Archives For Travel Adventures

Live vicariously through me, then imagine and plan your own journeys! You only live once.

You’d think, being from Tennessee, that moving back to the USA would be a piece of cake. I feel like I should burst that bubble right now, despite having only been back a week. It’s been a nonstop, fully hectic, how much can I possibly cram into a week, kind of week. The insane laundry list of things we had to get done was unreal — and being the type who wants things NOW, presented its own challenges. I miss certain aspects of Irish life daily, and sometimes want to just sit in the floor and cry. Will I be able to fully re-acclimate? Of course. Am I struggling hourly right now? Absofeckinglutely.

I wish moving home had been as simple as stepping off a plane and it being like I’d never left. While all the buildings might look the same, roads might be in the same place, and people might all sound similar to me, I assure you it is NOT that simple..

Let’s start with jet lag. I don’t usually get jet lag when time is gained. For some reason though, jet lag hit me with the force of a ton of bricks and for four solid days I felt like a zombie. The most dull, annoying pain I’ve ever had settled into my head each afternoon about 2 PM and could only be cured by 800 mg of Advil. I’d be ready to fall asleep by 4 PM but had to force myself to stay awake until at least 11 PM. Every morning, like clockwork, I’d be wide awake at 4:01 AM and it would take me about 2 hours to fall back asleep. It wasn’t until copious amounts of alcohol were consumed over the weekend which forced me to stay awake until 3 AM (with a subsequent 8 AM wake-up for football) did my body finally decide to reset. And hey, there was football to watch! So, tip number one: when traveling, drink lots of booze and stay up way past when you think you can!

Blue MoFo

Say hello to the Blue Mo Fo. I have no idea why it’s called that or what’s in it…but, like a LIT, it’s STRONG.

Lemon Drop Shot

Lemon Drop gone wrong — for some reason the bartender thinks a Lemon Drop is simply Citrus Vodka. BLEH.

Twins!

My dear friend, whom I haven’t seen since December. Nope, we didn’t coordinate in advance of the game, but, great fashion minds think alike when it comes to UT football!

UT in Athens - 9.28.14

Panorama of Sanford Stadium in Athens. If you look closely, you can see the TN section in the lower level near the other end zone 🙂

 

Then there’s the “I have to deal with 8 suitcases, an art tube, and two backpacks in a hotel room for three weeks until our apartment is ready” fiasco. I don’t even want to know what goes through housekeeping’s head every day as they clean the room and see our pile of luggage! Hurry up inspectors, is all I can wish for here.

Moving Day

There was also the issue of buying a car. We were fortunate to have a rental car for a week, and we left my car behind when we moved, but with my husband going back to work on the Wednesday of our arrival, we had only one day to shop around together before I was getting bombarded by sales people on my own. But wouldn’t you know you can’t buy a car in Georgia without a Georgia driver’s license. And, as is the case with Ireland, you cannot get anything converted until you have proof of residency. And, well, since I’m homeless until mid-October, you can see where the problem lies! (Don’t worry, we figured out a solution, because I’m a problem solving genius.)

I swore I'd never own another BMW after the last one... but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

I swore I’d never own another BMW after the last one… but alas, this was the only car out of about 50 I test drove I actually loved. BMW iDrive X3

 

Those are just a few of the things you might expect to be a pain from an international move. But what about the day-to-day little things, like grocery shopping and driving?

Well, I won’t say I was overwhelmed by the grocery store, because Ireland did have a few massive stores that I visited every now and again, but I was overwhelmed by the lack of quality food. How can such a MASSIVE store carry so little that is actually healthy & good for you? I’m living in a hotel so making my own food from the fresh items just isn’t an option right now, so I’m having to find alternatives. Oh, you’re telling me to go to the natural aisle? OK, I did that. Have you looked at any labels lately? I assure you that almost everything in that “natural” aisle still has sugar added to it along with preservatives. You don’t get that kind of shelf life without it. Even the all natural smoothies you can buy are still insanely high in sugar & carbs, because apparently the American nation cannot eat or drink something that isn’t loaded with a ridiculous amount of sugars. (i.e. calories) No wonder our nation can’t seem to get their health in check! And it is those preservatives and lack of fresh foods that my body is absolutely rejecting. I can eat beef again, which is great for my anemia, but… we’ll just say I cannot wait for my apartment to be move-in ready so I can actually cook something and get my body back on track!

I won't lie. I did enjoy this donut!

I won’t lie. I did enjoy this doughnut!

 

Driving… I think driving in this city is quite possibly as bad as L.A. I was on the interstate the other day and I counted 9 lanes of traffic. NINE. I haven’t driven in 10 months and I landed myself in a city that has average commute times over an hour while navigating at least 6-8 lanes of traffic on any interstate route. It’s not easy people. Before I got a new phone, I was using a prepaid SIM card, which afforded me no data. And I can promise you I drove in circles on more than one occasion trying to get from point A to point B. I will just count my blessings that I haven’t ended up in a part of town I don’t belong in. But I certainly wanted to pull my hair out!

Pulling Hair Out

What exactly am I trying to drive home here? Moving home: where everything is new, yet unknown. New city, new car, new phone, new job, new apartment (literally, half of the building is still under construction), new life chapter, new, new, new. And while new isn’t bad, it’ll just take a little more of an adjustment than the last week has allowed. Here’s to this new beginning.

Until next time. XOXO – K

 

In early July, my husband and I found out our time in Ireland was coming to an end earlier than expected. I’d like to tell you together we consciously made the decision to cut our time here short, but that would be a lie. What happened really isn’t important, but just know the world ultimately had different plans from our own wishes, and there was nothing we could do but embrace what was shortly to come.

And so, our time in Ireland will come to a close in mid-September, two days after I run the Dublin Half Marathon. It has been an emotional roller coaster and I’ve cycled through all of the 7 stages (or 10 or however many there are — it was a lot, either way) — but we’ve come to grips with the time we have left and have spent every minute trying to savour it. And even though it has been a challenging road, this living abroad thing, it has been one of the best experiences of my life and I wouldn’t trade a minute of it.

And so, this post is about the journey; that reflection; the last 18 months.

There has been coffee.

Coffee

There has been adventure.

Adventure - Flying

There have been tears — lots and lots of tears; Which has led to wine — lots and lots of wine (and tequila).

Wine

Tequila!

There has been food — so much food!

Seafood

There has been laughter.

Laughter

There has been dancing.

Dancing

There has been running.

Running

There have been fashion firsts.

Fashion

There have been friends — friends from every corner of the world.

Friends 1

Friends 2

Friends 3

Friends 4

(It just dawned on me that in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO under this section I’m wearing pink. Even in the black & white photo, I know my dress is pink…. hmmmm… Seriously, look out Elle Woods!)

But perhaps, most importantly, there have been memories; And no one can ever take away the memories, even if the world alters the path a little. Our Irish chapter is coming to an end, but the book is far from finished; And memories last a lifetime.

So, as they say, when one door closes, look for an open window:

Closed Door

(Just make sure the window isn’t barred shut!)

America, I’ll be seeing you SOON.

Until next time, XOXO – K

August is a great time to holiday in Spain. All the locals flock from their city living ways to the holiday homes for a month (yes, you read that right. A MONTH) of relaxation, friends, family, and a way of life that is so completely different from anywhere I’ve ever been.

Valencia

The major cities are left quiet, almost uninhabited–except for the tourists on city breaks and those left behind working the tourism & restaurant scene. The first of August is not a day I’d wish to be traveling on any of the autopistas out of these cities, especially if that day falls on a Friday or Saturday!

Honestly, this is much what I imagine NYC is like as locals flock to the Hamptons during the summer. I can just envision the mass exodus of people from the city in my head; see the cars jammed onto the highways; see the umbrellas lining the beaches…but no, I’ve never set foot in the Hamptons, so I’m really going by what I’ve seen on TV & in the films. 🙂 Leaving the New York visions in my head, let me spin back to the reality that is.

It’s August and in the coastal region of Valencia (map above!), which is where my holiday begins & ends, beaches are filled with noisy locals and visitors alike. The visitors stick to the major beaches, like Alicante or Benidorm; but I know better. I’m one of the fortunate visitors who has friends from the small villages of Benitatxell and Pedreguer and know the ins and outs of the beaches in the Marina Alta area.

These friends take me to small, rocky beaches where the water is bluer than blue, the food is fresh from the sea, and the days are filled with conversations & wine.

The rocky beaches

The rocky beaches

The cure for the blues -- the salty waters of the Mediterranean

The cure for the blues — the salty waters of the Mediterranean

A three hour, mid-day lunch with all of your friends to escape the sun is a must.

A three-hour, mid-day lunch with all of your friends to escape the sun is a must.

A heaping plate of fresh seafood paella

Direct from the sea: A heaping plate of fresh seafood paella (and I know the seafood is fresh because I watched it being caught!)

Black paella -- made black from squid or cuddle fish ink.

Paella Negra — made black from squid or cuddle fish ink.

The Market  Don't forget to pick up your supplies to bring home from the local market! Meat, cheese, fruit, you name it.

The Market
Don’t forget to pick up your supplies to bring home from the local market! Meat, cheese, fruit, you name it.

Late July and early to mid-August is not only for the beach, but a time that each town & village celebrates its roots & origins. The towns more or less shut down for a solid week as locals take to the streets for festivals and parades, that carry on well into the night and it’s not common to see everyone from the town out and about at 2 am–from the young children shooting fireworks to the grandparents taking a spin around the middle of the road as a local band plays on a make shift stage on the town square. Each town has their own festival so it’s possible to attend more than one during your stay as well!

Denia Festival - a four hour parade celebrating the history of Denia with tributes to the Moors and to Christianity

Denia Festival – a four-hour parade celebrating the history of Denia with tributes to the Moors and to Christianity

I personally don’t think a person has experienced life until they’ve experienced the local way of life in August in Valencia. As if you didn’t believe me from the photos above, the sunsets alone are worth the trip! (And no, I do not have Photoshop, so outside of playing with a little contrast in the Microsoft platform, what you see in the photo is what you actually SEE in Spain.)

Sunset in the hills of Alta Marina

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight: Sunset in the hills of Marina Alta

Until next time. XOXO – K

Yesterday we touched on thirty of the places I’ve already been — and before thirty. What about the next thirty years though? I definitely don’t want to stop traveling! (Does the title of the post make anyone else start singing the Tim McGraw song? You’re welcome.)

So, we better start with a list of places to mark off as time goes on. Some big, some small, but all will be phenomenal.

Thirty Places to Visit After Thirty

Vienna, Austria

ViennaDubrovnik, Croatia
Petra, Jordan
Bora Bora
St. Petersburg, Russia

St. PetersburgBerlin, Germany
Stockholm, Sweden
Porto, Portugal
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de JaneiroBahamas
Grand Cayman Island
Prague, Czech Republic
Madrid, Spain

MadridGrand Canyon
Belfast, Ireland
Birmingham, England
Bratislava, Slovakia

bratislavaIstanbul, Turkey
Copenhagen, Denmark
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Riga, Latvia

RigaBruges, Belgium
Johannesburg, South Africa
Havana, Cuba
San Juan, Puerto Rico

San JuanLake Tahoe, Nevada
Quebec, Canada
Sydney, Australia
Cairo, Egypt

CairoHong Kong, China

Where would you go? Suggestions are always welcome as this is just an excerpt of a fast-growing list! Dream big, right?

XOXO – K

There is a whole big world out there, and I’ve been fortunate enough to experience my fair share thus far. I love the thrill of traveling, of a new place, of new faces, of new languages. It’s absolutely amazing. Of course, you don’t always have to leave your homeland to experience a new world of opportunities — you never know what you’ll find in the country that is your home!

Thirty Places I Traveled Before Thirty

Ocho Rios, Jamaica
Rome, Italy
Los Angeles, California


New York, New York

NYC

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago
St. Louis, Missouri
Paris, France

Paris

Lucerne, Switzerland

Lucerne
Benitatxell, Spain

Benitatxell
Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh
Pienza, Italy

View from Pienza
London, England

London
Athens, Greece
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow
Malahide, Ireland

Malahide
Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon
Breckenridge, Colorado

San Francisco, California

???????????????????
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre
Pilatus, Switzerland

View from Pilatus
Pompeii, Italy

Seismbra, Portugal

Sunset in Sesimbra
Brussels, Belgium

Brussels

Den Bosch, Netherlands

Den Bosch
Atlanta, Georgia

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Delphi, Greece

The world is your oyster — are you a traveler?

XOXO – K