Superlatives and Numbers

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Totals
Days: 30
Steps: 414,029
Miles: 184.53

Averages per day
Steps: 13,801
Miles: 6.51
Beers: 1.1

Most active day
July 3 - Prague

Best Hot Dog
Baerins Beztu Pylsur, Reykjavik

Prettiest Church
Vor Frelsers Kirke, Copenhagen

Oldest Architecture
Monasterboice, Ireland (501 AD)

Best Fish and Chips
Benes, Edinburgh

Best Whiskey
Teeling, Dublin

Best Beer (3-way tie)
Guinness, Dublin
Carlsberg, Copenhagen
Kozel, Velke Popovice, Prague

Best Hostel (tie)
Urban House, Copenhagen
Art Hole, Prague

Best Castle
Blarney, Cork, Ireland

Most Interesting Walking Tour
Sandemans Free Walking Tour, Berlin

Best Hippie Commune
Christiania, Copenhagen

**These are all personal opinion and based on absolutely no measurable means.


So where would I go back? I definitely didn't get enough time in Prague and Edinburgh. I loved Ireland, and would go back there as well, but in a 6 day excursion, I feel satisfied with the experience.


What are you curious about? Did I leave anything out?

Cardiff: numbers, facts, and films

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By the numbers
Total hours: 21
Total steps: 25,940
Total miles walked: 11.51

Fun Facts
- True story, I did go to Cardiff JUST for the Doctor Who Experience. It was worth it.
- Roald Dahl is from Cardiff.
- Only 21% of the Welsh population and 10% of Cardiff's population understand the Welsh language. As a result, Welsh was made an official language and appears on signs around the city as prominently as English in an attempt to prevent the language from dying out.

Films
- In order to kill time until my bus arrived at 2:42am, I saw two movies for just £4
- Independence Day: Resurgence
- Ghostbusters

Amsterdam: numbers, facts, food and sickness

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By the numbers
Total hours: 80
Total steps: 44,219
Total miles walked: 19.61

Fun facts
- I was sick for most of our visit to this city.
- Prostitution and marijuana are "legal" in Amsterdam.
- The whole city was built on water and supported by over 11,000,000 poles. You can see this evidenced in the buildings, that have moved over the years and now stand somewhat crooked.
- Supposedly 25,000 bikes end up in the canals every year.
- Amsterdam is home to the highest number of nationalities in the world. It is the most diverse city.
- You cannot smoke tobacco indoors, but you can smoke weed in coffeeshops.
- The red light district is one of the safest areas of the city.
- So few people in Amsterdam attend churches that they have repurposed most of the old church buildings to be art exhibits and event halls.

Food and Drink (and other forms of ingestible recreation) - Irish food
- lots of Heineken
- Bitterballen
- Ribs!
- Weed (duh)

Berlin: numbers, facts, food and drink

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By the numbers
Total hours: 64
Total steps: 51,086
Total miles walked: 22.66

Fun Facts
- Berlin is built on a swamp, when the wind shifts the right way, you can tell.
- The East Side Gallery, a section of the Berlin Wall that still stands, is now known as the longest open-air art gallery in the world. It's painted with 101 images by artists from 21 countries.
- There are more than 180 museums in the city.
- Berlin is 9 times bigger than Paris.
- Berlin is home to the hotel that Michael Jackson dangled his baby over a balcony from.
- Döner, the popular Turkish snack/meal, was invented in Berlin.

Food and Drink
- Sushi
- hamburger
- Wiese bier
- Chinese food
- German protein bars

Black Lives Matter

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This is a political post.

I'm sitting in my hostel in Amsterdam. I only have access to wifi on a sporadic basis, so I find myself catching up with the news in bursts. Today was too much.

Alton Sterling Philando Castile Police officers in Dallas who, as of this writing, have not been named publicly

Each of these deaths was wrong.

To say Black Lives Matter DOES NOT also imply that other lives don't. It is an assertion that needs to be made because we have erected a system which does not value black lives.

There is no sense in arguing about who is good and who is bad. The reality is we are all both.

The simple fact is that NO ONE deserves to be killed. Violence begets violence.

As USAmericans, we live in a culture that perpetuates the subjugation of others in such a way that allows us to feel self-righteous. We don't think it could possibly be true because it is all passive. However, passive participation in a system of injustice is still participation.

Black men and women (and sometimes children!) are dying across this country because they are black. This is not okay.

It is also not okay that police officers are losing their lives.

The pain and the injustice run deep. More violence and more death is not the answer.

May we lower our weapons and learn to see each other.

Will we ever learn?

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Today I saw the Berlin Wall. Yes, the wall "fell" in 1989, but there are three sections of it still standing.

One section lives across the street from the building that housed the military headquarters of the Third Reich and is accompanied by a museum/exhibit called Topography of Terror.

The second section lives near a river and houses the largest outside art gallery in the world. The wall has been painted with murals and is also known as East Side Gallery.

The third is now a memorial.

...

There are a few things I have been struck by today. First, I came face to face with my own biases and preconceptions about Berlin and Germany in general. Part of me did not want to come here, having studied about WWII and the Holocaust all my life. Even though I was not alive, I still hold prejudice against German people for things that happened in their past.

Second, I have been humbled by Germany's openness and honesty about it's past. At no point do they try to brush what happened under the rug. Within a few walking blocks, there is a Holocaust memorial, a museum describing the rise of the terrorist regime, a blatantly political creative response to Communism that honors protesters from that era, and numerous markings of where the Berlin Wall once stood. Throughout their education, German children are taught about the Holocaust multiple times, and are even required to visit concentration camps at least 3 times in their educational careers. They are actively trying to learn and move on from the worst parts of their past.

Third, there were so many echoes in my mind as we toured the city hearing about the rise about the rise of this charismatic and destructive leader. I heard echoes of Donald Trump, suggesting we build a wall separating the US from Mexico. I heard echoes of Britain voting to leave the EU with immigration on the table as a significant issue.

...

I recognize that these issues are much more complicated than I am giving them credit for here. I'm not trying to argue for any particular political stance. However, I see strong parallels between events that exist in the history of the world and events that are actively being worked out today.

My hope, regardless of political ideology, is may we be able to take pause to consider where we have been. May we all strive to find our darkest days behind us, not in front of us. May we learn from the mistakes of those who have gone before us. May we step humbly and bravely forward when we witness injustice. May we remember that despite National borders, language barriers, age differences, and different perspectives, we are all human - together.

...

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out- Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me." - Martin Niemöller

Prague: numbers, fun facts, food and drink

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By the numbers
Total hours: 61
Total steps: 48,115
Total miles walked: 21.34

Fun facts
- 90% of Prague's Jewish population was killed in the Holocaust
- Prague was only bombed once during the war, accidentally, by a Czech volunteer pilot serving with the Allies
- Charles IV was voted the best Czech ever. When he died his son took over, and he is known as the Useless King
- Czech Republic peacefully and amicably split from Slovakia - Despite Prague's fascinating religious history, 80% consider themselves atheist today. Some attribute this to their strong Catholic origins, followed by forced conversions to Protestantism and Communism
- Czech people consume the most beer in the world. Beer is cheaper than water in Prague
- Czech Republic has the highest concentration of castles (including keeps and ruins) in the world
- In 2016, "Czechia" was published as the official English short-form name for the country at the UN

Food/drinks
- lots of beer, specifically Kozel
- gelato
- Mexican food
- Sushi
- houskove knedliky
- svickova

The River Elbe

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I have decided that my favorite spot so far on this trip is somewhere that I never actually got to set foot. We flew past it twice; once on the way to Prague, and then on the way to Berlin. Dresden and Prague both have a river running through the city.

In Dresden, it is the Elbe River. In Prague it is Vltava, which actually splits off from the Elbe north of the city. Between the two cities along the banks of the Elbe is my favorite spot in Europe so far.

The river is wide and meandering. At moments along the way it feels like a beautiful river valley with hills rising up on each side. At other moments, it feels like the Grand Canyon as it seems like the river has cut cliffs into the hills around it.

All of it is covered in green, and there are villages all along the banks.

I have loved each of the places I have been so far. Reykjavik and Edinburgh were such fun places to be. Scotland and Ireland are some of the most beautiful places I have seen in real life. Copenhagen was interesting and lovely, Prague was so rich with character.

But there was something about this river, the hills, the trees and the towns that took my breath away.

Communism, beer, and garnets...oh my!

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Oh Prague.

Thank you for your cheap beer.

Prague is a beautiful city, and it's history is so very interesting. Brother and I went on a walking tour yesterday, and we were so intrigued that we found another free walking tour dedicated to the city's Communist history for this afternoon.

I love the mix of the different styles of architecture, including the dark looming Gothic buildings that the city is most famous for.

Also, the hostel we are staying in is awesome. It is called Art Hole, and we made friends with the receptionist from Lithuania. We have spent a lot of time drinking beer and watching football. It is easy to do when you can buy a beer for a dollar right at reception, and they stream the games live for you right there too. :)

In the same way that Copenhagen felt like Papa, Prague feels like Grandma Mary. It is strange, and I wish I had better words to describe it just yet. I bought a crew neck sweatshirt in Copenhagen because it reminded me of Papa, and I decided that the best souvenir I could find in Prague to remind me of Grandma would be jewelry. I needed something that Grandma would approve of, but that I would actually wear.

I found the perfect ring. I love it so much, and it didn't break the bank. It makes me smile every time I look at it, and I think of Grandma Mary.

We just have one more night in Prague, unfortunately. I could spend so much more time here. But we still have Berlin and Amsterdam to look forward to, and then I get to see the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff before I head back to North America.

This trip is going so fast. I have loved nearly every minute of it, and I wish it would slow down.

Copenhagen: numbers, facts, food/drink

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By the numbers
Total hours: 112
Total steps: 81,901
Total miles walked: 36.33

Fun facts
- If the Queen of England and the Queen of Denmark were in the same room, the Queen of England would have to bow to the Queen of Denmark, because her royal lineage is the longest in any current monarchy
- Male heirs to the throne in Danish history only have two names: Christian and Frederik. They alternate through the generations
- Danes pay 46% income tax and are known as the happiest people in the world
- Danes are not known for their engineering ability. There is a draw bridge that meets in the middle that was some 5m off. It was supposed to open in 2008
- Putting Danish flags on the Christmas tree (like we always did growing up) is not a common tradition in Denmark. Instead, they put their tree in the middle of the room so they can dance around it
- Drinking age is 16
- Denmark has the oldest flag in the world

Food/Drink
- twice cooked in duck fat French fries
- shawarma
- Danish pastries
- Open-faced sandwich
- hot buns burger with a knife and fork
- fish 'n chips
- Carlsberg
- pepperoni, pineapple and jalapeño pizza

Fear

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The following is the first excerpt of the book I am working on for you all. It is a small excerpt, it may not give you many clues as to what the point of all this is, but here you go.

"Fear is such a powerful emotion. I think we can be unaware of the far-reaching effect it can have on our lives, directing our choices in subtle and sneaky ways.

Fear keeps us from trying skydiving or traveling alone to foreign countries. And fear also separates us from other people, people who are different. Fear damages relationships as it forces people closer or further away from us than they are comfortable. Fear creates systems of injustice based on fictional hierarchies. Fear paralyzes.

I have been afraid most of my life. Afraid to be myself, mostly. Afraid to even figure out who I am. Afraid that I’m not actually worth much.

I have learned in my short life that when we let fear dictate our lives, we make decisions that are easy, simplistic, and generally hurt ourselves and others. Fear suffocates hope and forces us to settle for something less."

Danish flags and Christmas trees

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I arrived in Copenhagen after having a mildly difficult time leaving the airport. The machine for train tickets kept telling me my card was the wrong currency, and refused to give me a ticket. So I had to get DKK out of the ATM, and then break it into smaller bills.

I learned quickly that there are hotdog stands EVERYWHERE in Copenhagen.

I made it to the hostel and took a nap until Brother showed up later that evening. We went out exploring a little bit, as Brother had an open mic night he wanted to check out and try to play at. Unfortunately, we got there a little bit late and they already had a full set, but the little bar seemed fun and friendly.

On our way back, Brother realized he left his Eurail pass at home in San Francisco. :O

Brother did not have a good start to his trip. Poor Brother.

We spent most of the morning the next day trying to figure out what to do about his Eurail pass. Without it, he would need to pay for each train ride out of pocket, so we decided it would be best to have his roommate send it as quickly as possible and stay in Copenhagen until we have it. At this point, it is set to arrive on the 29th, so we added one night in Copenhagen and are planning to head to Prague on the 30th.

So, to sum up that day, we didn't make it to Legoland. That was somewhat disappointing, but the Eurail pass was more pressing. We found an awesome walking tour of the city to go on that afternoon, and got lots of interesting information about Copenhagen and Denmark in general. Then we went on a hunt for dinner and realized that all of the food in Copenhagen is incredibly expensive. We finally settled on a little Thai restaurant down the street from our hostel.

Yesterday we ventured off on our own through the city. We found the island of street food that our tour guide had pointed out, and we were in awe at all the wonderful goodness we found. Cheap food from all over the world. Mmmm.

We wandered to Frederik's Kirke, also known as the Marble Church, and spent a few minutes taking in the beauty inside that church. Then we headed off to the National Museum, and explored some of the history of Denmark.

I've got some great fun facts to share with you when our time in Copenhagen is finished, so keep your eyes out for that!

After that, I came back and had a rest before we rallied to hit a local gay bar for dinner and drinks. Brother is still young and spry, so he stayed out late while I turned in around 11.

There is something about this city that just feels like my papa. Something calm and steady, even stoic. I'll talk more about that, but Brother and I are about to head out for the day.

Ireland: numbers, facts, food/drink

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By the numbers
Total hours: 144
Total steps: 64,672
Total miles walked: 28.71

Fun Facts
- Jameson is Ireland's cheap whiskey.
- Blarney was the most lovely castle I saw, despite the crowds.
- The locals affectionately refer to the tall tower downtown as "the light saber".
- On a related note, SPOILERS Rey finds Luke on an island off the western coast of Ireland. I saw it. Through clouds. Also they did some filming for the next movie near there a few weeks ago as well.
- Guinness DOES taste different in Ireland.
- Gay men are more fun than any other group of people.
- Kilts are Irish too, they just aren't as proud of them as the Scots are.
- Most Irish folks are glad Britain went crazy and voted out of the EU. They are hoping for the opportunity for reunification with Northern Ireland and Scotland. Sounds good to me.
- I have begun to question why I feel like raging nationalism is disgusting in the United States, but exotic in other countries.

Food/Drink
- more fish and chips
- Cadbury Starbar
- Irish Dr. Pepper
- several kinds of whiskey
- lots and lots of Guinness, Bailey's, and coffee
- Taytos
- toast (because that's what free hostels serve you for breakfast)

Selfie sticks are not allowed

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Ireland was a whirlwind. Everything happened so fast.

I woke up Monday morning to meet my tour guide, hop on a big green bus with 30ish others, and head out of the city. So much for seeing Dublin. I was stuck sharing a seat with a girl from Austria, and her two friends right behind us. All they did was speak to each other in German.

I was quite bummed for the first day because I was expecting to make friends, to have the week be this crazy adventure, and it didn't start off that way.

Luckily, when we reached Belfast, there were a handful of us that did not want to go to the Titanic experience. We were able to find a local pub and pop in for a drink before meeting up with our group again. In this group was four other girls who were traveling alone, and an older and friendly couple from Texas.

Everything turned from there. Thank goodness. I made friends.

In Belfast, we did the Black Taxi tour, led by men who were involved in the conflict between loyalists and republicans. They took us to some of the famous murals, as well as to the wall that still divides the city. It was very interesting. There is this underlying tension that just exists. People know it's there but people seem to favor the status quo in order to avoid more conflict and death.

That evening, my new friends and I went out to a bar called Filthy McNasty's. We just liked the name.

Day two, we headed from Belfast to Derry. In Derry, I finally found time to do some laundry, but it meant skipping the walking tour of the city. But I met up with everyone for dinner and hanging out at a pub.

More drinking, in case you hadn't guessed.

After Derry we came to Galway. Our guide was very excited for Galway. It's kind of a party town. We had a quick little walking tour (Galway loves John F. Kennedy, even though he wasn't actually from Galway), then ate some dinner. There was a pub crawl we could sign up for. I almost made a smart decision.

Then I didn't. I went. The girl who was leading the pub crawl was fun, but the pubs were just kind of "meh," and the drinks that were included with admission were potentially just shots of sugary fruity drinks without alcohol.

As I was falling asleep that night, I overheard two of my new friends talking about how annoying I was. Hurtful, yes. But ultimately I just decided that was fine. I was going to do my best to enjoy my trip. I didn't engage with them much after that, and they sort of kept to themselves. Fine by me.

Galway gave way to Killarney and the Whiskey Experience. Tasty, to say the least. I learned all about the process of making whiskey and the difference between things like single malt, single pot still, and single grain. Now I can be a pretentious Seattle whiskey drinker too.

We did actually have some free time in Killarney, so I ventured off for a haircut. Did you know that male barbers refuse to cut women's hair? Neither did I. I was shocked. Thankfully, there was a lady barber there who said she would do it for me. Literally, all I needed was clippers to the sides and back. Good grief.

Then we hit the Dingle peninsula, which was beautiful but we basically just drove around. We stayed at a hostel in a town with one street Called Anascaul, and the hostel had an attached bar.

That's when the Irish car bombs happened. I walked over intending to have a small bite to eat, maybe one beer, and then head back to the room for writing and sleeps.

Six car bombs, a Guinness and a glass of wine later, I found myself sucking horribly at pool and breaking the karaoke ice.

Then we woke up, kissed the Blarney Stone, and headed back to Dublin.

That's the week in a nutshell. There were many sights in between, but honestly I don't remember the order they happened in. Maybe when I am back in Seattle I will go through the highlights and share some pictures.

Spending the night in an airport is my nightmare.

Knackered

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As I write this, it is 12:15am in London. I have been up since 6am after a late night drinking, and my flight to Copenhagen doesn't leave until sometime after 8am.

I'm trapped in the check-in area, because RyanAir sucks and even though I have checked in and have my boarding pass, I have to get it stamped because I have a non-EU passport before I go through security, otherwise they will refuse to let me board.

The irony is not lost on me.

And I have given up hope that I will get any sleep tonight.

Since I have so much time, I'm going to post all about Ireland. Probably in a couple different posts. Queen is playing in the background right now, so I guess I have that going for me.

Thanks for the whiskey and beer

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Ok so. I'm on my way back to Dublin after running around the entire island. We hit so many different places. I'll be traveling the next day or so, and will post more about each place we stopped.

For now, I'll just say that there was lots of whiskey (not Jameson, because that's their cheap whiskey), lots of Guinness, a bit of rain, and endless green countryside.

This was a group tour, so we had about 35 people the whole way through, with some leaving and some joining along the way. There was definitely a bit of drama that came along with that, but I did my best to steer clear of that nonsense. I really enjoyed most everyone on the tour, and by the end many of us have started to feel like a bit of a family.

Today is Pride in Dublin, so I'm hoping to be able to play a little bit before I have to head to the airport tonight!

I think I went to Dublin...

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Well friends, I had my first scary solo international travel moment. Glad I can check that box.

I arrived in Dublin around 11pm and hitched a bus to my hostel. I walked by it, not realizing it, because it was closed! I had a moment of panic as I went through the possibilities of what I was going to do. Would I just walk around until I found a hostel that was still open that would take me in?!

As I sat there panicking slightly, I noticed a gentleman standing vaguely near the entrance of the hostel. I asked him if I missed my chance to check in, and he pulls out all these keys and let's me in. Whew!

So I had a short night's sleep, then woke up early for my 6-day tour of all Ireland. There were so many people. A whole bus full. Super intimidating. My heart sank a little bit as we made our first few stops, as I was stuck sitting near 3 Austrian girls who only spoke German to each other and kept taking selfies around me. I didn't connect with anyone.

I figured this was going to be a miserable 6 days rather than the fun friend-making time I had hoped it would be.

Luckily, during our jaunt in Belfast, there were a handful of us that decided not to pay extra for the tour of the company that built the Titanic, so we went to a pub instead. And now I have friends!

Oh thank goodness. It would have been a long week otherwise.

We went out to a local pub called Filthy McNasty's and had some whiskey, Guinness and tequila, because duh.

Today we are leaving Belfast and heading out to Derry, with a couple stops along the way.

Our tour guide is named Rory, and he is funny as hell. My new friends and I have a couple of goals for this trip. The first is to take over the front seats so we can hear all the comments he makes when the microphone is off. The second is to get him drunk.

He also told me he would give me a whiskey lesson later in the week, so all you snobs better prepare yourselves.

Some process

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Ok so I have shared the facts. Now, as I finish up my time in Edinburgh, I need to reflect on the last two destinations.

I have thoroughly enjoyed both Reykjavik and Edinburgh. Let me tell you a little bit of why:

Reykjavik is beautiful. The people are so welcoming and friendly. It is safe and environmentally sustainable. There is art everywhere.

Edinburgh is so old and full of history, and this is beautiful in it's own right, even if you don't appreciate the architecture or winding cobblestone streets. Scotland and Ireland were the impetus for this trip in general, so I had high hopes. Somewhere in the mutt mixture of blood that I carry is some from Scotland, and there was definitely the sense while I was there of home in some broad way.

Don't tell anyone, but when I would think to myself in my head, I absolutely developed a Scottish accent.

...

As I finish up this leg of the journey, I'm surprised at how fast it is going. It seems when I arrive in a place that I have so much time to explore and I am searching for ways to fill it. But inevitably, the time comes to leave and I am not ready.

I have been tired, and still have a weird sleep schedule that involves being up for a few hours in the middle of the night and causing me to sleep in later. I'm hoping this goes away soon.

...

You may have noticed that I pierced my lip while in Edinburgh. That may come as a shock to some of you, but let me tell you why it is ultimately not shocking. I have had my lip pierced before. This trip, as much as it was for my 30th birthday and for (originally) graduating, this trip was also about finally allowing myself to be me.

I have always wanted to travel the world. Always. It is in my blood. My grandparents took my brother and I on road trips every year, and I was on my first airplane at age 10. I have been on between 75-100 flights so far in my life, and visited at least 15 states. I have been afraid of traveling like I want to. Partly because I have been in graduate school and that is a good excuse. Partly because I was afraid to do it alone.

I'm tired of giving myself excuses for not doing the things I want to do, the things that fill me and give me life. The things that I find meaning and hope in.

Ok so maybe I don't find hope in having my lip pierced. But it is a way of expressing myself, a way of demonstrating who I am in this world. For me, it feels like pieces of me are lining back up. Something happened in the last year that gave me a sense of urgency and agency.

I never wanted to take out the first lip piercing I had. I took it out for work one day and it was closed up by my lunch hour. So I let it go. And I have missed it almost every day since. For me, in a way, this piercing is a return.

...

I'm also starting to feel the absence of connection. I'm meeting people, and making chit chat, but I miss hugging my friends. I miss all my little kiddos. I miss coming home to my housemates. Thank goodness for iMessage, it has kept me going.

...

Now that Edinburgh is a memory in my heart, and I head off to Ireland, I want to give you a warning.

There may be fewer posts during this trip. Ireland is my peaceful resting place. I'm also going on a bus tour all around the island. My hope is to make friends, hang out with people, meet lots of locals along the way. My sleeping habits better support this, or I will be frustrated ;)

All I'm saying is I'm not making promises. Of course I want to post, but I also want to fully experience. So that's the priority. I'm sure you will get something in the next 6 days, just be patient.

Edinburgh: numbers, facts and food

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By the numbers
Total hours: 55
Total steps: 44,640
Total miles walked: 19.83

Fun Facts:
- Braveheart got everything wrong
- The buildings are discolored because of smoke during the industrial revolution
- Haggis tastes great
- I found Edinburgh to be colder than Reykjavik, and that surprised me
- Vertical labret piercings are painful. Even for me, having had my lip pierced before, and having a really high pain tolerance
- Eating a sandwich is more difficult than eating something with a fork or spoon
- The highlands are actually pieces of North America that crashed into Britain. There is literally a line you can see in the hills where the geology actually changes
- I don't get whisky. I will work on that in Ireland

Food/drink:
- Haggis
- Fish and chips (with salt and sauce)
- Salmon
- Apple scone
- Auchentoshan Lowlands Whisky

Walking, walking, and more walking

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So when I fell asleep at 6:30pm the night before, it didn't occur to me that it was a bad idea. But I woke up at 3am and was up for about 3 hours before I finally fell back to sleep. And accidentally slept until 12. Whoops.

I still managed to accomplish a lot.

I walked up to Edinburgh Castle to grab some pictures. They were setting up a huge stadium of seats right outside the castle. I didn't catch what it was for, but some big festivities, I'm sure.

Took a jaunt around Lawnmarket, checking out all the touristy themed restaurants, Tartan stores, tweed suit jackets and kitschy knick knacks. Then I headed down the Royal Mile toward the Queen's Palace at Holy Rood. On the way, though, I made a pit stop.

Just after John Knox's house, I took a left and stopped in a tattoo and piercing shop to get a vertical labret. The lady who did it was fun and cool, but it hurt like no other. I didn't bleed though!

Then I resumed the trek towards the palace, took a couple shots of it and the Parliament building, then headed toward Arthur's Seat.

Sure, I thought. I can climb that. Yeah, it looks pretty steep, but I can do it!

So I started up. I stopped not far in, realizing that I hadn't eaten anything yet and scarfed down an energy bar and some water. At least 4 stops to rest and considerations of turning back later, I reached the second highest mound. I decided this was far enough, and collapsed into the soft grass for a longer rest and to take some pictures.

By this point, my legs felt like noodles, and I needed a way down that was not just stairs all the way up. So I went down the East side, and it was spongy soft earth the whole way down. Delightful, comparatively. I kept walking, but my feet were killing me, so I stopped in to a little restaurant for some whisky and a bite to eat. The special was salmon, which I love, so I went for it.

After that, my feet needed a rest so I went back to the hostel and threw on some football games in the common room and rested. By the time the games were over, I was getting hungry again, so I ran out for some fish and chips (with salt and sauce, of course!). Really good. And so much fish!