Thursday, January 9, 2014

wander holidays

okay, y’all. i’m just going to go ahead and apologize for the delay in this blog post.. it’s been a long time coming. i haven’t posted all year (ba dum, tsss) and i have no excuse except for the fact that i traveled for 20 days straight over the holidays and couldn’t really sit down at a random computer to start blogging. soo…

happy new year! it’s 2014!! i can’t believe it.. i feel like new year’s 2013 was just like 6 weeks ago… i really need to get my internal calendar sorted. i’ve been out of the country for over 4 months, and i’ll be home just over 4 months from now! ay caramba.

in the interest of not making this post a total “captain’s log” of my travels, i give you a bridget jones version of my holiday season saga. (if you want the longer version, feel free to read below!)

          days elapsed: 20
          countries visited: 3
          cities visited: 9
          friends visited: 14
          friends made: 16
          modes of transportation used: plane (4), train (4), bus (11), car (many)
          party games played: 4
          presents: given – 6 // received – 5
          cups of tea consumed: innumerable
          most interesting experience: england – singing christmas carols on the train to 
          cambridge with a bunch   of mildly-intoxicated football hooligans // 
          ireland – partying until nearly dawn with a different bunch of 
          slightly-more-than-mildly-intoxicated couchsurfing buddies

okay, that’s enough of that. here’s the longer version!

basically, i spent the first week of my break (well, tuesday through saturday) getting to the place where i’d be spending christmas – six cities in six days, and it was a whirlwind. excideuil, bordeaux, nantes, dublin, london, cambridge! i had a blast visiting friends in each of my stops along the way – several of whom i hadn’t seen since 2011! crazy! the highlight of that week was probably my pit stop in london. i hung out with my first-ever couchsurfing host, tristan, and got to see the beauty that is london at christmas. plus, i finally got my picture at platform 9 3/4. so, i got that going for me.

arriving in cambridge was a welcomed respite – i was really looking forward to sleeping in the same bed for more than one night! i spent the week with two dear friends from home – cameron and carly. if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you might remember them from my time in scotland back in september! they spent this fall semester in cambridge as a part of a seminary exchange program between westcott house in cambridge and sewanee, back in tennessee. we visited several of the major colleges in town, decorated our makeshift christmas tree, attended multiple anglican masses (including christmas eve midnight mass and christmas morning mass, a scant 8 hours apart), cooked several lovely meals, shopped a little, and celebrated our first christmas away from home, together as friends abroad. it was a wonderful way to enjoy the holiday – i was so grateful to have a little bit of home with me here in europe! :)

the next week and a half of my vacation was spent in varying parts of ireland. i moved around so much in the first few days! one night in dublin, two nights in cork, one night in galway, and then i finally landed in clare for new year’s! the weekend in cork was an absolute blast – one of the best couchsurfing experiences i’ve had to date. my host and his friends were the epitome of hospitality and i felt right at home from the very beginning. i mean.. i was jokingly (but maybe not?) invited to their friend’s wedding in brazil next summer after having been at the house for like 6 hours. typical. a weekend was not long enough in cork; i can’t wait to go back and explore the city a little more! a quick pit stop in galway allowed me to visit with my friend emma and her family before i headed back down to clare to relax for a few days at my friend shane’s house. we essentially had a 4 day house party, with varying groups of friends coming to hang out each night! i always love getting to spend time in that house – it’s so wonderful to be in a family environment! warms the soul. and our new year’s eve was the perfect mix of relaxing and entertaining – and by that, i mean i got to wear comfy clothes and not worry about braving the elements outside, while still partying it up with my friends! my last night in ireland was spent in wonderful company, wandering around dublin and soaking in that fantastic irish charm. this break really reinforced my desire to move to ireland in the very near future.. might have even started researching grad school options! shh, don’t tell my parents.

i finally, finally made it back home to my little village on sunday, after spending the night in bordeaux after my flight. living in a place with no train station (or even bus access on the weekends) makes getting in and out fairly difficult, but thankfully i have friends at each step in the journey that make traveling much more enjoyable! now that i’m home and can reflect on this break, i have to admit.. i probably overdid it a little bit. my life here in excideuil is so relaxing and laid-back that my vacations are actually more demanding and stressful than my work weeks! next break, i’m going to focus on one country (morocco!!) in the hopes of giving myself more time to enjoy fewer places. and i might even take a week off from travel planning before i launch myself into that new endeavor! vacationing is hard work, y’all.

i hope that you had a wonderful holiday season, and that 2014 brings you all the happiness and adventure that you can imagine! wander on, my friends!

*as always, if you’d like to see pictures from this post, just click here (starting at #29)!*

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