Sunday, 31 October 2010

"Home" Sweet "Home"

Our last day in Dublin the weather was rather blustery. We tried to trek out but decided it was not worth getting on a plane a few hours later soaking wet. So, after a short walk, we headed back to the hostel lobby where we relaxed, chatted with some fellow travellers, and drank tea :)
Our flight went well and we made it back to my place just after 7. Yesterday was a decompression day as Jeanine got all of her things organized and tried to fit it all in her suitcase!
This morning I walked her to the bus stop at 5 am and she began her journey home.  I am thankful for daylight savings in the UK which gave me an extra hour of sleep this morning!
What an amazing trip on this half term break, can't wait to do some more trips!
Paris was unbelievable, I recommend everyone go! I will definitely be going back one day, and hope to see farther afield than Paris itself as well.
Dublin was very interesting. I will for sure go back to Ireland, not necessarily Dublin. Would love to visit Belfast and more of the countryside there too.
Cannot believe I just added another 2 countries to my lands explored. Count my blessings every day, I am one lucky girl to get this oppotunity, and on my birthday to boot :)

PS: Mom tells me she hears lots of people are reading this... I think she's just being nice, but if it's true I'd love to hear comments, thoughts, a good joke is always welcome :D

Friday, 29 October 2010

Makin Dad proud

Yesterday morning I thought to myself - Dad would be so proud!
This was as I held my head under the hand dryer in the bathroom at our hostel just like Dad used to make me do everytime we went swimming at the pool as a kid.
Don't want to catch a cold from wet hair & chilly air in Dublin!
Hope you had a great birthday Dad :)

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Oh the travellers...

So pretty
Another full day in Dublin. This morning we met up for the free walking tour, this is the same company that did Paris tour and London.  We wandered around in the rain hearing mostly about all the of fights that the Irish have been in for the last 2000 years or so! The weather cleared up a bit for the second half of the tour, thankfully. After we went to check out St Patrick's Cathedral - beautiful. It was really a neat feeling to be at the cathedral that our church is a part of.
St Patrick's Cathedral
Tribute to Great Famine
Then we slowly made our way back to the hostel stopping for a late lunch and checking out the souvenir shop again.  At the hostel we warmed up and played some cards. Jeanine went outside and I struck up a conversation with an older nam from South Carolina. What a character! We had quite the chat. Everything from medicare to hip replacements to vaccinations, Montezuma's Revenge, skiing, snowbirds, hostels, teaching.... It was very interesting, then started getting somewhat repetitive in his stories and it became more and more evident that it was not water in the bottle he was sipping on.... By now it was getting dark so Jeanine and I excused ourselves for our 'evening stroll' (and he bought it).  We went out to grab some dinner and are soon off to listen to some live Irish music that we found last night in a pub up the road. Tomorrow we have the morning to do our last exploring of Dublin before we fly back to London and start to prepare to be back to reality soon enough!

tea at the hostel :)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

in the land of the leprechauns!

We woke up at about 5am on birthday boxing day to leave Paris. While at a shop in Versailes an old man came up to me and said, "Thank you for being so very much beautiful." So needless to say I was sad to be leaving this country behind. But we were off to Dublin so I rolled myself out of bed and gathered my things from the hostel and headed for the metro.

Our flight went smoothly and we got on the free shuttle to our next hostel home. We were pretty bagged but decided to do the usual wander around that one does when one arrives in a new city. We got some good pictures and had dinner at a pub (of course) and were pretty much passed out by 9! Haha (I know Mom is not surprised by this..)

The Spire

This morning we were well rested, enjoyed the hostel free breakfast and hopped on the free bus tour offered by our hostel (I feel like a pattern is developing here). The tour took us out to Glendalough and Kilkenny. We even passed by places featured in many films such as Braveheart, Reign of Fire and PS I Love You and others I hadn't seen...
Our tour bus driver was pretty funny with songs and jokes and he even told me he loved me! Great day, nice sights and beautiful countryside!
Tomorrow more touring around Dublin itself.

excuse me Sir, do u have the time?

Kilkenny abbey

Fields fom PS I Love You - unfortunately Heather is brown in Oct, not purple..

Glendalough = town of 2 lakes. This is one of them

sheep :)

went to Ireland and saw a rainbow :)
Bulmers Irish cider

Monday, 25 October 2010

Paris: Anniversaire :)

Comin home solo after the pub crawl..
Sunshiny birthday :)

It's my BIRTHDAY!!! IN PARIS!!!! Yay :)

This morning I awoke to find the partner in crime AWOL after the pub crawl last night.. long story. But it is my birthday and that wasn't going to slow down my plans. I dragged myself out of bed at my alarm, showered and had my morning croissant. Took an extra for my purse ;) and headed to the Eiffel Tower!

Taking advice from the hostel lady I got off the metro at Tocadero which offers a fantastic view from a distance of the tower. With the sun coming up behind it the silhouette was amazing. Luckliy I am skilled at the outstretched arm photos, so I got some good ones and asked some fellow tourists for a couple too :)

From there I walked toward the tower, stopping for more pictures of course. I even got a little old fisherman to take one for my down by the Seine.  I jumped in the short line up (stairs, not elevator) and ate my extra croissant as I waited to go up the tower.
Climbing the stairs was awesome, highly recommend it. Stunning views from the first and second levels!! Beautiful sunny clear day made it quite the sight to behold. Unreal!
see, I'm safe! no worries.
up the stairs I go!
Windy, but WOW!


After the Tower I wanted to see Versailles. I knew the palace is closed Mondays so I figured there would be less of a crowd. Boy was I right!!! No crowds since you couldn't get into the palace, but you can still wander around the gardens- which is all I wanted to do anyway. Louis XIV really knew how to live it up!
 While buying postcards a little old man came up to me and said: " Thank you for being so very much beautiful".   I love France!

Louis XIV

From Versailles I went back in to the city to get a closer look at some of the big sights we saw from a distance on the walking tour yesterday.  I went first to Notre Dame.  It is beautiful. The gargoyles and statues on the outside are exquisite.  Inside there aren't even words to describe the stained glass.

From Notre Dame I got back on the metro and went to l'Arc de Triomphe.  That thing is massive! Walked under the crazy 8 lane roundabout and got my close up look. Then walked down Champs d'Elysses road and got to feel like a hobo walking past all the shops. Louis Vuitton, Lacoste, Swarovsky diamonds...
Birthday crepe! (yes Sofi, Nutella & banane!)
Now it was about dinner time and I knew that I wanted to check out the Eiffel Tower light show so I headed back to the hostel to have a bite to eat and get on my warm clothes.  Found Jeanine, so after I ate we set out.  Ran into our new Toronto friend and roped him into coming too.  We did the same views I had done earlier in the day watching the light show first from the far viewpoint at Trocadero, then closer from the other side an hour later.  Enjoyed a 'birthday crepe' and now getting packed up for our very early start tomorrow - flying to Dublin at 9:30 :)

Happy Birthday to ME!!  :)

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Paris Jour 2

La Seine - beautiful fall colours

Not a bad sleep in the hostel last night. Woke up and enjoyed our free breakfast (mmmm fresh croissants) then made our way to the city for a free walking tour.  This is the same company that does the free tour I did in London. It was great! Almost 4 hours of walking around the city, at a good clip! We got to see most of the 'main attractions', though some were from a distance. Still amazing! Notre Dame, Tuileries gardens, Champs-Elysees, Pont Alexandre III, Louvre, Pont Neuf, Eiffel Tower, Ile-de-la-Cite... and so much more. So many beautiful things.  The weather was great, a little rain at the end of the tour but we definitely lucked out! I have so many pictures I don't know how I will ever choose which ones to post!
Jardin des tuilleries

Birthday tomorrow :)

First sighting of Notre Dame de Paris

Chillin next to La Seine... no big deal

on the bridge from Sex and the City - Pont des Arts



Place de la Concorde, fountain from Devil Wears Prada

so pretty

Saturday, 23 October 2010

PARIS Jour 1

Peter Pan statue
Yesterday Jeanine and I spent the day exploring Hyde park and it's wonderfulness (the only word to descibe Hyde Park).  We discovered the Rose Garden, Princess Diana's memorial fountain, and even the Peter Pan statues that the writer of Peter Pan created after the boys who inspired his stories. Then we made our way across town, on foot, to the Lyceum theatre to watch The Lion King ------- AMAZING! You pretty much spend the most part of the show just agast staring at the costumes.  Someone with a truly creative mind came up with these things. Were talking double stilts for giraffes,  2 person hippos, three person elephants, jumping gazelles, the hyeneas were by far the best! All just unreal!!  I hope that I get the chance to see several Broadway shows while I am over here because they are spectacular.

This morning we rose early and made our way to the Luton airport.  Of course transit was against us, as it always is in London, but we arrived nevertheless!  Our flight was about 55 mins and we were in PARIS!! My dream of spending my birthday at the Eiffel Tower is now just 2 short days away from coming true <3 

mini elevator, us+backpacks = JUST fit

The train ride to find our hostel was interesting, people cussing each other in French trying to push their way on and fight their way off the packed trains! But we got off the station just outside of Moulin Rouge and walked the 3 or so blocks to our hostel.  Not sure it we would have ever found it if I couldn't ask directions and help in French. But we got to our hostel and checked in. We jammed ourselves into the TINY!!! elevator that took us to our room on the 6th floor... yup 6! Hope that elevator does not break down of I may sleep in the lobby!
Now off to explore :) 

About a 5 min walk from hostel
Montmartre cemetery - HUGE, I'm talking acres!
So we walk out of the hostel and realize we are right at the beginning of one of the 'walking tours' that are mapped out in the Paris tour book I bought (yup, that's right).  We start our tour and are oggling over all of the beautiful things. Along the way an old French lady stops me and starts giving me the history of the Moulin Rouge and describing the view before other buildings were put up blocking it from sight. Luckily I could understand her then translate the sotry to Jeanine!


Then we turn a corner in the road and BAM we're at the back of Sacre-Coeur and it is unbelievable. A gigantic basilica dedicated to the 58,000 people who died in the Franco-Prussian war. Simply stunning! First of all, it is HUGE! It has big statues of horses and gargoyles and everything that makes a place amazing in France. To top it off it is at the top of a huge hill so has the most amazing views of the city.

view from Sacre-Coeur

We finally pried ourselves away from this sight and as we are walking down the road I start spasm-ing. Jeanine is wondering what is going on and follows my pointing finger. There, through the tress, she sees the reason for my excitement... the EIFFEL TOWER!!!! Un-freaking-real!!!!
first glimpse - soooo excited!!!

As we're snapping pictures it starts to rain, so we continue on our way. Then it starts to pour.. and I'm not talking little CR, jog through the Save-On parking lot it's raining, I'm talking jump into the nearest cafe the heavens have opened, there is thunder and lightening (not kidding). Then a tourist train pulls up, the same one we were mocking earlier, so we run over and jump on! Apparently, we stick out of the 50+ crowd because we are soon discovered and convince the guy to let us pay 3.50 for a narrated ride back to Moulin Rouge, close to our hostel.
On the way we stop into a little cafe for pizza and salad. The waiter is apparently excited that I speak French and English so he gives me his number and says if we come back tomorrow he will give us coffee and take us around the area too... We'll see!
Now time to warm up and recover from the excitement of the day.

a little rain won't hurt us...

All pics will follow when I get back to London.. sorry