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Posts Tagged ‘Amazing’

Goodbye 2016, Hello 2017

This was my view while doing yoga by the beach - it couldn't have been more peaceful.

This was my view while doing yoga by the beach – it couldn’t have been more peaceful.

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2016, and Hello 2017.

A brand new year – new adventures and experiences to look forward to. But first – let’s rewind a little.

Sometimes, you don’t even realize how fast life is moving. The rhythm of everyday life seems to take over, and you find yourself in a routine.

I haven’t been able to write recently because I have been stuck in the monotony of the adult routine. Since I graduated university, my life has been a series of days where I wake up, go to work, come home to relax and sleep – only to repeat the process the next day. And sure, there are weekends and evenings. But when you work a second job (as I currently do), there is not a lot of time left to go on adventures. Or even to catch up with friends.

But I have also been quite lucky.

In the brief term between my two contracts, I was able to go on one bigger adventure.

If you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat – any of those social media sites – you probably would have seen my barrage of posts from the beautifully captivating Hawaii.

In October, for 10 days, my family went to Waikiki, Hawaii. I have traveled with my family many times throughout my life, but this trip was special. We also traveled with my aunt, my cousin and his wife, and their 2 kids – all of whom had never been before.

Not the best quality photo, but probably one of few where everyone is in the shot. First day in Hawaii!

Not the best quality photo, but probably one of few where everyone is in the shot. First day in Hawaii!

The pink skies and palm trees were probably the best parts about the evenings in Hawaii. I could get used to seeing this from my window.

The pink skies and palm trees were probably the best parts about the evenings in Hawaii. I could get used to seeing this from my window.

Being a fan of Hawaii Five-O, it was only right that I visited and got a photo at this iconic building! I was like a little kid, smiling ear to ear.

Being a fan of Hawaii Five-O, it was only right that I visited and got a photo at this iconic building!

It was so cool to experience Hawaii again. I absolutely loved it the first time. In all honesty, I had wanted to go somewhere else this trip, like Mexico or Central America, but I’m so glad it was Hawaii. We had such an amazing time!

From relaxing at the beach, to shopping until we dropped; from luaus and the Polynesian Cultural Center, to waterfalls and hiking volcanic craters; from zip lining in the valley, to doing yoga at the beach. Every experience was made far more interesting and enticing with my awesome family.

The sun goes down so fast in Waikiki, but it always beautiful. And sometimes you get amazing shots like this.

The sun goes down so fast in Waikiki, but it always beautiful. And sometimes you get amazing shots like this.

We all had such a great time adventuring together. Levi got to do flips all over the island; Madison and I got to hang out as cousins, chilling in floaties on the ocean, shopping, and zip lining. Everyone had such a great trip (except maybe my brother who was sick with the flu for most of the time – but he still made appearances on outings).

Some highlights, you ask? Well, there were too many good adventures, but I will try to limit it to a few amazing moments.

Our day at Kualoa Ranch was definitely a highlight for everyone. Madison and I went on a zip lining adventure in the valley. We hiked, curled up like coconuts to make it down a line, bet ice cream to drop a kakui nut in a bucket, and made it across a suspension bridge with some difficulties. The rest of the family toured the ranch, seeing numerous filming locations for movies, like Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park, King Kong, 50 First Dates, and soooo many others. It is such a cool place and I highly recommend it! On our way back, we even had time to stop at Waimea Falls for Levi to swim.

We spent an entire day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, learning about all of the Polynesian cultures, watching shows, eating amazing food, and seeing a luau. It was a long day, but fun and interesting! Other days – we hiked Diamond Head, an inactive volcanic crater that was used as a base during the wars; we shopped at Ala Moana mall, an expensive outdoor shopping mall; and we toured Pearl Harbor and hit up the flea market at the stadium.

The others went on an excursion to swim with dolphins and the turtles one day, while my family went on an amazing catamaran boat ride along the southern coast of the island another day. We all got to have our amazing adventures and experiences, enjoying the beaches, the views, and the fun.

There's a funny story here - but essentially this was during our backstage tour at the Polynesian Cultural Center. (And yes, I promise, I am tanned.)

There’s a funny story here – but essentially this was during our backstage tour at the Polynesian Cultural Center. (And yes, I promise, I am tanned.)

The views of the coast and Diamond Head were amazing while we cruised the ocean on the catamaran.

The views of the coast and Diamond Head were amazing while we cruised the ocean on the catamaran.

One of my favourites of my photos - surfboards galore!

One of my favourites of my photos – surfboards galore!

You can only get these in Hawaii - so my last few days, I had to have a few!

You can only get these in Hawaii – so my last few days, I had to have a few!

Funny enough, we were in Hawaii during Canadian Thanksgiving. While my friends ate turkey dinners at a table with their families, my family sat down to a lovely meal at Cheeseburger in Paradise – yes, that was our Thanksgiving dinner, and it was awesome.

It was a truly awesome trip, and I will cherish the memories forever.

Of course, I tried to have other small adventures after that.

Around Halloween, I went with my brother and friends (the twins) to check out a corn maze that had craft beers! Long story short – there was a really long line-up, but the corn maze had fallen over due to a storm. Somehow, we lucked out and were given tickets to get in for free! It was a pretty fun day.

I went on a “date” with my grandpa to see Mary Poppins when my grandma was sick. Funnily enough, a friend of mine from high school was in the show! It was a fantastic show and a great night. Just before Christmas, I went out on a Friday night to stand in the snow for the CP Holiday Train. Even though I couldn’t feel my feet, and feared losing a toe to frostbite, I got to see Dallas Smith (one of my favourite country artists) live for the second time in 2016. It was a great night (I mean, once I gained feeling in my feet again, haha!).

The holidays came quickly, and for me, they were all about relaxing now that I’m working full time. But that didn’t stop me from a little adventure either.

One of my best friends, Brittany, had never been to Victoria. As it is one of my favourite cities, I decided that I wanted to show her around the amazing city!

Just chilling in an unsquished section of a very sad corn maze.

Just chilling in an unsquished section of a very sad corn maze.

The gorgeous sunrise from the ferry. Even though we were exhausted from a 5.30am wake-up call, the sunrise was totally worth it.

The gorgeous sunrise from the ferry. Even though we were exhausted from a 5.30am wake-up call, the sunrise was totally worth it.

The Parliament Buildings in Victoria look so pretty lit up at Christmas!

The Parliament Buildings in Victoria look so pretty lit up at Christmas!

For those not from the area, you have to take a ferry to get to Victoria, which is on Vancouver Island. As we had an interesting experience with a ferry ride in Ireland, ferries have become kind of a joke in our group of friends. Nonetheless, we had a great trip over and back, enjoying the views from the ferry.

The two days we spent on the island were perfect. I got to show my best friend all my favourite places to grab sandwiches, get a great shot of the Parliament Buildings or Empress, and my favourite pub to grab a pint to finish a great day. Not to forget walking the breakwater and checking out the little town of Sidney before heading out.

Because on cold days, you just have to drink warm, delicious tea out of dainty tea cups. And people watch.

Because on cold days, you just have to drink warm, delicious tea out of dainty tea cups. And people watch.

The sun setting behind the beautiful Parliament Buildings.

The sun setting behind the beautiful Parliament Buildings.

This is Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown, Victoria, and it is the narrowest street in Canada. It is really cool!

This is Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown, Victoria, and it is the narrowest street in Canada. It is really cool!

And a sort of precursor to something even bigger.

Again, if you follow me on any social media, you will see that I posted some exciting news not so long ago. Brittany and I are going to be backpacking Europe for 2 months this spring!

I couldn’t be any more excited.

Ever since I left Ireland and Europe two years ago (I still can’t believe it’s been two whole years), all I have been thinking about is going back. There are still so many places to explore, cultures to encounter, so much food to try!

As Brittany didn’t get to do the backpacking thing like I did, we are going to a couple places that I have already been to – but I’m ecstatic! The places I am repeating are some of my favourite cities. Plus, we will be going to many more countries and cities that I have never been to before.

Selfies with the Christmas-y Parliament buildings!

Selfies with the Christmas-y Parliament buildings!

But as I plan and prepare for this amazing trip, I have resolved not to neglect this blog again. Although I might try writing some different kinds of posts – more focused on travel itself instead of simply my travels – I want to continue to write about adventures that I take leading up to my trip and during.

Otherwise, look for me on social media, as I am ever-present in one way or another.

So here’s to the adventures that I will seek in 2017, and I hope you all live the adventure, too.

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

2015: A Year in Review

Recently, lots of people have been posting pictures and Facebook statuses to express how they felt about this year. So, why not recap how my year has been?

It has definitely been a roller coaster of emotions – I am thankful, remorseful, saddened and happy when looking back on 2015.

The beginning of this year brought me some of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. I flew to Ireland, ready for adventure and meeting new people. It’s funny – I went with Brittany, someone I had only met twice before taking a 17 hour journey with. And after that, we became best friends. I couldn’t be happier to have her in my life as my friend, former Ireland roommate, and fellow traveller and adventurer. I think the transition was much easier for both of us, experiencing those first freezing cold nights far from home and having someone – even just a little bit familiar – while meeting so many new people.

And thus began probably the best 6 months of my life. Going to school in Ireland was an adventure in itself. 100% finals, classes cancelled all the time, and having classes only the 2 first days of the week. It was an experience I’m glad to have had. The parties and get-togethers are all so memorable, each one sticking out in my mind for specific reasons – like the time I got locked outside on the roof, or the first international students party, or even the very first party we had at our place (the one that security came to).

Exploring Waterford - JulieHuff.com

Brittany and I wandering Waterford

Standing on the edge of the Cliffs with my amazing friends - too many incredible memories!

Standing on the edge of the Cliffs with my amazing friends – too many incredible memories!

At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)

At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)

Lovin the Eiffel Tower

Lovin the Eiffel Tower

I had the best time because of the people I met. I am so thankful to have met incredible, smart, amazing friends from around the world. And honestly, there are too many of you to name – but you guys know who you are, and the hilarious and amazing memories that we have.

Of course, it was because of a lot of these amazing friends that I had incredible adventures. Brittany and I were lucky to travel each weekend with great people – going to Kilkenny, Tramore, Dunmore East, Blarney, Cork, Dublin, Belfast, Kerry, Wexford, and so many more. As I wrote in posts earlier this year, I was lucky to travel around Ireland on one of my weeks off from school. We went to so many amazing places, including Cahir, Cashel, Limerick, Galway, Cliffs of Moher, and Inis Mor. Guys, even though we had only known each other for a couple weeks, that trip was amazing!

On my second week off, I travelled with Brittany, Bert and Carlos through 5 European cities, before going to Nice by myself. We had a couple bumps in our travels – almost missing trains, getting a little lost, and I got sick with food poisoning – but it was an incredible adventure! I think it was one of the best trips, as we all got along so well and never had disagreements.

Ireland was one of the greatest experiences of my life – I got to fulfill my dreams of travelling to Europe, living abroad, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. But it definitely had its bumps along the way. The first few days were incredibly hard, as I had no internet and no way to contact my family. However, Brittany was amazing and the people there were super helpful. The hardest moment was when I learned that my Gramma had passed away back home. Before I left, she had been in and out of the hospital with a heart attack and health problems. I knew it was a possibility, and I was scared that it would happen – but she always pushed me to go after my dreams. I was lucky to Skype with her a few times before she passed away. It was definitely hard going through this by myself, missing the funeral and being so far away from all of my family. I tried to stay positive, and a few of my friends were incredibly supportive – I think it would have been much harder without you guys being there for me, making sure I was alright, so thank you.

After my semester ended, my brother, Zach, and my long time best friend, Kirstin, came to meet me. We would start our 6 week adventure in Ireland before travelling to 12 countries, 17 cities, and countless famous landmarks and places. This trip had a few more bumps than previous ones, and I had to learn to travel a little differently. It’s interesting how travel changes when you are travelling with people you haven’t known very long, compared to people you have known your entire life. We had so many hilarious moments and adventures, inside jokes from the trip, and we met so many cool people. I was lucky enough to meet up with many of my friends I had met in Ireland, and I got to introduce them to Zach and Kirstin. I am incredibly grateful to have had the adventure, and to have shared it with so many amazing friends, new and old.

The wind at the Cliffs of Moher was ridiculous - & provided great entertainment!

The wind at the Cliffs of Moher was ridiculous – & provided great entertainment!

Our adventure group for the trip to Montserrat. It was so much fun hanging out with all these guys!

Our adventure group for the trip to Montserrat. It was so much fun hanging out with all these guys!

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

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

Our new friends in Prague! Had so much fun hanging out those days with you guys. Great to meet you!

Our new friends in Prague! Had so much fun hanging out those days with you guys. Great to meet you!

When I got home, I was a part of my cousin’s lovely wedding. I was very lucky to be a part of a huge step into her new life with an amazing person. I am so happy for them. And then, my summer was mostly spent outdoors and with friends. I had multiple days of outdoor climbing and hiking, catching up with amazing friends, and trying to keep up with my friends in Europe and their lives.

Unfortunately, another tragedy occurred. My great aunt, the only remaining sibling from my Gramma’s family, passed away. She had been sick for some time, but it was still hard. My mom had been incredibly close to her when she had lived in Arizona, and their relationship had continued. I had been pen pals with my great aunt since I was little and had visited her in Arizona. I loved writing to her, and she was incredibly supportive and proud of everything I was doing. Her and my uncle were amazingly supportive of my travels and aspirations, and I was so thankful.

For the last few months, my life has been crazy with school and my two jobs – working at the rock climbing gym, and writing a blog about study abroad for the international office at UFV. Starting school again was a little stressful, as it was much more work than I had in Ireland. As I wrote in a previous post, I could have taken four courses and finished my degree. Being too stressed, I decided that I would take another semester. BUT – I did take one leap this semester, and wrote a few articles for my university newspaper, The Cascade. It was interesting to branch out to something new, and I really enjoyed it. I hope to write more for it this coming semester!

Annual Grey Cup party with the Waterbabies! (Or #WaterBaybees). Missing a few, but an awesome time.

Annual Grey Cup party with the Waterbabies! (Or #WaterBaybees). Missing a few, but an awesome time.

Vancouver Christmas Market with Brit!

Vancouver Christmas Market with Brit!

Stanley Park Bright Nights was amazing. Excited to go back for the Christmas train!

Stanley Park Bright Nights was amazing. Excited to go back for the Christmas train!

The beautiful Christmas lights in Stanley Park. An amazing night.

The beautiful Christmas lights in Stanley Park. An amazing night.

But I still tried to have a full social life, like I had in Ireland. It definitely wasn’t the same, but I had some great adventures. Especially in the past few weeks, having gone to Stanley Park, Vancouver Christmas Market, Victoria, skating, and bowling. I have gotten to catch up with many amazing friends, and to see my family for Christmas. I have even re-connected with some friends from high school, who I hadn’t seen in years, as we all had a common connection of having studied abroad. It was cathartic and amazing to hear their stories, share experiences, and reminisce on the hilarious adventures we all had since graduating high school!

Now, with New Year’s, I am thinking of what I would like to accomplish over the next year. I am excited to spend New Year’s with my family and great friends. I will then enter my final semester of university – both exciting and terrifying. I went straight from high school to university, and have been studying for 5 years. I am excited to have some time off from school. But I am terrified because I have no idea what I want to do – do I want to travel more? Live abroad again? Find a job around Vancouver? What kind of job do I even want?

I have never been one to have a goal or anything for the New Year. I never found them helpful. So I am going to pick broad ones: in 2016, I want to be happy and to find what I want to do. Hopefully this will include some more travels, meeting new people and experiencing new things, and staying in contact with the amazing friends I have now. But for now, I’m going to have a little fun to finish off a great year.

On the ferry to Victoria, we had a nice get away as a family just before Christmas.

On the ferry to Victoria, we had a nice get away as a family just before Christmas.

Braving the cold on the ferry for some fun with my dad!

Braving the cold on the ferry for some fun with my dad!

The Parliament buildings lit up - probably one of my favourite things about Victoria.

The Parliament buildings lit up – probably one of my favourite things about Victoria.

I went skating for the first time in 4 years! Definitely had a great time, and almost got knocked over.

I went skating for the first time in 4 years! Definitely had a great time, and almost got knocked over. Loved skating with my goddaughter!

It's always a great night with these guys! Evidence that siblings can all get along - and that we all kinda suck at bowling.

It’s always a great night with these guys! Evidence that siblings can all get along – and that we all kinda suck at bowling.

Love my goofy family. Would've made a great Christmas card. ;)

Love my goofy family. Would’ve made a great Christmas card. 😉

Lastly, though, I want to thank anyone and everyone who has read this blog over the last year. I appreciate your support through my travels and with my attempt to navigate the blogosphere. I apologize that it wasn’t very interesting sometimes – my life does that once in a while – and that I wasn’t very organized with my uploads. I would love to say that 2016 will be different, but there are no guarantees in life. And no matter how hard I try, my everyday life is not always an exciting adventure. But bear with me – I will still be posting on Instagram, Twitter and occasionally Facebook, and I hope to find more opportunities to write articles and blogs online. Thanks for the support and patience, and hopefully for sticking with me in the future!

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

P.S. – I was also excited to try something new this past semester. I wrote two articles for my university newspaper, The Cascade. I will put links to the articles here and here, just in case you would like to peruse them. 🙂

Ireland Trip Pt. 1

This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!

This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!

Well, I have now planned a trip for 8 people (with help obviously), stayed in hostels for the first time, bused along the West of Ireland, and been to some of the most amazing places. All within 6 days.

I have a lot that I want to write – I’ve experienced so much, learned a lot, met some great people, and seen some amazing things. But, for the sake of your eyes and brains, I will attempt to condense as much as I can.

Day 1 – Cahir and Cashel

(We pronounced Cahir wrong for numerous days until someone corrected us – you say it like ‘care.’)

8 of us set out at the beginning – 5 guys and 3 girls.

We had wanted to go to Cahir to see a castle we had seen on the internet, but were super disappointed when we arrived to find it under construction. So, instead, we went for a walk along the river behind the castle. Honestly, it was a great decision! The natural scenery was beautiful, and we all got some great shots. Even though we had torrential rain and sideways winds for the walk back, our wet jeans and dripping jackets were definitely worth it for the views we found.

We had lunch at a little café before taking a bus to Cashel. Cashel is home to the ruins, the Rock of Cashel. My friend Hubert and I were the only ones who saw the ruins from the bus window, our excitement growing as we would finally see something really cool!

 

Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.

Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.

Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)

Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)

We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.

We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.

We found our hostel (pretty good for my first hostel actually), and headed off to explore the Rock of Cashel. We might have walked along an ‘out-of-bounds’ area (we aren’t sure), but the views were amazing and worth it. Green hills surrounded, and we could see even more ruins in the distance. The ruins were really cool to explore – although dodging stepping on tombs was a little interesting and morbid…

We found a little local pub for dinner that was edible, and had a quiet night in at the hostel.

Day 2 – Limerick

To get to Limerick, we had to pass back through Cahir. So, we stopped for brunch there. I got to have pancakes with maple syrup for Pancake Tuesday! I was so excited to find food from home on a menu!

Limerick was probably one of my favourite cities that we have been to so far these 2 months. The atmosphere is really relaxed, and sometimes it definitely doesn’t feel like you are in a city. We wandered until we found King John’s Castle. We had a ton of fun exploring and taking pictures all around the castle grounds!

 

St. John's Castle, Limerick.

St. John’s Castle, Limerick.

The view from the very top tower of St. John's Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!

The view from the very top tower of St. John’s Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!

And then we were 7, as we said goodbye to Kitty at the bus station – she was going back home to Waterford, and we were continuing on. That night, the guys wanted kebabs and pizza for dinner, but Brittany and I decided we wanted something better. So, we asked the lady at reception, and she recommended a restaurant called Marco Polo. It was quite fancy, but pretty average prices – so we were really excited that we got to have one night out with really good food!

We met up with the guys afterwards, and headed to a local pub for a pint and to listen to live music. The band was only two guys playing guitar and using back beats and music, but they were really good! It was a great night out. And our hotel that night was amazing! The beds were incredibly soft, like sleeping on clouds. We all got a great night’s sleep with no bunk beds.

Day 3 – Galway

One more thing that made our hotel awesome – free breakfast in the morning! So we got to have a mini Irish breakfast to start off our day. We hung out in our great room for a bit before wandering the city streets of Limerick and buying food at a grocery store.

We caught a bus to Galway in the afternoon, and checked into our hostel. I cannot stress how awesome this hostel actually was! The people were great, and it actually offered a lot while being in a central location. I was so happy with it! And there was a Canadian girl working there who checked us in and gave us recommendations of where to go in the city – thanks, Rebecca!

 

Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)

Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)

It's hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together - all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!

It’s hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together – all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!

And we became 8 again, as Carlos joined us after coming back from Spain.

We booked our tours for the next few days around Galway and the surrounding areas, and then headed to the Cellar Bar for dinner. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere was great!!! We had an awesome dinner there. After going back to the hostel and hanging out for a bit, we headed to The Crane Bar for a pint and some live, traditional Irish music. The bar was small and fun, and we all had an awesome time. It was a great way to end off the night!

So this post isn’t too long, I’m going to post part two of my travels in a day or two. That blog post will include the Cliffs of Moher, Inishmore, and a little more of Galway (and is longer). Honestly, I would recommend any of the places we went to or stayed at, as we had an amazing trip!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

From

JH

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. 🙂

Adventures Abroad

I originally had a blog post all ready to publish. It was about being at a new school, and being stuck feeling like the new person. I keep forgetting that I am that person, that I’m the international student.

About how I’ve been called American multiple times, while Brittany has been called both American and Hispanic. We all thought that was pretty interesting, yet hilarious. But then some things happened that I would much rather tell you about.

I have become aware of how much I love this place and these people. And it’s only been two weeks.

View from the hill in Waterford - JulieHuff.com

View from the hill in Waterford, my birthday walk.

On Thursday, it was my birthday – my first birthday away from home. I didn’t want to do anything big, maybe some drinks with my new friends. But Brittany and I had definitely planned to go for a nice walk up the hill that morning. The view of Waterford was gorgeous. The sky was clear, and it was a great start to the day.

My internet wasn’t working that day, so I had to run around to the computer store to try to solve more technology issues. I met up with Brittany after, and we went grocery shopping.

We came back to a dark apartment, only to have all of my friends in the apartment with the lights off, jumping up to yell “SURPRISE” as I came into the room. It was awesome! They had been planning it in secret, and everything went really well (apparently, because I had no idea at all…). We had pizza, drinks, and cake, and we all just hung out. It was a great birthday, probably one of the best I’ve had. And I’m so glad to have met these people.

The Friday was pretty boring, including me sleeping in and just wandering around city center with some friends. We stopped in at a coffee shop that was really cute, and had great drinks.

That night was when the crises happened. First, I encountered more technological issues when I was charging my phone. It had been plugged in for almost 5 minutes when my adapter suddenly started sparking and smoking. I panicked. I quickly unplugged my phone and the adapter. The others were out, and I had no idea what to do. So I messaged the guys to come and help me. But it was helpless, so we just threw it out. Quick flash forward to a weekend of Brittany and I sharing her phone charger and adapter for our electronics.

The second crisis of the night happened when Brittany burned her hand, but she doesn’t really want the story told… again.

Saturday was a great day. We went on our first trip out of Waterford city, to Kilkenny. It was quite different. The bus ride was even pretty, as you could see the rolling green hills and fields for miles out the windows on either side.

Kilkenny was brilliant. Our first stop was Kilkenny castle. We wandered some of the gardens, taking group and fun pictures, before taking a guided tour around the castle. The history was so interesting, and it was fun to hang out with our group. (We had a very large group of 21, but we were quite disorganized… haha.)

 

 
On the bus to Kilkenny - JulieHuff.com

On the bus to Kilkenny, with Sarah, Hubert, Carlos, and Bert (and Bruna and Evelyn behind)

 
Kilkenny Castle - JulieHuff.com

Kilkenny Castle, with all of it’s history.

Kilkenny Castle Grounds - JulieHuff.com

Kilkenny Castle Grounds

From there, we had lunch at a little restaurant, Petronella’s. Hidden away in a little alleyway, this restaurant was perfect. The owner told us of the interesting history of the building, and the food was amazing! It was a great find.

We wandered the streets of Kilkenny, through alleys and little passageways to find the Black Abbey and St. Mary’s Cathedral. They were gorgeous. St. Mary’s was being renovated, so we couldn’t enjoy the full splendor. But even the outside was a great sight. Black Abbey had an interesting history and gorgeous stained glass windows. A woman told us how it had been taken by Cromwell during his siege, similar to Kilkenny castle, but that Cromwell had actually slept for a night within the walls of the Black Abbey.

After wandering and sightseeing, some of the group wanted to go on a tour of Smithwick’s Brewery, while others did not. I was one of the latter. The group who went on the tour said that it was interesting and they learned a lot. I went with a few of the girls (Brittany, Evelyn, Sarah, Bruna, and Kitty) to a local coffee shop, where we ordered drinks and just had fun chatting.

Girls in front of Grace's Castle. Lovely ladies!

Girls in front of Grace’s Castle. Lovely ladies!

The Black Abbey. So much history in this town, it was amazing.

The Black Abbey. So much history in this town, it was amazing.

In the Black Abbey, this stained glass window presents the Mysteries of the Rosary in a breathtaking way.

In the Black Abbey, this stained glass window presents the Mysteries of the Rosary in a breathtaking way.

St. Mary's Cathedral in Kilkenny.

St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kilkenny.

I kind of love these people I have met. Promised a friend I wouldn't put this on Facebook, but I love this picture. Left to right: Sarah, Brittany, Bruna, Hubert, Carlos. Erasmus <3

I kind of love these people I have met. Promised a friend I wouldn’t put this on Facebook, but I love this picture. Left to right: Sarah, Brittany, Bruna, Hubert, Carlos. Erasmus <3

At the Cafe with these gorgeous ladies. We were all pretty tired after a day of exploration.

At the Cafe with these gorgeous ladies. We were all pretty tired after a day of exploration.

We took the hour bus ride back home to Waterford. We were all pretty tired after an historical and entertaining day of being tourists. Some of us went out, some stayed in. But we all agreed that it was an amazing day, and we swapped pictures.

I cannot believe that it has only been two weeks, and I have already done so many amazing things. Not only that, but I have gotten to do these things with some great people.

I am quite thankful to have met all of them here. They made a huge effort to give me a great birthday away from home, and we all can laugh and enjoy ourselves together on outings like these.

I’m super excited for more exploring and adventures with these people.

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

P.S. – I am still having technical difficulties. It’s a dilemma actually. Not enjoying that aspect of my trip. But on the bright side, I had my first pint of Guinness (on tap) the other day, and really liked it! 

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