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Howth... The Ireland I Always Imagined

Saturday, June 29, 2013 @ 05:19 pm from Ireland Ireland
Day 3

Last night was another late night. My bunkmates (the two Swiss guys and 3 of their friends) and I played some card games in the lounge over drinks and then headed down to Temple Bar area for some beer and live music. That area was extremely crowded but it was a fun time hanging out there. After we all had a few pints we decided to head to Workman's Club (the same club we were at the previous night that had a good DJ). We stayed there for an hour or so and I had another drink. I started to get tired and checked my watch to see that it was close to 2am. I headed back to the hostel to get some sleep.

I got up around 9am and went down to get some breakfast. After eating I decided I'd go do some hiking and sight seeing in Howth. It's a fishing town to the north east of Dublin. After showering and getting ready I headed to the Tara Street train station and got a ticket to the Howth station. I only had to wait about 10 minutes and then jumped on the train. The ride only took about 40 minutes. I headed to the tourist information office to ask about the hiking paths. Along the way I passed a bunch of fresh fish markets.

I got the information for the hiking areas and made my way to them. The main hiking paths follow the coastline up and along some very tall cliffs. I was starting to get hungry so I had an apple and a candy bar that I brought with me. It was just something to hold me over until I got back into town. I continued my walk and saw some really nice views (check out the photo gallery link under the teaser pics below).

I made my way back to Howth and walked around trying to figure out what I wanted to eat for lunch. I saw a sign for a stand that was selling seafood chowder for 5 euros so I decided to do that. I knew I wanted something with seafood in it since everything there is caught fresh daily. The chowder fit the bill. I took it over to the docks and ate it while watching the boats come in and out.

There was still a little more walking around I wanted to do so I headed out to a big pier and took some photos of Ireland's Eye and some sailboats that were racing. By now the sun was trying to break through the clouds and I figured I saw everything I wanted to so I headed back to the train station and got on the train back to Dublin.

When I got back into Dublin the sun had finally broken free from the clouds (the first time I've actually seen the sun in the 3 days I've been here). I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and walked east along the River Liffey for a little while and took some photos.

Afterwards I headed back to the hostel to upload some emails and try to decide what to do tonight. I've got to go get some ingredients for dinner tonight. I tried making some curried potatoes, peas and baby corn last night but it wasn't really as good as I was hoping for it to be.

Howth was definitely worth going to. It was the typical seaside town and cliffs that I had always pictured Ireland to be like. Hiking along the cliffs was also the first time I felt like I had space to breathe and I wasn't surrounded by people.
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Old boat in Howth Harbor
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Howth cliffs
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Hiking trail in Howth
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Lighthouse and Dublin Harbor in the background

Sightseeing in Dublin

Friday, June 28, 2013 @ 04:11 pm from Ireland Ireland
Day 2

Last night ended up being quite the night. I was in the lounge at the hostel working on last night's blog post when I was joined by two of my bunkmates (two Swiss dudes). They showed up with a full bottle of Captain Morgan and ingredients to make mojitos. The three of us ended up polishing off the entire bottle over the course of an hour or so.

We saw one of our other bunkmates (the Aussie) and found out he was planning on taking yet another one of our bunkmates (a girl from Japan) out to go see some live music in some pubs. We decided we'd all go together and make a night of it. We started off at a pub that had some live music on multiple levels. We hung out in the back alley which is apparently where most people preferred to chill. We had a few drinks there and saw some guys dressed up like cats playing some music upstairs.

We decided to head over to a different pub that was about a 20 minute walk away that was supposed to have some really good music playing. Unfortunately when we got there they were closing down for the night so we had to trek all the way back to the Temple Bar area. We made it there and found a bar that might have been called Brogan's. I'm not completely sure but it ended up being pretty cool. We got a few more drinks there and danced to a DJ. It was getting pretty late and I knew I had reached my drinking limit for the night so I headed back to the hostel and proceeded to pass out around 2am.

I woke up at 9am with a splitting headache so I came down to the lounge/kitchen area and had some toast and cereal and slammed a bunch of water. After breakfast I showered and got my laptop out to decide what I'd do today. I figured since it was a nice day I'd go find some park areas and look at some of the old buildings around town.

I put Dublin Castle, Dubh Linn gardens, Chester Beatty Library, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral on my list of what I wanted to see. The Chester Beatty Library was a really cool gallery filled with a bunch of old artwork from asian countries as well as old religious documents and artwork. I decided not to go into the churches because the admission costs are would have been over 10 euros combined.

I got a baguette sandwich at a local grocery store and ate in the St. Patrick's park. After that I just aimlessly walked around until I came across the Temple Bar area and then made my way back to the hostel.

I decided I'd go ahead and figure out where I'm going after Dublin so I ended up booking a bus to Kilkenny and got my hostel situated. Kilkenny looks like a cool place to go and hang out and relax. It'll be quite the difference between the massive amounts of people here in Dublin.

Since then I've just been catching up on emails and doing a little work. It's almost time to head to the grocery and pick up something for dinner.
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Dublin Castle and Dubh Linn Gardens
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St. Patrick's Cathedral
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Cool Graffiti
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Temple Bar

A Rainy Thursday in Dublin

Thursday, June 27, 2013 @ 08:12 pm from Ireland Ireland
Day 1

When I landed in Dublin it was overcast and raining and the weather was in the low 60's. I got off the plane and went through customs without any issue. After getting out of customs I went to an ATM and withdrew some Euros. In order to break those bills up into something I could use on a bus fare I bought a coffee and used the WiFi at the airport to check some email. After not being sure where to catch the 16 bus to the city center I went and asked the information desk. Apparently I had to go down to a different terminal to catch the bus. After buying a ticket I boarded and sat back for about 45 minutes while we made our way from the airport to downtown Dublin.

I got to the hostel around 11:20am but couldn't check in until 2pm. I was pretty wet from the rain so I dropped my pack off in their secure storage area and set about finding something for lunch. I just started aimlessly wandering around and eventually made my way to Talbot Street and a pub called Molly's. It was filled with old dudes speaking Gaelic which was pretty cool. I ordered a pint of Beamish Irish Stout and a chicken/bacon panini for lunch. Both were really tasty. I think I like the Beamish better than Guinness!

By the time I finished the rain had subsided so I walked around a little more. I came across some cell phone shops and ended up getting a pre-paid sim card for 20 euros that had unlimited data for a month. After getting that situated I went back to the hostel and checked in. I claimed the top bunk in a 6 bed room then decided to head back out and do a little exploring. I made my way down Grafton street and hit St. Stephen's Green (a really nice park). It was drizzling again but I still had some time to kill so I went over to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells. The imagery and skill involved with drawing the pages is amazing! There's also a really neat library as part of the tour filled with old books.

I was starting to get hungry by now so I made my way to a Tesco and bought some ingredients for a stir-fry (chicken, red pepper, garlic, soy sauce, snow peas) and got a cider. I came back to the hostel and met some of my room mates (2 guys from Switzerland and one guy from Australia). I ended up eating with the Australian and two french guys and we talked about random stuff which was cool.

After that wound down I caught up on my journal and started writing these blog posts. Just now the two guys from Switzerland came down and we're going to have some mojitos while a bunch of spanish guys watch the Spain v Italy football match.

So far it's been a great day and I'm really hoping I'll be able to sleep well tonight!
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The Spire
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St. Stephen's Green
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Trinity College
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Trinity College Library

Last day in the USA for 6 months...

Thursday, June 27, 2013 @ 07:48 pm from Ireland Ireland
Day 0 - June 26, 2013

Today started out just fine. I woke up normally, had french toast for breakfast, took Canyon on a walk, showered and packed up.

When we got to the airport I went up to the Departures board and saw that my American Airlines flight to Chicago was canceled. All of the other American flights to Chicago were either canceled or delayed by a minimum of a few hours. We ran to the American ticket counter and the lady was able to get me booked on another flight that was delayed and scheduled to leave shortly after my original flight was supposed to. I was fortunate enough to get the last seat on the jet!

The flight ended up being delayed a little bit later and I was in the air by around 5:50pm EDT. I landed in Chicago around 5:40pm CDT and made my way to the International Terminal where I had to go through security again. The whole international terminal was under construction but they still had a little bar set up. I got a beer and checked into my flight. Everything was on time so I made some last minute phone calls then boarded.

They ended up serving some cheese ravioli and salad with a brownie for dinner. After that I put in my ear plugs and proceeded to try and sleep. I got a few hours of rest before they turned the lights back on and started the breakfast service which consisted of orange juice and a ham and cheese croissant.

I'll pick up the rest of the journey in my Day 1- Dublin post!
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Me and Canyon
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At the Indianapolis airport

Final Packing and Tying Up Loose Ends

Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 11:13 pm from United States United States
18 hours until I get on my plane to start my journey to Europe and I've finalized everything I'm bringing and I've tied up all the necessary loose ends here. The last major thing I needed to finish today was to handle my vehicle registration renewal issue. My NM license plate is set to expire in November 2013 but since NM requires an emissions test for each renewal it makes things difficult. In order to get my license plate renewed I needed to run around town today to get a VIN inspection and some documents notarized. Then, when I get my license renewal form I have to send all of that along with the renewal form.

I also had to pre-write all my checks for the bills I don't have set to auto-pay as well as all of my business estimated taxes that will be due while I'm gone. My parents will simply throw the envelopes in the mail on the specified dates and everything should be good to go.

Since the last test pack I did a few weeks ago I changed a few things up. I ditched my Nikon D50 in favor of a Canon G15. The DSLR simply took up too much room and the technology crammed into the G15 is so much better. Due to feedback from other travelers I also picked up a couple more pairs of boxers and decided I'd bring a pair of jeans as well as a dress shirt.

That's it for now. It's almost time for this crazy journey to start!
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Everything I'm Taking
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Everything I'm Taking (w/ captions)
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Everything packed w/ what I'm wearing on the flight

Some last minute purchases and changes

Tuesday, June 18, 2013 @ 10:17 am from United States United States
After my "test packing" post I started to think a little bit more about what I had packed. I really like my Nikon D50 but the sad truth is the camera is 8 years old and the lens already has some focusing issues and the whole thing takes up a lot of room. I did some research into some compact point and shoots and ended up purchasing the Canon Powershot G15. The G15 is basically a DSLR crammed into a point and shoot body. There are full manual controls for setting the fstop and shutter speeds plus it has full 1080p movie shooting modes. It feels very sturdy when holding it and the rear LCD is amazingly clear. I'm going to be much more inclined to carry this around than lugging around my giant D50.

I also went to REI and purchased a couple more pairs of quick drying boxers. That should be everything I need to change up for now. 8 days to go!

TIL: The Schengen Zone

Monday, June 10, 2013 @ 07:27 pm from United States United States
In preparation for my trip abroad I created a spreadsheet where I made a list of all the cities / countries I wanted to visit and then estimated how much time I might want to spend there. Then today I learned about the Schengen Zone. This is a group of 26 European countries that have opened their borders to each other to make it easier to travel around. Travelers from the USA can show up and stay in the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in a span of 180 days (3 months within a 6 month period). Looking at my spreadsheet I currently have 98 days estimated within the Schengen zone. That means I have to re-evaluate some of my plans but that shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Ireland and the UK are all outside the Schengen Zone so at least the start of my trip will be in the clear. Morocco is also outside the zone so that's in the clear too. I just have roughly an additional 50 days to burn outside the zone so if anyone finds any cheap flights to SE Asia or South Africa, let me know!

Anyway, glad I figured this all out now before getting into trouble by overstaying the 90 day period there. If anyone else is planning on visiting Europe for a long period of time, it's something to keep in mind before planning everything out!

All my gear has been bought (and test packed)!

Monday, June 10, 2013 @ 09:53 am from United States United States
It's only 16 days before I jump on a jet for Dublin, Ireland so I decided it was time to lay all my gear out and take some photos. This was the first time I laid everything out to see what I'm taking and then to try and pack it all into my backpack. 40 liters sounds like quite a bit of room until you start laying everything out and then look at how much stuff you have. The stuff that takes up the most room by far is my clothes. My DSLR is a little awkward to fit just because of the shape.

You can see a full list of everything I packed by visiting the Preparation link at the top of the page. The last photo also has everything identified with numbers.

I'm getting really excited now. These last couple weeks are going to blow by!
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Everything unpacked
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Starting to consolidate
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Everything in the pack
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Detailed list of what I\'m bringing

Where I've been:

Good Evening… Planet Earth
All the countries I visited on this trip (in yellow).

What's this about?

Traveling is something I've loved doing for as long as I can remember. I've been lucky enough to travel out of the US a few times but never longer than 2 weeks at a time. I decided that I should go see the world and experience all it has to offer. I booked a one-way ticket to Dublin, Ireland to depart on June 26, 2013. After I get to Europe I'll let serendipity take hold and see where I end up. No schedules and no itinerary… just go with the flow. That's as close to a plan as I'm making.

Who am I?

My name's Brandon O'Brien and I'm a travelholic. Before this journey I've been to 11 countries and put over 17,500 miles on various motorcycle trips through the USA and Canada. I'm a self-employed web developer so I'm fortunate enough to be able to work anywhere there's an internet connection. That's what truly made this experience possible.


By Country

By Date

daily journal (174), spain (42), england (39), italy (17), ireland (16), brighton (16), barcelona (15), wales (15), newquay (12), seville (10), cardiff (9), morocco (8), france (8), paris (8), tangier (8), valencia (7), belgium (7), cordoba (7), scotland (6), naples (6), madrid (5), berlin (5), dublin (5), amsterdam (5), netherlands (5), germany (5), bruges (4), llandudno (4), lucca (4), cinque terre (4), edinburgh (4), bristol (4), kilkenny (4), brussels (3), dingle (3), galway (3), florence (3), riomaggiore (3), vienna (3), austria (3), york (3), birmingham (3), czech republic (3), prague (3), preparation (3), post trip (2), brecon beacons (2), snowdonia (2), llanberis (2), observations (2), doolin (2), gent (1), loch ness (1), bath (1), stats (1), USA (1), howth (1), malahide (1), ronda (1), bennettsbridge (1), blasket islands (1), tips (1), limerick (1), rome (1), inverness (1), london (1), herculaneum (1), pompeii (1), nairn (1), pisa (1), glenfiddich (1), glenlivet (1), highlands (1), st andrews (1), conwy (1), banksy (1), penarth (1), favorites (1)