherman’s Tower that also overlooked the city. We went onto the walls connecting to the tower, and got to see the city come to life at night. It was stunning. Budapest lit up at night would rival Paris in my books, as the bridges along the Danube are lit up and look amazing!

After walking back down the hill, Kitty had to catch a train home – but not before she dropped us off at an amazing restaurant! We got to have a great, traditional Hungarian meal for our first night in Budapest. The food was delicious and we all got to try something different. I ate a bean soup, some salad and a pork dish before having a coffee.

 
Chilling on the palace wall with an amazing view of Budapest.

Chilling on the palace wall with an amazing view of Budapest.

 
Fisherman's Tower and the spires of the cathedral.

Fisherman’s Tower and the spires of the cathedral.

 

The next day, June 20th, we took Kitty’s advice and checked out some places in Budapest that had to do with Hungarian history. I was quite interested, as I honestly did not know a lot about Budapest’s history. Our education started the previous night, with Kitty showing us around and explaining some of the history of the kings and important people. It continued when we visited the House of Terror. The museum explained Hungarian history in reference to the Communist influence. Terrible events happened within Budapest, specifically within the building of the museum. It was humbling to read through the various tragedies that had taken place, learning how greatly Hungary had been affected by the atrocities as well.

Our next step was to visit Heroes Square, where countless statues had been erected to commemorate various kings and leaders in Hungary. We honestly didn’t know who any of them were, and so we decided to have a little fun by posing like some of the statues. Later, Kitty told us who they were and why they were important to the Hungarian people. It was very interesting! We wandered a park, and even found a castle.

 
Heroes Square, Budapest. Love it. Every statue represented something.

Heroes Square, Budapest. Love it. Every statue represented something.

 
This castle in Budapest was actually pretty cool! We wandered around the grounds.

This castle in Budapest was actually pretty cool! We wandered around the grounds.

 
Our amazing dinner at the Ronyai's restaurant. Such an awesome night, with amazing food, entertainment and company!

Our amazing dinner at the Ronyai’s restaurant. Such an awesome night, with amazing food, entertainment and company!

 

We went back to our hostel to relax for a little bit before catching a train out to one of the islands of Budapest. In short, Kitty’s dad owns a restaurant, and we were invited to go there for dinner. It was amazing! We got to experience true Hungarian culture through traditional music, folk dancing, and a traditional 3-course meal. And we got to experience it all with Kitty and her boyfriend, Attila. It was a lot of fun, and we all had a great time. The food was amazing and the show was brilliant! Thank you to the Ronyais for the amazing experience – we are very grateful and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, learning more about your culture!

The following day, we decided to first explore a market that was very close to our hostel. We had been to markets in a few other cities, but this one was very different. It was indoors, two floors, and was massive. We couldn’t believe how much was inside this building, and we took our time looking through and buying a few souvenirs. The food was delicious as well, whether dessert or savory.

We walked along the Danube, as it was a beautiful day. The views across the river were stunning, and we were slightly jealous of the many people on boats. We decided to walk down to the Parliament buildings, and stumbled on the memorial for Jews along the river. On the edge of the river, there are various sculpted shoes which are a reminder and memorial to the Jews who were shot into the Danube during the Holocaust. It was humbling to see, specifically the little baby shoes. There is something unsettling about abandoned shoes sometimes, especially in this scenario.

 
 
Chain Bridge in Budapest. So pretty! (I love this picture)

Chain Bridge in Budapest. So pretty! (I love this picture)

View across the Danube to the beautiful buildings of the palace and towers.

View across the Danube to the beautiful buildings of the palace and towers.

 
Memorial to the Murdered Jews along the Danube. Very moving.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews along the Danube. Very moving.

 
 
The baby shoes were startling but moving as a part of the memorial.

The baby shoes were startling but moving as a part of the memorial.

We made it to the Parliament buildings and took pictures of them in the daylight. They were quite beautiful. We hopped on a random tram to take us into the city, and got off at a random stop. We found a street food which Kitty had stressed that we must try – called Kurtoskalacs. There are many accents that are supposed to be on that word, and I would never attempt to try to say it, but the food itself was delicious! Basically, it is a spiral breaded dessert covered in cinnamon or other things.

That night we were meeting up with Kitty and Attila one last time, to go out for another Hungarian dinner. Unfortunately, the place that we had wanted to go to was full, so we found another place called the Trofea Grill. It is a genius place – you pay the equivalent of 20 euros (except in the Hungarian currency of Forent) and you can eat and drink as much as you like! We got to have traditional Hungarian foods again, plus we could pick and choose other things as well. We had a lot of fun, all getting to talk and know each other better. It was a great night – and I was super sad to say goodbye to Kitty at the end. Thank you so much for everything! You were an amazing tour guide, and we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with you and Attila. Again, thank you!

 
The Parliament building architecture was really interesting!

The Parliament building architecture was really interesting!

 
Selfies in Budapest!

Selfies in Budapest!

 
The dessert that we had to try in Budapest - Kurtoskalacs.

The dessert that we had to try in Budapest – Kurtoskalacs.

 
Dinner with Kitty and Attila in Budapest! Such a fun night.

Dinner with Kitty and Attila in Budapest! Such a fun night.

 

Our last day in Budapest turned a little odd. Zach really wasn’t feeling well, so he decided to stay in for the day. We had planned to go to an exit game, what we call an escape room at home. They are extremely popular in Hungary (correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they originated there?). But, with him not feeling well, we didn’t want to chance it. Kirstin met some people in the hostel that she wanted to hang out with, while I wanted to explore a little on my own.

I went to Margaret Island, looking at the park and walking along the Danube from a different angle. It was a beautiful day and I really enjoyed the walk! I met up with Kirstin after, and we decided to walk around the city for a while. We went to the basilica and the Jewish synagogue. The basilica was beautiful both inside and out, but we didn’t want to pay to go inside the synagogue. It has been very interesting to me, travelling through Europe, that to enter some churches you must pay.

We went back to the hostel and made an odd dinner for ourselves. Somehow we were able to cook a breakfast-for-dinner with merely a pot and microwave. So, we had eggs, beans, and toast. And palinka – an alcohol made only in Hungary. It was definitely not a good combination, but it was our last night and we were not going to leave Hungary without trying it.

 
These bricks are in various cities, remembering people who died in the Holocaust. Found the first one in Budapest.

These bricks are in various cities, remembering people who died in the Holocaust. Found the first one in Budapest.

The next day, we rushed to the bus to get to Vienna, scared that we were about to miss it. It was extremely hard to find where we were meant to catch it. After finally finding the area, we were told that our bus had broken down before it got to us, and we wouldn’t be leaving until 3pm. So, left with an extra 4 hours in Budapest, we shed our heavy backpacks and headed back into the city.

We ended up wandering a mall for a while, and then going back to the market because we had enjoyed it so much. We bought some last minute souvenirs for ourselves and friends before catching our bus. The bus was honestly the nicest one I have ever been on in my life – there were tv screens in the seats which let you watch movies, and free tea and coffee were offered…! The time passed quickly with me finishing two movies. Honestly, that night we didn’t really do anything.

We got up the next morning ready to explore Vienna. We headed out and ended up at some church simply because we had seen a dome rising above the other buildings. We were pointed to the concert hall and Opera buildings. Vienna is a center in Europe for classical music, so it was very interesting seeing all the buildings and areas that incorporated it.

 
Cafe Central in Vienna.

Cafe Central in Vienna.

 
The crossings in Vienna were so cute! Saw this one & one with 2 women - making a statement! Loved it.

The crossings in Vienna were so cute! Saw this one & one with 2 women – making a statement! Loved it.

 

We got lost a few times in Vienna, even though we had maps. Streets were just difficult to find or were not on our map and it got frustrating at times – but never as bad as Venice! Cafes of Vienna are famous and a large part of the culture. Certain cafes even have history. We eventually found Café Central, reported to have been visited by Lenin and Trotsky. We couldn’t even get in the door because it was so crowded and packed with tourists.

Kirstin wanted to go to a museum, so we split up. Zach and I went exploring through the city, shopping and looking at various things. We also found Café Hawelka, a place my friend had recommended. It was rumoured to have been visited by Hitler himself. We didn’t actually venture inside, as we didn’t have time, but it was interesting to see. That night we all met up and had dinner close to our hostel, in the Nasch Markt. It wasn’t typical Viennese food, but it was delicious!

Our last day in Vienna, June 24th, was probably my favourite day. We met up with a friend of Zach’s, Johanna, and her roommate, Claudia. They both live just outside of Vienna and were nice enough to come into the city to show us around! The first place we went to was the Haus of Meeres – it was an aquarium! It was so cool, with it being 11 stories! I had never been in an aquarium like that before. We saw so many different kinds of fish, monkeys and birds, and had a great time. It was nice to do something that was just fun! And we got a great view of Vienna from the top of the building.

 
The view was amazing.

The view was amazing.

 
View of Vienna from the top of the Haus of Meeres. Stunning.

View of Vienna from the top of the Haus of Meeres. Stunning.

 
Selfie with a view of the entire city of Vienna, and the amazing girls who showed us around!

Selfie with a view of the entire city of Vienna, and the amazing girls who showed us around!

 

We stopped for lunch in Nasch Markt, and Zach and I got to try bratwurst. The girls said it wasn’t the best, but we enjoyed it, not really knowing different! We bought a few things in the market, and then hopped on the metro to head out of the city.

Just outside of the city is the amazing Schloss Shoenbrunn, a beautiful palace. We arrived and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the grounds and building. The inside was just as grand. We wandered around inside using an audio guide to tell us the history. It was a lot at once and honestly I don’t remember most of it. There were very rich and important people who lived there, and the rooms had names that told you exactly how they looked: the mirror room, the red room, etc.

 
View of Schoenbrunn from the opposing hillside of the grounds. And some cool people, too!

View of Schoenbrunn from the opposing hillside of the grounds. And some cool people, too!

 
Schoenbrunn Palace was beautiful and it was a lot of fun.

Schoenbrunn Palace was beautiful and it was a lot of fun.

 
Awesome picture of us at Schoenbrunn! (Thanks, Johanna! :))

Awesome picture of us at Schoenbrunn! (Thanks, Johanna! :))

 

Back in the heart of Vienna, we went shopping! My shoes had broken in the back, and I was in a lot of pain wearing them. So, long story short, I ended up buying a new pair of shoes. We spent some time trying to find a souvenir shop, and then couldn’t find somewhere to eat. We ended up finding a good place for traditional food, getting to try schnitzel and a drink called hugo. It was all delicious!

We said goodbye to Johanna and Claudia, and headed back to our hostel, as we had an early train the next morning. Thank you so much girls for coming to meet us and showing us around the city. We had such a great time and are very thankful for the experience!

My amazing friend who was our tour guide for the evening - love this girl and her amazing knowledge!

My amazing friend who was our tour guide for the evening – love this girl and her amazing knowledge!

Thank you to everyone who has met us on our travels! You made our experiences so much better.

Next stop: Prague! But this post is long now, so I’ll save some stories for later.

Bye for now

From

JH

Epic EuroTrip: Ciao Italy

After saying goodbye to a great friend and an amazing city, we moved on to our next adventure in another country: Italy!

Our first stop after a flight was the city of Pisa. We knew that there wasn’t a ton to do in Pisa, other than take tourist photos with the tower. Basically, it was just going to be a stopover for us to get to Cinque Terre the next day. However, Pisa turned out to be pretty fun – if only for an evening.

After we checked into our hostel, we headed out into the streets of Pisa. Wandering was pretty cool actually – we found street vendors with very unique items for sale, and we even ran into a street procession with a band and everything. It was a ton of fun! And of course, we got gelato for our first evening in Italy.

We headed straight for the Piazza dei Miercoli to see the church and the torre, or ‘leaning tower.’ Many people had told us not to take the ‘typical leaning poses,’ so we went for other poses instead… and making subtle fun of some other people taking the photos as well. We had a lot of laughs and fun. Then we went for pizza at a local restaurant after – and it was probably one of the best pizzas I have ever had before. It was massive and delicious.

 
The iconic tower of Pisa!

The iconic tower of Pisa!

 
Pisa Torre. So cool.

Pisa Torre. So cool.

 
 
Our first gelato in Italy, in Pisa!

Our first gelato in Italy, in Pisa!

 
Kirstin tried to push the tower onto us... it was quite terrifying...

Kirstin tried to push the tower onto us… it was quite terrifying…

The next morning, we hopped on a train to La Spezia, where we transferred to another train to get to the town we would stay in Cinque Terre, Corniglia. The weather looked gross, as we knew a storm was blowing in. We had actually seen rain and lightning on our train ride to La Spezia. But we crossed our fingers for better weather.

Which didn’t happen. We got to Corniglia and had to wait to check in. We went to a little restaurant for a great lunch and coffee (yes, I have taken to drinking espresso for some reason. This was the first of a few through Eastern Europe), and the woman told us to move inside because the sky looked so dark. Well, that’s what we got from the broken English and hand gestures as we all tried to communicate. But it was a good thing that we did move – as soon as we got inside, it started to absolutely pour buckets down. Needless to say, we took our time eating lunch.

That afternoon, it cleared up, so we decided that we would take the shorter hike along the hills to one of the other towns. So, we took a train one town over, to Manarola, and we hiked to Riomaggiore. Matt, a guy staying in the same room as Zach, had done the hikes earlier that day. But, being that he had just met us and we all got along well, he decided to come to do the hike with us! We all had a great time, even with the hike being almost an eighty degree angle for the whole hour and a half. And the towns and views were so amazing!!! Of course, we got some gelato again, because Italy. We went back to shower and hang out for a bit, before we all went out for dinner together in Corniglia. It was a great day and start to our time in Cinque Terre.

 
All of the buildings in Cinque Terre were beautiful colours!

All of the buildings in Cinque Terre were beautiful colours!

 
Hiking in Cinque Terre with Kirstin, Zach and Matt!

Hiking in Cinque Terre with Kirstin, Zach and Matt!

 
I loved the colourful houses of Manarola in Cinque Terre.

I loved the colourful houses of Manarola in Cinque Terre.

 
 
Beautiful views along our hike.

Beautiful views along our hike.

The next day was the serious hiking day! We were going to do the coastal hikes from our town, Corniglia, to Vernazza and then Monterosso. It was going to take basically the whole day, a good chunk of hours. And it was definitely hot out. Matt accompanied us on the first leg, to Vernazza, and then we went our separate ways. It was tough going at a few points – there are a lot of stairs, ups and downs, and the heat is impeccable – but the views were amazing and the towns were worth it alone. Vernazza was so pretty, with the harbor and the boats. I think I enjoyed Vernazza and Manarola the most. We hung out in Monterosso before heading back to Corniglia.

After taking the wrong train (we somehow ended up on an express that went straight to La Spezia), and showering, we met up with Matt to head out for a night of dinner. We met a few other girls staying in our room, and invited them along. Annie was from the US, while Megan was from Australia. They were really nice, and again, everyone got along great! We took the train to Monterosso, had a great dinner (after we finally found a place to eat), and then ate gelato by the beach. It was an amazing evening with some great people.

 
The beautiful town of Vernazza on our hike through Cinque Terre.

The beautiful town of Vernazza on our hike through Cinque Terre.

 
 
Hiking through the towns, on our way to Vernazza!

Hiking through the towns, on our way to Vernazza!

 
The beautiful town of Vernazza.

The beautiful town of Vernazza.

The beaches of Monterosso were really nice - loved the colourful umbrellas!

The beaches of Monterosso were really nice – loved the colourful umbrellas!

 

We had another panicky night when we found out that the next morning, there was going to be a rail strike in the area. No one could tell us if it would merely be a regional strike or a country-wide one. We wouldn’t find out until morning. So, we had to attempt to get out of Cinque Terre at least before the strike began at 9. Flash forward to a 5:30am morning, catching a train, and then paying a lot to be able to take 2 trains to Venice.

Once in Venice, we were utterly exhausted. We found our bus to the area we would be staying – a campground outside of the city where we were staying in a cabin. We got on the bus, got to the cabin, were slightly disappointed, ate pizza, and then just hung out in the cabin before crashing. It was an odd day. We didn’t even want to attempt to explore the city yet.

The next day, June 17, was our day to explore the entirety of Venice. And it was our only day. So, we planned to make the best of it! We planned to head out early – but ended up running late and almost missing our bus. This somehow turned into a regular thing for buses, which became sort of annoying…

None of us really knew any of the places that we were supposed to visit in Venice, and maps cost money, so we just set out exploring on foot and following signs. We made our way to Piazza San Marco, the one place Kirstin had knew of. It was cool, but there was scaffolding and tons of pigeons! It was also very crowded, which made it difficult to maneuver and slightly claustrophobic. BUT – it was pretty and super Italian. We wandered along and went to the Grand Canal, a place that we definitely had heard of. The water was gorgeous and there were boats everywhere!

 
 
The gondolas in Venice, along the canals.

The gondolas in Venice, along the canals.

Piazza San Marco in Venice. Super crowded, but quite beautiful.

Piazza San Marco in Venice. Super crowded, but quite beautiful.

 
Selfie in Piazza San Marco with the scaffolding...

Selfie in Piazza San Marco with the scaffolding…

 
 
The gondolas along the Grand Canal of Venice.

The gondolas along the Grand Canal of Venice.

We walked a lot, found some gelato, got into some arguments about what we wanted to do, and decided that it would be best to split up. Kirstin wanted to go and explore more of Venice. Zach and I really wanted to ride a boat. We didn’t want to pay the insane amount of money to ride a gondola, so we decided to catch a vaporetto, a ferry-type boat, to the other island of Murano.

Murano is the glass-blowing island, so there were multiple shops with beautiful glass-blown artwork. The island itself, or at least the area we ended up in, was quiet and quaint. It was a nice break from the crowded and busy streets of Venice. There was room to breathe and relax, with walking space. So we tried to spend a little extra time there. We stopped at a little café to grab a drink. I tried an Aperol Spritzer – basically sparkling water mixed with an alcohol called Aperol. We believe that you can only get it in Europe. It was pretty good! We caught the boat back to Venice, and ended up getting very lost trying to find Kirstin again. I definitely suggest getting a map on your phone or buying one if you can. Venice is quite confusing.

 
Riding the vaporetto to the island of Murano.

Riding the vaporetto to the island of Murano.

 
The beautiful and quaint island of Murano.

The beautiful and quaint island of Murano.

 
Standing on a pier in Murano.

Standing on a pier in Murano.

 

We got some dinner at a little restaurant along one of the main streets. The waiters were hilarious, offering pizza to random people walking by or asking them to pay someone’s bill. We had some good laughs with them. We wandered a little more to see the canal at night, and grabbed some dessert. I had a great chocolate mousse! We caught the bus back to our accommodations.

The next day would be a travel day to yet another city and country – Budapest, Hungary. I was very excited to see my friend, Kitty. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. But that’s for the next post.

Bye for now

From

JH

P.S. – sorry I am a little behind on the blog posts. I actually just wrote and uploaded this post from Prague, basically a week after I had left Italy. However, I am trying to keep everyone updated through my other social media when I have wifi, with pictures on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Memories & Time

I went for a walk in Kilbarry Park, mostly because we had a gorgeous day of sunshine.

I went for a walk in Kilbarry Park, mostly because we had a gorgeous day of sunshine.

Sitting in class, time seems to drag on as the minute hand slowly inches its way to a new hour. With a new hour, another class begins and the cycle repeats.

But outside of class, it scares me how quickly time moves. A day goes by in the whirlwind of school and going out with friends. And if you blink too long, it’s suddenly the end of the week. You do a little trip and some homework on the weekend and start again.

Nonetheless, I am making the most of all my time here, even the slow moments in class.

I am reading so many interesting books and articles! I just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. An interesting read – my interest was only sparked when I started reading articles and looking at the depth of the novel in class. Last week, I began reading Great Expectations of the infamous Charles Dickens. I haven’t read Dickens before and am excited for this literary experience.

This past week involved a few nights out, with a few lazy days as well. On Tuesday night, I went with some friends to the Jazz Jam Session again. There were more of us this time, and it was a great night! I really enjoy the spontaneity and the idea of ‘jamming’ to create cool music.

Love these girls! Had such a fun night at Kazbars, even if there was some weird guy awkwardly dancing at our table...

Love these girls! Had such a fun night at Kazbars, even if there was some weird guy awkwardly and drunkenly dancing at our table…!

On Wednesday, Brittany’s friend arrived to stay with us for a few days. Her name is Virginia and she is awesome. She is studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have really enjoyed chatting with her and getting to know her. It’s cool to get a perspective on study abroad from someone else who is participating, too, but in another country.

Thursday morning we wandered around city center before splitting off to go to class, do homework, or explore. That night, we wanted to take Virginia to a local bar in Waterford with live music. So, we headed to Kazbar’s after a short get together at a friend’s place. There was a big group of us, and it was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone! We all had a great time listening to the music and chatting.

After doing some homework on Friday morning, I ventured on the long walk to go climbing – as I really do miss being able to drive to the gym and climb whenever I want. That night was even more of an adventure, as Brittany and I tried to create a Spanish tortilla for Virginia. It was a little overcooked, but still great! We were quite proud of ourselves. Inviting a few of the girls over, we hunkered down for a movie night with popcorn and ice cream with Baileys. It was delicious.

The weekend was all about the day trips.

Now, most of our trips have been pretty mishap free, so I blame it on the Friday the 13th weekend. Saturday was our trip to Wexford. We planned to bus into town to catch a bus to a castle a little ways out. After some minor issues (including getting dropped off in the wrong place, and a friend hurting his ankle), we finally arrived at the castle and gardens of Johnstown Castle.

And man, was it worth it.

 
Johnstown Castle, Wexford.

Johnstown Castle, Wexford.


 
The back of Johnstown Castle was just as pretty.

The back of Johnstown Castle was just as pretty.


 
 
Posing like the statues in the statue garden. My bagel helped out.

Posing like the statues in the statue garden. My bagel helped out.

Walking around this garden at the castle, I imagined Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy taking a stroll.

Walking around this garden at the castle, I imagined Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy taking a stroll.


 

The gardens and grounds were beautiful. The grass was a luscious green in every direction, and the trees were a beautiful and tangled mess of branches. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. I feel like in the spring, when everything is in bloom, it would be amazing.

We ate a mediocre dinner in Wexford before journeying back to Waterford, our temporary home.

This morning (Sunday), Brittany and I decided it would be fun to take Virginia to eat an Irish breakfast. We had a great brunch at Dooley’s Pub on the quay, where I finally tried Waterford Blaa (it is really just a bun/bap, but it was delicious)!!!! We then caught a bus to show Virginia the beaches and cliffs of Tramore.

I loved Tramore. And since it’s so close, I will probably visit it again before I leave beautiful Ireland. This time, it was less windy, sunny and cold; but it was a great day nonetheless! It was fun to walk along the beach and sit at the top of the cliffs and just talk with the girls. It was great craic!

 
Once again on the beaches of Tramore.

Once again on the beaches of Tramore.


 
Sitting on a wall, enjoying the view of the ocean. And the moment.

Sitting on a wall, enjoying the view of the ocean. And the moment.


 
Sitting on another wall, we had a great chat while enjoying the sights and sea breeze.

Sitting on another wall, we had a great chat while enjoying the sights and sea breeze.


 
 
These boots have taken me on adventures in Canada and now all over Ireland. Next: Europe.

These boots have taken me on adventures in Canada and now all over Ireland. Next: Europe. (My attempt at an ‘artsy’ shot)

Flash forward to a tired Julie, sitting in a cold room, writing this blog post.

And there is only more to come, as this coming week will be packed with amazing adventures (that I cannot wait for)! Spoiler alert: I’m in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, so we all know that will be an experience all in itself.

I can’t believe I only have 2 months left here. I’m trying to grab hold of every opportunity and memory that I can. I don’t want to miss or forget anything from my time here. But I’m so excited for the adventures awaiting me down the road.

May the road rise up to meet ya

From

JH

die with memories, not dreams” [pinterest quote]

CBA – Reverse Alphabet Weekend

Chocolate Cafe - JulieHuff.com

Enjoying an amazing hot chocolate on a cold Friday afternoon! Love these ladies! (Evelyn, Lenise, Bruna, Brittany, and me)

“TRAVELLING – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

C’ is for The Chocolate Café with friends on a windy and cold, Irish afternoon. ‘C’ is also for Cork, on a sunny Saturday after a long and entertaining bus ride. ‘B’ is for Blarney Castle, the ancient and well-known being which possesses the history of past times. ‘B’ is for the Blarney Stone, which I kissed to gain eloquence – despite being completely grossed out by the idea. And ‘A,’ is for awesome, amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring. Because that was my weekend.

I am continually surprised by how much I can experience within 2-3 days here in Ireland. It definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for one month – more like a week and a half. I look back at everything I’ve gotten to do, and all the things I have planned, and I cannot believe how lucky I am.

On Friday, after Brittany finished classes, we met up with our friends Bruna, Lenise, and Evelyn to walk to city center. We planned to go to a café and then wander around. We ended up going to The Chocolate Café, a place that Brittany and I had seen and heard about, and really wanted to try. The hot chocolate was amazing – probably the best I’ve ever had! And you got a chocolate with it. For a chocolate lover like myself, it was a living dream. We had fun hanging out and chatting, relaxing with our hot drinks. We wandered around city center, stopping to shop and pick up various things we needed.

Later, we had a girl’s movie night with Evelyn and Bruna, watching The Heat, eating junk food, and drinking tea. It was so much fun to have a lazy night in, and just chill with the girls. I’m so glad I’ve met these lovely ladies!

Cork Bus Ride - JulieHuff.com

The view on the bus ride to Cork. So pretty!

Now, usually it’s difficult to get up in the mornings for me. But Saturday seemed a little easier, when I had to get out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. Crazy for a Saturday, right? Well, I knew that after a walk and bus ride, I would be in Cork. And that meant Blarney Castle. Brittany and I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks! To us, this was a must-hit on our list of places to see.

And the early morning was so worth it.

We took a two hour bus ride with our friends to Cork, where we hopped on another bus to get to Blarney. The bus ride was a lot of jokes and laughs with Brittany, Evelyn, Carlos, Hubert, and Ernany.

Blarney was gorgeous! We started by climbing through some of the caves under the castle – beginning with the one that used to be the dungeon. While the others turned back, I was convinced to go to the end of the tunnel with Carlos and Hubert. Despite some VERY narrow passages, we made it to a small room at the end, with minimal standing room. And commence cave selfies.

 

Hubert, Brit, me and Carlos in the caves under Blarney Castle!

 

 
When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.

When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.

 
Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!

Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!

Carlos, Hubert and I in the dungeon caves. It was a tight squeeze sometimes, but we made it all the way to the end!

 

We then headed up into the castle. From every tiny, medieval window, the view was spectacular. You could see the quintessential Irish-green hills for miles around, and little houses and towns a little ways away. It was cold and windy, due to the medieval lack of window panes and heating, but the inside was just as great as the view. We explored various rooms before ending up standing in line on the winding staircase – a line-up that would lead us to the very top of the castle and the Blarney Stone.

The top of the castle definitely afforded the best view of the surrounding areas. You could see the gardens and castle grounds below, along with Blarney House, and the hills and meadows. I stepped up onto a higher part to look over the castle edge. A girl standing in the line sort of freaked out, but it was fine. I knew what I was doing. And the holes had a single bar across them, so I couldn’t technically fall through those either. But it was the best spot to get a look and pictures.

We finally had our turn to kiss the Blarney Stone. Originally, I wasn’t going to do it. It may have been the thought that I was going to be kissing a cold, dirty stone outside, or the fact that thousands of people had kissed this weird rock before me without it being cleaned whatsoever; but I wasn’t too interested at first. However – I knew that I was in Ireland, and that I might never be here again.

So I kissed the Blarney Stone.

 
 
View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.

View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.

 

Stepping into Blarney Castle.

 

We were trying to figure out what ‘blarney’ was, too. This sign was helpful, and gave us a good laugh!

Now I’m just waiting for my Blarney to kick in… For those of you who don’t know, kissing this stone is supposed to present you with the gift of ‘blarney,’ or eloquence. Basically, it’ll make you a fluent and persuasive speaker, and will make you a lover or politician – or so the sign told me…

The day turned out to be gorgeous, despite a bit of cold wind, so we walked along the battlements, and through the gardens until we found ourselves at Blarney House. It looked very grand and elegant. Despite not being able to actually enter the house, we had a lot of fun taking pictures around it.

 
 

View from the top of the castle. You can see the tower and water, along with the stretching green grounds.

 

Walk to Blarney House was so pretty!

Our group for Cork and Blarney! Ernany, Hubert, Carlos, Brittany, Evelyn, and myself. 🙂


 

We took a bus back to the center of Cork, and wandered around the city for a little while. We had been told to visit a few places, so we tried to find them – and got a little lost. But we eventually made it to our destinations. The English Market was a cool place to see. A little underwhelming for someone who has been to the Granville Island market or the new one in Victoria, but interesting nonetheless. It was cool to see that even though our cultures are different in so many ways, a lot of things we eat are actually pretty similar. We then wandered and found a free art museum. I’m not big on art, and couldn’t tell you what any of it meant, but it was pretty cool to explore the old building and see paintings and artistry of the past.

Before leaving Cork, we found a cute little pub along the way (although I can’t remember the name of it), and decided to stop in for dinner and a pint. I ordered a pint of Murphy’s with Carlos and Hubert. It was a local beer and I really enjoyed it – probably as much as I liked my first Guinness. Brittany even liked it when she tried it!

 
 

Snapped this shot quickly when we were leaving the castle. Loved the signs in front. It shows the height and elegance, in my opinion.

Evelyn, Brit and I at the pub in Cork!


 
 

With the sun going down, Cork was beautiful. The cathedrals were everywhere, and looked so pretty along the water.

It was an awesome weekend – definitely one I will remember for a very long time. I will post some of the amazing pictures here, on Facebook, and on my new Instagram account.

As mentioned before, I still cannot believe it has been a month that I have been here. I am amazed at the number of things I have gotten to do, and the number of awesome people I have met. It is definitely the experience I expected it to be.

This weekend will be a little more relaxed, but I will still have lots to tell you, I’m sure. Lots more adventures are in the works for future weekends and breaks that we get. For our February break, we are trying to plan a trip through the west part of Ireland – stopping at many of the spots that are famous to many. And for the two weeks we have for the end of March/beginning of April, we plan to explore this continent which we are setting foot on for the first time. There is still a lot of planning to do, but the ideas are there, and the excitement is definitely growing.

View of the grounds from inside the doorway of the tower.

I’m excited to explore some more, and to go on adventures. I’m so glad that I came here with someone who is turning out to be a great friend and overall amazing person. We are lucky that we get along so well, and don’t mind spending a lot of time together – although I’m sure she’ll be sick of me soon. With our other friends, we are all continuously learning new things from each other, and experiencing new things together in this crazy place.

“And then I realized, adventures are the best way to learn.” [Pinterest quote]

From

JH

P.S. – Sorry if this post was a little picture and word heavy. 🙂