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

When in Rome

 

Rome was the twilight zone I promise you. The last night we were there we walked around for 30 minutes to get to a place that was only 5 minutes away.  From start to finish Rome was insane. First we got off at the wrong station, and then had to take a taxi to our hostel, only to figure out that the hostel that was 5 minutes from Roma Termini (the main train station.) We dropped our stuff and began our walk, where we discovered that maybe this time instead of walking everywhere we could just buy a 24 hour metro pass. So thats what we did.

Rome

Our hostel had a nice little roof top bar where we enjoyed some drinks on our first night there. Maybe a few more than we should have..

Rome

We originally planned to do the Vatican our first night, but it started raining and the line was long, we went to a little cafe for refuge before retreating back to our hostel after getting on the wrong line, and luckily after our troubles in Florence finding food there was a nice little place right across from us where I ordered a nice big glass of red wine and spaghetti and meatballs ( I had to and it was worth it.) It ended up as our saving grace and we went there the next night and for breakfast, but don’t worry we got something different every time.

Rome

The most amazing thing about Italy to me, is that everything looks exactly like the pictures if you google it. Thats the Trevi Fountain, and it was our first stop, on a long day.

Rome

Directly across from it was this beautiful little church, and of course I went in.

Rome

Here I lit a candle for everyone at the CCM.

Now this church may not look like much from the outside but it was one of my favorite places I went in Rome. After we went to the Vatican (which gets it own post) , I got to fulfill a pilgrimage of mine while here. St. Monica is one of my favorite saints, and my confirmation saint. Splurging(it actually wasn’t that expensive) on a taxi I looked up where her remains were kept. From the inside this simple Basilica di Sant Agostino, was beautiful, not to mention what relics it held.

Rome

Rome

 

Rome

Here I lit a candle for everyone back in RCIA! I’m so proud of those that received sacraments this Easter!

And lastly would I have really gone to Rome if I didn’t go to the Colosseum? By the time we made our way to it, it was closed to visitors but we saw the outside, and that was impressive itself. I remember being so excited about the Roman ruins in Chester, and then I got to Italy and Chester felt small.

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If you ever want to feel small and insignificant go to Rome. If you ever want to see some of the best architecture of your life, go to Rome. If you go to Rome give yourself more time than I did (I think 4 days should suffice.)

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Castle Count: 12

Cathedral Count: 9

Lago Di Garda

“I’d pay five euro for a water castle,” Richelle said.

“Yeah I’d pay a fiver,” I replied.

Milan

This was the conversation Friday night before we walked two hours to a water castle. The term ‘fiver’ drives Richelle crazy, but it’s ok she made me walk 2 hours to get to a castle. I should start from the beginning though so it makes sense how it came to be.

Milan

We took two trains to Lago Di Garda (Lake Garda), which is the largest lake in Italy and was formed by glaciers around the last ice age (so kind of like the great lakes except great lake singular). In town of Sirmione, lays a medieval Scaliger castle, which dates back to the 13th century.

Milan

 

It’s situated on the water and picturesque in every way possible. It was beautiful, and a little chilly and beside it sat a town. We’ll get to that part later—we got off the trains and right there was a bus stop to the castle, however Richelle wasn’t positive that it was the right bus soooo we missed it, and ended up walking over two hours.

Milan

At one point I got cranky and my feet started to hurt, and blisters could be felt forming, and we went for Gelato, which I have to say once you have Gelato in Italy you’ll never want to have it anywhere else again. We found a bus stop, and decided to keep walking, found another two hours later and stopped. It was a fiver for the castle for non EU citizens, however I argued that I go to University in the UK, and Richelle goes to University in Italy, so we got the discounted price.

Like I’ve said the castle was wonderful, and the town surrounding it, although touristy, was quaint and wonderful. Me being me, of course found this little medevial chapel and decided to go inside say a prayer, and take some pictures.

Milan

Needless to say I slept like a baby that night.

Castle Count: 12

Cathedral Count: 7

Milan

They say there’s no time like the present and I write this in the present on a bus heading towards Dublin, after a crazy 48 hours in Belfast with my mom. However this isn’t about Ireland it’s about another country that starts with an “I”, and that country is Italy. More specifically in Italy Milan. I think it’s been stated but I can’t be bothered to go back and look, but I have no classes on Friday which makes traveling that much easier.

Milan
It was a long day to start with I got up around 5 am to catch the train at 6 and arrived at the airport around 9. My plan was delayed an hour and I didn’t arrive into Milan until around 2 pm, around 3:30/4 I met up with Richelle. We took a quick tour through a castle (yes another castle) that Di Vinci would work in and was once owned by the Sforza’s. No idea what the name of the castle was but it was beautiful and had a big court yard.

Milan

Milan

Milan
We later met up with Richelles flat mates and friends where had lunch admired the view and talked. We agreed to meet them later as she showed me around Milan, like the Duomo and some of the stores.Milan is one of the fashion capitals of the world and it shows. There were children dressed better than I was. The flag ship stores for Prada, LV and others were in their shopping center, and even though I know they have the same stores as high street stores in the UK everything just seemed… well better. I stood out like a sore thumb. If you think you have a great sense of fashion just go to Milan, you’ll most likely be proven wrong.

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We ended the night at a lovely place for dinner with her flat mates where I split a bottle of wine with Richelle, it took forever to get the check. Italians have no sense of urgency and it drives me INSANE.

Castle Count:11

Cathedral Count: 7

Italy

 

 

\Long time no post and I apologize! I’ve been relaxing and catching up on work since my world wind adventure to the Netherlands, Germany and then Scotland right after. Now I’m resting in a lovely airbnb with my mom as we adventure through Ireland. But before there was the great Ireland adventure there was Italy. I’ll post more on each post specifically, however I will mention that as beautiful as Italy was this was my most stressful trip. It probably didn’t make sense in the order I went in, but I started in Milan, went to Florence where we got lost, next was Rome, and then Venice probably my favorite.

 

Navigating your way through a foreign country with only your friends who don’t speak (or in the case of Richelle speak a bit of) is tiring. By the end of the trip I was done, this picture above was only in Florence but it sums out how my trip was.

Milan

I landed in Milan where I met up with Richelle who is another study abroad student from UMW, shes spending her semester in Milan, which was beautiful and she showed me around. We went to a water castle.

Florence

Mollie flew in to Milan where I met up with her and we finished out our week taking the trip to Florence, Rome, and Venice. Where we enjoyed gelato, pizza, and pasta.

Bavaria

This is my last post on Germany and I’m using to sum up other tidbits about this beautiful country. The Alps start in Bavaria, and were stunning. The spring water coming from them causes all the lakes to be clean, and drinkable (although I did not drink from them you could.)

*** because I’ve been asked a bit, that is a blanket scarf I bought from Zara while in Germany, and it was windy so it kept flying off, so I used it as a wrap. It was very comfy and warm***

I was overjoyed there was snow on the mountains because at least I got to see a little bit of snow this winter.

On shrove Tuesday almost nothing was open so we ended up at the botanical gardens, luckily it was inside, because the weather was cold rainy and windy…bleh.

There was beautiful flowers, lots of succulents (which are my favorite because I can’t kill them!), odd looking fruit, and this little guy which made me miss my own turtle.

We went into the butterfly exhibit where we were attacked by butterflies and children alike.

There’s a place a that is stunning in every way possible. I cried when they said it was only a summer residence (not really but when you see how beautiful it was you might cry too.)

If you think the exterior is impressive just wait.

Munich and the rest of Bavaria was absolutely amazing, the food with great (as long as you like meat and carbs), and the people were wonderful. The scenery as I have said was breath taking. I recommend it everyone and I know that this will not be my last time there.

Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein castle was Walt Disneys inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle.

It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the nineteenth century. Many of Richard Wagners (good friend of Ludwig and writer of the Wedding March!) stories are on the walls. 

The castle was never finished. King Ludwig has a premature death (probably suicide) before it could be complete, there for the throne room is missing a throne, the chapel was never built and not all the paintings are finished. 

There was this bridge that offered a fantastic vantage point for pictures. It was breath taking.

The castle is known for its pictureque winter scenes with the alps behind it and the snow covering, its easy to see why Ludwig was called the fairy tale king.  

This stunning castle was paid for out of Ludwigs own personal funds rather than tax payers. It was meant to a secluded get away for the private and deeply religious king. However six years after his death it was opened to the public.  We weren’t allowed pictures inside so we have a quite a few from outside. But look at this? Do you blame us?

A lovely castle on the hill.

Cathedral Count: 5

Castle Count: 4

Munich- Churches

As much as I love Churches I think I need a break from walking seeing a bunch of them for a while. Munich is heavily Catholic, and had a church on every block.

 

The nets over it are to stop pigeons from landing on the statues. Honestly at this point I don’t remember what pictures belong to what churches.I know that Saint Micheal’s church it’s where Ludwig II of Bavaria’s remains are. The detail was breath taking.

I don’t remember the name of this church (if you went as many as I did you wouldn’t either!) It was built to look like there was no windows, the story goes the devil commanded them to build a church with no windows, and they tried to trick him, because when you look forward there doesn’t seem like there’s windows, and when the devil found out he became so mad he stomped on his foot and left the print above which has been there since the original construction. That’s also the tomb of one of their kings. I forget which one.

 

This one was my favorite. It was so simple but extravagant, with the marble detailing. It’s so crazy to believe that it was all hand carved.

 

I almost 100% positive that this was the cathedral, it was partly destroyed in WWII, and has been rebuilt since.

Cathedral Count: 5

Castle Count: 3 (for now)