Review: Murphy’s Pub

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There are times when flying to Ireland isn’t practical. And while my mind is fully aware of this fact, my heart doesn’t generally get on board. LUCKILY I live in a country/city where access to Irish culture isn’t exactly difficult – but what IS, is the ability to find an authentic Irish feel within these places. When in doubt, though – I say head to the oldest Irish pub you can find. In my case, it was Murphy’s Pub.

Monday night I lucked out, because I was dying to find some live traditional Irish music, and I found out about a weekly live music event that happens not too far from where I live. Needless to say, I dragged along my favorite ginger and ran walked into the pub. First off, live Irish music (or live music in general) is something I think should be in every venue. Second, have I told you guys about my obsession with Fish & Chips? Not that deep fried, rebaked shit stuff that you usually find (duh.) But the crisp authentic taste of breaded goodness that falls apart at your touch. THAT is what Fish and Chips is supposed to be. And, I’m happy (and pleasantly surprised) to report that Murphy’s passes this test. Of course Guinness was also had (sipped) and overall the experience was a brilliant success. The best part? The pub was not at all crowded, and the service was great.
Here are the details so you can enjoy said pleasures:

Ordered: Fish & Chips, Guinness

Where:1928 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103

Went: Monday October 12th, 2015

Wifi: No

Reservation Needed: No

Live Music: Yes, every Monday Night. Here’s a calendar of the other events they have for this moth:

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My Not So Guilty Pleasure: Ireland

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You all may have noticed that I have a tiny obsession (okay, maybe not so tiny) with the little island of Ireland. Why, you might ask, have I imprinted so deeply on a country where the sheep population is about par with the human? The answer? I like sheep. Also, because so many of the “selling points” of Ireland, aren’t that at all – they’re just simply truths. No sales, no manipulation needed to get you there. It’s one of the rare things in life that really is as good (if not better) than people say.  Not convinced? Here’s a taste

First off, the people in Ireland really are as nice and welcoming as you hear. I’ve never known someone to travel to Ireland and to not have a welcoming experience. I remember hearing  a story in the hostel I was staying in, a while back, about a girl who had asked an elderly lady for some travel/map help in Dublin and the woman had hopped on the tram with her and took her all the way to her destination. Having lived in Paris, a city founded on briskness, and Seattle, which is known for its “freeze” – it’s hard not to instantly fall in love with the welcoming arms of the Irish.

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One of my favorite things is that, in Ireland, the scenery really is as beautiful as it looks, and what’s better, you can travel across the country and back in a day to see it.  I’ve taken so many tour bus trips while in Ireland (and plan on taking more), just because one of the best things in the world is sitting on a bus hearing stories about Ireland from Irish natives. Not only do you learn things you might not otherwise learn, while your my face is pushed up against the window, but you also get a great way to meet other travelers and become acquainted with the country (which is especially perfect if you’re running short on time).

The food in Ireland is another thing I’m in love with. Fun fact: they don’t only eat potatoes, so get that garbage idea out of your head. Some of the best food I’ve ever had was while I was in Galway and Dublin. To be fair, I do have an overwhelming love of hearty food that fills you up, makes you want to curl up in a ball and fall asleep with a tranquilly sublime smile on your face – which might not be your thing. I don’t know? Who am I to judge? Also, not just a stereotype, grab some seafood while you’re in Ireland. Such prime dishes.

If you know me well, you’ll probably be aware of the fact that I don’t drink alcohol, as a rule. There are several reasons for this, but the long and short of it is that I’m probably allergic, and I have no desire to pass out in random places after having half a glass. The exception to my rule of drinking is in Ireland, where I absolutely allow myself to indulge in a half pint (which normally I can’t even finish – don’t judge me) of Guinness. I’ve tried it outside of Dublin and it just IS NOT the same. You really have to go straight to the source to fill up on the silky smooth goodness that is Dublin Guinness. Take it from me – if you’re gonna drink: do it in Ireland.

And while you’re drinking, you should probably/most definitely plan on enjoying some amazing music. As a former Irish step dancer, and a Irish music addict, I can promise you that going to the source, once again, really as rewarding as you might think. Whether it’s some more traditional music, or some more contemporary, the Irish know music (and don’t even get me started on storytelling) as well as they know beer. Although you probably would have trouble escaping it, make sure to enjoy some great live music while you’re visiting – and don’t be afraid to sing along.

Lastly, I’ll wrap up the same way I began this loving tale. Have I mentioned sheep, before? Okay, so I love sheep – yes yes, we all know. But mainly the reason I love sheep is because I LOVE wool, and I love all the beautiful things that happen with wool when you knit, weave, crochet and worship it (is that just me? Oh…). Irish wool really can only be matched (perhaps) by the fibers of Scotland (but they actually do have more sheep than people, so really you can’t blame them) and I love every bit I’ve ever bought. If you happen to land on the Emerald Isle, I would highly suggest that you grab some gloves, hats, scarves – or all of the above. Especially if your body tends to keep you in a state of perpetual cold, like me, the items that you get are sure to (like the whole damn country – do you get the point, yet!?) warm your heart.

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Plane Ticket, December 2015: And The Winner Is….

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Today I’m challenging myself to write a blog post during my lunch break. It has been way too long since I’ve really updated you all on my travel life, but never worry – there is a trip in the works!

As you all know, I’m quite the solo traveler. I love to travel alone, and I think I may always, BUT there is a time and a place for changing one’s habits. This time the time is December 24th, and the place is – of course, IRELAND.

That’s right, I’m heading back to my favorite Island and this time I’m bringing my crew of two – two of my very close friends, with me! I’m so excited for this upcoming adventure for so many reasons.

  1. I get to show them all of my favorite spots in Ireland, London (and maybe even elsewhere – who knows!?)
  2. I get to introduce my two lives – European and American together and my friends in the UK/Ireland will get to meet my two best friends!
  3. It’s going to be awesome. Honestly. I’m so excited.

The plane tickets have already been bought and now all that’s left is for us to wait a few months! I honestly could not think of anything more perfect than spending Christmas in London and New Years in Dublin.

Honestly, when I found out this adventure was even a possibility my heart felt like it started to beat for the first time in three months. The past months have been such a whirlwind of crazy. I’ve had two jobs and three houses to live in and I’m finally ready, I feel, for things to settle where they are for a bit of time.

It was icing on the cake for me to find out I would be spending the Christmas holiday season with some of my favorites!

Have any suggestions for where we should go!? Message me with your favorite spots in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and London and we’ll try to make it over!

In the meantime, here are some of my favorite pictures from Ireland – I’m so excited to go back!

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See you soon, Ireland!

Howth, Ireland

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Last weekend I took one last (for now) trip over to Ireland, so I could meet up with some of the awesome people I’d met on my last adventure there. While originally plans were to travel up the coast to Belfast, we ended up taking a day trip to this little fishing village called Howth, instead. The little town was lovely (if, extremely windy!) and would definitely be a place I would suggest to those of you headed over to Dublin (only 20 min train ride from the city center). We even saw seals! Overall it was a such a lovely day!

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Dublin, Ireland

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For the past two weeks I have been having entirely too much fun in Dublin. I would say I’m sorry for not posting amidst my time of bliss, but the truth is – I’m not. This year has been such a difficult one, and has pushed me past every limit I ever thought I could be pushed past. But, in the true manner that life seems to work in, the best was saved for last.

Originally my travel plans included Germany, Dublin, Copenhagen and Oslo…but when I got to Dublin I realized something that I’ve never experienced before in my life – complete and entire contentment with where I was.

I’m not one to cancel itineraries. I generally stick to the plan – no matter what. But there was just something deep down that told me not to leave Dublin. So I didn’t. And that was, perhaps, one of the best decisions of my life.

The grand total was 10 days.

I really wish I could give a play back moment by moment of how amazing every one of those days was, but I’m afraid I barely remember, myself.
I will tell you this: I lived. Wholly, completely and without inhibition.

I got a new tattoo, I went on bus tours and walking tours and visited museums and jails and mountains and oceans. I read books, tried my first, and not last, Guinness. I learned how to throw darts, saw some new movies and old TV shows. I learned to cook chef cuisine in a hostel, made friends with people from all over the world. I learned some new and some old songs, visited too many pubs to count. I visited cities all over Ireland, saw castles and cliffs and realized the splendor of simplicity. I slept on the wrong side of the morning, and forgot what it was to have a curfew. I met people there’s not even a chance of me ever forgetting, and laughed more than I have in 9 months combined. I felt loved, accepted, and in a weird way like I was a puzzle piece that had always meant to be there to fill a hole.

In short, I don’t even know how to convey how much I enjoyed the last couple of weeks. I should probably just stop trying – so, instead I leave you with some of my favorite pictures from the trip:

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The Essence Of Home

 
Is it possible to travel too much? Some might say a resounding no. But today I found myself shooting this question around in my mind.

You see, I’ve been gone from the US for almost 9 months, now. And as odd as it sounds, the best way to describe my longing for home is that I’m just so tired.
Something to recognize here is that being tired doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Sometimes being tired just means you’ve toiled so hard at something that all you want to do is find a place to rest.

I think the biggest thing I took for granted when I was in Seattle was the ability to have a launch point, or to have a place I could call “home.” What I wouldn’t give to be without the homeless feeling that sometimes just settles into the pit of my stomach. Paris is not my home. These places I travel to, while temporarily lodging me, are not my home. Even Seattle, which I love so incredibly much, is not my home anymore. I am, in essence, a homeless wanderer. Lots of temporary places, but no place where I feel at peace.

Then I come to Ireland. And call me crazy, but somehow an entire country feels more like home to me than the bricks and stones that make up my house of residence. I am, and always will be a firm believer that every person has that place/city/country where the just feel a deeper connection than anywhere else, and that’s how I feel when I’m in Ireland. Which is probably why I just keep coming back.

This week has been Spring Break for me so I had made plans to go from Germany to Dublin to Copenhagen to Oslo all in 2 weeks. I made it to Germany and had a great time, then came over to Dublin…and accidentally fell in love with the city. So much so that I threw out my plane ticket and stayed.

And while I wouldn’t necessarily suggest doing this, for obvious financial reasons, it was something I thought a lot about before coming to the conclusion that it was necessary. See, 5+ years ago I was flying back from India and landed in Heathrow airport. Since some of my group decided to stay there before returning to the US, I had a bit of a split second decision of whether or not I would stay there too. My heart was pulling me toward the city, but it was the first time I had traveled internationally and I was terrified. So I got on the plane back to the US…and I’ve regretted that decision ever since.

Sometimes we have to take risks. Sometimes we have to ignore the “rules” and follow our gut feelings of what the next step in our journey is. It’s not always the safe route, and the outcome is often unknown, but as we strike out on these paths, pioneering them as we go, we learn that following the plans that others have written doesn’t always result in our own happiness.

A man in my hostel yesterday, who hardly spoke English, perhaps explained it the best when he said, “Can I tell you a secret? You’ll never see ‘enough’ [of the world].”

Travel is beautiful and wild and untamed. It draws us out of our comfort zones and refines our deepest selves, BUT it is not the answer to happiness. And that’s something I’m starting to understand.  We can visit every beautiful location, we can check off every major city, but when it comes down to it, it’s the people who we love and who love us that create the essence and fulfillment of belonging.

Because home isn’t the place where we grew up, or live now. It’s not a building or an address or a city. It’s where we feel loved, where we feel accepted and where we feel whole. Home is our place to be unapologetically ourselves. It’s where we find rest. And while you can see all the monuments and glories the world has to offer, finding that place starts with acknowledging that it might be right where you’re already standing.

5 Things I’m Happy I Paid Extra For

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If you like to travel smart, like I do (aka with basically no money) then you probably want to be smart about the little “extras” you buy when you travel. It can be really hard to know what you should pay the additional price for when you’re out traveling the world, so I thought I would let you all in on some of the little somethings that I paid extra for, and that I didn’t regret! Ok, ready? Let’s go!

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Walking Tour, Berlin: 

This was the highlight of my Berlin trip. Since I was traveling in an off season it was just me, one other girl and our Australian tour guide, who was amazing. The tour I took was about the Nazzi regime in Berlin, and was fascinating. I don’t know how my tour guide remembered all of the 3 HOURS worth of information, but he did. He also was the one who clued me in on the football match happening the next day, for which I am forever grateful. I just never would have known the history around the city without taking this tour, and I’m so happy I decided to do it! Oh, and the tour was FREE! (But, of course, you can tip your tour guide) Look for the blue umbrella!

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Headset, Van Gogh & Ruks Museum, Amsterdam: 

I normally don’t pay the additional 5 or 10 euro to pay for the headsets at museums, but I decided to “splurge” while I was in Amsterdam, and I paid for them in 2 museums. I was SO happy I did. Mainly because when you’re in a museum like the Van Gogh Museum you really need (I think) to know the stories behind many of his paintings. I feel like I know Van Gogh so much more, now, having heard about the inspiration behind his works and the beautiful paintings that he created.

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CitySightSeeing, Ride around London, London

The first day I was in London I was handed a pamphlet from the “Original Sightseeing Company.” I didn’t think much of it, but then I read that they were having a sale so I decided to buy a weekend (3 day) pass. SUCH A GOOD IDEA. The buses were hop-on-hop-off so I could catch them all over the city, meaning I used them for sightseeing and for regular transportation, too. I learned so much more about the city, and it was a great way to still be around people, while traveling alone. (It also came with a river tour ride – all for 25 pounds!)

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Sail and Rail Pass, N. Ireland, Ireland, Scotland, England: 

Rather than just fly from place to place I like to see if I can find trains or boats, or other modes of transportation that allow me to see the countries I’m traveling through. Sail and Rail is a great option when going around the UK/Ireland because for one ticket you get all the different modes of transportation covered (whether that’s bus, train or ferry). Also the ferries from N. Ireland to Scotland are beautiful.

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French lessons before moving to France: 

This is a little different from the others, but I still really think it’s important to put on here. I DO NOT know what I would have done without my French tutor before coming to France. I probably would have died. I had a really great teacher, so make sure you find the right one, but it was invaluable to pay for lessons before moving here. While I had taken years of French lessons, I hadn’t said a word in French for so long that it was really important to be able to work with someone who was French and brush up.

Airport Journal: Galway, Ireland

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No matter how early I plan to leave the house, somehow I always end up running for some mode of transportation. But today it wasn’t my fault. Really. I got up on time, I was at the door on time – but then I opened it. Huge white flakes were falling from the sky. They fell a little too fast, since it wasn’t quite cold enough to snow; only half of them surviving long enough to cover the ground in a thin sheet of almost white. Snow. I finally saw Paris in the snow.

It would have been a lot more exciting had I not realized that I wasn’t dresses for snow – but was venturing out in it, nonetheless. The reasons for my negligence mainly being because it wasn’t in the forecast, and then also just because who dresses for snow while traveling for a mini vacation to Ireland? Umbrella. I needed an umbrella. And as I fumbled my way through the house, I could not for the life of me, find one. WHERE WAS MY UMBRELLA?!

Ok, so maybe it was kind of my fault, because 8 minutes is a rather long time to look for an umbrella, when you’re supposed to be in a “rush.” But I finally found it!! And then it was a run/half skid effort down the hill to the train station. The scanner on the stop said 28 minutes until the next train, which meant I had just missed the train. But, wait. I was 3 minutes early! I prayed it was wrong because, if not, I was cutting it deadly close for catching a connecting metro and, ultimately, the bus to the airport. (A funny story about the airport I’m flying out of, I’ll tell you another time.)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned before how I’m getting to Galway, Ireland. Allow me to do so, now:

Walk ->Train -> Metro -> Bus -> Plane -> Bus -> Stay 24 Hours -> Bus -> Plane -> Bus -> Metro -> Train -> Walk

I know. I got a headache just typing that. But amazingly, with all that, it’s still cheaper than flying direct just to Dublin. Which is cool, because I’d rather go to a city I haven’t been to, before, and I like the idea of taking a bus ride across Ireland on a sunny (albeit cold) Saturday.

Also, the sea. I can not wait until I’m by the sea. Living in land-locked Paris has been slowly draining my soul. I need to be by the salt water air to feel whole. I need to hear waves, and see seagulls flying overhead. Also, I just really miss speaking English and eating fish and chips. Real talk.

So I’m on my way! I’m so excited, even though I’m only halfway through my journey there, right now. Here’s to weekend adventures!

Life Hacking My Way To Paris

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I love Monopoly. There are several reasons, such as a desire for world domination, a completely unnecessarily competitive nature and an overbearing Slytherin mindset. But mostly, I like it because it gives you a lifetime worth of money and resources to strategically manipulate in a game lasting a few hours (or longer if you marathon it like me and my siblings did growing up).

I’ve always loved the idea of taking money and finding ways to stretch it beyond what people think it’s capable of – which is probably why I always win Monopoly. If you know my mom, you know where I get this mindset. So, of course, when it came to buying my plane ticket, it was no different.

A couple of months ago I was looking up plane tickets to Paris. I honestly couldn’t believe how much they were. The cheapest were around $1500 – one way.

Knowing that, as an Au Pair, I wouldn’t have a lot of cash flow piling in my bank account (AKA I need to save money, now), I decided that something had to be done. There was no way in hell I was letting $1500 slip through my fingers just to GET TO the country I wanted to live in. So I started researching.

I stumbled across this article on Pintrest that talks about ways to life hack your way around the world; how to travel without paying, or with paying reduced amounts.

I’ve never really looked into life hacking or finding ways around the travel scene, before. I kind of always thought, “Well, that’s the price, so that’s what I have to pay.” False.

After looking up what I would be needing, in regards to travel, I put together a grand scheme.

The next week, I walked into my local Chase bank early one morning (people are nicer in the morning, and they can help you one-on-one because they’re not as busy), and after asking for personal help, and looking up options, I decided on getting my first credit card – joy to the world.

In general, I really hate the idea of credit cards. I don’t like not paying my debts (how Lannister of me) and spending money that’s not mine just doesn’t feel right. I understand why they exist – I just don’t like them.

This time, though, I got a card called the Chase Preferred Sapphire, which allowed me to earn $500 toward my plane ticket as long as I spent $2000 on it during the first three months.

Now, normally, I don’t spend that much money just hanging out with friends (and things like rent and student loans – my main costs – can’t be paid with a credit card) but I did realize, when I got the card, that it was right before tax return season.

Note: As a nanny, I don’t pay my taxes throughout the year but, instead, all at once in Feb/Mar/Apr. 

You’ve probably guessed what I did. Charged that bad boy with my taxes and came out just over $2,000 ($14 over, to be precise). I immediately paid this off, but having spent the initial amount, I still got the voucher.

Then I thought, “Great, I’ve knocked my $1500 down to $1000, but I still think I can do more!”

So I started to look up flights.

Having traveled to the UK before, I knew that Ireland loves people to travel through there, and Dublin will drop its prices drastically in order to get your business. So, I decided to fly into Dublin, and then from there get a smaller plane to Paris.

Side note: I also just LOVE the Dublin airport because they are the most laid back people ever… and I may have really wanted an excuse to hear Irish accents, again. 

Ticket from Seattle to Dublin (after using my $500 voucher) – $448.

Looking up tickets to Paris was a bit harder, but that was because I very specifically wanted to find one that went to Orly airport (the most southern airport in Paris, and more popular – aka more expensive), since that’s where my au pair family said they could pick me up. I settled with a ticket for $200, with a 2 hour layover in Heathrow – another favorite airport (British accents FTW).

Grand total? *drum roll*

$648.

Having saved somewhere around $1000, I feel pretty happy with my plane ticket purchase, and that I have more money in my bank account and a ticket to Paris on my nightstand.

I’ll probably continue life hacking, since this process has the potential to be ridiculously expensive, but so far so good! Have you guys found any awesome life hacks out there while traveling? Send me a comment!

À bientôt!

I've got a golden ticket!
I’ve got a golden ticket!