The blog is BACK!

Apologies for the hiatus. Sometimes life gets so busy you unconsciously set your creativity aside. It’s not like I haven’t been anywhere since I’ve last written. It’s been a great couple of years! I’ve travelled all across Spain, exploring the difference in culture across Madrid, Bilbao, Santander, Seville, Huelva, Cordoba, Granada, Tarifa, Jerez, Cadiz, Malaga, and Barcelona. After all that I had to take a siesta or two along the way.

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Seville Cathedral, August 2015

I’ve been to Portugal on four different occasions, visiting Porto, Lisbon, and different parts of the Algarve.

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Tariva, Portugal, July 2016

I’ve indulged in the best pizza and pasta in Italy, exploring Rome, Trieste, Fruili, and Venice.

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Venice, Italy, September 2017

I ran through the hills in Austria and belted out tunes from the Sound of Music (Number 21 on my Before 30 list) with my pals from The Western Gazette.

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Salzburg, Austria, July 2016

Afterwards we went on to explore Salzburg, Vienna, and Prague.

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Vienna, Austria, July 2016

I finally visited Plitvice National Park in Croatia, a scenic waterfall haven that had graced my screen saver since I was 16. We also toured around Pula, Zagreb, and Rijeka.

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Plitvice National Park, Croatia, September 2017. Bucket list location.

I’ve enjoyed the liberal, forward thinking Netherlands, including Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and Delft.

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Rotterdam, Netherlands, January 2017

That’s just a taste of the what I’ve been up to, so needless to say I’ve been busy! The greatest joy of living in Europe is that it is so easy to take off for a night or two and visit a whole new country. Flights are so affordable (thank you RyanAir) and with accommodation sites like Booking.com it’s easier than ever to book a cheeky night away. I still live in Dublin and it is the perfect location to dart to and fro around Europe.

This year I’m prioritising creativity. It’s time to get back to writing and design. Time to excercise the mind. I’m planning to travel a lot in 2018, and I’ll fill you in on all the shenanigans and also give you my top travel tips and recommendations. Here you’ll find the tales of my European Odyssey. Stay tuned.

 

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Pulling heartstrings in Paris

This is the story of a love affair. The kind of love that makes you wake up with a silly smile stuck on your face and uses your heartstrings to create a beautiful melody. The kind of love that makes you feel warm inside even in a cold breeze. The kind of love that makes you feel at home. This is the story of how I fell love with Paris.

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Maddie and I are the last get off of the train. After the scene we caused while trying to put our suitcases on the top luggage rack, we were in no rush to elbow our way through the crowds and possibly cause injury.

Even though it was 9pm, it was still bright outside when we arrived at Paris du Nord. Maddie, one of my best friends from university in Canada, led the way. With her iPhone out and head on the “tourist swivel,” we stuck out. After walking the wrong way for about five minutes, Maddie showed me the screenshot of the map and directions she saved when we had internet. Once I translated the French (not), I realized the directions we were following were from the hotel to the station, rather than the station to the hotel. So, after pulling our suitcases back past the same groups of people, we stood at an intersection for another five minutes trying to decide which of the six streets to walk down.

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Don’t worry, we managed to keep the awkward ball rolling once we found the hotel 15 minutes later. After a highly confusing check in where the total ended up being a substantially larger number than we expected, the man at reception told us our room number and pointed out the lift. After pressing a couple of buttons, pushing on the doors, and mumbling a profanity or two, we decided to casually walk by reception and lug our suitcases up a couple of flights of stairs. Once we got to our floor and walked down the hallway, we realized that neither of us remembered the room number. “306, was it?” “No, I thought it was 308…” I tried using the key on a couple of doors, but once I heard someone approaching the door from the other side I quickly aborted the mission and took off around the corner. Maddie was forced to go back down to reception and play it cool while asking your man what room we were in. Great start.

Finally we left for dinner. Strolling down the streets of Paris made me forget about every mishap we’d had. All of my senses were engaged — the smell of fresh bread, the sight of beautiful stone

Parisian buildings, the sounds from the locals wining and dining with trails of cigarette smoke wafting behind them. I felt as if I had walked into a painting, and I belonged there.

We found a cute restaurant with a terrace that was packed with locals. Maddie ordered for us in French from our server, a pretty girl with delicate features, sporting a massive bandage across her nose… (Nose job?) Our meals ended up being completely different from what we expected, but we enjoyed every bit of food. We sipped on French chardonnay and devoured a salad that was topped with multiple cheeses, as well as a crusty baguette, and a croque monsieur.

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The locals surrounding us oozed class. The women all sported longer bobs, natural makeup, and chic style consisting of black rimmed glasses, black jeans and a smart jacket. As for the men — tall, dark and handsome. The cliche must have originated in Paris.

This city inspires people. Although it never worked out for us to visit any of the art museums, we were constantly surrounded by art. Besides the physical paintings and photos that were sold on the streets, there were the sculptures outside of the Louvre, the stunning bridges over the Seine river, and the mesmerizing Gothic churches. The architecture is a delicious feast for your eyes — buildings are perfectly symmetrical, clean, and utterly European.

Picnicking under the Eiffel Tower (#61 on my Before 30) has earned the title as one of the best nights I’ve had since I’ve moved to Europe. We spent the afternoon wandering around markets, bakeries, and shops till we got the perfect picnic dinner. Once we got off of the train, we walked underneath the Eiffel Tower, our feet pounding on the pavement where hundreds, thousands, millions have walked before. One look up and my heart skipped a beat. This is Paris.

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#61 – Drink wine under the Eiffel Tower

Up ahead there was a stretch of green grass with people scattered across the lawn. We spread out our towels, set up our smorgasbord, and decided to bust out the wine.

I was a little nervous about using the corkscrew we bought at the corner store. It looked simple enough — s metal screw about four inches long with a perpendicular wooden handle at the top. I’ve used enough wine openers to know that the ones with more gadgets (the bigger, more intimidating looking openers) tend to be the easiest ones to us.

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Our picnic

“Okay, pass me the Sancerre!” I said with an air of confidence. I’ve been a server for six years and drink a good bit of wine in my spare time, I’m practically a pro wine opener. I peel off the foil cover and discover a synthetic cork. Grand. No worry of it breaking to bits. I tilt the tip of the screw and turn the handle until a  little bit shows, and pull. Nothing. I put a little more muscle into it. Still nothing. I give it everything I got! Not even a budge. Maddie and I proceeded to pass the bottle back and forth for a good 10 minutes before we decided to try the other bottle. We heaved and pulled and eventually freed the wooden cork from the Chablis. Little bits of cork never tasted so good as the first glass of wine.

We spent the evening under the Tower lights drinking wine, debating philosophy in the homeland of many greats such as Foucault, and eating an obscene amount of French cheese – Camembert on baguette, wrapped in prosciutto, on top of a cherry tomato, and straight up. All of the cheese.  I didn’t want to even look at cheese again after that night.

Parisian culture is relaxing, indulgent, and beautiful. I think it’s fair to say that Paris captured my heart, and I don’t plan on asking for it back for awhile.

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Outside of the Louvre

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City landscapes
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The moment after I just finished saying I wished we had heard more French music, like the accordion.

 

Falling in love with Paris

This is the story of a love affair. The kind of love that makes you wake up with a silly smile stuck on your face and uses your heartstrings to create a beautiful melody. The kind of love that makes you feel warm inside even in a cold breeze. The kind of love that makes you feel at home. This is the story of how I fell in love with Paris.

IMG_2534

Maddie and I are the last get off of the train. After the scene we caused while trying to put our suitcases on the top luggage rack, we were in no rush to elbow our way through the crowds and possibly cause injury.

Even though it was 9pm, it was still bright outside when we arrived at Paris du Nord. Maddie, one of my best friends from university in Canada, led the way. With her iPhone out and head on the “tourist swivel,” we stuck out. After walking the wrong way for about five minutes, Maddie showed me the screenshot of the map and directions she saved when we had internet. Once I translated the French (not), I realized the directions we were following were from the hotel to the station, rather than the station to the hotel. So, after pulling our suitcases back past the same groups of people, we stood at an intersection for another five minutes trying to decide which of the six streets to walk down.

nil-castellvi-263968-unsplash

Don’t worry, we managed to keep the awkward ball rolling once we found the hotel 15 minutes later. After a highly confusing check in where the total ended up being a substantially larger number than we expected, the man at reception told us our room number and pointed out the lift. After pressing a couple of buttons, pushing on the doors, and mumbling a profanity or two, we decided to casually walk by reception and lug our suitcases up a couple of flights of stairs. Once we got to our floor and walked down the hallway, we realized that neither of us remembered the room number. “306, was it?” “No, I thought it was 308…” I tried using the key on a couple of doors, but once I heard someone approaching the door from the other side I quickly aborted the mission and took off around the corner. Maddie was forced to go back down to reception and play it cool while asking your man what room we were in. Great start.

Falling in love with Paris

Finally we left for dinner. Strolling down the streets of Paris made me forget about every mishap we’d had. All of my senses were engaged — the smell of fresh bread, the sight of beautiful stone Parisian buildings, the sounds from the locals wining and dining with trails of cigarette smoke wafting behind them. I was in love with Paris already. I felt as if I had walked into a painting, and I belonged there.

We found a cute restaurant with a terrace that was packed with locals. Maddie ordered for us in French from our server, a pretty girl with delicate features, sporting a massive bandage across her nose. Our meals ended up being completely different from what we expected, but we enjoyed every bit of food. We sipped on French chardonnay and devoured a salad that was topped with multiple cheeses, as well as a crusty baguette, and a croque monsieur.

yannis-papanastasopoulos-359327-unsplash.jpg

The locals surrounding us oozed class. The women all sported longer bobs, natural makeup, and chic style consisting of black rimmed glasses, black jeans and a smart jacket. As for the men — tall, dark and handsome. The cliche must have originated in Paris.

This city inspires people. Although it never worked out for us to visit any of the art museums, we were constantly surrounded by art. Besides the physical paintings and photos that were sold on the streets, there were the sculptures outside of the Louvre, the stunning bridges over the Seine river, and the mesmerizing Gothic churches. The architecture is a delicious feast for your eyes — buildings are perfectly symmetrical, clean, and utterly European. It was a little too easy to fall in love with Paris.

Picnicking under the Eiffel Tower (#61 on my Before 30) has earned the title as one of the best nights I’ve had since I’ve moved to Europe. We spent the afternoon wandering around markets, bakeries, and shops till we got the perfect picnic dinner. Once we got off of the train, we walked underneath the Eiffel Tower, our feet pounding on the pavement where hundreds, thousands, millions have walked before. One look up and my heart skipped a beat. This is Paris.

IMG_2574
#61 – Drink wine under the Eiffel Tower

Up ahead there was a stretch of green grass with people scattered across the lawn. We spread out our towels, set up our smorgasbord, and decided to bust out the wine.

I was a little nervous about using the corkscrew we bought at the corner store. It looked simple enough — a metal screw about four inches long with a perpendicular wooden handle at the top. I’ve used enough wine openers to know that the ones with more gadgets (the bigger, more intimidating looking openers) tend to be the easiest ones to us.

IMG_2550
Our picnic

“Okay, pass me the Sancerre!” I said with an air of confidence. I’ve been a server for six years and drink a good bit of wine in my spare time, I’m practically a pro wine opener. I peel off the foil cover and discover a synthetic cork. Grand. No worry of it breaking to bits. I tilt the tip of the screw and turn the handle until a little bit shows, and pull. Nothing. I put a little more muscle into it. Still nothing. I give it everything I got! Not even a budge. Maddie and I proceeded to pass the bottle back and forth for a good 10 minutes before we decided to try the other bottle. We heaved and pulled and eventually freed the wooden cork from the Chablis. Little bits of cork never tasted so good as it did in that first glass of wine. I may have already fallen in love with Paris, and after the rigamarole I was in love with that wine.

We spent the evening under the Tower lights drinking wine, debating philosophy in the homeland of many greats such as Foucault, and eating an obscene amount of French cheese – Camembert on baguette, wrapped in prosciutto, on top of a cherry tomato, and straight up. All of the cheese.  I didn’t want to even look at cheese again after that night.

Parisian culture is relaxing, indulgent, and beautiful. I think it’s fair to say that Paris captured my heart, and I don’t plan on asking for it back for awhile.

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Outside of the Louvre

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City landscapes
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The moment after I just finished saying I wished we had heard more French music, like the accordion. This is the face of a girl in love with Paris!

Belgian bliss

I got the waffle from a waffle truck. The breeze carried the sweet smell of the dough, enticing me to find the truck and take a break from getting lost in Brussels. We ordered two waffles, each with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Belgian chocolate. We sat at the top of a set of stairs overlooking a park nestled in front of city landscapes. With the sun on my face and the soft sound of French style accordion music from a busker, I had the perfect setting for indulging in my first Belgian waffle. One bite of the dense, sugary waffle and I was ruined for any future non-Belgian waffle.  It was the best pastry I’ve ever had, and the ice cream and chocolate made the treat all the more delectable. There’s a reason why Belgian waffles are famous.

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Bliss

I booked a trip to Brussels on a whim. There was a Ryanair sale so one day my friend and I sat down and booked three random trips. #44 on my Before 30 list (eat chocolate in Belgium) was reason enough to buy a 40 euro flight.

When we told people we were going to Brussels, a lot of our friends told us negative stories about their experiences in Belgium. I had a gut feeling I would still IMG_6922like Brussels, and I was right. Brussels is beautiful in so many ways – beautiful architecture, beautiful food, BEAUTIFUL men. I love Brussels.

Our flight was early Monday morning, which proved to be problematic because we had a friends farewell party Sunday night. Service industry staff tend to stay out late, so I opted for a no sleep option. After we hit up a couple of bars and had a little after party with some peanut butter toast, I went home, packed, showered, and grabbed a taxi to the airport as the sun rose.

What seemed like a good idea at the time quickly became slightly miserable. After catching a bus to a massive train station we had to find a tram to take us to the hostel. Combine extreme exhaustion, a pending hangover, and a complicated foreign language station and you can imagine how difficult it was for us to find our tram. We spent a lot of time looking pathetic which gave the Belgian people a chance to show us how nice they are. Multiple people asked us if we needed help and one person even walked us to the area we needed. The transit system in Brussels is very good once you figure out how it works, and even though all of the signs weren’t in English, we found it easy to find people that speak English.

After a much needed two hour snooze, we wandered around the city. We took the tram to Louise Station, an upscale area with storefronts sporting labels such as Versace and Vera Wang. As we waited for my friend Julie (who I lived with in Gold Coast and now lives in Brussels,) we had a chance to people watch. Brussels is very, very different from Dublin. From the areas we explored in the city centre, we found it to be a more peaceful city than Dublin. People speak more softly, everyone seems relaxed, and people have great style. Even our taxi driver looked like he could have been in a stylish magazine for  casual day wear.

Health and fitness seemed to be a cultural value. We noticed a lot of people jogging all over the city and restaurants advertised organic food. For a country that’s

All of the food!
All of the food!

known for its chocolate, beer, waffles and frites you’d expect to find an overweight population. We found the opposite to be true — on average people were healthy looking. Oh, and did I mention attractive? From my perspective, this city is doing its part with maintaining the tall, dark and handsome stereotype.

Brussels is small enough that we were able to see most of the city centre landmarks on foot. We spent the day getting lost and stumbling upon gorgeous buildings and sculptures. We ate beautiful French food and visited multiple chocolate shops, and let’s just say I crossed #44 off my list several times that day.

We also visited Delirium Cafe and tasted a few delicious fruit beers. Kriek is a cherry beer, and it is unbelievably delicious. My friend Iza hates beer, so much so that she had never even had a full beer and she’s in her 20s. She had two glasses of Kriek! Delirium had many beers to choose from, but you either had to choose from the menu or ask the bartender for a recommendation because the taps were blank. Normally beer is advertised on bar taps, and brands want the best display possible (for example, it’s best to be on the end of bar rather than nestled into the middle). The way Delirium is set up is a better experience for the consumer because if you’re chatting with the bartender or looking through the menu you’re more likely to pick a product that suits you rather than just choosing a pint of Heineken because it’s the first thing you see. In Belgium there is also a wide range of glass wear to pair with each beer and they pull pints differently. If you like beer, you’d be in heaven, and even if you don’t like beer I think there was something for everyone.

I loved Brussels, not because it’s a flashy, but because it’s quality. It’s been added to my list of dream cities to live in, and even inspired me to add something new to my Before 30 list — #97. Learn French.

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Spot the waffle truck!
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Best. Waffle. Ever.
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Brussels is the capital of the European Union.
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Iza with her cherry beer!
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Beautiful monument.
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Yes please.
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“Welcome to my home!”

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coconut beer
Coconut beer served in a wooden bowl! Delicious.
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#44: Eat chocolate in Belgium.

Belgian Bliss – A Brussels City Break

I got the waffle from a waffle truck.

The breeze carried the sweet smell of the dough, enticing me to find the truck and take a break from getting lost in Brussels. We ordered two waffles, each with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of Belgian chocolate. We sat at the top of a set of stairs overlooking a park nestled in front of city landscapes. With the sun on my face and the soft sound of French style accordion music from a busker, I had the perfect setting for indulging in my first Belgian waffle. One bite of the dense, sugary waffle and I was ruined for any future non-Belgian waffle.  It was the best pastry I’ve ever had, and the ice cream and chocolate made the treat all the more delectable. There’s a reason why Belgian waffles are famous.

IMG_6924
Best. Waffle. Ever.

I booked a trip to Brussels on a whim. There was a Ryanair sale so one day my friend and I sat down and booked three random trips. #44 on my Before 30 list (eat chocolate in Belgium) was reason enough to buy a 40 euro flight.

When we told people we were going to Brussels, a lot of our friends told us negative stories about their experiences in Belgium. I had a gut feeling I would still IMG_6922like Brussels, and I was right. Brussels is beautiful in so many ways – beautiful architecture, beautiful food, BEAUTIFUL men. I love Brussels.

Our flight was early Monday morning, which proved to be problematic because we had a friends farewell party Sunday night. Service industry staff tend to stay out late, so I opted for a no sleep option. After we hit up a couple of bars and had a little after party with some peanut butter toast, I went home, packed, showered, and grabbed a taxi to the airport as the sun rose.

What seemed like a good idea at the time quickly became slightly miserable. After catching a bus to a massive train station we had to find a tram to take us to the hostel. Combine extreme exhaustion, a pending hangover, and a complicated foreign language station and you can imagine how difficult it was for us to find our tram. We spent a lot of time looking pathetic which gave the Belgian people a chance to show us how nice they are. Multiple people asked us if we needed help and one person even walked us to the area we needed. The transit system in Brussels is very good once you figure out how it works, and even though all of the signs weren’t in English, we found it easy to find people that speak English.

After a much needed two hour snooze, we wandered around the city. We took the tram to Louise Station, an upscale area with storefronts sporting labels such as Versace and Vera Wang. As we waited for my friend Julie (who I lived with in Gold Coast and now lives in Brussels,) we had a chance to people watch. Brussels is very, very different from Dublin. From the areas we explored in the city centre, we found it to be a more peaceful city than Dublin. People speak more softly, everyone seems relaxed, and people have great style. Even our taxi driver looked like he could have been in a stylish magazine for  casual day wear.

brussels-262972_1920

Health and fitness seemed to be a cultural value. We noticed a lot of people jogging all over the city and restaurants advertised organic food. For a country that’s

All of the food!
All of the food!

known for its chocolate, beer, waffles and frites you’d expect to find an overweight population. We found the opposite to be true — on average people were healthy looking. Oh, and did I mention attractive? From my perspective, this city is doing its part with maintaining the tall, dark and handsome stereotype.

Brussels is small enough that we were able to see most of the city centre landmarks on foot. We spent the day getting lost and stumbling upon gorgeous buildings and sculptures. We ate beautiful French food and visited multiple chocolate shops, and let’s just say I crossed #44 off my list several times that day.

#44 Eat chocolate in Belgium.

We also visited Delirium Cafe and tasted a few delicious fruit beers. Kriek is a cherry beer, and it is unbelievably delicious. My friend Iza hates beer, so much so that she had never even had a full beer and she’s in her 20s. She had two glasses of Kriek! Delirium had many beers to choose from, but you either had to choose from the menu or ask the bartender for a recommendation because the taps were blank. Normally beer is advertised on bar taps, and brands want the best display possible (for example, it’s best to be on the end of bar rather than nestled into the middle). The way Delirium is set up is a better experience for the consumer because if you’re chatting with the bartender or looking through the menu you’re more likely to pick a product that suits you rather than just choosing a pint of Heineken because it’s the first thing you see. In Belgium there is also a wide range of glass wear to pair with each beer and they pull pints differently. If you like beer, you’d be in heaven, and even if you don’t like beer I think there was something for everyone.

I loved Brussels, not because it’s a flashy, but because it’s quality. It’s been added to my list of dream cities to live in, and even inspired me to add something new to my Before 30 list — #97. Learn French.

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Spot the waffle truck!
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View from the waffle truck
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Brussels is the capital of the European Union.
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Yes please.
IMG_6896
“Welcome to my home!”

IMG_6857

coconut beer
Coconut beer served in a wooden bowl! Delicious.

belgian bliss

You never know when a stranger will change your life

wait·ing/ˈwātiNG/

Noun:
  1. The action of staying where one is or delaying action until a particular time or until something else happens.

“Waiting” is a word that I have become very familiar with this year. I returned to Canada in February with the intention of “waiting” for three months for my new visa to be approved for Australia. Three months passed and slowly turned into four, five, and six months, until suddenly it was September and I had been home for eight months.

Good things are worth waiting for, and trust me, my life in Australia was one of those things. It was so good that I cannot even begin to describe the beautiful times and amazing relationships I experienced. Eventually though I started to feel the constraints of waiting, and although I never let go of my desire to move back to Brisbane, I began to dream new dreams.

One day I sent an email to the Australian immigration office inquiring about the status of our application, and received an automated email that implied our application was considered invalid. It was unexpected, freak circumstances, but our application was thrown in the trash without them directly notifying us.

I had been waiting for so long, refraining from making any future plans. And then, once I received that email, I was released from the waiting game. It became possible to take action.

That night I served a lovely couple from Dublin, Ireland. It was a slow night at work so I had the opportunity to really chat with them. As it turns out they own restaurants in the Dublin, and after I shared a bit of my travel tales with them they told me that if I were to move to Dublin tomorrow they’d give me a job. The very idea gave me butterflies and I thought “well, why not?”

Two completely random people planted a seed in my mind and got me thinking about Ireland non-stop. I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go to Ireland and even looked into schools there at one point, but I had been so distracted with Australia that I didn’t even consider getting a working holiday visa somewhere else. I desperately want to travel Europe, and working overseas will give me a really affordable option to experience Europe.

After that day things quickly fell into place. I got into research mode and discovered how simple it would be for me to move to Dublin. There are plenty of serving jobs, housing, and cheap flights to choose from. Applying for a visa is straightforward and I met all of the qualifications. It was meant to be!

Ireland feels right and makes me excited in the pit of my stomach. It seems crazy that I was waiting for eight months for my Australian visa to work out, and then the possibility of Ireland unfolded so easily in a couple of days. Now I am about to begin a brand new journey, filled with new cultures, people, music, food, and land to explore. My future holds the promise of adventure.

I met that couple from Dublin on September 8, 2012, and my flight to Ireland is booked for October 26, 2012. You never know when, and how quickly, a stranger will change your life.

Thinking of moving to Ireland? Here’s what I did:

Visa application: SWAP working holidays (www.swap.ca). You have to apply at least four weeks before your departure date.

Flight: CanadianAffair.ca (found a flight for $303 taxes in from Toronto)

Health insurance: applied through SWAP for RBC’s Bon Voyage travel insurance. I got 12 months of coverage for $432, which is half of what I paid for my insurance when I went to Australia.

Accommodation upon arrival: Hostel World

Housing research: daft.ie

Job research: http://www.jobs.ie/

 

There’s someone for everyone

I’ve been experiencing some strange encounters lately. I don’t like to say that people are “strange”, but it is the best word to describe the humans I’ve been coming in contact with.

Strange |strānj|
adjective
1 unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand : children have some strange ideas | he’s a very strange man | [with clause ] it is strange how things change.

My Saturday started off abnormally. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm was set to go off, dreaming of Christmas music. As I stirred from my slumber I realized I wasn’t dreaming of Michael Buble crooning “I’ll be home for Christmas” – the music was drifting up the stairs. I got of bed (slowly, there was no hopping), opened the blinds, and was greeted by whiteness. Snow must’ve been falling all night because everything was covered, and it was still snowing. Yes I am I in Canada, and snow is normal here, so perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised. It was beautiful, but it was MARCH 17 – St. Patrick’s Day. The weather had been getting nicer and it’s already in the 20s in Ontario, so I don’t think I was wrong in feeling like Mother Nature was being a tease. I am absolutely ready for spring weather and was a little annoyed at this minor setback. As I was getting ready for work N’Sync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” started playing, and let’s just say some shimmying and off-key belting occurred – hey, I don’t think it’s humanly possible to not feel alive when that song is playing, no matter what time of year. You might think this behaviour is “strange,” but trust me – if you know me well you’ll know that this is not unusual. So, I decided to embrace the festive spirit and continued listening to Christmas music on my drive to work.

My first table must’ve been an omen for the day. Three people decked out in denim on denim, heavy duty boots, and the two women with long straggly hair lumber in and the man calls out – “you serving yet?”

I greet their table with menus in hand, and right away they start shouting out their coffee orders, change their minds, then go back to what they originally asked. There was lots of awkward moments in which they avoided eye contact, spoke in a hurry, and they always seemed startled if I asked them how everything was going. An overall slightly awkward experience, but they were friendly and I was happy to serve them.

I had about an hour and a half between my shifts so I decided to grab a drink at Starbucks and curl up with a book. When you approach the counter there’s a separator between the cash register and the line up, with a sign clearly stating to line up on the right side of the separator. I jump in line behind a lady with the Cadillac of all strollers, and I find myself wondering how she’s possibly going to make the tight corner to pick up her drink after she’s placed her order. As I’m standing in line all of the sudden there’s a couple beside me, on the other side of the separator, debating about what to order. The woman, flailing her arms and pointing at the menu, is shouting, “oh there it is! They have it! Caramel macchiato. That’s what we had, right? No! No, mocha latte. It was a mocha latte!!” “Alright dear,” her husband replies, “that must be it. Let’s get in line.” “Oh! Yes, mocha latte. Or was it the cappuccino?” “I’m not sure but we can decide in line.” “Oh, I guess we should just get in line. Yes, yes, it was the mocha. Aren’t you so happy they have it here, Ralph?” “Yes, dear.” “I’m just so happy they have it. I really like…” Meanwhile, I’m wondering if one of them is slightly deaf. It would explain her speaking so loudly that everyone in the Starbucks, and probably those walking by outside, now knows that she loves mochas. The gentleman hobbled over to grab a seat, and of course he sits on a bench right beside the table I claimed with my bag. Why not? She continued to chatter on and on, saying things as he wasn’t listening, but I was called to the front to place my drink order.

After a kerfuffle which was me helping the woman in front of me navigate her mammoth stroller, the friendly Starbucks staff asks what I assumed was “A name for the order?” I couldn’t make out what he was saying because the woman behind me was still verbally processing the entire menu, but I was expecting him to ask me that so I responded with “Grace”. This news delighted the woman who was in front of me because her baby in the stroller is named Grace.

Eventually I sit down right beside Ralph, who has been wearing a Bluetooth the whole time. He turns to me, bares a slightly toothless grin, and says, “It’s so nice to sit down.” I smile and agree that it is, then open up my book. A few minutes later I know that the woman has her drinks before she’s anywhere near me because she starts shouting to her husband that she has them. She comes over and asks her husband if they’re going, to which he replies he’d like to sit a while. “Oh good, good, that sounds like a good plan. I just love whipped cream, don’t you? Can you believe they have the drinks we like? I just can’t believe it!” she says, clearly pleased with her purchases. I smile to myself because I understand how a good hot beverage can make your day. “I’m so excited about this game,” she says as she opens up a plastic bag and takes out a wrapped video game. “Oh! Yes, see here, it says it has levels so I already know I’m going to like it. I guess I should’ve taken it out and looked at this book while I was in the store?” “Yes, that probably would’ve worked,” he agreed. “Oh yes, yes, I can already tell I’m going to like it. So, can we go now dear?” “Not yet, I want to finish my drink.” “Oh, ok. I just know I’m going to like this game.”

Suddenly Ralph puts his hand to his ear and says “hello?” His wife said, “Who is it? Who is it?” “Oh, hi Steve,” Ralph says. “STEVE!” her voices raises an octave, “Tell Steve I say hi!” “Uh huh, uh huh,” “Tell Steve I say hi! Can you believe it? STEVE!” Now I’m curious as to what’s so great about Steve – superhero, model, makes great mochas… “Yep here she is,” Ralph says. “Oh, Steve wants to talk to ME? I’ve never used a Bluetooth before!” I watch in awe as the two of them try to set her up with the Bluetooth as she says multiple times over that she’s never used one before. Once it’s on her ear she yells “Steve! I was just saying I’ve never used a Bluetooth before! Yes. Listen Steve. You’ll never guess where we are! Starbucks!” Ralph try’s to tell his wife that she doesn’t need to yell, but she continues to anyways. Soon after she  starts yelling “Steve! Are you there! Dear, I can’t hear him. I’m left handed. It’s on the wrong ear. I need to switch ears because I’m left handed.” He patiently helps her switch ears, but she continues to struggle and eventually they just use the regular cell phone. I gather from her conversation that they’re going to meet Steve at his house on Monday at 10am, because they like to “sleep in, anyways.” She hangs up and repeats all of the information. Pauses for a seconds then says “Can we go now dear?” “I want to finish my coffee,” Ralph says for the umpteenth time. “Okay then.” Ralph asks her if there’s a washroom, and she replies that she doesn’t know. Ralph then promptly turns to me and asks if I know whether or not there’s a washroom, to which I reply “yes, there is actually. Right there,” I say with a point to the bathroom that is directly beside where we’re sitting.

He returns and she asks again if they can go. “I just want to talk to you,” she says as she lowers her voice to what is a normal restaurant speaking level. I’m wondering what it is she’s been doing all along then, but he seemed to understand what she meant.

After Ralph and his wife left I couldn’t help but feel fascinated by their relationship. As I stared at the falling snow through the window, all I could think was,

There’s someone for everyone.