Converting a VW Transporter: first steps

‘Let’s get a van,’ we said. ‘Let’s drive it all over the continent,’ we said. ‘We’ll do it up, build a bed in there, chuck in some soft furnishings and live in it.’ That’s pretty much how easily the plan came together. What’s not quite as easy is the work to do it up! Fortunately, we’ve made a good start and the dream is getting a little closer to reality.

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Firefighting in Habana Vieja

Sitting quietly in El Museo del Chocolate, sipping a hot chocolate and contemplating how to spend the rest of the day, I notice a hubbub from outside. Waiting staff in black outfits swish out of the door to see what’s happening as crowds begin to gather outside the windows. The German couple on the next table move towards the window speaking hurriedly together.

Speaking neither a lot of Spanish, nor German, I was feeling rather nonplussed. I quickly paid for my drink, much to the annoyance of the waitress, whose morning’s entertainment I had clearly interrupted. Heading outside I looked up, following the gaze of the crowd. Flames, dark orange, red and foreboding, licked and twirled out of the top middle window of a building a few doors down.

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The weather makes travellers of us all

The rooftops, the ground, the treetops glimmer and sparkle in the pale yellow streetlight. The world glows, even though the sun won’t be up for another hour; like an expectant mother, radiance comes from within. All is pristine, a clean new slate. Waking up on a chilly morning, peeping through the curtains at the outside world and seeing the everyday transformed into a landscape that’s totally different to when you went to bed a few hours ago is special.

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Photo Challenge: Relax

via Photo Challenge: Relax

Wandering amongst brilliantly colourful houses, smelling the salty air while sunlight bursts through the leafy canopies of the many trees, my breathing slows, and my heart rate drops a little to keep rhythm with island time. The haven of tranquility that is Prince Edward Island is home to an enclave so sedate, you might wonder if time is standing still. Now that is relaxation.

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Death of Fidel Castro, end of an era?

Today the world awoke to the news that Fidel Castro, leader of the Cuban revolution has died. Heralded by some as a hero, a mastermind who freed Cuba from the clutches of Capitalism. Condemned by others as a villain with little regard for human rights, ‘Fidel’ was in his lifetime certainly a divisive  figure, and surely will continue to be so after death.

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Bound for Cuba

A new destination brings with it all sorts of promise. The anticipation of what you’ll discover, the characters you’ll meet and the experiences you’ll have – half the pleasure of a trip is in the planning!

In just under 5 weeks, I’ll be heading off to Cuba and I’m ridiculously excited! I’ve spent some time planning and I’m really looking forward to exploring the country – it sounds beautiful and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.

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Dear Dreamers…where are you headed?

The Blogging 101 assignment today got me thinking…who exactly is it that I write for? Who is my ‘dream reader’? I’d always thought it was myself! As a travel blog it was a place I could record my experiences for posterity, and muse on what I’d seen and done.

Thinking about it, this isn’t true. Well, not entirely. Traveling, much like blogging, is a communal experience. Traveling can take you to a new place in your own state, region, country, or to the other side of the planet. It’s always the people that stick with you though. The characters that you meet along the way. Those that you share stories of past travels with, and exchange wish lists for future destinations.

In answer to my own question then, I write to connect with those of a similar mindset. My dream reader is someone who loves to plan the adventure, imagine the feel of the sand between their toes, who weirdly enjoys the windchill that goes with riding the ski lift. Someone who gets butterflies when they book the flight, and who is already dreaming about the next adventure before this one is completed.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep on saving up my pennies, keep reading all about your fabulous adventures, and let the inspiration for 2015 take hold! Where will 2015 be taking you dreamers and readers!?

Laura's 'Pot of Dreams'!
Laura’s ‘Pot of Dreams’!

Newfoundland: Canada’s Unsung Hero

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Unsung Heroes.”

I was pleased to see The Daily Post’s theme centred around the idea of ‘unsung heroes’, as it’s a category that is a great conversation piece. I guess it’s the kind of thing that would usually prompt thoughts of criminally underrated albums, works of art or literature. For me, I think there are also  a great many ‘unsung heroes’ when it comes to travel destinations. Perhaps the most spectacularly underrated destination I’ve ever visited is Newfoundland, Canada’s (nay, North America’s) Eastern most province.

Sunset at Rocky Harbour, on the Western shore of Canada's most Easterly province.
Sunset at Rocky Harbour, on the Western shore of Canada’s most Easterly province.

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Seagulls taking a bath

A Whirlwind Tour of Dublin

Dublin, Dublin, Dublin. What a wonderful city you are. I had been looking forward to my little trip to the Emerald Isle for months, and it most certainly did not disappoint.

Arriving bleary eyed and yawning early in the morning, I was delighted to be greeted by blue skies and bright sun. The weekend was off to an excellent start! The journey from the airport to the city centre was really easy, the Airlink 747 bus can be picked up right outside Terminal 1. It costs €6 for a single to the centre, or €10 for a return which is valid for three months.

First stop was the hostel we were staying at. Being too early to check in we wanted some place to drop our bags before heading off to get something to fill our hungry bellies. Isaac’s Hostel was our abode of choice and luckily enough it was located just around the corner from the bus station. So far, so easy.

The hostel staff were friendly and greeted us with warm smiles and open arms. They say Irish hospitality is good, and our welcome did not disappoint. Emerging from the warm hostel into the chilly November air we took a walk along Talbot Street. The hostel is conveniently located next to a pub, the Robert Reade bar and cafe, although we fancied taking a little wander and stretching out our travel-weary limbs.

It wasn’t long before we came across a decent looking place called O’Shea’s Hotel. Needless to say, being the first drinking establishment of the weekend that we’d set foot in, my travel partner and I indulged ourselves in an obligatory pint of Guinness. Ahhhhhh. The food here was good and the portion sizes pretty enormous! I ordered bangers and mash and was presented with a steaming mound of creamy mashed potatoes, three fat, sizzling pork and leek sausages, all smothered in a rich onion gravy. Ireland is not a ‘cheap’ country to travel by any means, and Dublin is no exception. Over the course of the weekend we found that a decent-sized pub meal such as this would set you back anywhere between €10-€13. Not dirt cheap at all, but for food this tasty and portions this generous it certainly wouldn’t do the bank balance too much harm.

As it was a gorgeous sunny, crisp afternoon we decided to take a little walk around the city and see what it had to offer. Dublin is Ireland’s capital city and is bursting with life and hustle and bustle. If, like me, you enjoy wandering around a new place and taking in all the sights and sounds on offer, Dublin is for you. It’s a city made up of charming little back streets, cosy corners, quaint houses and of course, that vein of life that runs through the heart of the city, the River Liffey.

Seagulls taking a bath
The River Liffey and the quaint multi-coloured buildings that over look it.

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