Written by: Billie Clark
I have expounded on my trip to Wales—everyone I’ve talked to since I came back knows I spent a year in Wales, that I lived in Swansea, that I loved every second of it—and I have written numerous blog posts about it (you can check them out here, if you want). I was sure that by the time a year had passed, I’d be able to leave it alone. After all, I have completed a full school year since the time I was last overseas. But no, there is still so much I haven’t written about, and so much more that I just can’t bring myself to stop telling people about; my travelling after the schoolyear is a combination of the two. For the three weeks before my return to Canada, I was able to explore more of Europe with my brother—in probably the strangest way imaginable. This blog is going to be about my week in Ireland, along with the ten days I spent in Italy, and how I got there.
After my brother, Robby, arrived in London, we spent about a week in Wales. We explored Swansea and Gower a bit, went to a car show, spent a day in Cardiff (which I’m sure I could spend an entire post talking about—we did so much in a single day!), and hung out watching anime in my house. Then, it was time for us to pack up everything, including the kitchen, and move into a hotel room for a night. The next morning we took a cab across Swansea and caught our bus to Ireland.
I had booked us a coach tour of the Ring of Kerry. That means that I booked us a spot on a coach bus, with included hotel rooms and some meals, and a bunch of old people. When I say “old people”, I don’t mean middle-aged or my parents’ age—I mean actual senior citizens, and all of them British. It was crazy! I knew what to expect: coach tours are the sort of thing that I’d imagined would appeal to the older crowd, and my brother and I are both the sort of kids who are able to get along with elders. The trip in Ireland was interesting and beautiful. The hotel we stayed at in Waterford was absolutely gorgeous, and Killarney, where we spent the majority of the trip, was picturesque. There were numerous castles to visit, cathedrals to confuse (that was not a great moment, but a really funny story), and nature to admire. We even drove through Tipperary on the way back to the UK, although the women seated around us were less than impressed with some aspects of the tour. Robby fell in love with Ireland, and we came back to Swansea to the start of a heatwave.
We spent that night back in the same hotel we left from, and we left it again a few hours later—to catch a 4 am bus to get us to the coach we’d be taking to Italy. Unlike the Ireland trip, the coach for Italy wasn’t completely full (we’d managed to get the last two seats on the Ireland coach, it was brilliant)—but it was much hotter in Italy than it had been in the moors and mountains of Ireland. The heatwave was in full swing, so it was hot and sunny and humid; however, Robby and I were suited to the company during the heatwave—we have about the same ability to deal with the weather as most of the seniors on the bus with us, and were forever grateful to the strength of the air conditioning. The two nights in Germany were nice, even though it was still too hot, and the Alps and Switzerland were lovely. The day in Milan was lovely, despite there being too many people and too much humidity. Lake Como was beautiful and the small town we were in was lovely, full of old stone and plaster buildings, including one with a waterfall running right over it! Too bad there wasn’t any water to spare while we were there…
Once we were back in Swansea, after ten days of heat and sun, the heatwave in Wales seemed almost cool by comparison. We took another early-morning coach up to London that night, and checked into our Heathrow hotel early the next day. We spent the full day wandering around London—hours in a museum, wandering the streets of the West End, gapping like tourists at King’s Cross (Platform 9 ¾, how could I pass that up?), and avoiding most of the typical tourist locations. I could take an entire other post to just detail that single day, too.
Then, we flew back to Toronto the next day, and I haven’t stopped talking about Wales since