The last few weeks have been pretty busy. I left Italy and went back to London where I met mom the next day on my birthday. She was the best birthday present!
When I set out on this journey, my mom quickly decided to join me for a few weeks while in Europe. She has talked a lot about going to Europe so it was exciting for me to see her there. I’ve traveled to Europe many times and in general, it doesn’t feel too far removed from home for me. Especially having a best friend (she’s like family, really) in London who is willing to host me whenever I want to show up! But having momma there was especially exciting.
So what did we do, you ask? Well… in addition to London, we had decided to travel to Ireland and Spain. I felt these two locations would provide a broad sampling of what Europe has to offer. Also, they were countries I hadn’t seen yet.
As soon as mom got to London, we hit the ground running. We only had 2 days there and I wanted to her see as much as possible. Thanks to Stef for being a wonderful tour guide, we hit all the big spots.. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Westminster Abby, Tower of London, London Bridge, etc. It was so fun and exhausting running around seeing everything and watching moms eyes light up at every new place!
In Ireland we flew into Shannon airport and stayed in Ennis, a near by town that was just lovely. Momma don’t do hostels so we stayed at Hotel Woodstock – which was very nice… And I must admit, having a nice king size bed to lay out on and a private bathroom was a nice reprieve from hostel life. (Thanks mom!) The most adventurous part was getting to the hotel, you see, we rented a car… and Ireland drives on the left. I was familiar with the road rules due to all of my time in the UK. However, actually executing them was a first for me. We miraculously survived and as the days went along, it all became more natural.
We took our time in Ireland and relaxed, wandering around Ennis and driving to many castles in the area. The countryside was so beautiful and the Irish are some of the nicest people in the world! So cheerful and happy. I just wanted to stick one in my pocket. We ended our second day with afternoon tea in Dromoland Castle, which was spectacular. The tea was so delicious and they catered to my vegan dietary requests. While you’re going to spend about 25 euro for this little treat, it’s highly worth it – because seriously… how often do you get to have tea in a castle! Our last full day in Ireland we drove out to see the Cliffs of Mohor. This is a spectacular sight to see, despite the area being very touristed. I suggest you go early to get a parking spot.
(Cliffs of Mohor)
Now onto Spain… oh Spain. We flew from Shannon to Barcelona via London and while sitting in the London Stansted airport, I realized that our tickets didn’t actually take us to Barcelona. We booked the flights with Ryanair, which says “REU” (Reus) is a Barcelona airport. Oh no, my friend… REU is about 70 miles south of Barcelona. So here I am, in transit with my beautiful “Type A” mother (I’m a little type A as well) knowing that we need to find a way to get from Reus to Barcelona. Let the adventure begin.
It turned out to be pretty easy. Just a bus to the train station, a train to Barcelona and a cab to the hotel. Not so bad, just longer than we were expecting. The whole journey cost less than 20 euro per person, which is far better than a 200 euro cab from Reus into Barcelona. So protip – don’t believe Ryanair when they say REU is in Barcelona.
(Momma enjoying the view of the Med on the train)
Mom planned three full days for us in Barcelona. Day one we toured Monserrat, a mountain with an old monastery that has played many important roles in history. One famous story is that Hitler and his crew scoured the mountain in search of the Holy Grail. After Monserrat we went to a nearby Spanish castle winery for a small wine tour/tasting. I mostly enjoyed the wine, mom however, is not a fan of red.
Day two we had a 13 hour bus tour that took us into France and Andorra. Three countries in one day is serious business! The tour was good and we got to see a lot of the Pyrenees mountains. We had breakfast in Mont Louis, France, and old military camp/fortress that is now a UNESCO site. Then we went on to the capital city of Andorra for lunch and a bit of shopping. It was a long bus ride back, but we found ourselves at the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona with Margaritas so, whatevs.
The last day was one of my favorites. Mom had booked a parasailing trip for us. I hadn’t done this before and it was a great time – especially with my beautiful mother! Parasailing over the Mediterranean was a perfect way to wrap up this great adventure with mom on her first trip to Europe.
When we planned this trip, I told her we would do whatever she wanted to do and I think she did a great job planning it. I was so sad to leave her at the airport as it’ll be many months before I’m home again. But I must say, I’m desperately lucky to have the amazing support of my family as I wander around the world.