Tag Archives: friends

1 Bus, 2 Bodegas, countless glasses of wine

4 Mar

If you were to ask me, What was the best thing about you holiday in Lanzarote?”
I would tell you… “THE WINE!!”
If you were to ask my friend Ollie who, I traveled with, he would say, “The Wine…and the cheese!”.

wine tasting lanzarote

On arrival in Lanzarote, and upon first glimpse of the rough, dry terrain, you would have to wonder HOW ON EARTH there could be vineyards growing on an island COVERED in volcanic rock. An island that is hot and sunny all year round, gets minimal rainfall and has strong winds blowing through that could almost pick you right up off the ground?!

The answer?? There are TWO! Firstly, it turns out that the volcanic eruptions, and subsequent fields of lava and rock, that almost ruined agriculture on the island 300 years ago is now proving to be an amazing fertiliser! The small grains of volcanic rock serve as porous mulch, drawing moisture from the air, releasing it into the ground and preventing evaporation, and thus enabling vines to grow in this otherwise warm, dry climate.

Seondly, they have invented something quite ingenious to protect plants from the wind. Small, semi-circle walls which are hand-built stone by stone. These little ‘Zoco’s’, as they’re called, protect the vines from the strong atlantic winds and are absolutely spectacular to look at. Agriculture is Lanzarote seems to be a real test of Man Vs Nature, where man seems to be , miraculously winning!

vineyards lanzarote

wine tasting le geria

But enough about the technical stuff. Let’s talk wine. Sweet, sweet wine. On one of the cloudy days of our holiday, we booked a day long hop on hop off bus tour, which gave you the option to hop off at any of Lanzarote’s top attraction which included beach resorts, museums, monuments, tiny villages and last but  definitely not least, some wineries. Being the typical alcohol loving Irish youths that we are, Ollie and I opted for not one but TWO wine stops. Everything else on the bus tour, we agreed, could be skipped. Glad we had our priorities parked in the same place!

The first, and best, stop was at the El Grifo Wine Museum, where besides spending half an hour wandering around a seemingly quiet, empty and dusty museum, we got to taste a platter of pure goodness. This heavenly platter included six wines of our choice, two different types of goats cheese and some delicious home-made cranberry sauce. A feast for ones palate. We simply could not get enough of the El Grifo Semi-Dulce (semi sweet). It was sweet, but not too sweet. Just sweet enough for you to want another glass. And maybe just one more.

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We bought one bottle in the vineyard and about 5 more on return to Puerto Del carmen.In fact I think Ollie may even have bought 1 or 2 extra in the airport, much to the delight of his friends and family back home no doubt. The second winery, Le Geria, while nice, felt a lot more like a cattle mart than a peaceful winery. Tourists were herded on and off buses and into the shop on the hour every hour and there was nowhere to sit down and enjoy the wine. There was also no cheese tasting, a huge crime in Ollies eyes. Wine and no cheese?? What sort of devilment is this!!!

If you make it to Lanzarote but for some strange reason don’t make it on a wine tasting tour, fear not. Just ensure that you order a bottle of wine with dinner. And lunch. Every day. You’re sure to find one that you like, we sure did.

To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.

23 Jul

Some photos from my Cousin Caroline’s Wedding last weekend.

My beautiful family!

My Sister, Aoife the Flower Girl and Moi!

 

Drive on James!!

POSER? MOI?!

With the beautiful bride

 

Caroline on her big day

The happy couple in Mums garden!

Posers!

Kiss time!

Running away!

Farmers daughters!

Cake time!

Bridesmaids!

 

What is “Happiness”?

5 Mar

To me, it is uncontrollable, belly aching laughter with a friend. Pure happiness.

What does “happiness” mean to you?

Seconds before falling into the cold, Irish river!

Our Deepest Fear

27 Feb

Lately I have been catching up with some old friends, friends from school, from Uni or from all the small side tracks I have taken along the rocky road that is my life. It is an amazing feeling to see how successful, how grown up, how independent or how happy my friends are/have become.

Some are getting married and starting their own families while others are doing PhD’s in Biomedical Science or Applied Physics. Some are still roaming the world, content with nomadic life, jumping from country to country making friends the world over while many have stayed put in Ireland and are, in some cases, making their dreams come true. 

From designing iPhone Apps and synthetic wind pipes to performing live on National TV to getting ready to take on the high rolling mega economy of China, my friends are truly going from strength to strength. I would like to dedicate this blog post to you, my dear friends scattered around the world. Let it shine, be proud, and keep on inspiring those around you!

Let it shine!

Our Deepest Fear (As quoted by Nelson Mandela)

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” 

Racist Woman on Tube

28 Nov

After just watching this TRULY DISTURBING video on YouTube, which was secretly filmed on the tube in London, I am left feeling both angry and sad at the world. The video is of a young English woman with her son on her lap screaming at the other commuters telling them to get out of her country and to go home where they came from, among other expletives.  The woman in question is clearly uneducated, racist and, judging by the way she keeps chewing her lip, could well be high on drugs. The fact that she goes off on such a tirade in front of her young child is even more shocking. An absolute disgrace.

How can a woman in this day in age think it is acceptable to say such awful, hurtful things? She should be eternally ashamed of herself. 

Polish, Jamaican, Nigerian, Indian…who cares?! We are all the same on the inside.

 We are not born hating others, that is something we learn to do as we get older. It is a sad world in which we live when the reality is that we often learn to hate before learn to love.

Happy Friendsgiving

24 Nov

Thanksgiving came to Ireland this year and what an event it was! Except, rather than Thanksgiving, it was nicknamed ‘Friendsgiving’, instead. Everyone (table for 10!) brought a different dish ranging from Ratatouille, Sweet Potato,  Mac N Cheese to Bannoffee Pie, Pumpkin Pie, Apple Pie and not forgetting the most important dish of all….The Turkey!!

Anyway the point of he day was to have fun, share some delicious food and be thankful for all the amazing friends we have. So let be take this opportunity to give a shout out to my friends, my family, and all my blog followers, “Happy Thanksgiving! I love you all very dearly”. Janet XxX

 

Loving Travel, Loving Life

12 Jul

Fellow Blogger Travel with Papino recently blogged about travel bliss, a rare moment when the outside world seems distant and all you can do is bask in your surroundings. Be it someplace exotic, a moment with good friends, or a break from it all; when we capture these unforgettable moments on camera they make for truly captivating photos.

I have just browsed through album after album of old photos from life in Ireland to life on the road, from Ireland to Latvia, Ethiopia to Taiwan, and Australia to Korea looking for photos that really capture the moment, be it travel bliss or just a moment of extreme happiness.  

This collection might seem a bit random but all these photos hold a special place in my heart and memories come flooding back upon seeing each one of these pictures. If you want to know more about any of them feel free to ask, but I think the picture with the caption tells it all. Let your imagination or heart work out the rest.

Feel free to share yours be it a story or a photo.

Thanks to Papino for this awesome idea.

Boracay Island, The Philippines

Holidaying at home; Baltimore, West Cork

Isle of Tiree, Scotland

Masaii in Mombassa, Kenya

Life is full of joy, Kitale Kenya

Close to Paradise; Auckland, New Zealand

Spreading joy on Childrens Day in Dublin, Ireland

Pure couchsurfing heaven...on a river!

Setiing my eyes on Sydney Opera House for the 1st time...Amazing

At the summit of Mt Seoraksan in South Korea...Breathtaking!

Frolicking in the Cherry Blossoms, Gyeongju

Pure Travel Bliss

Deokjeok-Do…A weekend of EPICNESS.

8 Jun

I find it hard to put last weekend into words. If there were a recipe for last weekend, it would without doubt make millions for event planners, and fun lovers the world over.

Originally I wanted to start this post like this, “What do you get when you put over 100 fun-loving (slightly MENTAL!), energetic, loud, bordering-alcoholic foreigners on a remote island in the yellow sea, with a raging bonfire, guitars, a 24 hour beach bar, animal costumes, AND 1000′s of tequila shots??” It might not have been heaven, but as far as weekends away go, it was pretty close. 

Braving the cold Yellow Sea

Mini Group Shot....The Swimmers!

It is safe to say that most things done last weekend were done in EPIC proportions. An EPIC amount of foreigners invaded this usually idyllic and peaceful island. Add the hordes of randomers to the 100+ IFX crew, and you have yourself an island invasion.

An EPIC amount of alcohol was drank….and that was all before breakfast! An EPIC amount of friends were made. Every time I log onto facebook all I see is that one friend or another is now friends with about 50 new people, all from last weekend. The weather was EPIC…you just had to look at the glow (ok maybe it was brown, but more likely it was a shimmering red) coming off everyone as we boarded the ferry on monday to know the weather Gods were kind to us!

Pam, Eulalia and I on the main beach

Jumping at Sunset!

So what was this weekend of EPICNESS I hear you ask?? Well last weekend I set off to Deokjeok Do Island in the Yellow Sea, near Incheon with about 20 friends, also teachers, from Geumchon/Munsan. As Monday was Korean Memorial Day, we all had the a 3 day weekend to enjoy. We went as part of IFX (Intrepid Foreign Excursions) a sort of travel group that was sat up by expats in Korea, who arrange brilliant weekend trips away throughout the year, making it easier for foreign teachers to travel and explore the country.

This trip was a 3 day beach get away, inclusive of a 24 hour bar right on the sand, cheap drinks, volleyball, baseball, frisbee and endless other fun that happens when you put 100′s of foreigners on one remote beach with cheap alcohol.

Pam and I; Breakfast of Champions!

A more appropriate breakfast!!

Normally I don’t like tour groups. I like to travel independently, with more freedom to do what I like, when I like. IFX is different though. They arrange all the difficult missions such as booking ferry tickets, accommodation, getting bonfire permits, sorting out delicious western breakfasts etc but at the same time allowed the group the freedom to go off and do as we please. Drink all day? No problem! Want to go hiking? No problem! Need a sleep in? No problem. It was bliss, and now I’m super stoked for my next Korean Adventure with IFX in the form of MUDFEST in a few weeks!

Note…I’m not uploading the drinking pics. There are too many. They are TOO EPIC. That is all.

Couchsurfing changed my life

3 Dec

A friend recently alerted me to an article about Couchsurfing that, in my opinion, is very biased and one-sided, and does not portray couchsurfing as the positive and life changing community it really is. Although I will admit what she was submitted to was awful and I hope she goes about the right legal channels to pursue her complaint, I personally feel her reasons for going couchsurfing were wrong (to save money rather than to make a new friend) and feel the article in question is extremely one-sided and a little farfetched. You can read the article  here and make up your own mind.

This post is not going to be one full of snide remarks damning the author (although that does sound like fun) writing paragraph after paragraph about how wrong they are and how their attempt to campaign for the closure of an active and positive community is both naive and a leap too far. Instead I would like to spread some positive energy about couchsurfing and tell you my story; HOW COUCHSURFING CHANGED MY LIFE (and the lives of many of my closest friends!)

Most articles you read about couchsurfing describe a single persons adventure surfing a strangers couch in a foreign city, a reporter trying it out for the first time, or seeing it from the eyes of a host describing what crazy and amazing characters have surfed their couch over the years. This post is more about the couchsurfing community and how it has made such an impact on my life, encouraging me to be more outgoing, more open minded and to have nothing but positive thoughts for everyone that I meet, whether I know them or not.

Since joining couchsurfing I have done some whacky things. Things I NEVER thought I would do. I posed butt naked with 300 others for a Spencer Tunick installation in Dublin. With the help of 5 loyal friends, I spent over a week making over 300 handmade Valentines cards which we later handed out in local hospitals and on Grafton street in Dublin to unsuspecting passers-by. We also spent the afternoon (about 30 of us) giving out free hugs to share the love. These FREE HUGS days tradition with a group of us hitting the streets in the summer, in the spring and even at Christmas time to spread some Christmas joy to shoppers.

Clowning around Dublin

Thanks to couchsurfing I have spent many a night dressed as a Zombie, or at an 80′s party or wearing a crazy wig or dressed like an absolute chav. (Yes these are good things!!) I have spent a day face painting for free while dressed as a clown. I have made a human pyramid in central Edinburgh and re-enacted scenes from Braveheart!! I have been proposed to at 8am in the morning in the middle of Dublin city. I have gone surfing, camping, singing, drinking and dancing in parts of Ireland I would never have seen had it not been for my couchsurfing buddies.

Thanks to couchsurfing I have met some of my best friends. I would have been an absolute loner in Sydney with the help of CS. Many times on my travels I have fallen back on CS to keep me entertained, to look for help to find a friend. My best friend here in Korea, Brittany, is a fellow CSer I met on a night out. Heck I even moved into a couchsurfing house in Dublin one summer with 4 other couchsurfers and we were dubbed ‘The House of the People’, and that was exactly what we were.

Hosting 10 people in Baltimore, West Cork

We have organized random ‘surprise birthdays’ on the dart train, improv Pillow fights in Iveagh Gradens and St. Stephens green, I played Urban Golf (where you dress up in random mis fitted clothes and hit a tennis ball around derelict buildings with broken planks of wood..!) with a group of wacky CSers in Toronto and again a few weeks later in Detroit. (In that same weekend we went Urban spelunking, cycled around ghetto areas of D-town and even gave free hugs to homeless people. IN DETROIT.

Despite Couchsurfing strictly NOT been a dating website, a lot of people do meet their other halves through couch surfing. I have dated many wonderful people through this site and probably will in the future. Some of my friends (Elly and Eddie) met through CS and our now engaged. Two others recently got married (congrats Cristof and Marianna) and two others are living in Oz together as happy as can be (Sophie and Simon!) It is inevitable that in a community of 2 million that you won’t meet people you simply click with in everyway. We are all such like minded people, open to adventure, and travelling the world.

Me and recently engaged Elly at an 80s CS party!

Me and recently engaged Elly at an 80s CS party!

Beautiful newly weds Mariana and Christof

I have been to many ‘COUCHSURFING FESTIVALS’ including a weekend camping in the Wicklow mountains, a weekend of singing and dancing in Scotland, a weekend of craziness in Detroit, ultimate frisbee and picnics on Bondi beach in Australia (and an all day all night St Patrick’s day Pub crawl). CSers introduced me to my first ‘Korean Noraebang’ Karaoke room experience which was something I will surely never forget.

Csers taught me Scottish dancing, golfing, how to hug, how to smile, how to be a zombie but most of all..HOW TO BE A GOOD FRIEND. And that is now something there seems to be no shortage of in the CS community. In fact I would go as far to say that far from being a social network connecting strangers and turning them into friends Couchsurfing is more like one big FAMILY and I love all my brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles very, very much!!

Couchsurfers are some of the coolest people I have ever met. The CS community has challenged me to think outside the box, to never judge a book by its cover and to live life to the full. I have stayed on people’s couches on 5 continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and North America) and have hosted over 300 people back in Ireland. How  many truly negative experiences have I had which would make me want to leave the site or spread bad publicity? NIL.NADA. NONE. That has to be some sort of impressive record for mad kind and the awesomeness of putting your trust in strangers (who, I’m happy to say are now friends!)

Couchsurfing buddies: Friends Forever (Mexico, Ireland, USA, Canada)

Kickin’ it in Geumchon…

3 Sep

“I see white people, they walk around like everyone else…they don’t even thought that they’re white!!”

On thursday I met up with 2 other couchsurfers and English teachers in Geumchon for dinner. I thought it was just going to be the 3 of us, so you can imagine my surprise when I walked into this cute little Vietnamese Restaurant to see….25 white/foreign people!! It’s funny, but after just meeting Korean people and people who just speak Korean for nearly 2 weeks it was  awesome to be able to have a proper conversation with someone who speaks fluent English! The group are all teaching English in and around Paju and meet up every Wednesday night for dinner. They even have a facebook group called the ‘Geumchon Massive’, so you can check out what sort of fun things they have planned!!

I made friends with 4 girls who live in my city and 2 others who like 2 stops away on the train. I arranged to meet up with Jo, a Canadian Cser and fellow English teacher, on Friday night so we could go partying in Hongdae together with a froup of Seoul CSers. It turned out to be a total disaster though as neither of us had phones or internet acces to contact eachother so wires were crossed and we never met in the end, which involved me travelling all the way to Seoul by myself  and getting lost again! I still had fun though and met a group of 9 CSers and got to experience Seoul nightlife at its best which is nothing short of MAD.

In Korea you cannot buy a phone without your ‘Alien Registration card’ . First you must get a full medical examination, then they will take your passport for a week or so (which is very frustrating!) and will finally process the ID card within 10 days.  Once you have your ARC you can then purchase a mobile phone. I must say it’s weird being referred to as an Alien or a foreigner all the time, but something I guess I’ll have to get used to!!

In Seoul it appears that the bars and trains seem to have some sort of partnership. All public transport out of Seoul stops at midnight. Which is when most people are out in the bars in the trendy area of Hongdae drinking their weekly pay cheque away. The bars start to close up around 6-7am which, conveniently enough, is just when the trains start running again! So if you want to party in Seoul, you must either cut your night short like Cinderella and be home at midnight or be in it for the long run and party ALL NIGHT LONG.

I came across this video on YouTube. It was made my 3 English Teachers living in Geumchon and is preeeeety hilarious!

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