Ireland, France and Italy
03.11.2008 24 °C
Okay I admit it, I couldn't stay away and an $800 round trip ticket to Ireland was just too good to turn down. So after Rancho HS last major swim meet and before the Napa District school kids were even out for the summer I took off with my little sister Anna to Europe once again. The trip was fast, intense and as always left me wanting more. I was so happy to once again see my Aussie friends that I miss so much while I'm in the States and create more memories to last a lifetime.
Me, Anna, Adele and Ashleigh
I ended my last tour with the wild and crazy Adele and this year we decided to start it off with a bang and meet up in Dublin, Ireland. I was stoked that she made it over to Ireland and it was so great to see her (as always). So after meeting up on the streets of Dublin we started things off in true tradition...and got smashed! If there is anything to do in Dublin it is to bar hop and if there is anyone who knows how to do that right it is my girl Adele.
During the days we toured the Guiness brewery (not a very good idea to do after a big drinking night!) and explored the city of Dublin. I think we were pretty much in agreement though that the life of the city happened after the sun went down and the drinks were poured. So why fight the system! Although after another night of bar hopping, a day of sleeping in a park and a few hours sleep in an airport and we were more than ready for some sun and rest down south. We said our sad goodbye to Adele and Asheley and headed down to Southern Europe.
Me and Anna
Next stop Spain!....NOT! As usual traveling on a budget does not always go as planned so in my attempt to save $10 by printing our RyanAir tickets online I enevitably cost us a last minute ticket to the south of France instead (if you know the story you realize RyanAir sucks and if you don't know the story let me just save you the time...punch line is RyanAir sucks). Live and Learn. However, there is a silver lining to every storm crowd and ours was waiting in Marseille and Nice. These cities, although slightly touristy, were fun to explore and bum around in for a few days.
This is a view of Marsielle from the top! The hundereds of stairs needed to get to this church lookout was well worth the breath taking view.
After moving up to Northern California in February I was itching to get near a beautiful beach again and just soak up the sun. I didn't get the memo though that beaches in Nice consist mainly of small rocks (not ideal for sun bathing) and that the water is still very cold in June. No matter, I'll swim and sun with the best of them.
TOUR DE ITALY
Me, Anna and Joe
Anna and I kept cruising down the coast towards Rome stopping at a few little and big towns along the way. I think we were both in total agreement that a little Italian town beats the pants of big cities! Our stop in big city Genova was due to convient location (which turned out to be not so convient) and the anticipation of the largest (aka awesomest!) aquarium in Europe...it was not so impressive. However, our little town of Marina di Massa saved the day with the best hostel, a two story villa on the beach, even though we had a bit of a cat fight on the 3 km walk to the hostel. Oh sisters!
On our trip down the coast we reserved a few minutes to check out the Leaning Tower of Pisa...literally we left a few minutes. We attempted to run from the Pisa train station to the tower and back (probably 3 km round trip) in 30min, we made it just in time to see our train take off for Rome.
Rome was incredible. It seemed that everywhere you stepped there was a piece of history to meet you there. Okay, given most of it is reserved for tourism and is crowded, littered and postcard played out; but you just can't beat the shear size and amount of history that is packed into one city. Anna and I met up with Joe in Rome and walked the city inside and out, said 'what up' to the Pope, and even had time for beer pong, Italian style!
After Rome it was time to say goodbye to my baby sis and on to Venice, Italy for me and Joe. Venice was so much more than I ever could have imagined!
The Plaza de San Marcos
I wish I could have stayed longer in Venice, just crusing the waterways, having a cafe in a local bistro, or simply sitting and people watching in a plaza. But after three days it was time to say goodbye; Joe and I were off to Paris for the biggest Aussie reunion to date!
Morten, Lilou, Joe, Pierrick, Elise, Heidi, Bianca and Me
Truth be told, I did feel a little guilty on my flight to Paris. I mean there I was 22 years old and on my way to Paris for a week for the second time in one year! No one should be that lucky but the fact is that it was a great central meeting spot for me and Morten (who had never been to Paris) and the added bonus of getting to see Lilou, Pierrick, Heidi, Bianca and meeting Elise was too good to pass up.
Also, visiting a city with old friends is 100x better than visiting any other city alone. I enjoyed walking the streets of Paris again this time with great friends to laugh with and give me a new take on now familiar sights.
We visited all the traditional Paris sights, the Louve, the Moulin Rouge, Pere Lachaise cemetary, and even had time to go up the Eiffle tower (although as Joe reminded us time and time again...not to the very top!)
I had the most amazing week getting to spend some much needed time with Morten (be it eating a late breakfast of cheese and bread in a local park, bumming around the streets of Paris, or simply ignoring it all and just enjoying each others company) as well as seeing Aussie friends that I love so much. I truely wish that I lived closer to these amazing people. My time with them always seems too short and too far between.
For my last stop I headed back to Ireland and took a bus from Dublin to check out the other side of the country (a whole three hour bus ride away) and a city called Galway. It was great to ride on the bus and see a bit of the country side, felt much more like the Ireland I had expected than Dublin's busy streets. Galway was a beautiful little city with a lot of great local spots.
I had a great time watching the Euro cup in local pubs, checking out the live music scenes, and inevitalby ending up smashed on a bus back to Dublin at 4am...just making it in time to catch my flight back to the States! Thus, another European adventure ends...Next time I'll check out Eastern Europe!