Manchester

I’ve been holding off on this post, because what I had originally had written I felt guilty about posting so soon after the terrorist attack. But here goes nothing. Manchester is a perfectly nice city. I recommend everyone to go to Manchester at least once. There is a train that takes you right to their airport which was convenient. However Bill Byrson got it right, when he said there’s nothing particularly memorable.

It was the last day of my mom’s visit, and we only had just less than 18 hours in the city on a bank holiday, so we didn’t get to see everything, and I’m sure there are memorable parts. Like I said it’s a lovely city, spent a weekend there by all means, it’s great to visit. I just can’t think of anything other than Cat Cafe that stuck out. However I also saw a Cathedral to add to my count. What I started to notice about Cathedrals in the UK, is they’re all built the same, and they all look the same, the only thing that really varies in the size of them.

Manchester

Manchester

This is Bert. Bert is a cross eyed kitty. Bert was my favorite.

Manchester

Castle Count: 13

Cathedral Count: 15

Dublin

Do I really travel somewhere unless I travel to a castle? The answer is no, and in Ireland of course I made it to a castle! While in Dublin we stayed in this lovely airbnb which was in Malahide, which was a near a  ‘haunted’ castle. I saw no ghosts.

Easter break

Dublin

Dublin

Easter break

We decided to take a hop on hop off bus the next day, because it was Good Friday so a lot of places weren’t open.

Easter break

Dublin

Easter break

 

However we did make it to Dublin castle.

Dublin

Look at all the umbrellas! But no rain! Silly Dublin.

 

Finally we ended the tour the last day where we made it to the Guinness factory for a cheeky pint.

Dublin

Easter break

 

Needless to say by the end of this trip (coming right on the heels of Italy) I was quite tired, and wanted a nap. There were two Cathedrals we saw in Dublin but alas because it was Good Friday we didn’t go in to look around, which brings the count to a tie!

Castle Count: 13

Cathedral Count: 14

 

Venice

I really have to say, the Italians have a beautiful appreciation for balconies. All of Italy were balconies, that just added to the beauty of the landscape. Venice was no exception, and it was mt favorite. If I had to choose one place to get back to, it would be Venice, with out a doubt, I would go to Venice again in a

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Mollie and I were finally able to find clothing that we both liked! There was a store that said 10 euro everything so we just had to go in to check it out! Mollie got herself a dress, and I got myself a pretty little skirt.

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Venice

Pictures don’t do Venice justice. It stole my heart.

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We decided to splurge a bit and go on a gondola our first night there. It was perfect. It was chiller than the rest of Italy, but it makes sense because its always chillier on the water. It does smell like dead sea food in some areas, but for the most part the canal smell wasn’t bad. There were water taxis to take you around, because cars are banned, and buses only go into the right before the city, where you take a modern bridge (but it doesn’t stand out that much), over to the islands.

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Venice is made up of something like 100 islands that are all connected by bridges.

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Our gondola driver(?), was very nice, and give us some history during our ride. Mollie was terrified of the rocky boat, and the entire time was clutching on to me.

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The next day we made it to Piazza di Sant Marco, where the Saint Mark Basilica is. It was free to enter the main part ( a nice change from everything that charges for breathing), and it was beautiful. Probably one of the most if not the most beautiful basilica I saw.

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Perhaps the most pleasent little surprise I came across in all the churches when a simple modest church, that held the remains of St. Lucy! Once again there are no pictures for respectful reasons but it was a nice surprise! However I also went to this church Basilica di Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari , but Mollie stayed outside time.

Venice

Venice

Venice

Venice

After wandering some finding a place for Gelato and a pizzeria for lunch it became time to settle down for dinner. We knew a few things. We wanted calamari, and we wanted to eat by the water.  We saw a place the other night on our gondola ride, so we decided to go on a hunt and find it. We did…  but we also found another place that looked better so we decided to try it. So I sat down with my glass of wine, and Mollie with her rum and coke, and we agreed that we should splurge on the Calamari….

Venice

Well we thought that Calamari was battered… and this wasn’t. Mollie tried it I didn’t. That concluded our adventures in Italy! The next day bright and early we caught a train to the airport and jetted off to the UK! Venice my love I will be back.

Cathedral Count: 11

Castle Count: 12

 

 

The Vatican

Since the Vatican is technically it’s own country it gets its own post. Plus I feel like if I do the post of Rome would have been way too long, and I like to keep these semi short and sweet. Just outside the walls of the Vatican are tons of people trying to sell you things, however Mollie and I started to get worried when we saw the line that would take a minimum of 2 hours to get through.

Rome

We ran into this guy who worked for a tourist company and and told us that for 35 euro we can have a guided tour, and skip the never ending line, so we took the opportunity. As Mollie said I was a bit of a teachers pet during the tour, and every time he would ask something about Catholicism or Catholic history I would answer. I got excited actually knowing something in a country that I constantly felt lost!

Rome

Rome

Everything was beautiful and intricate, and the ceilings were 2D designs made to look like 3D which in itself blew my mind. I wish I could have spent more time taking things in, the tour itself took over 4 hours… if you ever go to the Vatican I recommend setting aside a good part of your day so you don’t feel rushed.

Rome

This is an Armenian saint, that brought Christianity to Armenia, we were told to take a picture of it if we know anyone Armenian and I know quite a few so this is for all of you!

In the Sistine chapel we weren’t allowed to talk, although there was a lot of talking.For some reason I though the Sistine chapel was more of a dome, than a box. We weren’t allowed to take obvious pictures as our tour guide said, so we would turn our cameras to selfie to take a picture of the ceiling, which lets be real is the only thing anyone really wants a picture of anyways.

Rome

Rome

We exited through St. Peters basilica, which is where St. Peter himself is buried. There were also remains of another saint, that freaked out Mollie. Out of respect I didn’t take pictures of it. The basilica although grand was built to be inviting and built not to make you feel small, and I think it worked. You didn’t realize how massive it was until you were up close to certain things, and until how long it took to walk around it. The only thing that disappointed me was I wanted to sit and pray in quiet for a bit, but I couldn’t because there were too many people walking around, and talking.  So I said a few prayers to myself while walking around and taking it all in instead.

Rome

 

I took a picture of the Swiss Guard because I thought they were funny.

Castle Count: 12

Cathedral count: 10

Lost in Florence

Does everyone know I’m Catholic? I feel like it’s fairly obvious, and being in a Italy I had no excuse to not go to mass on Sunday. So I did, I went to Basilica Di Sant’Ambrogio. I could follow a bit during mass, but still struggled, because I don’t know the language. However knowing the order of mass helped a ton, and it was a wholesome experience and I wouldn’t mind repeating it.

Milan

Milan

 

After mass, Mollie flew into Milan, where shortly after we ventured into Florence! When we got to the hostel the first thing we did was go out and eat, however that’s easier said than done. A lot of places were closed, it being a Sunday and Italy being a heavily Catholic country after all. We wandered in a circle until we finally found a place, and where I had to use my basic Spanish because I don’t speak Italian and the closest I could get was Spanish. Once we sat down I put our hostel into a map only to find out that what we thought was going to be a 30 minute walk was a three minute walk. That would not the first nor last time we got lost in Florence.

Florence

Florence

Florence

Florence was beautiful and the only thing we didn’t get to do there that I wish we did was see the David statue but it wasn’t opened to the public that day.  So instead we wandered the streets intensifying the blisters I had already acquired from Milan.

Florence

Florence

Florence

I was informed by Richelle and friends that Florence is the place to buy leather, so I went about popping in and out of every leather shop I found determined to find one of three things I was looking for (tan leather tote, tan leather jacket, some sort of leather shoe), they try to trick you by telling you that they have a ‘special deal for you’, however I wasn’t convinced. At one place though I found a leather tote bag, which came with a smaller bag for a total for 35 euro. What can I say I love finding deals.

Florence

Unfortunately we didn’t make it two things I wanted to see in Milan, one the Milan Cathedral the line was way too long so we got pictures outside where you can see the how impressive it was, and the scale of how large it was, nor were we able to see the David statue as it was for some reason was closed to the public that day. We did however go inside Basilica di Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross) which has robes that St. Francis of Assisi wore.

At the end of long day after having another Gelato (it’s worth noting that Mollie had her first Gelato in Florence), we were walking back to hostel when all of sudden we wondered why were following a group of Chinese tourists?

Florence

Florence

We ended the night looking up places to eat so we wouldn’t have the same problem as the night before, and we found somewhere on google that got good reviews. As we were walking towards it we came across this other place that had an outside seating area with pixi lights, and said that we would go there if we couldn’t find our place. After 15 minutes of walking in circles and getting frustrated we retreated to our back up plan, which ended up being the place we couldn’t find anyways.

Castle Count: 12

Cathedral count: 9

Chester

I was a very excited American while visiting Chester. There are so many ruins ( ROMAN) and others I was going crazy. The architecture was very Tudor (not that I know what that means) . This was Chester, which is in Cheshire (fun names) which is JUST outside of Wales. It was just over an hour on the train, and I want to go back when its warmer so I can do a canal walk. I mean look how beautiful this was in the dead of winter!

So a little context with the “excited American” picture which pretty much describes me anytime I go anywhere… We were looking at these ruins of a cathedral (I’m not adding that to the cathedral count because it’s not full) and I had a minor freak out about how old and cool everything is. The old Cathedral had a coffin in the walls! It was super high up too so it was interesting. I took a picture of the sign that explains its brief history

 

Also since Chester was a town occupied by Romans there are remains of a mini theater that was in the city. The cathedral was huge! There was no way to get a picture of the full thing. It looks a lot like the one in Bangor just a lot larger.

 

Other tid bits, when we were walking around I saw this alley and I thought I might die (not really I’m dramatic).

They had an “American Candy World.” Which to it’s credit did have American Candy but I wouldn’t count on it being too similar. If you ever wanted to know what the UK thought of American sweets here’s your answer.

The cathedral count takes the lead with 1 (but should it be two because of the ruins?)

Cathedral Count: 4

Castle Count : 3

 

***Also side note if a place has a cathedral it’s considered a city! That’s a weird interesting fun fact.***