Road-tripping from Colorado to Washington…and back again

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As I mentioned in my previous post, our Christmas in Washington was awesome!
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On our drive up to Washington, we decided to take a different route than the one that we took when we first arrived in Colorado. We thought that it was too much of a risk to drive through Montana and northern Idaho with the snowy weather and mountain passes. So this time around we drove north in to Wyoming, then west into Utah, then into Idaho and Oregon and finally crossing north in to Washington.

It was a long 2 day drive, but the views were absolutely incredible!
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We’ve both decided that even from the small part of Utah that we got to see, that it looks like a beautiful state and we wouldn’t mind moving there! We also stopped in Boise Idaho for a short while and decided that it looked like a cool city with a beautiful backdrop of foothills.
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Below are some photos that we took during our road trip.

I hope you enjoy them 🙂
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A Day Trip To Vail

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Last week, I was feeling pretty down about the job hunt so myself and Jason decided to take a day trip to Vail, CO. So I’m sure most of you have heard of Vail before but if not then it’s a big ski resort in the mountains about an hour and a half away from Denver.
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The drive to Vail is absolutely beautiful, we passed some other smaller ski resorts such as Brekenridge and the scenery was just breathtaking!
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Once we arrived we found a parking lot (which was shockingly expensive, $20 for 2 hours parking!)

We got Willy and walked around the town.
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It’s an absolutely beautiful town, it’s so clean with beautiful German inspired buildings everywhere.
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There was a beautiful skating rink and small local stores everywhere.

It was such a great way to spend a day and it has made me so excited for the thousands of other small towns in the mountains that myself and Jason have yet to explore!
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The place that I want to go the most is Telluride. They have an awesome Bluegrass festival in the summer and unfortunately the tickets went on release last Friday and are almost sold out (being unemployed makes it impossible to afford it right now) But I’m sure that this time next year I’ll be more than prepared to get some tickets!

How about you? What’s your favorite Colorado town?
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Remembering An Australian Roadtrip

1930182_1167379596140_5000781_nThere are some adventures that I took when I was younger that I would love to take again now. I have become a completely different person that travels with a different purpose than I had back then. Before, I absolutely hated hiking, thanks to mountainous Korea, now I love it. Before I loved to party…these days sitting somewhere in the serene nature is absolutely perfect for me.

Australia is one of those countries that I feel would be much more special for me at this stage of my life than it was 6 years ago. Australia is a beautiful country. Although I don’t think that I truly appreciated its beauty when I spent 6 weeks travelling the East coast.

There were many reasons for this:

1. Despite popular belief…It gets cold in Australia.1930182_1167379196130_3490687_n

We arrived in to Melbourne near the end of August. It was cold…like a winters day in Ireland. Nobody had ever let me in on this awful secret that the Aussies keep. Australia gets bloody cold!

Myself and my friend Louise only had one pair of jeans each and one hoodie.  We were also staying in an awful hostel that was freezing inside!1930182_1150791941459_3003379_n

Our first few nights camping were also freezing.1930182_1167380236156_4988317_n

If I ever have a chance to get back to Australia, I’ll definitely pack more appropriate clothing.

2. Australia is expensive!

One of the hardest things to get used to was the difference in the cost of living between South East Asia and Australia.

We went from having delicious food in restaurants every day and staying in nice clean private rooms to having to cook every night and spend more on one bed in a big dorm room that we did on an entire room in Asia.

Next time I get to Australia, I’ll make sure to treat it as a destination in itself.

3. The final reason that Australia was tough was because we were camping.

We rented a car and a tent for our roadtrip. I think Grainne today would appreciate it so much more than 24 year old Grainne did. It was incredibly isolating and after travelling together for over 3 months my relationship with Louise was getting a bit tense (our relationship is better than ever now!).

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But having said all of that I still had a wonderful time and some beautiful memories. I can’t wait to go back at some stage in my life!

Is there anywhere that you have been to that you would love to go back to at a different stage in your life?

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Exploring the Causeway Coastal Route

Ireland summer 2012 365I can’t believe that I haven’t written more posts about Ireland!

I feel incredibly lucky to be able to call myself Irish and to have grown up in Ireland. Jason has had the privilege of visiting Ireland three times. His first trip to Ireland was so busy. I wanted him to see as much of the country as possible so we were being massive tourists!Ireland summer 2012 423

One of the places that we went to was Northern Ireland. I’m quite embarrassed to say that I had never ventured up to Northern Ireland until 2011, when my sister moved to Belfast. I have been to visit her twice now and I can honestly say that if I ever move back to Ireland Belfast would be a strong contender as the place that I’d live. It is a beautiful city with low crime and beautiful buildings (But I’ll talk about that in another post).Ireland summer 2012 342

Another amazing thing about Belfast is that it is the beginning of the Causeway Coastal Route, a beautiful drive up to the Giants Causeway. My sisters boyfriend had a day off while we were visiting so myself, Jason and Neil jumped in to the car and headed north.Ireland summer 2012 375

Our first stop of the day was at Carrickfergus castle.Ireland summer 2012 358

It’s a beautifully maintained castle that is based on the sea. It was quite gloomy when we arrived but that just added to the atmosphere.Ireland summer 2012 351

Afterwards, we drove along the coast, stopping to watch a seal on some rocks and for some lunch at a pub.Ireland summer 2012 374

Our next stop was at the Carrick-a-Reid rope bridge.Ireland summer 2012 432

The views around this area are absolutely breathtaking. It is the Ireland that people dream about. The clouds cleared and the sun shone bright for us while we were here.Ireland summer 2012 403

The water is so clear and it makes you want to just jump in.Ireland summer 2012 413

Ireland summer 2012 404Once we had taken in the views and crossed the bridge, we were off for the final, and most famous stop of the day, the Giants Causeway.Ireland summer 2012 457

The Giants Causeway is named so because Irish folklore tells us that the the giant, Fionn McCumhaill had to cross the sea from Northern Ireland to Scotland to try to fight another giant. The columns that you now see are supposed to be the remains from a causeway that he made to cross the sea. Hence the name The Giant’s Causeway. Ireland summer 2012 439

The Giants Causeway itself is unbelievably beautiful and definitely deserves the attention that it gets.Ireland summer 2012 451

We had an incredible time on this day trip and I’d highly recommend adding Northern Ireland and the Giants Causeway to your Irish itinerary.Ireland summer 2012 466

How to get there: From Dublin, there are plenty of trains, leaving almost hourly. You can also drive there, which takes about two hours. There are plenty of Giants Causeway tours available in Belfast if you don’t have a car to get there.Ireland summer 2012 395Ireland summer 2012 371

Daytrip to Damyang Bamboo Forest

IMG_7516Recently we’ve been on holidays from school so myself, Jason and our friend Ian decided to take a road trip. We were trying to decided where to go as the typical winter destinations are all up north (where the snow falls) which was too far to go just on a day trip.

A couple of months ago I had made a list of all of the places that I’ve wanted to visit before we leave Korea (It’s a loooong list!) After looking through it we decided that most places were best if visited during Spring or Summer except for the Damyang Bamboo Forest.

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Damyang is a small city in the East coast province of Jeollanam-do. It took us about three hours to get there. When we were nearly there Jason had realized that about halfway through he had gotten out to take off his coat and he had left his wallet on the roof! We all thought this was the day ruined but by some miracle the wallet had actually gotten stuck on the spoiler and was sitting there when we looked!

Once we arrived we spent a short time at the Bamboo museum (we didn’t go inside). In the back of the museum there is a small bamboo forest (we had a fear that it may have been what we had come to see, luckily it wasn’t!)IMG_7511

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Enjoying the playground at the museum (a bamboo see-saw)

 

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A beautiful pond in the back area of the museum.

 

Afterwards we headed to the actual bamboo forest and had a delicious lunch before venturing in.

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So many sides!!!!
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Our main food; delicious marinated pork!

 

Korea can be quite strange when it comes to dogs. They weren’t too happy about Willy going in to the forest (leashed up!) and made us promise that we would keep him in our arms for the entire time. Of course we didn’t but we kept him on a tight leash. (it is a forest after all!)

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My sweet little family.

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Unfortunately while we were eating our delicious lunch the sun went away and it became quite cloudy. But it was a beautiful forest even if it was impossible to get a good photo! There were quite a few paths to take so we managed to get away from the crowds.

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After visiting the forest we took a walk along the river nearby. For some reason it felt like I was walking by the river near my home in Ireland. Maybe it was the gloomy weather or how quiet and peaceful it was but it was a nice feeling.

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We were all wrecked after our day and we still had the three hour drive home to do so we decided to go home. After leaving we noticed an area that had some restaurants and coffee shops and decided to grab a coffee before leaving. Luckily for us it was actually the area where the Metasequoia Road is.

Metasequoia Road is a road that has been used in many Korean movies and dramas. It is a beautiful path that has Metasequoia trees for as far as the eye can see. Even though they were bare at this time of the year it was still beautiful! I can’t imagine how beautiful it is during Summer or Autumn.

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After our brief detour to Metasequoia Road it was finally time to go home.

Damyang is a beautiful area that definitely has a lot of things for people to do. If you plan on making a weekend trip out of it then I would reccommend adding the Boseong green tea fields also as they are only about an hours drive away.

Here are some more photos from our time in Damyang:

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2014 The Best Parts

2014 was a great year for myself and Jason! Here are a few of the memories that stick out in my head:
We got to go to Ireland twice in one year! 
This was so wonderful for me. Since we’ll be moving to America next year I know that I won’t be able to visit my family as often as I have while in Korea. The first trip was taken a couple of days after Christmas and happened because my sister won a free return flight to Ireland for me in a competition! Myself and Jason were just newly engaged (on Christmas day last year) and kept it a secret until we arrived in to Cork airport. It was so nice to be home in Ireland during the winter (although I forgot how dark it gets) and we spent our entire time drinking champagne and celebrating with the people that I love most!
I got to bring my nieces and nephews to the panto.
I love Ireland so much!

We got a car and were able to take some fun road trips.

 

Right before Willys surgeries we realised that we would need a car since the surgeon was located in Haeundae in Busan which is about an hour and a half away from us. Having the car allowed us the freedom to take trips and not worry about if Willy will be allowed on the bus or having to find a sitter for him. Now he gets to come on all of our adventures with us!
Jason and Willy on one of our adventures!
The beauty! As you can see Willy loves
to chill in it.

 

Our puppy had a surgery to help him take adventures again.

 

When we rescued Willy his front paws turned inwards. This didn’t cause him any pain in the beginning but we gradually started to notice that he couldn’t walk for long distances. It got to its worst point when I brought him for a hike and he just layed down after about 15 minutes and couldn’t go on. Since then we found a specialist orthopedic surgeon who managed to remove Willys joints completely (they were what was causing the problem) and replace them with some of his stem cells, cow bone and blood. Amazingly his body grew new bones where his joints were and he can now do everything that every other dog can do.
This was Willy in the vets office after his second surgery.
His first walk after being stuck in doors for about 6 months!

We got married!

 

What can I say, it was an incredible day and a day that we won’t forget for a long time to come. To read about our wedding day click here!
Happy, happy, happy!

 We signed our last contracts in Korea.

 

In September we signed our final contracts in Korea (we hope!) So that means that as of the end of August our time here in Korea will come to an end. We are both excited about what new adventures America will have in store for us.

 We became debt free.

 

This actually only happened at the beginning of December. It was such a great feeling to pay off our final debt and know that when we move to America, whatever money we have will be ours! I cut up my Irish credit card also. We have both learned to live modestly while here in Korea and are hoping to bring that lifestyle with us to America. Which means no more loans unless it’s for a house!
We bought a bottle of champagne to celebrate becoming debt free.
I hope you all had a great 2014 and an even better 2015! Merry Christmas everyone!
I got to see this lovely lady twice in one year!
Willy is back to hiking like a pro!
Just after arriving in Ireland and surprising
my family with our engagement!

Beautiful Baenaegol

Last weekend our friend Derek invited us on a little road trip around Yangsang countryside with him and his girlfriend. With the weather being so beautiful we could hardly refuse. So we set off for an eye-opening day.

The drive to Yangsan itself was quite frustrating as we were stuck in traffic on the highway…not the best way to spend a Saturday. But once we met up with Derek we quickly got off of the busy roads and in to the countryside. I have to say that this area was probably the most beautiful area that I’ve been to in Korea!

Our first stop was at Gayajinsa which is a beautiful temple area along the Nakdong river. There were quite a few people cycling on the beautiful bicycle path along the river there. We went to meet Dereks two friends who had found a beautiful secluded little sandy beach area along the river. We spent some time just relaxing there and chatting before moving on to our next spot.

The beautiful Nakdong river.
Myself and Jason enjoying the beautiful sun!
Amy testing out the traditional swing at Gayajin

After leaving the beautiful riverside behind it was time to head to Baenaegol. Baenaegol is a beautiful valley surrounded by mountains on either side. It is filled with apple orchards, temples and pensions (Korean B&B’s) It’s a hugely popular place for Koreans to go during the summertime as it stays a bit cooler there than in other place in Korea and well it’s absolutely beautiful there!

We had to drive over some beautiful mountain passes there and myself and Jason were both in awe at how beautiful the area was and how we had never even known about it before today!
After driving for a while we decided to stop off for lunch at a small family owned restaurant. We ordered some Samgyetang (Korean chicken soup). We were told that it would take about an hour to prepare but luckily for us they were situated right on a beautiful river so we were able to relax on the river bank while waiting.
It was the perfect day!

The river beside the restaurant
Jason and Willy walking along the beautiful river
Derek and Amy
A man and his dog.
I’m so lucky to have married him!
Me and Wil…

We enjoyed the peacefulness of Baenaegol so much that we decided to try and book in to a Pension next March with some friends to celebrate Jason’s 30th. So without a doubt we’ll definitely be back to this little slice of Korean heaven!

Enjoying the sunshine.
We got to witness this beautiful sunset on our way home.

Korean road trip!

Buddhas on our road trip.

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to have a 4 day weekend here in Korea as the Monday was Childrens day and the Tuesday was Buddhas birthday. Also the Thursday before was a day off too because it was Labour day. That Thursday myself, Jason and our friend Ian went in to Busan to make a Costco trip. Costco is this amazing American wholesale store that sells many foreign products that you can’t find anywhere else in Korea. We stocked up for the road trip that we’d be taking for the long weekend.

We didn’t really have any plan as to where to go, all we knew was that we would drive up along the East coast, find a nice beach and set up camp. We had decided to wait until Sunday because no doubt the roads would be crazy busy on the Saturday. We were right, they were crazy busy, but they weren’t much better on Sunday either. We ended up in a huge traffic jam all the way up to Ulsan. From Ulsan we decided to take the coastal route and look out for some nice beaches. I have to admit that we were a bit disappointed at the beginning. Every beach that we saw was littered and if they weren’t littered then there were a ton of people already camping there…not our idea of fun camping!

Myself and Willy in the car. (Willy’s not a fan of selfies)

We had been driving for about three hours when we finally came across a beach that looked quite nice. We got out for a closer look and found that it didn’t have too much litter on it and there were only about 6 or 7 other tents pitched on it.

The beach that we chose.

We unloaded our stuff and set our tent up away from the other campers. Also I must add that Willy was with us too. This was only his second time on a beach and would be his first time camping! After we were all set up we decided to take a walk along the beach.

Jason preparing the campsite.
All done! (Willy’s chilling in the background)
Taking a walk.
The beach. (maybe Najeong beach…near Gampo anyway)
Jason skimming stones, Willy scavenging for food.

Once we got back we cooked some dinner and were having a nice relaxing time when all of a sudden a huge family comes along and props their tent up right next to us! We were quite pissed about this as they were really loud, so made the decision to pick up and move everything to a spot further down the beach away from everyone else…best decision ever! We spent the rest of the evening just relaxing and drinking some beer (Jason) and cider (me).

Jason cooking burgers.
There were a few patrols along the beach while we were there.
Getting settled in.

Later in the night it started getting windy so we decided to get in to the tent. Willy was a little scared at this point as the wind was blowing our tent and there were people up along the beach setting off fireworks but he managed to get in to my sleeping bag and cuddle up with my feet and was content staying there for the night.

Willy and Jason in the tent, Willy was a little scared at this point.
Before he found the loveliness of the inside of my sleeping bag.

After a restless sleep we woke up at about 6am. I opened the tent to let Willy out to do his business. It was so nice being able to trust him off leash. A year ago we could never have done that but now he knows to never go too far from us.

Willy on the beach bright and early.

Unfortunately that morning the wind was still pretty bad and started blowing our tent down completely, and broke one of the rods in the process. We were tired and frustrated at this point so we packed everything up and put it back in the car, then bought some snacks and enjoyed some alcoholic beverages on the beach at about 9am.

We then decided to make the trip back home stopping for some delicious duck and some photos at a beautiful temple along the way.

The beautiful temple near the beach that we stayed at.
It also had this huge gold Buddha statue.

It was an amazing weekend and definitely one to remember! We are already planning our next camping trip 🙂

The epic drive from Leh to Manali.

This journey is something that I’ve read about many times before doing it. If you ever google the top ten drives in the world this is usually up there. The thing that makes it exciting is that the road between these two places is closed for about 9 months of the year because it’s completely covered in snow. It is only open during the summer months so it suited us perfectly. We knew that it would be tough ride but also one to remember. It’s a crazy road that passes over numerous mountain passes one higher than the next. Luckily for us we choose to drive back to Manali instead of driving to Leh as people can get pretty bad altitude sickness while climbing the high mountains getting to Leh. I think our time in Nepal helped us out a lot too.

Anyway this drive goes through the Himalayas and is truely beautiful. We left our guesthouse at about 10 p.m. to meet what we though was a jeep. Unfortunately the jeep got cancelled and we ended up having to drive in a minibus with a very obnoxious couple in front of us that insisted on pushing their seats fully back which left us with NO space whatsoever. I’m not going to lie, I plotted their deaths a couple of times during the trip. As we began in the dark we didn’t really see much for the first couple of hours, this was when we were driving over the mountain passes. I also didn’t get much sleep that night so I got to witness the sun rise. By the time the sun rose we were driving along vast open areas with a couple of yurts here and there. We stopped at one for breakfast and got to take in the views and then were off again (I was way too tired to take photos unfortunately).

After another while the scenery turned to a very desert landscape with beautiful rock formations and sand cliffs. Unfortunately I couldn’t get many photos from this raod trip so my memories are all that will suffice. After another while we began to go into vast green spaces with fields everywhere. This was where we stopped for dinner and once again were off. As the sun was setting we climbed another mountain and were on the final frontier towards Manali. The other side of this mountain pass is where many Indian tourists go to for a day trip and it’s where many of them get to see snow for the first time. While driving there we got to witness a few familys having snow ball fights. The way down from that mountian pass was astoundingly beautiful. The sun was setting and we were above the clouds so got to see the beautiful mountains lower down completely covered in clouds.

Further down again we were getting closer and closer to Manali and the scenery changed again, this time to beautiful greenery and forests. Soon it got dark and we had been going for about 24 hours we were all exhausted and dying to get to Manali when the unthinkable happened…the bus broke down! We had two options, either wait for god knows how long for someone to come and help or drive with no brakes, we decided on the latter as long as we drove pretty slow (this guy had been driving so fast throughout the entire trip)

Everything worked out in the end and we managed to make it to Manali in one piece, although the traffic coming in was absolutely crazy that we ended up having to sit in it for about an hour…absolutely torture!
Once the bus stopped it was about midnight and we had no place booked, we were absolutely shattered and all we could think about was jumping in to a bed…any bed!

We left in search for a place to stay with a Korean girl that had been on the bus with us. After searching for quite a while we realised that nearly everywhere was fully booked. Our taxi driver said his uncle had a guesthouse that we could stay in, we had mixed feelings about this but didn’t really have a choice so decided to go with him. He parked the tuk-tuk on a road and made us follw him down a really dodgy alley (during the daytime it turned out to be a wonderful alley…but not now!)

We reached his uncles place and his uncle wasn’t the nicest of men and only had one room available, so we decided to share the room with the Korean girl and find another place the next day. Then we finally got to fall into the bed!