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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
“Cada persona es un mundo – Each person is a different world.” – Spanish saying. (Thanks, Carlos!)
It’s funny. When you set out on an adventure or journey, you never know exactly what to expect.
Planning to come to Ireland, I never would have imagined that I would be out at pubs and clubs on school nights, going somewhere new almost every weekend, and experiencing some very different and crazy things from my life at home.
Last week, on Thursday, we ended up going out. First, we went to a friend’s house to all hang out and have a mini get-together. Later, we headed to a local pub, Kazbar’s, for some live music. It was so amazing! We had been told that it was “Irish music,” but it was funny to see when we got there that the signs said “Newfoundland music.” The band was brilliant, and even played a few Mumford and Sons songs that my friends and I loudly sang along to. Thankfully, there were people who were extremely drunk, and the music was loud, so no one cared or could hear us. It was a great night! I even got to talk to some more of the international students, and meet a few more.
Friday turned out to be an interesting day as well. I have no classes, and Brittany finishes in the afternoon. So, we met up with Bruna and headed to city center. We decided to try a new café this week. We ended up going to O’Brien’s where I had a Nutella hot chocolate! Yes. You read that right. It was amazing!!! So chocolate-y and good. I don’t think it trumped the Chocolate Café hot chocolate, but definitely close.
Then we went shopping and picked up little things that we needed. I got a yoga mat so that I can finally do some workouts in my room. It was great! And I got a thing of four rings – for one euro!!!!! I was excited. (It’s a girl thing. Hahaha.)
We decided that we wanted a little day trip; so, around 11 on Saturday, a group of us met up to go to Dunmore East. Like Tramore, it’s a coastal town with beaches and the ocean. Except for one thing: the cliffs here were amazing. It makes me wonder how much greater the Cliffs of Moher will be next week.
We wandered around the beaches, climbing through tiny caves (and taking cave selfies), climbing over rocks, and exploring. Our group of 10 often found itself separated, but we always met back up. We followed a trail that ran along the cliffs and the length of the majority of the coast. The views were spectacular. The guys climbed up a hill to get to the top, so I followed along. We found out after that there was a trail, but it was actually pretty awesome to climb the hill – despite the sketchy, moving rocks.
The cliffs and ocean were beautiful. I honestly could have sat there for hours, just looking at the view. It’s moments like these that truly remind me that I am surrounded by a beautiful and amazing country. Sometimes, the monotony of school and life causes me to forget exactly where I am. These moments allow me to take a deep breath and soak up the naturally beauty and splendor around me. Ireland is gorgeous, and I’m excited to see all of its beauty.
We had lunch in a little café before heading back. I ordered a BLT Panini, forgetting that bacon here is not like at home. It’s so odd to me that when I order bacon, I am expecting bacon strips like at home; but instead, I am given ham. I seriously miss bacon (even though I don’t eat it that often at home).
But here’s the exciting news – Brittany and I have now seen two places within Ireland that sell Tim Hortons coffee!!! I kid you not. Like the coffee machines at gas stations and convenience stores back home, we have now seen signs for Timmy’s coffee in Kilkenny and Dunmore East. Honestly, it made me really want Tim Hortons. But for now, adorable cafes and The Bagel Factory will have to do (as our friends have never eaten bagels, I’m sure that I’ll get to go there a few times 😉 ).
One of the things I definitely did not expect was to be partying during the week. For people who know me back home, I’m not exactly a party person. Sure, I’ll have a drink or two and go out every so often. But getting me to Roosters or a night club is a challenge sometimes. (Sorry girls…)
But here, I have surprised myself. I loved going to the live music nights, especially because I had no school the next days anyways. (Somehow, I lucked out with getting only 2 days of school a week…) Monday night was a little more though. Here in Ireland, there is an event called Rag Week. Basically, everyone parties. Every day and every night. Drinking and going to clubs. And I was so not ready for that.
I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, my friends aren’t really into the huge club scene either. I lucked out on that. But we were going to experience it nonetheless. So we bought our tickets for the Monday night.
We went to a friend’s apartment first to hang out (I’m sensing a pattern here). And then we went to the school. Now it’s so weird to me that the school is having a party week, hosted by the Student Union. But I guess that is the way here! It was actually a ton of fun. There was a live band that was awesome and played great music. Our huge group danced around and had an overall great time.
Technically, we had tickets that would get us a discount to a night club in the city that night. But we decided it might be too busy, so we might check out another one. We ended up at The Foundry. Again, a typical night club. Not necessarily my scene. But I was having fun, and I was with friends, so I didn’t care. We went onto the dance floor and danced around for a while before heading home.
Obviously there were many other things that happened, but I will spare you the details. Essentially, there were a lot of laughs, some awkward moments, lots of joking, drinking, and fun. For my first Rag Week adventure, I had a great time!
But here’s the exciting news: next week, my friends and I venture on our actual adventure. We get a week off for studying for school, but every one of us is basically just using our weeks off for travel. So, Brittany and I decided to plan a trip through the parts of Ireland that we most want to see. A bunch of our friends were interested, so now there will probably be a group of about 5-7 of us. (Don’t worry – we’ve already booked hostels for those of us who are sure we’re going).
I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write for blogging next week. A post will probably go up the week after. But keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter, as I’ll try to update there. We are going to see many amazing things, from cathedrals to castles, museums to nature, and the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. We will pass through Cahir and Cashel, Limerick, Galway, and Inismore.
I am beyond excited for this adventure, and cannot wait to tell you all about it when I get back.
May the road rise up to meet ya.
I love the fact that life here in Ireland is so different from home. Brittany and I have had multiple conversations about how odd it will be to try to get back into a regular routine again.
Last week, we went to a pub on Monday. And Tuesday. And I couldn’t help but think that I would never do something like that at home. Tuesday, we didn’t drink at all. Merely went for the company and the amazing music. Our friend found a Jazz Jam Session that occurs at a local pub every Tuesday night. I was really curious, as I had never been to anything like that before! The music was really good, and we all had fun just hanging out.
Friday night was the real “party” night. A party had been planned at a bar for the international students of WIT. Basically all the international students were going. We decided to go to check it out, even though neither of us is really into the bar or club scene. There was going to be a pre-party, so we decided we would check that out too. When the night came, we found out our friend was having a pre-pre-party. So we ended up going there first. I think, for me, that was the best part of the night. It was a smaller crowd and we knew basically everyone, so it was fun to just hang out.
We walked through the cold, dark streets to get to the actual pre-party at someone’s house. Walking through the door of the house, you were instantly hit with the smell of smoke. It was disgusting. Our friend remarked that we were literally breathing in cancer. We couldn’t even get into the room where the party was happening because it was already crammed with people. A bunch of us decided that we would just head to the club earlier than the others.
The club was exactly what I expected. Big bouncers at the door, and loud EDM (electronic dance music) playing. I’m not a huge fan of that kind of music usually. So I wasn’t overly excited. But my friend grabbed mine and Brittany’s hands and pulled us onto the light-up square dance floor (yes, it looked like it was from the seventies, and yes there was a disco ball on the ceiling. 2 actually). Dancing was so much fun. It was great to see how my new friends danced, and I think it was good for all of us to let loose a little.
Sunday was probably the best day though. Around mid-morning, Brittany and I met up with our friends, Carlos and Bert, to go to Tramore. Tramore is a city along the coast, and the beaches are supposed to be really pretty.
Man, did it exceed my standards. Even though it was misty and grey when we arrived, the sand and water were beautiful with the surrounding cliffs. It was breathtakingly beautiful, albeit quite windy and cold. But we started walking, and the cold didn’t bother us anymore.
We walked along the beach, below the cliffs, and goofed off on the rocks along the bottom. Brittany and I found the remnants of a staircase, venturing to climb up it for a better view, while the guys climbed boulders and things farther down the beach. We walked through part of town, only to find the path to the top of the cliffs. The view was even better from above. And the sun peeked out through the clouds too. The grass was so green and lush, exactly how you would picture the Irish coast.
We had lunch at a restaurant that was recommended to Brittany. I went for the typical beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips, and it was really good. After lunch, we walked along the beach again – but the opposite way this time. The tide had gone far out, and we could walk a long ways out to the water. With the sun, it was amazing. We decided that we will go back one day when the weather will be warmer, and stay to watch the sunset. I really hope we do.
We wandered through town, searching for the cathedral. We followed the steeples that reached high into the clouds. First, we found a small church. It was surrounded by a graveyard, but the stained glass was really pretty. When we found the Tramore Roman Catholic Church, the clouds had rolled in again and obstructed a view of the very top of the steeple. It gave the cathedral an eerie feel. Inside was amazing though, with more high ceilings, gothic architecture, and stained glass windows throughout.
Heading back to Waterford, we ended the day by meeting up with some friends to see The Imitation Game. It’s a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley about the solving of the Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II. It was a little slow, but for someone who loves history and had never learned about this, I found it really interesting.
I came home to messages from my parents about various bank issues, but nothing was going to ruin the day I had.
Thankfully, most of my technology issues are dealt with now, and I am looking forward to getting a few other things done so I can relax. Hopefully, there will be more travelling soon, as we have a few trip ideas on the horizon.
May the road rise up to meet ya.