Irish I was still in Dublin

This past weekend my friends and I went to Dublin, Ireland for St. Patricks day. We have been looking forward to this trip since we booked it back in November, and it was definitely worth the wait. Our itinerary for the weekend included the Guinness Storehouse Tour, the St. Patricks day parade, and the Cliffs of Moher. It was a fun-filled weekend.

We arrived in Dublin Thursday afternoon and checked into Citywest Hotel. Our hotel was about a 30 minute metro ride to Temple Bar area, so we hopped on board and headed to the Guinness Storehouse for our tour. During the tour we learned all about how Guinness is made and got to explore the factory where it is produced. At the end of the tour each visitor receives a free beer to enjoy at the Gravity Bar on the top level of the Guinness Storehouse. After the tour, we headed over to the Parliament Hotel  for dinner, where we were able to enjoy, burgers, beer, live music, and Irish dancing! It was a really fun atmosphere with people from all over the world singing, dancing, and just having an all around good time. Afterwards, we walked around Temple Bar area and then headed home for a good nights sleep.

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Finally, the day we have all been waiting for, St. Patricks Day. We woke up bright and early to get ready for a long day of festivities and then headed over to our friends Airbnb which was overlooking the parade. After watching the parade for a bit, we went to Temple Bar area and enjoyed the festivities over there and walked around the decorated streets. After a long day of celebrating, we enjoyed a fantastic dinner at Papa Johns. We headed back to the hotel and got a good nights rest before waking up bright and early, once again, for the Cliffs of Moher.

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On Saturday, we had a Paddywagon Tour that takes you from Dublin to the Cliffs of Moher, with several stops at scenic castles. To start out the day, our meeting time was at 8:00am and some of my roommates decided to sleep in a little past the alarm, so we ended up SPRINTING 1.75 miles to the meeting point in order to catch the bus. Luckily we made it just in time for our departure and my roommates were able to finish their slumber on the 3 hour bus ride to the cliffs. The bus ride from coast to coast is absolutely stunning. Ireland is incredibly green and there are sheep, cows, and goats just roaming around. We made our first pit stop at Dunguaire Castle where we were able to learn about the history of the castle and wander around the outside of this 16th century castle. After another hour of driving, we arrived to the Baby Cliffs of Moher, which were breathtaking, so I could not wait to finally arrive at the actual Cliffs of Moher. After a lunch break and some more driving, we finally arrived at the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately the weather was treacherous and we could not even see the edge of the cliffs, let alone the ocean. There were incredibly high wind speeds, fog, and rain, making for a pretty miserable ride home. We stayed at the cliffs for about an hour trying to find at least one place where we could maybe see a glimpse of these beautiful cliffs, but unfortunately all we saw were multiple people getting blown over into the mud. At least now I have a reason to go back!

 

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Although we were unable to see one of the seven wonders of the world, it was still an incredible weekend with friends celebrating St. Patricks Day in Ireland.

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AmsterDAM I love this place

My roommates and I woke up bright and early on Friday morning to begin our adventure to Amsterdam! We arrived in Amsterdam Friday morning and then headed to the Meninger Hotel to drop off our luggage and then start exploring the city. Our first stop was the I Amsterdam sign in front of the Van Gogh museum, where tourists like to climb up the letters and take pictures, which is surprisingly hard to do in the rain. Afterwards, we were all starving so we went to a Pancake restaurant that was highly recommended by all of our friends, The Pancake Bakery. I got a tasty nutella and banana pancake which was so amazing. The Pancake Bakery is conveniently located down the street from the Anne Frank House, which was next on our itinerary. Unfortunately the line was about a 3 hour wait and online tickets were sold out weeks in advance, so we decided to try again the next day. After a quick change of plans, we decided to explore the picturesque streets of Amsterdam. All of the apartments and shops are crooked yet so beautiful and overlook the 165 canals of Amsterdam. We found an exquisite cheese museum where we were able to sample a plethora of different and unique cheeses. After a busy day of trekking through Amsterdam, we navigated our way back to the hotel and got ready for dinner, which was quite an experience. We decided to go to an all you can eat sushi restaurant, Miu. The rules for the all you can eat sushi were that each person had to pay $25 for five rounds of sushi and in each round, each person can order 5 items. Clearly our eyes are way bigger than our stomachs, and we thought it would be a piece of cake to eat all of that food. By the end of the second round we were still going strong, and the waitress came over to our table to tell us to order all the food we want for the rest of our rounds because the kitchen was closing soon, so we each ordered about 15 more items. Once the food arrived at our table, we realized how screwed we were, our waitress had just decided to mention to us that each plate of food you do not eat, you have to pay for. After a few more bites, we began to become exceedingly full, unbuttoning our pants to fit our growing stomachs. We realized that there was not way we were going to finish all of this food, so we had to hide it in our purses to save for later. We were full for about 24 hours after this meal, but we highly recommend trying it if you are ever in Amsterdam. We needed to walk off our dinner, so we headed over to the Red Light District, which was quite a unique experience.

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On Saturday we had tickets for a canal tour, which included an entrance ticket to the Heineken Experience. We learned so much about the history of Amsterdam on the canal tour and it was an incredible way to see the entire city while staying warm on a frigid winter day. After the tour, we went to a late lunch at Bakers and Roasters. Everything on the menu sounded incredible, it was so hard to choose just one item. I went with the salmon rice bowl, which was so tasty. The next stop of the day was the Heineken Experience. We were able to learn all about the history of Heineken and how it is made. The tour includes a lot of interactive activities to show how the beer is made, which I found to be an exciting way to learn. We were able to try the different stages of the beer making process and the end of the tour includes two free beers with a spectacular view of the city from their rooftop patio. After a long day of learning about the history of Amsterdam and beer, we headed over to the Anne Frank House for one last historical site. We had to wait in line for about an hour, but it was SO worth it. It was incredible to see the place where Anne Frank spent so much of her life in hiding and being able to see pictures, videos, diaries and so much more from the Holocaust.

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Amsterdam is an incredible and beautiful place and I hope to go back someday. The people are oh so friendly, the food is exquisite, and there is so much to do and see!

 

Paris is always a good idea…

…as Audrey Hepburn once said. My roommate and I traveled to the city of love for a pre-valentines day for a fun weekend get away. We arrived in Paris early Friday morning, so we had all day to explore the beautiful city. We dropped off our luggage at the hotel and then ventured out for the day. We followed a 3-day Paris itinerary that i had found on the Travellingbuzz blog which was super helpful in guiding us from place to place. On the first day we were able to see the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Ospray, and the Louvre.

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Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower. We decided to climb the 704 stairs to the second level of the tower and then take the elevator up to the top. Unfortunately, we were in Paris the one weekend that it decided to snow there, so the view from the top was foggy, gray, and obscure. We were only able to see a few feet out from the Eiffel Tower, but it was still a breathtaking view. Standing at the top definitely made my stomach drop, but it was so worth it. Since there were high wind speeds and snow when we were up there, we rushed back down to the second level, where we enjoyed the glass floor viewing area and the ice rink. I will definitely have to come back in the summer time to enjoy a picnic on the luscious green grass next to the tower.

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After spending some time at the Eiffel Tower, we made the trek over to Musée d’Orsay to warm up a bit. At this museum, we were able to see the incredible artwork by Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Frédéric Bazille, and many more. There was also a really pretty clock that you can look out of and it has a view of most of Paris, which was really cool. There is so much history in the museum, it was cool to see the actual artwork of paintings that I have learned about in school. Whether you are an art lover or not, I highly recommend visiting this museum!

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The next stop was at the Louvre Museum. The are around the Louvre is really pretty and a great place to take pictures. It was hilarious watching all the tourists stand on the cubes and try to touch the top of the Louvre. After laughing at everyone trying to do it, we obviously had to try it ourselves. Since we are students in the EU, we got into the museum for free. We had already seen so much artwork in one day, so we just decided to go straight to the Mona Lisa and then walk around that area. There is so much to see inside the Louvre, so I will definitely go on a tour of it the next time I am in Paris.Later that night we headed to the famous street called Champs-élysées for a delicious dinner at Pizza Vesuvio. Afterwards we walked around all the shops there and then headed back to the hotel.

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The next day we started out at the Luxembourg Palace and Gardens, which was so pretty and filled with active people running, playing tennis, and riding scooters, as well as young kids playing soccer. The atmosphere was so relaxing, I could have hung out there all day. After exploring the gardens, we headed down the street to a crepe restaurant, La Creperie des Canettes, where I tried my first ever savory crepe. I got an egg, spinach, and cheese crepe which was so savory and delicious. Then we walked over to the Notre Dame de Paris , which was magnificent. The line was so long and it was freezing out, so we just looked at it and then headed over to the metro to get to Montmartre. Montmartre is the cutest, most precious little town I have ever been to. The people, the shops, and the restaurants were quiet and little, giving it a very home-like feel. The views from the top were breathtaking, but once again the fog would not let us see more than a few feet in front of us. There was a little plaza where a number of people sit and draw portraits of people, which is what I was expecting most of Paris to be like. We were SO cold that we had to leave, so we headed back to Champs-élysées and went to an English movie theater (with French subtitles) and saw 50 Shades Darker so that we could defrost for a couple of hours. At midnight, one of our friends turned 21, so we all headed over to the Eiffel Tower to pop a bottle of champagne while watching the lights of the Eiffel Tower flicker in the midnight sky. It was definitely a night and a weekend to remember!

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Social Networks Useful for Travelers

There are a plethora of social networking sites that can help to aid a traveler in his/her adventures. Aside from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, there are more travel related sites such as Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Trover. Each of these social networks include travel destination ideas, places to stay, popular attractions to see, and much more.

Airbnb is a convenient website and phone app that enables its users to find housing in their price range for their travel destination. Studying abroad in Europe and traveling almost every weekend, Airbnb makes it an easy way to find a home away from home for the weekend. Users are able to pick a price range, enter the number of guests that will be staying, the dates of travel and pick a location of their liking. Once the details for the trip are entered, a selection of housing, ranging from entire homes, to apartments, to guest houses, and more, will appear on a map. Being able to scroll around the map searching for the perfect place to stay makes this social networking site easy to navigate. Aside from looking for a place to stay, Airbnb also allows its users to see popular popular experiences in the travel destination, such as city walking tours, food tastings, and bike tours.

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Another popular social network site for traveling is TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor enables its users to find flights, hotels, restaurants, and things to do wherever they may be traveling to. My favorite feature of this social network is that it gives a list of ‘Traveler’s Choice Award Winners’, which is where I have gotten many restaurant recommendations as well as travel destination recommendations to places that I would have never considered traveling to. For example, Interlaken, Switzerland was never on my list of places to stay when traveling to Switzerland, but after reading 5-star reviews on the quaint little town, I knew i had to go to this magical winter wonderland. It definitely did not disappoint (stay tuned to hear more about this picture perfect town in my upcoming blog post).

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-10-16-46-am  Trover is a social network site where users can explore some of the most exciting travel destinations through the photos that other users post on their personal site. You are able to search for your next destination to get ideas on places to go and attractions to see, and may even lead you to visit unique places that were not on your bucket list. I have even gotten inspiration for some picture ideas to take when I visit certain landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower (see below).

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-10-36-53-am    There are so many options of social network sites to look at when planning a trip. Whether you are looking for a place to stay or a restaurant to eat at, each of these websites will help you to plan a successful trip!

Social Networks: Facebook and Traveling

As we all know, Facebook plays a huge role in our day to day life. According to http://www.statista.com there are approximately 1.79 billion monthly active Facebook users. With a population like this, I was able to connect with friends, old and new, about their travels abroad and ask them for advice for my upcoming semester in Europe. Facebook makes it easy to find out where people are traveling to with their ‘Traveling to’ feature. This enables users to quickly share with their Facebook friends where they are traveling to and allows them to ask for tips as well as post pictures from their adventure.   screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-10-48-19-am

Another valuable Facebook tool is photo sharing. Photo sharing enables its users to share pictures and videos of their travels in an interactive way. Creating albums for the different places one travels to makes it easily accessible to all of their Facebook friends. After publishing a picture, people are able to like, comment, and share the picture, which could lead to the post going viral in certain cases. I have found many travel blogs and pages from my Facebook friends sharing travel tips and pictures to their Facebook page. When posting a picture, Facebook is able to detect where the location of the picture was taken and will add it to the photo description. In the “describe this album” section, the publisher is able to add a description to their album. For example, on my ‘Barcelona and Beyond’ Facebook album, I have written all of the places that I have traveled to so far in the description section of the album so that my Facebook friends will know where I traveled to and will be able to ask me for any tips if they decided to travel to any of the same places. It will also give them a sneak peak of what they can expect to see when they travel there, or it might even encourage someone to travel to a place that was not on their bucket list. I had never heard of Interlaken, Switzerland until one of my Facebook friends had posted amazing pictures from her trip there. After seeing pictures of the incredible scenery, I knew I had to book a trip there for an experience of a lifetime. It definitely did not disappoint!

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Facebook allows its users to follow pages that they find interesting, so since I am interested in traveling, I follow a numerous amount of travel pages where I am able to receive advice on popular places to eat, visit, and stay. So far throughout my study abroad experience, the main travel page that I have been using is https://www.facebook.com/bus2alps.travel/. This Facebook page is designed for students like me who want to travel the world for a reasonable price. Bus2alps provides weekend trips that include transportation, meals, housing, and activities all for a certain price. They use Facebook to promote their company and their trips to college students by posting fun and interactive videos and photos, as well as posting about discounts and free travel opportunities.

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Overall, Facebook is a great tool to find travel advice and to stay connected with friends and family while traveling the world. By uploading pictures to a photo album on Facebook, you will have those memories for the rest of your life. Posting your travels to Facebook can lead to many new friendships and allows people to reconnect with old friends by bonding over memories they may have from looking at the pictures of your travels.