Spring resolutions

Blackrock, Ireland - Saturday Adventures

I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, because I always end up just forgetting what I resolved to do. But I LOVE spring cleaning. The weather’s getting better, days aren’t as dark and I’m not absolutely freezing on the way home.

This weekend I’m planning to peel through a ton of crap I have accumulated over the past year and a half (which is funny because I moved over to Ireland with two suitcases and that’s it). I can’t wait. It’ll be a lot of work, but I know Sunday night I will feel so much better.

Also, in just one week will be my last day at my job before I start a new adventure with a brand new company, and almost even industry. It’s only actually a ten minute walk from my old office, but I feel like I’m moving to a brand new city or something. I cannot wait and it was really time for a change up. So in the spirit of cleaning and rejuvenating for the new season, I’d like to make a few spring resolutions. Just a few gentle reminders to myself…

  • Take more photos! When I was studying abroad I think everyone hated me, I took photos all day every day. Except now I have so many great pictures of that time and am a little sad I’ve missed capturing those great moments. Plus, it was helpful to remember where I’ve been, what I’ve done, etc.
  • Cycle to work again. When I lived right in the city, I cycled to work every single day. I saved money from not paying for transportation, it was a great way to stay in shape and a nice way to end the day. Now I’ve moved a little further out, I just have fallen into taking the train every morning. Since it’s slightly warmer, it’s time to get back to biking.
  • Weekend trips need to happen again. When you’re working a full time job, sometimes (okay, always) on the weekends I just want to sit around and relax and not do anything. But, while I’m living here in Ireland I really want to start experiencing the country again. Living in Dublin has become really easy to just stay in this city all of the time, and I never just go away for the weekend.
  • Make lunch and bring it to work. This is a no-brainer, I buy lunch every day right now and it is so dumb. Sunday evenings I need to spend prepping for the week and just taking the few hours to go and do it.
  • In a similar note, drink coffee at home. This is a tougher one, because it is impossible to buy coffee filters in Ireland. I tried ordering some off Amazon, but no one ships to Ireland. I found some in a grocery store here, and they told me they couldn’t locate the “item code” so I couldn’t buy them. I think the world doesn’t want me to have coffee! But I’m going to try hard to find it and make them work.
  • Worry less. Since some big things happened in my life a few years ago, I have become a constant worrier. I feel like in high school I was always pretty go-with-the-flow, but now I am seriously the opposite. Maybe it’s because my job for the past two years has literally been planning, but I hate not having a plan or if my plan changes. And I’ve just been worrying.  About everything. I need to relax and be more in the moment – I miss studying abroad where there was way less worries, working abroad is a completely different story. I think I need to meet somewhere in the middle for a little bit more harmony in my life.

I think just be a little more zen, spend less, play more and relax will be the theme of spring. Here’s hoping, my friends!

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Radio Silence

fly

Hello, friends!

Apologies as it’s been ages. Literally. I think three months!

A lot has happened since I last wrote in this space. I worked crazy hours for all of Nov/Dec (one week I counted 68 hours of work, eek!) and was home for an entire month. We moved to a new apartment (Frank moved everything while I was in the states, score!) and it’s a brand new spanking year.

The other day I went through my old study abroad blog (perhaps that’s how you found me here… it hasn’t been updated since 2011, but if you want a little more about Galway, you can check it out here) and am very sad I no longer take pictures like I do!

I love going back through the old posts, I practically feel like I am there again… whether holding a lamb (!!), swimming in the freezing ocean in March, touring beautiful places like Connemara, traveling around Europe to places like Portugal and Paris, and the list of that short-time of 8 months goes on.

The difference between studying and working abroad is crazy. Life was so much easier! Ah, I have a feeling that come 10 years I’ll say that about this time… so I really need to just focus on living in the moment. I’m not big on new year’s resolutions, but for me and for this space, I want to document as much as I can (hopefully in a beautiful way through photography) and write about my experiences, so I can remember then!

I’d love to take a trip back to Croatia and I have all of those archives to look back on. I want to really start getting into that with more places I visit in Dublin and beyond.

So hopefully, in the next few weeks/months I’ll be able to do that! We moved to the sweetest little village (I’ve only been there for four days) but it’s lovely. It’s right by the sea and my new favorite pub is there. We went on Tuesday night for a quick pint after work and ended up playing Scrabble (I beat Frank by 5 points!). Very different from living city centre but it’s wonderful so far. I can’t wait for a nice weekend afternoon to roam around with my camera.

Anyway, hope you are well. Here’s just a few pictures from recently… more to come once I can find my camera cord (lost in the unpacking process as of now!)

College of Charleston

College of Charleston

lakeside winter

lakeside winter

winter in Wisconsin

winter in Wisconsin

winter in Connecticut

winter in Connecticut

Christmas seesters!

Christmas seesters!

a bloody Mary in Wisconsin!

a bloody Mary in Wisconsin!

the Infinity Rooms

the Infinity Rooms

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

Getting out of Dublin city

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Looking for a new apartment around Dublin has been exhausting.

Everyone and their mother are looking for a nice, affordable apartment in a nice area close to public transport. I swear, a place is listed, I ring them an hour after it’s posted and someone just took it over the phone… without even seeing it! Mental I tell you.

However, I have gotten to do a little exploring around outside of the city centre (where I live and work) and it’s been such a breath of fresh air.

While I work in town, my boyfriend works about 15km outside of the city centre, in a smaller little “suburb” of Dublin. So we’ve been trying to compromise, find somewhere that’s a little closer to his work, while still being close to town for me.

In Dublin there’s the DART line (stands for Dublin Area Rapid Transport, it’s a very handy train that goes between the smaller towns around Dublin) and it follows the east coast road. Along the line are cute, scenic little towns that would offer a bit more space, lower rent and a parking space (impossible to find city centre). So we’ve been exploring a few of the towns that have the potential to be our next home.

The other day we went for a walk around Dun Laoghaire (pronounced kind of like Done Leary, if that helps any of you non-Irish like me) which is about a 30-minute train ride from the city centre.

It was so peaceful to get out of town and have a little trip by the sea. There’s a gorgeous, small little street just a little before Dun Laoghaire, which we discovered last weekend. We could never live there, way too insanely expensive, but it’d be nice to live near to sneak away to on nice evenings.

I’m happy I brought my camera along to capture the little slice of peace we found one Sunday afternoon.

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Dear friends

_MG_0240Dear friends,

I’m sorry it has been so long, I am the worst.

I have no excuse… well okay I have a million excuses, but one should never be too busy to update on life.

There’s over 300 photos in my LightRoom that I have yet to edit from the summer (I know it’s October again, I’m the worst) but I just wanted to check-in to say I’m alive.

The photo from above was taken at the Josh Ritter show at the Galway Arts Festival this summer (before I went to Barcelona, again again the worst) and it was fantastic.

Anyway, since I’ve last written lots have happened.

I officially am allowed to stay in Ireland for another year!! The amount of stress the past 5 months of waiting on my visa application really wore on me and I am so relieved it’s all over (read a little more about it all here). We have been celebrating excessively since.

I hope to write a really good long post about what I’ve been through in my immigration struggles, because it’s something you can’t just ask someone about. I secretly want to ask all Americans who I meet who live in Ireland… how the hell are you allowed to stay here?!

But you can’t really do that. So I’d like to write a post soon talking about my experience because maybe it’ll help someone out there. I also am writing for GoAbroad.com (mentioned earlier here) and am working up a post of logistics to moving abroad, which again could maybe  possibly help someone out there.

Anyway. I will have more soon. I really promise, or at least I hope to because I like this space. Also – the fall in Dublin is unreal and it needs to be shared. Pity I don’t write poetry because Phoenix Park here is heaven.

Follow along on instagram if you like, I think every other photo I have is of the Irish autumn.

Lots of love,
Lucy

 

Studying in Ireland

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So, you’ve thought about studying in Ireland have you?

Well, you probably… no wait… definitely should. Obviously my experience in just one semester in Galway, Ireland, changed my life (as I’m now back to Ireland living and working in Dublin) but I think it’s a wonderful way to experience a new culture.

Recently, I started writing a few posts for GoAbroad.com and my first article – ‘How to Study Abroad in Ireland’ was posted last week. To read a little bit more about studying in Ireland, you can check out the post here.

Over the new few weeks I’ll have a few other posts I’m excited about (12 things to do while visiting Dublin, how-to’s of moving abroad) so you can check out my author page here to follow along.

If the post peeked your interest enough, I also wrote a blog while studying in Galway where you can find more about specifically studying in Galway (it is from early 2011, so it might be a bit outdated, but gives you a general idea!).

 

 

Clew Bay

Hello friends.

Just a very quick post to break up a little of the Barcelona posts. This weekend I was in the beautiful county of Mayo and it was spectacular.

Although it rained off and on, we still had a fabulous weekend at Frank’s holiday house in Mulranny.

We went swimming in the rain at Keel on Achill Island, drank several pints at Doherty’s in town (watching a hilarious “take me out” night in the pub).

We then went swimming again in Mulranny and then again drank a few pints at Doherty’s to watch the Mayo-Tyrone GAA football match where Mayo won! They’re through to the finals and now we’ll attempt to find tickets for the match at Croke Park in Dublin, which will be difficult to do.

However – the highlight of our trip was an evening fishing on Clew Bay. I haven’t been fishing in ages (maybe ten years!) so we caught a big bin full of mackeral, which was quite fun. Frank probably caught half of all we took in so he was a happy guy.

I took a little video from the water I wanted to share here. Could we have a more perfect setting? Ireland you’re too good.

xx Lucy

World Swimming Championships

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So remember when I hinted about some very interesting (well to me) characters that we saw in Barcelona the night before the Magic Fountain?

Well, the three of us happened to be in Barcelona while the World Swimming Championships were taking place! And man, was it unreal. We had some extra time on Sunday and were literally at the base of the pool and thought we have to go.

Barcelona hosted the 1992 summer Olypmics so the city has incredible stadiums, perfect pools and all of this plus awesome views. The games all included both open water and pool swimming + diving. The high-dives were all right at the top of Montjuic, giving gorgeous views of Barcelona.

We got to hang out at the “water village” for a few hours before the first night of swimming started and had a blast drinking rosé and beer, and eating tasty tapas.

Around 6.30 we entering the pool stadium and it was incredible! Worlds is a huge deal. Jess and I grew up swimming (since we were six!) and it’s definitely in our blood. We were never a big deal or anything, but we both tried really hard and I absolutely loved my team growing up, a real addition to our childhood. So seeing the top swimmers in the world was really inspiring and spectacular.

There were a few relays on and a few incredible races, and we just had the best time. Our mom kind of took a little siesta (it happens when it’s so warm!) but we had so much fun when USA won a few races. I love seeing the swimmers get teary when they’re raising the flags.

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See! We’re there! BCN 2013. It was great. On the top of Montjuic they also have free tours of the athletics stadium that’s pretty cool to see. Basically we loved Montjuic! There was also a cable car you could take which I wish we had a chance to. Next time though, for sure.

 

 

Magic Fountain

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On Sunday afternoon after our Cava tour we spent the rest of the afternoon on the wonderful little mountain called Montjuïc that overlooks Barcelona.

After a very eventful evening (I’ll explain more in another post soon where we saw Ryan Lochte and Missy Franklin, I can’t even) we spent dusk at such an amazing sight, right at the steps of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya.

I had been reading about this fountain show any time I researched Barcelona and wasn’t all that fussed. I kept mentioning it to my mom and Jess, thinking that if it worked out for us to be there at the right time then we’d see it.

How happy I am that things work out the way they do, because we ended up being there at the right moment for the Barcelona Magic Fountain show! There’s a fountain show to different music (it was all over the place, Justin Timberlake to the Lion King, to who knows!)

The magic fountain of Montjuïc’s first performance was in 1929 created by the designer Carles Buigas. Many thought that the project was too ambitious to be created, let alone completed on time. But over 3000 workers were commissioned to work on the project and less than 1 year later the magic fountain was born .

It may not be the same as the Bellagio fountain show, but we enjoyed it very much. The people watching alone was great fun –  all people are fun to watch, but I think watching Spanish people interact is so interesting! Lots of double kisses all around.

Check out some of the photos below:

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Logistics: We took a taxi up to Montuïc so we just walke right to the MNAC. It was a beautiful evening and the walk was through a cool area of the mountain, and only took about ten minutes from the top of the mountain.

I also believe you can take the metro to Plaça Espanya and it’ll bring you right there. The fountains are only on weekends I believe (including Fridays) and times vary throughout the year so if you’re interested I’d check here before you go.

Cava rules

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Let’s talk about my new favourite beverage, cava.

For those of you that may not know, cava is a Spanish sparkling wine.  Only wines produced in the champenoise traditional method may be labelled cavas and about 95% of all cava is produced in the Penedès area in Catalonia. Which I like to think of as cava country.

We took the 30 minute train ride out to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia on the Sunday morning, which we quickly learned is home to most of the cava in the region. It’s a teeny, tiny town settled in the gorgeous countryside of Catalonia. I love trains in other countries (especially when you know for sure you’re on the right train, otherwise not so much fun) because you get a glimpse out of the big city.

My sister had heard the Codornuí winery tour was a wonderful time, so we had every intention of heading out to their winery.

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We hopped into a taxi for a short 5-minute drive to the vineyard (pricey too, over €15) to have an early Sunday morning cava tasting, naturally. Unfortunately, they didn’t receive our reservation and we were told it was “imposible”.

However, we did not let it get us down! We called out another taxi (again, another €15) back to the train station, where we thought we saw signs for Freixenet vineyards right next to the station.

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We walk up to the beautiful grounds, only to discover that sadly, the tours were all booked. The staff here, however, was incredibly nice letting us know that the English tour about to start in 15 minutes is full, but the Catalan tour is open right after that. We could watch the English video and hope someone doesn’t show up so then we can take their spot, and if not, we can go on the Catalan tour.

As we were walking into the video our adorable guide said “good luck!” hoping we made it on to the tour. Imagine our delight when we walked out the video and the reception gave us a little thumbs up. Let me tell you, so much nicer than the Codornuí staff! For €8 we had a two-hour tour at the vineyard, including a lovely glass of Frexienet.

Lots of my family has been in the alcohol business so for some reason most trips I end up going on incorporate some type of brewery/wine/gin/etc tour. Last year in Boston I went to the Sam Adam’s Brewery, in Portugal we went to the Croft port wine cellars, last year I also went to the Smithwicks Brewery in Kilkenny, hell even when I was 10 we toured the Beefeater plant. And, I actually have an ambassador card for the Guinness Factory here, so if you’re visiting let me know I’ll get you a discount! Ha!

However, I really don’t feel like I know that much about sparkling wine at all. I found the Frexienet tour to be very educational without being boring. We kept going down stairs and it became more and more clear why they are called wine cellars. These cellars are seriously old and are used to store cava for years as the maturity changes the flavour of the wine so much. Also, the further you go down, the cooler it gets and therefore it’s very economical to keep wine down there.

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As you can see, the wine is stored on a diagonal for a little while, then is transferred into thousands of rows of wine. Now I won’t get into all the technicality of cava making, because I think if you’re in Barcelona you should probably take a half-day trip out here.

Their tasting room is great and it’s almost like having a little celebration whenever you cheers with some bubbly. The other part I loved about the tasting, is  that you could try over 18 cavas just by the glass. A lot of time when you go out places in Spain, you have to commit and buy the bottle as a lot of places only have one kind that you can buy by the glass. The glasses here were fairly inexpensive (€2.50-4/glass) and are all different types like rosé, brut, semi-brut etc.

Our favourite was definitely the classic, cava semi-dry, however my mom knows and loves the negro brut. Jess and I had spent most of our time drinking rosé wine on our trip, so we were excited to try the rosé cava, which we thought was good but not great. It was still fun to have a few to try between all of us.

We had a lovely little buzz leaving the tour and I will have warm memories from the trip.

Logistics: Take the train from either of the two main stops in the city Passeig de Gracia or Sants Estacio. We hopped on a train at Passeig de Gracia, to transfer to Sants Estacio then took the train directly to Sant Sadurni d’Anoia. The ticket people all spoke good English and were really helpful to get us there and tickets were about €6/each roundtrip. The trains all have the stations listed in a digital readout, so you know where to get off. You’ll see the Friexenet winery right when you get off the train and the signs are very clear to how to get there as well. Have fun!

 

Parc Güell

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My next few posts will be all about my trip to Barcelona and I hope you guys enjoy them!

Let’s talk about Parc Güell and how this place is unreal. Commissioned by Eusebi Güell, architect Antoni Gaudí and built the park during 1900 to 1914 incorporating Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry.

You have to kind of hike to get up to the park, but this height offers gorgeous views of the city. The main terrace is surrounded by a beautiful mosaic tile, providing a beautiful little centre for people to socialize.

The park is massive (one of the largest southern European parks) and is extremely popular. We went right in the middle of the day around 2pm so it was quite hot, but there are wonderful little parts all throughout offering shade and a place to sit for a minute.

I was searching for a certain part of the park which we never ended up finding (still annoyed!) so if you do go I recommend bringing some type of map because you could definitely get lost/miss what you’d want to see. Also I would love to go back either late in the evening at 8:30pm or early in the morning to have a quieter way to enjoy the park.

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We went to visit the Gaudí museum as well, which is set-up in a house where he lived while designing the project. I’m not sure it was worth the €5, because it didn’t really have all that much inside the museum. The grounds around the museum/house are free and are beautiful, so I’d say that would suffice if I do go back.

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Logistics: For one day we took the hop-on hop-off bus for just over €20 (which we affectionately nicknames the HOHO) which dropped us off right at the base of the park. I’d recommend this for one day, as it helped us get the lay of the city and walking around I pretty much could figure out which direction we need to go, etc. I also have to be honest and let you know that the park’s not really right in the middle of the city. I believe  a metro can easily take you to the base however, so I would say that’s your best bet if not on the bus.

If you’re there during the summer it would be a long way to walk from the city centre up to the park, then you will be walking all throughout the park. You’d definitely need a siesta. We had a full day (really every minute was pretty much planned) so we couldn’t afford to be tired!

Definitely a highlight though of our trip and I couldn’t have imagined going to Barcelona and not seeing this park. I would go again in a heartbeat!