August 2014 Adventure Spotlight with Chad from – Grand Teton National Park, Jackson, Wyoming, USA

This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”.  If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.


Chad approached me with an idea for an article focusing on a place that I have never been, and, to be honest, until now, I didn’t even really know it existed!  He is so passionate about sharing his experiences and connecting with other adventurous people.  The header on his site reads “Chronicles of a Life Enthusiast”, and I could not agree more.  Check out his personal blog at


The Writer:
Hello there! I’m Chad and I live in the southeastern United States. I love being in the outdoors, camping, backpacking, paddle sports, traveling and exploring new places in pursuit of those hobbies. However, my favorite aspect of travel is meeting people. You know, converse with strangers, learn their stories… what good is travel if you only do so as an observer rather than a participant. I believe leaving our comfort zone is better for us than we realize and, when traveling, it’s rare I leave a flight, cab, restaurant, or local watering without having gained a friend… or at least some good conversation. For me, befriending new people in new places is as big a part of any journey as seeing the mountain, the forest, the city, or the history I came to visit.


I’ve gone a few places and seen some great things but I’m far from an adventurer extraordinaire. I’m just a guy seeking to live my short time enthusiastically and not miss out on nor take these opportunities for granted. You don’t have to travel to distant lands or have extreme adventures to fit that mould. My blog, though in only its infancy, is a chronicle of personal experiences set out to show just that.  Although, when the opportunity to explore some far corner does arise, you can bet I’ll be there!


The Destination:
Grand Teton National Park – Jackson, Wyoming (United States)


I have a love affair with the untamed Western United States. There exists something truly majestic about the Rocky Mountains and the unsettled wilderness surrounding the region that draw so many people westward, myself included. I visited Grand Teton National Park as part of a road trip beginning in Salt Lake City, Utah- traveling northward through Idaho and finally east onward to Wyoming and the Teton Mountain Range.


Top 5 experiences:

1) The Teton’s Big Reveal.
Quite possibly one of the U.S.’s most inspiring mountain “reveals”, not viewed from an airplane window, occurs just 5 minutes out of Downtown Jackson. Northbound on US 191, the drive is a slow yet steadily-ascending path out of the city and it will not leave you disappointed. At the peak of this climb, the Teton Range suddenly towers into view in spectacular fashion. Those cloud-catchers demand you pull over immediately if for no other reason than to pick your jaw off the floor, smile, and realize how lucky you are to have seen something so special for the first time. You should snap a few pictures here too.


2) Fly fishing the Snake River
A legendary river winding along the Teton Range, the Snake River is well-known as a can’t-miss destination for fishermen and tourists alike. Though it was my first time with a fly rod, I had a great time learning the basics and eventually hooking some trout. I recommend researching and utilizing a guided float trip from a local outfitter because you really will get your money’s worth in both good fishing and interesting history along the river. Not to mention a spectacular shot of the Grand Teton during one particular section of river. Even on the cloudy day I ventured down, it was pretty awesome.


3) Jackson, WY- Proper: Exploring the shops and streets.
There is another reason this part of the world is so well-known. Jackson (the closest city) is as popular a North American ski destination as it gets. When celebrities like Harrison Ford have a personal hangar at the local airport, you know the town is unique. And although it is a booming tourist destination, downtown Jackson has retained a “village” charm with its shops and side streets all comprised of uniquely Western-Americana architecture. There are several unique restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, outfitters, and hundreds of other businesses that are worth window shopping at a minimum. If in town for lunch and its warm enough, I suggest a stroll along the town square then grabbing a bite to eat and a cold beer on the porch of Mile High Pizza Pie.


4) Cowboy Bar- Good food, good atmosphere
Speaking of a cold beer, visit Cowboy Bar in the evening – a uniquely Jackson saloon. There is dining downstairs and on this particular visit my crew and I hilariously found ourselves sharing both our meal and drinks in the same room as a celebrating wedding party- with which we had no prior affiliation and obviously no objection to dining… Hey, when in Jackson! Haha!


You can also slip upstairs for drinks and live music. You’ll likely find yourself stomping your feet to a local music act and the place will quickly be packed with an eclectic mix of people. I met a couple en route from the oil fields of Texas, moving to Montana to begin a new life and later two school teachers from Arizona teaching in Jackson on a government assignment. From cowboys, doctors, and school teachers to locals, tourists, and wandering travel bums – This place caters to everyone and all were having a great time.

So let your hair down, toss back a couple of local-brewed Snake River Ales, dosey-doe a cowgirl (or boy), and make some new friends at Cowboy Bar.


5) Camping (Gros Ventre campground)
Camping is my preferred method of overnighting anyway and – let’s be honest – if you’re going to visit the Tetons, why would you ever consider NOT camping? This is the “Wild West” after all and part of what makes a visit like this complete is tenting beneath the stars, laying down for the night smelling of campfire, and taking that first breath of chill mountain air upon waking. The Gros Ventre Campground is located approximately 9 miles Northeast of Jackson just inside Grand Teton National Park. Its sites are within short walking distance to the Gros Ventre River which provides ample opportunity for spying wildlife. It’s serene. It’s clean. And the staff were friendly. If you’ll be camping between May and October in the area, you should definitely give Gros Ventre Campground a look.


Something I wish I’d known: 
My visit was only part of a short road trip and I had no idea of the other things I would find myself wishing I had more time for while there. From wildlife tours, to snowmobile trails, to hiking, biking, rafting, and much more – Grand Teton National Park is a wild and magnificent place. I should have known these things before of course, but wish I’d taken a little time to research the various ways to explore the area and made time for a few more.


What is your number one tip for other people planning to visit this particular destination?

Talk to people. The historical American West is full of tales of travellers, vagabonds, adventurers, and even folks escaping their past. The modern West may be a little less legendary but it’s no less interesting. Ask your waiter where he’s from, your rafting guide what brought her here, or the barkeep some local history. From those stricken by wanderlust, ski-junkies, nomads and free spirits, to those who simply visited and never wanted to leave, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of transplants to the area and it seemed like everyone had a good story to tell of what drove them to call this place home. So talk to the locals. You’ll likely discover a hidden gem to scope out before leaving the Tetons.


Then again, you may decide to stick around yourself.


Thanks so much for sharing, Chad!

Posted in Tips & Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Days Hiking & Camping in the Waterton Backcountry

I had absolutely no idea what I was getting myself into approximately 8 months ago when I proposed the idea of a Backcountry Hiking Trip to Sean and his dad, Gord.  Gord is a well-seasoned outdoorsman and has been hiking and camping in the backcountry for about 13 years, and Sean would oftentimes accompany him.  The two have tackled major famous Canadian trails like the West Coast Trail, the Mantario Trail, the Chilkoot Trail, the Cape Chignecto Coastal Trail, and countless other hikes and outdoor activities.  I think the boys may have been being extra-polite when they didn’t burst out laughing at my suggestion of the three of us taking a trip together.

I’m not exactly a rookie to the outdoors – if you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve done my fair share of hiking and camping around the Rocky Mountains in the past few years.  But I’d only done one backcountry trip before, and it was when I was 17 years old.  It was a school trip, guided and organized by teachers and chaperones, and even though it was an awesome introductory experience, I basically just had to show up with my clothes, food and gear and follow the leader for a week through Yoho National Park.  This trip was going to be different.

We decided that 3 days, 2 nights, and approximately 30 kilometres of hiking would be a good start. Gord took the reins on trip planning – he decided where we would go, which I was more than okay with.  He also did the meal planning, which was incredible, by the way…he had us eating butter chicken and pasta with meat sauce and breakfast wraps.  We definitely weren’t “roughing it” when it came to food!


Day One – Drive Calgary to Waterton, Hike Red Rock Canyon to Goat Lake

We were well prepared and had everything packed and ready to go the night before departure, so we were on the road at around 7:30am on Day One to make the three hour drive from Calgary to Waterton Lakes National Park.  By the time we had picked up our permits, made it to the Red Rock Canyon parking lot and got all geared up, we hit the trails just before noon.  The hike from Red Rock Canyon to Goat Lake is about 7 km, and the first half is more of a nature walk.  It didn’t really get difficult until we began our ascent to Goat Lake…prepare to get your heart pumping.  It’s only 2.5 km but it took almost the same amount of time as the previous 4.5, especially with full packs.  You’ll know you’re almost at Goat Lake when you pass one of the most beautiful little waterfalls you have ever seen.

Day One - Ascent to Goat Lake

Day One – Ascent to Goat Lake


Day One - Ascent to Goat Lake

Day One – Ascent to Goat Lake


The Falls – This Means You’re Getting Close!

The campground only has 4 tent sites, one outhouse, and campfires are prohibited.  We made our cook site by the lake, and there is a bear-proof food hanger well away from the tent sites.  The lake is full of fish (National Park fishing license required) and crystal clear.  It was extremely cold when we visited in Mid-July but we were so hot and sweaty by the time we arrived that we couldn’t help but go for a frigid (4.2 second) swim.  We were lucky enough to be the only people camping on the night that we were at Goat Lake, however the area was busy with day hikers during the afternoon.

Our Tent Site at Goat Lake

Our Tent Site at Goat Lake

Gord making sure we stay Hydrated

Gord making sure we stay Hydrated

Our Backcountry Birthday Celebration

Our Backcountry Birthday Celebration

Skipping Rocks on Goat Lake at Sunset

Skipping Rocks on Goat Lake at Sunset


Day Two – Hike Goat Lake to Twin Lakes

We woke up around 8 on the second day and took our time with coffee, breakfast, and packing up camp.  We probably weren’t on the trail until close to 11 for the 4 hour, 8km hike to Twin Lakes.  The hike down from Goat Lake was as difficult as the hike up, and it was HOT.  The hike to Twin Lakes was a bit of a challenge, but not quite as tough as what we had faced on day one.  What was nice, though, is that it was a lot more forested and therefore shady and cool.  We arrived at our site around 3:00 and ate an early dinner, but not before hiking down to Lower Twin Lake (much prettier than Upper Twin Lake) through the SNOW (yes, snow) for an extremely refreshing swim.  The water wasn’t quite as cold as Goat Lake, but it was still a challenge to stay in it for more than 10 seconds at a time.  I was so exhausted from the action-packed day…I think I retired to my tent by 7.

Day Two - Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two – Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two - Descent from Goat Lake

Day Two – Descent from Goat Lake

Hiking down through the snow (in pink crocs!) to Lower Twin Lake

Hiking down through the snow (in pink crocs!) to Lower Twin Lake

Swimming in Lower Twin Lakes

Swimming in Lower Twin Lakes


Day Three – Hike Twin Lakes to Red Rock Canyon

We got an earlier start on day three after a really rough sleep.  We were fed, coffee’d, and packed up and on the trail by 9:30, as we knew we had a 14 km hike ahead.  This long day of hiking had a pretty challenging start as we had to hike straight uphill for about a kilometre, and then through avalanche zones for about 2 hours, which meant deep, slippery snow, broken trees, tons of debris, and losing our trail a couple of times.  It slowed us down but it was nothing we couldn’t handle…I was very grateful to have brought hiking poles though for stability, balance, and confidence crossing the snow.  After we made it through the tough stuff, it was just a lot of slight decline, which we were all very grateful for.

Hiking through the Avalanche Zone

Hiking through the Avalanche Zone

Some of the Avalanche Damage…trees bent in half, others snapped clean off, others uprooted…so crazy

Some of the Avalanche Damage…trees bent in half, others snapped clean off, others uprooted…so crazy

Sean and I

Sean and I

Creek Crossing

Creek Crossing

We were following a bear down the mountain part of the way…we saw fresh scat and lots of overturned rocks.  I entertained myself by yelling “beep beep beep” and singing with Sean for hours on end so as not to startle whatever was lurking in the woods.  Luckily, we never actually saw the bear.  The last part of our hike was through the stunning Red Rock Canyon, which is unlike anything I’ve ever seen.  Red Rock Canyon is also easily accessible (less than 1km) from the parking lot, so it would make for a super easy quarter-day hike / nature walk.  That last kilometre was the longest of my life, but it felt pretty amazing to turn a corner of the trail after 3 days in the backcountry and see a parking lot full of cars. Cars meant air conditioning and transport to a restaurant in town for burgers and beer.

Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon

After a wet-wipe sponge bath in the public washroom and changing into the clean clothes I had left in the car (highly recommended), we drove into the town of Waterton for a late lunch at Trapper’s Mountain Grill.  I out-ate both of the men and wasn’t even upset about it.  The avalanche burger (topped with onions, cheddar, bacon and a fried egg) is awesome if you’re starving.  We then treated ourselves to way too much ice cream at Big Scoop and then piled in the car for a food-coma drive back to Calgary.  It was glorious.

The 3 days we spent in Waterton were absolutely incredible.  I learned so much and I was so grateful to have two knowledgable, patient and supportive men to help make this idea a reality.  I’ll definitely be doing another Backcountry trip soon.

Have you ever been to Waterton?  Did you spend any time in the Backcountry or mostly just stick around the townsite?

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Ways To Live an Adventurous Life When You Can’t Travel

Those of us with a hunger for adventure often find ourselves limited by things like time, money, and the ability to drop everything and travel.  While a life of constant travel would undoubtedly provide an ideal canvas for many adventurous experiences, most of us find that, unfortunately, that sort of a lifestyle is a little unrealistic.  So how else can adventure-seekers and wanderlusters quench their thirst for exploration?

This challenge is something that I am faced with all the time.  While I have been fortunate enough to do a fair bit of traveling throughout my short 22 years, I now find myself in a place where I have (ridiculous amounts of) bills to pay, important commitments, and a full-time career, that I actually take seriously, which requires me to stay in one place.

Here are a few ways that I have adjusted my day-to-day routine to incorporate a little more spark to my life and to satisfy my hunger for adventure when I can’t actually get on a plane.


1. Make the Most of your Days Off

This one may seem obvious, but I can think back to several occasions where I have let my precious 48 hours away from work come and go with no real reward, and instead spent them doing laundry, cleaning my apartment, running errands and doing other things that are less than exciting.  In my experience, I have found that, by committing to a plan for at least one of your days off, whether that means a day drive, a hike, or an afternoon spent exploring a new neighbourhood – I am persuaded to get the cumbersome “chores” finished up on the days that I’m already working anyway.  It may add to an already hectic workweek, but when the weekend finally comes around and you realize that you have nothing to do but get out and enjoy it, it will all be worth it.

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Visiting the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

2. Be a Tourist in your own Backyard

If you’ve done any amount of traveling, then you’ve probably met somebody along the way who asked you tons of questions about your home country, or maybe even your home city.  They may have asked you what it was like to live in New York City, or if you’ve been to Niagara Falls.  More often than not, the people I meet abroad would give anything to visit North America to see all of the spectacular things that this part of the world has to offer.  Be careful not to overlook all of the beauty and adventure that awaits you right within your own country, state, city, or even your neighbourhood.  If you’ve never checked out your city or town’s official website, or searched your own area on TripAdvisor, I strongly suggest that you do.  You will probably discover tons of attractions and experiences that you didn’t even realize existed, like the time I planned a Stay-Cation here in Calgary and ended up spending the most incredible day out at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary.  Life is all about perspective, and just because you can’t go far, does not mean that you can’t still experience amazing new things.

Riding through Fish Creek Park in Calgary - literally my back yard

Riding through Fish Creek Park in Calgary – literally my back yard


3. Take Advantage of Business Travel

Going on a week-long trip to a conference somewhere you’ve never been before?  Why not extend your trip by a day or two in order to explore the area a little more?  This works especially well if your company is footing the bill for your flights…it most likely won’t make a difference in the cost if you choose to stay a few extra days.  So take a few vacation days or stay in town for your days off and see some of the local sights!  This is something I am planning on doing to my upcoming trip to California for a business-related class.


4. Connect with Like-Minded People

Surround yourself with positive, life-loving people who also want to fill their spare time full of adventures and awesome experiences.  Not only will this provide you with a kickass group of friends who will most likely be great human beings, but it will also open up a bunch of new opportunities to try things you may have not otherwise thought of.


5. Try New Things Constantly

Step out of your comfort zone whenever you can, whether that means hitting a new restaurant on a Saturday night, taking an outdoor climbing class, or booking that overseas tour of your dreams.  Shake up your routine and try something different.  You won’t regret it.


Spending the day exploring Elbow Falls, only a 40 minute drive from my front door

Spending the day exploring Elbow Falls, only a 40 minute drive from my front door

6. Start an Adventure Fund

Contributing to an “Adventure Fund” is something I have been doing for a few years now. Every time I stop myself from spending money on something that I really don’t need, I try to make a mental note of it and transfer the amount of money that I would have wasted on silly things into my Adventure Fund instead.  Those $5 a day lattes, shoes you will only wear once, and mediocre nights out on the town can really add up over time…maybe they will even add up to going towards paying for your next vacation.


What are some of the ways that you incorporate adventure and exploration into your everyday life when you aren’t able to travel?

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Energy Trail Bars

Quick and easy, full of nutrition, easily packable and totally versatile, these Energy Trail Bars are a personal favourite for hiking, biking, backpacking and even road trips.



1 Cup Peanut Butter (I like to use natural PB)

1 Egg

1/3 Cup Margarine or Butter

1 tsp Vanilla

1/2 Cup Corn Syrup (Can also use honey as an alternative)

1/2 Cup Raisins

1/2 Cup Brown Sugar

1/3 Cup Wheat Germ

3 Cups Rolled Oats

1 Cup Chocolate Chips

1/2 Cup Sunflower Seeds

1/3 Cup Unsweetened Coconut


Preheat oven to 350.  Cream peanut butter and margarine, beat in corn syrup, brown sugar, egg and vanilla.  Stir in other ingredients.  Place in a greased 9×13″ pan and bake for 20 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares (approx 12) while still moderately warm.  Wrap individually in plastic wrap or wax paper.  Store in fridge or freezer until your next adventure!


Last time I made these bars, I subbed in Natural Peanut Butter and Honey instead of Corn Syrup.  I also added Hemp Hearts and Chia Seeds for an extra health kick!


Taking a snack break on the trails in Waterton, Alberta

Taking a snack break on the trails in Waterton, Alberta

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Ways that Wanderlust will Break your Heart

Wanderlust makes us long for places we’ve never been, fall in love with people we’ve never met, feel connected to cultures we know nothing about, and lust after sights we haven’t yet seen.  If you consider yourself a victim of Wanderlust, Fernweh, The Travel Bug, or Itchy Feet, then you already know all of the ways that travel will fill your heart with unspeakable joy and gratitude.  But what about the way it makes you feel when you’re not actually traveling?  My guess is that you’ll be able to relate to all of these things.


Places I’d Rather Be – Ixtapa Island, Mexico

  1. You will inevitably, at some point, realize all of the shortcomings of your home country.  While no place is perfect, travel will make you fall in love with different places for different reasons, and you will see and experience things that you will never be able to experience at home.

Pretty sure places like this don't exist anywhere in Canada.

Pretty sure places like this don’t exist anywhere in Canada.

  2. “Settling Down” will no longer appeal to you.  Until you’re good and ready, getting married, buying a house, and having a couple of kids will seem like a really good way to destroy your hopes of ever living a nomadic lifestyle, unless you’re super creative like Caz and Craig from YTravelBlog.

Trading sunsets like these for a desk job?  No thank you.

Trading sunsets like these for a desk job? No thank you.

  3. You’ll develop favourite treats in the countries you visit, and when you wake up at 2am at home realizing that you can’t get your favourite Matcha Candies / Cendana Incense / Schnitzel Sandwich / Mango and Sticky Rice without traveling thousands of miles, you will be very, very sad.  

Nothing beats street food in Thailand.

Nothing beats street food in Thailand.

4. You will find yourself in a constant battle with your money.  Especially if you’ve traveled somewhere super cheap like Chiang Mai, paying $16 for a drink at the bar when you return home will send you into fits of fiery rage knowing that you could have instead used that money to fund an entire day of sightseeing in Thailand.

This little jungle hut in Koh Lanta, Thailand could be yours for about $25/night.

This little jungle hut in Koh Lanta, Thailand could be yours for about $25/night.

  5. You will never stop planning (or fantasizing about) new trips.  Once wanderlust is in you, it never leaves.  Chances are that you were planning your next adventure before your last one even ended.  

Trekking through the hills of Bali

Trekking through the hills of Bali

6. Certain songs, scents, foods and people will remind you of your favourite places around the globe.  This will either send you into a state of complete memorable bliss, or throw you into a downward spiral of nostalgia that ends with you sitting on your apartment floor sobbing into a box of takeout Pad Thai.  

Dancing in the Balinese Rain

Dancing in the Balinese Rain

7. ‘First World Problems’ are a real thing, and they will break your heart, especially after you first return from a developing country.  Nothing compares to seeing true poverty and suffering firsthand, and some travellers say that they have even felt angry for a while after returning to their privileged home country.  

One of the many street children in Havana, Cuba

One of the many street children in Havana, Cuba

8. When you find a place that you truly love, it will crawl under your skin and into your bones and you may find it difficult to find true peace in your heart until you return someday.  I can’t count how many nights I have spent looking through photos of my trip to Bali and feeling actual heartache.  

Magnificent Prague Castle, Czech Republic

Magnificent Prague Castle, Czech Republic

9. You will turn green with envy when your friends are traveling, and you are not.  Or maybe you’ll be happy for them, which is a nice thought.  This would make you a far better person than me.

Elephant Baths in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephant Baths in Chiang Mai, Thailand

  10. There may be times when you feel like you may never truly be happy where you are.  After witnessing so many wonders of the world, returning home to a landlocked city and a 9 to 5 routine will suck every ounce of your soul right out of you.  Even if you move to an exciting new place, the shine will eventually fade as you realize that there is so much left in this world to see.  Being happy in one place may seem impossible.  Some people may say that we always seem to be running from something, but as travellers we know that we are actually always running towards something.  

Tirta Empul, Ubud

Tirta Empul, Ubud

Wanderlusters are a different breed.  We sacrifice things like our free time, our money, our fashion sense, our comfort and our stability in exchange for an experience that makes us feel foreign, alive, uncomfortable, free, at home and out of place all at the same time.  We travel to learn, to love, to experience, and to immerse ourselves in the unknown.  We travel to tell stories, to share photos, to invoke the curiosity of our peers, and to awaken the curiosity of our own.  We travel to see, to touch, to feel.  We travel because we refuse to accept a life that is anything but extraordinary.

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Walk Away from What No Longer Serves You and Find Gratitude Instead

I grew up lucky.  I was born into a stable family in a safe, developed country with two loving parents who both worked to provide a comfortable life for me and my younger sister.  We lived in nice houses, drove decent cars, went on amazing vacations and created beautiful memories together.  I always had friends, I got good grades, I had many talents and I always felt loved.  My mother and father had a strong, loving relationship that seemed nearly perfect at times.  They did a commendable job at shielding me from many of the world’s harsh realities – from the terrors of war, poverty and corruption all the way down to the realities I would face when I left home to start my own life.


A Family Photo Taken on my 16th Birthday

Shortly after my 22nd Birthday, this beautiful family of mine suddenly fell apart into thousands of tiny, shattered, devastating pieces.  Everybody got hurt.  The months that followed were the darkest of my entire life.  Between watching my parents’ marriage end, discovering some heartbreaking facts about my family, dealing with intensely personal betrayal, trying to stay on my shaky legs financially, losing many beautiful friendships, dealing with deteriorating health and failing a major exam that prevented me from moving forward in my career, I was in rough shape.  I watched someone I love struggle through rehab twice, which unfortunately only worsened the addiction.  The only two things that remained constant in my life were my passion for adventure and travel, which served as a convenient distraction, and my relationship with Sean, who deserves more than I could ever possibly give him for supporting me through all of this.

My life was filled with so much toxicity – unhealthy habits, volatile relationships, upsetting experiences, abuse, unease and anxiety.  While I understood that most of these things are to be expected at some point as I made my way through “figuring it all out” in my early twenties, it was all too much, too fast, in a period of only a few turbulent months.  Things felt hopeless and scary.  I had been so proud of the life I had built for myself since setting out on my own, and to feel it all crumbling beneath my feet was terrifying.  To top it all off, I lost a major support system through the deterioration of my parents’ relationship, and I had never felt more alone.

I spent 5 weeks in the spring of 2014 traveling through Bali and Thailand with my boyfriend, in the midst of all that was happening.  Disconnecting for a month gave me a lot of time to sort through the rubble that was my current life situation, and while I can’t say that I “found myself” while I was traveling, or even that I came to any major revelations until a few months after I had returned to Canada, I can say that if it hadn’t been for that trip, I may have never dug myself out of the rut I was in.

While Cleansing in Tirta Empul in Bali, I was crying.  It was the first time I had truly surrendered control over the circumstances in my life.

While Cleansing in Tirta Empul in Bali, I started crying. It was the first time I had truly surrendered control over the circumstances in my life in a very long time.

I wanted to write about a few of the most helpful and effective ways that I have learned to walk away from the things that no longer serve me, and seek happiness and gratitude elsewhere.  While I’m sure not all of them will resonate with you, I truly hope that at least one does, because I know how scary it can be to feel like you are completely powerless over the events occurring in your life.

And I believe that we are powerless.  We have absolutely no control over anything that happens to us.  The only thing that we are able to control in this lifetime are the ways that we choose to react and feel when these crazy, beautiful, devastating, miraculous, scary things happen to us.  Here is what helps me to feel peace when things are out of control…


1. Learn to Enjoy your Own Company.

For the majority of my life, I have been terrified of being alone.  While I do enjoy my alone time, this generally consists of watching movies, going shopping, texting a friend, or participating in some other distracting activity.  But just spending time alone, with yourself, and getting to know who you are?  It sounds a little daunting, doesn’t it?  What do you even like to do?  What kinds of things do you like to occupy your thoughts with?  Who the heck are you?  While many of us may live 80 years and still be trying to figure out who we are, I do know that we can definitely learn to feel a lot more comfortable in our own skin if we spend some quality time with ourselves.  Shut your phone off and go for a walk or a drive.  Where will you end up?  Learning to enjoy your own company with no distractions is more difficult than you may think if you’ve never done it before, but I promise that it’s worth it.  YOU have to hang out with YOU for YOUR entire life, so YOU had might as well learn to like YOU.


2. Do something that makes you feel Fiercely Independent.

Proving to myself that I could research, plan, reserve, pay for and execute an entire 5 week adventure through Asia that included 4 different countries, 9 different flights, endless tours, buses, boats, activities and accommodations and a volunteer experience for myself and my boyfriend entirely on my own made me feel pretty freaking fantastic.  I also felt pretty proud of myself when I financed my own education, or when I successfully survived my first year living on my own without burning my entire apartment building down.  Even my first road trip from Kelowna to Calgary on my own felt like an accomplishment, especially since my old Dodge Neon didn’t explode on the Trans Canada Highway.  Whether it’s buying your first home or paying your own phone bill for the first time, it feels good to be self-sufficient.  Realizing that you don’t need to rely on other people to keep your head above water will not only make you want to dance around to Destiny’s Child “Independent Women” in your kitchen (or whatever men do when they feel accomplished?) but it will also teach you a lot about responsibility and growth.


3. Find Your Happy Place…

…and learn to go there in your mind when you can’t actually be there in person.  Hiking to a tranquil mountain lake or sitting in a meditation garden in Japan would definitely chill a person out, but when we’re knee deep in the muck of our everyday routine and the stress comes on, we can’t exactly drop everything and teleport to somewhere peaceful.  Train yourself to stop, clear your thoughts, focus on the sound of your own breath, and envision this place where you feel at peace.  Whether you do this for 5 seconds in the middle of a stressful work situation or for an entire hour before you fall asleep, I speak from experience when I say that it works wonders.  It won’t make the stressful situations go away, but it may help you to refocus before you make an impulsive decision like screaming at your boss, picking a fight with your wife, or having a full blown anxiety attack.


4. Set Boundaries in Challenging Relationships

While it is easy for some people to walk away from negative relationships, there are certain relationships which cannot ever be completely severed, even if they are challenging.  An example of this would be an ex-spouse with whom you share the custody of your children.  Because you still have to maintain communication with this less-than-desirable human, it is crucial to set boundaries for the sake of your own sanity.  Maybe you say that you only want to see this person on absolutely necessary occasions, whenever those may be, or maybe you ask that they only contact you if it is an emergency.  Whatever you decide, it is important to make the other person aware of your boundaries, and stick to them wholly so that they are able to take you seriously.


5. Learn To Say No

How many times have you agreed to a commitment, that you never really wanted to commit to in the first place, and then you spend the days leading up to said commitment dreading the event, which inevitably leads to either a last-minute cancellation (often including a white lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings), or a begrudging experience which feels like an unfulfilling waste of time?  Why is it so incredibly difficult for us to just say no?  I once asked a friend if she was interested in participating in an endurance race with me, and she simply replied that she would absolutely never, in a million years, want to do something like that.  It was hilarious, and I was so grateful for her honesty, because why would I even want to experience something like that, which I was really excited about, with someone who was totally dreading it?  Plus, I saw it as a sign of strength in our relationship because she wasn’t afraid of hurting my feelings (which weren’t hurt anyway).  Stop agreeing to do things that you don’t want to do, especially in your precious free time, and you’ll have all of these extra hours to fill with really awesome things that you actually want to do.


6. Walk Away From Shitty People

Pardon my french, but “negative people” or “unfulfilling relationships” didn’t quite have the same zest as downright, draining, soul-sucking, Shitty People.  It may be a person whose company you used to enjoy, or it may be someone who came into your life some other way, but if you find yourself constantly feeling like they are bringing you down, making you feel bad, stressing you out, or doing anything else that is less than being a positive, loving, inspiring, constructive part of your life, let them go.  There is no sense in dragging out tired relationships that no longer serve you, and chances are that it’s affecting the other person negatively, too, whether they realize it or not.  You are responsible for your own satisfaction in your relationships, whether romantic, professional, or friendship.  I once read a quote that went something like, “Before you diagnose yourself with Depression, first make sure that you are not just simply surrounded by assholes”.  I don’t think I need to say anything else about this.


Building a positive life that you are happy to live takes some serious work.  It sounds like something that should happen naturally, but in our wound-up, stressed out, overworked, sensory overload of a world, it can be ridiculously difficult to figure out what you even want your life to look like.  And, unfortunately, we sometimes go through really awful, painful things.  Life is a constant struggle, but instead of taking that as a negative thing, we have a beautiful opportunity to choose to learn from our challenges, mistakes and hard times.

Feel your pain.  Take time to feel sad.  Take time to mourn losses.  Take time to be upset.  But don’t unpack your belongings and live in that awful place forever.  You’re just passing through.  Find peace in the knowledge that every dark night has a dawn and every storm ends.  You will feel happy again.

Remember that life is a gift.  All we can take with us when we go are our memories, and all we can leave behind us is our legacy.  Be Kind To Each Other.  Be Kind To Yourselves.  Build A Beautiful Life.

xo – Ashley


Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

July 2014 Adventure Spotlight with Connie from The Adventures Of My Feet – London, England

This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”.  If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.
Connie and I came into contact while I was doing some travel research for my trip to Asia this past March, specifically Thailand.  I found her blog while searching for other writers who had visited the places that were on my itinerary.  She was so kind and helpful in answering all of my questions, and we easily became friends.  Visit her blog at to read all about her wanderings!


The Writer

Hi guys!  My name is Connie and I am somewhat of a Nomad…and very proud of that fact, I have travel in my heart and soul.

I wasn’t always this way, when I was a kid I hated anything involved with change, it was so bad I would even stop eating my favourite foods if the packaging changed!

Then one day when I was 13 my parents sold our home and moved us 60 miles away from everything I had ever known, this changed my way of thinking completely.

I guess I realised that sometimes you have no control over what changes in your life, no matter how much you fight it, it will happen anyway…so I decided to make changes I could control.

When I was 17 I moved out of my parents house and went my own way, 60 miles my own way.

I’ve lost count of how many houses and towns I’ve lived in since then but I still have the memories and they’re what matter. :)

That’s what travelling and adventures are all about, making memories that will forever make you smile.

I recently went on a big adventure to Thailand, which is where I started my blog – The Adventures Of My Feet – and I had the most amazing time! I’ve been back for 3 months now but I still don’t feel settled.  I couldn’t even tell you how many times I’ve almost booked a one-way ticket out of here.

I guess that’s what can be viewed as the bad side of Wanderlust; once you catch it you can never lose it.

I don’t feel truly happy unless I’m moving, whether that’s on a huge adventure or just a random car journey to some place I’ve never been before.

If a love of travel is my only problem in life, then I’m happy, the world has so much beauty to offer, it would be a shame to miss it.



London, England



London is such a beautiful city, the capital of England and my home town.

Being one of the most interesting and vibrant cities I have ever visited, it is hard not to fall in love. Unfortunately because this is my home town, I tend to take it for granted, so I have decided to write this blog to remind myself why I always end up coming back here to set up camp.

Hopefully I can encourage you to visit, while also temporarily stopping myself from leaving!


Top 5 experiences

London has so many amazing experiences to offer.  I’m sure you have all heard of the main tourist attractions, The London Eye, Big Ben, The London Dungeons…they are all well worth a visit but as they are so highly advertised I wanted to talk about some of my personal favourites that you may not have heard so much about.

So in no particular order here are my top 5 experiences in London;


1. Camden Town

For me Camden is one of the best places to visit in London. It’s a vibrant, buzzing, beautiful town full of eclectic shops and market stalls. I first came here when I was 18 and it instantly became my happy place. It is just a short tube ride from the centre of London, but it feels as though you are in a whole different world.

Whether you want expensive fancy restaurants and bars or cheap but very tasty street food, Camden is the place to go.

The main attraction is Camden Lock, a giant street market full of everything you could ever want and surrounded by a river which is great for relaxing.  You could go on a crazy shopping spree and fill your wardrobe with unique, one off fashions and be safe in the knowledge that you will look totally different from most people you meet back home.

If you wanted to make an evening of it there are nightclubs and bars dotted around the market too…I recommend Koko for a good night out.

Camden really is the heart of London’s creativity and, for a little added bonus…it’s just a short walk from London Zoo :)


2. Hamleys

Everyone that knows me will not be surprised to find this on my top 5 list….Hamleys is one of London’s biggest toy shops :)

Located on Oxford street, you can always pretend you were doing some ‘grown-up’ shopping and accidentally stumbled through the doors, or if you’re like me and don’t care who knows what a big kid you are you can just spend an entire day here.
Each floor is home to a different group of toys, preschool, girls, boys, cars etc., Hamleys has absolutely everything you could possibly want from a toyshop.

The staff are what really make it special though, as it is clear that each and every one of them love their job, and why wouldn’t they when they get to give toy demonstrations all day!  Of course if you come to London with children then they will love you that little bit more after a visit here.


3. Winter Wonderland

If you are lucky enough to visit London around Christmas time then you absolutely have to take a trip to Winter Wonderland!  Set up in Hyde Park every year is a giant festive heaven that any Elf would be proud to claim as their own.

If you are looking for last minute stocking fillers or cheeky little treats to reward all your hard work then the market stalls here will be paradise.  For the adrenaline junky (or child) inside you there are plenty of amusement rides to test out, including a mini version of the London Eye.

The adults among your group can enjoy that warm, cosy Christmassy feeling from drinking mulled, spiced ciders and enjoying other little treats. Of course with every great market come even greater food stalls, you can get everything from doughnuts to weird and wonderful meats from around the world…last year I tried an Ostrich burger!

You can spend an hour or two gliding around the ice rink, or if you’re anything like me you will spend most of your time picking yourself up from the floor of the ice rink!

There’s plenty for the kids too, you can meet Santa, win lots of goodies on the game stalls and visit the circus tent which is home to the famous Zippo’s Circus.

I love Christmas so this is the perfect place for me, but even the Grinch would find it difficult to be miserable here!


4. Royal Observatory Greenwich

If you are a star gazing geek like me then you cannot miss a trip to the Royal Observatory. There are so many amazing things to see and to learn at London’s only Planetarium.  The views from the outside are breathtaking and throughout the day they put on a ‘sky at night’ experience that will give you goosebumps.  This is a great one for the kids too as they can learn so much with all the exhibitions and it really captures your imagination…the best part is it’s FREE to enter! :)

5. Exploring what London has to offer

If you are on a tight budget then I suggest spending a day exploring with your camera. There is so much to see and so many things that you can attend for free, too. London is full of museums, art galleries, beautiful parks and scenery. My favourite museum is the Natural History Museum, full of dinosaurs and other fascinating things.

If it’s a picnic in the park you fancy then I would recommend Green Park as it is huge so there is lots of space to find the perfect spot and the whole park is stunning.  The amount of street artists and buskers on London streets is a bit overwhelming at times but on the plus side, you can have a free concert in the tube station!

I could sit here and recommend things for you to do all day long but the best thing to do is just go and get lost in the wonder of it all. With one of the biggest transport systems I’ve ever seen, you won’t be lost for long.


Something I wish I had known

London is one of the most expensive cities I have visited and the first few times I ventured into the heart of the tourist area I spent far too much money. I have since figured out a few tips for saving money and still having the same amount of fun…


Oyster cards

If you visit London more than once then I suggest investing in an Oyster card, not very expensive to buy and it cuts the cost of transport in London…also as of the 6th of July London buses will not accept cash so an Oyster is almost a necessity.

Travel Cards

If only visiting once then buy an all zones travel card from the station instead of paying separately.  This allows you on buses, trams, trains and tubes all day long, all over London and costs under £10.


A lot of places are just as easily accessible by foot and walking is much cheaper and better for you. So if you aren’t in a rush then walk in between tubes or trains, you will get to see more sights this way and may even stumble upon a hidden gem.

Obviously grab yourself a map from the station so you don’t get too lost and avoid walking alone at night as it may not be very safe.


Most of the year you will find a 2for1 booklet at all train stations in and around London. This little beauty gives you amazing discounts at top London attractions, bars and restaurants, all you need is a pen and a valid train ticket.

Kids travel for £1

If you happen to be travelling into London from another English city/town then most of the time you will find that kids can travel to and from London for just £1…amazing right!?

Museums and Art Galleries

As I already mentioned in my top 5 experiences you can gain access to most museums and art galleries absolutely free and they make for a fantastic day out!


Best piece of advice

My advice for visiting London is this…Be patient, be aware, be open-minded and BE HAPPY.

London is one of the most multicultural cities in England, it’s as if you have a whole world in 1 city and it’s the main reason I love it so much. You can walk down the street and have every kind of food available and see so many different faces.

It does, however, mean that London is one of the busiest cities in England also.

Central London is a constant wall of human and mechanical traffic so just be patient with everyone and everything, take this time to appreciate all the people and things you will see throughout the day.

To go along with London’s bustly vibe comes a little bit of danger. As beautiful as the city is you must always be aware and keep an eye on your belongings and remember that there are hundreds of tourists here so it’s a bit of a pickpocket heaven…don’t let that scare you though,  just keep it in mind when travelling.

You will see many different and strange sights here so come with an open mind and just chalk everything up as a great experience.

Sadly there can be quite a few miserable people in London, especially the office commuters (booooo) so to combat their negativity I would suggest to just be extra happy and as polite as you can be, smile at strangers, say please and thank you – you may not get these same courtesies returned but I can promise you will feel better and you never know – you may just brighten up someone’s day :)


Well that’s my view of London, I hope I made it sound as wonderful as it feels to me.

I can definitely say that writing this has renewed my excitement for my home and I’m actually sitting here now itching to get on a train and spend a day wandering the streets, witnessing the beauty, breathing in the smells and letting the sounds dance through my ears…maybe I will meet one of you somewhere along my journey.


Thanks for sharing, Connie!  It is always nice to hear about such an amazing destination from a local.

Have you ever been to London?  What were your experiences like?

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camping in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

Dinosaur Provincial Park was originally recommended to me by a client.  She and her family have been camping in the park for years and she was ranting and raving so much about it that I felt like it was something I had to check out.  When people in Alberta hear anything about Dinosaurs, they generally assume that they’ll be heading to Drumheller, where the Royal Tyrrell Museum is located.  Dinosaur Provincial Park is actually about a 175km (2.5 hour) drive away from Drumheller, so it is important to note that the two are not one in the same.  Dinosaur Provincial Park is located just outside of Brooks, AB, along the Red Deer River.  If you’re driving in from Calgary, you won’t believe your eyes as what seems like endless prairie farmland suddenly descends into a valley of vast Badlands.  It felt pretty surreal for me as we were driving in because I had never seen Badlands before.


The Badlands

The Campground itself is quite large, with 29 unserviced sites, 95 powered sites, and 7 “comfort camping” sites (read more about comfort camping here).  There is a main building with a few necessities available for purchase as well as fast food, flush toilets and coin-operated showers.  Each campsite comes complete with a large picnic table and fire pit, and there are lots of large trees, although not a ton of privacy.  We were lucky to be staying in the park on a Sunday night, which meant that there were not very many people in the campground.  It was nice and quiet aside from the wide variety of sounds from the creatures including more birds than I could possibly count, squirrels and coyotes.  It is important to note that Dinosaur Provincial Park is also home to Rattlesnakes and Scorpions, although we didn’t see any while we were there.


Our Campsite where we comfortable fit two tents and a Hammock



Happiness Is…


Dinosaur was probably the cleanest and most immaculately maintained campground I have ever stayed at.  The garbage bins were emptied frequently, the outhouses were borderline fancy (for outhouses) and clean, and the grounds themselves were well cared for.  We were all very impressed and completely content with our stay in the park.  The facilities are endless – including an amphitheatre, several cook shelters, laundry, a playground, interpretive hikes (apparently guided hikes are available too) and a gift shop.

We arrived early in the day so we could spend the afternoon exploring the surrounding badlands and hiking trails.  There are a variety of trails that range anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, and all are quite easy.  The interpretive trail that leads to the fossil digs can also be accessed by car if necessary.





Amazing Formations


What a View!




Watch Out for Prickly Pear!

Less than a 3 hour drive from Calgary and less than an hour from Brooks, Dinosaur Provincial Park is a perfect weekend camping destination for singles, couples, families and seniors alike.  It may be a bit much for a day trip from Calgary with 6 hours of return drive time, but only because you’ll want to spend at least 2 or 3 solid hours in the park itself.  A day trip is not impossible, though.  We had such a wonderful time in the park…it is definitely somewhere that we will return to soon!


Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hiking East End of Rundle (EEOR) – Mount Rundle, Canmore, Alberta, Canada

I first heard about the “East End of Rundle” (EEOR) trail on one of my favourite websites,  If you haven’t checked that site out, and you’re interested in doing some hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing or paddling in North America, I strongly suggest it.  It is a fantastic resource.

Sean and I wanted to hike, but because it was the first of the season and we were potentially expecting rain, we didn’t want to take on a big, bad hike like Ha Ling Peak or Mount Yamnuska.  EEOR sounded like a decent choice, so we drove through a rainstorm out to Canmore on a Monday morning.

Our Roadside Friend

Our Roadside Friend

The access point for the EEOR trail is at the Goat Creek parking lot, just past the Canmore Nordic Centre.  This parking lot serves Ha Ling Peak, Goat Creek, and EEOR.  The trail begins just beside the pullout to the left of the parking lot…you really have to look for it to be able to see it.

Access Point to the Left of the Road

Access Point to the Left of the Road

The second you get on the trail, it is pretty vertical.  You’re going straight up essentially the entire way, there are no gentle uphills or maintained trails.  Prepare for scrambling on loose stones, dirt, and rock faces.  My hands got a little scraped up from grabbing onto sharp, jagged rocks for support.  Hiking boots are a must.  It would be so easy to roll your ankle on a trail like this.

The trail itself is not maintained, so it is very difficult to follow.  We soon came to the conclusion that there are about 30 different ways to ascend the mountain.  We found it helpful to look for yellow ribbons tied to the trees every few hundred metres, which confirmed that we were going the right way.  Try to stay on the trail if you attempt this climb, because it can get confusing and even more difficult very quickly if you wander off.

The View from The Climb

The View from The Climb

Sean Ascending

Sean Ascending

The View of Ha Ling Peak from the Trail

The View of Ha Ling Peak from the Trail


The entire climb to the summit would probably take a little over 2 hours depending on how quickly you were moving.  After an hour of climbing, we reached the plateau where you can very easily see the summit, and the weather began to turn.  We saw some pretty ominous clouds rolling in, and the snow began to fly.  While I was bummed that we couldn’t make it to the summit, I definitely felt satisfied with the amount of climbing we had done.  About 10 minutes later, as we were descending, we were very, very grateful that we chose to turn back when we did.  Little ice pellets were whipping at our faces, and we both got slightly windburned.  The wind up there does not mess around…be careful if you’re out on a windy day.  Any type of rain or snow will also obviously make for difficult climbing…wet rocks on the descend had us both falling down.

A Tad Windy

A Tad Windy

View of the Summit from the Plateau - Where we decided to turn back

View of the Summit from the Plateau – Where we decided to turn back

The descent is just as challenging as the ascent…again, it is very steep, and you will be climbing down rock faces backwards.  I was in an older pair of boots that I now realize are a bit too small for me, and that made for an excruciating descent.

The Verdict: EEOR was a challenging, mildly confusing scramble.  If you’re looking for a well maintained trail, this mountain is not for you.  If you want a challenging scramble and the opportunity to blaze your own trail, and you don’t mind sliding around on rocks, then you will probably enjoy EEOR.

Pros: Not many people, great workout, stunning views

Cons: Trail not maintained and hard to follow


Have you climbed the EEOR trail?  What was your experience like?

Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

June 2014 Adventure Spotlight – Everywhere With Care – Dublin, Ireland

This post is part of an ongoing monthly column called “Adventure Spotlight”.  If you’re interested in writing for ATA, click here.
I stumbled across Care’s blog while doing my own travel research for one of my dream destinations, Ireland.  I reached out to her about being an Adventure Spotlight contributor, and was thrilled when she agreed!  Give her blog a peek at and follow her adventures through Europe.
The Writer:
Hey, I’m Care!  Travel has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I am a nearly constant victim of wanderlust.  I am always planning my next adventure or researching a new far away place.  While in a new place, I love the highlights, but also like to live the local life. I talk to new people, take public transport, and ask lots of questions.  I have been to 32 states and 11 countries.  I am currently in the middle of a seven week tour of Europe where I will visit 16 countries. Some are repeats so by mid July I will have been to 23 countries total.  After my trip, my next adventure is teaching English in Cusco, Peru and experiencing all that South America had to offer.  My blog, Everywhere With Care, is an ode to travel and new experiences.  It’s honest, uncensored, and packed with ridiculous stories.  I always do my best to make you feel like you were there too.  I gave it it’s name because I truly want to go everywhere and see everything.  No place is too large, too small or too far away.  No matter what, I am always looking to learn something new while casually finding beauty or humor in just about everything.
The Destination:
Dublin, Ireland
Honestly, I chose Ireland just because it was convenient and I had never seen it.  It tempted me with it’s tales of rich culture and drunken revelers.  I knew very little about it, but knew I had nothing to lose and I couldn’t be happier that I chose to go.
Top 5 Experiences:
1. Jameson and Guinness tours.
When in Ireland, learn about their alcohol.  They know what they’re taking about.  Making whiskey and beer truly is an art.  The allure of most modern art may be lost on me, but not the art of making alcohol.  I started off at the Guinness factory.  You can’t ever judge a book by it’s cover.  The factory is in huge dark buildings and looks old, then you step inside and it’s a whole new world of seven levels and a stunning bar. In the factory you embark on a self guided tour to learn about everything from collecting the ingredients to the advertising over the years.  You can also learn how to properly pour a beer from a tap and have a delicious Guinness-infused beer at one of the restaurants.  Finally, you get to enjoy your free pint at top of the building at the world-famous gravity bar.  The bar is nearly 360 degrees of glass and you can see all of Dublin.  It’s incredible and a must-see even if you hate beer (just don’t tell the Irish).
Jameson was equally excellent.  The entrance is decorated like a trendy coffee shop/bar.  At the start of the tour, they have you watch the cheesiest video of all time about the origination of the factory.  Then you proceed on a guided tour.  The whole process is extremely detailed and the distillery presents it well. Then comes everyone’s favorite part, the tasting.  Three men and three women get chosen to taste so be ready to get selected.  Each taster tried various whiskies to compare to Jameson.  Then everyone gets some straight Jameson or a mixed drink with ginger ale and lime.  I had the mixed drink and it was delicious! All in all, Dublin knows how to show off its craft.
2. St. Patrick’s Cathedral 
I know that if you’ve been to Europe, you’ve been to a million churches and cathedrals, however, Dublin’s St. Patricks cathedral is worth the visit. The stained glass windows are stunning and they have many stories along with them. My favorite part of the church is the floor tiles. They’re so beautiful and have the most amazing colors and patterns.  I often found myself forgetting to look up. Plus it was partially financed by some breweries so cheers to the church!
3. Howth
Howth is a small Irish beach town just a short train ride outside the city. This was my “off the beaten path” destination. I got on the train with a friend and journeyed out for about 30 minutes to Howth. We got off at the harbor and were floored by the beautiful cliffs and views that Howth had to offer. There is something so gorgeous about the cold water hitting the lush cliffs. The town really has something for everyone from hiking through charming neighbourhoods and stunning greenery to delicious seafood restaurants up and down the streets.  The brave can even enjoy kayaking and other water sports.  The people are extremely friendly and helpful. We spent the whole day getting wrapped up in this amazing city and I loved every minute of it.
4. Getting lost wandering the streets of Dublin
I think you can only truly appreciate a city once you’ve been lost in it.  I love to just stop caring about where I’m going and focus on the sights. While wandering Dublin, I got hopelessly lost and really enjoyed it. It was the first day I got there and I knew nothing about the city so I just decided to wander. I found the most beautiful neighbourhoods and got some sort of taste for the city outside the touristy areas.  I highly recommend wandering in any city. When you get outside the tourist area, you’re bound to find something unique to enjoy.
5. Temple Bar
There’s a reason Temple Bar is famous. It’s because it’s one of the best places to go out in the world. Though it closes earlier than you’d think, it’s worth starting your night early so you get the full experience.  My friend and I went on a Wednesday and had an amazing time. Despite it being mid week, there was a live band at Temple Bar and tons of locals as well as tourists out to have a good time.  The band was great and we enjoyed some large beers and loud singing.  Yes it was a major tourist stop, but it was one that locals and tourists alike enjoy.  While there, I recommend enjoying a Guinness because when in Ireland, do as the Irish do. If you’re not a dark beer person, go for a Carlsberg.  Also, instead of cheers, the Irish say  slàinte (pronounced slon-cha) so feel free to impress the public and make some new friends with a friendly raising of your glass.
Something I wish I’d Known:
The city and nightlife closes earlier than you’d think.  In a country so famous for drinking, I expected to be enjoying a brew until the early hours of the morning.  Unfortunately, the bars close as early as midnight on the weekdays and 2 am on the weekends.  My previous experience with Europe has included much later nightlife.  You also can’t get food after ten.  Thanks to jetlag, I was searching for dinner at ten and ended up having to eat at basically the equivalent of a 7-11.  No offense to 7-11, the pizza was actually decent but this was definitely not my Ireland eatery of choice. The nightlife is great so start early.
Best Piece of Advice:
Be a traveler, not a tourist.  This applies to all destinations as well.  The best part of traveling is learning about an entirely new group of people.  See the big sights but make your own path and collect some great stories.  Seeing Howth and wandering Dublin’s small neighborhoods were my favorite parts of my visit.  Dublin itself was even a bit off the beaten path because most people miss out on it by flying straight to London.  Above all, be accepting.  The point of travel is to immerse yourself in new cultures.  Welcome everything because all too soon you’ll be back to reality.
Thanks for sharing, Care!!  It was so awesome to read about your experiences!


Posted in My Adventures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment