New Beginnings in a Wanderlust Nation

Hello loves! Thank you so much for all the love and support you’ve given Taylor’s Titillating Travels over the years. It’s been amazing and I’ve loved sharing all my stories with you. I will still be bringing you fun little stories, but I’m broadening my horizons. Soon we will launch Wanderlust Nation, a new website-based travel blog with more videos and varying media. I enjoy sharing my personal stories, but I really want to bring the focus on to inspiring others to travel in new ways. I am very sad to let go of my slightly suggestive title, but I think Wanderlust Nation is going to capture a whole new realm of traveling. It’s going to be slow going at first, but I hope you all hang in there! I’ll leave you with a little something I wrote. For me it’s hopeful, it’s saying goodbye to one chapter and opening another.

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These Days

I keep a suitcase packed by the bed
Ready to go at a moment’s notice, passport in hand
I’m nearing thirty and I’m still a teenage runaway
But I guess they just call it leaving these days

Most days the real world stagnates around me
And I escape to far off lands
Just a little movement to keep myself from atrophy
But I guess they just call it surviving these days

You tell me jetlag is a myth
But how do you know if you never leave the zone?
You stay tethered to the still life you’ve created
But I guess they call it stability these days

I’ve missed a funeral, weddings, and a birth
I miss the late nights at The Pub, paying for our youth
Those moments that remind us of what we all have in store for us
But I guess that’s what they call reality these days

I keep my family and friends close to my heart
Yet I keep stepping out, always leaving them behind
In hopes of forgetting the one thing I’m missing
But I guess that’s what they call loneliness these days

The rhythm in my soul keeps beating
A drumming pulling me on at an invisible pace
Away from the known into the expanse of the lives I haven’t lived
But I guess that’s what they call wanderlust these days

So I’ll see you when my feet hit the ground
And be gone before you can remember my face
Leave you with the memories of girl once etched in your mind
But I guess they just call me a gypsy these days

I just want you to remember my name

 

xoxo Taylor

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You

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Just a reminder:

The roads are waiting to rise to meet you. The sun is circling your head, waiting to light your way. The mountains tower as a beacon for you. The rivers are rushing towards you like a long lost friend. The sea is churning with anticipations and the ground shoots up a riot of flora and fauna like confetti in celebration of your arrival.

13 Places to Go in 2015

Cruising with Rock Stars in the Bahamas

FloggingMollyOne of my favorite bands, Flogging Molly, is taking to the seas with various punk bands (including Gogol Bordello who has the best live performance EVER) for a three day, pirate-themed St. Patrick’s Day cruise extravaganza. On the Salty Dog Cruise you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the artists and are treated to special performances and DJ sets. I don’t even know what a punk DJ set would be like, but I really want to find out.

Thailand

Phuket

Photo by William Cho

I was supposed to go to Thailand a few months back with friends, but unrest and protests broke out and I thought the better of it. In hindsight I wish I had gone. Thailand boasts amazing night bazaars, glittering beaches, astounding islands, and vast palaces. It’s also on The Blonde Abroad’s list of safest places for solo female travel.

New England in Autumn

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WikiCommons/ bdesham

I live in the desert. Leaves don’t really change colors here and I never get to wear scarves. I just want to see some leaves and wear a scarf. For everyone else who actually has a change of seasons, you can take a drive up the scenic Mohawk Trail, one of the countries first official scenic drives, or engage in some outdoor activities like canoeing.

Connemara

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Inagh Valley

While staying in Dublin I took a tour over to Connemara and it was love at first sight. I don’t know if it’s because it reminds me of Seward, where I once lived (sort of), or if it’s just some sort of ancient magic, but there’s a sense of home there and interconnectedness to the land. Connemara, especially in the spring/summer months, offers a myriad of activities including, kayaking, hiking and cycling, and horseback riding. You can also take a drive along the Wild Atlantic Way, the ultimate road trip through the West side of Ireland.

Horseback Riding in Scotland

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visitscotland.com

I’ve always wanted to see a country on horseback and I can’t think of a better place to do this than the Scottish Highlands. Highlands Unbridled offers an Outlander ride for all my fellow lovers of the novels and most companies offer a stop at the Glenlivet distillery for lunch and tastings.

Running of the Bulls, San Fermin, Spain

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wikimedia commons/ Mortorell

Just a few weeks ago I was having lunch with my family in Chicago and my cousin looks at me and says, “Taylor, you can run, right?”
“Yes… why?” I warily replied.
“You want to do the running of the bulls?”
And that’s exactly how I was recruited into doing the Running of the Bulls in San Fermin, Spain. We threw La Tomatina in Valencia for good measure because great family vacations are running from angry beasts and large-scale food fights.

Chile

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Lago Chungara (Wikimedia Commons/David Guallini)

I’m currently watching the Dakar rally race and felt rather inspired to pick one of the countries through which this race goes. With 8,000 km of trails, I’m sure you can find plenty of hiking or cycling to occupy your time. Chile also has mummies, the famous Easter Island, skiing, a ton of National Reserves, and volcanoes. Chile really has it all, especially for you outdoorsmen.

Ur and Nineveh, Iraq

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Adad Gate at Nineveh (Fredrarch/ WikiCommons)

While in college I had to do a massive project that focused on the archaeological sites at Ur and Nineveh. Ever since then I have been dying to go and trek the cities I know so well on paper, cities that played an integral role in the urbanization of the rest of the world. More than that, I want to see these fascinating sites before they are destroyed (ISIS recently issued a threat to destroy the walls of Nineveh).

The Stampede Trail and Magic Bus in Alaska

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Erikhalfacre/WikiCommons

Like every good adventurer I am a fan of Into the Wild. It’s a bit macabre to visit the site in which this young man perished so needlessly, but I suppose if you’re going to be hiking the Stampede Trail anyway, you should probably get this one in soon or wait for the river to freeze again so you don’t get stuck on the other side of the river like Christopher McCandless. If you don’t care about the trail then go visit the replica made for the movie in Healy.

Any City Hosting an F1 race

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photo by Studebaker Hawk Photography (my dad!)

I love Formula 1 and all the cities on the list are dream spots. From Monaco to Sochi, to Budapest and Catalunya, and my favorite U.S. city, Austin. If travel were free (and I didn’t have a day job) I would be at every race.

See the Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland

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Wikimedia Commons/ McKay Savage

Reykjavik isn’t just fun to say, it’s a fun place to be! Not only can you go searching for the Game of Thrones filming locations (oh goodness, now you all know how nerdy I am), but there are dozens of outdoor adventure tours on horseback, ATV and pretty much anything that moves. Let’s not forget all the Viking sites to visit.

Up Helly Aa in Scotland

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WikimediaCommons/ Mike Pennington

In a nutshell, Up Helly Aa is a festival where a bunch of Scots dress up in Viking costume (obviously I have a thing for Vikings), carry torches through the town, and light a galley on fire. This is followed by parties that last until morning during which the Jarl, who is head of the celebration, makes a stop at every one. I want to go this year since I will be so close, but I read that the parties are private so I will need a friend in Shetland first.

Oktoberfest in Munich

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photo by Andreas Steinhoff

I have been trying to make it to Oktoberfest for quite a while, but I always forget that it’s not actually in October. Who wants to go?

Top 5 Places to Drink in Dublin

Although my Facebook and Instagram may suggest that I visited every pub in Dublin, and it sure felt like I did, I can assure you that would be a feat that would take no small amount of time. With over 1,000 pubs in Dublin it, to my surprise, has fewer pubs per capita than any other European capital (Viator). However, I would argue that Dublin has one of the liveliest nightlifes (or is it nightlives?) I’ve seen. Even on a Monday evening in November the pubs in Temple Bar and on the outskirts were packed to the brim until close.

Here are a few of my favorite places to grab a drink in Dublin:

5. Temple Bar

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Go here for: meeting fellow travelers, live music and dancing.

The Temple Bar district is the famous pub area in Dublin. It’s populated by tourists from all over and a few locals, which makes it uniquely vibrant and always lively. The Temple Bar is the star of the area for obvious reasons. C’mon! They named the WHOLE AREA after this one bar! It’s a somewhat cramped pub and you’re definitely going to overpay for drinks here, but it’s well worth the money for the live music and conversation with fellow tourists from all over the world.

4. Guinness Gravity Bar

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Go here for: the killer city views.

If you’re looking for the bar with the best view head on down to the St. James’ Gate Brewery. Gravity Bar sits atop the Guinness Storehouse exhibit. It’s walls are entirely glass with labels detailing all of Dublin’s famous sites. Hit the exhibit late in the afternoon and use your ticket to either learn to pour a perfect pint or head up to the bar for your complimentary pint of Guinness and enjoy the view of the city lit up and glittering in the nighttime.

3. O’Neill’s Bar and Restaurant

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Go here for: dinner and drinks, relaxing after a long day or the beginning of a long night

O’Neill’s is out of the touristy areas, closer to the college and populated by a large array of patrons from college kids to folks just getting off work, looking for a meal and entertainment. The music here was mellow Irish-folk and it seemed a bit more relaxed atmosphere. The interior was quaint and classic with huge wooden tables and benches. It’s just a nice quiet place to rest your feet after a long day of sightseeing. And when you’re done you can walk a few steps to the Molly Malone statue!

2. Copper Face Jack’s

Go here for: After hours beer and club-style dancing.

If you’re lucky enough to meet a local they’ll be able to show you one of the many places that doesn’t close until 4 A.M. but by that point you might not know where the hell you are. That might just be me. After an evening of pub crawling my friend met a local who kindly took as to Copper Face Jack’s. It’s your typical club with a large, open dance floor and loud music. Unlike the clubs in my state they don’t play irritating, base-heavy hip-hop. CFJ’s plays music you can actually dance to ranging from Grease to hits from the 80’s and 90’s, a pleasant change of pace… or tempo.

1. Dingle Whisky Bar

Dingle

Go here for: good whiskey, relaxed atmosphere, conversation

I like beer, but there’s whiskey in my blood. I’m the kind of lass who prefers a quiet whiskey to sip with friends to loud, over-crowded bars. I stumbled upon Dingle Distillery while pub hopping and it was like finding a tiny piece of heaven hidden away on a Dublin street near Trinity College. Its unique interior is warm and inviting and they carry a large array of whiskey, including the whiskey, gin, and vodka distilled by Dingle. This should be at the top of any whiskey-lovers list.

Review: Connemara-Galway via Extreme Ireland Tours

Traveling with Extreme Ireland Tours/ Irish Day Tours from Dublin through Galway on to Connemara was a somewhat lengthy ride. The first half of the journey took us through small suburbs of Dublin and eventually thinned to countryside villages and towns. We bypassed Galway and made our first stop somewhere in Connemara (a region in Galway County) to see the picturesque Quiet Man Bridge where John Wayne filmed scenes from his movie “The Quiet Man.”

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Keeping with the theme, we also made an impromptu stop at the replica house from the same movie. Even if you’ve never seen the movie the views in these locations are beautiful and well worth the stop.

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After that we traveled through country back roads to the Killary Sheep Farm, which I detailed in the previous post. I will say it is the best stop on the whole tour and an experience that actually feels authentic. So click here for a for account of our experience there.

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From there you stop at Kylemore Abbey for lunch. Their cafe boasts mediocre food and an attitude of general disdain from its staff. I recommend bringing a picnic to enjoy at one of the benches and take in the view of Kylemore. We didn’t have enough time to see the interior, but I’m told the tour price isn’t a great value so save the Euros for Galway.

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Following Kylemore are various scenic stops in Connemara and throughout the Inagh Valley. The scenery here will stop the breath in your lungs.

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Galway is the final stop before heading back to Dublin where I picked up a new Claddahg ring from Thomas Dillon‘s. The city itself is very youthful as it’s mostly a college town. Also, they were setting up what looked to be a splendid Christmas Market so if you’re in the area around Christmas time (which begins earlier there than in the States since they don’t have Thanksgiving to wait for) give it a gander. Galway

Overall, I would give Extreme Ireland Tours a four and a half out of five stars simply because I would have liked more time in Galway, but if you give them notice you can stay the night and take the next day’s tour van back. Our guide was both entertaining and informative. Due to our small tour size we were able to make quite a few impromptu scenic stops. I definitely recommend going during the off season.

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Magic Amongst the Hills (and sheep) of Connemara

Of all the things I did in Ireland there are two experiences that continue to resonate with me now that I am home. The first was a stop in the Inagh Valley with the Extreme Ireland Tour, which I will write about later. The second was a stop with the same tour at the Killary Sheep Farm. I am sure the handsome owner who showed us around has something to do with my mind straying back there, but the place certainly holds a strong magic all its own.

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View of the fjords and lower hill

Upon arrival you are outfitted with Wellies, raincoat, and a walking stick, which I was grateful for since I made the genius decision to be fashionable for once rather than practical.

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Not a practical outfit for slogging through mud. Don’t wear this.

Once outfitted against the elements you get to see a rather impressive demonstration of one of the dogs rounding up the sheep and herding them from one field to another, a more complicated process than you may think.

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Each farm has it’s own identifying color(s) for it’s sheep Photo credit: Shannon O’Connor

From there it’s a short walk up and across the hill to the bogs where you learn about the harvesting and uses for peat (turf). You are given the opportunity to participate in its harvesting, which I unfortunately declined due to the rain and my general clumsiness, but the man from Pittsburgh who helped sure looked like he was having fun.

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Photo credit: Shannon O’Connor

 

The views on your way back are astounding and it strongly reminds me of my briefly former home in Seward, Alaska with its rain, spongy earth, and majestic sights. The Killary farmlands sit on a hillside dotted with sheep, overlooking glacier carved fjords. The air is bracing, reviving and the energy and magic of the place is tangible and awe inspiring. (I wish I could better convey this, but you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.)

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Overall, Killary Sheep Farm provides a necessary respite from the hustle and bustle of city life and scheduled tourism as well as allowing its visitors a moment to forget their regular lives and bask in the experience of life in the countryside.

Killary Sheep Farm is located in Connemara, near Galway. Please visit their website here for more information and directions on how to get there.

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I look a bit like a Russian babushka. Enjoy. Photo credit: Shannon O’Connor