Winter

Next Stop: Aran Islands, Ireland

Planning a trip to Ireland for a few days or even a week or two? I highly recommend taking an intensive and well-worth tour of Ireland with Paddywagon Tours. I personally recommend that it is the best (and often quickest) way to see as much as Ireland as possible in your travels.

738357_10152380997745032_552581417_oOn my 4th day in Ireland, I got the amazing opportunity while staying Galway to travel to the Aran Islands, which are among the many hidden gems of Ireland.

My best friend from Canada visited her family in Ireland in the summer of 2012, and told me about the Aran Islands, and said it was a MUST SEE. She was absolutely right. It’s not part of a lot of tours in Ireland, so if you are traveling Ireland independently, make sure this is on your list to see. (Directions on how to get there will be explained below)

The Aran Islands constitute of three islands situated at the mouth of Galway Bay, on the west coast of Ireland. The islands from west to east are named: Inishmore, Inishmaan, and Inisheer.

739963_10152380997990032_1331778413_oInishmore is the largest island and the one I was told to visit. You will have to take a coach from Galway to the docks outside of Galway where you get a boat ride to the Aran Islands. There are travel companies in Galway that offer this coach+boat ride deal to the Aran Islands, so it should be no problem getting there. When I arrived to Inishmore, there only seemed to be one bus tour awaiting for tourists to arrive. Because I went during the winter time (extremely low season), there was only 3 tourists on the whole entire island. It was absolutely deserted and we 737798_10152380995020032_580019433_ohad the whole island by ourselves to explore. It was so surreal and amazing.

In terms of getting around the Island, there are bikes for hire (great option during nice weather/summer time, but beware that it is extremely hilly and exhausting), as well as cheap bus tours. I took a bus tour of the Island with a local who spoke very interesting english, and fluent Irish. He even had a leprechaun dangling from his front mirror. He was full of knowledge and taught us about the island and its history.
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The island is constructed of limestone, and by this, I mean there are hundreds and thousands of limestone walls around the fields. The island was entirely made of limestone and almost inhabitable, but with hard work and dedication from the Irish locals, they gathered great amounts of limestone and constructed unaccountable amount of walls around the entire island. It was miraculous to see in person. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it.

On the tour, we were dropped off at Dun Aengus for about two hours to explore an ancient stone fort, with an amazing view of the coast, as well as shop and eat in the little village. The nature walk to the ancient stone fort was beautiful and relaxing. This ancient stone fort was my favourite site on the island, because of the spectacular view. Be careful along the edge of the cliff because there are extremely strong winds and no guard or rail to protect you from falling over the edge. This does offer some amazing photography opportunities however. If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the view from the edge of the cliff.

739739_10152380994755032_1868391530_oThe island is completed isolated and you get that feel when you drive around the island. It almost feels like the inhabitants are still living in the 1930’s. Many of the houses on the Aran Islands are thatched homes, which are so interesting to see and learn about. Here is an image of one of the thatched homes.

Driving along the coast of the island was also amazing to do. The island is just as green as you would expect Ireland to be (besides the innumerable amount of stone
and walls). I spent the remainder of the day checking out 737896_10152381000450032_467011268_oall the little shops that offer homemade clothing by the local inhabitants, as well as the famous Aran sweaters.

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I ended the day if a chill visit to one of the local pubs and, of course, a fresh pint of Guinness. The server even put a four-leaf clover on the top of my Guinness (as they often do this for tourists) and this made my day.

 

Overall, I had an amazing day on the Aran Islands, and it was something different to see. A place I had not expected, and still one of my favourite, and most relaxing places I’ve travelled too. If you do get a chance, it would be interesting to go during a high-peak seasons for tourists, like the Spring or Summer.

Also, make sure you finish the day off with a pint of Guinness!

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Directions on how to get there: Find a tourist agency in Galway and look for a package deal on getting to the Aran Island Ferries. This service operates a year round service, but offer limited ferry rides, so do get there early. All the ferries are passenger only, thus, no car ferries are available. Make sure you set a full day to visit the Aran Islands, and please let me know what you thought of the islands if you do plan to visit 🙂

Check out my journey in Galway, Ireland
Check out my journey at The Giant Causeway, Ireland
Check out my journey in Derry, Northern Ireland
Check out my journey in Belfast, Northern Ireland
Check out my journey in Dublin, Ireland

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Categories: Aran Islands, Blog, Galway, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Seasons, Spring, Survival Guide, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Never-Ending Traveling

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Sitting on the edge of the world ~ Ireland

Since my two weeks in Ireland, I have literally been traveling non-stop, and have been lacking in posts. For this I apologize. However, I have so much to share and so much to show from my 45 days of traveling in the UK and rest of Europe.

The experiences I have to share include being in a film in London, having an emotional experience in Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland, and spending Christmas and NYE away from my friends and family back home.

The people I have met, the stories I could tell, and the experiences I can share all come down to a vast amount of photos, videos and words.

I will share my words and photos on my website, but if you want to keep up-to-date on my pictures…
Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/ryanthomaswoods/

Also, to watch my travel videos, check out my youtube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/BorderlineForFools

I thought I would share with you in chronological order, of the places and countries I have visited in the past month. (Click the cities once the blogs are available to view)

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  • Brussels, Belgium
  • Bruges, Belgium
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Vienna, Austria
  • Uttendorf, Austria
  • London, England
  • The Peak District, England
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Krakow, Poland

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I will be visiting many more places in the near future, so stay tuned! 2013 will be an even bigger year for me!
~ Ryan

Categories: Austria, Blog, England, Germany, Ireland, Seasons, Travel Sights, United Kingdom, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Next Stop: Dublin, Ireland

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Ireland, here I come!

My Australian friend Freya and I arrived in Dublin early in the morning and began our day with a nice Irish breakfast in a cozy Irish pub. We then went on a “Free Tour of Dublin”, which is highly recommended for those who want a tour of Dublin and want to know the history behind the sites and monuments. Although it is technically a free guided tour, the guides earn their wages based on tips, so you can pay the amount you think the tour guide deserves.

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We visited the Dublin Castle, O’Connell street and O’Connell’s monument, as well as the “pointless thing” (which has many names and is literally a metal spire), city hall, Trinity College, a few parks within the City, and the most popular area of Dublin: Temple Bar.

For those travelers who don’t know what Temple Bar is, it is not actually a bar, but the area in which many amazing bars, pubs, restaurants and shops reside. There is an actual Temple Bar in the Temple Bar area, which most tourists go thinking that’s where the best pub is, Photo 08-12-2012 16 39 05however, I’d advise those to go to The Auld Dubliner or The Storehouse as recommended by a local.

After the free walking tour, we checked-in to our hostel (which was Paddy’s Palace), and had dinner. We ended getting together with Freya’s Aussie friend Jen, who is studying on exchange at Trinity College, and spending the rest of the night in a bar with a vast amount of Irish people and no tourists.The bar was called Flannery’s and I had a blast getting to know and dancing with the locals! I also had my first Guinness in Ireland here! It was actually image_1356002789923081quite good!

Because I spent my first night with all the locals and majority being Irish, I had an amazing first night in Ireland!

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The second day we were in Dublin, we met up with some friends we met at the bar last night for a delicious brunch at the Elephant Castle. Afterwards, I went to a famous jail on the outskirts of Dublin called the Kilmainham Gaol.

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There was a guided tour throughout the historical site and walking around the dungeons and jail cells was extremely eerie. I highly recommend those who visit Dublin to check out the Kilmainham Gaol.

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We then took a stroll afterwards through a very picturesque driveway towards an art museum. It was too late for us to visit the museum but I was able to get some nice pictures.

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By the end of the night, I walked around the city all lit up with Christmas decorations.

Because we had to wake up at 8am, we went back to our hostel and had an early night. Absolutely loved my time in Dublin!

Here’s to 12 days of traveling Ireland!

Categories: Blog, Dublin, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Seasons, Travel Sights, Travel Tips, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SPENDING CHRISTMAS IN EUROPE!

This post is more or less for my family and friends back home as a way to update them on when and where I will be during my holiday vacation!

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December 7th – Last Day of Classes!

December 8th til 19th – Traveling All of Ireland with my Australian friend Freya!

December 20th til 23rd – Traveling to Belgium, and visiting Bruges & Brussels with my Belgian friend Caroline and fellow Queens friend Savannah!

December 24th til 27th – Spending Christmas with Savannah & reunited with Freya in Berlin, Germany!

December 27th til 30th – Traveling to Austria, seeing Vienna and going skiing with my other fellow Queens friend Kirsten in her cousins winter cabin!

December 30th – Fly back to the UK

December 31st – Spending New Years Eve in Edinburgh!!

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Now that I have actually written all my travel plans down… I’m actually overwhelmed on how much I am traveling over the Christmas season! The realized why I wanted to travel so much… It’s so I’m constantly busy, and thus keeping my mind off the fact that I won’t be back home in Canada for Christmas with my family and friends. As I won’t be home for Christmas, I figured I’d treat myself with all the money I’m saving from flying back to Canada, and then back to the UK, that I would travel in Europe over the Christmas break, and this is what I will be doing.

Keep checking back to my blog for recent updates, as I will be blogging as I travel this holiday season! 🙂
Also, Have a listen to my personal Christmas music playlist here!

Cheers, Ryan.

Categories: Blog, Canada, Christmas, Edinburgh, England, Flights, Germany, Leeds, Scotland, United Kingdom, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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