Tuesday, March 31, 2009


after a month of nerves about what i would say to immigration officers and finally caving and buying a ticket home (for september 9th), the guy at the airport barely gave me a glance as he stamped my passport. not even a single question. now of course i'm wishing i hadn't bother buying a return ticket but better safe than sorry, i suppose. i may well end up exchanging it for a later date.

nice is absolutely gorgeous. as i was taking the bus to my hostel and looking out the window at the mediterranean i kept thinking to myself, "this is exactly where i need to be."

my french is definitely not up to snuff though.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


galway was wonderful. i think it was probably my favorite place i've visited so far, though that probably has as much to do with the people i hung out with as the place itself.

my couchsurfing experience was not particularly ideal (my host was incredibly socially awkward and kind of weird and just all-around bugged me) so i came to dublin a day early. the only hostel with an opening on a saturday night was in a fairly sketchy part of town so i spent the day wandering dublin and the evening reading.

today was another exploring day. i checked into a new hostel and when the receptionist found out i was from maryland he mentioned how he's been wanting to meet someone from baltimore because he loves the show, "the wire." when he found out my brother worked on it and i went to the wrap party he upgraded my room and gave me a free towel. when i came back later in the afternoon he was leaving and there were 2 new staff members and he got all excited and told them, "she's the baltimore girl!" they tried to figure out other things they could get me for free but i was just happy that i didn't have to pay 5 euro for a towel.

i leave for france in 2 days! let's hope i have an easier time getting into that country than i did this one.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

dear old skibbereen

my favorite photos i've taken so far.

the burren

on my last night in doolin i was talking to some fellow hostelers about my plans to go to galway the next day and i mentioned that i was sad that i hadn't had a chance to the burren. one of the guys mentioned that he and a friend had rented a car and were planning on driving through the area the next day. they offered to drop me off in galway.

this is why i love traveling alone. otherwise i never would've gotten to see this.

we also stumbled upon a neolithic portal tomb.

it was way better than taking the bus.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

doolin day 2

today i went to the cliffs of moher

karl, the hostel proprietor, mentioned that the route was a bit treacherous. he wasn't lying.

there were lots of electric fences wrapped in barbed wire. luckily i have become an expert at maneuvering around them. and there was nearly always some type of entryway exactly when you needed it.

i passed by the bones of an 18th century famine village.

and some gorgeous coastline.

but dangerous!

i had to scale a serious hill. karl said it was steep but i was not prepared for this.

the higher i climbed the narrower the path became. and the windier it got.

more danger!

but i was rewarded with some gorgeous views.

by the end my shoes weren't very happy.

but i think it was worth it. then i hitchhiked home with a lovely elderly gentleman from limerick city. it was the perfect adventure.

Monday, March 23, 2009


i'm in doolin.

had my first beer in ireland. guinness definitely tastes better here.

went to a pub with a few girls from the hostel and saw traditional music. absolute perfection. tomorrow is the cliffs of moher.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

final day

it's been 33 days i've been at keelahangil. it's been wonderful but i'm also incredibly excited to get on that bus tomorrow. hostels are booked, flight to nice in hand... my life feels completely open and free.

today was the most glorious weather we've had since i've been here. i planted potatoes and onions, had a picnic in a treehouse, and remembered how good it feels to use my body. i'd forgotten how much i enjoy manual labor.

and now i will be adequately tuckered out for my 6 1/2 hour ride.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


march 23-4; doolin
25-6; galway
27-8; clifden? belfast?
29-30; dublin
31-april 1st; nice

booking hostels makes everything feel much more real.

i also finally got my eurail pass! i've been poring over the map all day thinking about which cities i want to visit. the list keeps getting longer.

Monday, March 16, 2009

on second thought...

of course as soon as i thought i had everything figured out my plans had to change. i just bought a ticket to nice and will spend 2 nights in nice-ville before going to the small village of st. isidore 15 minutes away to work for 16 days. then i'm going to give myself 4 days or so to visit marseille and possibly aix-en-provence before i go to the b&b for a month.


i'm glad i finally bought a ticket. it all feels real now. i'm going to start booking hostels now.

the past few days have been fun. yesterday i spent 4 hours on sherkin island (with no reuben!) and it was wonderful. today sheila took reuben and i to a gorgeous beach and then on a drive around the coast. absolutely glorious.

i can't believe i've already been gone a month.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

luck of the irish

i found 2 four leaf clovers today. i was pretty excited.

chicks are due to hatch in a week. we checked on them today and the hen is sitting on some 20 eggs. we think she's been stealing them from other chickens but we have no idea how many will actually hatch. i'm excited that i will probably be here for that event.

and in the most exciting news, i finally got a response from a wwoof host! it's a little b&b for women travelers in the south of france. they also have an organic garden, sheep and donkeys, and various renovation projects in progress so i will be busy. i'm very excited.

Friday, March 13, 2009

hooray for intercontinental train travel!

i bought my eurail pass!!! 2 months unlimited train travel between 21 countries. i am beyond excited.

i'm trying very hard to convince my friend christa to travel with me for a month in june. i think it's a real possibility.

10 more days in skibbereen. i'm excited to move on.

i found a couchsurfing host to show me around dublin. the internet makes life so much easier.

i also started looking at sublets in paris and that may be a very real possibility. the month of august spent in my own parisian apartment? yes please. visitors would be encouraged.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

oh life

i may have to cross belfast off the list as there have recently been a few politically-motivated IRA shootings. they've all targeted police officers so i'm sure i would be fine but i'm going to wait it out and see how the climate progresses before booking anything final.

i went to baltimore over the weekend with reuben and his aunt susan. unfortunately it was the worst weather we've had since i've been here and the gale-force winds made it hard to see anything. we went to a pub and the wind literally pushed me back 3 paces for every step forward i took. i'm going to try to go back on a sunny day so i can actually take some pictures and see the town.

barbara told me that i could feel free to borrow her bike whenever i wanted so i took it out for a spin today. i had not realized how hilly it was around here. i lasted about 20 minutes before i nearly passed out from exhaustion. i'm going to work up my tolerance and see if i can't get to a point where i can bike to interesting places. we'll see how that works out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

schedule revised

i found a flight from belfast to paris for $20 so i'm just gonna switch dublin and belfast on my itinerary. easy peasy.

i'm still looking for a farm in france. i've contacted a few but so far they either haven't gotten back to me or wouldn't work. i've sent out a couple more emails and hopefully something will work out.

i've decided to buy a eurail pass. 2 months unlimited travel between 21 countries. i've got a list of at least 10 i want to visit so we'll see how many i can squeeze in. however my credit card is not currently allowing me to buy it (i forgot to tell them i was traveling...) so i may have to wait a few days. but with this in mind my tentative schedule is thus;

home;september 9thish (tickets are cheap!)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

tentative schedule

leave skibereen the 23rd

galway city; 23rd-26th

belfast; 26-29th

dublin; 29th-april 2nd

then france!

Friday, March 6, 2009


i went to the garda station and finally got my visa straightened out. i am now legally allowed to stay here until the 17th of may. i'll probably only stay an extra 2 weeks or so and it was a lot of hassle for that, but i feel much better now. and it's nice having the freedom to stay on if i want to. i'd like to go to connemara, dublin, and belfast. beyond that i'm not sure. i think i'll leave the farm around the 20th but i'm going to start looking into buses and hostels and whatnot so i can begin finalizing some plans. finally!

aunt sheila went with me and we had to go to bandon, a town about an hour away. the drive was gorgeous and she's pretty badass. 80 years old, sharp as a tack, never been married... i think most of the other family members have trouble dealing with her, which i can understand because she's very nosy and controlling. but i'm not related to her so i just think she's hilarious. plus she always gives me chocolate and drives me places so i really can't complain.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


objectively life here might seem kind of boring. we're far enough from town that i can't get there without driving which means i'm on my own until 3 when reuben gets home.

but honestly it's quite lovely. we've had mostly great weather since i've been here so in the mornings (when i feel well enough) i take a walk for 2 or 3 hours. i've found that my favorite part about traveling is simply seeing new places and absorbing the sights, sounds and smells. so i've been quite happy with my quaint little walks and mellow days.

sheila (reuben's great-aunt) took me to the garda station in town to try to sort out my visa. turns out i have to call someone tomorrow morning in another town to set up an appointment, so sheila said she would deal with all of that and we could go tomorrow. it'll be a relief to be able to finally start making plans, whether or not they involve staying in ireland longer.

i realize i never really elaborated on what my visa trouble was. when i got into heathrow the immigration officer didn't like the fact that i had a one-way ticket. he asked me 1001 questions, none of which i was prepared for because i didn't do my homework and didn't realize i was going to look suspicious. i originally told him that i was simply in ireland as a tourist and was planning on staying in hostels and traveling around. he kept asking me how much money i had and i told him truthfully but i hadn't thought to bring bank statements so i didn't have any proof. after about 2 hours of questions he made it very clear that i was not going to be let into the country unless i had someone in ireland who could vouch for me. so i told him that i was staying with barbara and i said she was a friend. after another round of questions i told him about the wwoofing and he was, quite rightfully, none too pleased about the fact that i lied.

in the end he made me withdraw 500 euro from an atm to prove that i had enough funds to do so and let me in with a one-month visa. he also gave me a 24 hour visa for the uk, i guess so that i wouldn't be tempted to stay in england, which i found silly. the amazing thing was that after 3 houra of questions and waiting i still made my connecting flight to ireland. i got to the terminal as they were boarding the last 2 passengers.

i feel fairly confident that i'll be allowed to stay if i show them proof that i have enough money to support myself while i'm here but now i'm nervous about going to france. i'm sure he made an electronic note in my passport that i lied to an immigration officer so i'm really hoping that won't keep me from getting into france. once i'm there it'll be smooth sailing--any other traveling i do will most likely be by train, and i'll probably avoid the uk just to be safe--but i'm seriously hoping that i don't have any issues. i think i'll probably buy a ticket home so that i don't have the potential hassle of being seen as suspicious because of my one way-ticket. if i decide to stay longer i can always just change it for a fee.

Monday, March 2, 2009


i'm still sick but i think i'm getting better. it must be pretty bad when you can't smell vicks vaporub, eh?

yesterday reuben and i went to castletownshend, a small town a few minutes from skibereen. he wanted to "fish" (i use quotations because his rod had a reach of about 2 feet and all there was to catch was seaweed anyway) and i wanted to go somewhere new so it was perfect. it was a gorgeous day and we had a fine time feebly attempting to catch seafood, looking for crabs and skipping stones.

once i'm feeling better i'm going to start taking day trips to nearby villages. barbara can drop me off at the bus stop on her way to work and reuben doesn't get home from school until 3 so it's plenty of time to explore. first on my list? baltimore!

barbara's also promised to take me to a garda station this week so i can see about getting my visa extended. i want to figure that out as soon as possible since i want to start contacting french farms but i need an idea of when i'll be coming. if i can get it extended then i'm planning on working here until the 16th, traveling around the country for 2 weeks, then starting on a new farm around april 1st. if i can't then i have to be out of here by the 16th, in which case i'll probably fly into paris and spend a bit of time there before setting out to my new digs. we'll see.

i've decided to focus my farm-search in the south, particularly around provence. ideally i'm hoping to find somewhere with lots of animals (especially horses and goats!) where i can learn some type of new skill (preferably cheesemaking, winemaking or building). i've found one that fits the bill perfectly and i'm hoping the host gets back to me soon. it sounds absolutely ideal.