Food, Friends & New Adventures

Part 4 of my “photo diary of the best summer of my life” series (Summer 2018) … featuring food, friends and new adventures in Dublin. This isn’t so much a blog post as it is a photo diary and memory record for me. This is the final post of this Summer 2018 series.

As you know, I went on a spontaneous trip to Italy (Roma and Verona) in June. I decided on this trip for three reasons: 1) to see a very good friend I hadn’t seen in years, 2) to explore a region of Italy I’ve never been to (Verona) and 3) to eat.

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Eight years of friendship! I first met A on my very first trip to Italy in April 2011.

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Amorino opened in Dublin in early summer

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I enjoyed numerous dinner picnics in Stephen’s Green (and yes, I often bring my own hot sauce!)

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The picture of summer in Dublin! Can’t beat the Dublin light. St. Stephen’s Green

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Greystones in April

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I had the pleasure of seeing my best friend / life wife graduate with her PhD! An incredibly perfect day for us, and a memory I will always treasure.

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Teddy’s 99!

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I ate a record amount of ice cream in summer 2018.

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Pure happiness at the Happy Pear

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We went all out for breakfast at the Happy Pear

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One of my favourite brunches in Dublin… peanut butter avocado toast at Two Pups Coffee! Trust me, it’s delicious.

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An incredible newcomer as of last summer… my beloved Nutbutter!! I had the pleasure of catching up with a friend I met on the train to Aguas Calientes, Peru at Nutbutter.

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I’m a Bunsen fanatic and it will always be my #1, but BuJo is a close second!!!

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Vietnom @ The Glimmer Man Pub – fabulous!

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Yet another Happy Pear breakfast

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One of the best flat whites I’ve had in my life @ Noshington. 

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My second to last night in Dublin – celebrating the best way I know how: with “I” at Cirillo’s, my greatest pizza addiction! (the best Neapolitan pizza I’ve had outside of Napoli)

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Countless walks (at least once every day) through Stephen’s Green

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Making new friends

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I started boxing in May… went a little bit crazy on this day and had to casually ice my knuckles while walking through Grand Canal (this was the smallest bin bag the bar could find, ha)

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I got to appreciate so many sunsets in summer 2018.

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I treated myself to Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre for the second time – this time alone!

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I happened to be walking by the Taoiseach’s house when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were getting ready to leave

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral

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An average sight in Dublin

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Beautiful Victorian Dublin

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Appreciation for Dublin’s architecture

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Can’t beat a Dublin summer sky! This was taken from my flat window

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… so was this!

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Dublin street art

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Fascinating tour of the Freemasons’ Hall

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The sight of these stairs instantly relaxed me every single time!

The single greatest decision I made in summer 2018 was to sign up for one month of unlimited yoga classes at Yoga Hub on Camden Street. I took my first yoga class in college and hated it, because I had the unfortunate experience of having an odd, over-the-top instructor. I unfortunately carried this hate with me for 10+ years. In July, I decided I wanted to force myself to like yoga, which is why I signed up for an unlimited month of classes. Luckily, Yoga Hub was only a 5 minute walk from where I lived and it became my haven, my escape, my happy place. I completely fell in love with yoga during this month and my discovery of my love for yoga was the greatest blessing, especially at that particular time in my life. This just shows you sometimes need to give things (and people) a second chance in life. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have discovered my love for yoga.

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Combining my two greatest music loves: orchestra and traditional Irish music at the National Concert Hall

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“I” showered me with mermaid gifts for my 30th… to my absolute delight!

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Insider’s Guide: Dublin

My dear friend Gigi kindly featured me on her blog, The Global Organizerhere. I am posting my featured post below, but I highly recommend checking it out on her blog – because the format is much better (and there are more photos!).

FROM CHELSEA

I’m Chelsea; my passport says I’m American but my heart will tell you I’m Irish. I grew up in Florida, but have known my entire life that I’m meant to live in Ireland. I moved to Ireland in September 2010 (Cork for 6 months, then Dublin) and I genuinely fall more in love with Dublin every single day. It is by far my favourite place in the world and even though my favourite hobby is travelling, I am always happy to come back to Dublin. Dublin has everything: the sea, mountains, beautiful parks and is a city that can either feel like a bustling capital city or a tranquil town, depending on where you are. I even like the Irish weather, which is especially funny coming from someone who is from Florida.

EAT

When people think of Ireland, they usually don’t think of food. Or if they do, they think of meat and potatoes and maybe Lucky Charms. This is changing hugely! When I first moved here in 2010, the foodie scene was non-existent. I am now convinced Dublin has one of the most amazing foodie scenes in the world: I actually think it’s even better than London’s, though I’m a bit biased. We have some incredible restaurants here and you can have top-notch cuisine from just about everywhere around the world. Dublin really knows how to do brunch! P.S. Lucky Charms do not exist here. Well, they do… you can buy a box for 10 euro from one specialityshop! I’d say Ireland produces the best beef, butter, milk and strawberries in the world.

  • Bunsen– Nothing compares to Irish beef. You must try a Bunsen burger: melt-in-your-mouth delicious! Bunsen has a cult following and luckily, there are four locations.
  • Full Irish breakfast – Surprise, potatoes are not generally part of a full Irish! A full Irish usually consists of eggs (usually fried, but you can request otherwise), rashers (bacon), sausages, baked beans, black and white pudding, fried tomato and toast. Make sure you try some incredible Irish butter on your toast… even better, if you have an option of having brown bread / brown soda bread, choose that!!
  • Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse or most pubs (it’s debatable who has the best Guinness!) My vote would be for a pint at the Cobblestone because of the atmosphere – you can listen to live traditional Irish music if you’re there in the evening.
  • Brunch is a way of life in Dublin. I have many favourite brunch places – one of them is Two Pups Coffee, in a great old neighborhood called The Liberties. They have great coffee, unique food (avocado toast with peanut butter!! Trust me, it’s fantastic) and the staff is super friendly.
  • Modern Irish (Whitefriar Grill and The Winding Stair) – Irish pub food (L. Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter / O’Neills / The Hairy Lemon) –Fish & Chips (Beshoff Bros or Leo Burdock) – Neapolitan pizza (Cirillo’s) – Sushi (Musashi and Kokoro) – Indian (Pickle) – TexMex (Boojum) – Ice cream (Murphy’s or a 99 cone from Teddy’s in Dun Laoghaire) – Vegan (The Happy Pear and Cornucopia) – Salads (Sprout) – Lebanese (The Cedar Tree or Damascus Gate) – Vietnamese(Pho Ta and Aobaba) – Michelin Star (Chapter One) – Tapas (Las Tapas de Lola or PortHouse) – Pasta (DaMimmo and Rosa Madre) – Unique fine dining experience(Taste at Rustic – Peruvian and Japanese fusion) – Best Egg’s Benedict (Wuff) – Best scones (Emer’s Kitchen and Brother Hubbard) – Favourite newcomer(Nutbutter – healthy food) – Sandwich (Green Bench Café) – Amazing views (Sophie’s at The Dean) – Dessert (Nutella Cheesecake at either Taco Taco or San Lorenzo’s; though unfortunately, you cannot go only for dessert) – Donuts (Rolling Donut) – Coffee (Proper Order, Clement and Pekoe, Il Valentino, Butler’s)

PLAY

  • Cliff walk: Either Bray to Greystones and lunch at The Happy Pear if you feel like eating healthy or Howth cliff walk followed by fish and chips
  • Guinness Storehouse
  • On your way to Trinity College to see the Old Library and the Book of Kells, wander through St. Stephen’s Green park and then down Grafton Street, stopping to listen to various buskers.

STAY

This is something I can’t really comment on, seeing as I’ve only ever lived in Dublin. I’ve never been here as a tourist. However, I know if money were no object and I could stay anywhere in Dublin, I would choose either the Merrion or the Shelbourne. For someone on a major budget, I know the Generator hostel in Smithfield is great as far as hostels go.

The best areas in Dublin to stay in are: Dublin 2 (safest and nicest part of the city centre), Dublin 4 (just a bit outside the city centre and very posh), Dublin 6 (very local neighbourhood), Smithfield/Stoneybatter in Dublin 7, Dublin 8 if you want to be near the Guinness Storehouse and Phoenix Park. Stay away from Temple Bar in Dublin 2 if you want any peace and quiet.

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Ireland is the land of a hundred thousand welcomes (Céad Míle Fáilte) and is, in my humble opinion, the most magical place on earth.

“It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what that love is for; for some it’s the friendliness Irish people are famous for, or the beautiful landscapes or the incredible produce we are becoming renowned for. Or perhaps it’s something a little less tangible. Perhaps that love of Ireland is more an emotion, a moment, an elusive feeling that we know intimately well but might find hard to describe. It’s what makes us love this country no matter the weather, it’s how we feel landing in Dublin Airport after a stint away. It’s the taste of a proper strong cuppa, it’s the craic, the kindness and the bold humour. It’s the thought of holing up in a cosy pub with a creamy pint of Guinness and the deep conviction that when the sun shines there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. It’s the sight of the Phoenix Park in the autumn when the trees are molten amber and the deep, burgeoning pride when our county takes home the Sam Maguire cup.” ~Author Unknown

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FAVORITE TRAVEL HACK

  • Charles Schwab bank is my best discovery – they are my American bank of choice and I adore my Schwab debit card because they refund ALL ATM fees – local or international! Bonus: they have fabulous customer service.

Summer on/in the Sea

Ireland isn’t known for good summers or hot weather, but summer 2018 was an exception. Ireland experienced the longest stretch of heat (and sun) since 1976. After the extreme winter we had (blizzards in March!) – it was that much more enjoyable. I remember the joy of looking out the window every morning and seeing the sun and knowing that the sun would last and be consistent throughout the day (not needing to bring a jumper or a rain jacket – whaaaaaat?!).

I found out on the 30th of May that I had to leave Ireland on 1st September. This was completely devastating news for me, but I knew I had to make Summer 2018 the best of my life… and that is exactly what I did.

Part 1 of my “Photo diary of the best summer of my life” – sea swims, walks near the water and sea adventures

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Vico Baths – my most favourite swim spot

Prior to summer 2018, I swam in the sea in Ireland just once – in Galway in October 2016. However, I had never been swimming in Dublin and I was determined to not only do it, but to enjoy it. I loved cold water when I was a small child, but from pre-adolescence until the age of 29, I absolutely despised swimming in cold water. The sea in Ireland never gets warmer than about 56F/13C, so it isn’t exactly an easy feat for someone who hates being in cold water. I can officially say Summer 2018 is the summer that I became completely addicted to sea swimming in Ireland. It is invigorating, refreshing and makes you feel so alive.

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Me with my arms up

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Sunrise swim at 6am in Greystones – no sunrise that morning, but still a beautiful experience

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Sandycove

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SUPing in Dún Laoghaire

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Kayaking in the River Liffey

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When the sun shines in Ireland – EVERYONE is outside / Sandycove

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First time jumping off the Forty Foot

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Magical day facing our fears and soaking up the sun

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Howth cliff walk (after taking a cruise from Dún Laoghaire)

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My favourite view in the world – the Poolbeg Chimneys

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Great South Wall walk – Poolbeg Lighthouse

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Sandymount / the beginning of the Great South Wall walk

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Howth

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Sandymount beach sunset walk

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Sandymount Beach

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Kite Fest at North Bull Island

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Grand Canal Dock

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Bray to Greystones cliff walk

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Epic sunsets on the piers of Dún Laoghaire

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Brown grass in St. Stephen’s Green – something I have NEVER seen before! The downside to the heatwave – severe drought and water restrictions

Emerging Adult

I am no longer a student.

I cannot believe I just typed those words! I submitted my dissertation exactly one month ago today, on the 12th of September. I am only just now starting to feel some relief and am quite surprised it took this long. I was extremely busy immediately after submitting but as soon as I could, I spent four days in a row doing absolutely nothing. I literally spent each of those days lying in bed and staring at the ceiling and out the window… and it was absolutely glorious. It is exactly what I needed to reset myself mentally and physically because, as expected, the last two weeks of writing my dissertation were extremely intense.

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Exactly two and a half hours after submitting my dissertation, I got a phone call and received the news that I had my first guidance counselling job interview. My very first interview for a career-focused job… my very first interview for a job I actually wanted, not simply needed. I could not even believe the timing – I was on the most incredible high that day. The interview went well and I am very proud of myself, even though I did not get the job. I know there is something out there for me and I still have a very positive outlook on my job search. I’ve been spending my days applying for jobs, relaxing, spending time with friends and generally being excited about autumn’s arrival in Dublin. I’ve already enjoyed multiple pumpkin and butternut squash dishes with my lifewife/bestie and we started officially planning for Thanksgiving on the 1st of October.

Since I have finally had some much needed downtime, I have had a lot of time to think. I feel like I officially became an adult over the last month. It’s of course been a gradual process and much of it has been evidenced in my blog, but I feel it really happened sometime between the 12th of September and today, the 12th of October. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be an adult, and, while I’ll never really grow up by choice, I’ve thought about these changes in myself and it’s fascinating to think about. On my 21st birthday, I tried various alcoholic drinks and hated everything I tried and remember thinking “I will never drink alcohol” (this obviously changed). The same goes for coffee. I remember, in my early and even mid-twenties, my dad telling me that I would enjoy coffee one day. I smile to myself thinking that one of his greatest joys in life is enjoying a coffee with some sort of pastry or sweet. This is now one of my greatest joys and consider myself to be a coffee connoisseur. I used to laugh at my dad and shake my head when he told me this. I am also officially tired of not knowing where I will (physically) be in one year’s time. I am ready to settle somewhere and have a place I can call my own. I want to be able to buy things without thinking about how I will transport it across the Atlantic Ocean if needs be. I am also very eager to begin my career and look forward to the day that I am hopefully settled in one job that I love. Another very adult thought as of late: I have realised I generally do not believe in soulmates (though there are exceptions). When it comes to romantic relationships, I don’t think there is only one person on this earth you are meant to be with. I think it depends on timing and where you are in a particular moment of time. And I have realised that friendship, companionship and compatibility is more important to me in a relationship than romance.

I am excited to see how I change and progress over the next couple months. I cannot believe how quickly October is flying by! Things to look forward to: lots of time with friends, new Gilmore Girls episodes (!), Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving (our 3rd annual and it means the world to us that our friends are as excited as we are!) and hopefully going home for Christmas.

Winter Thoughts

It finally happened. I never thought it would.

Every single Irish person I know repeatedly told me it would eventually happen to me, but I was adamant in my denial.

I am dreading the Irish winter.

I had to write this brief blog post for two reasons: 1) because I am currently procrastinating my dissertation research and 2) to mark that this is the exact moment my feelings about the Irish weather changed. I suppose this means I’ve become more Irish in my ways. The Irish love nothing more than to talk and complain about the weather. I used to love the rain and never minded the fact that we rarely see sun in winter. (Clarification: I never enjoyed the extreme, heavy rain – but, compared to Florida, it rarely rains very hard here. It’s usually a very light, misty rain and I used to find it refreshing.)

I took this photo this morning and didn't edit it at all. Beautiful autumn day in Dublin!

I took this photo this morning and didn’t edit it at all. Beautiful autumn day in Dublin!

We’ve had the most enjoyable weather the past two weeks (with the exception of the past two days). It has been extremely sunny and I’ve really felt the need to enjoy it while it’s here because I know it won’t last. The past two days were a reminder of that. We had the typical misty “Irish rain” and last night when I was walking home from my bus stop, a 10 minute walk, I arrived home with a soaking wet face from the very light rain. This was actually the first time I didn’t enjoy it.

I loved winter my first year in Ireland. I adored the rain, the sun-less days, the cold and even the wind. I suppose I enjoyed it because it was so different from Florida. Couldn’t be more different, actually. During my second year in Ireland, I didn’t mind winter at all. I mostly loved it. Now, going into my third Irish winter, I am not looking forward to it. The combination of the crazy, bone-chilling winds and the rain and no sun is what (finally) gets me about the Irish winter. I don’t mind the cold. Being away from Florida for so long has made me realise I really love (and need) the sun, but I do not miss the heat or humidity at all. I know I never will.

I hate to be full of complaints and would like it to be known that winter isn’t all bad. Among the things I enjoy about winter: tea is more enjoyable, wearing living in my onesie, sweating less, less tourists (therefore Dublin is less crowded, with the exception of holiday shopping time), wearing sweaters and cosy outfits and having an excuse to eat more “because I need the extra layer of fat to keep me warm”. I simply wish I had a fireplace at home to enjoy.

Having said all of this, I still love Ireland as much as ever and it still feels like home. I’m just hoping for a record-breaking sunny winter. I know my odds aren’t good!

Moving Emotions

My next blog post will be back on topic about Iceland, but I really felt the need to write this post for myself. I have been feeling a roller coaster of emotions lately and feel my sadness will go away once I’ve written and published these thoughts.

I moved to a new apartment exactly 2 weeks ago. Before moving, I genuinely had never been so excited for an event. I didn’t expect to miss my old apartment as much as I do. Having said that, I LOVE my new apartment. It’s so beautiful, modern and spacious. We have super high ceilings (looks great, though it’s freezing in here!!), large bedrooms, large wardrobes (so large, we could probably airbnb the space for people to sleep in…) and massive windowsills we could literally sit in. I love everything about the apartment except for 1) the small fridge and 2) how cold it is. I am living with my best friend and am very happy here. It feels like home.

Today, I officially have to say goodbye once and for all to my old apartment. My first apartment in Dublin. Actually, my first apartment in general. Maybe that’s why this is so painful for me. I found my old apartment exactly one year ago today, so I suppose it’s only fitting that today is the last time I get to step foot inside of it to collect the last few items I own. In memory of my previous apartment, here’s a list of things I love and miss about it:

– The location. It is located in the city centre and was SO HANDY. I could see the following from my window: a bus stop, the train/DART station, the Luas (tram), the bus to the airport, a taxi rank – aka every form of transport I could ever possibly need. It is also located near everything you could ever need: grocery store, pharmacy, euro shops, great take away food options.

– My SuperValu (grocery store). It was literally a 1 minute walk from the apartment and I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say I went there 5-6 days per week, every week. It was so handy to stop by on my way home from work or when I was cooking dinner and forgot an ingredient. I got to know a lot of the employees there and the saddest thing is, there is no SuperValu anywhere near me now.

– Pig and Heifer. This is a New York-style deli and they make the best sandwiches in town. They have a few locations but this location is easily the best. The staff is incredibly friendly and knew me and what I liked on my sandwich. It felt like a family and it is located next door to my old apartment.

– Walking upstairs. I wouldn’t have believed you if you told me I was going to miss this, but I really miss walking upstairs to get to my apartment. My old apartment was located on the 2nd floor (3rd floor to Americans) and the lift/elevator was not reliable at all – it broke down nearly every week. I genuinely enjoyed taking the stairs and my new apartment is on the ground floor. No forced automatic exercise for me anymore.

– My landlord. I could cry thinking about how wonderful he is. He is such a kind man and I think of him as my Irish grandfather. He fixed everything we asked him to quickly and he was there for me to calm me down (over the phone) when I was robbed in June. The new tenants of my old apartment have no idea how lucky they are.

– The floors. The entire apartment (with the exception of the kitchen and bathroom) had beautiful wood floors. My new apartment has carpeting – thank goodness it’s attractive carpet, but I am a sucker for wood floors! I know I will be thankful for carpet in winter, but still.

– The kettle and pots. This list is getting ridiculous, I know. I miss the kettle in my old apartment dearly. It was much more solid and clean compared to the one we have now. The pots were brand new and stainless steel and perfect. I’m a kitchen nerd.

– The random, occasional protests outside of my window. I lived opposite one of the main train stations in Dublin and Dubliners love to protest the water charges. There were multiple times they would begin the all-day protests outside of my window and even though it may sound like a nuisance, it was the opposite of that. They never began early in the morning and it was always good entertainment. It really gave my sister and I a good laugh because they put on quite a colourful protest when she was visiting me.

– I miss the route I would take home to my old apartment when I was coming home from work. It would take me down Grafton Street, past Trinity College and to the Spire. I must say I appreciated this walk every single day – even in the rain. I also miss my walk to Trinity which would take me over a bridge with a view of the Samuel Beckett bridge (the “harp” bridge).

– I desperately miss being only a 12 minute walk from the gym. I get to work out at my college for free and the back gate of Trinity was only a 12 minute walk from my old apartment. It now takes me 35 minutes to walk to the gym, which definitely makes me less inclined to go.

– I miss being steps away from the Docklands – loved walking there.

– Being so close to the IFSC aka Dublin’s “financial district”. I loved seeing men in suits all the time!!

– Having a dryer!!!! In my old apartment, there was a washing machine/dryer combo and it was fantastic. My new apartment only has a washing machine. I only ever used the dryer for sheets, but since I just washed sheets this morning for the first time in my new apartment, I am desperately missing having a dryer! It will be a nightmare in winter when things take ages to dry.

– The warmth of my old apartment. I didn’t enjoy this in summer, but in winter it was great because we never had to use much heat. Cheap electric bills!!

– I had a really nice desk in my old apartment and do not have one now.

– I also miss having Subway (for pre-airport trips and a quick, cheap lunch), a noodle bar and a really nice Thai restaurant next to my apartment.

You are probably wondering why I left my old apartment if it was so perfect. It wasn’t perfect and the reason I left was because of the only downside to the apartment: the noise from the street. The entire apartment (with the exception of the bathroom) faced the street which is a main street in Dublin. Cars consistently drove by 24 hours a day. I somewhat got used to the noise, but only about 50% of the time. Half of the time, I was able to ignore the street noise and the other half, I wasn’t and it really bothered me. Yes, I used a white noise machine to help block out the noise. If my old apartment was located in the back of the building, I’d still be there and probably would never leave. My new apartment is in a very quiet location and I am definitely sleeping better.

In a couple hours, I will go back for the last time to collect a few items I left behind and say goodbye. Now that I’ve written this post, I feel like I can mourn my old apartment and move on. It’s time.

Have you ever moved and felt similar emotions?

Beautiful June

June was the best month of my life – I had the most beautiful time with my family. They came to visit me in Ireland and it was our first time together outside of the U.S. My sister was here for 1 month and my parents were here for 2 of those weeks.

As a family, we did a bit of sight-seeing in Dublin, ate lots of nice meals, spent time with a few of my friends, hired a car to spend a day in Wicklow and travelled to Galway and the Aran Islands and stayed in a B&B on Inis Mór one night. My sister and I went to lots of places together – among the highlights: Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, Cork, Blarney Castle, Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge, Giant’s Causeway, Belfast and we even spent 3 days in Amsterdam. It was an extremely busy but extraordinarily beautiful month. Seeing how much they also love my “home country” literally meant everything to me and completed my love for Ireland.

Dún Aonghasa - Inis Mór, Ireland

Dún Aonghasa – Inis Mór, Ireland

I now genuinely feel like I am going through the worst breakup/heartbreak of my life. My sister was the last to leave yesterday, and ever since then, my heart literally feels like it was shattered into a million pieces. I am so thankful for the time spent with my family, but it is so sad to be alone after I spent every second with my sister (/best friend) for a whole month.

I will go into details in my next blog post, but I felt I was very overdue to publish at least a small update! I pretty much unplugged for this past month and it was lovely.

I am tired and am very deserving of downtime and “me” time. It’s only June and this has easily been the busiest year of my life thus far. From the 2nd of January until the 5th of June, I was literally slaving away on assignments for my Master’s degree. It felt like it was never going to end! 3 major essays, a group presentation, a massive portfolio and my dissertation proposal and I finished it all just in time – the day before my parents arrived in Ireland. I have one more portfolio to complete before the end of August but other than that, I finally have a break until year 2 begins in September. Before then, I am really in need of a sun getaway where I can spend a few days in the sun doing absolutely nothing! Though we are currently experiencing a heat wave in Dublin and I am roasting!! It’s rough without air conditioning!!

In other news, I simply cannot believe I returned from my round the world trip exactly 1 year ago today. Funny timing since my sister ended her travel journey exactly one year after I did (I left Lima on the 27th and she left Dublin on the 27th).

This past year has flown by – much faster than any other year. I am now preparing for my trip to Iceland! I leave in less than 2 weeks. Though I must say, planning this trip is more stressful than planning my RTW trip was, which I did not think was possible! I am hoping the exquisite landscape will all be worth it, and I am sure it will.