Saturday, January 25, 2014

Cliffs of Moher + Galway

(Note: this post is a bit behind...havent had much time to write.)

On our way to galway, we made a detour to the Cliffs of moher. After driving the corkscrew hilly roads (one portion literally called 'corkscrew road'), we made it there. The weather had turned from rain to bright sun, making it a beautiful clear day to see the sights. The steep cliffs were breathtaking, not to mention the fact that we saw a couple hop the fence and get engaged right in front of our eyes! Erin creepily took pictures from afar, but the couple was thankful to have it captured, and erin took the proposers email so she could send the pictures to him. Cray!

After that we winded ourselves along to galway on some of the wildest roads yet. Erin was exhausted by the time we arrived, due to the long period of concentration needed to navigate the insane path to the city. Fun, nonetheless.

Our hostel here (sleepzone) feels like a hotel with communal bedrooms and ikea-y kitchen. It even has an elevator! :D Everything is clean and organized and modern which is a nice change. After we arrived and settled in, we hit downtown and found the Kings head pub - the galway version. There was a comedy competition that night for 5 euros and you got a free bulmers, so needless to say, we were in.

We went to the kingshead for dinner and got a good cushy booth right next to the stage, cause lets be serious--even a young lady needs some good back support. Erin predicted we would probably be involved in the show, and boy was she spot on: i was made a guest judge of the competition! And also he talked about my boobs a few times, which were not actually showing at all? Not the classiest... I suppose he was lacking material. Anyways, the show was effing hilarious and we had a grand old time. Halfway through the show a couple of other canadians, who were in ireland for the trad music fest in dublin, joined us at our table. We just find eachother, eh?

On our second day in galway we were planning on taking the ferry to the aran islands, so we purchased tickets and set off for the bus stop to take us to the ferry. We arrived at the stop at 10:36 am and were told the only bus for the day trip had left at 10:30. Crap. We left thinking maybe we could try to drive down and make the ferry (hold that ferry!) but it was an hour away, and we didnt want to risk a 2 hour drive for nothing. Feeling a tad dejected and lost, we stopped by tk maxx (basically tj maxx) to drown our sorrows before heading back to the hostel to figure shit out. We decided to set out again with a plan to wander, and in doing so, find the few touristy items along the way. We ended up browsing a few Enable Ireland shops (charity shops) and seeing the Spanish Arch (not actually a huge deal) and the (free) Galway museum, which was a short intro to the city. We had lunch and stopped in a few shops before heading back to sleepzone, where i slept from about 1pm to 4pm, i was told. My throats been bugging me for the last couple days, and im praying that it isnt strep throat because that would involve me going to a doctor and getting medicine (which works amazingly, but i dont really want to deal with). Im trying to take it a bit easier and eat good things to get rid of whatever it is, and also monitor the back of my throat a lot (staring into the mirror with my tongue hanging out). It isnt looking great, but im a pretty positive person, so im not jumping to conclusions yet! Pray for me!

(Note: i am no longer sick, and it wasnt strep. Hallelujah!)


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cork County, Killarney and The Dingle Peninsula

Friday held our last morning in Dublin City. Erin and i had such an amazing time here, checking the sights, meeting the people, and quenching the drunk-hungries with late night mcdonalds runs. Dublin is a bustling little city, steeped in so much history. Everyone we came across was so friendly and was beautiful. Ladies, check it: fur warm-weather handbands are happening. Don't say i didnt warn you.

We picked up our rental car at dublin airport and started on our way to Cork. I was curious to find out what driving on on the opposite side felt like (and a little worried) and truth be told, it isnt a big deal at all! Easy peasy. You get used to it pretty easily. Dont get me wrong though, roundabouts are another story...

So we finally get to cork county and find our hostel. We were told there was a very nearby carpark that we could use, but of course we drove right past it and found ourselves on one the steepest streets we've ever driven on, just about straight up and down. The houses were so beautiful and colourful though, so i was happy for the detour. 

Erin and i visited the shopping district of downtown cork and took a bunch of pictures of the colourful buildings. Before heading back to the hostel we checked out mother jones flea market, which was down the street. It was decent, but i didnt find anything amazing. There seemed to be a lot of old hippies there :)

To sum up Cork County, it was quite uneventful, save for playing cards with some hostel mates at the end of the day. Supposedly the nightlife is quite good, but we stayed in without a sample. Once we headed back to the room to prepare for bed we realized we were surrounded by crazy loud guests staying in other rooms, and were privy to the sound of some drunk yahoo peeing out of his window. I def heard that stream, y'all. We were off the next morning.

Next up was Killarney--what a sleeping giant of a town! We arrived mid-morning to some sort of community walk, which made getting around a little more stressful. Even more people in tracksuits than we've seen so far (which has been a lot, especially men walking around dublin city... So classy!). Our hostel Neptunes Inn was the best yet! We met our first canadian, a sweet, funny lady named Chris. We were her first Canadians she's come across as well, and she had been travelling ireland since December. It was only us three in our room, and we had an ensuite bathroom. Living it up in Killarney :)

We set out for Killarney National Park with plans to see the abbey and waterfall-- little did we know what a trek we were in for. We first stopped at Ross Castle, which admist some flooding was still pretty cool. Someone was feeding the ducks there so there was quite the commotion while we were leaving. The wind had picked up like crazy so the birds were having a hard time flying, and we were mildly worried of them being blown into our faces. Slight detour back to the car, and we still have our faces. Hurrah!

The National Park was exquisitely green. It was all grass, mossy trees and flowers. In January, people! Here was where we saw the first rainbow of the Ireland trip, which appeared on our walk about towards Muckross Abbey. The trek was so long, I figured that the abbey didn't actually exist, and was actually an abbey that only dwelled in our minds when we had found ultimate enlightenment. So when it appeared, Erin and I were quite pleased with ourselves, to say the least. The abbey itself was beautiful. One room held a yew tree which sprouted above the abbey walls, and the building was partially surrounded by a small, concentrated grave yard. That, combined with our first rainbow was enough to knock our socks off. 

We were pretty lost from there, seeing no signs for Muckross house or Torc Waterfall. (Side note: See all these capital letters I'm using? It's cause I'm writing the rest of this post on a real desktop computer :) I asked a fellow the way and he pointed us up a steep hill (one of many), which we took until we could follow the signs. We hit Muckross house at what seemed the brightest point of the day. The sun shone off the house, and although we didn't get near, it was a beautiful spectacle. We were headed for the waterfall.

Well, lemme tell you: our calves and butts haven't been the same since this fateful day to the waterfall. We walked down many roads, traversed over fields and through forests, and passed over countless babbling streams on the way to this damned waterfall. It seemed to be just one more kilometer until we would reach the end, and we just kept going because we had been so far already. We were worried that it would take so long that our walk back would be in the dark -- something for which we were not mentally nor emotionally prepared. But we kept trekkin', and trekkin', and finally we found it. 

It was a waterfall. 

We started the trek back, this time down the outer road of the national park, which we found was part of the Ring of Kerry. We were so tired and our calves and butts were achin', which we figured was because we walked a total of around TWELVE KILOMETRES that day! It was intense. Even though we were so tired after, I felt a bit accomplished, only wishing that we had known exactly how far we had to go, or had driven our little baby car (my nickname) to the car parks at each sight. that would have been smart, right? All in all, it was an experience for sure, and the views were incredible. What a beautiful national park! We felt if anything, we deserved several pints that night.

We hit the supermarket for dinner, which is always a wise choice because it's comparatively so cheap to eating out. Chicken Kiev, anyone? Eating like princesses! We also grabbed some cider, which we were consuming whilst we met our next friend, Andrew from Australia. Really nice dude! He didn't seem to have anything to do or anyone to do it with, so we met him at the pub later on. We hit a few that night, ending with a club where a man and an acoustic guitar was performing a bunch of newer hits and a bunch of classics. Talented, he was! A chance to dance, at least. Killarney as a town is not really my bag. I didn't care for any of the stores and it seems quite small town, but man, once the nightime hits, these people are down to party. The highest heels, the best track suits.So much fun. the next morning we said goodbye to Canadian Chris and started off for Dingle.

How can I express my love for Dingle? There are no words. 

Okay, there are some. As soon as we arrived we were entranced by the colourful shopfronts and fishermans wharf. We got our own bedroom at the hostel, which was unfortunately SO SO COLD. We basically slept in all our clothes. After getting settled we hit the town, and almost immediately, a really old man came up to me and spoke to me mostly unintelligibly. All I got was, where are we from, and follow me, back door to a pub. Now, in some instances this would not be a good thing to do, and the look on Erin's face was telling me exactly this, but I was way too curious not to follow. Well, he opened the door, and there it was, a typical Irish, dark, musty, dusty, wood-covered pub, with 4 really old men drinking pints at 11 am. We laughed for a million years! But we were in search of lunch, specifically some local fish and chips, so we gracefully took our leave. We found delicious fish and chips at a pub almost at the end of the road at the wharf. We also found our new favourite place in Dingle, Murphy's. This is an icecream shop that originiated in the town, and is all made by hand with fresh local ingredients. SO GOOD! 

After our jaunt in the town we prepared for our drive around the Dingle Peninsula via Slea Head Drive. There is a way via Conor Pass, but this route was too treacherous for us. Slea Head Drive is described quite perfectly as:

A beautiful 25-30 km loop that can be taken by car or bicycle (most of the time is spent taking pictures, climbing on rocks, and walking on beaches). The loop runs along by bays, beaches, mountains and rocky cliffs (Wikitravel)

Boy, was it! We got out of the car so many times to take pictures and dance jubilant Irish jigs we got whiplash (and little baby car was probably so pissed at how many times we stopped and started), and just kept saying WHAT, OH MY GOD and THIS IS CRAY repeatedly. The drive was still really intense, but we handled it like pros. Yep... Slea Head Road is a definite MUST while you're here!  Back at the ranch (Dingle town) we went to a few more shops then headed back to the hostel to get organized. Cue breakfast for dinner and falling asleep with my finger pointed on my iphone, which Erin said would one day be imortalized via oil painting and hung in galleries. I most definitely agree.

Until next time, readers.


Friday, January 17, 2014

Dublin City Day 3!

Our last day in Dublin city was jammed with activity, and my calve muscles were aching to prove it. Damn. 

Erin and i planned on hitting up the National Gallery first thing, but it was closed until 2pm due to a death of a long-term staff member. As we had already travelled to this area, we visited the memorial statue of oscar wilde and a pyramid shaped army memorial that is nearby. Supposedly someone recently cut off oscars head but it was too damn heavy to run away with, so they were able to put er back on. Some people! We then headed to Henry street, a giant shopping district, to look around.

By then the National Gallery was open, so we headed down and checked it out. I liked the portaits, mostly, of which there were very few. It was an art gallery, ya know? 

We figured we may as well make a stop at the National museum since we had some extra time. It was a museum, ya know? One part i found interesting was the historical clothing exhibit, specifically all dem jewels. Old-ass rings, tiaras, broaches, necklaces and earrings? UM YEAH.

From there we hit up the nearby Jameson Distillery tour. This distillery isnt actually in use at this point, as all production goes down in Cork. Nevertheless, the informational tour was interesting and fun! The entrance area houses a gift shop and beautiful bar with a restaurant up top. The glass floor in the bar area allows you to look down into some sort of cavernous part of the original distillery! IMPRESSIVE, y'all. At the end of the tour you can have a Jameson shot or drink and you can also volunteer for a taste test. We had a good larf. 

It was another pubnight for us, as the musical duo from the night before told us to come back to their set the next night. We stopped beforehand at another pub and watched a fantastic performer who had the whole place dancing and singing along. We definitely took part, most feverishly for a killers song ("i got soul but im not a soldier"), then headed to see our new buddies at the next pub.

I decided on the 30 second walk over that i was going to stand outside at the window, a la the smokers and passersby who seemed to distract the musicical duo quite a bit, and give them the same squint face as the night before. It took a few minutes, but it got a huge laugh from the guys, and when we walked in, they yelled "Squintipeg!" Night made. We met another older gentleman (they love us, it seems) who bought us each a pint and gave us his card.. apparently he is a local polititian around these parts. Nice dude. After the last set we got up and tore it up on the dance floor. What a lovely night!

Stay tuned for my post about Cork county, Killarney and Dingle, loves! 

Miss y'all.


Dublin City day 2 - a new nickname

Wednesday morning we woke up early to get a head start on the day.

First up:

St stevens green - we visited this park first thing, as we wanted to take a walk through before the rain (which kept springing up in the afternoons). What a pretty lush green space! Birds, including swans, galore. The sun was out at this point, which made for a really pleasant stroll. Erin would like to move here, and then get married in one of the gazebos. Why not, eh?

Kilmainham Gaol tour - this was once a functioning jail that housed political prisoner, criminals, and even children who committed petty crimes. It was super creepy, and totally worth the 5.5 euros. There was so much interesting history about the civil wars and rebellions that occurred in order to separate the republic of ireland from british rule. Seeing the old jail cells with the original graffiti was very sobering and strange. Weirdly has a cute tea room with refreshments and desserts, so we went for tea after the tour to warm up.

George's street arcade- assorted stalls, reminds me a bit if the markets in london
Visited about 8 Vintage shops of temple bar and grafton street.. Not super impressed.. Bought a couple things. Erin and i separated so i could wander, and boy did i wander. i found many shops on the fly. Stopped in at urban outfitters and was v disappointed by their sale rack... Thats my go-to area! Left empty handed.

Modern art museum - cant say much.. Wasnt very impressed, and i consider myself a fan of modern art! Despite being an expansive building, formerly housing the city's mentally ill, the exhibit space was not very large or extensive. I was back in the area of my hostel and decided to check it out, but it was pretty far and i am currently on the ride home composing this entry for you all. Being on the hop on hop off tour bus is useless at a time like this, as most of the route is not lit very well, and oh, they just turned out the lights on the bus too! Hurrah.

The plan was to join up to the pub crawl through our hostel, but instead Erin and I hit up the temple bar area and had a few in the iconic Temple Bar pub. Fun, and great (and cute) musicians! Afterwards, we crawled across the way and hit up another pub by the name of Oliver saint John Fogarty, and had a blast! Drinks were pricey, but watching the hilarious music duo perform was priceless! I was shooting them some fierce evil eyes--mostly on purpose so they would ask us where we're from--and alas, they did! I didnt hear what they said next, but Erin told me they had dubbed me Squintipeg... My best nickname yet. Once the cat was outta the bag, an older man approached us and announced that he too had lived in winnipeg--6 years in st vital. He then invited us to stay with him and his wife at their house 100 kms out of town, to which we politely declined. Winnipeg, eh?

Great night. Stay tuned for dublin day 3, a doozy if i've ever heard one!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dublin city day 1

erin and i arrived in dublin (8:30ish am their time, 1:30ish am wpg time) to find moderate weather, lush green, and horses grazing in fields. Having barely slept on the plane, the fresh air felt so nice. We took a 30 minute busride to the area our hostel is in, and asked a cute irish man (most likely on his way to work) for directions. he helped us without hesitation, and even though he hurried on in front of us, he lifted an arm in the direction of our jacobs inn from a few blocks ahead. 

once we checked in and freshened up (changed socks), we grabbed some hot drinks and a bite, then set off towards the first stop for our hop on hop off busabout pass (28 euros)

Erin and i decided to take a round trip (24 stops) on the bus just to get situated and get some background info of the city. And also cause we were cold and tired and tired and tired. The driver was "dad" funny, which was great. Very knowledgable. We stayed on the top of the bus, being swung about on the narrow streets, taking pictures, until we got too cold and went back to the main level. 

We walked around some on and around o'connell street, which is a mishmash of pubs, cell phone stores, sirens-esque clothing shops, buildings "to let" and restaurants mostly. When we were fed up with the cold (and subsequent rain) we got back on the bus and visited:

-trinity college: i skipped the book of kells (9 euros!) but erin may go back to see it. Trinity college is BEAUTIFUL. Holy crap. I would probably trip on the cobblestones constantly if i studied there, but man, it would be worth it.

St patricks cathedral: pretty stained glass windows and chandeliers, tombs, statues and it was so big! More than one chapel inside. 5.50 euros. It wasnt the notre dame cathedral in paris, but still lovely. I really dug the cross stitched-pillowcase type things hanging off the back of each chair in there...pretty cool. Im not really sure of the background for these.

Next we decided to hit up the jameson distillery before heading back to the hostel. No lie, erin and i were having blinknaps on the way, looking over at one another each time we were jerked awake again. Needless to say, we didnt make it today. :)

Tomorrow will be much better planned.. We're planning on hitting up a few stops on our hop on hop off bus, and ive plotted about 7 vintage shops on my map. Also, looking forward to continental breakfast! We missed it today.

Well, it's 6:15 pm and im ready for bed. We're unsure if we should give in or if that would result in us waking up at 2am wide awake. All i know is, the pub crawl in ON tomorrow night. 

Until later.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


Europe by Human Empire
this half-formed itinerary is the work of a fantastic planner (erin, the first half) and a lazy person (me, the second half). in actuality, i didn't want to schedule everything, because i don't know when i'll be done somewhere...I kind of want to feel it out. roll with it, ya know? god help me.

Dublin - Jan 14 - Jan 16
Cork - Jan 17
Killarney - Jan 18
Dingle - Jan 19
Galway - Jan 20 - 21
Derry - Jan 22
Belfast - Jan 23 - 24
Edinburgh - Jan 25 - 27
Bus tour - Jan 27 - Feb 1
Glasgow - Feb 1 - Feb 5
Berlin – Feb 6 – 10
Budapest – Feb 10 – 15
Italy – Feb 15 -?
Spain - ?
Portugal - ?
Winnipeg - March 31

a lady abroad

i've finally come up with a name for this little travel blog -- an offshoot of my other abandoned blog, ladylikeness. i'll try and update this as often as i can, probably mostly with text and iphone photos. erin and i leave on monday, and all that's left until then is my sister nicole's social, a family dinner, and other last minute odds-and-ends (packing?). now that i've had my last day at work, i'm slowly putting it in the back of my mind in order to make room to focus on my next steps.

i'm really happy to be starting out with one of my best friends in life, which will no doubt prepare me to travel alone for another 8 weeks time. i can't wait to share my stories with everyone, and in doing so, skip the rest of this dreadful (albeit recently mild) winter. follow me! this is where i'll be.