Tag Archives: Travel

Dublin in photos

I have finally begun sorting some photos. Here are a few of my favorites:

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This is a photo looking out of one of the windows inside the James Joyce Centre, into a courtyard that contains the door of No. 7 Eccles St, which he wrote about in Ulysses. When that house was set to be destroyed, some enthusiasts saved it. The house the centre is located in was built in 1784.

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This was our home for three days, along with fourteen other people. It was very quiet, our bunk was to the very far left and cannot be seen in this photo, right by a big window that was left open so the breezes could keep us cool while we slept. The hostel was located just a few doors down from the James Joyce Centre on North Great George’s Street.

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One of the many pubs I admired, and that Dublin is famous for. I loved the bright facades and hand painted signs.

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The Dublin zoo was very interesting, there were so many different animals to see and the habitats had great views. These are a type of rodent called a Mara. They are native to Argentina and Paraguay.

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Here I am at the Jameson Distillery after doing a whiskey sampling. This was first thing in the morning, so Heather and I decided to head right over to the Guinness Storehouse right after and make the most of the day.

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This is a newer section of Dublin castle, rebuilt in after the great fire in sixteen eighty four burned down most of the medieval castle. There is still a section of the medieval castle standing, the Records Tower, built in the thirteenth century (a picture of it is on my Big Realities page).
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A window, showing a glimpse of the Dubh Linn Garden, just outside the castle.
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A street in the Temple Bar area. There were many narrow streets like this one, filled with cafes, restaurants and pubs.

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The Christchurch cathedral, a beautiful sprawling church full of history, was orginally founded in 1022 by Vikings. It broke my heart to hear the the eight hundred year old preserved heart of Laurence O’Toole had been stolen from the cathedral only months prior. We were able to see the tomb of Strongbow though.

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The Golden Gate crossing

My trip to San Francisco was wonderful; the weather couldn’t have been better. We drove to the closest BART station, about an hour and a half away from home. From there, we took the transit to Embarcadero and hopped on a streetcar to Fisherman’s Wharf. After a delicious lunch at Boudin’s, we finally took a bus to the bridge.

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It was my first time seeing the bridge without only driving across it, I did not realize its enormity until I was standing there, right in front of it and staring at the massive cables strung across it. We walked along, taking photographs, watching sailboats and parasails and enjoying the sunshine. Midway through our trip across we watched a huge freight ship cross underneath us and head to sea. I had to laugh when I saw that it was named the William Shakespeare. We also had the opportunity to see a helicopter fly under, then back over the bridge, possibly a sight-seeing tour.

After our long walk, we grabbed a bus back to BART and headed for home. I don’t think we could have picked a more beautiful afternoon to accomplish one of my little dreams!

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Twenty eight hours

We had a wonderful time in Aegina yesterday. We caught an eleven am ferry over and went straight to the beach. The first beach was very touristy and was right where the ferries docked so we continued down the road where there was a little cove with some locals swimming. The water was so clear and aside from a few rocks near the shore, it was all white sand. There were a few fish and tiny hermit crabs but not much else. I did manage to find a huge sea urchin near the rocky area which I enjoyed looking at from a safe distance. The rest of the cove was like a giant, sandy swimming pool.

We had to get up at five am and leave within thirty minutes, hail a cab, and catch a bus to the airport. Even though we tried to get to bed early, there is so much traveling today that we have no choice but to sleep in planes or in the airport. By now I have gotten a lot better at sleeping in random places, just yesterday I slept on a ferry bench like a homeless person.
Our last plane was an airbus and we were very lucky as it was equipped with touch screen monitors on the back of each seat with a variety of music, TV and movies. It was the only way I survived the almost ten hour flight from Rome to Charlotte. I watched multiple movies; In Time, 21 Jump Street and part of Hunger Games. They even had a Jason Aldean album to listen to.

I’ve been on the road eighteen of the expected twenty eight hours and through three airports. It has been a running joke how I always manage to get searched by airport security and today has been no different. In Athens, the security officer made me take my Kindle out of my bag and out of it’s case for inspection. Then he took my camera out of the case, ran it through the x-ray again, then had me take the lens cap off so he could inspect it. I thought I was done after that since we only went through security once headed to Dublin. I was so wrong. At our plane change in Rome, we only had ten minutes between landing and boarding the next flight which was in a different terminal. We had to go through passport control again and when we arrived at the gate it was just in time for them to page us up for additional security checks. Landing in Charlotte, we had to go through customs which was expected. I got flagged for having some sand and seashells in my backpack, requiring additional screening. They also had us claim our luggage and re-check it; mine had been searched of course. After the customs, we had to clear security again. My carry on got flagged again, this time the agent did a chemical test on some sand graduals. Turns out I still am not carrying any weapons of mass destruction so they sent me on my way. Good thing nobody ever checked Heather…

After I get home there will be many more stories and photos to share. I appreciate anyone and everyone who reads this. It has kept me motivated to continue writing. I hope you will continue to subscribe to my ramblings after I return home and my adventures are not as grand. For now- I’m going to look for a bench to sleep on.

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

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Τελευταία ημέρα στην Αθήνα (Last day in Athens)

Today is my last day on this trip, finishing up in Greece. We have been exploring the city of Athens with all the wonderful ruins. For our last day we are getting out of the city, taking a boat to the nearby island Aegina for some snorkeling.
We arrived in Athens on Saturday morning after having to wake up at three thirty am in order to catch our plane. Only an hour and a half in the air and we were in beautiful Greece. It is an hour ahead of Rome, making the total time difference ten hours later than home. Since we didn’t sleep much the night before, we spent Saturday in Piraeus seeing what was around the flat and relaxed a bit.
On Sunday we got up early and took a bus tour to the Acropolis. I had been so excited to see the Parthenon and could not wait. There was only one problem; the que for tickets was over an hour long, standing in the hot sun. That wasn’t going to work for us so we took a bunch of photos and decided to look for tickets online that evening.
We took the bus tour to the ruins of the Temple of Zeus next, which had no que. It is the largest of the ancient temples, having one hundred and four pillars, each almost fifty seven feet tall, when it was constructed. When we went to get our tickets for the temple the employee asked us if we were going to the Acropolis because we could get a ticket that included it. I was ecstatic! Then she asked if we were students. After a peek at our student id cards we had tickets to six different sites in Athens and got it all for half price (only six euros!).
Yesterday we went back for the much anticipated climb to the Acropolis. It was definitely worth it. The ruins are magnificent. I downloaded a Rick Steves audio tour that covered all the ruins. It is a free app and made the visit much more enjoyable. I had done the same for the Colosseum, where an audio tour would have cost five euros.
The tour explained to me how the Parthenon had been built to be aesthetically pleasing, their view was much different from the Romans who valued function over form. The mathematicians who worked on the design did not overlook any details. They knew that a two parallel lines would appear to bow outward; they made the foundation and ceiling dip inward, negating the effect. They did many other variations to create an illusion but I have much more to write about this section of Athens so I will save it for another post.
I must leave to catch the ferry, then my plane leaves tomorrow morning to return home. I hope everyone there is enjoying their summer- I will be seeing you soon!

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Ciao Roma

I just got done spending the last two days in Rome. It was hot and humid so I have a great tan despite my spf fifty sunblock. Rome has such a rich history, I loved visiting the ruins and learning more about the great empire. So many people lived and died on the dirt I trudged through. My favorite spot was the Colosseum. As I stood in the emperor’s box behind the cross and looked down into the bottom section it made me fill with emotions. Many wonderful and terrible things occurred right where I stood, the archways I passed beneath were the same that Julius Cesar and Nero also walked under. The Colosso is vast, which almost makes it unbelievable that the construction on it began in seventy two a.d and only took ten years to complete. Next to the Colosseum is Palatine hill which features the Palitino, an open air museum. It is one of the most ancient parts of the city and holds ruins of palaces that belonged to several Roman Emperors. My host in Rome gave me a great tip for getting around the Colosseum and Palatino. Instead of waiting in the ridiculous que at the Colosseum, the Palatino sells a ticket for the exact same price which includes both places. We only had to wait behind a couple people for our tickets.

Rome is different from the other cities I visited, in the middle of busy metropolitan areas there will suddenly be ancient ruins or archeological sites. The history here dates back so far, thousands of years, making every step one of importance.
We ended up taking an open top bus tour mainly because it was too hot and far to walk and on our second day there the transit operators decided to strike. Our host, Roberta, had already warned us that they had been having frequent strikes but always on Fridays so workers could have a long weekend. I didn’t realize it was Friday when we left the flat until we had to return when the bus didn’t show. Another traveler had tried to take the metro and it was not running either. Roberta managed to find one bus line that was running which she promptly ran in front of while waving it down and threw us on. It was a good start but we didn’t have tickets, apparently they must be pre purchased elsewhere. We took our chances, all of the cops were directing the huge traffic jam on Ri de Roma that our bus was stuck in. The second problem was that we had no idea where the bus was going and the driver only spoke Italian. I waited for a stop that had looked like a tourist stop. We found a bus tour down the street and got our day back on track. We visited the Vatican, Castle of Saint Angelo, Santa Maria del Popolo and many of the ancient sections of the city.
Italy was the country where we ate meals out the most. It was only because the food was so good. Many of the places we went did not have menus in English. On several occasions I blindly chose something or asked the server for a recommendation. I was never disappointed.
Stll a work in progress!

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Buon Giorno!

Venicians are very friendly people for the most part. They greet you with big smiles and are helpful when you ask questions. We had to get directions to a laundromat so we stopped by another bar/cafe today. After a debate involving a man inside, two women, a man standing outside, and a whole lot of arm movements we successfully made it. That was after Heather walked up to a strange man on a scooter and failed in using her Spanish skills. I couldn’t figure out why he looked at her and sharply said “No”. Then we realized she didn’t ask where it was instead she told him to wash her clothes. We are getting good at this whole trial and error thing!
Our host Alessandra has been very helpful and welcoming. She made us a tray of snacks with mint water and gave us great advice about the city. We went over maps last night with her showing us the best places to eat, go on a gondola ride and catch a water bus. Turns out they have a lot of the same television in Italy, we gushed about our love for Pacey from Dawson’s Creek and the show Two Broke Girls.
When we got up this morning she had breakfast all laid out for us and even some Italian coffee ready to go. We had some crumpets we bought in Paris which we ate with some Italian yogurt and the tiny cups of espresso that are popular here. It’s more like an espresso than coffee similar to the type in Paris. Coffee in London was more like what we have in the US, made with a French press (Though I didn’t see any French presses in France).
We will be exploring more of Venice by foot today and possibly going for a gondola ride or two. Tomorrow is when we will take a water bus to the islands, Murano and Burano. Murano is where the glass making in Italy takes place with a museum outlining the history. Bravo!

City of color

I survived last night by stuffing my face in a pillow while I slept. The mystery stranger and the rest of the Italians got off the train way before us so Heather opened the window and we got a couple hours of un-contaminated sleep. We didn’t wake up until the attendant came to give back our passports. Good thing they did otherwise we would not have made our stop. Once off the train we had the task of finding our place to stay. Since neither one of us can read or speak Italian, we started walking in the direction that made the most sense, and like all walks on this trip we kept going and going. We decided to stop for food at a Bar/Cafe (as they do in Italy) and get an espresso and pastry. That was the easy part, ordering water was an entirely different issue. I tried English, tried French and had given up hope when Heather reminded me the Spanish word for water is agua which apparently is the magic one (I found out later that the Italian word is acqua). We managed to get directions from her as well and walked the whole way.
Alessandra’s flat is bright and airy, painted shades of orange, yellow and purple. We were early but her sister let us put our bags up and gave us directions for busses into the city.
Venice is hands down the most beautiful city I have been to. Everything about it makes me feel as though I’m walking through a postcard. I have some sleep to catch up on, Ciao for now!

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