Sunday, May 31, 2009

The cliffs of insanity

So, today was fills with a visit to the cliffs of insanity (what is a post if it doesn't include a reference to the pirncess bride), otherwise known a the Cliffs of Moher.


I started my day off with a meager breakfast of two fresh baked scones and some instant coffee. The scones where good, as the owner of the hostel was very excited about them. He has actually been a lot of fun, and one of the most personable hosts so far. He even remembers my name. That's much better than I could ever do.

I decided not to follow the road to the cliffs, but rather a path than seemed to follow them much closer (well they weren't in view yet). The path started off as old road. Then turned into a grassy, overgrown road, before just dissapearing altogether into a path. And quite the path it was. As I reached the cliffs I was overwhelmed by it all. This had to be some of the most breathtaking landscape that I've seen, and I was all over the US last year. Of course part of the breath taking happened when the path meandered right next to the cliffs edge.

Up the this point I found it odd that I really hadn't seen anyone else yet. I thought this was a popular attraction for this area.

Figures that I was off the beaten path, and I started along the cliffs far before they turned into the touristy area. Which was about two hours of walking after I set off. It was fun to watch everyone from afar, as I wondered what they thought of the lone figure out on the part of the cliffs that was beyound thier fence. And as I approached finally, I hopped over the fence and blended into the crowd in no time.

This area was no fun. As they kept everyone behind a wall, ten feet from the edge of the cliff. Not so great for really up close sightseeing. Luckily just passed the 'imminent danger ahead' sign, which everyone ignored, the crowd was able to walk alongside the cliffs to the other end of them.

So all in all I walked nearly the entire lenght of the cliffs of moher, and back. It filled my day.

My sunblock didn't pass the true test of it's worth unfortunatley. As, even with 5 applications throughout the day, I still had a sunburnt face by the end of it. Oh well.

Now I'm off to O'Conners, a pub in the area that is well known for it's traditional music scene. I enjoyed a bit of that last night upon my arrival to Doolin (where I am now). It was a fun night filled with music, travel buds, dancing (not me) and good Guiness. I'm excited for another night of it. This is what I came here looking for (as well as to see the cliffs).

Side note. I had a 4 hour block of free time between my trians arrival in Galway and the bus the I needed to pick up to Doolin. Unfortunately the stations luggage room was closed so I had to carry all my stuff around. On the upside, there is a huge event going on this week, so there were festivities everywhere. And who should I meet there l but my tour guide from Dublin. So I got to hang out with her and two of her friends for a little while. It was totally unexpected and I was glad that we stumbled upon each other randomly, in a totally different city.

Well that's all for now. Tomorrow I make the journey from here to Galway to Dublin to Paris. Should be interesting. I could use a day of rest on the busses and trains after today long long hike.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The home of guinness

So I've been in Dublin these past few days. It's a nice city, was a bit much at first. Butni guess that's my fault for not really having any literature on it before coming to the city.

I started off by getting a nice taxi ride into the center of the town with two lovely gentlemen who wanted to help me out. They and the taxi driver pointed me in the direction of a few hostels and I was all set with a place to sleep for 10 euros in no time. Of course it makes sense why it cost so little when I had a chance to look around. Not exactly the best kept of places. The say they are under renovations, but my guess is that this a status that they have been under for quite some time now. My room has a huge window that overlooks . . . The train tracks. So i get to hear the sound of the trains run by every so often. I guess it's a good idea that I brought ear plugs. They really have come in handy.

My first full day in the city started off with another free tou, putbon by a company that has tours in a bunch of cities. It's all tips based, and the guides have been great so far. These tours are always great at getting me oriented to the city. And this guide was pretty cool, looking to move to NYC sometime in the upcoming months. She recommended a good fish and chips joint (which was good), and even joined me after the tour for a bit at the park that we ended up at. It was nice to have someone to chat to, since this hostel seems to be lacking in the typical hoateller fare (from what I've gathered so far).

Anyways I finished off the day of touring around with a visit to the Guinness factory. Which I have to say that I was even more impressed with it than I though I was going to be. Whoever put the whole thing together came with a very modern approach, making it both interesting and visually stimulating, modern and overall a great experience. I even got frsh brewed guinness, which was amazing. Along with a full pint when I was done with the tour, accompanied by a 360 view of Dublin. It was a good experience. And highly recommended by me for anyone in Dublin.

Anyways I'm off to sleep, got to get up to catch a train in the morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Edinburgh to Dublin

I didn't expect the trip from Scotland to Ireland to go completely smooth, but there were a few hiccups along the way. Needless to say, I arrived at each destination in time to take my next mode of transportation. I'll get to that story in a few. First Edinburgh.

My second day in Edinburgh started with a visit to the castle. When I arrived around 10am, I just happened to catch a ceremonial guard posting, which they only do for certain events. Thus there was a very small crowd compared to the changing of the guards at Buckingham palace. Up on the hill the wind managed to just whip right through you, despite it being anther sunny day. I'm not quite sure what the weather is usually like in the areas I've visited, but it's been sunny and nice most of the time.

The rest of the day was filled the national museum of Scotland. As what usually happens in these museums, I read almost everything at the beginning and after an hour or so I'm down to reading on occasion, finally moving onto just quickly looking and reading any big, bold print. It was interesting though, and I like to think that I learned a fair bit about Scotland.

Being in Edinburgh was a bit bittersweet. Everywhere I looked reminded me of my dad, and every lone bagpiper on the occasional street corner would bring memories flooding back. I'm glad that I went, and want to return some day to see more and take a tour of the highlands.

Anyways, onto my adventure to Ireland.

It started with a bus breakdown before it even arrived at 9:30pm. After a half hour we were shuttles onto another bus to Glasgow where we would pick up a different us going to the same destination as the bus we were originally supposed to take. After picking that bus up, I believe I got a little sleep while in route to Manchester. We arrived suprisingly close to the original arrival time had there not been bus problems. Mind you it was 4:15am at the point and now I needed to wait around till 6:15 for my next bus to Liverpool, where I would take a ferry out of to Ireland. Upon arriving in Liverpool, not knowing exactly where the ferry port was, I asked around for directions and finally found someone who knew (roughly).

Ok. I'm tired, so I'll finish this up tomorrow. Needless to say, there was action, adventure, and intrigue, along with panic, running, and a nice ride from a good chap. All while arriving with just minutes left to check in. So stay tuned.


All right, I have a few minutes left on this computer to burn (I'm at an internet cafe). Here is the rest of the story.

So I got a set of directions, and a bus to get on. The problem was, the directions where a bit vague. It was, go back in the opposite direction the bus is heading when it drops you off, take a left, and then when that road ends, take a right. Sounds simple. So I do that.

After a while, I begin to wonder. So I stop into a small diner to check and make sure I was heading toward the ferries. I get confirmation from the chef that I am. Good! So I decide I would sit down and have some food to eat. I hadn't eaten since the night before (and was running on 3 hours of sleep). Afterward, I continue my trek down this long road.

I begin to worry after another mile. And so I go over a street towards the waterfront, where I probably walk another mile or so. At this point I only have 15 minutes to check in. I begin to really worry.

Finally I see signs for a ferry. Except it's across a bridge, and back the way I came. Crossing over, I stop a car and ask where the ferry was. "10 minute walk back that way". Of course, the direction I came from originally, just on the opposite side of the street.

I'm out of time at this point, with only 10 minutes, I book it. I alternate running and walking (it's hard with 30lbs of luggage on you). I don't think I'm going to make it, when out of no where, a kind gentleman stops a bit ahead of me and offers me a ride.

It was a good thing he did, because it was still a good 5 minute car ride to finally get to the ferry. But I arrived in time to check in, and made my ferry. Exhausted, but happy I made it.

Monday, May 25, 2009


I don't think I ever want to take an over night bus again. But alas I have signed myself up for yet another one tomorrow night, in my crazy journey to get down to Dublin. I took one last night from Bath to get to were I am now in Edinburgh. I have really enjoyed the Scottish terrain, the only terrains that it looks remotely like is the western half of south Dakota. At least that I know of. Except this land is green, full of hills and sheep everywhere. It's great.

Update (the part that got deleted)

So I'll start with Sunday. I was enjoyed a nice relaxing day in Bath. Seeing how it was Sunday, I went out to find a church to attend. After searching around for a little while I found a winner. They were serving coffee beofre the service. It was nice to relax for a while with a cup of 'filter' coffee and chat with the locals. It was so nice to walk into a place and be welcomed by everyone that was there as I passed them. It was like a bit of home far far away from it.

After the service I took a small walk out into the firms around the city. This Skyline walk was something I wished I had found a few days earlier, since it offered an amazing view of the city and the surrounding hills. If I had known about it earlier I would have loved to catch a sunset from up there. I did have a nice relaxing picnic under shade while watching the city below. It was about as picturesque as you could get.

After that I headed back into town for the evensong at the Bath Abbey cathedral. It was another great part of the day. I love how even a small chior of 12 or so people can easily fill an cathedral with sound. That combined with the organ just manges to evelipe you in a rich sound you really don't get anywhere else. I enjoyed the service (first evensong I've ever been to).

Then I wondered around for a while until my bus left. Didn't get any sleep but arrived in Edinburgh with enough energy to last the day. I started by finding a pretty awesome hostel, which I'm still chilling at as I write this. I would like to find more like this one. Not expensive, great facilities and staff, as well as comfortable beds. Anyways after getting myself situated I went on a walking tour of the city. We had a fun entertaining guide, and all in all got a great overview to a bit of the city and Scotlands history.

Later on I found the best view ever from ontop a large hill (extinct volcano) called Authors seat. It offered an amazing 360 view of the city as well as the surrounding landscape of Scotland. I could easily see for fifty miles or more in all directons. Combine that with the ocean and nearby mountians, it created a breathtaking view. Well worth the hefty trek up the hill. I have a feeling that if I lived in a city like this that I would be up there all the time.

After the hike down I found myself some haggis. Which was quite delicious. It would be something that I could see myself eating more of. I finished off the day hanging out with a kid from Hong Kong, as a random (didn't make sense) movie in the background. It was entertaining to chat about life and travel plans.

This morning i had another good coversation with a traveler from Ireland (my next destination). We spent breakfast talking about Ireland and America. There have been planty of great conversations so far and I can only wonder who else I will meet along the way. was filled with more awesome views, the Edinburgh Castle, and the National history museum. It was quite the day. Well I'm off to catch my bus.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Stones in a field

Stonehenge was the main attraction today. I rose promptly at 9ish with just enough time to get tithe tour bus that would take me there. Along the way I really got to thinking just how much history everyhing here has, compared to the US. All of the houses and structures melding into the surrounding landscape. Vines, shrubbery and trees have slowly crep over everything, in an attempt to reclaim the land for itself.

Roads are narrow, the side of the road is almost overflowing with nature. Often the bus would pass within mere inches of surrounding trees and other various plants. This was everywhere.

The brick buildings looked like they had always been there (and probably had). Although some looked as though they were strugglig to keep above ground, as parts slowly fell to ruins.

Stonehenge was interesting to finally see in person. It's actually smaller than I was expecting, and positioned very close to two roads. Lwhich split around it. It's amazing how precise everything is. How measurements could be made with such accuracy before the advent of modern tools.

Well more on this all tomorrow. I have two men in my room competing in a snoring war (I think one just woke himself up). I'm off to put in my earbuds and attempt to sleep.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Bath time

So I'm in Bath. After waking up way too early this morning at 8am. Well, I guess it could be worse. Two of the girls that I was sharing a hostel room with had to get up before 6 to make it to the train station in time.

I'm writing from my iPod so it's a bit slow, and this might me a bit short. I've met some interesting people already. There were the two girls from Minnesota (sorry if I butchered that) whom were on a 5 week tour of Europe. I've actually met two austrailians. Both times the conversation kinda just dwindled to nothing. They just weren't holding up their end of the conversation. But today on my bus ride over from London, I talked to Shannon, who had come over from the states to study and work in Scotland. She just happened to live in Edinburgh at the moment. Which is going to be my next stop. So I got a bunch of good places to visit as well as contact info should I need anything while visiting. I thought that was a pretty cool encounter. Especially since there were a number of other seats open.

I then got to talk to a man from new zeland. During the three hour ride I learned all sorts of things about the country. As well as ok farming, which is what the man did (he was close to retirement age and travelig everywhere vistinf family and friends). It was cool to see someone with such a far flug family network (he had just come from signapor andwas heading to Osaka Japan later on).

Ok fingers falling asleep so i'll sum up. I saw the roman baths, had an almost private tour for free (just two other people), saw a ton of musical acts since today just so happened to be the kickoff of a huge music festival in Bath. I also saw fireworks and most elusive Chior of all... The all white gospel chior.

Well I'm off to sleep.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blitz post!

So I have 4 minutes left at this station, and I figured 'why waste good time when I can be writing on my blog'. So here I am. I've just got some more observations.

The underground (subway system) is much much cleaner than NYC's. By a long way, and they have cusioned seats. I especially like the seats over nyc's. But they can still pack people in like sardines (which happened tonight). They also have construction on the weekends and strikes. Some things never change no matter where you are.

Pubs are crazy.

It's like every pub that I pass after 5pm, is brimming with patrons. The really good pubs have people drinking out to the street. But they all manage to stay within the lines of the building, even outside of the pub. Everything is so neat and orderly. Really quite interesting.

Well, I had coffee, and there was a crazy singing Italian. Good fun.

Times up, got to go.

I feel like I'm overwhelmed by politeness. Not necessarily from the people themselves, but from all of the advertisements and announcements. From the constant barrage of 'a good service is running on all lines' to the way the English accent sounds so prim and proper.

Anyway, I've had a few days to explore London now, and am slowing taking in all of the sites. Big Ben and Parliament building is just astounding. I took a ride on the Eye of London, the huge Ferris wheel on the Thames. Been to a few museums, Tate Modern and the National Gallery. Within which I've seen a wealth of paintings and various artwork. One installation that was particularly interesting, was a room set up to look like a construction area. With blocks of wood, tools, and misc items lying around. I thought to myself, well this is rubbish. That is until I read the description for the room, and realized all of the objects were made out of polystyrene and painted to look realistic. I enjoyed looking at the construction of the objects, as well as watching other people walk in and right back out.

Also in my travels I saw Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare's Globe, and St. Paul's Cathedral. I'd yet to have been in a real cathedral before St. Pauls, and was overwhelemed by the scale of it all. Not only the large scale of the space itself, but the small ornate details which covered the building. From the sweeping mosaics, to the grand paintings on the dome, I truely wonder how on earth they built a structure like this. I enjoyed the fact that the path around the dome, as well as the stairs, were well worn from hundreds of years of use. The stone took on a soft and welcoming appearance.

Well, today I head off to finally take a walking tour of the city, which I meant to catch yesterday. I had trouble finding a hostel I was looking for, and ended up wondering around aimlessly for an hour. I also plan on seeing the Tower of London, and the British Museum if I have the time. Beyond that, I plan to take a bit of time today and relax some, as I'm plenty sore from the past two days.

I'll leave you with a few things I've noticed.
-Despite driving and walking on the left hand side (for the most part), people are asked to stand on the right hand side of the escalators.
-I saw signs everywhere that said "To Let". At first glace I thought they left out an i, for toilet. Then I though there must be a company called "To Let", a pretty big company at that, since there were signs everywhere for it. Then it dawned on me that it was for rental space.
-Dogs must be kept on a lead instead of a leash.

Buckingham Palace

St. Pauls

View from ontop St. Pauls

View from atop the Eye of London

St. Martins

Big Ben

The Eye of London (and the river)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Arrival

I'm here. In the middle of London right now, in a tiny cramped little internet cafe. My body has no idea what time it is. I'm exhausted, but it's only 4:30pm. I haven't really been hungry, but that's my next goal, after leaving this shop. Let me recap so far.

I took off from JFK in New York City last night, specifically choosing the earlier departure date so that I could catch the sun set. Figures that there would be a huge queue of planes, and I would be on the side opposite of the sunset. By the time we turned around for take-off, the sun was well below the horizon.

We took off, and I'm not sure if I've ever seen a sunset in reverse before, but I can tell you that I have now. I watched as it peaked it head above the horizon again, before lazily decending into dusk.

The passenger next to me was asleep before takeoff, but I had plenty of things to read, and prepare. I did attempt to sleep on the plane, got a few hours of rest, but not constant sleep. It was enough for me to feel like it was morning when the sun rose.

Landing was uneventful, customs took an hour to get through. The entire time I'm hopeing and praying that my bag doesn't get picked up by someone else at baggage check. Sure enough, when I finally got through my bag was sitting on the floor in a pile with others like me. Not without a bit of hassel and panic did I find it as the signs for baggage claim had long since moved on to the next flight. Next time I'm checking everythign if possible.

Taking a cue from my brother, and grandpa, I chose not to take a taxi from the airport. Instead I purchased a weeklong pass and road the subway in. What followed was an hour or so of frustration as I attempted to find a hostel, which was poorly marked. I finally got rid of my large bag, and could lighten my load. Things were looking up.

With the pack off my back, I could focus on taking everything in. Let's just say that I'm not used to being surrounded by so much history and tradition. There will be more to come on this thought.

As for now, I'm off to find an ATM to get some cash, before finding some good eats. I don't have the correct cable with me right now, but I hope to have photos up soon.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rough Itinerary

Below is a rough itinerary of where I will be visiting while over in Europe. This, by no means, is complete. Nor do I intend to follow it city for city. I still have plenty of planning left to do, which I will do while sitting in trains riding across Europe. If you have a city that I must see, please feel free to comment. I will update this later to reflect my finalized itinerary (before I leave).

Great Britain
(Windsor Palace)

Antrim Coast?
Doling - Cliffs of Moher
Rosslare to Roscoff or Cherbourg

Palace of Versailles
Province Region



French Riviera - Nice, Antibes, Monaco

Berner Oberland

Cinque Terre




Czech Republic