Let me start by saying that the days are much longer here. I was woken up by the sun rising before four am and it doesn’t go down until after nine thirty pm. I am tired and my feet hurt from all the walking we did. We started at nine o’clock this morning and managed to walk all around the city of Dublin. We took a tour of the Jameson distillery, visited the Dublin Zoo and monument, saw Phoenix park, went to a wax museum, took tours of the Guinness storehouse and the Dublin castle. We had pints of Guinness, tried mixed drinks with Jameson and I even participated in a whiskey sampling, comparing American, Scottish and Irish brands. The best part is that except for our food (and a pint in a pub!), we didn’t spend a single euro. For our much awaited pint, we went to Peadar Kearney’s pub and watched a musician who was very talented. He even sang a Tom Petty song and David Grey’s “Babylon”.
Many things are different here than they are back home. First, the buildings are all very old and beautiful. I love the narrow, winding streets with the colorful pubs and shops. Most of their shops have hand painted signs and lettering, not the neon ones we are accustomed to seeing. I am getting more used to the cars being on the driving on opposite sides of the road. I almost had a heart attack when a car went flying past our bus with someone in the passenger seat and backseats only- until I remembered the driver side is opposite here too!
Heather is being serenaded by a fellow traveler at the hostel who is wielding a guitar, so I better be going…
This has quite possible been the longest twenty-four hours of my life, but it was well worth it. Yesterday we got up at three thirty am to head to the airport and had three flights total to get here; to Phoenix, then Charlotte and the longest flight crossing the Atlantic. We made sure to force ourselves to stay awake on the first two flights so we could try to sleep on the last. When we arrived in Phoenix we were very happy to be leaving as the forecast for the day was one hundred and eleven degrees! We have been lucky to have great people sitting next to us, on the flight from Phoenix to Charlotte we made friends with a nice lady who was going to her baby sister’s seventy-fifth birthday party. I told Heather to pack us two peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in her carry on and she thought I was crazy until we had our first two flights back to back and there was only food for purchase. The PB&Js rescued us! We were made aware of Charlotte’s love for Nascar immediately upon arrival; our plane burned rubber as we landed. Also, the airport had white rocking chairs all over which was interesting. On top of our already long day, our last flight was delayed two hours. We were exhausted by the time we boarded the plane. On the last flight we slept as much as possible (considering we were sitting up in an airplane seat and woken up by the occasional screaming child) but still had to sleep when we got here to help us adjust to the time change. As we flew in I wanted to see Ireland from the sky very badly, unfortunately there were thick clouds covering the city, but after the plane broke through all the grey, the fields were the brightest green I have ever seen.
Dublin is a beautiful city, the sidewalks are lined with tall, brick homes with brightly pained front doors. Our hostel is in one of these buildings, the ceilings inside are so tall that there are two flights of stairs between each floor. With no lift in the place it makes for a lot of exercise. Even though we are in the sixteen bed dorm, everyone has been very quiet and respectful. Heather and I were not the only tired travelers, several others were sleeping today as well. Just a few doors down is the James Joyce museum which we visited earlier. We also found a market where we were able to get bread, salami, cheese and a caramel chocolate bar to share for six euros forty. Not bad since we shared it for lunch and dinner.
Tomorrow we are getting up early to hit the streets, we skipped on the bus passes because everything is within a few miles. Not only are we getting some exercise but also saving some money at the same time. We are headed for the Jameson distillery, the Guinness storehouse and some monuments and museums afterwards. There is a beautiful gothic cathedral we saw on the bus ride in that we want to go see as well. We are also going to see the Dublin Castle on the way back, along with the part of the city called the Viking/Medieval area. We are also searching for my bucket list pub! Photos are coming soon…
Tomorrow morning is the big day and I have so much to do still. There’s math homework and a midterm to do along with working today and all the last minute trip preparations. I have to admit that I am quite nervous but am feeling much more confident after getting messages from several of our Airbnb hosts. I think I’m ready to go!
One hundred two degrees and over one hundred twenty miles per hour is the forecast today at Thunderhill Raceway Park. My husband, Nathan, brought his motorcycle and moi as his designated photographer/support. With only ten days until my trip there is plenty of homework to be done so I have taken over a conference room in the park clubhouse.
As far as planning for the trip, I was a bit concerned over weight restrictions. My backpack alone weighs over six pounds and the European airlines have a strict weight limit of forty pounds. Though I only packed a small mix of layering clothing, I still have some heavier items such as my toiletry kit to account for. Almost all of our gear is packed so Heather and I finally weighed them to make sure we would meet the requirements. My bag came in at under twenty five pounds. This relieves a lot of stress not only over the weight restrictions but also my ability to haul the pack for a month. I am using my phone and Kindle to help keep the weight and trip cost down. I found an app called Transit Maps that will download PDF transit maps right from the sources and save them on my phone so they may be viewed offline. I am taking a couple Lonely Planet guides on my Kindle that I checked out from the public library. I also came up with a free way of calling and texting home. I am taking my iPhone (with the service disconnected) for use over wi-fi. Using Google Voice and an app called Talktone I can make calls and text for free over the internet. I will cover some of my other packing decisions later this week but for now I have more homework to complete.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
With just a little over two weeks until the greatest adventure I have planned yet, I am beginning to feel the pressure of all that’s left to do; homework, paying bills, putting together addresses and places to see… and so much more. Last night was a refreshing break from the stress and monotony of the work/school cycle. Two of my dearest scooter buddies attempted to eat the “Godzilla eats Big Ben” burger plate at Streets of London. Neither one succeeded but it was a terrific show. Heather triumphed over Sic, consuming almost the entire burger and several handfuls of fries. In addition to the challenge, we met some interesting people, did a lot of laughing and shared a pitcher of Black Velvet with some Greenpeace staff members. One of them, Evan, gave us some valuable tips for our trip as he had also been through England, France, Italy and Greece. He is a freelance photographer and gave us his website which is filled with some of the most astounding photos I have ever seen. His site motivated me to share my stories and photos. After all, the most important things in life are experiences.