A Travellerspoint blog

Slainte from Dublin

Eight more days in Europe

Hi everyone,

I'm writing from my friend's apartment in Dublin. I've been in Ireland for almost a week now, and have spent most of my time here in the countryside visiting with relatives. I flew from Athens to London to Dublin last Wednesday (3/14), then immediately took a train towards Galway, stopping in Ballinasloe where my cousin picked me up and brought me to my relatives' home in Mountbellew, County Galway. My newly-met relatives fully lived up to their reputation of hospitality... within minutes of my arrival there was a hearty meal and a pint of Guinness laid out in front of me. I had hoped to see the "real" Ireland out in the countryside, and real was what I got. I woke up in the morning, looked out the window and saw sheep grazing in green pastures. Breakfast consisted of coffee, toast, and an assortment of about seven types of meat. When I inquired about two of the more mysterious breakfast items, my cousin told me they were called black and white pudding, and that that was all I needed to know.
The next few days, including St. Patty's, I spent meeting relatives who lived nearby and hanging out in pubs in Mountbellew, Tuam, Mylough, and Galway. Some of the older Rocke and Nolan family members remembered when my dad had come to visit 28 years earlier, recalling the "lad who used to run to Tuam and back before breakfast!"
While I was in County Galway I saw a glimpse of one of the Aran Islands from across the bay, a live cattle auction, some televised rugby, hurling, and Irish football matches, and the childhood home of my great-grandmother, as well as the nearby pub that was often visited by the Flynn family. It was great to meet my relatives and be so generously taken care of during my stay.

Since my last writing from the Netherlands I visited Berlin and Munich while in Germany. Berlin had some interesting and of course historically significant monuments, but mostly it seemed like a pretty somber place. I felt a lot happier walking around Munich... probably because its history seems to revolve around beer rather than strife. (One of their famous beer gardens near Marienplatz was packed with tourists and locals alike guzzling one-liter mugs by about 3:00 pm on the sunny Tuesday afternoon I spent there.)

Next I continued south to Venice, where I managed to meet up with some Boston College friends, and explored the beautiful, if confusing, web of canals that make up the city.

While I was in Rome I saw the Vatican and its museum, which holds the Sistine Chapel, then walked around the city from the Pantheon to the Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Venezia, Ancient Forum, and finally the Colosseum. It was an amazing city, and almost everywhere you turn you'll see a building, fountain, or sculpture that looks like something from a history textbook.

After Rome I took a train to Bari, where my overnight ferry would take me to the Greek port of Patras. Another train took me to Athens, where, like in Rome, the ruins were awe-inspiring.

From Athens was my day-long journey to County Galway, which started this entry. Now I am in Dublin, and in a few hours i fly to London. There I'll meet up with some friends from high school, and maybe even another member of the Rocke family who owns a few pubs in Essex. If hospitality is hereditary, I'd say it would definitely be worth giving him a call.

In about eight days I'll be flying from Finland to Thailand. Europe has been fun, and I'm excited to see what Asia has to offer.


Posted by mainercg 07:41 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)


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Hi everyone,

My last entry was just before leaving Central America for Spain. I arrived in Madrid two and a half weeks ago, and met up with some BC friends, Ruben and Gabi, as planned. The museums and archtitecture were impressive, especially the Prado and Reina Sofia museums and the Royal Palace. The nights out were fun, but the schedule took some getting used to... while I was in Costa Rica 7:30 am meant waking up to surf; in Madrid 7:30 am meant time to go home and sleep.

Next I headed to Lisbon, Portugal, where I stayed with my friend Justin, a BC alum who is doing research there. Lisbon is also a beautiful city. I climbed one of the hills leading up to a medieval castle, which offered some incredible views of the city and the river.

Two train rides later I was in Barcelona, where I saw the Mediterranean Sea for the first time. Barcelona has some very unique sights, like Gaudi's apartment building and park, the Sagrada Familia church, and (I don't know the actual name of) the bullet-shaped building which lit up at night in flourescent blues and reds. The weather in Barcelona was also amazing, and I got some real use out of the skateboard that I've had strapped to my backpack for the entire journey.

While I was in Paris last week I managed to see pretty much all of the major landmarks, the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triumphe, and Jim Morrison's grave.

Now I am in Den Haag, the Netherlands, at my aunt and uncle's house. The city is very nice and very Dutch... everybody gets around by bike and people eat french fries with mayonaise. Den Haag is also a convenient 40-minute train ride from Amsterdam, where I had a very interesting day trip yesterday.

Tomorrow I plan on heading to Germany, first to Berlin, then to wherever my heart, wallet, or Eurail pass can take me.


Posted by mainercg 06:29 Comments (0)

Adios, Costa Rica

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Yeah, it´s been a while since i´ve posted something, but in case you were wondering, i am still alive and well. I am back in the capital city, San Jose, and I fly to Madrid tomorrow (Feb 14th). I´m excited to see Europe, and my friends from home who I´ll be meeting up with while i´m there.

After staying in Santa Teresa for about three weeks, I finally decided to change up the daily surf-hammock-surf routine and do some actual travelling. I camped out for a few nights in nearby Montezuma, which had some beautiful beaches and waterfalls. I went as far north as Tamarindo, then met up with some hostel friends from Santa Teresa and took a road trip towards the southern pacific coast, stopping in Quepos/ Manuel Antonio before heading our separate ways. I ended up staying in Dominical for a few days, and lucked out with some really good surfing. While i was there I ran into some santa teresa hostel friends once again, and they told me that i had to go to Pavones, a small fishing village near the border of Panama in the southwest corner of the country where they had just been. Apparently when a swell comes in from the right direction it has the longest wave in the country, and you can ride a single wave for so long that your legs get tired. I left Domincal for Pavones, and after spending a night in Uvita (more beautiful beaches and waterfalls) i was on the road again. Unfortunately, by the time i showed up in Pavones the ocean was lake-like. I guess i learned that before lugging heavy bags and a surfboard onto several busses (some of which likely transported New Mexico school children in the early 70´s), it is best to first check the surf report. Nothing wrong with seeing some new places though, anyway.

I´ve spent the past few nights on the Caribbean coast in Puerto Viejo. It was a nice place... good beaches, lots of rasta dudes, and Bob Marley playing from somewhere 24/7. The coral reef break wave there, the infamous ¨Salsa Brava¨ (Angry Sauce) was none too brava until this morning, but i had already sold my board the day before. Though I didn´t get quite as much surfing in as i would have liked to during my last week here, i have done plenty of it during the last month or so. Costa Rica has been a great time, and I´ve met some really cool people from all over the world who i´d be glad to run into again.

The next time i write something will be from Europe... no more living in board shorts (for now), but I´m happy to trade the hot weather for the people and sights that are waiting for me on the other side of the pond.


Posted by mainercg 11:54 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

Central America

The journey begins.

sunny 31 °C
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I'm writing this from my hostel in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. The hostel is great... hammocks, pool table, free pancake breakfasts in the morning, and most importantly, a short walk to the beach, where I've been surfing twice a day or so. People staying here are from all over the world... US, Canada, Sweden, Israel, France, Argentina, and others.

As of today I am fifteen days into my trip. I spent my first weekend in Costa Rica's capital San Jose before taking a bus to El Salvador to visit a friend from school. The bus ride took about nineteen hours, crossing through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras, but the Escapini family was very hospitable on my arrival. Humberto took me on a tour of San Salvador, surfing for a day, and to a lake formed by a volcanic crater where we went out tubing with his family's Boston Whaler. The trip was very fun, and I got to brush up on my Spanish.

After heading back into San Jose for a night, I took a bus and ferry to Santa Teresa on the southern tip of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula on the Pacific coast. The waves here are great, and surfing (and living) in board shorts has been amazing. There is a price to pay for the weather here though... in order to literally save my skin, i've come up with a routine that involves fistfulls of SPF 45, and lying in hammocks in the shade during the middle hours of the day.

I had planned on doing some travelling around the coast here, but after a few days at the hostel, im pretty much ready to move in. Either way, I'll probably check out the jungle and volcano scene on my way back to San Jose in a few weeks.

I'm having fun meeting new people, but I miss everyone back home, so keep in touch. Email is probably a safer bet than a phone call so write to grygiel@bc.edu if you'd like.

Hasta luego,

Posted by mainercg 09:09 Archived in Costa Rica Comments (0)

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