Europe

One of my broader sub-categories. Since I’ve only had two European countries under my belt, I felt alright in putting them together.

Breaking Ones Own Expectations

July of 2013, Welly Size 10

My Dear Readers,

I never expected for school to completely take over my life. Today I came upon my poor little blog and it needed some love. It’s literally been six months since my last post because I’ve been running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I haven’t even been on WordPress! Well, I’m back baby, and better than ever!!!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m an extremely cautious person. I hate being in trouble, so I always try to learn all the proper manners, laws, and other important tid bits that others may not think of. And I don’t like to make unsafe, chance-y decisions. So when I got into a car with a New Yorker and two South Africans and drove around the Burren to the Cliffs of Moher I was absolutely astounded at myself.

In America you don’t hitchhike if you can help it. Rather untrustworthy of others in general, we are self reliant on getting from place to place unless it’s public transportation. This isn’t the same in Ireland; staying on the farm, everyone who wasn’t American talked casually about hitchhiking to different sites, and seemed surprised at my reluctance. Being a young female, there is an instilled fear of traveling in America. I think it’s from watching too many crime dramas.

So when I met the lovely New Yorker named Elena who offered to let me tag along with her and two South Africans named Cameron and Cameron as they drove around The Burren, I never expected to take them up on the offer. So I left Galway and began a whole new experience with complete strangers and managed to have an adventure that can never be compared.

We got on the road and once more the gorgeous expanse of Ireland just took my breath away. If you’ve never seen just the average view of Ireland, then you are missing out. Even living in New England which is very green and gorgeous, there is no green like Ireland green.  I mean…..

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We made a few stops along the way…

Dungaire Castle

Dungaire Castle

Cameron and Cameron! And moi!!!

Cameron and Cameron! And moi!!!

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To snap some truly amazing pictures…

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We stopped at the beach!!! DSC02468DSC02480

I had no bathing suit… But that didn’t stop me.

The water was fantastic!

The water was fantastic!

Until we finally made it to the infamous Cliffs of Moher.

DSC02538Due to Ireland’s famously rainy weather, the fact that we made it to the Cliffs on an unbelievably gorgeous day was incredibly lucky. And I did not waste a single second. I’m only posting a few of the pictures I got to take, but believe me, I took at least a hundred.

DSC02541 DSC02545 DSC02553 DSC02576 DSC02579 DSC02591 DSC02593 DSC02614 DSC02621 DSC02625I even managed to face one of my most powerful fears: heights. I’ve never been a fan, especially of man-made heights. But the Cliffs definitely made me feel rather ill.  If you walk far enough you can reach an area of the Cliffs that doesn’t have suicide barriers  as you may have noticed in my previous pictures. Well, I managed to stick my head out over the sheer edge of the Cliff, and stayed there for several minutes. After rolling far enough away from the edge though, I promptly rolled up into a ball and had a panic attack. But afterwards I felt proud of what I had been able to do; I had faced one of my fears (though I still haven’t cracked it!). Believe me, if you want to give facing your fear of heights a go, the Cliffs of Moher is the place to do it.

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Europe, Fresh Prints, Ireland, Past Tides, WWOOFing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oh Paris… You liar!

April of 2008, Boot Size 9

My dear readers,

About two months ago I had posted my travel bucketlist, and a commenter (Yay! Someone actually commented!) had found it amusing that I intend to give Paris a second chance…

You’re sneaky Paris… Very very sneaky!

Oh Paris. You’re so famous for your fashion, your food, and you picturesque city shots. What most people don’t know it is it a lie! A lie I tell you!

For my April vacation I decided to visit my sister who was studying abroad in London, England. In addition to exploring what England had to offer, my father had bought my sister and I train tickets to Paris, France for one day. We’d get up, train in early in the morning, explore Paris (mainly explore the Louvre, our dream museum), and then train back. My sister and I were thrilled. Both of us spoke French (she knew more than I did though), and we planned ahead. Paris? Oh yeah we wanted to go in style! Dressing fancy, but with sensible shoes – ho!!!

Well… It didn’t turn out as fantastic as we’d planned. Here is some very important information you should know if you’re planning to go to Paris for the day.

#1: Remember to actually check the weather

Okay, yeah, this one was our bad. We forgot the check the weather before we left to make sure it wasn’t going to be a constant shift between gray and drizzly to heavy rains. Nevertheless, we arrived in Paris and we were immediately freezing; I in my adorable Italian three-quarter shirt, and my sister in her unbelievably beautiful, one-hundred euro, silk, hand-embroidered jacket. Thankfully I had the sense to bring my ratty sweatshirt so I gallantly sacrificed my warm to protect my sister’s one-hundred percent silk jacket. With that we made our way to the Eiffel Tower.

Don’t be deceived by the clear looking skies. It was cold and damp and gross and…. cold.

#2: Avoid purchasing from the street vendors

This one we didn’t have much of a choice. It was raining and I was freezing. Due to the time zone differences, and our extreme poor-ness, we waited for hours for our father to wake up and put money on my card so we could afford to buy and umbrella…

… Or something. I was freezing, thus didn’t really care.

With a smidgen of money on my card we made our way to our first destination: the Eiffel Tower. Teeth chattering, we saw a vendor selling Paris sweatshirts. Suffice to say we made a beeline for it. Thirty euros later (essentially sixty bucks American back then), and I was encased on a fluffy, warm sweatshirt. While yes, I love the sweatshirt, the price still makes me want to sob uncontrollably.

No longer dying from hypothermia, the skies cleared longer enough to take the required pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower. It seems that fate wanted to let us to experience at least one aspect of visiting France. Shortly after we got our pictures in, it began to rain again. So we took shelter in a little café and ate some quiche and drank coffee; one of the few good things that happened that day… the food. It was then that my sister and I learned the worst thing about Paris.

Steph in the ratty sweatshirt that saved her fancy jacket.

Why…. WHY did I decided on the belly showing, three quarter sleeve shirt?!

Said super expensive silk jacket

#3: Paris is closed on Tuesdays

I shit you not.

All museums and other attractions that one goes to Paris for (at least for the first visit), are closed. Why Tuesday? I have no freaking clue. But our hopes fell one by one as we flipped through a local book checking the hours for anything we could go and visit. There wasn’t much to see. We trotted over to Notre Dame Cathedral, and yet again the weather shifted long enough to allow up a few pictures before opening up and drenching up once more. Of course, we couldn’t explore because it was closed to visitors.

No Louvre, no Orsay Museum… The two museums we went to Paris for, and we got zilch.

#4: When you’re strapped for cash… Don’t lose your train ticket

Yep. That happened. Paris train tickets are teeny weeny. No joke. I was I’d gotten a picture of the thing before it fell out of my pocket somewhere around the Jean D’Arc church. We thought there would have been some cool architecture there, or some statues to honor Joan of Arc… Yeah it was rather boring and we only spent a few minutes there. But making our way back to the train station I discovered that my train ticket was missing. And we only had a few Euros left. In the end a helpful train station worker helped us get the cheapest possible ticket to let us return to the train station, where we then found an internet cafe and just… stayed inside and out of the train.

There were a few pros. The food we got was delicious, and the weather liked to give up a few moments every time we reached what few sites we got to see. Other than that… we were rather cold, rather wet, and rather miserable.

So take heed fellow travelers! If you intend to take a daytrip from the UK to another country on a Tuesday, don’t go to Paris. You will not have much to do if you want to see the classic sites.

Would I go to Paris again? Of course. Unfortunately it was bad luck on our side that caused our misery, and a second visit would be better planned and probably more fulfilling. I still desperately wish to see the Louvre, and not have to shelter myself from the rain to appreciate the architecture of Paris.

But, overall thoughts on the trip my sister and I had taken to Paris? I believe this picture summarizes it well…

With finals over, I’m diving headlong into summer. With this there are adventures to go on, conventions to attend, and a webshow to begin with my best friend, Panda! Expect more posts now that hopefully the stress will be dying down and I will have a chance to write all about my experiences.

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Europe, Past Tides | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Train Station in London

March of 2012, Boot size 10/11

My dear readers,

You would think that with an entire week of spring break that I would have been able to get a lot of writing done. I would too, and I was looking forward to getting stuff done. Then of course the reality of not having to do anything smacked me in the face and I melted into a puddle of oh-my-goodness-I-don’t-have-to-do-ANYTHING!!!! Suffice to say I curled around my cat a lot and watch X-Men Evolution and spent as much time as possible with my partner. I enjoy the schmooze… though I wish I had worked more on my research paper. Or my precalc homework…

That is my poorly formulated excuse as to my lack of the tale I had promised in my last post… And thus I dive into actually sharing with you another adventure from my life.

Okay I lied; first I have to spill one little piece of news for the future. My cosplay for AB is going great! I just got draped by my best friend and we had a blast doing it. I cannot wait to see the final result. With that little tidbit over with, I can continue.

This story has no particular moral or point; it is more of an experience I never expected. This story begins in a train station in London, England, in April of 2008 (Boot Size 9 at this point). I was on a week-long excursion visiting my older sister who was studying abroad there. Seeing that she could not drive, and I was not legally allowed, we walking and took trains… a lot. Not complaining of course, I am more afraid of driving in London than I am of public transportation (which I am proud to say that I am getting better at).

One quirk I learned in traveling around to many different countries is that in many places, especially Europe, you have to pay to use a public restroom (such as the ones found in train stations). To two very poor girls this meant no sticking together when my sister suddenly had to use the restroom. Determined not to pay the ten cent fee, I leaned back against a pole facing the restrooms and began to wait for my sister.

It was during this time of loitering that one of my… creepier tales really got going.

It was about two minutes into allowing my mind to wander while music blasted into my ears that I noticed something odd happening at the mens room. There were an awful lot of cops and security guards gathering and heading in. Curious, I paused my music and stood up (I am lazy at heart and sat after about thirty seconds of waiting) to try and get a better look. What I saw surprised me.

Being lead out by many policemen was one man. No weapon or gun or anything threatening. Although I won’t lie he kinda freaked me out. Please try and keep in mind I was much younger (especially mentally, I really bloomed into myself when in Japan). So When I saw this guy I was kinda terrified.

It was apparent the poor gentleman was homeless, and possibly mentally touched in some way. His clothes were ripped and dirty, and his hair was salt-and-pepper colored, unkempt, and stringy. I won’t lie he looked like the stereotypical bum you see in the musicals, except he wasn’t smiling. And once I noticed his arms, he didn’t look like a singing bum anymore. Down his forearms were deep gouges, freshly scabbed over. At that point I was counting the milliseconds for my sister to come out, despite the fact that I knew I was safe (he was safely under the control of the officers). Nevertheless I was rather shaken.

I have lived in a small town my whole life. Therefore seeing odd occurrences like that is very rare. Yes I have traveled to more countries in my first eighteen years of life than many have been to their entire lives, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a fish out of water sensation when in the city. While something like what I saw in London is not impossible to happen in a small town, let’s face it’s not as likely as it happening in a public restroom in a train station in London. There are physically more people in the city that in small towns, giving a higher chance of there being people that can spawn an event similar to this. It was odd, it was bizarre, but it provides a good story of the crazy things that can happen during an adventure, especially when you’re getting out of your element.

If stuff like this can freak you out? Relax! Learn to go with the flow. Think about the stories you’ll have to tell your kids! I for one will always keep this little vignette on the brain.

Until my next adventure,

Viviana Ayre

Categories: Europe, Past Tides | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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