Reminiscing Europe Day One

Hey everyone! So, I have been SLACKING hardcore with my other blog, Tay at Home.

I don’t really have a reason except for that I’ve been suffering from some serious post-travel blues and I am faced with “life” decisions: what next?

Don’t worry, after many mental breakdowns I am breathing again (remember, just breathe).

Anyways, I just wanted to say hello to everyone, especially to all the individuals who have stumbled upon my blog after my travels! Unfortunately I don’t have any awesome photos or new travel stories to share, but I stumbled upon my very first message I sent to my friends/family back home during my first day in Europe.

My brother saying goodbye before I got on my flight to Dublin, Ireland

My brother saying goodbye before I got on my flight to Dublin, Ireland

Here it is:

“So I took a bus from the airport to the city centre. The man driving the bus had such a strong accent that when I got off I wasn’t entirely sure if it was the right place. And, in true Taylor fashion I tripped getting off the bus (but seriously why would there by a step from the seats to the walkway!?) anywho there was free wifi on the bus so luckily I looked on the map before getting off to get a general sense of where I was. The city is old–very old, like started being built in 898 old! But, because of war a lot of the buildings aren’t original and not ‘old Europe’ looking like you would expect. People evetwhere! I’m staying in the temple bar area–the cultural centre of Ireland, and it’s a block away from trinity college university (beautiful btw, I’ll load pics when I can). Anyways, I wandered into. The templeBar area and got lost — but then wandered into a pub and asked and I was actually only 2 blocks away! By this point I was exhausted and wanted to sleep but my room wasn’t ready until 230 — it was 10:20…shit! So, the guy pointed me to a cafe where I went to buy coffee–then to a ‘free’ walking tour (still expected to tip). Glad I went–10 or so people, 2 friends Chris and Cree from Colorado –the tour was awesome, but more on that later bc my finger is getting tired from typing! Had my first guiness, which tastes 100% better here than at home. I would load pics but for some reason it won’t work. After the tour the guys and I made plans to meet for dinner then go on a pub crawl. No worries tho, Cree doesn’t drink! Never has! We’re going to see the pub/meet ppl/ listen to music–none of us want to feel hungover so yay no need to worry! tomorrow I’m going to wander–and research where my next stop might be!
Anyways, that’s all for now! I’m alive and well! Having fun these first 24 hours!”

It’s really interesting to read that now after now being home for over a month.

 

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Finding Music in Ireland: Tim Scanlan

Hi everyone!

Just a heads-up, I am working on a new blog! In a few days I’ll be posting the link, but no worries, there are still quite a few posts left to do on Tay in Europe!

Remember my friends Chris and Cree? To refresh your memories, we met in Dublin and traveled Ireland together. In this time, we had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Tim Scanlan perform.

I first saw him performing in Temple Bar. This is not my video, but to give you an idea of what I saw:

I soon bought his CD, and since returning home I have been listening to it almost non-stop. This is a video of my favorite song of his, Hear me if Travellin You Be:

You can check-out his Myspace page, or e-mail him (scanbait@hotmail.com) to buy his CD.

What I miss about ‘home’

Five weeks.
Wow.
I can hardly believe it’s already been that long! Looking back, the time has flown by! I’ve already visited 4 countries, swam in ocean’s, taken my first over-night train and washed my intimates in a hotel sink.
Five weeks of traveling.
Five weeks worth of new friends.
Five weeks of adjusting to the nomadic life.
So, for those wishing to travel, you may be wondering: is it really as awesome as people say it is? Or, do I secretly hate every moment and just glorify it on my blog because that’s what everyone expects?
Truth: it really is that awesome!
But, to be fair, there are certain things about ‘home’ that I miss. So, for the sake of humor, and also to give you some insight on the realities of traveling, I’ve compiled a list of the things I miss about ‘home’:

1. Grocery shopping.
Pardon moi? Yeah, you’re reading that correctly, I really miss grocery shopping! Okay, if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you have probably noticed that I love food! Grocery shopping is always an adventure! But, here in Europe it’s very different. For instance, here in Spain everything is in, you guessed it, Spanish! Sometimes when I buy something I just assume that it’s edible! Also, I am a creature of habit. I miss my grocery store; you know, the one where you could probably shop with your eyes closed! Yes, grocery shopping at home has to be on this list.
2. Laundry. I think this is fairly self-explanatory. Doing laundry at home is always better!
3. Showering. I am tired of sharing a shower with 10+ other people that sometimes is broken/too hot/too cold/or disgusting because the person before apparently was covered in mud.
4. The local cafe. I miss going to my usual cafe! I knew what I liked and I recognized the people. Yepp, I miss it!
5. Lazy days. Okay, admittedly I have had quite a few lazy days during my travels. For the first 3 weeks I was constantly on the go, and it caught up with me in the form of the sniffles. Now, I take time to rest in between destinations. But, I still feel a bit guilty. I’m in Europe! I should be out exploring, eating tapas and drinking on a terrace with interesting people all of the time! Lazy days abroad just don’t have the same feeling as back home.

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6. Food. Sure, eating another culture’s food is part of the experience. And, to be fair, I love to try new things! But, being a vegetarian it can sometimes be difficult. I miss food! The familiar food that I can only find back home: Veganaise, Daiya, tofu-salad, dill-pickles (a certain kind), among other things.
7. Poutine.
8. Regularity. In everything. While traveling, we expect the unexpected! We revel in the moments of uncertainty. We embrace eating dinner at 10:30 pm like the locals. Yeah, as travelers, we love that our lives have no structure. But, the home-body within me is bidding her time until she can go back to her coffee & smoothie breakfast mornings and soy-chai-latte evenings.
9. Privacy. Want to lie down and have a quiet afternoon? Good-luck! Want to use the bathroom…in peace? Forget it! I still have a hard time giving up all of my privacy, but who knows, maybe in 5 more weeks I’ll be peeing with the door open (doubt it)!
10. My people. Friends, family, Starbucks lady and homeless man at the corner of my block: I miss you all! Sure, I write about how super-awesome my life is and brag about some awesome Aussie I met while getting lost in a foreign city, but, at the end of the day, traveling has made me realize how important you all are.

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11. Street signs! And no, Europe, small plaques on the side of buildings do not count! Sometimes the streets don’t have any signs (that I can see) and this makes navigating city streets (*Seville*) very difficult!

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So there you have it. A list of 11 things I miss about ‘home’. But, stay tuned, and I’ll compile a list of 11 things I will miss about traveling; and the list could be bigger!
Preparing to travel? What are you most nervous about? Traveled in the past? What did/do you miss about home?

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy

This week’s photo challenge is ‘happy’. All of this makes me happy. Hope you enjoyed! Tay xo Other entries: Weekly photo Challenge: Happy. « HeART SHAKE DUBLIN! Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy « Bouncing Beardies Weekly Photo Challenge: Happy I « … Continue reading

Cliffs of Moher — best with friends

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Oh hey there! I am currently in Spain, but since my last few days here in Madrid have been spent reading in the park there isn’t much to report on. So, I’ll back-track and tell you about the Cliffs of Moher!
I had planned on staying in Ireland for 3 weeks, but after meeting my American companions my plans quickly changed. It’s one of the benefits of not having plans: being able to stay with the people you’ve met for a longer period of time.
By now I’ve realized that the memories I have of each destination are shaped by the people I’m with. For example, Morlaix, France, while stunning, was hard to enjoy because I was alone. With friends taking pictures whilst jumping in the air or doing silly poses is the highlight of each destination for me (I’m not overly interested in history).
So, at the Cliffs, although not necessarily the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, some of my most favourite memories happened during our trip there.

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Above: Morlaix, France
So, let me start by saying that we had the best tour guide ever! His name: Desmond. King Desmond. Before we got to the bus, I said to my friends that I hoped we had an ‘adorable Irish man’ as our tour-guide; King Desmond fit the bill perfectly!

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Above: King Desmond and I
The tour was all-day, and included stops at old churches, cemeteries and burial grounds at The Burren called dolmans.
Unfortunately I have no photos of these ancient burial grounds on my phone to share with you…oops!
We were lucky to have a clear, sunny afternoon on the cliffs. Made for great pictures and a better view of the entire area and the islands in the distance.

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And no, there are truly no fences/barriers for some of the trails on the cliff. So, watch your step!
So, if you’re ever in Ireland, do the touristy thing and visit the cliffs. It’s worth it!

Skinny-dipping in the Irish Sea

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Intrigued?
How did I make the decision to do this? Well, I didn’t really have a choice. I have my American friends, Chris and Cree, as well as Will, to thank for this amazing memory.
Chris and Cree love adventure. I wish i had the ‘just do it’ mentality that they both have. Luckily, after a week with them, I feel like I have inherited it a little bit.
We travelled from Galway to a small town called Gorey on the bus, then walked 1.5 hours down a country road (scary!), eating wild blackberries, to Courtown. We booked a hostel that we thought was in Wexford, then realized on our way that it was actually an hour outside. What!? But, we luckily were able to get off the bus in Gorey and walk the rest of the way.
Beaches Youth Hostel is more like a bed and breakfast than a hostel. It was like a cozy cottage. We immediately walked the 5 minutes to the private beach. It was down an almost hidden sand-path, under a tunnel of bushes, and then a steep decent to the beach. It was gorgeous. The water was freezing. I had already agreed during the bus ride to go skinny dipping that night but the minute my feet were in the water I started running through excuses to not go in. The boys skipped rocks along the water and I took pictures and videos of the frolicking around.
After about 45 minutes we headed into town to grab some food from the market and then made a delicious one-pan concoction of potatoes, bell peppers, egg and cheese. The boys kindly made a vegetarian dinner so I could partake, and it was so yummy! Then we drank some strong Irish cider: it comes in 2 liter pop bottles! It was delicious. Then, as an extra blanket of warmth, we added some whiskey to the mixture.
Chris had a headlamp and we all trekked to the beah, Will leading the way, and then we striped (sorry family haha) and ran into the water!
And you know what, it wasn’t that cold. Then, we ran out, and as we were drying off we all said “again?” and ran in one more time; it was considerably colder that time.
So, when someone asks you to go skinny-dipping, don’t think about an excuse, just do it! Now I have an amazing memory and I can say: “This one time, in Ireland, I went skinny-dipping in the Irish Sea”.

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Day One: Dublin and Making Friends

Now what?
That’s the thought that went through my mind when I grabbed my pack from the conveyer belt.
Now what? Okay, first, make my way to the hostel. What’s it called again? Barnacles Temple Bar Hostel. But how do I get there? Then I saw it: Tourist Information. Yes! I’m a tourist!
Side note: no one likes to look like a tourist. I’ve travelled a lot around Canada on my own, taking buses and trains, and I always make a point of looking as though I know what I’m doing. Well, as a solo traveler my ego has had to take a backseat. And you know what, it’s way less exhausting if you just admit to yourself that you need help.
Besides, I’m a 5’3″ woman with a backpack I could probably fit into strapped on my back: I may as well have had a sign saying “I’m a tourist” around my neck. So, my point is: you will look ridiculous. Be okay with it!
‘Hi, how do I get to Temple Bar?’
Answer: take the bus to Trinity College, which is beside temple bar”.
Okay! Luckily there was free wifi on the bus (ticket was 7 euros), so I looked on google map right before I got off and took a screen capture of the route from our current spot to where my hostel was.
So, off I got and started in the direction of temple bar. Despite my map, I got ‘lost’ so I went into a pub and guess what: I was right next to my hostel! Thank goodness because I was tired!
Well, of course, check in isn’t until 230pm! It was 1030am! Luckily, the very kind reception dude (yeah, he’s a dude), locked away my bag for the day, pointed me in the direction of a cafe and told me to go on the free walking tour at 11.
Up to this point I was feeling very excited. My mind was in over-drive. As I sat down to drink my coffee I felt myself becoming overwhelmed: I was in Ireland! Friquen Ireland! I had dreamed of this since I booked my ticket in March!
Now what?
Well, I put my ego on the back-shelf and headed to the free walking tour. My goal: meet people!
Everyone was waiting in Mercantile’s pub–free coffee (go figure) and cookies. There was a free spot across from 2 guys who I immediately thought looked friendly. But how do you start a convo? I stood there very awkwardly, fumbling with my small bag, unsure of how to start a conversation.
I wish I could tell you that I said something clever, but that’s not my style.
“Hi” — Yepp, just “Hi”. An awkward smile spread across my face. I’m pretty sure they said hey back, our first conversation hasn’t really stuck with me.
Now, I’ve noticed a pattern when it comes to introductions among travelers: country and trip plans. I found out they were from Colorado and that they had just arrived as well. One month together and then one was going home and the other was heading to meet his gf in Thailand. Well, I think they told me all of that immediately–maybe not the Thailand part. Regardless, the point is that no names were exchanged.
The walking tour started and our very friendly tour guide, Jesse, showed us the Dublin Castle (not really a castle like you would imagine), a garden, the stairs to hell, and a few other important buildings. If you’re a history buff you would love Ireland. Very rich history. And, awesome stories of Vikings, civil war and kings and cheating wives. Yeah–pretty awesome!
Mid-way through we were able to stop for a quick pint of Guinness.

Do you enjoy Guinness? I don’t like it in Canada. Well, I sat with my two new acquaintances and one got up to buy the first round of Guinness. Yeah, my first Guinness in Ireland was free! Awesome! I found out that his name was Cree (awesome name, eh?) and the other was Chris. Cree doesn’t drink, but he kindly bought our drinks and Chris and I cheered. Woot to being in Ireland!

Verdict: Guinness is delicious! It also has some nutritional value! It really is a meal. It was smooth, not too bitter, a slight coffee taste. Yummy! Also, Guinness is actually crimson red, not black. Seriously!
In that moment I felt so elated: I was in Ireland, drinking Guinness with two people who I had just met. Awesome!
The rest of the tour was more history and touring the Liffey. We ended in Trinity College — beautiful campus by the way! — and then the boys and I decided to get together for dinner and the pub crawl that night. We chose a meeting spot and a time and separated.
It was 230 by the time I got back to the hostel and I grabbed my things and went to have a lie-down. And of course, I met someone else! Pablo, from Madrid, was staying in the lower bunk next to mine. He was very friendly, and I asked him to come to the pub crawl that night and we both went to reception and bought tickets. He went to meet a friend for dinner and I went to the meeting spot to meet the guys.
I wish I could say I had some Fish n’ Chips for dinner but we went to a Gourmet Burger Kitchen and I had one of the best, and largest, veggie burgers of my life. We all got to know each other a bit better and it was in this moment that I realized I may have made some friends. If you know me, you know I love making friends!
We met for the pub crawl, got a free glass (not pint) of Guinness and met Pablo there. Then we saw a table of other pub crawlers and invited them to sit with us. Imogen and Kristin from Australia. It was an amazing group of people and we all stuck together all night. We never left anyone behind, always looking out for each other.
Each pub had live music, and it seems that although not many men look like Gerard Butler, they sound just as good (and yes I know it isn’t really him singing).
We had about 45 minutes at each pub where we got a shot at entry (usually a slippery nipple) and then we sat and clapped and sang along to the music.
Have you ever been to an Irish Pub in Ottawa? Well, it really is exactly like that. It’s such a friendly atmosphere. I didn’t drink anything beyond the shots and one Guinness that night-I just enjoyed the music and company.
The last stop was a club. And, lucky us, they were having a paint party.
A what?
You get paint sprayed at you. Awesome, eh?
Well, thank goodness for my new American friends, as they have been the ones saying YES to every experience. I’ve learned from them. No, I didn’t want to be covered in paint. No, I didn’t really want to dance in a club. But, why wouldn’t I?
We bought paint suits for 2 euros and made our way to the front where I got trampled, pushed, pulled and covered in paint. And you know what–it was awesome!
By the end the paint had soaked through the suit to my clothing and I had paint in my mouth, ears and eyes. We left at 230, wet and freezing, and went back to our respective hostels. I had a shower when I got back and the entire shower was pink! My clothes, after the first night, were filthy.
It was amazing.
And guess what? All of this happened in less than 24 hours of arriving.
Stay tuned for Day 2 and 3!

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Cheese, bread and wine in Paris, France

Oh hey there!
I am so sorry I’ve been MIA! I only have my phone as a way to write my posts and post my photos…and sometimes the Internet isn’t very reliable!
Wow…I don’t even know where to begin! Instead of starting from the beginning, I’ll write about my night in Paris, since it’s still fresh in my mind.

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I travelled to the Eiffel Tower solo my first full-day in Paris. It’s big. Really big.
And it’s crowded. Very crowded. I have a hard time appreciating a place when it’s crawling with people. But, amazing none the less.

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Then I got lost. Well, not literally. I knew what tram station my hostel was at so if I really did get lost I could just go to any tram station (they’re everywhere) and head back.

I stumbled on an outdoor market on Rue Cler. There was fresh produce, fresh croissants, buskers, cafes over-flowing with people and tents with antiques and furniture and random trinkets.

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It was an awesome discovery! I wanted to go to Luxembourg park, but somehow I kept getting turned around and ended up walking in the wrong direction, north instead of south, and ended up on the Seine!

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There was a fence with ‘Locks of Love’ (I don’t know what it’s actually called), but it was the perfect photo opportunity, and I’m certain I’ve seen photos of it before. Then I walked across to The Islands and explored the boardwalks along the Seine.

I had been walking for 3 or so hours by this point, and as if someone heard my prayer I stumbled on Luxembourg!

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It was so gorgeous! There were people sitting on chairs all around the gardens, and I did the same. I had my book with me so I put my feet up and read in the sun for an hour. Ah, now it feels like a vacation!
Around 5 I headed back to my hostel (20 minute walk), and then I met my roomies: 2 very friendly Brazilian women! Immediately they invited me out with their friends and that’s what this post is really about.
When you go to Paris (because you will go), don’t waste your money in a crowded cafe. Around 7 head to the Eiffel tower with friends and bring fresh baguettes, French artisan cheeses, a few bottles of wine (don’t forget the cork-screw!) and sit on the grass and just enjoy the tower at night. They also do a 5 minute light-show at 9pm! There were tons of people doing the same thing as us, and it was exactly how I imagined Paris would be. And, since wine only costs 4 euro a bottle (a good bottle, you can get a bottle for as low as 2 euro!), and cheese and bread are also inexpensive, you get an authentic Paris experience without spending crazy amounts of money!

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I promise I’ll write more posts about Ireland (Guinness and skinny-dipping) and Morlaix, France once I’m settled in Madrid! Next stop: Madrid! I met a friend, Pablo, while I was in Dublin so he is going to take me around Madrid while I’m there for a week 🙂

Packing for 3 months in Europe

So I spent the better part of the past two-days either packing or visiting. Packing isn’t difficult, it’s just draining.

When I looked down at the pile of clothes I made, it just didn’t seem like enough. I found myself thinking “Hm, well I guess I could pack one more shirt just in case…” but then the traveller inside me would scream “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT!”.

I’ve never really been known as a light packer. Don’t get me wrong, after all the cross-country moves I’ve done I’ve gotten better, but this was a challenge. I used to pack a 50 pound bag for a one-week trip to see my Dad. He would always look at me like I was crazy, and he was right: I barely touched more than half the things in my suit case.

Anyways, I’m just estimating, but I am 95% certain the bag weighs less than 25 pounds. Is that good in “backpacker-travel” standards? I don’t really know–but I can pick my bag up with one arm no-problem, so I think that’s a good sign!

What I Packed

Clothing:

  • 4 tank tops (1 “dressier”)
  • 3 T-shirts (long and short-sleeved)
  • 1 pair shorts
  • 1 summer-dress
  • 2 Merino Wool sweaters
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 light, 1 dark)
  • 1 zip-away type pants
  • 1 pair of lu lu lemons (guilty pleasure)
  • 1 jacket
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 “nice” sweater
  • 2 bras
  • underwear/socks (obviously!)
  • PJs (shorts and a long t-shirt)
  • 1 bathing suit

Tioletries:

  • toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Razor
  • DRY conditioner/shampoo (Lush Cosmetics)
  • Small bottle Body-wash
  • 1 bottle spray leave-in-conditioner (I NEED IT!)
  • bandaids/polysporine (I’m really clumsy)
  • Hair elastics/bobby-pins
  • Make-up  Absolutely NOT!
  • baby-wipes (in a baggy–great for washing your face)
  • Vanilla spray (I have to smell good if I’m going to make friends)
  • Deodorant
  • Lady-stuff
  • Q-tips (a few in a baggy)
  • Vitamins/meds

Other Stuff:

  • Fluff-book (Thanks Heather for the Harlequin Romance)
  • iPod/iPhone and ear-phones (and charger)
  • ear-plugs
  • Towel/blanket
  • Flip-flops (for the showers)
  • Pillow-case (recommended by Heather-It’s always a comfort knowing what your head is laying on)
  • Sandals (small, cheap ones, for going out)
  • Walking shoes (wearing on the plane)
  • Camera and charger
  • Adaptor
  • Journal/pen
  • Spork
  • Bounce dryer sheets (make my smelly-stuff smell good)
  • Lock
  • Plastic bags (put away dirty-laundry/anything wet)
  • Sandwich bags (so many uses)
  • 1 water-bottle (the deflatable kind)

The obvious essentials:

  • Passport
  • photo-copies of my documents (a couple hidden in my carry-on and my bag as well as one I left at home)
  • Eurail Pass
  • Confirmation numbers
  • Address for my hostel

I’m pretty sure that’s it. The list may seem long, but once it’s all compacted in your bag, it’s not. I put a lot of my things in small plastic-bags (sandwich bags) and then put them all in one large zip-loc bag so it’s easy to dig out every night at the hostel.

Of the above items I packed the following in my carry-on:

  • 1 pair of underwear
  • iPhone/iPod/chargers/adaptor
  • The obvious essentials
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 flannel blanket (not in my list of things, only because it was given to me by a very friendly west-jet employee my last flight home, so I plan on only keeping it for the flight).
  • My book

And there you have it! I think it’s a fairly good list of things, and if I arrive and go “Sh*t, I should have packed _____” or “Fack, I wish I didn’t even bother packing _____”, I’ll let you know!

P.S. I AM SO EXCITED!