After I stayed with my brother in Austin I decided to continue my travels and head to San Diego for a few days for a bit of chill out time on the beach. I decided to book a hostel in Ocean beach , just outside downtown San Diego but right on the beach. I wanted a some days of lying on the beach and relaxing. I stayed in the USA Hostel Ocean Beach which was great, the rooms were nice as were the staff and they did lots of tours and activities that are perfect for solo travellers. I had a little trouble at the beginning of my holiday as Hurricane Harvey decided to arrive and so put a little bit of a dampener on my plans when my first flight was cancelled, luckily I was able to book onto another flight which left on time meaning I was on my way to discover a new part of America.
As I said the hostel provided many activities, some for free and some for very cheap for the guests which was great. The first nice we all went down to the beach for a fire. It was so cool all sitting around the fire pits on the beach just chilling out, meeting new people and eating some smores of course. The night was so clear that you could see so many stars. Also the airport was not too far so you could see the plans all lit up taking off and coming in to land. The next night we went on a walk up to Sunset Cliffs to watch the sunset but the sky had other ideas covering the sunset with a wall of clouds, it was very pretty but not exactly what we were hoping to see. I did head back to the cliffs the next night for sunset which was much clearer and amazing. Possibly one of the things that I will remember the most from my trip is the beach bike ride we did. A group of us of rented bikes from the hostel and head to cycle to Mission beach and Pacific beach. It was so nice cycling along the beach front with the sun beating down, it was like something from a movie. We got ice-cream and then spent time on the beach swimming and playing volleyball. We also saw some dolphins swimming with all the surfers which was amazing.
Whenever I go anywhere I always get excited about the food and San Diego didn’t disappoint. From amazing pulled pork sandwiches , burgers, pizza and pancakes there were so many great places to eat. It was so nice to go out and have a nice meal and just relax. I also spent most of my days just chilling on the beach sunbathing which was great. After spending the summer at summer camp going non stop it was amazing to have absolutely nothing to do. I went to the beach, read my book and went for a hike having all the time in the world which was bliss.
The trip came to an end all too soon and I was back on the plane to head back to Canada to work for September and October. Spending 3 hours in the airport when I arrived was not really what I wanted but other than that it is going great here. I am working at a fall leadership programme at Camp Robin Hood and I am really enjoying my time. For the moment that is all for my travels in San Diego and I’ll let you know about my experience at this camp soon.
So as the school holidays have arrived I have lots of free time on my hands. All of the girls have either gone home or are off travelling , leaving me alone for most of the holidays before I head off to Austria next week. I decided to book a little trip to break the week up and so booked a night away in Avignon. This was the first time that I had actually travelled on my own so I was excited to see how it would go. I got up nice and early on Wednesday morning and headed for the train station to catch my train.It was cheaper to travel in 1st class in the TGV so I thought why not, my first time in 1st class and I have to say it was very nice. Everything was going to plan until some truck decided to get stuck on the bridge meaning we couldn’t pass and so making the train delayed by 20 minutes. Normally I wouldn’t mind this I mean these things happen but when you only have a 15 minute connecting time between your two trains this makes it a little difficult, needless to say I missed the next train. This meant I had to book on to the next one which wasn’t for an hour and a half although the bright-side was that the lady booked me in 1st class again on the TGV which was great. I grabbed a muffin and a drink in Marseille as I waited to continue my journey. Finally 2 trains later and 2 hours later than planned I arrived in Avignon.
Walking into the city walls from the station I got a very good feel about the city. I was a little early for checking into my hotel so I stopped in to a restaurant called Tostwhich I had seen when I looked up places to eat. You can get toasted sandwiches ( you would never have guessed from the name right) and also salads and then they do amazing juices. I had a toasted sandwich with mozzarella , tomato sauce and pesto and then a gorgeous juice. Sitting in the sun having my lunch was a great way to start my trip. Then I headed to my hotel to check in. I was staying in Hotel Central , a 3 star hotel right on the main street. It was lovely as you walk through a little courtyard to get to the hotel and then my room was on the top floor. It was small but perfect and had everything I need for my short trip. I changed and freshened up and then headed out to explore Avignon.
Palais des Papes
Point Saint Bénézet/ Point d’Avignon
I headed to the Palais des Papes, and the Rocher des Doms to explore. The Rocher des Doms is a lovely park which as you walk up gives you a lovely view all over Avignon and also of the Point d’Avignon as well. I then headed into the Palais des Papes which I had to pay for but at €9 it wasn’t too bad and it was impressive walking around all the different rooms and learning why so many popes called Avignon home in the past. After this I headed to explore and wander the streets and I also headed into some museums. Many of the museums were free for the week so I took full advantage and gazed at many pieces of art. After exploring some more I headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit and get freshened up to head out for dinner. I head to Place de l’Horloge as there were a few restaurants and lots of people and being alone I thought it would be nice and have a little atmosphere. Eating alone is a little weird and it takes hardly any time but it was all good, I had pizza (what’s new) and then there was nothing on the dessert menu that caught my eye so I just headed back to the hotel. I saw a bakery open on my way back so stopped in to grab a cake to eat curled up in bed watching television.
When dining alone make sure you look the bomb!! Rocking double denim and in love ❤
Thursday morning I was up early to have breakfast, which was your typical french buffet style with fresh bread , fruit and croissants. After this I checked out and head to explore for a little bit more before I had to head and get my train home. I headed to the Petit Palais museum which again was free for the day which was great. Then I just wandered around the streets stopping into a restaurant called Vivtto which was recommended to me by a friend for a mousse au chocolat and a juice as I wasn’t very hungry. Then it was time to hop on the train back and this time it was direct which was great. When we arrived I had 10 minutes until the next bus which was grand although then someone was parked where the bus comes out and the bus hit them so there was a big hulabaloo and all the information had to be exchanged so we ended up getting off the bus and waiting to get the next one which was in a half an hour. It was a little annoying as all I wanted to do was get home. I eventually got there and spent the evening relaxing.
Thank you Avignon
Although my trip was short and sweet it was lovely. For my first real solo adventure it was perfect and it definitely showed me that travelling alone can be fun and not scary at all. It certainly won’t be the last time I book a solo trip. I also vlogged my trip which you can watch here.
So ever since we have arrived here everyone has been telling us to head to see the Gorges du Verdon. We looked them up and thought yes this would be amazing for a day trip but there was only one problem….we had no way of getting there. There is no train station or a bus to get there so without a car it made it very difficult but we found a way. Two of the girls went with a few of their teachers one weekend for a hike and they confirmed that they truly are amazing which just made us want to go even more… always want what you can’t have:). Well luck was on my side in the shape of Klara’s (the Austrian assistant) mam who was driving to come pick Klara up as her contract was over a month earlier than ours. They had planned to head to the Gorges Du Verdon on the Saturday before leaving and very kindly offered to take me and one of the other assistants along too. What better way to spend our last day together than to go on a little road trip.
We got up bright and early and set of, it would take us about 2 hours or so to get there but that would also involve lots of stopping off for photos. We headed to the boulangerie to stock up on croissants for breakfast and some sandwiches for lunch on the road and then we were good to go. We headed up and up out of the valley where Draguignan is situated and continued to twist and turn which I have to say was not the best for my stomach but the views were amazing so that made up for it. With rolling hills on either side it was strange to think we only lived about 15 minutes from this but had never seen it, the disadvantages of having no car. We made a stop in a little village along the way which I will give a separate post to so look out for that, then it was back on the road.
I don’t think I had quite prepared for how spectacular the view would be but I was not prepared for what I saw. Pulling into the side of the road for I think photo stop 1 of about 6 or 7 , all we could see was a sheer drop with a faint colour of blue at the end. Risking it to get the photo but trying not to fall off the edge of the cliff we thought we would head on to the next spot to maybe get a better shot. Then we saw a little pathway and decided to follow it which led us to a viewing platform which definitely gave us a better view. It was spectacular. The grey rock faces juxtaposed which the aqua blue of the river was just amazing. It was a little scary looking down because it was quite a drop and I didn’t want my phone falling to it’s death but just wow! It really makes you think just how amazing nature really is.
After a few more stops we arrived at the lake and it was time to get the sandwiches out for our picnic. I liked to think of it as a very Irish picnic because the weather was not on our side so we ate them in the car but it was nice looking out over the lake and we still got some pictures. After this we decided to head back , of course taking another de-tour to another little village which I will give a separate post to (you’ll get my little joke then).
It was so nice spending the day exploring and before we had to say goodbye to Klara which is always horrible but we have a reunion in Austria in less than 2 weeks so it’s all good. Also from listening to her, her mam and her mam’s friend all speaking German in the car I now what to learn German 🙂 This year has made me want to learn every language under the sun from french to Italian to German to Spanish. I’ll find the time some day.
If you get a chance to head to the Gorges du Verdon I would definitely recommend it, maybe on a day when the sun is shining but that is not always possible. I would love to head back and hike some of it because I’m sure that would be amazing.
So the school holidays have arrived which means only one thing, it’s time to get the travels underway once again. I was very excited to head off to Edinburgh for the weekend not only because it was a place I had never been and wanted to explore but also as I was going to be doing it with some of my favourite people who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Who are they you may ask? I’ll tell you my friends from Erasmus Charley and Courtney who I don’t get to see very often as we live in separate countries. We planned this little trip away before Christmas so that we could meet up and actually see each other in person and not via a computer screen. So Friday afternoon after finishing school at 12pm I headed for the station to catch my flight at 6pm, I wasn’t wasting any time. After catching my connecting flight in London I eventually arrived in Edinburgh to Courtney running towards me, scaring me but in the best way. It was then that I found out that unfortunately Charley’s flight had been cancelled and she wasn’t going to make it which was a bit of a bummer as we all hadn’t been together in so long but that just means we will have to plan another trip soon. I picked up a pasta salad in M&S in the airport before we made our way to the Airbnb which was about a 15mins walk from the centre and was perfect. We spent the evening chatting and catching up before we headed to bed to get a good night sleep.
After an amazing night sleep we got up ready to explore Edinburgh. We decided to head out for brunch to set us up for the day and after some research on Instagram and blogs on where to go we set off. In the end were we had decided on going was full and there was a 45 minute wait which wouldn’t do for our stomachs so we headed back to restaurant we had seen on the way called The Refinery. The interior was amazing with tiled and wooden tables and little copper extras, it was definitely an Instagram dream. We ordered a Hot Chocolate to heat us up after the brisk winds outside which was perfect. I ordered a sausage sandwich and Courtney had the eggs Benedict. I have to say that the food was okay , we were starving and it was nice but it was not something that would have me running back for more but it was nice. After being fuelled up we headed towards the castle to have a look. It was beautiful seeing a view over the whole city of Edinburgh even if it was so windy we nearly blew away. We just walked around the outside of the castle as it was £16 to enter which was a bit steep. We headed down the cobbled Prince’s Street to have a look at the shops and head into a cathedral. At this point the wind had really picked up and it had also decided to start raining which was not the best. As the 6 Nations has begun and Ireland were playing we decided to find a nice warm place to watch the match and eat some food. We decided on a restaurant called Le Monde which was lovely.I had the mac & cheese with pesto and Courtney had a fish finger sandwich and then we also treated ourselves to a nice mocktail. The food and atmosphere was amazing and Ireland also won their match which was a bonus.
What can be better than a nice Hot Chocolate on a cold day!
Loving my ‘fake’ glasses that I bought 🙂
The weather had not gotten any better while we were eating and it was still freezing and wet which is not the best weather for exploring. We decided to get something for dinner to bring back to the apartment and then have a video call with Charley to catch up with her. Sunday was Courtney’s last day as she had to head back for work and I wasn’t heading home until Monday. We had the morning to explore so decided to hit up the gallery and museum. The national gallery didn’t really have too much to see so we made our way to the National Museum of Scotland which was amazing. It is so big that we din’t get to see it all so it means I will definitely have to make another trip to Edinburgh which I am not complaining about. I found that it was a little like the history and science museum in London, with exhibitions on animals, space and even fashion. Something for everyone and lots of interactive things to keep kids both small and large entertained. Then unfortunately it was time for Courtney to catch her train back home and it was time for us to say our goodbyes. We may not get to see each other as often as we would like but when we do it is always amazing. Once Courtney was safely I headed to have some lunch , I know eating again but when it’s cold and windy outside it has to be done. I headed to a bar called George IV Pub which was really cosy and did great food. I had the bangers and mash which was just gorgeous and also a hot chocolate. I spent about 2 hours just sitting eating and reading my book. Afterwards I was going to head out and do some more exploring but it had gotten darker, wetter and colder so I thought I would call it a night and head back to the apartment to relax in the warmth.
The National Museum of Scotland
The weekend was amazing but all to short as I packed my bags to head back to France. The weather was not our friend for exploring a city but that only means that I will have to come back and see what else Edinburgh has to offer , hopefully when it is a little warmer. Despite the weather I had a great time and it was so lovely to see Courtney and catch up, it was a shame the Charley couldn’t make ( stupid cancelled flights) but we will all have another adventure together soon.
If you would like to see what I got up to while I was away, I also vlogged the trip which you can see here.
As I write this post I am sitting in the airport waiting for my flight to Nice to start my journey to Draguignan , my home for the next year. I am heading over to France to be an English language assistant for the next year which is exciting. Sitting here the excitement is building but a few nerves are creeping in. I have been away from home before when I was on Erasmus for the year so it is not that I will be away from home although this time does feel different. I am travelling very much alone this time and will know no one when I arrive which is a new experience for me. I know that the first few days will be interesting until I get settled in and know the lay of the land so to speak. It feels strange but this feels to me like my first proper step into adulthood with college life over and now into the ‘big bad world’ as they say.
It will also be interesting when I begin to work in the schools as not only will there be the challenge of working with new people there will also be the added language barrier. It will be interesting to see how things work in the school system and what the children will be like. It will present a new challenge for me which I am looking forward to facing and making the most of it. It will be interesting to teach English as a second language for the children and hopefully I will get to teach them some interesting things about Ireland also.
I am looking forward to the year ahead and all the mystery that it holds. I want to make the most out of the opportunity and the experience so expect lots of blogs posts of all the things I get up to or just when I want to get my emotions down and out of my head.
So all that is left to say is ‘Au Revoir Irlande et Bonjour France’!
As the saying goes all good things come to an end and that was what happened to our road-trip.We spent Thursday (day 7) in the car driving back up to my house and relaxing.I had tag that night which Charley came to watch but then we relaxed , sad but happy that all the travelling was over. With just Friday before Charley headed home on Saturday we decided to head into Dublin to have a look around. The last time Charley was over we went into Dublin but the weather was not the best and we didn’t really stay very long. I also really wanted to head to the Magnum experience and thought this would be the perfect opportunity.
Friday was nice and sunny so we headed in on the bus. After wandering around for a little bit we made our way to the Magnum experience in Arnotts. I have wanted to do this for ages and couldn’t wait. You get to design your own magnum . They coat it in chocolate before your eyes and then you can have three toppings sprinkled over the top. I went for milk chocolate coating and then topped it with cookie crisp, toffee crunch and sprinkles. Then it was drizzled with some white chocolate. As the ice cream comes straight out of the freezer the chocolate begins to harden straight away and makes for the most amazing indulgent ice cream. I have to say it does get a little messy when it comes to eating it and I certainly got half of it around my face but that’s just all part of the fun and it was just too good to think about the mess. That’s what tissues and wipes are for. When we finished our Magnums we headed for Aungier Danger Doughnut shop. I started following them on Instagram when they first opened and have been lusting over their doughnuts every time I scroll through my feed so I knew I had to give them a visit. We were on a little bit of a sugar rush after the magnum so we decided to get one each and bring them home with us. I got a Oreo marshmallow and Charley got a simple jam.
With our blood sugar levels successfully heightened we strolled around the city in the sun before heading to the bus to head home. After a great day we settled on the couch and started a Harry Potter marathon because why not, what better way to spend our last night. Saturday brought our trip to an end as I dropped Charley to the airport and we said our goodbyes.We are already planning our next trips and meet ups for the three of us to be together again as Courtney was not able to come on the road trip.It really is hard when your best friends live in another country but that just means when we are together we make the most of it and keep in constant contact when we aren’t.
Today was another day to relax and it was the first day that we actually had no plans to do anything for the first time on the road-trip. We spent the morning reading and I also got started on editing my vlogs from the trip. The day was a little overcast but being beside the beach we couldn’t not go and have a walk on the sand and listen to the sea, so after lunch we did just that. Of course this being Ireland there were people in the sea swimming as we walked along in our jeans and jackets. We don’t get much sun or nice weather so we have to make the most of our summers whatever the weather. I love being beside the sea and walking along the beach is one of my absolute favourite things to do. I also took the opportunity to catch some Pokemon as I have completely given in to the hype and love it. We strolled back through the town before heading back to the house to get ready for dinner.
Seeing as it was our last official night on the road-trip we decided to treat ourselves and head out for a nice dinner before we headed back to my house. We decided to try the gastro pub in the town called Tides which was only new and we were looking forward to seeing what it was like. Of course being by the sea we thought it would be the perfect time to order fish and chips. What came out was two massive fillets of cod with chunky chips all served on some newspaper which I thought was a very nice touch. It was lovely even if there was way too much. We sat for three hours over dessert , tea and hot chocolates while we put the world to rights waiting for the sun to set. There is nothing I like better than a good sunset and even though it was little cloudy it was still amazing. I set up the camera for a time lapse and we took in the wonderful beauty that was before us. Nature really does make me stop and think sometimes at how amazing the simple things really are. Sitting watching a sunset with one of my best friends is one of those little memories that will stay with me forever.
When the sun had set and the air got a little cooler we headed back to the house to relax on our final night before we made the trip back to my house the next day and the trip was over.
Sorry about the large gap between this post and the last but I have just been caught up with life and also procrastinating by watching the Olympics, which I am loving by the way, but here is Day 5 of the road-trip.
With the bulk of the driving for the road-trip done we took the next few days really handy and just relaxed. For the first time on the trip we didn’t have to leave at any time or do anything so we had a lie-in and just took it handy. We decided to head into Wexford town for a look around and to have some lunch. The weather was gorgeous and one of the hottest days of the year so it was nice to just stroll around the town and take it all in. I spent most of my summers in Rosslare and so heading into Wexford town was always something that we loved to do and a treat for us as kids. It had been a while since I had been there so it was nice to see how it had changed and bring back memories from my childhood.
After lunch we decided to head out to Hook Head Lighthouse to have a look as again it was somewhere that I used to love to go to when I was younger and it really is beautiful. There is just something about lighthouses that are just amazing. The weather was spectacular , with the blue sky as a back drop to the lighthouse it was breathtaking. While we were in town we bought some brownies and so while I took a little time lapse of the lighthoue we sat in the sun and ate them. I don’t think the day could have gotten any better, just relaxing in the sun with wonderful view. We headed back and stopped in to visit my aunt and cousins who were also down for a summer holiday and then we headed back to the house.
A simple dinner of pasta was just what we needed and then we settled in for the night to relax on the couch. We still had some brownies left and so enjoyed them with some ice-cream while watching Legally Blond 2. It was great to rest up after the long miles we had done over the last few days.
When we were in Doolin the day before we saw a cute little cafe called the ‘Sea Salt Cafe‘ which we decided to get up earlier and drive to for breakfast. This was probably our best idea of the trip because the breakfast was amazing. We both had pancakes and bacon with honey and an orange juice that was squeezed right before our eyes.I have to say anyone heading to Doolin should pop in for food or just a coffee and a scone. We also got a nice hot chocolate to take away and headed back down to the harbour to relax for a little bit. The weather had cleared down below but we were passing time waiting for the clouds to clear up on the cliffs so we could give them a second go. We were able to use the same ticket as the day before so we thought we might as well give them another shot. Charley did some reading on the rocks while I was busy taking pictures and video clips. After about an hour we headed back to the Cliffs of Moher for round 2.
There was still some light fog when we arrived but within 15 minutes of us being on the cliffs it cleared and let me tell you it was worth coming back to see. The sheer scale of the cliffs and then seeing the blue sky merge with the blue sea was just wonderful. It really was breathtaking and I could see why so many people from all over the world come to see them. After this we hit the road to head to Rosslare where we would be staying for the next few nights in my aunts house. We stopped at Bunratty Castle for some lunch and a break as the drive was 3 hours long. With Spotify on the go and our wonderful karaoke skills in full swing it made the journey fly by.
We stopped in the shop in Rosslare to get some provisions for the next few days and then headed to the house to relax.Of course heading down to try see the sunset over the sea first. The next few days were going to be a lot more chilled than the previous ones with a lots less driving and more relaxing as our roadtrip was coming to an end.
With a good nights sleep under our belts and a nice hot cooked breakfast we set about the day. We took a little walk around the town in the morning, making friends with some donkeys, while I caught some Pokemon (so good) before we started the day. Our first stop was the Ailwee caves which were amazing. Walking under ground with rock all around was quite something. Our tour took around 30minutes and we got the history of how the cave was discovered, which really was fascinating. After the caves we headed for the Burren or what we thought was a Burren centre as we were already in the vast landscape of the Burren which is 1500 hectares in size. Google maps didn’t really take us where we wanted but there were other cars parked up so we just parked and got out to explore. Although there was not centre or anything it was lovely to just walk with such beauty around us and a great silence in the air. Of course we took some photos and generally just took it all in.
After a quick drive by Father Ted’s House (just so we could say we were there) we headed to Lisdonvarna for a spot of lunch. Re-energised we headed for the Cliffs of Moher via a stop off in Doolin. The weather was not the best as it was quite windy and cloudy but we were making the most of it. As we drove towards the cliffs we were engulfed in clouds and our visibility was very bad but we thought we would give the cliffs a go anyway. Let’s just say that you would not have known there was a sea below other than you could hear the waves but for us it was just a sea of white. It made for some cool pictures and we made the most of it but you couldn’t really see anything.
We then headed for our final stop of the day and our home for the night Miltown Malbay and the Central Hostel. We were surround by clouds the whole way which made for an interesting drive. The hostel was your typical hostel and we had a shared bathroom but it was clean and cheap and a place for us to lay our heads. After going out to get some dinner we headed back to our room and watched Tangled on my laptop as we had no WiFi in our room and wanted to chill out after the long day. Then it was off to bed to get some rest before day 4 of the adventures.