When your entire passion is revolved around being somewhere unfamiliar and unknown, it’s easy to sort of let the beauty of your own country pass you by.
I’m definitely guilty of this.
Eager to explore new places, I always jump at the chance to go somewhere new – and the US feels anything but new to me.
“I live here. What else is there to know?“, I sometimes think.
Since I’ve been a little biased with what I write about lately (helloooo, Mexico and Ireland!), I decided I’d give out a little home country love. Luckily, I had the chance to visit family on the West Coast last year for a few weeks and was taken everywhere in Washington state from the Hoh Rainforest, Seattle, Lake Washington, Ruby Beach, to Portland, Oregon, AND Victoria, Canada.
I was so spoiled. I know.
My cousin, her boyfriend, and I went on a 4 or 5 hour hike, which in my humble opinion, was far too short We ended up with a gorgeous view of the gorge (pun intended?) that not many people get to see – plus, all that orange stuff? That was smoke from a fire that was raging about 40 miles away.
Working my ass off to see that view gave me a little more appreciation for how beautiful the States are. Here’s to celebrating all the culture, nature, and abundant, new perspectives our home countries have to offer us.
Do you ever pretend like you’re a tourist in your own town? Country? Where is an amazing place you would suggest people to visit when they visit your country? Sound off below!
The best part about my host mom when I was studying abroad in Ireland was the proximity of her house to two things: The Autobahn (sweet pub in Glasnevin) and the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. Did you see what I did there?
The first night my roommate and I arrived, while walking to a pub to meet the rest of the students and professors for dinner, we passed the Botanic Gardens. Wanting to check it out, but not having any money, we kept walking – only to find out a week later admission is free!
Established in 1795 by the Irish Parliament, the primary role of the gardens is for research, although it’s open to the public and the layout is set up in a way that is engaging and interesting to visitors. According to the website, the National Botanic Gardens is home to over 300 endangered plants and 6 species that are already extinct in the wild. Who knew?
Here are my favorite photos – as you an tell, I like to get up close an personal with plants. You won’t be able to resist either – look at these beauties!
Since the Gardens are free, I highly suggest checking them out. You can spend an hour here or an entire day, or come and go as you please – there’s definitely enough to look at. If you want to spend an entire day experiencing the lushness of Ireland, consider checking out Powerscourt Gardens as well.
Here’s some practical stuff you’ll need to know:
Hours of Operation:
Winter Hours – October 31 to February 1
Monday – Friday 9 – 4:30 pm
Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays 10 – 4:30 pm
Summer Hours – March to October
Monday – Friday 9 – 5 pm
Saturdays, Sundays, and Public Holidays 10 – 6 pm
Getting To The Gardens:
There are plenty of ways to get to the gardens, whether it’s by foot, bus, taxi, or car. We happened to live about a 10 minute walk from the gardens but the other students took buses. The public transportation in Dublin is pretty reliable, so if you don’t feel like renting a car, you’re in luck! You can reach the gardens by bus numbers 4, 9, and 83.
For more options and a map, check out the website.
Have you been to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland? What did you think? Sound off below!
Being somewhere tropical and breezy with a margarita in hand almost guarantees this. ALMOST, I said. But, there’s a couple other things you need.
I will indulge all the details about celebrating my twenty second year of life somewhere spectacular to ensure YOUR birthday en México is unforgettable.
You can thank me later.
Stock Up On Delicious Comida y Bebidas
No party is complete without tequila, and, well… more tequila. But we needed food, too, and there sure as hell is no shortage of rice, beans, salsa, and guacamole to go around. Oh, and I guess some tasty meat is available if you’re into that.
So, off we went to the Mega (the equivalent to Walmart in the US), to get some fish, rice, and fruit (among many other things, like beer pong balls) for my birthday dinner.
We tried to keep it classy. Promise.
Lupita, a volunteer I met through my internship at PEACE, took it into her own hands to plan a delicious meal for us all because that’s how Mexicans do. So, we exchanged some pesos for all the required awesomeness the night would need and we were on our way.
Plan A Surprise: Big Or Small
I guess when you aren’t fluent in Espanol, many things are lost in translation, but Lupita announced she needed to ”stop at her house,” so we left the Mega without her.
Fast forward an hour later, and all of a sudden, while I was chillin’ on the deck overlooking the pool, I hear a choir of “Feliz Cumpleaños” and what do I see? Lupita and the rest of the crew with a (melting and DELICIOUS) cake and candles in hand! They surprised the unsurprisable. (Mostly because of my less-than-perfect Spanish.)
Who knew it was possible?
Push The Birthday Girls’ (or Boys’) Face Into Cake
Mexican tradition. Required.
Enjoy That Amazing Meal (And Drinks) Together
The rest of the night was dedicated to eating well, drinking margaritas, swimming, and enjoying each other’s company.
Go To Your Favorite Local Bar
Luckily there’s no language barrier when it comes to drinking, so we ended up at our favorite bar, The Shamrock, in downtown Bucerías. Although there wasn’t much going on for a Wednesday night in off season, we brought the party with us and danced and drank the night away.
Create Lasting Memories
All birthdays are special because it’s a time for celebration and enjoying the people you’ve met throughout life. Although I’ve had 21 birthday parties (yup, I’m one of those people), this one takes the cake – seven new friends came together to make it an unforgettable time.
Embrace The Generosity
What I love most about Mexican culture is the generosity – people will go out of their way for you, regardless if you’re a stranger or someone they’ve known for a lifetime. The kindness Lupita (and the other interns) extended to me was unlike anywhere else I’ve ever been (yet), and I think we could all learn a little something from our neighbors in the South.
Have you experienced some amazing hospitality? Where were you? Tell me your stories in the comments below!
When I was in Washington state, I went on a used book buying binge – I bought anything and everything, from textbooks to novels, but my favorite book (that I’ve read, at least) from the trip was All Over The Map by Laura Fraser. An autographed copy, no less.
Fraser tells the story of her life traveling, the lovers she met along the way, cities that won over her heart, and life in San Miguel de Allende as a single, 40+ woman (Hey! It’s all right!).
She proved that life as a nomad is accessible and possible, even as an adult with responsibilities. She writes about the city in such a sultry and enticing way that it comes to no surprise to anyone who knows me that I adore Mexico…and that’s why I picked SMA as my first Wanderlust Wednesday pick.
How could you not love to be here?
Have you been to San Miguel de Allende? I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions of things to do and places to see!