Travelling is one of my favourite things, there is something wonderful about being able to climb on board an airplane and end up miles away from home experiencing a new culture. I have been very blessed in my life to have traveled to quite a few countries in my lifetime. I do however have a bucket list that is never ending, of places I want to go, and things I want to see in this great world!
My earliest memories of going abroad are of the early morning journeys from Donegal to Belfast to then get the ferry to Scotland. My dad is from outside Glasgow and until a few years ago his parents as well as most of his siblings lived where they grew up. For as long as I can remember we have visited 25 Park Road, be it during the summer or at Christmas. The first few hours of that journey were always exciting but the only thing that got us through the last long few hours to Granny and Granda's was the thought of Granny's homemade beef stew!
The first time my family went further afield than the UK was the summer of 2006 when we went on our first foreign holiday to the beautiful North of France. We were eagerly anticipating our trip and were not disappointed. We stayed in a lovely house in a holiday village and had an absolute blast. Finding Haribos we'd never seen before was quite thrilling for 6, 8, 10 and 12 year olds. The funniest memory of that family holiday was when mammy announced to the waitress that she had 12 allergic children instead of 2 (douze...deux!)
After that there were one or two trips to England to visit mammy's friends and their family and then several years later, 2010, a second trip to France but this time to the sunny South. We stayed in a quaint, old fashioned little town called Paziols just outside Perpignan. I think we may have been the only tourists there hence why the locals tended to stare at us curiously as we walked to the river mid afternoon when the town were all siesta-ing. Being immersed in true French culture at that age ignited in me a love for travelling. My poor attempts at speaking French were always rewarded with a smile and by our last few days there it was with great excitement that my younger siblings went to the local bakery and were able to ask for 'deux baguette et six croissants' without an ounce of self doubt.
Most of our family holidays have however been in Ireland as with six of us in the family, foreign holidays can become rather expensive but that never seemed to bother us. I have visited almost all the counties in Ireland although I must admit placing them on a map would be a bit of a struggle for me.
Aside from family trips I have been to a few other places with the school, with friends as well as on my own.
While I was in Transition Year, I went to St Louis Missouri USA for three weeks along with five other of my classmates. We stayed with host families and went to school there. America was an overwhelming experience and it definitely proved a lot of stereotypes regarding ridiculously over sized portion sizes and kids driving almost straight out of the womb! (well...by 16 anyway) In all seriousness though America was a great experience, particularly the differences in their schooling styles, the teachers seemed to treat their students in High School as adults and the variety of subjects was impressive. It was in Villa that I realised I had an interest in business by taking an economics class and why I am now going a degree in business. The food, the sights and the shopping was incredible and I look forward to seeing many other states and cities in the US of A!
One of my most memorable trips has got to be the six weeks I spent in Switzerland, outside of Montreux working as House-Staff coordinator in an International summer camp. Although I was quite anxious about travelling on my own and being able to make friends when I got there it was a summer I'll never forget. I made great friends there as well as getting to know family that I hadn't seen very much of growing up. Once again I attempted to use the French I had in hopes of improving it for my French Oral. Although at first I got some funny looks eventually I was understood and could understand a lot more than I could speak. Switzerland is an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful country full of lush green fields, mountains and lakes. The atmosphere of the Montreux Jazz Festival was amazing. It was quite an adventurous summer, mountain biking, zip lining, ultimate frisbee-ing, thermal spa-ing to name but a few.
If you're still reading I commend you, as I write I remember more and more trips I've been on but if you are still reading you'll be glad to know I'm almost done, only 2 more to go (hang in there!)
After a very stressful two years studying for my Leaving Cert I wanted to have a trip to look forward to. My best friend and I decided a cultured rather than partying trip was more our style so we booked flights and a hotel to spend days in London. We booked tickets to see Wicked, we went to the Harry Potter Studios, Camden Markets, Covent Garden for breakfast in a French bakery, we shopped for hours on Oxford street and quickly got the hang of the underground, or rather Aoife did and I followed! It was a fantastic trip and the perfect get away after the hell that was the LC!
Finally my most recent trip was to a place I'd never even considered and that was Budapest. I joined Fotosoc this year, as it seemed only fitting given my love for photography and my lack of know how when it came to using my Canon DSLR on anything other than Auto. We spent 4 days in the beautiful city exploring the wonderful architecture as well as rather cool bars and clubs. This was my first winter holiday and although the minus temperatures were rather shocking it was well worth the numb hands and feet to see the city in all its snowy glory. (and the mulled wine helped!)
I have been bitten by the travel bug and along with that have decided to be more spontaneous in my 21st year as of this week I have booked a mini trip to England post college exams and I'm going to Tenerife for a sunbathing by the pool and drinking cocktails holiday with my bestie Karen for the beginning of September. I have so many places on a list that I want to see and some of those could be happening within the next year so watch this space.
As the title suggests all these places I've been I have literally pin pricked on a map that hangs above my bed, adding another one every time I travel to a new place to viualise my captured moments around the world...