After I said goodbye to my wonderful boyfriend (yes, I miss him tons already) I headed to Dublin! This was the first time on my trip that I ventured into the unknown aka booked a mixed room dorm at a hostel with 18 beds. Was it a mistake? If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? We may never know the answers to such philosophical questions…
My first night in Dublin was pretty exciting. After returning from a run I discovered that my dorm mates were all students who were studying in Spain. They talked me into going out with them that night and we danced the night away. There is something very freeing about shaking your money-maker until 3am with strangers who treat you as if you have known each other for years, and then waking up in the morning, seeing them sleep, leaving without saying goodbye, and knowing that you will likely never see them again.
For my Ireland trip I booked a tour through Shamrocker Adventures. As the website will advise, it was Fan-Feckin-Tastic. There was more driving than I had anticipated, but it was actually quite nice to roam through the countryside of Ireland in a mostly empty van, listening to Irish music. The trip lasted 3 days and we saw so many breathtaking sites. There were 4 other women on my tour with me, all of whom were very sweet and adventurous.
Although the weather wasn’t ideal (freezing, it was freezing) Ireland was absolutely beautiful. I got to kiss the Blarney Stone which was exciting. There’s an old man at the top of the castle who makes sure that no one dies when they make the backwards plunge. The castle grounds were beautiful and seemed never-ending.
One of my favorite parts of the trip was the Dingle Peninsula. There we visited the westernmost point of Ireland and arguably Europe. Although I was feeling a bit under the weather (Reed had passed his condition to me) I HAD to run up and along Dunmore Head. The run, the view, the feelings I was feeling…incredible.
We also visited the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately we visited on an extremely foggy and overcast day (HOW DID YOU FIND ME, KARL??), but we were still able to enjoy much of the beauty and magnificence of the Cliffs. After walking along the Cliffs quite a bit I felt brave enough to run! At times I could hardly see the path in front of me, but running along the Cliffs of Moher is something I will remember forever.
After the Cliffs we went to the Burren National Park. I had never seen anything like the Burren! It was as if we were on another planet. The rocky landscape is incredible, and the fog definitely added some mystery and charm to the experience. If you walk far enough through the rocks you come across the ocean!! When I took in a breath of fresh sea breeze I couldn’t help but shed some tears. WHERE AM I? I feel so fortunate to have visited such a magical and wonderful place.
After the tour I had one more night in Dublin and, of course, I had a Guinness in the oldest pub in Dublin while listening to a local band play.
I highly recommend visiting Ireland and touring around the countryside and visiting as many national parks and monuments as possible. We also stopped in quite a few small towns along the way for lunches and breaks, all of which were very cute.
After Ireland I made my way to Sweden. When I was 19 I lived in Santa Barbara and almost all of my friends were foreign exchange students from Sweden, so I have quite a few friends there. By the time I arrived in Sweden I was pretty sick. My voice was basically gone, and at times I was only able to produce a whisper. I also had a difficult time eating in Sweden. Almost everything I ate made me nauseous and had me doubled-over in pain. So mostly I was drinking tea and eating toast and bananas. Sweden is beautiful, though.
Despite that, I still an incredible time. I hadn’t seen my Swedish friends in 8-9 years, but when we met it was as if no time had passed at all. It was so fun yet strange for us all to be together and grown-up with our real jobs, homes, relationships and goals. We got along as if we had been meeting every weekend for the past 9 years. One of the best parts of my entire trip so far was sitting with my friends and just talking, catching-up and hanging out. They are some of the best people I know and I am forever grateful for their friendship and how much they welcomed me when I arrived. Words cannot describe how full I feel after spending time with them.
I had planned to go to Russia after Sweden but flights were very expensive, so I needed to go somewhere else first (terrible problem to have, amirite?). Reed has a good friend from law school who lives in Copenhagen, who graciously agreed to put up with me for a few days, err…put me up?
Copenhagen is only a few hours from Gothenburg and was super easy and cheap to travel to via train. I arrived on the same day as the sun, which worked out fantastically for me. After the cold weather everywhere else on my trip I was ready to enjoy the sunshine.
Mikkel, my gracious host, borrowed a bike for me to use which was so great. Everyone in Copenhagen bikes. It’s like on giant college-campus.
Copenhagen was a really nice to place to tour on my own while Mikkel worked during the day. I only had two full days in Copenhagen so I tried to do as much as possible. Mikkel had me download Offline Google Maps and marked a ton of places for me to visit, which was so helpful. I had never used to app before, it’s really great when you’re in a new city. So with my bike and map in hand I confidently explored Copenhagen. So confidently, in fact, that a tourist asked me if I spoke English and then asked me for directions! Of course, I was zero help to him, but it made me laugh and that’s what’s really important, right?
When Mikkel got home from work he took me around and showed me all the cool-kid places like Paper Island, Christiania, the Opera House and even joined me on a boat tour. Christiania was very cool. It was like a mix of Burning Man and Korkrobite (one of my favorite places in Ghana). We need one of those in SF.
I had such a great time in the 2.5 days I was there. I ate ice cream that dripped all over my feet, recovered from my condition, enjoyed the sun, made a great new friend, got lost for almost two hours while on a run, got some sweet tan lines, had my underwear unpacked by airport security in front of everyone while they searched for a pair of manicure scissors…
10/10 would visit again. Mikkel was a wonderful host and definitely made sure that my Copenhagen experience was a memorable one. I can’t wait to show him around San Francisco soon. And I am, of course, thankful to Reed for connecting us.
Now? Russia for the next two weeks!