Helsinki to Manchester
So by this leg of the journey, I’d left my friends in Tallinn. I’d always traveled with someone, my mom, family member or a friend. So do go off on my own was special for me. Manchester is a place I’ve always wanted to visit because I’ve been a Manchester United fan since I was a kid. More on that later.
My passport says I was born in Toronto, my passport doesn’t say that I love Toronto. There have been times where I’ve wished I lived someone else. Well, it looks like I got my wish. Toronto is the most diverse city, I see people from everywhere, I can eat foods from anywhere, and I can blend in. Now I’m not saying that I feel weird in Finland, I don’t really think about it. So, England? I remember sitting in my seat as we landed and this overwhelming feeling of pride, disbelief, and I’d say some sadness washed over me. I almost cried. I’d planned this trip, and here I was. It was nice to read signs in English again, and it was nice to see people that looked like me. I felt like I could blend in again. I’d never thought of it before, but that is one of the best parts of living in Toronto.
I spent the day hanging out with my friend, we walked around Manchester, and it’s easy to forget that England as a whole has been under some pressure. There’s been Brexit, and of course, there’s been a rash of terrorist attacks. A few months ago Manchester was the epicenter of an attack at an Arianna Grande concert. I managed to take this photo on my way to a restaurant. We stand together, such strong sentiments. I took that picture and stood there for a while thinking about how lucky I’ve been to live in Canada. How lucky I am that when I ride the metro, I don’t worry about a bombing. I’m sure these people don’t think that way either, but we’ve never had a severe terrorist attack back home.
I mentioned I was a Manchester United fan. I’ve dreamed of seeing them play live, I’ve dreamed of visiting the arena, The Theatre of Dreams, Old Trafford. I don’t know how else to explain it but its one of the most important things to me. Well, my friend and I got in an Uber and went to the most famous stadium in the world. We’d tried to get a tour booking online, but they were full. Okay, as long as I got to go. I went, I took a photo outside with The United Trinity, and I visited the megastore. Of course, I bought a jersey and a scarf. We went to the tour section, and by some miracle, the lady said we’d be able to join the tour. I got to sit in the seats, see their change room, and sit where the players it. It was a dream come true. I took this photo when I was in the stadium. So now every time I watch a game, and I see the players warming up or sitting on the bench I’ll think and know that I got to sit there. 25 years old and I was like a kid in awe of everything. So that was my trip to Manchester. I said my friend lives there, Sarah. She let me stay on her couch, we’d be meeting our friend Brooklynn and Gen in Dublin.
Manchester to Dublin
It was evident when I took the photo of the worker bee that Manchester wouldn’t back down from any threat. In the airport, there are a number of screening processes you’ve got to go through. Here I was, I’d never been to Europe, and in a matter of days I was in Finland, Estonia, England and now I was on my way to Ireland.
I don’t know where the notion of the Irish being a bunch of drunks comes from, but I don’t like it. Dublin has some of the most friendly, hardworking people I’ve ever come across. The city is vibrant, yes there are a number of bars, but they’re not drunks. It’s cultural, it’s not uncommon for people to go out and grab a drink and a bite to eat after work. Dublin is small, but there is something to do on every corner. I was amazed and fell in love with the city immediately. Our first night there was a little nostalgic. Brook, Sarah and I all used to work together. We live about 20 minutes away from one another but hardly see each other, but here we were halfway across the world sitting in a pub drinking together.
If you’re in Dublin and looking for a place to stay, I recommend The Generator Hostel (7 Smithfield Square,, Dublin, Ireland) It’s right in the middle of the city, close to everything and a fantastic price. Our second day we took in the Guinness Brewery (Naturally) and the Jameson distillery, both are a 5-minute walk from the hostel. So I learned something at the brewery, Arthur Guinness signed a 9000-year lease at St James’s Gate, Ushers, Dublin 8, Ireland. At the top of the brewery, you can have a pint and then sit down and enjoy this 360 view of the city.
I fell in love with the city. It was this view that did it. Sláinte, Dublin. That means Cheers, Dublin. Our third day and my final day in Ireland we spent on a bus heading to Galway.
Dublin to Galway
I read this book in school called the Scottish crofters. Crofting is something along the lines of smallscale food production, small farm. There weren’t picture in the book, so I just envisioned what it might look like. So small plots of land with rock walls and these nice white houses. On our way to Galway when looking out the window that’s what I saw. Much of our journey took place along the coast. If you haven’t been let me say something, in Ireland, along the coast when it rains it rains sideways, downwards and I swear to god at one point it was raining upwards. It’ll come out of nowhere too, but it made for the typical Irish weather. Our guide went over the bloody history of Ireland, and well let’s say, hard places breed hard people.
Our first stop, the Cliffs of Moher. I’m afraid of heights, its windy and rainy by the cliffs and theres barely any type of barrier wall. There’s this rock wall that comes up to… well I’m 6ft so to my waist, and there’s about 4ft of space, oh and this is the kicker there is a fence that keeps the cows in their area, and it’s a SHOCK FENSE! There’s electrical current running through it! Rain and electricity, a match made in heaven. Any way you could go along the side without a barrier, but I’m a chicken shit. Oh, I failed to mention the giant sign that says, “In Memorium of all those that have lost their lives on the cliffs” When I asked if this was the sight of some kind of medieval killing ground the guide said no, people get blown off the cliffs all the time. The cliffs are 120 meters high or 390 ft, so you’re dying. There were actually people sitting on the edge of the cliffs. I love my Instagram account, but I’m not dying for it. Anyway, I recommend you seeing the breathtaking cliffs and being safe about it. Heres why I recommend it
See? Death, but there’s also this,
If It looks familiar, it was in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. You know the scene where Dumbledore and Harry go to destroy the Horcrux. If I’ve ruined the book or movie for you, then all I’ve got to say is they came out like 10 years ago so shut up.
After this, I had to dry off inside the cafe. So the cool thing about the Cliffs of Moher is that all the litter shops are built into the hill overlooking the cliffs. If you need something warm, which you will I say get a hot chocolate, they’re great there. We then went to Galway where my friends and I had something to eat. McDonagh’s (22 Quay Street, Galway, Ireland) and Fat Freddy’s (15 Quay St, Galway, Ireland) are great options. Sea Food Chowder at Fat Freddys is bad ass.
Ireland was exceptional. It was beautiful, the people were terrific, the food was outstanding, everything about Ireland was great. Yes, even the rain. It had a homey feeling to it. Oh, and its got a thriving gay community, fantastic art, and architecture. I think that’s what did it, it felt like home, but it wasn’t. Yeah, I’m jonesing to go home, but Ireland would be lovely… because it did, in fact, feel like home.
Part 3 will cover me leaving Ireland and heading to Sweden and then back here to Finland.