Best Of Aoibhneas: May through July

So, it's been a while!

I've seen a lot of people post some of their trip itineraries, claiming summer's coming to an end (it's not) and talking about their Best Of moments. So in an effort to catalog my slowness to post recently, from May to July, here's a timeline of the adventures I had, and how I'm crushing 2018's resolution to be more adventurous. I've done more traveling since May 1st than I have in pretty much my entire life combined. I've visited 7 new states including DC, revisited some old spots and in those spots, found new ones! I've ridden planes, cars, buses, a trolley, trains, a motorized skateboard, Ubers (first time Uberer!) a people mover railway, bikes and a roller coaster.

On May 1st I took my first SOLO trip ever to Dublin and Amsterdam. To get there I had to get to Boston and take a train to Providence (it was cheaper that way by half price or more). So off to Boston I went with my happy ass at 5am.

Boston: I took myself on a walking tour from South Station to Chinatown to the Wharf and so on, overpaid for a museum and also a bagel sandwich, saw Paul Revere's house and church, hung out with a Salem Witch Trial catalyst, Cotton Mather at Copp's Hill Burial Grounds and got a chance to see the city for the first time.
I then hopped a train to RI (which was not supposed to be free but was somehow) and hopped a direct flight to Dublin by 8pm at PVD.

I really like the decay and history here

Dublin: My happy place. I stayed in a hostel for the first time, Abbey Court, with a review posted here, got another city card and did a small chunk of things that I felt I missed out on the first time. I walked the Ha'Penny Bridge, "borrowed" a pint glass from the Guinness Storehouse, tried some more desserts, toured the Long Room at Trinity and walked St. Stephen's Green. I also made some new friends, went on my fist ever pub crawl and stayed out until 4am most nights like a 20 year old. I felt alive. I walked all over this city- from the Storehouse all the way past the Samuel Beckett Bridge and through the regular parts of Dublin where actual Irish people live. I could live here. 

Amsterdam: Spent some time with my best friend, Suzanne. I wanted to go back to Amsterdam proper one day, but the rest of our time was spent doing fun Dutch stuff like visiting Haarlem for the Dutch Liberation Day Festival and getting ice cream at both of the very best spots to do so in the Netherlands. I saw some of Utrecht and Lisse, saw the church my fiends got married in, visited her mother's grave and lit candles together. Last time I went it was tour this and that and see all the things. This time it was more about quality time with my bestie penpal of 18 years. 

Washington DC: A mere ten days after coming home from my first solo trip I took my nephew Will on his first flight to Washington DC. We were met by my sis and other nephew, Justin, who was "not ready for flying", he said. So they drove the 10 hours down a day ahead, which saved us the trouble of needing to find a car down in DC. Pro tip: It SUCKS having a car in DC. Parking and tickets are extremely expensive and you will absolutely get lost and drive in circles for an hour. DC was neat but it's basically a college town. Everything closes early on the weekdays and it's a mad rush to get anywhere. We flew into Maryland and hoteled there, went on a lunch trip to Virginia where I had the second best French macarons of my macaron-lovin life (Bake Shop), went to lunch in Delaware on our way out, stopped in West Virginia because we could, dined in Pennsylvania and drove through a mountain. I knocked off 5 states and DC on my Caft Map. So that's cool. 
I do have a fun possibly ghostly story about being at the Lincoln Memorial!

Traverse City area: Hubby and I went upstate to visit friends the next weekend. We stayed at their half-mansion (I swear so huge!) and I went to my first wine tasting, ran after chickens and did some wall climbing for the first time since 1995. We made some new friends, played some games and made pizza on the BBQ. I dove into a lake that pretty much still had ice, but I went head first because it seemed thrilling. It was- but beware, it's so cold that you feel hot. That can be damaging to your health. So jump in wisely. 

July- San Diego area: We went back and visited Chris's childhood bestie and his wife (we were there in '14), and they took us to some must see parts and also some parts they they like going to visit as residents. We made the mistake of going during Comic-Con so everything was jammed. Pro-Tip: Don't come to CA at all during Comic-Con week! I loved the mountains of Julian a lot and was mesmerized by the views for a while, but the town of Julian was a little too touristy for me. I LOVED going to the Donut Bar and eating possibly the best donut of my life, Miguel's Mexican food in Chula Vista had great queso (seriously great) and Balboa Park was meh. In my second trip to La Jolla I learned how to paddle board and surf, collected a load of shells and was horrified about sand craps. We went to Port of San Diego twice and took in a viewing of Wonderspaces- which seems like it was built specifically for Instagramming only and had more hype than it was worth, to me. Also, Derek fell in love with shaved ice and we heard about it for the rest of the trip. Basically, Derek wanted us to see all of the touristy stuff and Ivette said they were boring- and I tended to agree with her. It's more fun just to be in the city and fly by the seat of your pants than the "Must See/Eat/Do" stuff anyhow. Plus, seeing a botanical garden in late July in 95* heat- everything's dead or dying. So, not as pretty.
Mexico: We did a day trip here just because we could. The gang and I headed out after breakfast to Puerto Nuevo to the original Ortega's on the water for some lunch. We walked into a few blocks worth of shops, got harangued a few times and damn near everyone is trying to give away a free shot of tequila just to get you inside. It's the Mexican version of free candy, I guess. I got a mini sombrero to be like my friend Drew and to put it on my cats, some bracelets, snack cakes and something that Ivette says it NOT caramel. A Mystery! It was terrible. We also stopped at a bakery in Tijuana.

Los Angeles: Did touristy things like get the City Pass because there were still things I wanted to do. We rented a car (which I hate doing) but the hybrid was really cool and I liked it a lot. We drove around to try to find parking and then just drive straight to Santa Monica instead. Definitely save one full day for Santa Monica and Venice Beach, the new stateside city love of my life. I love skate culture and being able to see Dogtown was really cool for me. Next day we were staying in the Hollywood Historic Hotel which looked straight out of Gatsby (review to come?) but our main goal was to do a bunch of outside things like the the US Bank building and the Warner Brothers lot tour. We biked a little and it was humid- keep your asthma inhaler handy! I said a prayer at Judy Garland's memorial at Hollywood Forever Cemetery an we ate brunch at Raleigh Studios. Most things aren't walking distance unless you're in Hollywood proper, so keep good shoes in mind.

Vegas: We took a Greyhound from LA to Vegas, which I can't recommend, really. It wound up taking 8 hours because traffic happens. I don't mind the dry heat so I felt pretty comfortable the whole time here. Our goal was to check out the Strip but we never got there because the bs took longer than expected and it was already after 8. Be advised- if you're staying on the Circus Circus side of the Strip you will NOT want to walk to the Strip. So we instead got an Uber to go to The D to see the Blarney Stone and the Freemont Experience. There were a lot of butts out and a lot of children under 10 out for it being 1am. But the Red Bulls were cheap and the heat wasn't bringing me down. The next night we went to the Taco Bell flagship store, which was a disappointment. What a drag. But still a good meal because I love Taco Bell. We spent the rest of the evening at our hotel. So for being in Vegas for two nights, we didn't Vegas much. Whoops, guess I had better go back soon! #KTBSPA

Grand Canyon: What can really be said? It's the Grand Canyon! No photos can do it justice. We did the South Rim tour, as mentioned in my last post, which I thought would mean we could walk lower down the canyon, but I guess not. We didn't have time to charter a donkey or horse like everyone keeps asking. It was amazing. I perched on as many cliffs as I could to soak up the views. Chris stood back patiently but also showed nerves at me being so close to the edge. I felt like a bird. Or a 30 Seconds to Mars song. I'd recommend the tour but only if you're in Vegas for quite a while, not just a few days. 

So, that's just about everything. Quite an impactful summer of sight seeing, and I'm already booking a trip to Salem, Mass for October. I do have two weeks off in December- what do you suggest I do next?


  1. Wow girl, sounds like you've been very busy. I haven't traveled this year at all so I'm totally gelly here. I still haven't made it to the Grand Canyon so I would love to go there. I did a similar trip with LA, Vegas, also San Diego and a day in Mexico.

  2. Washington DC is such a great trip! I'd suggest Niagara Falls if you haven't seen it.

  3. Girl you have had the best summer. I haven't been to this many places in my lifetime, and you've traveled to all of them in 3 months! I love it and I'm so inspired! I really want to do this myself! Thanks for this post!


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