Ah yes, I see we’re several weeks into 2019, which means I should get my lazy ass to reflect on the year before. 2018 was a year. For me it wasn’t the worst; it wasn’t the best. There were good times and there were some pretty awful times. So I’m gonna recap my year.
If you’re new to this blog you might not know I lived in Ireland for almost two years (in and around Dublin). At the start of the year I was living in Donabate, Ireland. I was working at a pub in a nearby town. It had been slow at work and my hours kept getting cut back, so I decided to start looking for a new job with full time hours. On January 15 (thanks Facebook Memories for the reminder of this) on the way to an interview with a temp agency the worst thing that’s ever happened to me occurred. I was on the DART (the commuter train in Dublin). It was packed with people (I was squished in and couldn’t move) I suddenly got insanely hot, the the worst migraine of my life came on out of nowhere and then I WENT BLIND. Yeah scary as hell. It probably only lasted a few seconds, but the pain was unbearable and it felt like forever. I went to a medical clinic, but they couldn’t find out what was the cause. Me? I have a feeling it was maybe an overheating issue combined with stress. I don’t 100% know why it happened, but I hope it never happens again. -1000000 of 10 would not recommend.
On the bright side after I rescheduled my interview with the temp agency I got a new job. It was working in the office of a student housing company. Funny enough I’d never had an office job, or a job with regular hours and weekends off. That was nice. And on January 31 I went to London for a few days.
Most of my London trip was actually in February. This was my third time coming to London since moving to Ireland and my reasons for this trip was a good one; I went to see Hamilton. I love musicals, and of course I’d heard of Hamilton but seeing the tickets on Broadway sell out/super expensive I just assumed I’d be seeing this musical some time around 2024. Then they announced they were doing a production in London, and seeing that I was in Dublin (like an hour flight away) I jumped on pre-sale tickets. I’m gonna talk about my experience seeing Hamilton in an upcoming episode of the Take Me to the World Musical Theatre Podcast, but one of the very best things was a couple of my friends from Canada joined me in London. Seeing Hamilton was great, but seeing it with friends I hadn’t seen in over a year was amazing. One of my friends and her sister came to Ireland after, so I got to hang out with them after work for drinks too.
I took two trip in March, the first being to Waterford. I took a 2 hour bus ride and spent a night in the oldest city in Ireland (it was the first place the Vikings landed). I did a tour of the Waterford Crystal Factory, and walked around and saw some awesome street art. Waterford was a nice city to visit for a quick getaway.
Back in 2017 I had booked a trip to go to Cork for my birthday in July, but I had to cancel because I ended up needing to move then. So I decided to finally visit Cork in March of 2018. I just went for a few days at the end of the month. Cork was a really interesting city to visit. A kind of weird thing I did was visit The Butter Museum where you learn all about how Irish butter is made and how the butter trade was important to Ireland. If you’ve never had Irish butter it is the great butter in the history of the universe. I’ve looked all over for Irish butter here in Canada, but we can’t get it. I also just had fun wandering around Cork.
Still part of my Cork trip for April 1, which also happened to be Easter I decided to take a Ring of Kerry Tour. This tour we went to Killarney, a really pretty town and Killarney National Park, which is spectacular. It’s the kind of place you think of when you think “Irish landscape.” We saw Killorglin, which is a town that has this Celtic Puck Fair in August where they crown a goat king of the town. And we got to drive along Dingle Bay. On this trip I met two ladies from Birmingham, UK, and another lady from New York. We went out for drinks in Cork and had a really great time.
On the job front things were going great, but I knew my position was going to be temporary. I had hoped they would keep me until July (just before my visa ran out), but my boss told me they were going to release me from my contract in May. It kind of sucked because I really loved this job, the schedule was perfect, and the company and the people I worked with was great. But I got why they were going to let me go. The new manager had finished her training, and my assistant position wasn’t needed.
What sucked is the fact I’d booked a trip to Oslo, Norway (not a cheap city) this month. I debated whether to cancel this trip, but decided I’d already for my flight so I might as well go. Oslo is not cheap, but I went on a budget, and did pretty well. I also have to say I really loved this city. I walked up on the roof of the opera house, checked out the sculptures in Vigeland Park, took a tram that looked like it was straight from 1975, and took a ferry to nearby island for a hike. My trip to Oslo makes me want to go and explore more of Norway one day.
Then it came time for a decision. I’d booked a flight home in August, but I knew I’d need to get a job to afford to live in Ireland for the next few months. I could run around, getting stressed, looking for another job for a few weeks, or I could pay $50 and change my flight and come home early. And as much as I wanted to stay in Ireland I didn’t want to look for another job for a few weeks. I was tired, so I rebooked my flight for June, and spent the last few weeks of May enjoying my time around Dublin and Donabate. I went on little day trips out to Balbriggan, Howth, Malahide, and Dun Laoghaire. I also went back to Belfast for a day. I really wanted to take a cab tour of the Murals in Belfast and it’s something I highly recommend (especially if you don’t know much about The Troubles).
My last few weeks in Ireland I visited some free museums I love, had some Guinness, and cried a lot about leaving. But I know it was the best decision for me, and I’ll come back to Ireland again.
On June 5 I flew back home to Canada. I had a stopover of 8 hours in Toronto, so I took the UP Express Train from the airport downtown. I’d been to Toronto before so this was more to stretch my legs and get out of the airport. If you have a layover in Toronto and enough time the UP Express Train is pretty great. It takes you to Union Station (with two stops before that), which is a short walk to the CN Tower, Rogers Place, the Aquarium. Really handy, but my jet lag was bad so I basically walked around and had some dinner before going back to the airport.
When I came home it was weird. I mean stuff had changed, but a lot of stuff didn’t. I got to see the new arena downtown (haven’t been to a hockey game or concert there yet), check out the new Walterdale Bridge. There’s even an outlet mall by the airport now, which construction hadn’t started for when I left. But most everything was the same. I got a job at a sandwich place at the mall. Got to see some friends. All in all things change, but they remain the same…kind of.
July to December
My travels pretty much stopped once I got home for two reasons. One I had no money and two I also don’t have a car (and still don’t). Getting around without a car where I live is hard. I’ve had to rely on kindness of friends and family to get me around town. Part of my wants to get a car, because it would be nice to get around on my own, but financially it just isn’t where I’m at right now. I don’t want to work just to pay for a car I can’t afford.
I did take two trips though. In July for my birthday a friend and I went to Calgary for the day. We had delicious burgers and donuts, went to a bird sanctuary (because I’m old now apparently) and checked out the iconic Peace Bridge. And then in August a couple friends and I went to Banff, and spent the night in Calgary. Banff is gorgeous and even with the forest fires (not in the park, but it was smoky) it was still lovely. Seeing the Rocky Mountains in person is always something.
Job-wise that was going okay, until about September when I suddenly got vertigo. At work one evening I had a migraine similar to the blindness one I had in January (just no blindness thankfully). I had vertigo for several weeks and let me tell you feeling like you’re swaying on a boat is not fun. I was off for several weeks for medical reasons and decided in that time to look for another job because I wasn’t happy where I was.
At the end of September I got hired on at The Body Shop. I’ve always like the company’s policy of not testing on animals and have used their products before. I’m still there, and the only downside to this job are the hours are just part-time (I had more hours around the holidays), but that will give me time to work on my writing, this blog, and the podcast I started. But I enjoy the job, love the company I work for, and the people I’m working with are great. I’m not stressed, and that’s really important. The last few months of the year were me working, and seeing friends when I can. Nothing exciting, but sometimes that’s okay.
As 2018 was coming to a close I was starting to feel really depressed. See this is the thing with me and travel. I love to travel, but I don’t have to be travelling all the time. I’m actually a bit of a homebody, and I’m perfectly content to spend a day off lying in bed and watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Netflix. But I’ve found if I don’t have a trip, like a concrete trip (not a “someday I’d like to go to this place”) planned for the future, then I get depressed. And I didn’t have any trips planned for 2019, just a “maybe I’ll get to see my family in Saskatchewan at some point.”
And then a friend (who lives in Vancouver) messaged me about going to San Francisco. I’ve been saving up some money in a travel account, and I started checking flights, which were pretty decent. So on January 1st I booked a flight to San Francisco in May. I’m going with two friends and it’s gonna be a collective 35th Birthday Trip (though I’ll still be 34). We (and another friend who can’t make this trip) did the same thing in New York City for our 30th Birthdays. I can’t tell you how much better I feel knowing I have some travel plans ahead. The downside to this trip is San Francisco can be expensive and the Canadian to US Dollar isn’t great, but I’m gonna keep saving what I can. If you have any suggestions for what to see and do in San Francisco let me know in the comments below.
And yeah, travel-wise that’s the only thing on the horizon for me. I’d still like to visit my family in Saskatchewan if I can this summer. There are some ultra low-cost airlines that have popped up in Canada (which is amazing), so I’d like to go to Vancouver to visit my friend (and see the ocean too), and maybe even go to Winnipeg for a few days. I had stopped in Winnipeg for a night on a road trip several years ago, but didn’t get to see any of the city. And I’m taking a TEFL course online and looking at maybe teaching English abroad, but that probably wouldn’t be until the latter part of the year. Really I don’t know what 2019 will bring, but I’m hoping for some good stuff.
How was your 2018? Any big plans for this year? Let me know in the comments below.