Wanderings & Ramblings

Monthly Archives: February 2015

Ireland Trip Pt. 1

This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!
This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!

 

 

Well, I have now planned a trip for 8 people (with help obviously), stayed in hostels for the first time, bused along the West of Ireland, and been to some of the most amazing places. All within 6 days.

I have a lot that I want to write – I’ve experienced so much, learned a lot, met some great people, and seen some amazing things. But, for the sake of your eyes and brains, I will attempt to condense as much as I can.

 

 

 

Day 1 – Cahir and Cashel

(We pronounced Cahir wrong for numerous days until someone corrected us – you say it like ‘care.’)

8 of us set out at the beginning – 5 guys and 3 girls.

We had wanted to go to Cahir to see a castle we had seen on the internet, but were super disappointed when we arrived to find it under construction. So, instead, we went for a walk along the river behind the castle. Honestly, it was a great decision! The natural scenery was beautiful, and we all got some great shots. Even though we had torrential rain and sideways winds for the walk back, our wet jeans and dripping jackets were definitely worth it for the views we found.

We had lunch at a little café before taking a bus to Cashel. Cashel is home to the ruins, the Rock of Cashel. My friend Hubert and I were the only ones who saw the ruins from the bus window, our excitement growing as we would finally see something really cool!

 
 
Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.
Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.
 
Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)
Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)
We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.
We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.

We found our hostel (pretty good for my first hostel actually), and headed off to explore the Rock of Cashel. We might have walked along an ‘out-of-bounds’ area (we aren’t sure), but the views were amazing and worth it. Green hills surrounded, and we could see even more ruins in the distance. The ruins were really cool to explore – although dodging stepping on tombs was a little interesting and morbid…

We found a little local pub for dinner that was edible, and had a quiet night in at the hostel.

Day 2 – Limerick

To get to Limerick, we had to pass back through Cahir. So, we stopped for brunch there. I got to have pancakes with maple syrup for Pancake Tuesday! I was so excited to find food from home on a menu!

Limerick was probably one of my favourite cities that we have been to so far these 2 months. The atmosphere is really relaxed, and sometimes it definitely doesn’t feel like you are in a city. We wandered until we found King John’s Castle. We had a ton of fun exploring and taking pictures all around the castle grounds!

 
 
St. John's Castle, Limerick.
St. John’s Castle, Limerick.
The view from the very top tower of St. John's Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!
The view from the very top tower of St. John’s Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!


 

And then we were 7, as we said goodbye to Kitty at the bus station – she was going back home to Waterford, and we were continuing on. That night, the guys wanted kebabs and pizza for dinner, but Brittany and I decided we wanted something better. So, we asked the lady at reception, and she recommended a restaurant called Marco Polo. It was quite fancy, but pretty average prices – so we were really excited that we got to have one night out with really good food!

We met up with the guys afterwards, and headed to a local pub for a pint and to listen to live music. The band was only two guys playing guitar and using back beats and music, but they were really good! It was a great night out. And our hotel that night was amazing! The beds were incredibly soft, like sleeping on clouds. We all got a great night’s sleep with no bunk beds.

Day 3 – Galway

One more thing that made our hotel awesome – free breakfast in the morning! So we got to have a mini Irish breakfast to start off our day. We hung out in our great room for a bit before wandering the city streets of Limerick and buying food at a grocery store.

We caught a bus to Galway in the afternoon, and checked into our hostel. I cannot stress how awesome this hostel actually was! The people were great, and it actually offered a lot while being in a central location. I was so happy with it! And there was a Canadian girl working there who checked us in and gave us recommendations of where to go in the city – thanks, Rebecca!

 
 
Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)
Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)
It's hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together - all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!
It’s hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together – all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!


 

And we became 8 again, as Carlos joined us after coming back from Spain.

We booked our tours for the next few days around Galway and the surrounding areas, and then headed to the Cellar Bar for dinner. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere was great!!! We had an awesome dinner there. After going back to the hostel and hanging out for a bit, we headed to The Crane Bar for a pint and some live, traditional Irish music. The bar was small and fun, and we all had an awesome time. It was a great way to end off the night!

So this post isn’t too long, I’m going to post part two of my travels in a day or two. That blog post will include the Cliffs of Moher, Inishmore, and a little more of Galway (and is longer). Honestly, I would recommend any of the places we went to or stayed at, as we had an amazing trip!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

From

JH

Adventures and Ramblings

This band was amazing - so exciting when they played Mumford & Sons!
This band was amazing – so exciting when they played Mumford & Sons!

“Cada persona es un mundo – Each person is a different world.” – Spanish saying. (Thanks, Carlos!)

It’s funny. When you set out on an adventure or journey, you never know exactly what to expect.

Planning to come to Ireland, I never would have imagined that I would be out at pubs and clubs on school nights, going somewhere new almost every weekend, and experiencing some very different and crazy things from my life at home.

Last week, on Thursday, we ended up going out. First, we went to a friend’s house to all hang out and have a mini get-together. Later, we headed to a local pub, Kazbar’s, for some live music. It was so amazing! We had been told that it was “Irish music,” but it was funny to see when we got there that the signs said “Newfoundland music.” The band was brilliant, and even played a few Mumford and Sons songs that my friends and I loudly sang along to. Thankfully, there were people who were extremely drunk, and the music was loud, so no one cared or could hear us. It was a great night! I even got to talk to some more of the international students, and meet a few more.

Friday turned out to be an interesting day as well. I have no classes, and Brittany finishes in the afternoon. So, we met up with Bruna and headed to city center. We decided to try a new café this week. We ended up going to O’Brien’s where I had a Nutella hot chocolate! Yes. You read that right. It was amazing!!! So chocolate-y and good. I don’t think it trumped the Chocolate Café hot chocolate, but definitely close.

 
 
These ladies are awesome! We had a blast listening to the music.
These ladies are awesome! We had a blast listening to the music.
Had a great afternoon with these girls!
Had a great afternoon with these girls!


 

Then we went shopping and picked up little things that we needed. I got a yoga mat so that I can finally do some workouts in my room. It was great! And I got a thing of four rings – for one euro!!!!! I was excited. (It’s a girl thing. Hahaha.)

We decided that we wanted a little day trip; so, around 11 on Saturday, a group of us met up to go to Dunmore East. Like Tramore, it’s a coastal town with beaches and the ocean. Except for one thing: the cliffs here were amazing. It makes me wonder how much greater the Cliffs of Moher will be next week.

We wandered around the beaches, climbing through tiny caves (and taking cave selfies), climbing over rocks, and exploring. Our group of 10 often found itself separated, but we always met back up. We followed a trail that ran along the cliffs and the length of the majority of the coast. The views were spectacular. The guys climbed up a hill to get to the top, so I followed along. We found out after that there was a trail, but it was actually pretty awesome to climb the hill – despite the sketchy, moving rocks.

 
The cliffs of Dunmore East were spectacular.
The cliffs of Dunmore East were spectacular.


 
 
Cliff selfie with these guys - so funny!
Cliff selfie with these guys – so funny!
The coast line was so pretty, and the water looked amazing.
The coast line was so pretty, and the water looked amazing.


 
 
The rocks looked so cool along the shore.
The rocks looked so cool along the shore.

The cliffs and ocean were beautiful. I honestly could have sat there for hours, just looking at the view. It’s moments like these that truly remind me that I am surrounded by a beautiful and amazing country. Sometimes, the monotony of school and life causes me to forget exactly where I am. These moments allow me to take a deep breath and soak up the naturally beauty and splendor around me. Ireland is gorgeous, and I’m excited to see all of its beauty.

We had lunch in a little café before heading back. I ordered a BLT Panini, forgetting that bacon here is not like at home. It’s so odd to me that when I order bacon, I am expecting bacon strips like at home; but instead, I am given ham. I seriously miss bacon (even though I don’t eat it that often at home).

But here’s the exciting news – Brittany and I have now seen two places within Ireland that sell Tim Hortons coffee!!! I kid you not. Like the coffee machines at gas stations and convenience stores back home, we have now seen signs for Timmy’s coffee in Kilkenny and Dunmore East. Honestly, it made me really want Tim Hortons. But for now, adorable cafes and The Bagel Factory will have to do (as our friends have never eaten bagels, I’m sure that I’ll get to go there a few times 😉 ).

 
The guys wanted to photobomb my selfie!
The guys wanted to photobomb my selfie!


 
There was water streaming from here, down the rocks to the ocean.
There was water streaming from here, down the rocks to the ocean.


 

One of the things I definitely did not expect was to be partying during the week. For people who know me back home, I’m not exactly a party person. Sure, I’ll have a drink or two and go out every so often. But getting me to Roosters or a night club is a challenge sometimes. (Sorry girls…)

But here, I have surprised myself. I loved going to the live music nights, especially because I had no school the next days anyways. (Somehow, I lucked out with getting only 2 days of school a week…) Monday night was a little more though. Here in Ireland, there is an event called Rag Week. Basically, everyone parties. Every day and every night. Drinking and going to clubs. And I was so not ready for that.

I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, my friends aren’t really into the huge club scene either. I lucked out on that. But we were going to experience it nonetheless. So we bought our tickets for the Monday night.

 
The rocks were fun to walk across. There was probably a 15ft drop behind me!
The rocks were fun to walk across. There was probably a 15ft drop behind me!
 
I love this shot. Want to use some old rusted railings to get to the cliff edge? We didn't.
I love this shot. Want to use some old rusted railings to get to the cliff edge? We didn’t.
The sun peaked out near the end of our long walk.
The sun peaked out near the end of our long walk.


 
My awesome roommate and friend is great about my constant selfies...
My awesome roommate and friend is great about my constant selfies…


 

We went to a friend’s apartment first to hang out (I’m sensing a pattern here). And then we went to the school. Now it’s so weird to me that the school is having a party week, hosted by the Student Union. But I guess that is the way here! It was actually a ton of fun. There was a live band that was awesome and played great music. Our huge group danced around and had an overall great time.

Technically, we had tickets that would get us a discount to a night club in the city that night. But we decided it might be too busy, so we might check out another one. We ended up at The Foundry. Again, a typical night club. Not necessarily my scene. But I was having fun, and I was with friends, so I didn’t care. We went onto the dance floor and danced around for a while before heading home.

At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)
At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)

Obviously there were many other things that happened, but I will spare you the details. Essentially, there were a lot of laughs, some awkward moments, lots of joking, drinking, and fun. For my first Rag Week adventure, I had a great time!

But here’s the exciting news: next week, my friends and I venture on our actual adventure. We get a week off for studying for school, but every one of us is basically just using our weeks off for travel. So, Brittany and I decided to plan a trip through the parts of Ireland that we most want to see. A bunch of our friends were interested, so now there will probably be a group of about 5-7 of us. (Don’t worry – we’ve already booked hostels for those of us who are sure we’re going).

I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write for blogging next week. A post will probably go up the week after. But keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter, as I’ll try to update there. We are going to see many amazing things, from cathedrals to castles, museums to nature, and the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. We will pass through Cahir and Cashel, Limerick, Galway, and Inismore.

I am beyond excited for this adventure, and cannot wait to tell you all about it when I get back.

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

CBA – Reverse Alphabet Weekend

Chocolate Cafe - JulieHuff.com
Enjoying an amazing hot chocolate on a cold Friday afternoon! Love these ladies! (Evelyn, Lenise, Bruna, Brittany, and me)

“TRAVELLING – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

C’ is for The Chocolate Café with friends on a windy and cold, Irish afternoon. ‘C’ is also for Cork, on a sunny Saturday after a long and entertaining bus ride. ‘B’ is for Blarney Castle, the ancient and well-known being which possesses the history of past times. ‘B’ is for the Blarney Stone, which I kissed to gain eloquence – despite being completely grossed out by the idea. And ‘A,’ is for awesome, amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring. Because that was my weekend.

I am continually surprised by how much I can experience within 2-3 days here in Ireland. It definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for one month – more like a week and a half. I look back at everything I’ve gotten to do, and all the things I have planned, and I cannot believe how lucky I am.

On Friday, after Brittany finished classes, we met up with our friends Bruna, Lenise, and Evelyn to walk to city center. We planned to go to a café and then wander around. We ended up going to The Chocolate Café, a place that Brittany and I had seen and heard about, and really wanted to try. The hot chocolate was amazing – probably the best I’ve ever had! And you got a chocolate with it. For a chocolate lover like myself, it was a living dream. We had fun hanging out and chatting, relaxing with our hot drinks. We wandered around city center, stopping to shop and pick up various things we needed.

Later, we had a girl’s movie night with Evelyn and Bruna, watching The Heat, eating junk food, and drinking tea. It was so much fun to have a lazy night in, and just chill with the girls. I’m so glad I’ve met these lovely ladies!

Cork Bus Ride - JulieHuff.com
The view on the bus ride to Cork. So pretty!

Now, usually it’s difficult to get up in the mornings for me. But Saturday seemed a little easier, when I had to get out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. Crazy for a Saturday, right? Well, I knew that after a walk and bus ride, I would be in Cork. And that meant Blarney Castle. Brittany and I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks! To us, this was a must-hit on our list of places to see.

And the early morning was so worth it.

We took a two hour bus ride with our friends to Cork, where we hopped on another bus to get to Blarney. The bus ride was a lot of jokes and laughs with Brittany, Evelyn, Carlos, Hubert, and Ernany.

Blarney was gorgeous! We started by climbing through some of the caves under the castle – beginning with the one that used to be the dungeon. While the others turned back, I was convinced to go to the end of the tunnel with Carlos and Hubert. Despite some VERY narrow passages, we made it to a small room at the end, with minimal standing room. And commence cave selfies.

 
Hubert, Brit, me and Carlos in the caves under Blarney Castle!

 

 
When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.
When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.
 
Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!
Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!
Carlos, Hubert and I in the dungeon caves. It was a tight squeeze sometimes, but we made it all the way to the end!

 

We then headed up into the castle. From every tiny, medieval window, the view was spectacular. You could see the quintessential Irish-green hills for miles around, and little houses and towns a little ways away. It was cold and windy, due to the medieval lack of window panes and heating, but the inside was just as great as the view. We explored various rooms before ending up standing in line on the winding staircase – a line-up that would lead us to the very top of the castle and the Blarney Stone.

The top of the castle definitely afforded the best view of the surrounding areas. You could see the gardens and castle grounds below, along with Blarney House, and the hills and meadows. I stepped up onto a higher part to look over the castle edge. A girl standing in the line sort of freaked out, but it was fine. I knew what I was doing. And the holes had a single bar across them, so I couldn’t technically fall through those either. But it was the best spot to get a look and pictures.

We finally had our turn to kiss the Blarney Stone. Originally, I wasn’t going to do it. It may have been the thought that I was going to be kissing a cold, dirty stone outside, or the fact that thousands of people had kissed this weird rock before me without it being cleaned whatsoever; but I wasn’t too interested at first. However – I knew that I was in Ireland, and that I might never be here again.

So I kissed the Blarney Stone.

 
 
View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.
View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.
 
Stepping into Blarney Castle.
 
We were trying to figure out what ‘blarney’ was, too. This sign was helpful, and gave us a good laugh!

Now I’m just waiting for my Blarney to kick in… For those of you who don’t know, kissing this stone is supposed to present you with the gift of ‘blarney,’ or eloquence. Basically, it’ll make you a fluent and persuasive speaker, and will make you a lover or politician – or so the sign told me…

The day turned out to be gorgeous, despite a bit of cold wind, so we walked along the battlements, and through the gardens until we found ourselves at Blarney House. It looked very grand and elegant. Despite not being able to actually enter the house, we had a lot of fun taking pictures around it.

 
 
View from the top of the castle. You can see the tower and water, along with the stretching green grounds.
 
Walk to Blarney House was so pretty!
Our group for Cork and Blarney! Ernany, Hubert, Carlos, Brittany, Evelyn, and myself. 🙂

 

We took a bus back to the center of Cork, and wandered around the city for a little while. We had been told to visit a few places, so we tried to find them – and got a little lost. But we eventually made it to our destinations. The English Market was a cool place to see. A little underwhelming for someone who has been to the Granville Island market or the new one in Victoria, but interesting nonetheless. It was cool to see that even though our cultures are different in so many ways, a lot of things we eat are actually pretty similar. We then wandered and found a free art museum. I’m not big on art, and couldn’t tell you what any of it meant, but it was pretty cool to explore the old building and see paintings and artistry of the past.

Before leaving Cork, we found a cute little pub along the way (although I can’t remember the name of it), and decided to stop in for dinner and a pint. I ordered a pint of Murphy’s with Carlos and Hubert. It was a local beer and I really enjoyed it – probably as much as I liked my first Guinness. Brittany even liked it when she tried it!

 
 
Snapped this shot quickly when we were leaving the castle. Loved the signs in front. It shows the height and elegance, in my opinion.
Evelyn, Brit and I at the pub in Cork!

 
 
With the sun going down, Cork was beautiful. The cathedrals were everywhere, and looked so pretty along the water.

It was an awesome weekend – definitely one I will remember for a very long time. I will post some of the amazing pictures here, on Facebook, and on my new Instagram account.

As mentioned before, I still cannot believe it has been a month that I have been here. I am amazed at the number of things I have gotten to do, and the number of awesome people I have met. It is definitely the experience I expected it to be.

This weekend will be a little more relaxed, but I will still have lots to tell you, I’m sure. Lots more adventures are in the works for future weekends and breaks that we get. For our February break, we are trying to plan a trip through the west part of Ireland – stopping at many of the spots that are famous to many. And for the two weeks we have for the end of March/beginning of April, we plan to explore this continent which we are setting foot on for the first time. There is still a lot of planning to do, but the ideas are there, and the excitement is definitely growing.

View of the grounds from inside the doorway of the tower.

I’m excited to explore some more, and to go on adventures. I’m so glad that I came here with someone who is turning out to be a great friend and overall amazing person. We are lucky that we get along so well, and don’t mind spending a lot of time together – although I’m sure she’ll be sick of me soon. With our other friends, we are all continuously learning new things from each other, and experiencing new things together in this crazy place.

“And then I realized, adventures are the best way to learn.” [Pinterest quote]

From

JH

P.S. – Sorry if this post was a little picture and word heavy. 🙂