A Hop, Skip & a Jump Across the Pond: Europe, I’m Back!

Well, hello there fellow travelers! I know it’s been a while since I updated you on things and I apologize for that.. But I have good news! I’m currently in Wales.. That’s right, I’m back in Europe!

It all started six months ago, right after I got back from New Zealand – because obviously I already wanted to jet off somewhere again. I was in the shower and suddenly the idea to come back over for a surprise visit came to me. I immediately messaged Aimi & David and we started planning.

Originally the surprise was supposed to be for Gemma & Declan but Declan ended up finding out about it the week before I got here.. Oops. But it was still a surprise for Gem! And yep, she cried (love you, Gem!).

But anyway, I’ve been here a little over a week now. Why haven’t I blogged about it then, you ask? Well, to be honest I haven’t really had the desire.. After all the blogging I did in New Zealand about almost every thing Rowena and I did, I was discouraged because when you’re constantly planning what to write about the exciting things you’re doing, you lose sight of what’s actually happening in those exciting moments.

Buuuuuuut, I got over that, so here I am!
And I need to tell you all about my first week back! Because man have we been busy.

First off, we went on a three day camping trip throughout Wales. The first night we spent in Llyn Gwynant and I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never seen such a beautiful campsite in my life. Surrounded by mountains and nestled next to a lake, I was in Heaven.


And you better believe I went off on some solo adventures and climbed those mountains next to us.


And early morning rock climbing.


And! Early morning kayaking.


Seriously, such a beautiful campsite.

We also spent time on the beach.. And oh my goodness, the Irish Sea is so so so so cold.

Overall, wonderful camping trip.

But then, guess what! I went zip lining on the longest zip line in the world & fastest in Europe, Zip World Velocity!


And hey look, a handy dandy video of me flying!

It was so amazing flying so high over bright blue water and zipping down that high cliff. So freeing.

Oh! And castles! We went to a castle.. Conwy Castle – a medieval fortress that was just as staggeringly beautiful as you could ever imagine.

And as if that all weren’t enough fun times, we also went to Alton Towers – a theme park that’s literally set inside and around a castle. I was quite impressed with how well they do theme parks here!

Three days of camping, a day of castles & ziplines & a day of roller coasters.. IT’S BEEN A GREAT FIRST WEEK BACK.

Advertisements

The Best Way to Travel – Advice From A Well-Traveled Traveler 

We travel the world to venture outside our own culture and absorb another. To travel is to gain knowledge like never before and to experience something outside of yourself. You expose yourself to the people around you and the vibrancy of whatever place you’re in at that time. Real travel means placing yourself in the shoes of the locals and truly becoming one.
When I travel, that’s exactly what I do – soak in something entirely new. It’s what I did in Paris.. Moved there to get a job and truly live the Parisian life.. It’s what I did in Bristol last week.. Worked all day scooping ice cream at a BBQ festival.. And since being in Wales, I’ve done just that once again.

I don’t like to just visit fancy places and do all of the tourist things. Quite the contrary, really. For example, in Wrexham, Wales I’ve been working in a pub serving up pints to the locals alongside Aimi. I’d much rather establish a relationship with the people who actually live in the city I’m visiting than just glance at them from a touristy bubble while walking down the street.

Since working in and actually living in the pub this week, I’ve befriended so many kind old men who frequent the pub and have truly seen how The North lives.

Sipping down ales and gulping down chips, the men have constantly provided laughs and stories and contributed to my experience here. For instance, one of the old men used to know John Lennon and Paul McCartney. He went to school with both of them and told me how they were just regular ole’ down to earth lads. He would usually catch their empty shows in the pubs in Liverpool to support them before anyone ever knew them as “The 4 Lads Who Shook the World.” How crazy is that? And I’d have never gotten to know such a nice ole’ chap if I hadn’t wanted to dive head first in the Welsh life.

So if I could recommend a way to travel for everyone in the world, it would be not only to SEE places, but to actually LIVE them. 

 

An Abundance of Sheep

I’ve been in Wales one day.

I think I should live here.

I’ve never seen so much beautiful nature in my life. 

 I mean, mountainous hills and “TREES?! Everywhere trees?!!” (any It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans out there?)

Oh, and sheep. So many sheep.

I found that out tonight when I went on a drive with Aimi and her sisters and we drove to the top of one of the mountain-hills and parked. I wanted to pet a sheep so I was off on my merry way as soon as I jumped out of the car so I could catch a sheep and cuddle it.

I ran up the hill baaa-ing at the two that I saw but every time I’d look back at them, they’d be further away. I finally realized they were running away from me as soon as I baaa-ed at them.. And here I thought I could speak sheep..

Welcome to Wales

Good morning, Wales!

My current backpacking trip has led me to the beautiful and green country of Wales. So far I can deduce that the number of sheep greatly outweighs the number of humans and the company is already impressively kind – and I’ve only been here less than an hour! 

 This morning I gave a teary goodbye to Gem (bloody Brit making me cry.. ) and hopped on a train to Aimi in Wales. The train apparently had a slight mishap of scheduling because halfway through the trip I had to hop on a bus for the rest of the way.

But no matter, I have arrived! I’m now sat in a pub with a cheap pint of ale, taking in the company around me.

After about 15 minutes of sitting here, a nice chap came over to strike up a chat. We got on really well and he was asking me all about my travels thus far and where I’m headed now. After a few moments of conversation, he told me that he’d cross the world for me if I ever needed..

“Even if you’re somewhere in Alaska, I’ll be there if you need me. I’d go to the moon for you if you wanted.”

..well thank you random strange, kind man in Wales.

Already my time in this country is off to a banging start.

After he left me to finish off my pint, I could hear him across the room telling his mate about me..

Suddenly the mate yells across the pub, “HOW YOU DOIN’!? ..there’s a little bit of home for ya.”

So apparently that’s what the world thinks and sees of America – Joey from Friends. Although, can I complain? It definitely made me laugh hysterically and gave me a taste of how we’re perceived as Americans. Love it.

Anyway, I’m sat here waiting on my ride to pick me up from The Bull’s Head to drive me the rest of the way to my destination and can’t help but wear a smile all the while.

Welcome to Wales.

Memories to last a lifetime

I feel it’s time to follow that last sappy post up. With another sappy post. But in the opposite way. So, here goes.

I’ve been in Paris for seven weeks now. And I have to say that I’ve met some absolutely wonderful, beautiful, stunning and kind people. I have to start this post off with my first two friends in Paris and talk about how super duper cool they are.

Picture me, sitting in my apartment one night when I get a text from a random number addressing me by my first name and everything, asking me to lunch. I’d been in Paris for like two weeks at this point and hadn’t really met people yet so imagine my surprise and intrigue at this text. The person(s) sending said text were Aimi and Julia. These two ladies were best friends with the previous au pair to my family and had my number from her and decided to reach out to me and welcome me into the city.

It couldn’t have come at a better time.

So, I text back and tell Julia that I love bagels and she proceeds to find a DELICIOUS bagel place called, “Bagels and Brownies,” that I’m just obsessed with now. We went to lunch at the Luxembourg Garden and ate on the grass and this chick made me feel so welcome in a city I was feeling so lonely in. She and Aimi reached out to me (quite creepily in an awesome and weird way, I might add) and I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done already – listening to me complain, directing me throughout the city, calming me down during stuck-in-an-elevator-panic-attacks. They’re great. And I found out later on that before sending me that first text, they had debated it for a while and eventually decided on being creepy and not caring to send some random girl a random text out of the blue. And thank goodness that they did.

Julia and Aimi introduced me to some of the most wonderful girls I’ve met in my life. Just tonight, some of us had a dinner party at Aimi’s with home cooked food (thanks Aimi and Gemma) and homemade desserts (even homemade crusts, thanks Julia). It was soooo good and the company was terrific. These girls are teaching me so much about the world and life and for instance about the fact that I’m apparently “incredibly American.” Whatever that means.. Just kidding, I know exactly what it means. These girls are from all over – Wales, England, Ireland, New Zealand, America. Just everywhere. I’m learning so much from them and I’m so grateful for this experience.

Also I love the way they talk.

I find myself speaking with a terrible, fake British accent after being around them for extended periods of time and they just deal with it. And for that I love them.

I’ve made so many memories already after this short time and can’t wait for the numerous more with them. This experience has already been life changing and though it gets tough at times, I wouldn’t change a thing about this choice I made and the year I’m spending in Paris. After all, I’m living out a dream.