Check out the Christmas vacation that my sister, brother and sister-in-law were privileged to experience over these past holidays
“Wait, hold on. You’re telling me that its the year 2013, and as we stand here under typical Irish weather, drenched from head to toe just trying to stay warm, that I am staring at a 25 foot peace wall that still, to this day, separates protestants and catholics here in Belfast?”
The ol’ ball and chain himself; or is it supposed to be the other way around?
Regardless, here’s my brothers first of many posts over the next few weeks of our Ireland adventure. BAM
Of all the peninsulas I’ve ever been too Dingle was the nicest. And when I say all, I mean the only one. (Still first on the list, technically)
If you really wanted to you could probably take 2 or 3 days to drive the whole thing, there is literally a different unbelievable view every minute. We made a day trip out of it, stopping at a few different places along the way.
We took a quick pitter in the little town of Dingle for lunch. I was in Ireland for 2 weeks, and in all honestly I probably ate fish and chips 10 different times.
Fuck was it ever good. Mushy peas, ah.
This is where the day trip gets all sorts of wicked. A few of us got it in our minds early in the trip that we wanted to go horseback riding on the Dingle peninsula. So, that we did.
That’s Tayto, the stallion of a steed that I got to bond with for an hour. That guy was more interested in eating the bushes on the way to the beach than staying in a straight line. Great gallop on him though.
Definitely a very cool experience that’s for sure.
It’s tough to put the whole peninsula into words. I feel that pictures tell the story a little better. Well, maybe a lot better. So here’s a few.
Ill put it this way: if you’re making a trip to Ireland, the Dingle Peninsula has got to be on the list of places to go. Definitely worth it. The views are some of the of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. There are countless spots along the route were you could spend hours at.
It’s a little bit of a dodgy drive too. The roads are real narrow, and, well, directly along the edge of the cliffs and mountain sides. To add on top of that, you’ve got the tour buses. Imagine those lunatics. You can’t be driving a bus in a place like that. Jeepers.
Greg Asselin’s photostream on Flickr.
I hope everyone thinks of Forgetting Sarah Marshall when reading that title.
And now that you’ve made the connection, you just tried to say it in a British accent, didnt you? It was my go-to line this first week in London. What a city it is.
Where do I even start.
Well, it started off quite overwhelmingly. After beating the foreign lady’s head next to me from continuously nodding off on my shoulder on the plane, I landed, grabbed my bags, went through security, and stood outside thinking, “now where in the world do I go from here.” Understandably I wandered around and walked about 20 blocks in the wrong direction, but eventually made my way to the hostel in the Notting Hill area. (I cannot grasp the idea of driving in London, almost crashed multiple times in the cab on the way. Guess they don’t take defensive drivers ed)
I put a couple miles on the old shoes the first day here. But after the first night I somewhat figured out how to use the tube to headed out to meet my Peterborough connection. (My real good friend Macs sister, Gen, who is studying law at the City University London. Also my third sister.) After meeting up with her and catching up I headed out for a day of sight-seeing, until going to meet Mac at the train station. He flew in after spending a week in Barcelona. I know what you’re thinking. These two idiots are in over their heads. Well, we weren’t. We became phenomenal tube users within the first day, and we rented bikes a few times. What a god damn game changer the tube is. It is such an intricate an unbelievable system. I suppose it really has to be though, funnelling some thousands and thousands of people throughout the city day in and day out.
Apart from the tube, there are multiple Barclays bike stands throughout the city. You essentially put in your credit card and rent a bike. You can go as far as you’d like for free if you dock it at another, or the same, station within a half hour. Or you can rent one for the day. A really cool idea.
However (quick story), one night Mac and I decided to take full advantage of 2-for-1 happy hour at a bar called The Roadhouse in Covent Garden. Like the smart men we are we decided to do our part and rent bikes to get home. (We’re not just a couple hat racks). Consequently, one thing lead to another and I took a big tumble, cut my whole knee open and scraped the arm. It’s been quite the challenge walking the last couple of days. The moral of the story is that I definitely made a few of the local residents dinner conversations. “You should have seen this good looking Canadian guy fall off his bike today.”
Mastering the tube and using the bikes meant that the whole city and everything there is to see is somewhat attainable in a few days. We spent Wednesday thru Saturday walking, biking, and riding the tube everywhere in the city. We saw all the typical touristy spots and areas, from the Tower Bridge, Parliament Buildings, Westminster Crabby (standard Friends reference) to Shakespeare’s globe, different museums, and cool little areas like Covent Garden and the Borough Market. I will touch on all those places and a number of other things in another post. However, there is one main place that I cannot find enough words to explain. St. Paul’s Cathedral. Holy. Shit. Pardon my British. It is hands-down the most magnificent, overwhelming and beautiful place I have ever seen. Standing outside looking at it is phenomenal in itself, from how monstrous it is.
However, the inside is something that literally cannot be described to its fullest extent. It is definitely something that pictures just cannot do justice to, you have to see it all with your own eyes to truly understand.
Now, I snapped about 40 pictures inside, which is strictly prohibited. I got in trouble a good bakers dozen times. But hey, there was no way I wasn’t going to.
Three of the more significant things that stood out to me that I’d like to explain. (There are just too many to talk about them all. You’d be reading this for the next three weeks. I’m sure you have other things to do. Except for you Patty.)
The first is the Nave.
This was really cool. Each one of the mosaics on the ceiling were put together by hand using over 6 million tiny pieces. Talk about time consuming. All of the craftsmanship and architecture is truly amazing. The fact that it was all done by hand hundreds of years ago is mind boggling.
The inside of the dome.
This was incredible. I was overcome with such an overwhelming feeling the first few seconds of looking up at them. I could have easily spent the entire day just looking up and staring at these paintings. There were 8 in total, each depicting a different portrait of Christ.
If those don’t already have you mesmerized, think about the idea that they are no less than 200 feet up from the ground, and the diameter of the dome alone is 100 feet across. Go ahead, take a few moments to soak that in. Truly the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
The third thing is the view from the very top. Sir Christopher Wren was the architect behind the Cathedral. He designed it to be 365 feet from bottom to top to signify the 365 days of the year. So after climbing a total of 530 steps to the top viewing area, I got a 360 degree view of the entire London skyline.
I actually ended up doing the winding and tight climb to the top twice. Mac and I just kind of went our own ways when we got inside, so I had already been to the top and back down, but he hadn’t. So hells yeah I made the climb back up. Completely worth it. I ended up climbing over a thousand steps, my calfs are going to be phenomenal.
So far London has been absolutely amazing. I’m currently sitting on the East Coast train heading from Edinburgh, Scotland back to London. So I figured I would take advantage of these 4 and a half hours and see if I couldn’t make you all a tad jelly.
But in all honesty, I think, and I want, everyone to be able to experience this all in any way they can. My photo library has grown by over 400 already.
After a few months of finagling, saving, researching and planning, it’s time to go. LONDON BABY.
A few months ago after getting back from a 10 day golf trip with my dad in Myrtle Beach (ask him who the overall winner was), I got down and dirty into the researching of applying for what they call a Youth Mobility Scheme (or a Working Holiday Visa) for the United Kingdom. My brother Patty put me onto the idea of the working visa and I just went from there. A month or so of researching and trying to get all the things I needed in order, the application was done. A trip to Toronto to get fingerprints and a picture taken, and boom, 2 weeks later my passport, with my visa stamped inside, was back, and I had been officially approved. FUCK. YA. I mean, excellent. Ya, I was real excited. However the reality of it all really did not sink in until this past weekend.
Yes, me; moving? I did try it once before. I took off to Halifax a few years ago to take my shot at academics (ha, academics, the majority of my time consisted of being lazy and playing video games with friends back home, sorry mother and father), but hey, it was all a learning experience to prepare myself for whats next, right?
While living on my own at one end of the country for 8 months gave me valuable insight into the importance of saving and balancing money, cooking my own meals every day and night (ya I can cook, KD was my go-to) and just the overall independence of living on your own – moving to a different continent that has a different currency, a high-priced economy and a different way of living (like driving on the left side of the road. Why?) will leave me with a multitude of things that I will have to learn and get used to. I’ve never even ridden a subway, or the tube as they call it in London. Well cripes, good thing that for the next two years the ONLY two things I have to worry about (well, its all I want to worry about) are a) where I’m going to work, and b) where I’m going to travel.
I have never really traveled before. A trip to Florida when I was younger, and many, many, many trips to the states for various reasons. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to travel. I want to see places like the Colliseum, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Vatican City, I want to go on an African Safari, I want to go to Tomorrowland, I’d even contemplate running with the bulls in Spain (I think only 12 people have died in its history. Excellent odds if you ask me), along with countless other countries and countless other landmarks. If I don’t go and do it now, I may never get the chance to.
I tried university in Halifax and college in Peterborough, and didn’t succeed at either. Not because I couldn’t, but because I didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I was never really fully indulged in the whole school thing. Reading books that I wasnt interested in, studying for tests I had no interest in taking, and going to classes I had absolutely no fondness for. Part of it could have been that I didnt really know how to engage myself in these things. To me it was as simple as I didnt like to do it, so why would I. To this very second, I still have no significant thoughts in my head on what it is that I truly want to do with my life. I continuously see quotes kickin’ around that say things like “If you love what you do you wont work a day in your life” or “follow your passion, and success will follow you.” Yet I feel like I’m not alone in saying what the hell is my passion. The last few years have been very spotty in terms of me accomplishing things. Doing the odd school thing here and there and working different jobs. It slowly ate away at me, finding over the last year I have just been itching to do any kind of exciting things. I have started to undeniably hate boredom. I have wanted to travel more and more. Which subsequently lead to me applying for a job in Whistler in the fall, and ultimately leading to me moving to the UK. I believe that the life experience and maturity that I will learn during 2 years abroad could never be taught, understood or explained to me in a classroom. What better way to grow as a person and find who you are and what you want to do than experiencing what the world has to offer.
This has become one of my all-time favorite quotes. It’s from the movie Into the Wild (good flick). I can confidently say that a majority of my reasoning behind applying for my visa was kick started after the first time I read this:
“…so many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day, to have a new and different sun.”
PS – If you get a call from a Canadian Embassy, don’t hang up. It could be me.