Ireland

Journeys of a Lifetime in July

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The Sepik River: Let's start off with a trip for the hairy-chested and callused travelers. Say hello to Papua New Guinea! Coast along one of the least spoiled and greatest river systems in the world, flanked by jungle and indigenous cultures with multiple languages and gruesome stories from village rivalries. Skip the capital city and board a cruise boat for four days. Sounds extreme…

Turkey's Turquoise Coast: I read "anchor at night in isolated coves" and got a little giddy. How does sailing the southwest coast of Turkey, admiring relics of 4,000 year-old civilizations, and enjoying Turkish breakfasts while watching flying fish go by sound? Sounds like a trip to convert any land-lover.

By Road

Route 12 in the Outer Banks: Windsurfers, I'm talking to you now…and hang gliders…and people who like beaches. There's a stretch of 80 miles on the coast of North Carolina called the Outer Banks that would entice all of you. Rocky seas slap the shores and create the perfect climate for wind sports. Route 12 runs the length of the barrier islands and can be driven in three hours.

Ireland

Ireland

Connemara's Sky Road: Ireland already pulls you in with its lovely people and tendency to indulge in some tasty brews, and while you're enjoying the emerald green of her landscapes and primordial beauty, take a drive through the Connemara peninsula for some added visual pleasures. White-sand beaches and high cliffs both make up its rugged perimeter, where the intense wild mingles with pub-filled towns and wild ponies.

By Rail

The Inland Railway: Board in Mora, head to Lapland. See one of Europe's last great wildernesses along the way. If you're into grand travel landmarks, you may enjoy getting the certificate upon crossing the Arctic Circle. Don't rush your week in Sweden, awaiting brown bears outside your train car window. And remember that touring in summertime allows for some awesome vistas with the 24-hour daylight.

Scotland

Scotland

Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: If you've never seen a hairy cow, now's your chance. Honestly, if you don't know what the Scottish Highlands look like, you're in for an awakening. You've probably dreamt about them without even knowing such land truly exists. I was enchanted by the simple beauty of the lakes and mountains. The landscape is haunting and hopeful at the same time. This train takes three hours and can show you the magic.

On Foot

Climbing Mount Fuji: No snow. No massive festival lines to the top. July is a great time to love on Japan's famous peak. From the looks of Japanese toilets, the rest stops on the way to the summit have got to be elaborate and…kush. Whether you start in the middle for the pre-dawn trek to the sunrise or do the whole darn thing all day long, allow yourself to think about the dormant volcano below you, not all the knick-knacks and novelty items you could get while up there.

Lake Issyk-Kul: I know you don't often find yourself crossing the Kyrgyzstani/Kazakhstani borders often, but you may want to tack this trip onto your pre-existing Stan tour (or your bucket list journey). What do you imagine a lake "cradled in the Mountains of Heven" looks like? You better bet it's not only picturesque but surrounded by incredible hikes through herb meadows and colorful vistas. I never knew the Stans were coated in natural splendor. Serves me right for watching Borat.

In Search of Culture

Amish Country: Do you hang with the Amish often? What gives? Maybe you should. Take off right now for Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania and find yourself some Old Order Amish folk to admire. Take the backroads, stop for some crafts and delicious food goods, and if you're around for a Saturday, try attending an auction. Don't ask me what they auction off; I want to be surprised when I hit that up.

The Painted Monasteries of Moldavia: Illuminated manuscripts are immaculate to begin with, but seeing a similar effect covering the walls of a quaint monastery in Romania's countryside would be time travel-esque. There are as many as fifteen monasteries with similar artistry on display, one of which earned the title of "the Sistine Chapel of the East." You won't have to search very hard to find the culture here in Romania.

In Gourmet Heaven

New York Deli Tour: There's an overwhelming amount of things to do and see in Manhattan, which is why fueling up is essential. Enter the New York deli scene. You've got your classic Katz's Delicatessen, your staple Carnegie Deli, and a slew of others both well-known and lower key. Go with friends and split sandwiches to save room for some cheesecake and other delicious goods.

Wine Route Through Hungary: Allow me to write a wine route haiku:

Ancient golden wines Aged in musty, moldy caves What could be sweeter

Since when have you needed to be persuaded to visit a wine country? You just needed to know it was there. And now you do. So go.

Into the Action

Horse Treks in the Andes: The choice isn't horse, foot, car, or plane. It's obvious you'll be traversing the Andes on horseback, but the question is where: through the grasslands and volcanoes of Ecuador or along old smugglers' routes in Patagonia. Since the Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, it seems the choices are virtually limitless. Regardless, to be that connected with the glory of nature would be a thrill for the masses…and the sole individual that feels real isolation and fresh air in their nostrils. Can you tell I pine for Patagonia?

The Big Five

The Big Five

Stalking the "Big Five": Who are the "Big Five?" They were classified as so for being the most difficult to hunt: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. Chobe National Park in Botswana will satiate your desires to see these bad boys and stalk them with your newly purchased sniper (a.k.a. telephoto) lens. Don't expect to sleep in on this sort of safari, but you can expect an awesome mid-day nap when the rest of the animals snooze as well.

Up and Away

Over British Columbia: Vancouver is one of those cities that can be done by foot, bike, car, etc. but what shouldn't be neglected is the aerial view from the windows of a float plane. Sunset flights could be majestic, but daytime jaunts can bring you into view of eagles, seals, and porpoises going nuts in nature.

Buzzing over Kruger National Park: Nothing feels more like a defiance of all natural instincts and laws that flying over man-eating animals in a kite strapped to a lawn mower engine. And at the same moment, nothing is cooler than taking a microlight on a mini-safari over reserves like Kruger. It's certainly a new and interesting way to move about this earth and a surreal way to observe animals in their natural habitats.

In Their Footsteps

Across the Continental Divide with Lewis and Clark: I have no idea how Lewis and Clark could do it. But thank goodness they did; otherwise, who knows if I'd be alive (that'd be funny and make sense if I were actually related to William Clark, which I don't believe I was). It is, however, possible to see for yourself what the wild continental divide was like 200 years ago when they made their famed trek. Montana looks monumental in size, and it's always a trip worth taking to be amidst mass beauty.

Blues Pilgrimage in Clarksdale: It's the birthplace of the blues and chillin' in the Mississippi Delta, waiting to be explored by you. Morgan Freeman has certainly invested a lot in this region, which is decidedly understated but top notch in musical quality and food choices, among many other things, I would assume. You could also take Highway 61, also known as the Blues Highway, and make Clarksdale one stop among many on your musical pilgrimage.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in August for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in June

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

The St. Lawrence: If you have an interest in Canada's most historical city, a passion for seafaring, and a love of the slow travel movement, take this river route from Quebec to Montreal, which exhibits its fair share of beautiful nature. Glacier-carved paths have never been so cool.

Eastern Caribbean Cruise: It looks like there are some very appealing options for the Caribbean other than the all-inclusive resorts. Sailing from Antigua to Puerto Rico sounds like one of them! And if you're not obsessed with sun-worshipping, don't forget the intriguing cultures, inland adventures, and fantastic diving opportunities are paired with a Caribbean good time. Not a cruise-goer? I don't think you should expect the stigma.

By Road

Lake Michigan Shoreline: Traverse one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Motor from white sand beaches to the dunes, big cities to the Cape Cods of the Midwest. Would make for a great summer road trip for anyone unfamiliar with the highlights of the region.

Crossing the Andes from Bolivia to Chile: June will be a cold month for South America, but that also means seeing very clear skies reflected in the beautiful salt plains. With a title like "The World's Highest Road Journey," you know it has to be a memorable trip. To the Andes, baby!

By Rail

The Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad: Sounds like the kind of trip a traveling family would enjoy taking: boarding an authentic steam train for a day though the Colorado Rockies. Of course, if you're a nature lover, it could also knock you down with its river/gorge/forest/mountain awesomeness.

The Qingzang Railway: I'm guessing you didn't think this is how you'd ever experience 15,000 feet. Linking western China to Tibet, this high-altitude train has oxygen supplies under every seat, in case you get a little woozy from watching a landscape of glaciers and Himalayan peaks. Note to the wise: you must prove your heart capable of making such a jaunt, preferably with legit paperwork.

On Foot

The Carpathian Mountains: Give yourself a week in Eastern Europe for some vampire hunting. Whether you believe in Romania's folk mythology or not, the day hikes through these mountains peppered with wildlife and culture-rich castles and related history. Let your imagination freak you out in Transylvania.

High Atlas Mountains: Pack mules lug your load while walking from village to village among the Moroccan mountain range. And if your particularly adventurous, climb North Africa's tallest peak at 13,670 feet. And, of course, there's no doubt this country harbors some pretty amazing cities with loads to unload in the form of exotic culture.

In Search of Culture

Athenian Ruins

Classical Greece: Imagine the birth of Western civilization in the actual places of its occurrence. And showing up in June could score you front row seats at a Greek play spoken in the original language, that is if you stop by Epidavros for the annual festival. And don't then call it quits after Athens; you've still gotta see Delphi, Mycenae, and Olympia.

Arnhem Land Cultural Safari: The oldest civilization on the planet have got themselves a nook all their own to cherish their history, culture, and way of life. To visit the Aborigines of Northern Australia requires registering and taking a guided, organized tour. And with that golden ticket comes a slew of coveted experiences from the Aborigines themselves.

In Gourmet Heaven

Trappist Monastery Beers: Investigate the subtle differences between every other [immaculately engineered] beer in the world and those with the Authentic Trappist Product label. Either you can rent a car and visit the monastery churches (not the breweries), or you can sit at a bar and try them all from the comforts of your stool. I guess one is more scenic.

From Pesto to Paella: Genoa to Valencia. It's very obvious the one bound for this gastro-adventure will come home 10 pounds happier. Order what's most fresh and special, the delicacy of the area, the meal everyone else is munching on. Rent a car and take your time. Savor those morsels!

Into the Action

Dutch Bulbfields: Cycling around Holland seems like an obligatory task when traveling there, but it's also said to be the optimal way to view the blooming extravaganza every spring, when tulips fill fields with brilliant colors. Stock up on your bulbs like you're heading to Costco.

Diving with Sharks: While some call it a truly crazy idea, I call it a darn good time. Jumping in a cage next to a boat surrounded by chummy water and fish the size of station wagons - what could be better for a thrill? Head down to Cape Town to see the scariest smiles in the world.

Up and Away

Floatplane to the Nahanni: Glide on into the first ever UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the remote Northwestern Territories of Canada. Rock, rivers, wildlife, waterfalls - they all blend their extremes together to create an impressive backdrop for an adventure. Careful of the massive mammals that roam the lands.

The Burj Dubai: The world's fastest elevator, which happens to be a double decker, is fittingly situated in the massive column of the Burj Dubai, presently the world's tallest building. Observe the hazy, impressive city of Dubai from the 124th floor where you'll surely feel a bit of a sway to and fro.

In Their Footsteps

The Odyssey: Reading The Odyssey while buoying around the Aegean Sea may just inspire you with divine knowledge to know which real islands were the models for the fantastical ones from Homer's epic poem. Santorini? Crete? Give yourself three weeks to follow your own version of the journey.

James Joyce's Dublin: Joyce's book, Ulysses, is yet another reason why tourists love Dublin and its earthy goodness. June marks a great time to visit, as the Bloomsday Festival carries on with period costumes speckling the streets and activities based on the classic book attracting the true fans to the plate.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in July for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Video of the Week: Ireland on a Budget

Stay in hostels with free internet. Buy food to cook in the kitchen. Save your money for the pints of Guinness and ice cream you know you want. Occasionally have a pub meal, but remember all the things you can buy with a 20 Euro restaurant bill. And always be on the look-out for fun, free cultural activities that will make you feel like you're seizing the moment. To read my Ireland blogs, click here.

Hey, Ireland, Nice Craic! Day 75

"Nice craic" Why, thank you!

Just say neigh to the use of puns...

Just say neigh to the use of puns...

This phrase took me some time to understand. This wasn't a severely misspelled compliment towards my derriere but a charming little catch phrase about good times in Ireland. Having a blast at a pub, cheers-ing to good friends, good Guinness, and swaying to the pipe of a Irish folk musician? That's some darn good craic right there.

I assume most travelers come to Ireland to enjoy the scenery and some good ol' fashioned craic. Our white and green bus shot to the west side of the country, down to the south, and around again to Dublin, with every stop centered on the pursuit of lovely views and some lovely good times.

Each time we stopped along the path towards the Atlantic, the more I believed the weather in Ireland is truly confused. Standing in the rain amidst sheep poop on the Hill of Tara, I thought, "This is really lovely. If only my toes weren't wet and ...messy." Walking around the Trim Castle, I thankfully basked in the sun of a surprisingly clear sky while meandering around the massive stone structure. And as the mist that coated my camera lens outside the Locke Distillery had me finally uttering, "I don't get this damn barometric situation! Ah, to hell with it. It's whiskey time."

Every day we flew across the clouds and squeezed our big bus between pasture-lined country roads. Once in a while, the mist would cease, and an opening in the atmosphere would reveal St. Patrick's mountain or a field of white horses. It's hard to let Ireland's weather ruin a trip to Ireland, but when the weather is good, it's gorgeous. Nothing on the trip topped the ultimate vista at the most westerly point of our tour. Atop a cliff covered in purple flowers, I sat and stared at breaking waves and tiny uninhabited islands off the coast. A butterfly landed next to me. I laughed, because it was all so ridiculously poetic.

The cliffs of Moher luckily emerged from an intense cloud cover only a half hour before we got there, and we were able to see where land was sliced by an undulating knife before the Earth popped in the oven. It caused a little existential hiccup to hear we were standing in Ireland's most popular suicide destination, but thankfully we didn't witness any travesties of the sort, only the simple elegance of nature.

And with every evening, whether we tucked into a one horse or 2,000 horse town, it was a mission for Guinness, for three-time distilled Irish whiskey, for a moment's rest from a day of bumping on a bus. And when the mind is filled with the vibrant greens of the day, one can easily conclude Ireland is easy on the senses.

Neon chlorophyll and Guinness...and don't forget the nice craic.

Where are all the Dubliners? Day 70

Photo credit to Mr Din on Flickr

Some Irishmen say Dublin is not a city that reflects the true Irish mentality. "I've lived there for years before, but it's never been a home to me," said one of the Irish ladies I met on the internship. It's definitely got its touristy areas that overcharge and manufacture "authenticity," and these areas can become smokescreens for the actual intimate experience the traveler seeks. I anticipated not liking Dublin for its prices and supposed lack of charm. However, Dublin did not rub the the wrong way at all.

The capital seems to have a lot going for itself. Theaters scatter the city and definitely don't go unnoticed. The local free newspaper detailed cultural events ranging from free music and graffiti festivals outside to basement techno parties. And Dublin appears to attract a large amount of travelers who immediately take on the Irish personable nature upon getting to the little green island.

We arrived in Dublin early in the morning and quickly got to work on intern responsibilities and pressing health issues (Chris had a cough that just wasn't sounding too pretty). I sat in our hostel's common room with my laptop open, firing digital data into the universe. Within the first hour, I met two very interesting people without even trying. Sharing my power cord with a Canadian high school grad led to her recounting why she decided to take a year off to work and live in Ireland. And when the man nearby overheard me explain the details of the World Traveler Internship, we began chatting, and I eventually learned he was a fellow American on an around-the-world trip of his own. Both were incredibly willing to show me what they knew about Dublin and the world of travel.

A group of solo travelers and ourselves decided to make a night of it before the tour started in the morning. We ventured to the pub behind the hostel, which squeezed into the empty space between multiple buildings. And it was here that I tried my first pint of Guinness. I took photos. I told the bartender as if it was a monumentous occasion. I took a sip and sensed the microscopic bubbles flow down my trap. Unfortunately I was still recovering from the flu (still wondering if it was the swine...) and had no functioning taste buds, but I sensed the surprisingly smooth and creamy texture of the classic Irish stout and said, "Hey, not bad at all."

A night out in Dublin sometimes means a night amongst the streets of the Temple Bar area. This is a place I doubt Dubliners frequent, but it provides a large amount of venues for entertainment and debauchery and, most importantly, Guinness consumption. We found a bar with a band and nestled in a nook with the other French, Canadian, German, and American travelers. This was the first time on the trip traveler intermingling felt so organic.

Ireland's Coast

Sometimes I forego the opportunity to submerge in the hostel world or traveler niche when traveling because I'd rather be looking for a gallery where I can chat it up with the owner or a pub where the local bartender has time to tell me the good stuff about where I am and who the locals really are. But there's true merit in speaking to the people you brush your teeth next to. We're all out there feeling like we've got a mission to accomplish, and it helps to hear about others' successes and mishaps. And sharing perceptions of a place can comfort weary bones or stale minds.

I don't think I met a single Dubliner. Maybe the Irish don't find Dublin home-like because its already packed with travelers and foreign workers. Whoever actually resides in the city though makes it an easy, fun place.

The Love of the Irish

The Irish don't mind frigid waters

The Irish don't mind frigid waters

I once loved Lucky Charms cereal. Back in the day, my mom would only purchase whole grain, non-sugary cereals for our morning bowls, so I would pounce at the chance to grab that box packed with clover and rainbow marshmallows at friend's houses. That leprechaun really hypnotized me with his marketing schpeal. They really were magically delicious. I realized not too long ago that the little leprechaun was the extent of my exposure to Irish culture, that is until I met some real Irishmen (and women) in the traveling community. Thank goodness, because I now find the consistency of the mallows to be rather putrid, and you'd hate to be turned off a country based on a non-authentic food association.

Some white-water kayakers chasing the rapids of the Nile in Uganda. A RTW-er taking a break from overlanding on the beaches of Zanzibar. A woman enjoying some time off while jetting across India. If I were to list all the amazing Irish people I've met in various circumstances, my brain would spin and hurl from overuse. The Irish get out there, and not only are they lovers of fun but make for great friends on the road. As a whole, they're immediately welcoming and seem to understand the comforts and personalities of others quite easily. And when you spend a lot of time away from home, loneliness is often a part of your daily emotional load...that is, unless there are some Irish around.

It wouldn't matter to me what time of year I visit Ireland or what activities I take part in; I would travel to Ireland just to be around the humor and mindset of the people who live there. Sitting in an empty pub, having a pint at the bar, and chatting with the bartender sounds fantastic to me. Falling into a conversation with the man next to me on the bus would probably leave me smiling. And we're darn lucky to be right across the pond from these guys, making it easier to pop on over for a quick break from work to be around a new culture that's impossible not to love.

It wouldn't matter to me what time of year I visit Ireland or what activities I take part in; I would travel to Ireland just to be around the humor and mindset of the people who live there. Sitting in an empty pub, having a pint at the bar, and chatting with the bartender sounds fantastic to me. Falling into a conversation with the man next to me on the bus would probably leave me smiling.