From Galway to Clifden & Cleggan

Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 13.29.17Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 13.29.28Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 13.29.53Screen Shot 2017-06-02 at 13.30.03

I don’t recall a lot from this part (although I do recall gouging my legs while bushwhacking) and the photos aren’t that great but here are a few shots of me on the trip to get a flavour of where we were.

Funny thing about Casey is that obviously he had an impact on me at the time but I do not remember him in the least now.

And saying goodbye to Em…the interesting part of the story with her was that she ended up marrying Martin. I don’t think they’re together anymore, but it’s always fascinating when you meet people who then go on to forge something stronger than deeper than you’d ever imagine.

Other than that I don’t feel particularly reflective today though so I’m not going to write much more than this. Happy Friday!


The Irish Tour Begins

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 15.59.40Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 15.59.01

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 16.02.10

So…taking off across Ireland in the Slow Coach, here’s the route we took. Love how I specified where I stopped and where I didn’t. Colour-coded, no less! Evidently I decided to start writing more and I think that with longer entries, it will show more of my age and, evidently, interest in meeting and hanging out with boys. So forgive me.

I think my problem with Kildare is that I got St. Brigid mixed up with Hildegard of Bingen. Remember having a thing for women saints for a time back then. And I grew up in the United Church – but women having power in a religious context was always of interest to me.  Here’s the cross the man gave me along with the info about it and a photo of the Kildare Cathedral.

But I had a hard time with the bigger cities. Once I saw what I had to see I found them kind of boring because you can access the same fast food restaurants as in other places around the world and you get such a better handle on the flavour of a country when you are in the smaller towns and rural areas as evidenced by my improved mood in Galway.

I like that I mentioned the things about the history and culture that I found meaningful to me. I felt consistently amazed by the preservation of these things. Here’s Newgrange (including the closer-up of yours truly) & Trim Castle from Braveheart:

I remember that pub we went to in Galway even thought I never put the name in. To the point that if you took meet Galway today and it was still there I would know it in a second. That’s the beauty that revisiting this experience provides…memories. Remember these guys well – in fact, Paul and I are friends on Facebook even now. But there was none of them for me like there was for my friend, Em.

Interesting how I analyzed the burger prices. That’s a 23-year-old talking that’s for sure, as I can tell you 43-year-old me doesn’t frequent fast food joints unless I’ve had several pints. But I loved that Veggie Bean Burger that Burger King still make today. It was progressive in Europe to be able to go to a fast food restaurant that you recognized and get a veggie burger – certainly couldn’t do that in Canada in 1997. I had decided to stop eating meat in 1991 and ended up stopping eating poultry in 1995. So cheap vegetarian options were a goal for me. Can’t remember if I was eating fish back then…I’m not sure I was. But I do now…still don’t eat meat or poultry though.


In Dublin’s Fair City

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 21.54.04Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.09.10

I liked traveling with the jump-on-jump-off (JOJO) passes, which is what the Slow Coach was. None of these services exist anymore…I’ve been trying to find out when they all disappeared. They all seemed to start around the same time in the mid-90s but it sounds like they couldn’t make a real go of it so the services don’t exist anymore. That would have made my European trip a very different adventure for me. The JOJO passes were almost like a tour where the drivers explained things about where you were going along the way, and it had a defined route (as you’d have seen in my earlier map of Britain) but there was no commitment other than that; people could get on and off as they liked so you weren’t with the same people all the time. I loved it.

Dublin Castle was my first castle. And funny enough, that table really was my favourite part. I had been bummed that I didn’t take a photo of it at the time but I found one online (ah, the power of the internet):

Dublin table.jpg

Doesn’t seem like much, I know, but it was beautiful and intricately done.

Obviously was a good little tourist and did some of the things I was supposed to, not surprisingly, based around alcohol (even when it’s a church!). The Guinness brewery really did have the best pint of Guinness I would have my entire trip (and truthfully, I had a lot!). Someone told me recently that Guinness will never tasted the same here because it has to be transported overseas and there’s a chemical they have to add to it for stability. Not sure it’s the case…I just think there’s none of the River Liffey in it.

I vaguely remember Eamonn…was a little put off as I recall when he talked about Jack the Ripper while we had a pint at a corner table at O’Reilly’s…that must have been after he kissed me, because obviously I let that happen.. He was a bit hard to work out. But what a 23-year-old experience to have. I feel like I made the right decision by ditching the second night. It did freak me out a little as well, because the first night he had walked me back to the hostel, so I felt like he knew where I was and would come and find me if I didn’t show up. Still, it’s not my style to ditch someone, or make plans and not show. I’m just not like that, hence the slight feeling of guilt.

I loved Tom Robbins – read every one of his books in my 20s, still have copies on my bookshelves…they are some of the books I just can never pare down. They meant a lot to me…That’s another thing I should return to 20 years later. See how that feels. Jitterbug Perfume I think was my favourite. If you’ve never read it, here is a rabbit hole of quotes to give you the flavour of the fantastical cult classic.

This also sparks again my interest in religion related to the feminine. I had spent some time exploring goddess religion – I loved the feminism and the empowerment and action behind it…still do. But ultimately I found while that religion of any sort is so fascinating, and I love educating myself on all different kinds, practicing any kind or organized religion isn’t for me. But learning about women who became saints was of particular interest. Will look forward to re-learning more about St. Brigid of Kildare.

And as a recap, because I spelled it out so neatly, this is the trip so far:

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.07.38

So many people who seemed significant and memorable at the time have faded from memory. But some remain, and some come back to life when I reread bits and pieces about them. I do think I get a bit more detailed in future posts…

Manchester onto Dublin

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.08.03Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.08.11Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.16.21

So in writing this post, I was in the Wed Wose Cafe, which seemed to have closed down in the mid-2000s but this map gives you an idea of where it was in Dublin. Pretty central…I don’t recall this specific spot but I can certainly romanticize what it was like!

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.22.09

But this post was really more about Manchester than Dublin and covered the 24th & 25th. A little bit tricky when trying to honour the anniversary…should it be the anniversary of the event – I’d think so – or when the entry was created? Maybe I have to read ahead a little after all. Guess I’ll have to work that out.

I find it interesting that I tried to go out alone and was told not to. I’m glad I asked. I’m not much of an asker these days, I like to try to figure things out myself. But I’m guessing my Spidey sense was probably tingling…but nice that Nick guy was a good dude. He was just a guy who wanted to go for a beer. Probably a little unfair of me to refer to him as “goofy” as he did me a favour in hanging out when I had no one else.

I’ve never been a clubbing type – it’s just not bred into us North Americans the same way it is for the Europeans. I remember wanting to check out the Haçienda because of its legendary status but I knew right away it wasn’t my scene. But what I didn’t realize at the time is that it closed a month later, nearly to the day. I had no idea.  And now gone for good. As a music fan, it’s cool I got to visit one of those legendary venues.

Can’t find evidence of the music festival but I found a little history on Toss the Feathers. Still have a love for Celtic music. It was exciting to find a few small music festivals. I love seeing live music whenever I can and this is something that’s been with me for years. Especially a festival like this which seems like it reflects the Winnipeg Folk Festival which is of course, so near and dear to my heart.

Especially as a new traveler I loved meeting other single women on the road. They all seemed to be something so cool, which was both inspiring and motivating. Most of the time I loved the freedom to move, to meet and hang with different people learning about different cultures along the way. I tried to steer away from Canadians, whom I felt I could meet at home, and Americans, because they felt too much like Canadians. I was enamoured of the Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and other Europeans. They were all so exotic, with their accents and their slang, many of them on their gap years or lengthy overseas stays with their parents’ heritage leading them to work visas…

So here we are so far:Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 14.07.38

That’s what I did and where I stayed. Feels like not much yet…I know it took a while to ease into it all, to have my Canadian life melt away. I don’t think I quite had a sense of how free I was then. I was so uncertain of where I was going to go in life. This seemed like a justification. I did feel supported by my family when I left, which was good. They believed in travel as a form of education, so it felt like I was extending my learning before really starting in the working world and I didn’t feel like I was copping out or escaping. OK maybe I was escaping a little. But I needed to do something different. My dreams of working in Advertising (which I thought I would do from when I was about 14) were shattered after actually taking an advertising course and learning what it was really about. I was single, I had no debt (huge thanks to my parents for saving for my education all those years) and more than that, no plan. So it really was the best time to go.

When I was with my mom last weekend in Sonoma we talked about this blog. She asked me why I was doing it. Why was I sharing this online with the world to see. My first answer is that I felt the need to commemorate this trip somehow. I needed the impetus to read the journals again, and I needed a framework to put it all in. She knew it was a hard time for me back then. She said the trip changed me. I hope she meant for the good…but maybe not entirely, I didn’t ask her to elaborate because I don’t know if I want to know.

But I am at peace with my life now. And I’m really proud I made this all happen for myself. It would have been really very easy NOT to make the journey, NOT to take the risk. But with all risk comes results one way or the other – and I can say in this case, rewards.

Bath – Part 1

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 22.38.56

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 22.50.34Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 22.51.06

Long entry to catch up on the previous days. And a new era begins…the first foreign boy. Prior to this trip my only real encounter with Australians was ‘Crocodile Dundee’, which is as cliched as it sounds. But I was so enthralled with the exoticness – the accents, the slang, the idea that these people came from SO FAR AWAY that I was mesmerized. A big deal for a Canadian prairie girl. I met and befriended mostly women in the early stages as I wanted to feel safe in my new surroundings – and Nicki was amazing for that, though she was a Kiwi…but Greg was this sweet guy that made me feel special. There’ll be more on him later.

But beyond that, I love that I saw the beauty in this place and the places around, and that it reminded me of books my mom read me when I was a kid. And my references to the places I visited were only Canadian (Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, Butchart Gardens in Victoria, BC). And I think I was able to capture it a little bit…

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 22.57.11

I should probably mention at this stage that I’m putting the full pages of photo books in now because I can’t peel the photos off the 20-year-old sticky pages very easily. But I want to be able to share the shots I took, dark as they may be, they were significant of the time. That’s Nicki in the bottom shot with me, and no, she is not wearing my shirt. She got that all on her own.

I love that I discovered a music festival that made me think of home. Funny that I mentioned Folk Fest because I loved it then…and that’s where I work now.

I also find it interesting that I had put this pressure on myself to go places and do things and be certain places at certain times. I’m not all that different now. And it has to be a conscious effort to allow myself to chill out and relax a bit. But when I do allow myself to let myself go, it’s amazing, as will be evidenced in future posts.

I also wanted to share my all-time favourite sign, which I found hilarious at the time. One of those things that just translates differently to us Canadians:

Screen Shot 2017-05-17 at 22.55.03


The Slow Coach

Turns out I didn’t write for the next few days as I started my time in Bath but found the info on the transportation I took around the UK: the Slow Coach.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 10.30.00.png

The only articles I could find online about this company were from the ’90s and even Googling the phone numbers provided nothing, so I suspect they went out of business or were bought long ago. It sure was a great way to get around though. I met a ton of people (including, funny enough, my friends from Winnipeg that I ran into at the British Museum) and it took me directly to and from reputable hostels while also giving me an idea of what to do, so a great way for a solo traveler to start off.

I used a Let’s Go travel guide, which was a refreshing change from the Lonely Planets that most of the others carried around – it provided some different perspectives, including one in Hungary in particular. We’ll see that one later.

I also liked that it showed the route it took with things you could do – nerd that I am, I highlighted some of the things I saw when I was there here:

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 10.45.31.png


More on many of these things to come…

Reflecting on a bus

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 21.56.43

I’ve noticed I really didn’t have much to say about where I was for the first week – but it’s interesting to see how people affected me and the things I was reflecting on…and how feeling that needing work on myself was seen like a fault. Now it’s a daily occurrence!

Well, it’s late in the evening on May 14, 2017 and I don’t feel like I have a lot of capacity today. Had a big and busy weekend but got to see lots of my friends, many of whom I could also describe as I saw “Lesley/Lel” now. So happy to have so many amazing women in my life to this day.