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Bonsoir and Happy Days

After a jam packed month filled with many weekends away, I concluded my March trips with a quick stop in Paris where I met up with my sister Hailey and my cousin Erin as they were passing through on their travels. Writing that sounds crazy, that we just “met up in Paris for the weekend,” because how often does that happen? Life is pretty cool.

Throughout the weekend we did the typical Parisian tourist activities; we walked through the Notre Dame, strolled down the Champs-Élysées, ate crepes and macaroons and drank good wine, and we saw the Eiffel tower. But I think my favorite part was just being with family. At night in our AirBnB we would play cards and chat just like we would any other time back at home, and after a few months away from home those moments meant so much.

paris paris2 eifel

And as for the city and Parisians, they’re a lot nicer than the stereotype suggests. We shopped at a French market one morning and all of the vendors were so kind to us. The city is dirty, as they say, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected. To be honest, Cardiff is a dirtier city than Paris. Regardless, I recommend spending some time in Paris if you get the chance. There is literally nothing happier than eating a banana and nutella crepe while strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens. Although as hard as it was to say “au revoir” to the city, it was even harder to say goodbye to Hailey and Erin

Another glimpse of home I got recently was a visit from Joe—something I had been counting down the days for. On Wednesday at 2 AM I left my flat for the early bus to London, where I took a second bus to Gatwick airport. After waiting the longest 30 minutes I think I’ve ever waited, I saw Joe coming out of Arrivals and we got our movie like airport reunion. Okay that may be a little dramatic but it was so nice to see him after so long. We took a bus into the city and spent the afternoon in London.

Thursday was spent in Cardiff and I got to show him all of my favorite places: Bute park, the city centre, and the city market (where we of course got Welsh cakes). It was so nice to have someone from back home seeing where I’ve spent the last few months. Friday morning was when Joe’s visit got a little bit more interesting—we had a flight to Dublin, Ireland at 7 AM, meaning that we had to be to the airport at 5. It took almost an hour to get to the airport, and once we got there I made a pretty heartbreaking realization: I, the world traveller who has been on a ton of international flights by this point in my life, had forgotten my passport in my flat. Cue a lot of tears on my part, a lot of me saying “I’m sorry” over and over, and Joe getting a story to tease me about for the rest of time. The airport staff kindly let us change our flight to the next one to Dublin for free, but that one wasn’t until the evening which meant we would miss pretty much our entire first day in Dublin and our pre-booked Guinness Storehouse tour. With that big L, we headed back to Cardiff.

So I’m lucky and Joe’s a pretty great guy because we were still able to have a nice day in Cardiff. We went to an Italian restaurant that I love for lunch and then we took a train to the bay where we enjoyed the beautiful weather. A few hours later we were back at the Cardiff airport, both with passports this time.

cardiff-bay

Ireland was filled with many highlights. On our first night we went to a Guinness pub and tried a few different brews. The next day we went on an all day tour of Ireland where we saw cute towns, a couple of castles, and the Cliffs of Moher, which was absolutely stunning. That night we got dinner at a super cool pub called the Brazen Head. I got a pot of steamed mussels and Joe got the best fish and chips I think either of us had ever had. We tried a few other Irish beers there, and then went to the Temple Bar pub that had live Irish music. We finished out our Dublin pub-crawl with one closer to our AirBnB that was far less touristy. The next day we headed back to Cardiff. Because of my passport mishap, our trip to Ireland was shorter than we would have liked but we still managed to have a pretty great time.

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On Monday morning Joe headed back to London for his flight home. The week was short and went by way too fast, but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. Seeing him, Hailey, and Erin this past month have been what I need to get me through the rest of this semester. Not only was the familiarity so nice, but it’s pretty incredible to be able to travel around the world with people that you love. Cheesy, I know.

Easter recess at Cardiff just started, meaning that essentially everyone is gone and I feel like the only person left here. Even the other Drake girls are gone, as they’ve started their individual travels around Europe. Tomorrow I’ll join them, flying to Barcelona, which kicks off my two week long gallivant through Europe. Have I mentioned yet that being abroad is kind of the best?

That’s all I have for now, but stay tuned—the next post will be filled with many adventures and inevitably a few struggles as I try to navigate Barcelona, Prague, Amsterdam, and Greece.

Until then—cheers,

Alex

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