Tours

Shambles and Mumbles

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Abbey ruins in York.

After Edinburgh, I took a train south to York for two nights. It’s a very pretty medieval town, but I felt one full day there was sufficient. I took yet another great free city walking tour, and this one was really free–my host explained that she and the other guides don’t accept tips. They volunteer their time because they just really love York and are happy to share it while we spend money elsewhere in town.

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River Ouse

Aside from the walking tour, I didn’t do much in York. I wandered around the Shambles a bit (their main touristy commercial thoroughfare) and went to the same wine bar by the river two nights in a row. I kept thinking of the Theodoric of York sketches from the 70s era of Saturday Night Live. I don’t think they have medieval barbers anymore.

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I Skipped Edinburgh Castle and I Regret Nothing

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I passed up what is probably Edinburgh’s most popular tourist attraction: Edinburgh Castle. And it was directly across from my hostel. It would have been so easy.

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I literally took this from the front door of my hostel.

I don’t know what to tell you except I just wasn’t interested enough to spend the 18 pounds necessary to enter. Maybe I even liked the idea of it just being that nice big castle on the other side of the road. Plus, there’s always already an Edinburgh Castle I’ve been to and loved. It’s a dive bar in San Francisco my dad introduced me to. So that was that.

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España

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Me and eMber in front of La Sagrada Familia.

I loved Spain. Nine days weren’t enough but I’m so glad I got to go at all, as it was not part of my original itinerary whatsoever.

eMber, a former coworker and current friend, moved from the Bay Area to London with her husband last year. She invited me to visit if I happened to pass through during my travels and once I decided to come to Europe, the offer went from possibility to reality, especially when she asked if I wanted to housesit for her for two weeks in June (free lodging in London, yes please). We were emailing back and forth and I brought up the idea of meeting up somewhere else entirely. eMber said “Wouldn’t it be fun to meet up in Barcelona?” Yes. Yes, it would.

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Oh yeah, I’m in Ireland. Cheers, lads!

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Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

After slowly traveling through Mexico for two and a half months, the past two weeks have been a bit jarring. I was just in Reykjavik less than a week ago but that feels like a blur and I almost forgot I was even in Montréal. But after four full days in Iceland, I flew to Northern Ireland and landed in Belfast for a couple of days.

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“If you ever get lost in an Icelandic forest, just stand up.”

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At the Gullfoss waterfall.

That’s a joke I’ve heard twice since arriving in Iceland due the country’s relative lack of vegetation. Hey, I’m in Iceland! I’ve been wanting to come here ever since I saw photos on a travel blog years ago and I’m so glad I finally made it happen. It’s pretty far from home and also very expensive which is why I limited my trip to four days, but it’s been worth every krona. Vegetation or no, Iceland has plenty else to offer.

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