Travel Diaries: My adventures in Ireland and Spain — solo!

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Last week was a big week for me. First solo international trip. First international work trip. First time in Spain. First time being away from either of my boys for a whole week.

My first stop was Ireland. I was just outside of Dublin for the duration of my stay and ventured into town on my first day to explore, have lunch and try to beat my jet lag.

My first stop, and first meal (as always), was for bangers n’ mash. It did not disappoint. I also had a Happy Days beer by Rascals Brewing Company.

I spent 8€ on tickets to visit Kilmainham Gaol (the jail) and do a tour. The jail was built to house 200 people in individual cells; however, due to political prisoners and the famine, there ended up being 9,000 people at one point. Some were executed (and oddly called ‘volunteers’). During the famine, people knew they would be guaranteed food if they were jailed so they intentionally tried to land themselves in the hell hole. The windows were all open because those who built it thought that diseases wouldn’t stick around if the air was flowing constantly. Imagine Ireland… in the winter… with open windows.

After the tour, I hopped on the train to visit Howth. I was between Howth and Bray but people kept recommending Howth – so I booked my ticket and boarded the train.

It was low to mid 60s and felt amazing coming from 95 degrees and 90% humidity in NC. I made my way to the cliffs and slowly did the cliff walk until it started to rain on me and I headed back down.

There was a fun little “beach” area at the bottom and I found several pieces of sea glass and some cool rocks for L to add to his collection.

Once I was sufficiently wet from the rain and exhausted from my 8 miles of walking, I went to find dinner. I heard that Howth had amazing seafood so I knew what I was getting.

I had the best fish n’ chips EVER. It was so buttery and flaky and perfect. Also, I still love minty mushed peas. I took a train back to Connolly station and then grabbed a cab the rest of the way to my hotel.

I spent 2 days in the office for meetings — and got soaked on my walk back to the hotel. I also got in one glorious run at a nearby park — the greatest park I’ve ever seen.

I was not in a great spot for food (but super convenient to my office), so I had Wagamama 2 nights in a row.

On Thursday, I hopped a flight to Madrid. It was my first time in Spain. I know verrrry little Spanish but everyone was so nice and accommodating. Personal goal is to learn Spanish in the next 12 months.

If I’m being honest, I was depressed when I got to Spain. I’m not used to traveling alone and while I’m a pretty independent person, I love having Landon there with me. He does so much research on restaurants that we know we’re always getting something good.

I was super lame and ate at the hotel restaurant. However, the band The Hives was sitting beside of me — having dinner before their show at Mad Cool that night. My hotel was super nice but not near downtown.

It was only a mile or so from my office but when it’s 103 degrees outside, there’s 0% chance that I’m walking. After a long morning meeting in our Madrid office, I went back to the hotel to change and go explore downtown. My colleagues gave me some recommendations for food to try and things to see. I’m glad I got out of my funk — and out of my own head — and explored the city.

I finally settled on a place for dinner at Plaza Mayor and decided to have tapas so I could try as many things as possible! But first, beer. It was so hot and I felt very dehydrated after walking around so much. I grabbed a bottle of water and an Estrella with lime.

My friend Angelis told me about this churro spot I needed to check out and obviously I needed dessert.

Chocolateria San Gines did not disappoint! The chocolate was so warm and gooey (I even took a little drink at the end!). I met an American family there and we chatted about our travels.

Spain was incredibly beautiful and friendly and I’ll absolutely go back. I’ll stay somewhere closer to downtown and indulge in gazpacho and a Spanish omelet.

I also kept hearing about ham and cantaloupe but never saw it on a menu to try. I had an early flight the next morning so I headed back to the hotel around 8 (it was still very light outside!) to pack and be ready to roll out of bed at 5 am the next day!

My name was never spelled correctly at Starbucks on this trip but then again, it’s never spelled correctly in the US either. 🤷🏼‍♀️

As a bonus, on the way home we flew over London. I got a great view of the Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace.

My favorite view though, was my two boys picking me up at the airport. 💕 Grateful to be home with no flights booked any time soon!

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