My last night in Dublin was spent socializing with people from the hostel. Most of them were Italians, with a few from France. You know what the great part about Italians is, though? They are all so proud of where they come from. Not only were they all proud to be from Italy, but also their particular city. Every person told me I had to go see this city and that city this summer- the rest just aren’t worth it. It’s kind of funny, but at the same time, it makes me want to see all of the cities. Regardless, I am so excited to go see Italy again, and also to experience Spain. It’s going to be so hard to choose a city to move to in January- and which language I want to learn. The few words I do know in Italian, I was told I have a good accent- ha. So, we’ll see where life takes me. It’s such a big world and there are so many choices, how do I know I’ll be making the right one? Time will tell, I suppose…
I have decided, however, that I am not a fan of big cities. At all. T hey are full of tourists and they are totally targeted toward tourists in general. I understand this and the reason for it, but at the same time, it’s not what I want. I don’t want to go to the pubs in Dublin and be overwhelmed with people from all over. Like I said, it is great because you get to meet people from all over- but, for that very reason you are not experiencing the true culture. That’s definitely something to note for traveling this summer—the smaller and the more “off the map” the better. Galway was great for getting away from that. It is listed as a “must see city” in Ireland, but it is not heavily populated with tourists (for the most part). Besides Piper’s little tumble… and my newly discovered bad reaction to hummus (which is really awful because it’s so delicious, easy to make, and good for you!!) … Galway had an awesome nightlife. Supposedly that is what it is known for, although we were not aware of that upon arrival. There are locals in every pub and live IRISH music playing all night long (unlike Dublin where the music was all American tunes). The musicians and the spectators all were having a fantastic time enjoying either their Guinness or Hooker (which is brewed in Galway). So much fun- even though I had to leave early due to the hummus reaction.
We did tour the Guinness factory in Dublin though! It was really cool-. The view of Dublin at the top, the “free” pint of Guinness, and the… borrowed?... glass so made it worth every centime! It was very well organized and even though it was obviously related to alcohol, I think it could be appreciated by all ages- even children. No, not the Guinness at the end… but the rest of it!
Somehow, though, New York City is still my favorite city I have visited. One of my new friends from last night pointed out that I have not seen all of the cities in the world so it is not fair to say it’s my favorite city in the world. Fair enough- I will just keep it at the top of my list thus far. ☺
So, it’s back to Angers now. I’m sad to be ending the 16-day voyage through Europe, but I have learned a lot along the way- especially for planning my trip for the summer. Here are a few of the things I learned:
Hostels. Great and so worth it so you can meet people and make connections all over the world.
When at hostels, share contact information! You never know when you may be able to help each other!
Food. You really don’t have to eat out all the time. Grocery stores are great alternatives, and if you want the “taste” of the country, you can still have one or 2 big meals a week and you will get the great food- and save a pretty penny.
Guide books. SO worth it! They list great things to do and fantastic restaurants- so you are not walking around aimlessly looking at every menu along the way trying to make a decision, and find out later that you are disappointed. The only 2 restaurants we ate at in Dublin ended up being our favorite in the UK, and we found them from the guidebook. The first was more expensive, but worth it. The second was so cheap but equally fantastic.
Paying more for a good meal without ordering wine is generally a better choice than going to a cheaper restaurant and convincing yourself it’s a good idea to order wine. You end up paying the same price- and missing out on a great meal by not going with the former.
Rest. It is really important to plug in an extra day of rest every few days because after walking around for 8 or more hours a day, you will get tired and need a “chill out” day.
Small cities = better (already explained a few times).
More is less: it’s great to see as much as you can when you don’t have much time, but you also waste a lot of ground time by traveling. So, set up a base city and make day trips. You get to make your presence known at certain cafes or wine bars or whatever that way too.
Attractions: It’s not important to see EVERYTHING there is in each city visited. Vatican in Rome? Nope, didn’t see it. The “David” in Florence? Oops, missed that too. The Beatles museum in Liverpool? 11 euros? No thank you. You know, those things are great, but they are also expensive. It’s good to pick and choose exactly what you want to see. You save money that way and you also get to spend more time in the places you are more interested in.
Chocolate: the UK sure does have their KitKats mastered… dark chocolate… peanut butter+milk chocolate… really I don’t think they could get any better. Now, if only the US would trade some peanut butter M&Ms for these 2 types of KitKats… I think the candy lovers everywhere would be happy. Ok, maybe just me.
… back to Angers to begin planning the best trip ever with the daddyo this summer- and the rest of the cities to visit with Linda and also alone.