Nine days of travel, three countries, countless memories.

Written by Natalie December 11, 2014

The Butler family, Blarney Castle, 2013

Cliffs of Moher, 2013

With the arrival of the travel week, we were officially half way through the semester, even though it felt like I just stepped foot in PdG days ago. Although I’ve been traveling throughout my time here, for some reason it felt odd to me that I wouldn’t be in class for a total of nine whole days. What a week, huh? Despite my nerves, I was still excited.

I had trouble planning what I was going to be doing throughout the week because I wanted to visit new places and explore as much as possible. Though that was my original plan, I ended up visiting one new place and revisiting two others. I was venturing north to Ireland and Scotland, and then west to Spain.

In 2013, I was able to visit Ireland for two weeks during the summertime with my family and I never imagined that I would be heading back so soon. Once again I was amazed to see where CIMBA was taking me. My travel group — Sam, Taylor, Lindsey, Jenny, and Chris — were all headed to Dublin. En route to the city, I was extremely amused to witness the freak out that ensued from my friends as they experienced driving on the opposite side of the road for the first time. When we finally arrived in Dublin, it was time to explore. On our first night we decided to hit the Guinness factory and then just enjoyed the night out. The remainder of our time (during the day) was spent on bus tours that took us all over the country. One day was to visit the Rock of Cashel and Blarney Castle, while the other was to visit the Cliffs of Moher and Bunratty Castle. Even though I had visited these on my last visit to Ireland, of course I was excited to revisit these places as they were some of my favorites!

As a half Irish lass, visiting the beautiful country never gets old or less exciting. I was full of pure joy and happiness to be experiencing what Ireland has to offer me, this time with friends! Kissing the Blarney Stone for eloquence and seeing the cliffs were once again my favorite stops along the journey.

As the week continued, it was time for me to split from the group. I would be traveling alone to Edinburgh, Scotland to meet up with my cousin who is getting her masters there. Obviously I was excited to go somewhere new AND to see my cousin!

We both were tourists during this trip, as it was her first time to truly explore the country outside of Edinburgh. After discovering the beauty of Scotland, we began jokingly saying “mountains, castles, and lochs, oh my!” as a little play off the Wizard of Oz. But the saying stands true…. During our day trip we enjoyed beautiful Scotland countrysides and smaller towns. For the rest of my time there, we enjoyed each others’ company and experienced the culture. Delicious food and drink (possibly some of my favorite meals), beautiful views, new friends, and time well spent.

After spending way too much time in the airport, I was headed to Madrid, Spain to meet back up with my fellow CIMBian, Sam. My first European adventure ever was to Paris, France and Madrid, Spain through the language department in eighth grade. Revisiting Madrid was refreshing and made me feel completely foreign again. I suppose this is a good and bad feeling. I spent the weekend re-learning what little Spanish I knew.

Sam and I decided it would be best to visit the city via a walking tour, thus hitting all of the big sights and learning the history simultaneously. After that, we wanted to check out the night life… And by that, I mean going to a Real Madrid fùtbol game! This has got to definitely be one of my favorite and most exciting experiences throughout the semester. After slightly panicking when we couldn’t find tickets online, we took the liberty of actually going to the stadium to purchase: legit tickets and at a good price! The time came for the game and it was edge-of-the-seat exciting. Of course, seeing Christiano Ronaldo was a plus too.

And then all too soon we were heading back to PdG for another week of class. Holiday is never quite long enough.

Ciao for now,