We flew out March 25 from our hometown, then it was on to Chicago for a layover. A seven hour layover. A seven hour layover in O’Hare, which turned out to be almost nine hours as our flight there arrived early and the flight to Dublin was delayed. Yeah. I honestly hate O’Hare. Every time I’ve flown out of the international section I’ve hated it. It’s dirty, smells odd, and has no facilities whatsoever. There are some bathrooms and maybe one or two odd hallway snack kiosks selling liquor, candy bars, and magazines, all at outrageous prices. So we walked those grungy hallways for an eternity.
Once we finally got on the Aer Lingus flight to Dublin, everything started looking up. There was a decent dinner, and it was a new, clean plane with a noticeable absence of crying babies. In fact, there were so many empty seats I was able to spread out a bit and get some sleep. Since it’s impossible for me to sleep on airplanes, I felt like this was a huge improvement. And there was a built-in screen and entertainment system thing in every seat–and a bit of legroom! Yeah, I was shocked too.

So we land in Dublin, tired, hungry, and a bit lost, but it’s a gorgeous morning. The fog is just lifting, revealing this glowingly green landscape. We make it through Customs and Immigration, find my luggage, and even manage to pick up a cheap phone with SIM card so we can call around.

I call Paddy’s Palace because not only do they have cheap beds in Dublin, they have backpacker’s tours (which we plan on taking) AND a free shuttle from the airport.

Shuttle was super nice, but when we got to Paddy’s Palace the same girl that had blithely assured me they had spare rooms on the phone was now quite certain there were none to be had. I signed up for their three-day Northern Ireland tour, leaving the next morning, and after lots of hunting we found a four-bed dorm in Jacob’s Inn for 32 euro a night per person. NOT the greatest deal out there, but there just so happened to be a Tina Turner concert in town that weekend and there was nothing else to be had. Damn you, Tina Turner, damn you.

I found out that a lot of hostels in Ireland enjoy using these absolutely retarded push-button shower control things, a lot like the ones you get on sinks in public restrooms where you press the handle down and after a minute it’ll rise back up and stop the water. I struggled my way through a sporadic shower to wash off fifteen some hours of airport/airplane grunge, possibly the grodiest kind out there, and was asleep by 8 pm (damn you, jet lag) to the sound of BBC2 and some strange, strange British cooking show that involved men in flamboyant yellow suits and matching accessories.

And that was my illustrious and surprisingly smooth arrival into Ireland. Did I mention that at two am, an older gentleman reeking of alcohol stumbled into the dorm room, swore softly, and spent the next fifteen minutes struggling gamely but unsuccessfully to reach his top bunk? The rest of the night, the room smelled like a bar, but once he stopped bouncing the springs, it was fairly quiet.

Adventure of the Three Day Northern Ireland Tour coming up next!


We spent the entire weekend freaking out.  “I can’t believe we actually bought tickets!” we kept saying to each other.  After all, less than a week ago I still thought I was going to Spain.  And now, we’re on our way to Ireland.  

The living room looks like a sporting goods store that’s been vandalized; gutless backpacks sprawl, straps scattered, over the couches and floor.  Rain pants, hiking boots, and cameras compete for space on the coffee table.  We were trying to find out what size backpack we would need.  We have two 5,000 cubic inch backpacks, and one 3500, and they’re either too big or too small.  

I’m a fan of packing as light as possible and taking the 3500 inch backpack, but my mom is convinced that we need to bring everything.  I’d take nothing but my laptop, clean socks, and rain gear, but she wants to bring everything from multiple towels, sleeping bags (despite the fact that we’re sleeping in hostels,) and four different types of pants–to hair dryers, purses, and small dogs (not really.)  

I can see her point on some things; I just think it gets excessive.  I’m going to make her pack up her backpack before she leaves and carry it around for a full day–she’ll decide she doesn’t need quite as much, I’m sure.  

We still have four months before we go, though, so there’s plenty of time to pack and decide what we’re taking.  And where we’re going once we get to Ireland.  At the moment, we have no plan at all.  

Wickford Way? Dingle Way?  Kerry Way?  Part of the Donegal Way?  How long should we stay in Dublin?  These are all questions that somehow, we must at least attempt to answer before we get on the plane, naive and clueless, on our way to Ireland.

SPRING BREAK.  All right, let me tell the whole story and not get ahead of myself here.  

For a long time, I was planning on going on a group tour to Spain over spring break 2009 for ten days.  The final payment is due next week, and I suddenly looked at the bill, looked at how (not) excited I really was about it, and decided to cancel Spain.  I will lose the $600 I’ve already paid for it, but at least I won’t be spending another $3400 on the trip that I really don’t want to go on.  

I’d like to go to Spain, don’t get me wrong.  BUT, my reasons for not going outweighed my reasons for going and therefore, based on my superior mental acuity, I made a swift and powerful decision.


  • I’ve already paid $600 unrefundable dollars for Spain
  • I’ve been expecting to go for almost three years
  • it’s a sure thing.  All I have to do is send in my check and show up at the airport w/ a passport and spending money.  


  • It’s going to cost $4000.  I’ve known how much it was going to cost from the beginning, and I don’t mind that, but I can do a LOT more with $4000 than go to Spain with a bunch of kids for a week and a half.  
  • I don’t want to be constrained to a tour and a group and a guide, etc.  I want to be able to make my own decisions.
  • The tour company added a ton of extra costs on at the last minute, and they’re going to add more before I leave.  
  • I’m just not as interested in Spain as in other European countries…like IRELAND.
  • This is going to be the last summer before I go off to college and am dirt poor for indefinite number of years.  I want to spend my hard-earned money on something I really want to do.  

As you can see, one list is a bit longer than the other one.  Therefore, Ireland it is. 


SO, I bought my tickets about two hours ago.  I’m going hiking for two weeks along the coast of Ireland over spring break 2009 with my mother.  We have no plans as of yet, only ticket dates.

 I will be blogging the entire adventure.  We are going to stay as unplanned and spontaneous, sleeping in hostels and B&Bs, and I’m going to be taking the Macbook with me (it’s like my child. 🙂

I will be posting updates as they happen.  If you have any suggestions for us, let us know.  We don’t even know what area of Ireland we’re going to yet, only that we’re flying into and leaving in Dublin.  We want to see castles and Irish countryside, and possibly the Giant’s Causeway–and the Guinness Storehouse, in Dublin.  

Now that this blog has a sense of purpose again, you will all be getting bombarded with a constant stream of epic travel-ness!  Make sure you RSS my blog so that you can stay updated with the latest in my spontaneous travel adventure–HIKING IRELAND!

There is always the option to hitchhike of you’re really short on cash, really desperate, adventurous, or just crazy.  It’s possible.  People do it all the time.  If you do, for some insane reason, want to hitchhike, most of Europe is better than the United States.  

Now, for those of you who are determined to hitchhike, a few tips.  

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Answer: It depends.  On a lot of things.  Your transportation costs are going to be a big one.  Plane tickets, train passes, and the associated taxes, fees, and extras are going to eat up a considerable portion of your budget.  

But it’s not impossible to travel cheaply.  That’s what the point of this is.  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good time.  In fact, sometimes the budget trips–staying in a hostel, eating from grocery stores, and using every student discount you can get your hands on–is the most profound, fascinating trip experience.  

When planning your trip, you need to remember that there are more than just the actual trip cost.  A big chunk of change is going to be gone before you ever get to the airport.  

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Time to get down to business. Roll up your sleeves, because I have some delicious foods here for you to make at home….or, even better, get the real deal in Spain.

Spanish people eat a lot of ham. Do not ask me why this is so, but it is. Ham, and seafood on the coast. And their two main staple ingredients are olive oil and garlic. Mmm, I’m liking this already. Because of the mountains running through the country, which made communication difficult until the last half of the twentieth century, regional dishes can vary extremely widely. But there will be ham. Believe you me, Read the rest of this entry »

London is a notoriously expensive city.  But you can have fun there without spending any money.  Here are some activities in London that cost zero pounds, dollars, euros, pesos, yen, soles, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Wow…this is pretty dumb.  But I’m excited, so what’s not to love?  I’ve been incredibly busy the last week or two and haven’t had much time to write.  So I finally checked my stats today, and I definitely had over 1,000 hits!  I never thought more than a hundred people would see this.  But in only three months I’ve reached over one thousand people.

It’s a pretty small number for the internet, I know, but it’s still pretty exciting.  I just had to say something.  In a year I’ll look back at this and laugh at how excited I was to hit 1 k.  Now I’ve reached my first goal: my next is to write at least every other day, and start reaching over fifty people a day on a consistent basis.

On a travel point, my trip is definitely starting to look more solid.  My chances of getting good scholarships are high, with a 31 ACT.  So that reduces my college-paying stresses.  And I have a well-paying job for the summer at a high end restaurant.  And my parents are going to help me out with my Macbook, so there’s even less money I have to spend on that.  I’m feeling pretty golden right now!

So…question for you blog-savvy people out there: what are the beset ways to increase your traffic for free?  I think I’d like to do another article on that, but I need some new tactics to write about.

Good luck on everyone’s goals, whatever they may be.  What are your travel goals?  Let me know!



Hostels can be somewhat more bewildering than a hotel. How much do they really cost, what do you get for your money, and what do you need to know about them? These vary by country and city; here is some information about what you can expect for hostels in England, especially the pricier London area, and how prices compare in different areas of England.  There are also links of useful websites to book your reservation and read reviews, look at pictures, etc.

First off: What exactly is a hostel?  It is basically a dormitory-style budget sleeping accommodation, generally frequented by young backpackers and other people traveling on the cheap. 

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I borrowed this book from a friend the other day and absolutely fell in love with it.  It is a rough travel guide type of thing; the first half is devoted to general information on things like eating, sleeping, and getting around in Europe; the second half is filled with amazing places to see in Europe that are much sweeter than the standard tourist traps.

The friend who I borrowed it from just used it in Italy and said that it saved his life over there.  It is absolutely packed with useful information.  It was so interesting that I ended up reading the entire thing straight through like a novel….what that says about me I don’t know, except that it is an amazing book and if you’re planning on going to Europe or are even interested in it, you should buy, beg, borrow, or steal (not really the last one) Europe Through the Back Door.

There was information on planning your itinerary, places to see and avoid, times to go, how to act, where to eat, how to get around when you don’t speak the native language, how to get good, cheap hostel/hotel rooms, and so much advice that you can only get from someone who has been there a thousand times.

The best part is that the author, Rick Steves, actually has a sense of humor and can write well.  This is always a refreshing change after thousands of guidebooks that sound as though they were written by someone who didn’t know how to laugh.

It’s updated every year or every few years, too, so you can always have an updated edition.  It’s definitely more than just a guidebook.  I would recommend this book as a suplpement to any more location-specific guidebooks that you are buying for your trip.  No matter where you go in Europe, you will find useful information in here.  I give it five thumbs-up burritos for simple amazingness and usefulness.

Now I can’t wait to go try it out in Europe myself.  Oh, for the day…



August 2020


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