Category Archives: Europe

Creating The Perfect Playlist For Your Trip

I like to think of myself as knowledgeable when it comes to different genres of music and truth be told, I’m an absolute music junkie but sometimes when I’m getting ready for a trip and I’m loading my iPod up, I have no idea what to put on there. Country? Too twangy. Rap? Too much. Classical? Too soft.

What I’ve realized is that your playlist almost decides what kind of trip you’re about to embark on and that it can make the getaway that much better if done properly.

Like when I went to Ireland, I had an iPod Shuffleand loaded it up with Of Monsters and Men, Mumford and Sons, classic Irish music and some lighter country. It was perfect. Those long drives through the rolling green hills was almost like a movie with the music behind it. Looking back on that trip, I was very contemplative, very in the now, very centered. I recommend “Love, Love, Love” by Of Monsters and Men as well as their song “Lakehouse”. The Civil Wars have a creepy, hauntingly beautiful sound that adds so much character to the sights you’ll visit.

On the same token, while in Belize I took a lot of newer alternative-y, pop-y, rock. Think Imagine Dragons, Kate Herzig, and the like. I also took a lot of beach music with songs from Bob Marley, Jimmy Buffet, Kenny Chesney’s later stuff such as “Pirate Flag”. The trip had more of a laid back feel but also felt more upbeat thinking back.

Getting ready for my trip in less than a month I’m racking my brain and scouring Pandora to find some new and interesting songs that really catch my attention. Right now I’m attracted to the Imagine Dragons radio as well as Radical Face radio. The song that’s currently on repeat is Gustavo Santaolalla’s “Motorcycle Diaries”.

I think the playlist is a crucial item in your packing list and I’m always open for ideas on new songs as well as new adventures.

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Fervor.

My true passion in life has always been traveling.

It doesn’t matter how small or large. A midnight roadtrip to see snow, a transatlantic to the Emerald Isle, an empty flight to see Mayan ruins.

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I’ve always had this intense feeling of wanderlust that I usually can’t put into words. It’s this pushing feeling against my chest screaming in the smallest voice, “Go. Be. Do.” At times this voice is a faint whisper and at times, like tonight, it’s this roaring and deafening battle cry. It’s my calling, truly and literally.

As I’ve said in previous posts, I’m only truly happy when I’m away. I’m constantly fighting the piece of me that feels like it’s too small for Florida. I sit in classrooms that teach me history of ancient lands and I’m chomping at the bit. I sit at tables and listen to stories of others who have gotten lost and I’m intrigued beyond recognition.

I’ve made plans as of late to fuel my fire.

I’m just recently went to Costa Rica with one of the girls I met in Belize. We were in the cloud forest, surrounded by volcanoes and jungle. It was paradise.

Also, my lead professor has offered me a spot on this year’s Belize trip again. And I’m seriously thinking of taking it. I’ve never pushed myself further out of my comfort zone than I did on that trip. God only knows how much more potential I can actualize while there a second time.

I know that I’m blessed for these opportunities. I know and I’m grateful.

I also know that if I don’t take these opportunities, someone else will. Someone else will get to to experience the passion and fervor and all consuming love I have for the world that we live in. And to be honest, that doesn’t really fly with me. I live for that feeling and I plan on taking it with me wherever I go.

People have told me that it’s too much.
People have said that I’m too lucky, I need to stay grounded.
People have whispered that I had too much fun for one lifetime, time to take a break.

To those people;

No.

It’s not too much. I’m exploring the world I was placed in. There are millions and millions of things and people and sights to be gazed upon. I plan on doing so.

I can’t be grounded. I was born to fly. I’ve always been a dreamer, sometimes too much of one. But my parents raised me right, they gave me the best gift of all; creativity, imagination, love, passion and drive. They pushed me out of the nest. They knew I could fly. And for that I can’t disappoint them.

And for those who said I had too much fun. Is there really such a thing? Imagine for a moment the happiest you’ve ever been. Emulsify that into a tangible object. Would you put that object on a shelf because it was good enough? Would you let it sit there and collect dust? I wouldn’t. If I’ve had “too much fun”, then there’s much more fun to be had.

I was in a relationship for years that stifled me. It sucked me dry. I lost my lust for life.
He hated to travel. He hated when I brought it up. He hated when I went on trips. And slowly, very slowly, I started hating myself.
Then one day, I broke free.
I can’t look back to that. I can’t be that girl who depended on someone else for my self worth. Because I’m better than that.
This world is far too grand and great to not be appreciated. That’s what I’m here for.

The Best Places To Grab A Drink In Derry, Ireland

When one thinks of Ireland, they think of rolling green hills, beautiful music and drinking. Whether your poison be whiskey or a pint of your favorite brew; Ireland satisfies all. Derry, Ireland isn’t on the top of everyone’s must see list but it’s on mine.

It’s charm and appeal is second to its numerous options for drinks. Here’s a list of a few of my favorite places and why;

Paedar O’Donnell’s

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This was hands down my favorite spot and I went here at least three times a week. There is a full band every night that plays traditional Irish music and is adorned in flags from all over the world. It’s rustic oak pillars and line of Guinness’ waited to be topped off is a helpful and unnecessary reminder of where you are. You can expect to pay 3 Pounds for a pint of your choice and about 4 or 5 for mixed drinks. If you are going to go anywhere in Derry, go here.

Bound for Boston

For those who like to listen to live music while getting their drink on, this is the place to go. They have live bands every night playing everything from covers to original music by start up bands. Bound for Boston has an extensive selection of beer and the bartenders are more than willing to help you out. The atmosphere is laid back and the crowd is a younger bunch but it also has booths on either side offering a little more privacy if you’d rather enjoy your music alone.

Tinney’s

Tinney’s will always hold a special place in my heart solely for the music. If you love Irish music or just want to hear a collection of locals playing the music they grew up hearing, come to Tinney’s on Tuesdays. The bar is downstairs and has a normal selection of beers and spirits with TV’s playing the football matches on repeat but head upstairs for the music. Starting at 7 they play music for a couple hours and if you’re lucky, other tourists will join in with songs from their country. I had the opportunity to hear a Japanese folk song, a Spanish lullaby and a Kenyan chant. Absolutely incredible.

Ice Wharf

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The Ice Wharf is where I went for a majority of my meals in Ireland; they were inexpensive,  had great food, and even better beer. You could get a hamburger and fries with a pint of Guinness for 3.99. Can’t beat it. They offer a wide selection of foods from the typical meat and potatoes and potatoes and more potatoes that so customary in Ireland to chicken tikka pizza. All of their meals are affordable and the drinks are the same. You can get fish bowls full of liquor for under $10 and pints for under $3.

On a final note, there isn’t really a bad place to get a drink in Ireland. The people are extremely friendly so when in doubt, ask a local.

A Brief Glimpse At Belfast

Belfast is a city that seems to bustle at every turn but walk into any pub and time has stopped. The dust that lines the top of the shelves is easily an inch thick and the wood has started to warp in places from use. The once shiny metal stools have been hardened into a matte black from so much use. The bartender knows everyone that walks in and has the eyes of someone who truly has seen it all. But walk back out those front doors again and you’re slapped with reality.

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My visit to Belfast was a short one, with short being an understatement. The majority of the 5 hours I was there was spent in the Titanic Museum, an ode to the tragic ship but beautifully displayed. It’s a 5 story tale from first drafts to it’s fate at the bottom of the ocean. With artifacts recovered from it’s watery grave and donated by it’s survivors it tells the stories that would have never otherwise been heard.

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Belfast was also my first experience with a double decker bus. I know, so touristy. But admit it, you had a moment too. But, my moment was disrupted by snickering locals who laughed at the American tourists. What can you do?

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Derry: A City of Mistrust, Bloody History and the Nicest People You’ll Ever Meet

Derry is just like any other border town. It just so happens to border Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and has a tumultuous history. The British have always fought to claim it as theirs and the Republic has fought to keep it as their own. Neither is right, neither is wrong. It’s just a city that has been the apple of everyone’s eye.

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It’s worn down by it’s tough exterior and it’s massive walls that encircle the city give it a mean demeanor. The streets tell tales of a storied past. The stones whisper of wars and famines and droughts. Take a guided tour of the walled city and they’ll tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know and even things you didn’t even know happened right before us.

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U2’s famous “Bloody Sunday” sings about the tragic day when the “Troubles” came to head and many brave souls lost their life. But this town, although harrowed in it’s past, is nothing but lively and strong.

I stayed in the Derry side of Derry/Londonderry at a Bed and Breakfast called the Clarence House. Every morning my group and I were awoken to a full Irish breakfast; coffee, tea, biscuits, sausage, eggs, pancakes, juice, blood sausage, bacon. This full meal allowed us to skip lunch and save some money which is always a plus when traveling.

The pub fare was much better than expected. I thought I would be eating potatoes and some kind of meat with every meal (partially true) but the influences that carry throughout their dishes is unexpected and refreshing. I recommend the Sheppard’s Pie, Guinness Stew, and the Baby Guinness.

As anyone will in Ireland, I drank my fair worth and none of it is bad. Try it all. Enjoy it all. Definitely drink a Guinness.

I was in Derry for 15 days and literally fell in love with the charmed city. Although its residents will ask you, “How could you ever love this bloody place?” The rolling streets (and sometimes unbearable uphill’s), the small shops and pubs that you always envisioned in Ireland call to you from every corner. But what I fell in love with most about Derry were it’s people.

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I’ve always considered myself a cultured person, I’ve done my fair share of traveling and I always seem to be drawn more to the people than the city itself. I feel as through the residents of any city are what its true core is. A city in of itself is just that, buildings and churches and roads but with people; it comes alive. You see the true colors and the spirit that’s shining through.

Derry’s people were like none other I had ever met. Anyone would offer you a ride, buy you a pint, tell you stories and cook you dinner if you had asked. Their incomparable hospitality and good nature almost takes you by surprise, I had always heard the Irish would talk your ear off but I couldn’t have imagined what I experienced. Some of my dearest memories will always reside in Derry.