About a week before I left the country for the first time, I received this message in a fortune cookie.
It has been taped on the back of my passport since 2002 and serves as a constant reminder to never stop exploring the world. I have learned so much through my travels, and I try my best to get out of the country at least once a year. Now that I am married and have changed my name, I need a new passport. I am having a really hard time pulling the trigger and getting a new one. Mainly because I do not want to have a passport with a ton of blank pages. I love looking at the stamps I have collected over the years and recalling the experiences I have had abroad. This page alone houses seven years of travel experiences from 2002 – 2009.
I have been meaning to post my travel stories for a while and just never got around to it. When I got in touch with my November Foodie Pen Pal (be sure to check back on November 30th when I reveal what she sent me!), I mentioned that I have done a lot of traveling. She wrote me back an incredibly energetic email asking about my trips and it lit the fire under me to start working on these travel posts. Thanks, Kellie! I’ve got a lot of work to do, but I am really excited to relive my experiences and look back on everywhere I’ve been. Stay tuned for posts about Dublin, England, Italy, Croatia, Switzerland, France, Spain, Costa Rica, Thailand, Australia, and the U.S.
The stamp from Dublin, Ireland in the upper left hand corner (November 18, 2002) was the first stamp to grace my passport. I acquired the same stamp on April 6, 2009. Dublin is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I hope to get many more stamps from Ireland in my lifetime.
Ella Fitzgerald has a song called I Love Paris where she sings,
I love Paris in the spring time,
I love Paris in the fall,
I love Paris in the summer when it sizzles,
I love Paris in the winter when it drizzles.
While I am inclined to agree with her, I think springtime in Dublin is fantastic!
Am I right? The photos above are from a trip I took to Europe in 2009. I started and ended the trip in Dublin because it was cheaper to fly round-trip from the states to Dublin and then fly within Europe via Ryan Air. I have heard a lot of people complain about Ryan Air, and while it is not the most comfortable airline on the planet, the flights within Europe are short and you can’t beat their prices. Airfare fluctuates often, but currently you can fly from the UK to Italy for €18 Euros ($23 U.S. dollars).
I stayed at the Kilronan House, a cute little B&B located on a quiet, tree-lined street about 5 minutes from Grafton Street and St. Stephen’s Green. The man who ran the place, Cormac, was extremely friendly and accommodating. Upon check-in, he gave me a map, circled a few “must see” tourist attractions, brewed me a cup of tea, and sat with me in the lobby chatting until my room was ready. He told me all about his wife and how they just got back from vacationing in the Canary Islands. It rained the whole time they were there and he said that being stuck in a hotel room with nothing but books was a real test to their marriage. I thought that was funny! His wife was a flight attendant for Aer Lingus and prior to being in Dublin, they lived in Boston for 5 years. His wife was pregnant at the moment so she was not able to fly, but as soon as the baby came and she was assigned to an overnight/over the weekend flight, he hopes to get back to the states and visit Chicago. I don’t think Cormac works at the Kilronan House any longer because I do not recognize the man in this photo, but it has been over 3 years since I was there so my memory could very well be failing me!
Super cute, right? The room I had was extremely small so that is something to keep in mind, but the price, location, and atmosphere cannot be beat, and I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again. I highly recommend it!
My first day out on the town, I decided to walk around and get my bearings. One of my favorite things to do when traveling is wander. It’s nice to have suggestions here and there, but I have always found amazing shops, pubs, bakeries, and sights by just walking around. It often makes me wonder what it would be like to be a tourist in my own city. Come to think of it, I have never taken the El to a random stop in Chicago and just wandered up and down the streets. I should do that, I will probably be surprised at what I will find hiding in my own backyard!
I was on the hunt for a bakery when I stumbled upon Lord Edward restaurant. It was nearing dinnertime and it looked inviting from the outside so I popped in for some food and a pint. The hostess seated me at a small table next to two older gentlemen. As I started talking with them, I found that they were on vacation and that they were policemen from the suburbs of Chicago. Small world!
I LOVE mussels and these were no exception. I honestly wanted to order a second batch immediately after finishing these, but decided to be a lady and order another pint of Guinness instead. 🙂
Contrary to popular belief, Guinness is not served “warm” in Dublin. It is served warmer than traditional American draft beer (42.8˚ vs. 38˚) and it is also served extra cold (38.6˚) . While both of these temperatures are warmer than your typical Miller Lite, it is not as warm as people describe it. It still feels cold and will quench your thirst quite nicely. Guinness in Ireland is like liquid candy! It is sweet, goes down smoothly, and there is absolutely no bitter taste to it at all. It is 100% true that Guinness tastes differently in Dublin than it does in America.
While we are on the subject of food, if you are ever in Dublin you MUST spend an afternoon eating sweets and drinking tea at Queen of Tarts. I passed by and the smell lured me the way it does in old cartoons. You know what I am talking about, right? One character puts a freshly baked pie in the window, instructs her partner not to touch the pie, and leaves the house to go shopping. Then, the pie scent turns into a pair of hands and lures in an animal who steals the pie off the windowsill and hilarity ensues? Yeah. It was just like that.
I ordered a pot of tea and a slice of chocolate fudge cake that I still think about to this day. When the waitress put the cake in front of me it was so moist that it glistened in the sun. It was the richest, most intensely chocolate tasting cake I have ever had. If they shipped overseas, I would order a piece right this second.
I am a big fan of Irish Breakfast Tea. There are several varieties over here in the states, but Barry’s is a popular Irish brand of tea that you can now purchase online. Isn’t the internet fantastic? Because the tea is strong and somewhat bitter, I like to enjoy my tea with almond milk and sugar.