Friday, August 27, 2010


After a relatively cold week in Geneva 3 of my friends and I embarked on a 3 day weekend trip to Barcelona! We hopped on an Easyjet flight Friday night and were in Barcelona in a couple of hours. First thing we did was go to our hostel, sign in and meet our fellow "flat-mates" for the weekend. It was a bunch of guys from England touring Europe on holiday. They told us about a club crawl that the hostel hosted. It was free so we decided to go. Although, I was a bit disappointed about the "crawl" part of it because we only stayed at one club. It ended up being a fun night with lots of dancing, running away from creepy guys, and free drinks!
The next day we headed to the beach! I'm pretty sure I didn't get any more tan than I already was since I put sunscreen on like a junkie. We got massages on the beach though and I'm pretty sure that's why I've been so relaxed and have a "go with the flow" attitude. Later that night we went Salsa dancing! It was SO much fun and has given me inspiration to go out and find a salsa class in Geneva. Hopefully I can find one. The seed has been planted!

The following day we split into two groups, one group to go see the city by foot and another to go and see it by bike! I went on the bike tour with my friend Emma. It was a perfect day for a bike tour. It was hot so we were able to produce our own breeze upon our trusted steeds. The bikes were actually really comfortable and easy to ride! We saw most of the city and still had time for some Sangria and sandwiches on the beach!

Later that night we brought Chelsie and Bree and went on a night bike tour! This was a very worthwhile adventure! We saw the other half of the city and learned more about it's history. One of my favorite things about touring cities is how much history I've been learning. European history doesn't get very far in the U.S so it's nice getting a first hand look at the history I missed out on in school.

We saved the shopping for last and spent our final morning touring the shops of Barcelona. This was quite a success as well. I found a wonderful winter coat (I know it's not for a while, but it's cheaper in Spain than anywhere in Switzerland). It's black and a waterproof material sorta... but has a removable vest and hood with a very soft warm red and black plaid lining. I'm very excited about it!

Also, for the sake of completing my European to-do list I did go on a date with a European. It went really well and I'm glad I've made a new friend! We're helping each other on French / English. It's so funny to try to explain what things when one doesn't know the word for it. It's like playing Charades for an entire evening haha.

Next up in Paris Sept 8 - 11 and then Oktoberfest Sept 24 - 26 :-) Oh Europe...

- B

Friday, August 13, 2010


So in hopes of seeing a beautiful Mediterranean city with beaches and more Italian food I went to Genoa... and it was less than what I'd hoped for. It's more of a port than a beach so I could only see the sea from afar and didn't get any beach time. Instead I hoped on one of the annoying tourist trains in hopes of dodging some creepy street vendors who were harassing me. This worked for a bit but then I decided to go on a walk to either find a shop or some good food. There are some lovely sights in Genoa but the "city" is mostly alleys and many creepy people trying to sell you things. Being by myself was pretty scary here, especially when I decided to take the "scenic" route back to the bus stop and happened to be on a road on the outside of the city that was more industrial then scenic. It made me nervous not to be around people since I was the only one walking on this road...
Eventually I did find a bench and read my book for a couple of hours. This was after yet another pizza and some more Gelato. To make myself even more nervous my bus was 20 minutes late to pick me up, the only person who had gotten on or off at this stop. I really wish I had gone to Verona instead because it was about the same distance away but Italy isn't all that far from me so maybe I'll just go for a weekend trip one day. Overall impression though was that if you're going to Italy there are so many nicer places to go so I'd leave this one off your list.

So that covers my 2 week Holiday! Next up Barcelona August 20 - 23!

- B


A few days after returning to Geneva for some much needed rest I departed on my first solo adventure to Milan! I took the train for a 5 hour trip to Italy. It ended up being an hour late getting me into town around 1230am so instead of walking to my hostel I got a cab. Once I reached my hostel (and after a rather confusing conversation with the receptionist) I set my alarm and went to sleep. Unfortunately, my alarm was still on London time so I woke up 55 minutes after I would have liked. This was very unfortunate since I had to be at my tour in 50 minutes and didn't know exactly where it was. So after quickly getting ready I rushed to the metro in hopes of getting on the right one. Unfortunately my hopes didn't help in navigating and I got on a train instead of a metro and had to try to find someone who spoke English to navigate me back to where I needed to go. Eventually I got to the right place but now I had to find my tour group and hope (since I was 10 minutes late) that they hadn't left already. After asking another person where a certain street was I was able to quickly find my group and hop on the bus 2 minutes before they departed. Relief does not fully describe how I felt since it was an expensive tour and I wouldn't know what to do that morning had I missed it.Our first stop was La Scala, the Milan Opera house. It was a beautiful building where many Italian opera composers have stepped foot in and had their operas performed. It was truly great to be in the same place as composers such as Verdi, Rossini and Bellini.
The next stop was the Duomo which is the 3rd largest Cathedral in the world! The other two are in Rome and Spain. It was such a magnificent building to see! It took 600 years to build! Can you imagine building it and knowing that your grandchildren wouldn't even be alive to see the finished building! It was surely the most detailed Cathedral I have ever seen with a statue or carved picture in every corner!
Next we went to see the Castello Sforzesco, which is a large Palace where many of Leonardo Da Vince's paintings are housed. Speaking of Da Vince, after the Palace we went to where the Last Supper is painted! This was what I had been looking forward to all day! Only half of our group could be let in at once so I waited for the second group. Once I first saw the painting it was truly breathtaking. It gives one a whole new appreciation for art and the presence of God. The church it's painted in is very plain and modest but it fits with the painting somehow. Each disciple in the painting had it's own personality and details that made the painting so lifelike! It was truly wonderful seeing this painting and if you ever have the opportunity I recommend going to see it!
After the tour I went out to lunch with a girl I met on my tour. We both got pizza... and I ate it all. It was delicious! Then we went and got gelato which was quite possibly the best I have had! After doing some wonderful shopping (I got a new dress, sweatpants, tank top, long sleeve shirt and my usual postcards) I went back to my hostel to shower before going out to dinner.
I ended up going to dinner by myself which was actually quite wonderful. I started off with some Bruschetta and wine and then asked the waiter what he recommended for dinner. I had a pasta with mushrooms and a delicious creamy red sauce. I did bring a book and read it for quite a while to let my dinner settle in before dessert :-) I ended up getting a cream ice gelato with fruit on top that was sooo good. :-) It was a nice evening alone and I realized that traveling by ones self isn't really all that lonely since one can do as she pleases and with someone who knows everything about you, yourself. The next day I planned to go to Genoa to see the Mediterranean for the first time!

- B

Thursday, August 12, 2010


After a sleepless night in Dublin, Chelsie and I gathered our bags and prepared for our final plane together. We were headed towards Scotland, land of bag pipes, whiskey, and beautiful castles! Once we got to Edinburgh we once again figured out the public transportation and got on a bus to Edinburgh, although we ended up on two different buses. I was waiting on the bus for Chelsie to finish her coffee and as she was walking back from the trashcan the bus pulled away. So she waited for the next one and I waited for her at the last stop. Once we were both together again we lugged of stuff up the hill to our hostel. We stayed in the Edinburgh Backpackers Hostel which was a great hostel and if anyone happens to be going to Edinburgh I HIGHLY recommend you stay there. It was clean, friendly, and right in the middle of town! Once we got there at 8 or 9am we couldn't check into our room until 1 so we did what any tired traveller does, found a couple of couches and crashed until 1am. Once we woke, showered and ate we went on a tour of Edinburgh! We totally lucked out and got the cute tour guide! Although, I'm certainly more in love with the Irish accent then the Scottish, Chelsie was the opposite so that worked out well hah. We got to learn quite a lot about the city and get some excellent photos. After the tour we went to dinner and met an Australian couple who told us about a pork sandwich restaurant that we went to the next day. It. was. the. best. pork. sandwich. I. have. ever. had. (Including North Carolina style...)
After dinner we walked around a bit and then decided to go on a pub crawl! It was pretty fun, got to meet some interesting characters at least.
The next day we did a lot of walking around and touring on our own. In the evening Chelsie went on a hike and I stayed and I read my book / napped. When Chelsie didn't come back I met some guys from France and sorta practiced my French. We then went to a small Scottish pub where there was live traditional music and good beer. I also tried some Scottish whiskey although I'm afraid I'm not really that much of a fan. I do love how much music is a part of the lives of the Irish and the Scottish. I wish that it were more like this in the US. It was wonderful to go out and hear live music at most of the places we went to. Perhaps I'll just have to make my own shop with live music in the evenings :-) The plan has already begun...
- B

Thursday, August 5, 2010


If I'd have to guess, I'd say that about 9% of the world's alcohol and bars are in Dublin... When it comes to drinking Dublin is pretty intense. I must say I loved all of the pubs and alcohol advertisements. They're all very colorful and fun and brighten up the city. It really adds something to the atmosphere! Perhaps it's just that it livens things up a bit and reminds you not to take life too seriously.
When Chelsie and I first arrived in Dublin I will admit that I was not a fan. We were both a little bit grumpy (those whole 2 hours of sleep really weren't helping) and we had to try and find out where our hosts lived. We went to a pretty shady looking part of town and were able to meet one of our hosts, "Jon". After chatting for a bit, starting some laundry, taking a shower and trying to wake up we went on a quest to find our football playing Brazilian host Athos. Unfortunately by the time we got to his football match it was already over and we missed him. So, we decided to go watch The Karate Kid and get some food. Eventually, we went back to the house and met Athos and his other 5 other flatmates (6 if you include Jon). We then went to a house party followed by the Temple Bar area of Dublin. We had fun getting to know our hosts and their friends while we danced and laughed the night away.
The next morning we went on a wonderful tour of Dublin and then quickly went to the Guinness factory to do the tour! We were just in time to get in and run up to the top and get our complimentary (Or 11 Euro) pint of Guinness. The Guinness in Ireland is THE BEST beer ever! I don't think I'll be able to drink it anywhere but Ireland now. :-(
After the tour we went to grab some food. Athos meet us for dinner where I had Fish and Chips (for maybe the 3rd time on this trip). Chelsie and I then split a fried Mars Bar (fried Oreos take that...) and an apple pie. Then we made plans to go back to the house for an early evening before waking up for our flight to Edinburgh the next day. Well we did stop and get some mixings for a Brazilian Cocktail!

What we thought would be an early night turned into an all night get to know you session with our hosts! Since we had to get ready at 4:45am anyway we decided to just stay up all night! We passed around a Brazilian cocktail, played youtube videos and music, played get to know you games, had a dance party, and then at 5:15am left our new Best Friends for Scotland. It was such a great last night in Ireland and although we were SO exhausted for Scotland I don't regret those times one bit!


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cork aka Kinsale, Blarney, and The Cliffs of Moher

Ireland! Land of Leprechauns, Gold, Cute Accents, Friendly People, Cloudy skies, and Guinness, oh how I love you. After our London ridiculousness we hoped on a plane to the green hills of Cork. Even the border check guy was friendly! We grabbed a bus to the city center and met our wonderful host Paul! Our first day in Cork was quite relaxing. We went and had breakfast with Paul and then walked around the city a bit. Although, I wouldn't say I consider Cork a "city" but more a large town. I preferred this actually. After our tour we went and took a nap since we hadn't slept much in London.
That evening we went and saw Reggie Watts perform. He's an amazing musician / comedian (He's on youtube). It was SO much fun! After the concert we went to another bar with live music and got to watch people dance and just hang out with a lot of cool people! We also got to meet Reggie and hang out with him for much of the night! (He's the one with the afro in the picture above) (Our host Paul is in the picture below)
The next day Chelsie and I made plans to go to another Irish town and then make our way to Blarney. Above are some pictures from Kinsale. It's a little town on the South Western part of Ireland near a Bay that connects to the Ocean. It's a beautiful town with a lot of Spanish influence. We walked around and took many pictures. Then we caught the next bus back to Cork so that we would have time to visit Blarney in the same day! One thing I loved about Cork was how easy it was to just get a bus to almost anywhere in Ireland!
So we went back to Cork and hoped on a bus to Blarney, home of the Blarney Stone!
It turns out that the Blarney Stone is in Blarney Castle which sits on a beautiful piece of land full of parks, creeks, witches and folklore! First thing we did was climb to the top of the castle to kiss the Blarney Stone. We didn't realize that in order to kiss the stone you have to lay on your back and grab onto some iron bars to lean back down and kiss the bottom of this stone that's part of the castle. With the help of the charming old Blarney Stone worker guy we were both able to kiss the stone! The picture is above in black and white!
After kissing the stone (which gives you the gift of eloquence or gab as they say) we decided to roam the lands in search of witches, wishes and whatnot. We found many enchanted things suck as a rock you could walk under for luck, stairs you had to walk up and down with your eyes closed in order for a wish to come true (mine did...), a sacrificial stone and a witches kitchen. What a fun place for a couple of aupairs to act like a kid :-) The next day we went on a full day adventure to "That place with the cliffs that are on the discovery channel"
The Cliffs of Moher can now be called my favorite place in the world! It's a mixture of danger and beauty, green and blue and rock and sea. It was a cool, cloudy day but it didn't stop many people from walking on top of the beautiful cliffs that allow you to see the Atlantic Ocean in a way I never have! I even waved to the U.S since it's just across the way :-) If there was a place I would recommend going to anyone this would be it!
After we returned to Cork we had to say our farewells to Paul and Cork. It was a bitter-sweet farewell for me since Cork was one of my favorite places and made me feel so at home. Good thing we weren't leaving Ireland yet because we were heading off to Dublin!

- B