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 3: I thought our hotel room entrance was through a half-door.

We’ve arrived! Or as the Irish would say, “táimid tar éis teacht!” I’m trusting Google translate on this one so just go with it. Out of the three airports I’ve now been to, the Dublin airport is the most visually appealing. Lots and lots of glass and green; very easy to navigate. Minneapolis’ is too but it’s much larger or seems to be anyway.

All was semi-well today. Maybe more weird than anything trying to adjust to a new normal for the next 12 or so days. The views coming into Ireland were spectacular. We watched the sun rise on the horizon while descending this morning. That, paired with the green island and blue sea.. It was one chef kiss away to a perfecto!

All was good until we hit customs. I had been prepared knowing what our plans were; I have outlines for both my mom and me. We did some reading knowing that we may be asked questions on our purpose for traveling but damn, Daniel was it nerve-wracking. There’s a dude at work that once told me “kindness if free,” yes with the typo. I wanted to share that nugget of wisdom today but I’m sure she wouldn’t have been happy with me if I did. We got through it though!

On our ride to City Centre, there was a couple celebrating 50 years together this year. He and his wife are spending three days in Dublin and then heading to Rome for a couple of weeks. He was trying to figure out what stop to get off on and said something along the lines of just being a small town farm boy from Indiana. He just wants to get to Rome so he can serende his wife on a gondala. At that moment on an Airlink Express Bus somewhere in Dublin, my heart literally melted.

We found our hotel pretty easily after the bus stop and dropped our bags off before hitting the streets to find our first tour bus. With the help of a local Irishman, we found where we needed to be in no time and took a loop around the city just to see the sites and get used to our surroundings. Parts of Dublin remind me of Madison, WI. I think it’s mostly because of the pedestrian only areas. It was unusually mellow and relativly quiet though, in Dublin. We had expected more of a hustle and bustle vibe.

After a pit stop back to the hotel for a power nap (because we were crashing hard) and a break to watch a violinist play Somewhere Over The Rainbow (one of my favs!), we jumped aboard an evening sightseeing tour. Dublin in the evening is just as beautiful as in the day. Our tour guide sang us songs the entire time and played guitar to boot. It was a perfect way to end our first day in a new ‘land.

P.S. I’ll update this post sometime tomorrow with photos. I need to figure out how to get to sleep tonight. 🙂

Day 2: The Nerdvana Annihilation

Not much to report on a day full of time traveling. We made it to MSP a couple of hours early as advised because we’re both paranoid and prepared flying newbs.

It was my moms first time there and my second. I had a good idea of what to expect because my friend Alicia and I hit up Cleveland a little over a year ago but it was a bit different this time around.

We just zoomed right through the security checkpoints like it was no big thing. I had expected to remove our shoes and unload half of our personal item/carry on bags contents because of the whole “electronics go in their own bin” thing. Guess not. Or at least not today.. Or maybe not this airline? Who knows. The simpler the better was cool with us.

My favorite part of flying is the takeoff and landing. The ascent reminds me of the Starship 3000, that spaceship county fair ride growing up. AKA, so relaxing. Why had no one ever made that comparison when I had asked countless times what flying is like in years past? Jeez, guys!

I was curious to see what my mom would think of her first “real” flight. Prior to today, she’d only ever been on a 4-passenger and 6-passenger plane. Both were years and years ago. She liked the ascension also. She definitely didn’t act as giddy as I did on my first flight ever but she’s also not as dramatic as I am; if you can believe that. My mom did say though, while we were waiting for our connection, that she’s not sure what she thinks of flying in general. Her ears didn’t pop the entire 3ish hours we were waiting so everything was muffled as if there was a wall between us which is a very frustrating feeling.

With that being said.. Family and friends, you’ll be happy to hear that we made it to our connecting city of Charlotte, NC and miraculously didn’t get sucked into the hurricane threatening that region of the country. Our flight to Dublin did end up being delayed slightly but only by about 45 minutes. We’re safe and sound. I hope someone called Grandma Darlene.

The Charlotte Douglas International Airport was lightly illuminated today and at about 60% operation if I had to choose a random percentage. We did overhear an employee tell a waiting passenger that a lot of people haven’t been able to come to work the last couple of days due to the weather, thus the ghost-town vibe we kept encountering.

As I type this, I’m sitting in seat 26A on flight 724 eastbound to Dublin, Ireland. A surprisingly delicious dinner (I mean, supper) was served about 20 minutes ago. I need to ask my mom when we land what the round pea looking pieces of food were. (The flight isn’t full so my mom moved up a seat because why not?) They weren’t peas; they didn’t taste it and were very pale in color but I don’t even know if they were veggies. They were good AF though. She’ll know what they were because she’s a mom and they know everything. Thank you, Jesus, for mother’s. 🙌🏼

Well, I should try to catch some zzz’s. I hear traveling through space and time causes this thing called jet lag and we’re hitting the ground running when we land. Until you read again, slán.

Year 2: The Hub, Boston.

Well! I’m so excited to finally say this…we’re going to Boston! I think we’re about 89% certain that it’s this year’s destination. Last year, my mom and I embarked on our inaugural mother-daughter vacation. We drove down to Madison and Chicago and then back up and around through Holland, Mackinaw City, Ashland, and Duluth.

It was so much fun and such an amazing experience. Not only did I get to spend quality time with my mom but we did things that neither of us had ever done. And most importantly, we started our journey of traveling. A dream we’ve both dreamt of for so long.

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Why Boston?
Well, we decided that now’s a better time than never to fly on an airplane. Something neither of us have ever done. My two reservations for never traveling via flight are my physical size and not knowing the process. One of which is probably a dumb reason. I feel like there are so many restrictions when flying and I never really have all the answers. I’m a super-planner. I need to know everything and when it’s not readily available, I have a mini-panic attack. What can we pack? What can’t we? Is luggage extra? What’s a carry-on? How much is that? What if I don’t fit in the seat? Do I have to buy two seats? What if the seat belt extender still isn’t big enough? Can I have a nail-clipper in my purse? What if my luggage is lost? Ect. Ridiculous, I know. But I’ve never been anywhere. Seriously.

Although last years trip was so worth while and totally amazing, we did do a lot of driving. Like 1800+ miles of driving. We’d be totally up for another long drive but we have been playing around with flying for awhile. It may cost more, transportation wise, but we wouldn’t have to be in a vehicle not experiencing the world for such a long duration.

After asking a few friends questions, doing a little research, and calling a couple of airlines – we decided amongst advice from our peers that a nonstop flight would be best for newbies like us. Fargo and Grand Forks don’t have a lot of destinations to choose from for a summer trip and we really want to go big or go home. So, why not look at MSP? There are a handful of nonstop destinations departing from MSP. One of the reasons we decided on Boston is because realistically, we know our spouses have no desire to ever tour the east coast/New England area. (Yet anyway.)

“Tomorrow’s life is too late. Live today.” -Marcus Valerius Martialis

So, we’re in the very early stages of planning this trip. We’re going to head east early to mid August of this year. Tourist information and travel brochures have been ordered! I’ve reached out to a few more people asking about their experience on sites like Expedia and Trivago. To anyone reading this that has been to Boston and the surrounding area, I’d love to hear what the best things to do are. The must-see’s, the go-to’s. Best modes of transportation, coolest unknowns. Are you overweight? We’d love to hear what your take on sizes, seats, seat belts are when flying. To anyone, what has your experience been with airfare and hotel packages on popular travel sites?

Thank you for reading and I can’t wait to start yet another year of sightseeing and living out my dreams!

To read about our 2015 trip, click here!

Sometimes You Just Have To Spread Your Wings And Fly.

I’ve been feeling a little uninspired lately. My last post wasn’t really about anything and this one probably won’t be much more exciting. I think it’s just because we’re literally in the dead of winter. There isn’t anything to do around here and anything worth doing doesn’t seem too appealing thanks to the insane wind-chills that we’ve been experiencing. Yes, I know. Excuses, excuses.

Last night I was trying to brainstorm something to write about and after a conversation with my boyfriend, I wondered if I should talk about phobias. But I don’t know anymore. I visited my mom today and we talked about my anxiety with snakes. A little bit about why and where it came from specifically an incident that happened a little over a year ago. Now, coming home and quietly sitting here smelling the clean aroma of our freshly washed blankets and sheets; I don’t even want to dig into the painful topic of my “phobia.”

Speaking of fresh laundered linen; I realized walking into our apartment building tonight with my laundry in tow that it somehow reminded me of fresh baked buns that my grandma always makes. This might call for a classic Girl Code #IsThatWeird hashtag but since we’re mid-paragraph; it probably isn’t necessary.

Have any of you ever read those blogs that make it mainstream? What makes them get so far ahead of others? I admit; I’m not the greatest when it comes to reading blog after blog after blog but I do occasionally take a dip and see what’s happening in the world and I find that so many of them really aren’t that spectacular. Take Perez Hilton for example: Celebrity wanna-be and his blog is full of ludicrous bullshit. I find myself mostly geared toward travel type blogs and food critics. I think I like them more because I find them more realistic and dream worthy.

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Speaking of dreams, whenever I go home to visit my mom I find myself day dreaming a lot more which I love. Today we brainstormed destinations and/or mini-vacations. We looked at our local flight options and talked about how cool it’d be to go on an Amtrak. It might sound a little silly in the year twenty-fourteen but other than “on the road” with my dad; neither of us have really been anywhere far let alone an airplane or a train.

Why does traveling seem so scary? It’s probably more of a nervous thing over any other feeling. Nervous that the flight might be cancelled or if there are weight restrictions. Nervous about finding our way around or experiencing as much as we can wherever we’re at. I think we’re at a slight learning curve when it comes to traveling. The great thing though is that we both are determined to go somewhere sometime soon.

Driving home tonight I was imagining walking around Chicago or New York City. I imagined going for a swim on a Lake Havasu beach or flying over the Grand Canyon. I smiled at the adventure we could have during Mardi Gras in New Orleans or the breathtaking peacefulness of a week in Hawaii.

Where do you want to travel to? What was your first “vacation” like? Was it a dream come true or did you experience problems? Did you go through a travel agency or just wing it? Looking for some feedback tonight, lets here it!