Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The North Remembers (And So Do I)

I heart Northern Ireland.
I mean, I love the entire island; but the raw beauty of the Antrim coast and the emotions bubbling in Belfast made it an excellent two days.
On Friday, November 6 we were up and out bright and early. Thirty five of us, including staff, were on our way to Belfast, Northern Ireland for Black Taxi Tours. Along the way, our residential director pointed out his hometown of Dundalk in County Louth, Ireland—a border town between the Republic and the north. Like many other border towns during the political strife of the sixties and seventies, Dundalk was heavily associated with being almost a safe haven for people to escape to after having been involved in some act of violence. The switch between countries is noted with a change in road line colors—yellow to white—and a sign, as if you were crossing between states.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Very Vienna

The last installment of our (fall break) story follows the two young women, Kayla and Lindsay, and their (very easy) search for beautiful sights and delightful desserts in Vienna. A two hour train brought us back through foliage-ridden fields and hills, back to a city gleaming with romantic, Parisian-esque flair. And three and a half days brought us through palaces, museums, and endless cake. Seriously, it never seemed to stop finding its way into my mouth.
We arrived back in Vienna, maneuvering our way on the metro per our AirBnB host’s instructions. Our host’s wife welcomed us in, and we dropped our things in our room—complete with queen sized air mattress, two coffee mugs, and an overflowing bowl of Starbust-flavored candies. Within half an hour, the keys in my bag, we were out the door and on our way to the city center.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Drop of Golden Sun

Salzburg, you great and oh so finished symphony. A city that sings of do-re-mi’s, mountains silhouetted against clear skies, and pumpkin flavored dishes. It takes the cake for favorite city; and after watching The Sound of Music with Kayla the night before we embarked on our travels, I was so ready to arrive to the sunny scene.
From Bratislava, Kayla and I took a bus to Vienna, then a train that brought us across the country in less than three hours. That sentence sounds silly in my brain, because things like that just don’t happen on the other side of the pond. It’s true, brain: let that sit there!

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Fall break: ten days that seemed to be an arm’s length away, yet crept up slowly until it was October 23 and time to be on our way. My good friend Kayla and I traveled together, and weeks of planning, purchasing tickets, replanning, and replanning some more had finally come together to make for One Great Adventure. First stop? Bratislava, Slovakia.

Exchanging no words with passport control, we passed through the sliding doors to the arrivals area of the Bratislava Airport and headed out to catch our bus. At the end of the route, we jumped out, anchors of duffel bags slung over our shoulders and Kayla found the map guiding us to our hostel. There were no written directions, so we followed our intuition (and, you know, the road) before coming to a crossroads and not knowing what to do. We stopped into both a post office and bank, hello coming hesitantly out of our mouths, before handing over the wilting sheet of paper and asking if they knew where to go. The woman at the post office tried to offer help, but we found ourselves “lost” near the historical center and again sought assistance. A bank teller was able to steer us correctly, and we arrived at the Patio Hostel about an hour and a half after we received our freshly stamped passports back.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Nice Way of Life

When midterms come a-knockin’, they stick around on your couch for two weeks and they just can’t seem to leave you alone. When they do finally pack their bags and say ta-ta for now, decompression and relaxation are screaming your name. And when the opportunity to do so on the southern coast of France arises, you find yourself in perfect balance.
The funny thing is, when my roommate and I decided on a trip to Nice, France, we selected the dates because it was our last fully free weekend and because airfare and lodging were the least expensive then. It happened to coincide with midterms; I was just about finished with everything when we went, and Scarlett had only a few things to complete as well. Days spent in the academic centre or at the apartment behind my laptop screen and with hundreds of tabs opened up for research and writing, and a few nights up studying left me weary but accomplished: the Mediterranean Sea beckoned to me from cloudy Dublin, and two days in the sunshine-infused warmth couldn’t have felt more deserved. Timing is everything, and it was the ideal trip to plan for the middle of October.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Those Scotland Days

Currently missing a piece of my heart, because it’s been left behind in Edinburgh.
My first weekend outside of Ireland was spent in a town untouched and unharmed by industrialism. A city where anything seems possible: where gelato can be eaten on a stretch of grass below a castle; where ghosts roam the confines of a graveyard; where Harry Potter can be born. Where magic lives.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's (Almost) Christmas in Killarney

For the final leg of my independent travel weekend, I visited Killarney, which is about two hours outside of Dingle. Having been on my feet consistently for two days straight, for almost twelve hours each day, I'll admit that I was very much looking forward to a bus ride where I could lean back, pull out my headphones, and be transported through the fantastic hills and valleys that make up this region of Ireland. We had a layover in Tralee, and then another thirty minute bus ride before I was let off at the Killarney Outlet Centre and Bus Station. I used the small station's wifi to get directions to my bed and breakfast, and lugged my duffel down the drizzly road.

My lodging, the Slieve Bloom Manor was about fifteen minutes outside of the center of town, but I was staying on a busy stretch of gas stations, convenience stores, and bed and breakfasts. I was greeted warmly by the owner and, upon asking for suggestions on how best to get to the Muckross Estate in the Killarney National Park, was given pamphlets for different shuttle buses and times. Thanking her, I dropped my things and headed back towards town, wandering through the busier center in wait for the three P.M. shuttle.

Single in Dingle

“I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free.”
And that’s exactly what a solo journey to Dingle and Killarney gave to me.
I recently began blogging for the Champlain Abroad Dublin website, and in my first post discuss the tying up of ends that brought me to southwestern Ireland.
Basically, an independent travel weekend is something that I have craved for over a year, in planning my time abroad. Everything that I read on the subject only blasted more stars into my eyes. There’s something inherently romantic about the idea of going off on uncharted territory (for you) alone. And truth be told, the stories and mishaps I hoped for lie in wait for me to find, and I was more than willing to run to them.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Don't Forget Yer Sea Legs (2)

As you may have read in my last post, the first night of travel in western Ireland was one for the (soggy) books. That night, I curled under the covers of my bunk bed and relished in being completely dry and warm.
The next morning greeted us with an unperturbed sun rising over Doolin. I walked up the road, towards the pub we had eaten dinner at the night before, and soaked in the surrounding countryside. I had to pinch myself, because there isn’t such a thing as a world as picturesque as that one… right?

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Don't Forget Yer Sea Legs (1)

Three words: I’m finally dry.
This past weekend, a class trip to the west of Ireland, met us with breaking-news rain and floods, sick-inducing boat rides, and lots of rugged Irish countryside.

On Friday morning, forty six students and staff loaded a coach bus set for a journey to the west of the country. (Can you believe it?! We could cross the entire country in three hours!) It was a sunny morning in Dublin, the day breaking over the River Liffey, as we were told of the weather to be. Rain in the west, and apparently lots of it. Within the hour, light drops drizzled over the front windows and gradually turned into what would be a monsoon.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Getting into Stranger's Cars (And Other Lessons of the Weekend)

Happy Monday! (And happy Labor Day to all you phenomenal workers in America and beyond) It’s a happy one because 1. Being in Dublin, there’s nothing to not be happy about. 2. My morning began with drumming lessons at the Masamba Samba School for class. 3. This weekend was aglow with travel.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Status: Absolutely Not Complicated with Dublin

I like walking. I like to inspect my surroundings, press my face against the glass of store windows, inhale the life humming around me. I like to be a tourist, camera in tow, and figure out how to get from point A to point B with a map—and I like trying to get there without. I like to crouch on wobbly cobblestones and take pictures from below. (Maybe because I liked the way another tourist did the same).

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go A-Bray

I’ve got three words for you: Steps, Freedom, and Rain. Three more: lots of it [all].
Champlain College’s Academic Center resides on Lower Leeson Street, a five minute walk from St. Stephen’s Green and a twenty to thirty minute walk from the student apartments. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning all kicked off the day with Orientation at the Academic Center. To be more accurate, they all truly began with a walk.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Finding Ireland

Good evening! Three full days in Ireland have met me with jet-lag, fifty or so new faces, and the return to a city I’ve been head over heels in love with since our first introduction five (five?!) years ago. With a hazy mind and a boatload of transitions, I’m finally coming to believe that the four months I have been planning for are in the palm of my hand.
After a pasta dinner and tearful goodbye to my family on Monday night, I boarded my flight to Dublin and watched the luminescent Boston skyline disappear. Eventually the lights receded into darkness as we soared over the Atlantic Ocean and I was faced with the realization that I wouldn’t see that skyline for four months. Talk about butterflies.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Twenty Three

With the month of August already on us, it seemed appropriate to write a pre-departure post or two.
So, hello! And happy August first. (Wait, we’re officially over the hump of summer and descending into the last few months of 2015, beginning a new school year and semester, and generally starting life again?) For me, this month marks a semester of change; four months of exploration, culture, and learning; and an end-of-the-calendar-year adventure of a lifetime. A six hour flight with Aer Lingus will transport me to a world of far-off places and daring sword fights. Dublin, Ireland, will become my home—if only for a little while—and I couldn’t be more thrilled to experience the wide world beyond my own.