Haggis, beers, & the Art of Beginner Backpacking

Hello from the road! What an interesting first week our trip has been. Time has transitioned fairly smoothly and Madyson and I agree our pace is a fairly good one. We enjoyed a fun layover in St John’s by going Into town and finding live music. A woman belted out great big sea and irish tunes over the best seafood chowder I’ve had in ages. We had a few pints and made It back to the airport.The four hour flight to Ireland was a sleepless one. We rocked up to our hostel exhausted but happy. We were told we couldn’t check in until several hours later so we miraculously fou
nd the energy to wander downtown.  Dublin is a city that I think you learn to love slowly.  There’s a sort of tasteful grunge to it, with a lot of slightly dirty side streets, graffiti,  and drunk passersby. Temple district calls to all tourists with promises of pubs and debauchery.  Going down late at night means you’ll probably catch some form of entertainment,  whether it be live music or a brawl. Still,  there’s a lot of history too.  We took a hop on bus tour of the city thanks to free tickets from an American couple.  There was a lot to learn! We also greatly enjoyed the authentic irish music we got one night in a pub near the River Liffey. We met some guys from Liverpool and headed out on the town with them.

Our first full day involved a tour to Glenda lough,  Wicklow and Kilkenny.  Glendalough was a lovely old monastic settlement with a charming cemetery and lakes.  Kilkenny was a pretty town where we wandered and had lunch before heading back to the city.  It was so nice to see countryside.  I only wish we had gone to Galway. We also spent a day in Dunloaghaire which is a nice seaside spot.  Very relaxing.  We celebrated Canada Day with some French guys we met and slept in late the next day. I have never come back from the bar as the sun is rising…crazy. Our last day was a fairly relaxed one before traveling on to Edinburgh. We met a nice guy named Mike from Arizona who is now in Paris.

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We took a flight to Glasgow then a bus onto Edinburgh, and it has not taken us long to fall in love with the place. There is such history,  such mark of time, from the churches to the architecture of every building we see. I find the street names are a bit confusing (do we really need a lane, row, place, for every couple of houses?) But nearly every building has character.  We got lost trying to connect with our host Grzegorz and we’re jubilant when we finally found his place. Grzegorz connected with us through couch surfing and he’s been great.  We went for dinner and I finally did it- haggis! Haggis, neeps and tatties to be specific. The downtown core is easily accessible.  Royal mile is a beautiful street which showcases many of the tourist attractions, the most popular being Edinburgh Castle.  We took a walking tour on our second day and it was so worth it. We learned a lot of the city’s ancient history, and not all of it is pretty. For instance,  a woman was sentenced to hang for 30 minutes for supposed infanticide centuries ago. She was declared dead,  carted out of the city, then the driver heard a knock on the coffin. She lived!  The pub she started, Maggie Dickson’s,  still sits in Grassmarket today.  The guide also led us to something I’d had no idea of- all the Harry Potter links here! We went to a cemetery where there was a tombstone for Tom Riddle! McGonagall too. He pointed to a window in a cafe where Rowling used to sit, looking out on Edinburgh Castle.  There is the cemetery below, and Potter row around the corner. We went to the cafe and took a picture. Madyson and I also paid to hold an owl yesterday. I haven’t held once since the last time I was in Scotland 12 years ago! So cool. Quite a harry potter day indeed.

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I’m learning things about myself and in general as I travel. For one, I’ve learned that UK toilets and I don’t get along.  I legit cannot flush them properly. I also know that shoving food down your gullet before a pub crawl is not ideal. We met Fiona (girl from my sorority) for a drink last night and she suggested we join the pub crawl. Greg, Mady and I rushed home and popped into gregs favourite polish restaurant to have a quick meal. I felt off, but not properly sick until I got to my second beer. I had to make myself sick twice because I felt so horrible -from food, not drink- and finished the evening on water, sober as ever.  Not the most fun.  It’s also a bit hard going from two months of bronchitis induced inactivity to the level of walking we’re doing. As I write this we’re around to go up Arthurs Seat and I’m debating a nap. Not likely.  We have a tour into the highlands tomorrow. I haven’t Had the best luck.  I lost my leather jacket in Dublin and just last night my phone gave out so I had to shell out for a new one.  I’m ashamed how these things affect my mood, but they do. I need to put things in perspective. I’m surprised how international it is here.  I wanted to salivate over Scottish accents but they’re not as easy to find.  I could see myself living here though. The Scottish men are pretty good looking though…. A lot of international couples too. I realise people discuss the same things, dress nearly the same. We’re not so different.  We have been blessed with oddly nice, warm weather. I don’t know what our tour will bring.  So far so good though!  Crazy to think we’re only at the start of our trip. I try to take it day by day and not have many expectations. Rather, live and see where the journey takes us. I’m glad to say I’m becoming a person that is learning to follow her dreams and go through with her plans. I’m already thinking I might move to Edinburgh soon.  I need a change and people close to me know I’ve been needing it. Even Madyson today said “once you start traveling,  you never feel quite happy staying in one place because you’re always thinking of the adventures you could be having and the people you haven’t met.” Wise words my friends. Our tour has actually started today but I will fill you in on hard hikes, our highlands tour, and lively London, hopefully soon. Bon voyage and wish us well!

Until next time.
Ohshetravelsx
Kristy


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