North America, Europe · 118 Days · 419 Moments · January 2018

Jessica's journi to Ireland

12 May 2018

Earlier today, we were standing on top of this. I still can’t get over it! It was an incredible way to wrap up the past four months.
After hiking down, we got a drink from the pub at the bottom. Then we found a thick soft patch of grass by the ocean and rested for a bit before catching the bus back to downtown.
We had absolutely beautiful weather. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day.
I am so proud of us! It was very fun, but a tough workout. At one point it was an 75-80 degree incline and we were scaling the rocks on our hands and knees!
Views from the summit.
According to tradition, it is said that Saint Patrick fasted and prayed on the summit for forty days in the year 441. Thousands of people make the pilgrimage to Croagh Patrick. It was such an enlightening experience. Everyone hikes the mountain for their own reasons, but there is such a feeling of community among those on Croagh Patrick. The hike is INTENSE. I’ve never hiked anything like it before, and it was on National Geographic’s list of the 15 best hikes in the world. Making it to the top was so worth it!! The hike is a steep incline, and there is no path it is all loose rocks on the side of the mountain. It was crazy! But we took it slow and steady and met so many nice people along the way!
We met Rachel back in Galway, and the three of us caught a bus from Galway to Westport. We had a bit of a fiasco getting to Westport because we missed where we were supposed to get off (oops), but we ended up making the most of it, befriending the only taxi driver in the area, and then going out for some live music once we finally made it to Westport. It ended up being a really fun night, and we met a lot of locals. Westport is such a cute town, I would have loved to spend more time downtown, but the reason we chose to come here was to hike Croagh Patrick.

11 May 2018

We ate lunch at a pub, and then biked a little more. We stopped at one of the beaches and collected tons of shells. Then, it was time to catch our ferry back.
Everything was so gorgeous and the weather was perfect. One of my all time favorite moments of study abroad was when we saw an old Irish man in his seventies in a tweed vest and Irish hat running his donkey down the street. He said his donkey needed the exercise but that now he was becoming the donkey😂 it was so cute, and so Ireland. It’s also very cool that Gaelic is the first language spoken on the island, English being second.
An uncommon friendship: a billy goat and a donkey.
We rented bikes and explored the island on two wheels. It was one of those moments I wish I could bottle it up and relive it whenever. It was incredible.
On Friday, we took a ferry to Inishmore, the largest of the three Aran islands. It was crummy weather in the morning, but by the time we got there it cleared up and was BEAUTIFUL.

10 May 2018

We went out downtown and pub hopped to a bunch of different places with live music. It was so much fun!
On Thursday, I had my last final, so I am officially done with junior year!!! Alexandra and I took a train to Galway Thursday afternoon. This is a picture of our honeymoon suite at our awesome bnb.

7 May 2018

When walking into Greystones, there was a huge meadow of these beautiful yellow flowers. It was magical. We got soft-serve ice cream (which is called a 99 in Ireland) and hopped on the train back to Dublin. We have been blessed with absolutely perfect weather the past week😊
Today, we studied in the morning and then Claire, Amanda, and I took a bus to Bray. We hiked the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones. It was beautiful, but also very crowded.

6 May 2018

On Sunday, Holly, Rachel, and I biked around Phoenix Park. There the deer roam free and they are not scared of people at all. It was so cool! We had a picnic, and then Holly and I pub hopped to three different places since it was her last night to go out in Dublin (she leaves Tuesday morning). It was a sad final hoorah, but also the music was phenomenal.

5 May 2018

View from the bottom of the gap—the most beautiful one in my opinion.
So many lam lams on our hike.
View from the top of the gap.
The black valley—on the other side of the gap.
The starting point of our hike.
View from the boat!
First we took a boat ride through all three lakes in Killarney National Park to a little cottage. We stopped for vegetable soup and brown bread before beginning our 7 mile hike through the gap. My favorite place in all of Ireland was on the boat surrounded by blue waters, clear skies, and mountains.
We had a bit of a hostel fiasco, and ended up leaving due to unsanitary reasons and staying at a hotel instead. By the time we got settled in, we were exhausted and didn’t feel like going out. Saturday morning, we took a tour to the Gap of Dunloe.

4 May 2018

Alexandra being ~artsy~
There are deer everywhere in the park!
Our driver was very nice, and told us all about Killarney history.
Friday morning, Alexandra, Amanda, and I headed to Killarney while the rest of the crew took off back to Dublin. When we got there, we shopped for a bit and then went on a horse and carriage ride through part of Killarney National Park. It was beautiful!
Peace love Guinness.

3 May 2018

We went out for some Irish step dancing at a pub. It was so much fun, and we even got a chance to join in! I still don’t get how their feet move so quickly.
We walked through some farmland where there were a bunch of sheep and cows. Unfortunately, lambs not used to being handled do not like to be picked up.
We walked up to the lighthouse and saw Fungie, the Dingle dolphin, from a distance.
Beautiful views on our walk!
It cleared up in the afternoon, so Amanda and I went on a walk along the coast.
On Thursday, it rained in the morning so we played cards, made brunch, and studied some.

2 May 2018

Last night, I made a cheese platter of cheese and digestives. We drank wine and played cards for awhile, before heading out on our self directed pub crawl. We hit up several pubs, but ended at Osullivans again. Dingle is by far my favorite place I’ve been to this entire semester.
After, we went on a walk along the water recommended to us by a sweet man who owns the ice cream shop we stopped at before. It was beautiful. We also saw two cows jumping each other which, anatomically, was very confusing.
Pics from Holly’s camera continued.
Some more lam lam shots off Holly’s camera. Nora and I got to feed the baby ones who were only a few days old hehe.
This ancient sit was so cool. There is a structure just like this on Skellig Michael but the roof caved in. This is the only standing structure like this in Ireland. Gillian told us that herself and a lot of the Dingle community come here on winter solstice for mass and then people bring their instruments and they play around the fire, preserving tradition. Uhg Ireland is so cool.
This cliff is where they recreated the Jedi village. They were only allowed three days filming on Skellig Michael because there are a lot of native wildlife there that they didn’t want disturbed. So they were created the village for five weeks of filming here. The set was taken down after sadly, but still very cool.
Breathtaking. Stunning. Favorite place on earth.
Beautiful views, beautiful people.
One of the bee hive ruins.
Took an uncomfortable amount of lam lam pictures, but it was incredible. One of the ones I smuggled fell asleep nestled in my shoulder and started snoring. Best day of my life. The farm is also the location of many ancient bee hive huts. These guys are similar to the ones on Skellig Michael. They are ancient villages built by monks. Gillian told us a lot of history while we held our lambs.
If you zoom in really close, you’ll see two islands. The one to the right is Skellig Michael, the filming location of the Jedi ruin village. We were blessed with absolutely beautiful weather! We also made my favorite stop of the trip—a farm where we could hold lam lams.
Beautiful views on the Slea Head Drive.
Wednesday, we booked a tour of the peninsula. It was so wonderful! Gillian picked us up and drove us around telling us stories and history. It was just the six of us and Gillian in a minivan, which made it extra special. First stop was a beautiful beach. Gillian said her daughter goes cliff jumping here all the time.

1 May 2018

Tuesday, we went shopping all day. There are so many shops selling handmade crafts and cool books and little trinkets. It also happened to rain all day, so it was perfect weather to shop. After, we headed back to the house to make dinner. Nora and I went on a walk to find the sheep right outside our window. We sat and watched them for a bit and then hiked up further. Despite the mist, the view was beautiful.
I love how proud they are of Star Wars.

30 April 2018

From left to right, Amanda, Xan, Nora, and me. Monday night we went to O’Sullivan’s for trad music. It was so much fun, plus one of the musicians sounded just like James Taylor which was a treat. Also they had a local coffee stout brew on tap which I have really enjoyed each night since being here.
We walked around the town and the harbor. Everything about the place is breathtaking. Friday is May 4th, and as the most recent Star Wars film was shot on the Dingle Peninsula and Skellig Michael, they have a huge May the Fourth be with you festival which is just so awesome.
We were starving when we got to Dingle, so we immediately went on the hunt for fish & chips. We ended up at a cute family run restaurant with all local fresh caught fish. I had smoked haddock fish which was probably the best fish &chips I’ve had. The scenic shot is the view from our airbnb. It is a cute house in a perfect location! It worked out so well for us, and it’s very nice to have the whole house to ourselves. We really took advantage of the oven. We don’t have access to an oven at school, or really ovens are not really a common thing in all of Ireland, so we really lucked out. So far we have made family breakfasts and linners and then smacked in between. Tuesday and Wednesday we baked salmon and asparagus and broccoli. I will dream about those meals until I get home.
We got back from Munich around midnight on Sunday, and then packed, showered, and got a little shut eye before making our way to Dingle at 7am. Monday was a day full of travel. It is not easy to get to Dingle via public transportation. We had to take a train with two connections to Tralee and then a bus from there to Dingle. Boy oh boy was it worth it. We got to dingle around 3pm on Monday. The bus ride was incredible! I got a little teary-eyed thinking about how soon I have to leave this beautiful country.

29 April 2018

Now we found a spot in the botanical gardens, relaxing in the shade until we have to leave for our flight tonight. Germany really surprised me! The Neushwanstein castle and area were BREATHTAKING! We also had perfect weather to enjoy all the beautiful parks. In terms of things to do in Munich, it’s a lot of just drinking beer. Spring fest was a blast, but my stomach can only hold so much beer. I’m so glad we had perfect weather to explore this beautiful country! Now back to Ireland for the next 15 days!
We walked around downtown some more, and stopped for a late lunch at a small beer garden tucked away in a neighborhood. We got this cheese spread with pretzels and grilled sausages with sauerkraut and potatoes. We sat outside there for a couple hours just chatting away.
Everything was in bloom, it was so beautiful! We stopped for gelato and sat and watched some baby ducks for awhile.
There is a man made river that flows throughout the park. At one section, a bunch of people come to surf! It was wild and mesmerizing.
Today, we walked to the English Gardens. The gardens are huge, so we roamed and soaked up the good weather for a solid 3 hrs or so.

28 April 2018

We missed each other so much we just had to FaceTime Saturday night.
Packed a pbj for lunch so I could allocate more money to beer.
On Saturday, we went to spring fest. Basically everyone dresses up in dirndls and lederhosens and drinks a lot of beer. It was really fun, and we made a lot of friends. There were a ton of American abroad students there too. The atmosphere was really fun and the music & beer were fabulous!

27 April 2018

When we got back to Munich, we went out for dinner and drinks at Hofbrauhaus. We tried a German dish of pork soaked in gravy with these interesting textured potato dumplings. I wasn’t a fan of the dumplings but the meat was good!
Amanda and I snuggling together on the way home.
Wish we could have gotten out of the bus for a photo here. The shot from inside the bus doesn’t do it justice. Although, I think regardless no photo would do it justice.
After hiking, we met up with Katie and Bridget and sat by a lake for awhile. There was an adorable golden doodle that was being a spaz in the water so it was fun to watch.
The views were really something else!
We wound up going to a little restaurant in the mountains, and we all got radlers, which is like summer shandy. It definitely was a local hot spot, because you had to hike 40 minutes to get there and nobody spoke English.
We hiked up to the castle. The area around the castle was incredible (thank you papa Erdmann for the suggestion). Katie and Bridget paid to get a tour of the castle, while Claire, Amanda, Kim, Kasey, and I hiked for a few hours.
Hohenschwangau is home to the beautiful and iconic Neushwanstein Castle. This is the castle that the Disney castle is based off. I walked out of the bathroom to this: Claire and Kasey posing with and Asian woman. She literally took 25 pictures with them all doing different poses😂
This weekend, I went to Hohenschwangau and Munich, Germany. On Friday, we woke up early to catch a bus from Munich to Hohenschwangau. It was a beautiful 2 1/2 hour drive!

22 April 2018

We walked back to our hostel, and stopped at yet ANOTHER market on the way back (the flat iron square market). I bought a neat antique map of Ireland from 1913 that I plan to frame and hang in my room. Unfortunately, it is time to return to Dublin. I LOVED London. It was definitely one of my favorite big cities. It’s hard to choose because they are all so different, but as far as my travels outside of Ireland go, I think London, Barcelona, and Budapest were my favorite big cities, and Bruges and Salzburg were my favorite smaller cities. My dream Harry Potter weekend has come to a close, but it was absolutely perfect! I couldn’t have imagined it any other way. Pregaming with Edinburgh was definitely the move, and got Xan and I ready for the studio tour. I honestly feel like it will take me awhile to fully process and appreciate everything. I also now have a new musical soundtrack to jam to. The people, the weather, and the excursions made this one heck of a memorable trip😄
We walked through several neighborhoods, stopped at Soho, and then made our way to the Hackney area. There were a lot of shops to go in and out of, and tons of cool street art. We stopped at a bar/restaurant with a backyard garden and had a couple pitchers of Pimms. We definitely needed to rest our feet, and the weather was perfect!
We then walked down the street to the Covent Garden market. It was a cute quaint market. One of my favorite parts of London was all the markets! I loved that they all sold unique homemade products or antique items, there weren’t any crappy souvenirs.
The Neal street courtyard and the spot where seven streets meet at one roundabout!
Next, we walked to the Covent Garden area. We wandered in and out of boutiques, and found a neat hidden courtyard.
We met up Sunday morning at Westminister Abbey. It was beautiful, but we couldn’t go inside because there was a service in session.

21 April 2018

We were absolutely, so we went back to our hostel and passed out.
Kinky Boots was PHENOMENAL!! I would recommend it to everyone! It was so fun and high energy and portrayed a strong message of acceptance which was neat.
We picked up bikes again and rode to the house where the Parent Trap was filmed. Then we biked back to the Piccadilly area to see Kinky Boots.
Bridget, Xan, me, and Amanda outside the Kensington Palace.
We walked back to the Kensington gardens and palace area. Notting hill was my favorite neighborhood of London because it had so much character and color.
We docked our bikes and went to the portobello market. It was huge and really cool. Definitely my favorite market we went to, and it had the best street food. We wandered for a couple hours up and down the streets.
Taylor and Holly went to a matinee performance of Les Mis, while Amanda, Alexandra, Bridget, and I rented bikes and rode through Hyde park, to Kensington palace, and up to Notting hill.
It was packed and a lot of the roads were blocked off because the London marathon was on Sunday and they were setting up, but we were still able to see the ceremony. It was very extra, but well worth watching.
On Saturday, we met up with the other girls and picked up tickets for Kinky Boots at the TKTS booth. Then we walked down the mall and in St. George’s Park towards Buckingham Palace.

20 April 2018

Diagon Alley was INCREDIBLE!! At the end, they had the Hogwarts castle built. With the movie score playing in the background, I almost had tears in my eyes.
We were able to go into 4 Privet Drive, and the Hogwarts Express!
We got butterbeer, and continued on our journey.
Seeing the special effects behind the magic was incredible.
The great hall.
Then, Holly, Taylor, Xan, and I took a train to Warner Bros. Studios. We took the tour of the Harry Potter studios. Everything we saw was original props, costumes, and sets. I cannot put into words how amazing and magical experience it was. We took 3 1/2 hours exploring and taking it all in. I think it will take me a solid two weeks to process it all. I couldn’t stop smiling it was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. I read the Harry Potter books with mom when I was younger, and continued reading them on my own in middle school. I went to the midnight premiers of the last four movies, and just love the books and the movies. I have never geeked harder than I did on Friday night.
We got donuts from a place that was named by Buzzfeed as “best dessert in London to try before you die.” It was delicious and interestingly enough, vegan. We walked to another neighborhood, Primrose Hill, and laid in the grass and enjoyed the weather with a beautiful view!
Then we met up with four of our friends who had flown in early in the morning at the Camden market. It was a really neat neighborhood, and the market was huge! I got an amazing grilled cheese from the Cheese Bar. We walked around for awhile and explored the shops. It’s really funny because vintage is very much a style in London, as well as tons of antique and vinyl shops.
We had to go to Platform 9 3/4 of course!!!
Friday, we started our day seeing the London bridge and the Tower of London. We then walked towards Kings Cross Station, stopping in a couple really neat bookstores. We walked A LOT this weekend, but it was fun to walk rather than use the tube because we could see SO much more!

19 April 2018

Thursday around 6 we flew to London. By the time we got to our hostel, we were exhausted & smelled terribly so we showered and went to bed.
Jo’s brother in law owns this coffee shop, and I had the best homemade iced tea there!
We got amazing shortbread cookies from Pinnies & Poppy Seeds round 2, then went coffee shop hopping. We went to two coffee shops—both where Jo began writing Harry Potter.
Afterwards, we hiked Arthur’s Seat. It was incredible view of the city and the surrounding area. We laid in the grass for awhile, pet some dogs, chatted with a sweet old couple, then headed back to town.
My favorite color combination of flowers that we saw.
The weather was perfect, and spring was in full bloom!
On Thursday Xan and I packed up and then headed to explore more of Edinburgh. We started with walking through the Prince Street Gardens to get another view of the castle.

18 April 2018

After that, we went on a historical ghost tour. Edinburgh has a very dark medieval past, and we were able to go in vaults built underneath the city where lots of crimes happened such as gravediggers moving corpses for the black market, as well as merchants trading, and poor people living there who couldn’t afford above ground. There were some spooky af vibes I held onto Xan’s arm the whole time. The paranormal stuff was not for me, but the history was fascinating. We ended our day walking around the Haymarket area, and some other neighborhoods outside of Old Town and the Prince street area. It was a long but wonderful day. Edinburgh is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve been to, and a big part of that is probably the fact that my childhood fantasies came to life before my very own eyes. It was magical.
Then we went on a free Harry Potter tour. It was so much fun! The guide was so passionate, as were the 60 other people on the tour with us. We were able to see the gravestones that inspired some of the characters, as well as the school, castle, bank, and street that inspired Hogwarts, the four houses, Gringott’s, and Diagon Alley.
This place was made for nerds...but we absolutely love it! We went in and out of shops in the early afternoon, and had the best shortbread cookies from Pinnies & Poppy Seeds.
Thank goodness Xan loves HP as much as I do. We went to the Elephant House Cafe, which is one of the places Joanne wrote books three and four. The bathroom was graffitied with tons of fan love. We got hot chocolate with brandy and kahlua which was delicious!
As some of you may know, I am a big Harry Potter fan. I read the books as a kid with Mom, and have read them through probably 3 more times since then. J.K. Rowling wrote the books in Edinburgh, and a lot of her inspirations for her writing came from all around the city. There are tons of Harry Potter shops that we explored. I thought I was a big fan...there are some very dedicated super fans here that put me to shame.
After minimal sleep, Xan and I caught a 6:20am flight to Edinburgh, Scotland. Today has felt like the longest day, but it’s also been absolutely incredible. We were able to check into our hostel early, and they still let us have the free breakfast. Then we made our way to Old Town. We wandered up and down the streets and popped into lots of little boutiques and shops. We walked the royal mile, went to the Edinburgh castle, and wandered the medieval streets.

17 April 2018

On Tuesday night, Amanda, Xan, and I went to see my favorite Irish band in concert. They played at Whelan’s (the pub featured in P.S. I Love You) and it was so much fun! We met a really lively group of Irish students from UCD, and hung out with them most of the night. I first saw We Banjo 3 at Irish fest in Chicago, and it was even more incredible to see them in Dublin!

14 April 2018

Sadly, we had to catch our train back to Rome. We got back around 11pm and fell asleep immediately we were so exhausted. We rolled out of bed this morning to catch our flight back to Dublin. This is a picture of our feet last night. The edema was real. This is what happens when you walk 33 1/3 miles in 48hrs in sandals. I loved Italy!!! We saw so much for the time we had, but I would love to come back someday and tour the entire country. Rome surprised me. I loved the city despite the busyness and crowds. The only thing was the street vendors were hella annoying, but other than that there are so many quiet nooks and crannies within the city that we explored. Florence was one of my favorite places I’ve been to. It was stunning, less crowded than Rome, the food was to die for, and it had a very unique and authentic feel. This weekend flew by, and I’m so sad to leave this beautiful country. Until next time, Italia.
We stopped for more pizza and more gelato. The gelato was the best I had the whole trip!!! My favorite combo by far was dark chocolate and pistachio. I will dream about this gelato for years to come.
An interesting sign in the bathroom.
We bought a bottle of Chianti, a famous Italian wine. It was the best red wine I’ve ever had (best white wine was still in Vienna). We hiked up to the Michelangelo plaza for the best view of the city. The pictures don’t do it justice. We could see the alps in the distance! We sat on the steps and split a bottle of wine, took in the view, and chatted for a couple hours.
We walked around the winding streets on the other side of the river in a more residential area. Then we got some wine in one of the many plazas.
We had to make a pit stop at H&M because Claire spilled red sauce all down her denim dress so she got a new one. After, we explored a bunch of the bridges along the river. It was absolutely beautiful!
We thought these people were dressed up as a joke, but it was a very real traditional ceremony of sorts. Then we got the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It was huge though and we definitely could have split it. We sadly had to throw some of ours away because we were so full!
An amazing cannoli and the Academia (where the David statue is). Most of the morning, we just wandered the streets. The city is much smaller than Rome, so were able to hit all of it via foot. We went to the leather market, which was really cool. Florence is very proud of its Italian leather market.
Streets of Florence.
Florence was incredible!!! Probably in the running for my top 3 favorite cities. This church is also my favorite building in all of Europe. We knew it was going to be a lot doing both Rome and Florence, but since it was the two of us we were able to see and do so much! We wanted to get a taste of Italy outside of just Rome, and Florence was only about 1hr 20min train ride away.
Saturday morning we got up early again and caught a 7:30 train to Florence.

13 April 2018

We got some delicious pasta near our apartment, and went to bed early. We walked 17 miles & saw SO MUCH. We were exhausted, and knew we were going to have another busy day tomorrow!
After pizza and gelato, we roamed the streets and made our way to the Spanish steps. It was uber crowded, but we sat in the sun and people watched for a bit. Then we went to the Borghese park and gallery. We found a nice place to sit, and enjoyed the beautiful day while resting our feet.
Claire being cute after our second gelato stop of the day.
The detail on the ruins was incredible. They were over 1,900 years old! After the forum, we got some dank pizza, and made friends with a nice couple from Athens.
Views from Palatine hill.
Another view of the colosseum. We also had perfect weather—70s and sunny both days! Claire and I being two fair skinned gals, well, we fried. But the sun felt so good!
Claire and I mastered the selfie game this weekend.
The colosseum was INCREDIBLE. I thought it was so cool and it wasn’t too crowded which was nice. Again, but tickets in advanced!!! We waited maybe 15 minutes.
We then headed over to the Colosseum, the Roman forum, and Palatine hill. The Roman forum is a collection of preserved ruins. It was a really neat place to walk around. Of course, I loved Palatine hill because ya know Palatine. But it also had a great view of the city!
Next, we hit the Trevi Fountain. It was very impressive, but also hey crowded so we snagged a pic and then peaced out.
The pantheon is a really cool dome shaped religious building. The inside was beautiful, but the vibe was weird because it’s a religious place but people were talking so loud it seemed like more of a social hangout.
Our first stop was gelato. Two foodies in a food driven city is a dangerous combination. Next, we went to the pantheon. The winding streets were beautiful!
The Vatican was beautiful! Neither Claire or I are big into museums, but the Vatican museums were something else. Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to take pictures in the Sistine chapel, but that was my favorite part! The detail was incredible. Sadly, my life dream of meeting the pope did not come true. The Vatican had so much to offer, I would definitely go back! We spent a few hours there, and then walked to the city center.
On Thursday, Claire and I flew to Rome. The transportation was a little janky, so we arrived at our apartment late even though our flight landed around 8. Friday morning, we left our apartment before 7 to go to the Vatican. Pro tip: buy your tickets ahead of time!!! It saved us a lot of waiting, and we were able to do almost all of Rome in one day!

8 April 2018

We walked around a market, which was my favorite one I’ve been to in Europe so far. There are many unique handmade items for sale as well as fruits, meats, cheeses, and my favorite—pastries. I got lemon pie gelato, which is one of my favorite desserts I’ve ever had, before heading to the airport. I’m so sad to leave this beautiful place, especially the warm weather. Back to Dublin we go!
Today we walked up to ‘the castle on a hill.’ There was a beautiful view of the city from all different vantage points. We walked around the park and enjoyed the warm weather.

7 April 2018

We walked along the beach for awhile, and then headed back to our apartment. We were absolutely exhausted and went to bed early.
We ate socca, which is a dish native to the French Riviera. It’s a chickpea crust with different vegetables baked into it. It’s served in pizza like slices, and we learned after we had already eaten that apparently you are supposed to rip off pieces and eat it that way. We picked it up and ate it like pizza—oops. It was good though! Just very different than anything I’ve had before.
We went into shops, and wandered down narrow side streets. We stopped for an hour to just sit on the rocks and watch the water crash ashore.
After our canyoning adventure, we all showered and went out walking in old town.
On Saturday morning, we were picked up by our guide, Daniel, to go canyoning. None of us were sure what to expect, but we just went with it. We drove into the French alps, and pulled over at George’s loup. Putting on the two piece wetsuit was quite the time. I’ve worn a wetsuit several times before, but none of them were like this. It honestly took us about 30 minutes to get them on after lots of laughs and shimmying into the suits. Afterwards, we walked down the road a bit to a beautiful waterfall. And that was where our journey began. We started with belaying ourselves down a 25ft waterfall. Then we repelled the rest of the way down to a beautiful river in the canyon. The rest of the time was spent swimming, hiking, cliff jumping, scaling rocks and waterfalls, and going down natural water slides. It’s hard to pick what my favorite part was, but it was most exhilarating jumping off a 50 foot cliff right next to a waterfall! Canyoning is one of my favorite things I’ve done abroad!

6 April 2018

We took the bus back, and stopped at a grocery store for a few things for dinner (and breakfast&lunch the following day). We stocked up on baguettes, rose, salami, cheese, and fruit, and then headed to the beach for a sunset picnic. Sitting on the beach with wonderful friends, a whole buffet of food/drink, and the ocean a few feet away was one of my favorite moments of my study abroad experience so far. We chatted about small things, big things, deep things, funny things, and everything in between. We spent hours digging for sea salt crystals, and laid by the ocean as the sun set over the seaside town.
After stopping for some gelato, we climbed another hill and explored the Monte Carlo region. It was the classic European look with narrow passageways and cobblestone streets lined with shops. It was a bit more touristy, but still very beautiful!
Some more photos from the garden.
Also within the gardens, there was a neat cave. We walked through with a guided tour—it was still cool, but nothing compared to the Budapest caves!
We climbed up the hilly landscape to an exotic garden with beautiful views of the city.
Monaco is the second smallest country in the world. We went to another country for a day trip, and it cost €1.50. It was awesome. We walked around weaving in and out of the small streets. Everything was very boujee and hoity toity, but it was beautiful nonetheless.
Thursday evening, Claire, Amanda, Katie, Kim, and I flew into Nice, France. We got in around 9pm, and after we dropped our bags at the airbnb, we went on the hunt for a good cheap eat. Every restaurant we passed by offered three course meals with each course being around €35, so we opted for McDonald’s. We ate on the beach and watched the waves crash in. We could tell it would be even more beautiful in the daylight. Friday, it was 65 and sunny. We walked along the water to the port, where we caught a bus to Monaco.

1 April 2018

After, we ate at a really good restaurant on the ocean. Colleen and Steve were so loving and generous with my friends, I think Claire and Xan might like them more than me now. We ended the day with crepes from a cafe downtown. I’m so glad my parents were able to visit❤️
On Sunday, mom&dad adopted Claire and Alexandra for the day. We went to church at St. Patrick’s cathedral. It was absolutely beautiful! I was uber confused the whole time though because I was convinced it was a Catholic Church because it was called ‘St. Patrick’s’. It most definitely wasn’t, but it was still church. It was interesting because it was a very old English Episcopalian service. It was an experience to say the least. After, we went to Trinity to see the Book of Kells. It was really neat to visit on Easter!

31 March 2018

We went out to the Cobblestone for some live music. It was PACKED. We started standing right by the door, and ended the night with great seats. The Bulmers was good, but the music and company was better.
Dad just leaned outside the car to capture this one. I dj-ed a genius mountain themed playlist while we winded through the hills. It was most certainly an epic road trip.
Beautiful views from a pull off in the gap.
The one & only Steve-o.
Dad drove us through the Wicklow gap. Mom and I are alive to tell the story.
We went shopping all day in all the little boutiques. The small town was definitely dad’s aura. On Saturday, we drove back to Dublin, making a pit stop in the Wicklow Mountains.

30 March 2018

Kinsale had 5 bookstores. It was incredible.
On Friday, we took a walking tour of Kinsale. Our guide, Barry, was full of knowledge and very personable. He was really passionate about Kinsale’s history. Thank you to Rick Steves for that wonderful recommendation.

29 March 2018

Afterwards, we went to a pub for some live music. I tried a local brew, but it definitely was not my cup of tea.
Charles Fort, and some views of Kinsale.
Views from our hike, and the pub where we ate after!
When we arrived at Kinsale, we checked it’s our B&B (which was incredible), and walked to Charles Fort to watch the sunset over the harbor.
We grabbed soup and sandwiches from granny’s kitchen before heading on the road further south to our final destination of kinsale. We have really lucked out with good weather and I hope it stays this way!
We took a tour there. It was really neat to learn about all the history!
Some views from the castle.
Last night, we went out with all my friends from Dublin—Claire, Rachel, Holly, and Amanda. Amanda’s mom is also visiting, and we all went out to O’Neill’s for live music and a couple pints. I’m so glad my people were able to meet my other people! Today we rented a car and headed south to Cashel. We went to the Rock of Cashel, a really cool castle. Ironically, we ran into Amanda and her mom there too!

27 March 2018

Afterwards, the three of us and my friend Alexandra went out for dinner. There was a midweek steak deal at this place Lott’s, and it was really cool the meat was served on a hot stone and it cooked in front of us!
Unfortunately, we could take pictures inside the tomb, but it was still incredible!
We then went to Newgrange, an astronomical tomb from the Stone Age—500 B.C. It was older than the pyramids! The tomb is designed so that every year on winter solstice the sun will rise and shine through a roof window illuminating the entire man made cave with natural light. We got to see a simulation of it, but I’m sure it was nothing compared to the natural phenomena. It was insane to thing that Stone Age men and women designed this structure so specifically. There were also a lot of cool engravings and symbols etched into the stones.
Lam lams!
We stopped at the Newgrange farm for lunch. I pet so many lam lams and puppies it was the highlight of the day for me😂
Views from atop the hill.
On Tuesday we did a half day tour to the hill of Tara and Newgrange. The hill of Tara is a historical landmark in the Boyne Valley used by Gaelic kings to rule for thousands of years.

26 March 2018

Parents being parents.
We went to Piper’s Corner for a traditional music session. It was a really neat place, and it’s fairly new as it just opened 6 months ago. Mom and dad’s tour guide told them about it, and it turned out to be incredible! I will definitely be going there often.

25 March 2018

Love this yellow house!
Palm trees in Ireland??
We had beautiful weather and beautiful views!
Then we hiked the Howth Cliff Walk.
On Sunday, we slept in and got 12 hours of sleep. We took the train to Howth, a small fishing village north of Dublin. First, we walked around the Howth weekend market. It was really cute, and we found some great authentic souvenirs. Next we got food from the Dog House Blue Tea Room. It’s a quirky venue with a cozy atmosphere.

24 March 2018

On Saturday, Colleen and Steve joined me in the motherland. We started our adventure at Brazen Head, the oldest pub in Ireland. We had delicious salmon and of course a pint. We walked around Dublin all afternoon, while the two of them took everything in!

23 March 2018

Yesterday, the weather was not great. It was on and off raining and hailing l, but we made the most of it! We hiked up a hill that used to be Stalin’s old bunker. We walked around a park for awhile, and a neat neighborhood tucked in the hills outside the city. It started to rain pretty hard, so we went to a Mexican restaurant and got margaritas and tacos. We hung out for a couple hours to wait out the weather, and had a great time! We went in and out of a few shops, then took a quick nap before heading out on an international pub crawl. It was fun, but I definitely liked Budapest more than Prague. Now I’m headed back to Dublin to meet up with my two favorite people in the world :)

22 March 2018

Ironically, my friend Katie who is also studying in Ireland, and who visited me a few weeks ago, was in Prague at the same time. We met up with her and her friends for a fancy ish dinner on a boat on the river. It was great to see her! We had a chill night exploring a couple bars and then crashed in bed.
Corn in the castle.
We hiked up a hill to the Prague castle. It was an incredible fortress, with a huge cathedral within its walls. We also were able to watch the changing of the guards.
We went to the John Lennon wall, went to a cute bakery, and found a huge book store (which xan and I loved).
We did some more exploring on the other side of the river.
One of the many bridges.
We took an overnight bus to Prague on Wednesday night. It honestly went way better than I thought it would! We all slept the whole time, and it’s probably the most I slept the entire week. After checking into our hostel and taking a nap, we headed out to explore the city. They had a really neat festival going on for Easter, and the street food was delicious!

21 March 2018

We ended our night at a Hungarian restaurant. It was amazing! I got potato dumplings with Gouda cheese, pork belly, onions and lots more delicious spices.
Lit chimney cake.
The beautiful parliament building lit up at night.
Xan and Claire went to grab dessert, and Holly and Rachel went back to the hostel to nap, so Sam and I walked to the Fisherman’s Bastion to watch the sunset. Sam talked at me most of the time (again, sounds like someone else I know...) but it was a really great time. He’s from London, and is traveling during his work break. He said that 5 years ago, he would never have imagined he could handle traveling, but his school provided him with a lot of neat resources and strategies.
Afterwards, we went to a cat cafe. I am not usually a cat person, but it was a luxury to pet some animals (I miss my shmee shmee). We grabbed a quick snack and pet some cats.
Walking around the park, we ran into a kid that was staying at our hostel, Sam. Sam is super quirky, but beyond sweet. He goes “I have autism so social isn’t really my thing and sometimes I say weird stuff.” Hmm sounds like someone else I know... but Sam ended up spending the whole day with us! We walked around the park, and then went to the House of Terror. The House of Terror is a building that was converted into a museum. The building was used by the nazis and soviet communists to interrogate and execute their enemies. It was a very moving experience. There was so much information, and we spent about 3 hours there.
Our last day in Budapest, we walked to heroes square. It’s a huge park with a lot of neat buildings.

20 March 2018

After the baths, we went out with our hostel. Thy organized group games and then we went to a bar and then a club. Our hostel definitely enhanced our Budapest experience. We made friends from all over the world, and met up with some of them again in Prague!
Gellert thermal baths.
We made a lot of friends in our hostel. After walking around, we went to the thermal baths with two of our roommates. One was from Australia and the other was from California. We spent an hour and a half bath hopping. It was relaxing, and a fun time chatting with our new friends!
Next we walked to this huge market. They had literally everything! We didn’t get anything, but there was a lot to look at.
I loved these yellow teams. They were everywhere in Buda!
More views from the top!
We hiked up to the top of a hill that overlooked the city. It was beautiful, regardless of the fog.
My second day in Budapest, we just walked around and explored. Budapest is a very walkable city, which is one of the things I loved most about it!
Afterwards, Katie and I treated ourselves to a chimney cake—a dessert native to Hungary. It’s good kind of like a rolled up waffle that you peel apart. I want to try out the ice cream filled one next! We met up with our other friends back at the hostel and got ready to go out. Our hostel is really cool and a huge group of people were hanging out at the hostel bar before going out. We met a lot of people, and played some drinking games. Then we went out to the ruin bars. It was really fun, plus everything here is extremely cheap. Fancy cocktails were around $2. It was quite the time!

19 March 2018

Another thing I loved about the tour was that our guide was born and raised in Budapest, and shared a lot of the city’s history with us.
There were two maneuvers that I was NOT a fan of—the sandwich and the triangle. But, I am so glad I did it!! (Well I didn’t really have a choice, but still.) It was something that if someone showed me what I would be doing beforehand I would have said “no way that’s happening.” But in the moment, I just did it which was really cool! My number one goal of study abroad goal was being more comfortable with being uncomfortable. This experience definitely fulfilled that goal. Overall, I loved caving! Budapest is one of three places in the world that you can explore in natural made caves. We caved for a little over 1 kilometer under the city. It was also neat our guide told us that they only take about 20% of their groups through the sandwich. He thought we were all capable—and we did it together :)
We met four other young adults on our tour who were absolutely wonderful. Caving is a team effort, so we became super close by the end of the experience!
Yesterday, we arrived in Budapest!!! I’m really excited for this trip because I’m traveling with four of my favorite Marquette girls and my two favorite UT girls. It took a long time to get through customs, but we finally made it to our hostel. Katie and I went caving underneath the city. It was INCREDIBLE! The other gals weren’t a fan of small spaces so they decided to opt out.

17 March 2018

Our last stop was the cobblestone pub. It’s definitely my favorite pub in Dublin so far!
It was nuts downtown. We pub hopped the entire day, and listened to a lot of great live music!
We went to the parade, and got lunch at WOWburger.
We took the bus downtown around 9am and it was packed!! The first picture is of my Marquette Dublin gals, the second is my Dublin gals, and last is all the Marquette people who were in visiting.

16 March 2018

My first (and probably last) Paddy’s day in Dublin was definitely one for the books.
I found the fattest cat I’ve ever seen. Overall, it was a great start to Paddy’s weekend :)
I have never hiked like this before. It was hilly and beautiful and the ground was soft. It was my favorite hike so far!
It took us about 4 hours to get from the car park to the top of the cliffs. We had such a great time!! By the end, my feet were soaking wet and full of mud and manure and who knows what else, but the views were totally worth it!
There is no real trail, so we literally scaled the mountain to get to the cliffs at the top. Let’s just say the quads were burning.
It was absolutely beautiful!
Today we hiked Benbulbin. It was quite the experience—but SO MUCH FUN!
After hiking, we got an amazing dinner at this restaurant called Knox. It was the best food I’ve had in Europe so far. The food was prepared tapas style and was very unique such as sweet potato and manchego cheese croquettes and pork belly with tomato salsa and sweet corn purée topped with asparagus. We then went across the street to a pub Tricky’s Mcgillacudhy’s (or something along those lines). They had a trad music session which was wonderful! They kept adding instruments and by the time we left there were about 6 or 7! We made a ton of friends with locals. They were so welcoming and knew how to have a good time. Pictured is our breakfast at the bnb this morning.

15 March 2018

Views from the summit, and some wildlife posing for us. When coming down the mountain, we saw a ton of sheep. At first they just stared at us, but then we “baahh”-ed at them and they flipped out. I’ve never seen sheep run down a hill so fast. We laughed so hard—traumatizing sheep is our new hobby.
It was breathtaking!! The pictures don’t do it justice—it looked like it belonged in an Ireland calendar it was so picturesque.
After getting settled on our bnb, we took the bus to Strandhill and hiked the mountain knocknarea.
On Thursday morning, Alexandra and I took the train to Sligo, Ireland located on the northwest coast of the island. Although we had a rough beginning to our trip (oversleeping alarms, phone chargers breaking, etc.), we made the best of it and had an INCREDIBLE time! Sligo has been my favorite place in Ireland so far!!

14 March 2018

I went back to the beach, got mango from la boqueria, and did some shopping. I met my friend Katie Conklin for some quick tapas before heading off to the airport! I loved Barcelona so much, and I hope to make it back to Spain before I fly to the states in the end of May! So far, Barcelona, Salzburg, and Bruges have been my favorite places outside of Ireland. But Ireland is still my favorite ;)
Next, I walked around the Gracia neighborhood, and got a chocolate stuffed churro which was incredible.
After the bunkers, I went to parc guell. It is known for its mosaic detail designed by Gaudí.
The bunkers have the best view of the city. They were old lookouts during the Spanish civil war. It was a bit of a hike up there, but it was another beautiful day!
This morning, I met Caitlin and one of her friends from school for smoothies at this cool place where they have hammocks as seats. Afterwards, I said goodbye to Caitlin and headed to the bunkers.

13 March 2018

Afterwords, Caitlin and I hiked 10 miles around the mountains. It was most definitely a workout, but we had a lot of fun! The views were unreal.
On Tuesday, Caitlin played hooky and we took an hour train ride to Monserrat, Spain. We took a cable car up the side of the mountain, and had some traditional Catalonian coque bread. It was basically a long flattened delicious donut. Then we went through the basilica. Not only was it beautiful, but we were able to touch the black madonna, which is where St. Ignatius put down his sword and decided to serve God. It was a really special experience!

12 March 2018

After spending well over an hour in the church, I met Caitlin for coffee and dessert before dinner at a cafe, and then we went out for tapas and sangria! After that, I went out with another friend from high school studying abroad there, Katie Conklin. The Barcelona club scene was very fun, but is definitely not a lifestyle I could keep up with on the regular.
The church is still being built, but it was designed and started by Gaudí.
I basically walked around and did a ton of sight seeing all day while my friends were in class. In the afternoon, I toured the Sagrada Familia. IT WAS SO COOL.
Pl. de Cataluyna and the Gaudí House.
Some cool buildings and el catedral de Barcelona.
A pretty fountain and more park pictures.
The infamous arc in the parc.
Parc de ciudad. Really pretty area to walk around. I met Caitlin for a little before she had class.
One of the many churches I saw—Santa Maria Del Mar. absolutely beautiful!
I loved all the palm trees & fresh air!
On Monday morning, I arrived in Barcelona! After checking into my hostel, I walked down las ramblas and went to the boqueria which is a market type place. The weather was absolutely beautiful—60 and sunny!

11 March 2018

I really wanted to find a local winery to experience the true Vienna. Well, I found one! I took public transportation to a quaint neighborhood on the south side of Vienna. It was so local, that when I walked in, no one spoke English. One of the employees spoke broken English, so with that and google translate I ordered schnitzel and potatoes and wine. It was honestly the best wine I’ve ever tasted! After my meal, the waiter brought me out a glass of wine which he referred to as “the taste of Vienna.” It was absolutely wonderful! Everyone else in the restaurant was 70 and older. There was a lot of cute old couples, and the ones sitting next to me cheersed me and said goodbye when they left. It was so sweet and a lovely end to my Austrian experience. I caught a 6:20am flight to Barcelona this morning. I have four friends from high school studying abroad here, including Caitlin. I have heard such good things about Barcelona, and I am hyped to begin my journey here!
After the museum, I took a tram to a beautiful forest preserve in southern Vienna. I hiked for awhile just wandering the trails. The mountains were amazing!
Yesterday, I said goodbye to Caitlin and Ryan as they had flights to catch. First, I went to the Sigmund Freud Museum. It was very cool! It is in the Freud’s old apartment in Vienna, and the museum talks mostly of his life/family life more so than his works. They were forced to flee once the Germany invaded Austria, and their apartment was then used by the Nazis to hold Viennese Jews before sending them to concentration camps. There were also home videos narrated by his daughter dictating their experience in the apartment and then their exile journey to London which were really neat!

10 March 2018

My favorite picture of the day. None of the pictures can do it justice though! I absolutely LOVED Salzburg and the Sound of Music tour was AMAZING. I don’t know what I geeked over more—the sound of music stops/soundtrack or the mountains. Overall, I would like to thank Ryan for being my personal photographer. Also, I would like to thank Caitlin for receiving a go pro for Christmas 2016. Lastly, I would like to thank Julie Andrews for a wonderful tour of Salzburg. This has genuinely been one of the best days of my life. We are headed back to Vienna now and our going to grab a bite to eat before we crash! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring :)
Lastly, we stopped at Mondsee. Here is the interior of the church where Maria and the captain get married in the movie. Mondsee is a small mountain town, and we had a little over and hour to explore.
We then made a stop at this beautiful lake and mountain range. This is the shot from the opening scene of the movie!
We then went into the Lake and Mountains district of Austria. It was absolutely beautiful! We climbed every mountain and drove past Red Bull’s headquarters which just had a cool building.
The red brick roof is the top of the abbey, and the red tipped steeple is the exterior shot of the church Maria and the captain get married in. We couldn’t go in because it is still a convent today. But it was still really neat to see!
The original gazebo from sixteen going on seventeen! It was relocated because the palace that was used as the back of the von Trapp house by the lake became private property and they didn’t want tourists swamping their land. Sadly, we couldn’t go in because some idiot American fell while jumping from bench to bench and tried to sue the city of Salzburg. It was very cool regardless! I directed Ryan and Caitlin to do a couple photo shoot acting out the scene from the movie. We drove past the palace that was used as the von Trapp house in the movie, but that is also private property so we couldn’t go directly to it. However, we were able to go on the road Julie Andrews runs down when she gets off the bus and heads to the captain‘s house. We tried to mimic her heel click in the movie, and it wasn’t a total failure!!!
Let me tell ya, the hills were alive!! I honestly started tearing up just looking at the mountains.
We hopped aboard a super cheesy touristy Sound of Music bus for the ride of a lifetime! They played the soundtrack and showed clips from the movie, as well as explaining behind the scenes info. I was so in my element. The entire bus was singing along it was incredible. Here is the gardens and yard used as the back of the von Trapp house in the movies and the spot where “sixteen going on seventeen” was filmed.
Mirabell Palace and Gardens from the Sound of Music film! I was geeking hardcore.
A lock bridge near the city center.
The other side view of the town from the Hohensalzburg Fortress.