What I Learned.

I admit, I can be a bit naive at times. I don’t take the appropriate amount of time to extend beyond the bubble of life that I’m in. I don’t bother much with politics or celeb gossip, although I do have a deep admiration for a select few. I don’t want to get in the middle of office drama or give a shit what kind of lifestyle choice people make in one fashion or another.. But I’ve always known that I’m just a small puzzle piece in the world. The world is so vast and I try not to ever forget that.

I do my fair share of complaining and throw pity parties just as much as the next person but I always feel so guilty because I know that someone, somewhere has a life much more worthy of sympathy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that traveling across the world didn’t give me the “omg, the world is so big” feeling like I’d read about and perhaps what you’d assume to read in my “What I Learned” post. Because, I already feel that way. Has it been accentuated a bit more, sure. But what I learned on this trip has surprisingly taken me on down a different path.

I learned that no matter how much research you do, you’ll never have all the answers. You don’t know what you don’t know. That’s a tough thing for me to wrap my head around. Going into this trip and trips in the past, people have given me so much shit for being an organizational spaz, for lack of a better term. I do my research. I have my binder full of all the important info, I have extra copies of everything, two versions of itineraries; the list goes on. While I know that I might suffer a bit from extreme org probs, it gives me a sense of comfort knowing that whatever issue or question might arise, I’ll likely have the answer because I looked into it already. But, I don’t have all the deets and each year I take away something from our trip so that the next trip can be better.

This time around, I dropped the ball on two things I’ll keep in mind for the future:

  1. Resting is necessary. While on vacation or traveling to somewhere new, I don’t want to take time to rest. I may never be here again. I always have it in the back of my mind; that we’ll need a mental, physical, wellness type of day but I always fail to properly insert it. This year involved a lot of activity. Expected, sure. But probably not to the degree that I had intended. This caused both my mom and I to call a timeout near the end of our trip. We’d hit our wall.
  2. Check out the terrain, girl. One thing that is important to me is easy access to public transit. It’s been a key component in each trip we’ve taken and even more so this time around because we had to rely 100% on it. I was successful in that every accommodation we had, it was no more than a 12 minute walk from either our activity, city centre, or public transit. However, I didn’t check terrain. Who would have thought to? And maybe that might not matter to the majority but it mattered to my mom and me. Hauling 45 pound suitcases and 15-20 pound backpacks up a steep Edinburgh hill to the hotel wasn’t our best moment.

Okay, now I’m majorly off track from what I’d intended to write in today’s closing post.

While not directly related to anything specific on our trip, the greatest thing I learned over the last two weeks is that I am worth it. I’m worth having dreams and fulfilling them. I’m capable of doing anything I could ever imagine wanting to do from travel to career to relationships to family. I am so worth it. I can do anything and I can go anywhere. I can talk to anyone and be anyone I want to be. I can laugh and be goofy; I can be crabby and have a meltdown in the middle of a 5 Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant; I can help and care and I can be selfish. I can do and be all of those things and still be worth it.

And so can you.

I feel so lucky to be able to travel with my mom. I’ve heard over the last handful of years and I know she has to that people are so surprised we can “stand each other” enough to travel together. It’s not easy. We’re not the definition of a perfect mother/daughter relationship; that doesn’t exisist, I don’t think. But what I think is most important isn’t our compatibiilty to travel together but rather our sense of adventure and curioustiy for the world and the unknown. We’re not afraid to explore beyond our comfort zones. Well, we are. But not enough to let it stop us. And we just so happen to be mother and daughter.

My mom is my best friend, she always has been even when I didn’t know it. Charles Schultz was quoted saying “In life, it’s not where you go, it’s who you travel with.” This is so true. I’ve been on a handful of places without my mom and every trip is different. Hell, all of ours are different as well. But every trip I take with my mom, I know that she is just as ready to conquer whatever we have planned as I am and that, you can’t find often in a travel partner. Thank you, mom, for being that person for/with me!

“Once a year go some place you’ve never been before.” -Dalai Lama

And thank you to everyone that has been reading and following along on our first big world adventure! It’s been an absolute blast to see more than just the dual-state area that we live in. A true bucket list adventure that I was able to cross off my list! I am so very glad to live where I do and have the luxuries of the middle-class American way but I do miss it already, I miss the adventure. I miss the foreign landscape and the bustling cities. I miss the ocean and the buildings higher than we could see. To those still with me on my ramble of the day, where have you been? Where do you want to go? Where are all of your favorite places? I can’t wait to add more stamps to my passport and I’d love to hear where I should go next!

Day 13: That airport life, though.

Series of events:

  • Leave Academy Plaza in Dublin at 7:15 AM.
  • Board AirLink bus stop 747 at 7:35 AM.
  • Arrive at Dublin Airport around 7:55 AM.
  • Go through clearance and U.S. Customs pre-clearance over the next hour. Or so.
  • Board our flight DUB > ORD around 9:10 AM.
  • Depart Dublin Airport at 10:12 AM.
  • Watch a few movies, take a short nap, and fly back in time, like they do. For 8ish hours.
  • Arrive in Chicago at 12:15 PM.
  • Find our gate, grab lunch, stay preoccupied during a 5 hour layover.
  • Connecting flight pushed from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
  • Flight delayed again.
  • And again.
  • And again.
  • Gate change + another delay.
  • Another gate change.
  • Finally board ORD > MSP just before 10:00 PM.
  • Pass out on said flight.
  • Somehow manage to drive to the hotel feeling sleep deprived and maybe a bit disoriented. Now, I cannot sleep so I’m here, writing this post nearly 25 hours after I woke up. Does it make sense? Eh.

Tomorrow, we head home after a much needed massage and zen hour.

I hope to write one last post closing this series but I may not do it for a few days. I’m going to spend the last couple days of my vacation catching up on sleep and hanging out with a few of my favorite people. Oh, and snuggling up big time with my lil’ bug, Bodhi.

To those that have kept up with reading this incredible adventure of ours, thank you! I’m seriously thinking of doing a solo trip soon. I’ve always wanted to but have been sort of terrified of it. I think I’m ready to conquer it! Where should I go next?!

Day 12: The North of Ireland

Today was our last full day exploring the green lush wonder that is Ireland! A bittersweet day it is. We are ready to go home, 2 weeks is a long time. I’m starving for real food and high fructose corn syrup; I’m tired and want to take a real shower in a real sized bathroom with light switches on the inside of the bathroom, ha! But I digress.

We ventured to Northern Ireland today, as the Protestants would say. Or, if you’re Catholic, The North of Ireland. The difference being “Northern Ireland” is a part of the UK. Those that are of a particular faith acknowledge and are proud of the union with England, Scotland, and Wales. While the Catholics still consider themselves part of the island/land mass/sort of probably still the Republic of Ireland. I had done some research on The Troubles, as they are known, before our travels but after today, I need and want to dig into it more. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking.

We had the option of doing a Black Taxi Tour or to visit the Titanic Museum. Up until this morning, I had been totally sold on the Titanic Museum but our tour guide changed my mind as he talked about the Black Taxi Tours and the history of The Troubles in Belfast. The BTT left me a little bit feeling like “meh.” The accent in the Belfast area is extremely unique and while I like to think that I can decipher accents pretty well.. Our tour guide was unusually difficult to understand so I don’t feel like I got much out of the experience. It was very interesting, though, seeing all of the murals and learning what I did from what I could understand.

Following Belfast, we drove about an hour north to visit the Giants Causeway. And holy crapoli, wow! I know that I keep saying that each place is better and better and even saying that sentence alone is redundant from posts in the past but the Giants Causeway and the legend behind how it was created is just fascinating. (My computer can’t connect to the internet so I’m typing like a peasant on my phone. I will try to remember to elaborate on this later or link to some information/articles about it all.)

Lastly, we made our way to Balleycastle, Northern Ireland. There, we hiked 75 million miles up and down steep hills to reach the Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge. A bridge that is only 20 meters long but is a thin narrow wobbly bridge connecting Northern Ireland to another little Ireland crossing over the Atlantic Ocean. I’m not sure I thought this at the time but the hike and the views were so worth it!

Tomorrow we fly home. Today was such a beautiful end to our once in a lifetime bucket list vacation!

Day 11: Haste de back.

One thing I failed to do on this trip and every other is to allow adequate down time. I keep it in mind, always, but underestimate the ratio of ‘relax’ vs ‘do’ year after year. This time was no different.

We’ve been running full steam ahead every single day and have officially hit a wall. Today is ‘fly back to Dublin’ day. I had a small tour planned for this morning and early afternoon but for the sake of our physical and mental well-being, we decided to sleep in and just enjoy the quiet of the morning and day. It was much needed and deserved for us both.

While I wish we could have pushed a bit longer to see more of this phenomenal city, I’d rather us press pause today than tomorrow when we head up to Belfast for the last leg of our vacation.

Until next time, Edinburgh! I can’t wait to see you again and explore so much more than I have. ❤

Day 10: With a wee bit of whiskey, you will believe in the legend that is Nessie.

John, our kilt-wearing tour guide today, was the best yet! I’ll probably regret not detailing out today’s events in detail later but I’m exhausted.

In short, we traveled up through the Scotland highlands from Edinburgh to Loch Ness. Up through Glen Coe and The Three Sisters mountains, over the curviest of roads for hundreds of miles and passed the most picturesque of Lochs I’d ever seen. I took more time today to observe my surroundings than to take photos and I’m so glad I did. So refreshing to be surrounded by the nature that Scotland holds dear!

Day 9: Edinburgh is a city which encourages you to think about what a city is. -Murdo MacDonald

Our day started brighter than the sunshine today with our flight departing at 6:40 AM. The screening process at the Cork Airport was a lot more intense then when we left Minneapolis. If you’ll recall, MSP was weirdly seamless. Today was more what I had expected which was totes fine but weird that it differs so much from place to place.

We arrived in Edinburgh, Scotland shortly after 8:00 AM and grabbed the first AirLink bus available enroute to City Centre. I made a point of making sure all of our hotels were within walking distance from the nearest public transit but I failed to check on the terrain in Edinburgh. Our trek from the bus to the hotel was all uphill. Sorry, mom. But it was a pretty hike!

Once we dropped our luggage off, we made our way to the closest stop for the Hop On/Hop Off tour we’d purchased. Even before arriving at that stop, I could already tell that I’d regret not spending more time in this beautiful city.

We first popped off at The Palace of Holyroodhouse which is the official residence of the Queen herself when she’s in the area doing her Queenly duties.

The Palace is phenomenal in size and in beauty. Photographs were permitted outside, in the abbey areas, and the garden but inside the palace, they were not. Which actually was a bit refreshing. It gave everyone (me especially) time to slow down and take everything in a bit more. We purchased a self-guided audio tour and ventured from room to room learning about the history of each and the stories that live inside the Palace.

Second, we stopped at the bottom of the Royal Mile and made our way up to the Edinburgh Castle. A place in and of itself that we could have spent an entire day at. I saw this quote today and I don’t know if it’s in direct reference to the Castle itself or perhaps the city of Edinburgh, but either way I couldn’t have said it better than this about either: “It possesses a boldness and grandeur beyond that I have ever seen.” -Thomas Pennant.

Each day of this vacation, I see things I’ve never seen before and I fail to find the words that appropriately describe them. Every building has a story and the architecture is so extraordinary, it’s stupid. Every ocean view is absolutely breathtaking. Every curve in the road, every local going about their day, every single interaction with this trip is changing my life by the second in more ways than I even realize. I feel so lucky to be here.

Day 8: Wool you be my valentine?

Rain drip drap dropping on your window when you’re waking up on an Irish Saturday isn’t that unusual so you won’t be surprised to hear that that’s how I woke up today. I actually love the rain. I’ve always had a dream that I might end up in a rainy city someday, like Seattle.

Anyway, today was the one day I had hoped it wouldn’t rain. Oh well, though. It makes the adventure all the more fun, I suppose!

We headed down to Blarney today to visit the one, the only, Blarney Castle. I’ll cut to the chase; the part you’re all wondering.. And the answer is no, I didn’t get a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone. And, I KNOW! How could I not? Well, we were typical tourists today and as with all typical tourists, we were on a bus. The bus arrived, gave us about an hour and a half, and then planned to leave. FYI to all future travelers, an hour and a half is sadly, not enough time to get to where you need to be and wait for the long line of other well wishers gripping tightly to the promise of the Gift of Gab.

Now with that disappointment out of the way, on to the good stuff. We decided to take the opportunity that I bet a lot of typical tourists don’t take the time to do and that’s explore. We wandered around the grounds and around the castle itself. I found Badgers Cave and followed that, whilst crouching, until I hit the dead-end. Then, I turned around. Exciting, I know. But it really was. 🙂

Oh! I did splurge on an authentic lambswool throw and I can’t wait to snuggle up with it when I land stateside! I almost didn’t buy it but someone (mom) told me I’m worth it and I figured I should listen to her. Moms are always right. Right?

After Blarney, we ventured to Cobh. I’ve been way too excited to go here for the silliest of reasons. I haven’t been able to figure out how to pronounce Cobh. Is it “Cob” as in corn? “Cob-ha” with a hard H? Guess what guys and gals? The Gaelic language doesn’t have a “V” so when they need to make that sound, they plug in a “BH.” Makes sense, yeah? Anyway, it’s pronounced “Cove” as in a small type of bay or coastal inlet.

Cobh was a beautiful little nook in Ireland. We had lunch at a weird tasteless cafe and hiked up the steepest hill I’d ever been on to visit St. Coleman’s Cathedral. Well worth the hike even if my mom thinks I’m trying to kill her by jazzercising every stinkin’ day! She said she’s going to live to be at least 100, so I think of it as adding days to that.

Cobh is really a neat place in southern Ireland. As with everywhere we’ve been, I wish we could have stayed a bit longer. There was a museum up another hill that we didn’t get a chance to explore and the inside of the cathedral was spectacular. Going to mass in a place like that would have been lovely. There’s always next time.