I’m Leaving On A Jet Plane…

The day has finally arrived. My move to Canada is here. As you’re reading this I’m already in the air and probably half way across the Atlantic. I’ve had a few doubts; I still have doubts but a wise person said to me recently that I need this adventure and not to falter so close to the finish line, I’d only regret it if I did. You know what? He’s right. I still can’t believe that I’m actually doing this.

So I said all my goodbyes this past month. I was dreading that part. I was so touched by my aunt’s and her partner’s efforts to throw me a surprise going away party, full of karaoke, lasers and the obligatory calling to the door of the police. Yes the police did call to my aunt’s house – awkward! But we didn’t let that stop us having fun. It’s been an emotional week saying my final goodbye to my closest friends and a job that I absolutely LOVE.

Of course it hasn’t helped that I watched Brooklyn last weekend. It broke my heart to see Eilis, amazingly portrayed by Soairse Ronan, having to leave Ireland for work and how homesick she was in America. There’s a strong history of emigration here in Ireland since the time of The Famine. I began thinking of the millions of Irish people who left these shores for a better life in America or England. All their hopes and dreams were tied up in one country.

They left because they had to, no prospect of work. Some would never see their families again, just letters to keep in contact. My own grandmother left at the age of 17 to England, although she left to chase after a boyfriend, but she still left. And she returned to Ireland many years later. She was terribly upset at the thought of me leaving and would constantly say to me that I might change my mind and not go. I reminded her how she went England and she exclaimed that it was different times. Yes it is different times, thankfully.

Gone are the days of people leaving and never coming back to visit family. Gone are the days where your only means of contact are letters that would take weeks to arrive. Air travel has come on in leaps and bounds with more routes and cheaper flights. We have so many options to keep in contact with our loved ones, and it’s instant. So while I used the word goodbye, it isn’t really goodbye. I will be keeping in contact with my loved ones through Viber, Facebook, and Skype. I’ll also be coming home, my cousin will be getting married in 2018 and she has asked me to sing for her wedding. There is no way I’m missing that.

So it’s not goodbye, just farewell for now ☺ Have you moved to a different country? How did you cope leaving your friends and family?

Marteen x

The day has come that I'm moving to Canada. Read my reflection of this milestone in my life.

Farewell Quiet Man

Well it’s the end of an era. Monday is my last day working in The Quiet Man Museum. I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that I’ll be finishing up and moving to Canada. I don’t know where the last three summers went to; time flies when you’re having fun. I’ve certainly had a blast tour guiding.

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For those of you who don’t know the film, The Quiet Man was made in 1951, directed by John Ford and starred John Wayne and Maureen O’ Hara. The film tells the story of John Wayne’s character coming home to buy his ancestral home and falling in love with Maureen O’ Hara’s character in the process.

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This quaint, romantic film was shot around the small village of Cong in Co. Mayo, Ireland. Little did the cast and crew know that they would be making one of the best all time films and that sixty-five years later it would have a cult following. It’s a film I’ve fallen in love with.

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I’ve met some wonderful people and made some good friends along the way. Mateli Lopez (who has the biggest crush on John Wayne; she actually sends her husband out of the room if John Wayne is on TV so she can be on her own 😲) and Toss from Co. Cork (who threatened to send his wife to some slimming classes!) spring to mind. Mateli and I are Facebook friends now. All are Quiet Man Crazies in my eyes!

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My most memorable moment was a proposal last summer. And no it wasn’t me who was proposed to. I gave a tour to two lovely couples. We arrived at the last stop of the tour where I like to re-enact one of the scenes from the film. I picked the younger couple to kiss and the gentleman from the mature couple to be the matchmaker.

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I explained to them what was happening in the scene, made the matchmaker say his lines and told the young couple that I wanted to see the biggest kiss in cinema history. Next thing I know the young gentleman is down on one knee asking his girlfriend to marry him, she’s in hysterics and the mature couple and I are looking on in excitement and anticipation for her answer.

Thankfully she said yes. I had no idea that he had planned to propose to his girlfriend. He told me afterwards that he was going to pop the question inside the museum. In my opinion the way it turned out was much better. It couldn’t have been more perfect and I was so glad to have been apart of that special moment in their lives. That’s why I have no pictures of the moment.

I’m going to miss Gerry and Margaret, two of the nicest people I’ve ever worked for; Mary who worked in the gift shop with me, we had some laughs; all the CIE bus drivers/tour guides; the view from the museum entrance and of course Aisling, Jon, Louise and Thirza from the Hungry Monk, they do the best food and hot chocolate in town.

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Marteen x

Reflecting on my time working in The Quiet Man museum.

 

My Canadian Wanderlust List

I can’t believe that it’s now two weeks until my move to Canada. It seems like only yesterday I was applying for the visa. Canada is such a big country to explore, that I hope to make the most of my time living there while honouring my values of slow and responsible travel and return (or not 😉) with some awesome stories and wonderful memories ☺

  • Visit the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.
  • View the Northern Lights at Yellowknife.
  • Explore the Canadian Rockies by train.
  • Visit Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre.
  • Visit Vancouver.
  • Hike the West Coast Trail.
  • Go whale watching around Vancouver Island.
  • Explore Victoria.
  • Explore Horne Lake Caves.
  • Learn to snowboard in Whistler.
  • Go on polar bear safari in Manitoba.
  • Visit Niagara Falls.
  • Visit Quebec.
  • Attend the Montreal Jazz Festival.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island National Park.
  • Spot icebergs in Newfoundland.

I’m so looking forward to this experience and crossing off what’s on the list. Although I understand that sometimes things don’t always go to plan but it’s nice to have a rough guide of what you’d like to experience in a new country. Do you live in Canada? Have you been to Canada before? What would you recommend as a must experience activity while in Canada?

Marteen x

Click to find out what's on my wanderlust list for Canada! If you have any recommendations of what to see and do there, let me know.

From Ireland With Love | Clare Island

Clare Island is 6 km off the west coast of Co. Mayo. Once the home of Gráinne Mhaol, the island boasts a rich cultural heritage that the islanders are extremely proud of. Whether you’re the adventurous type or want to switch off from it all, Clare Island has something for everyone.

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My Day On Clare Island

I was looking forward to visiting the island as it was on my wanderlust list. Visiting Clare Island with my mother was a chance for us to spend some quality time together before leaving for Canada. We took the ferry over, which was an experience in and of itself. I felt quite dizzy crossing over and felt sick on the way back. It was like having constant butterflies with your head spinning. Thankfully I recovered quickly. I’m definitely a landlubber.

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Arriving on the island was magical. The first sight you see from the harbour is Gráinne Mhaol’s Castle. Gráinne Mhaol was chieftan of the Ó Máille clann during the 16th century. She was well-educated and was thought of by contemporaries as being exceptionally formidable and competent. Her castle is fine a example of a tower house.

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The history nerd in me just couldn’t wait to have a closer look and explore. I tried to imagine what it must have been like back then. While walking around the island what struck me was the quietness. All you could hear were the birds singing, the sheep bleating and the sound of the ocean. There wasn’t even a gift shop in sight.

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If I’m completely honest I was fully expecting the island to be thronged with visitors and tourists. But I was pleasantly surprised and delighted that it wasn’t a tourist trap. Apart from the few modern houses dotted around the rolling landscape and the telephone and electricity poles, the island is practically unspoiled. It’s like stepping back in time. The locals were so friendly, giving us a wave and a hello as we passed.

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After browsing through the heritage centre and taking a leisurely stroll to the 12th century abbey, we were feeling peckish. 40 minutes later and we were entering the Sailor’s Bar and Restaurant. I tried the falafel burger with homemade chips (they left the potato skins on, yum!) and my mother had good old fish and chips. The service was second to none and the view of the ocean from our table was stunning.

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We had an hour kill before taking the boat back, so we decided to head to the beach. There we just sat and chatted about the day we had. The beach was empty and the air smelled of salt. Looking out to sea the boats were bobbing in the waves waiting to set sail and the seagulls were screeching overhead.

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How To Get There

There are many ferries to choose from to get you to the island. My recommendation would be O’ Malley Ferries. You can take the ferry from Roonagh Pier, which is 7.3 km outside of the village of Louisburgh. Tickets can be bought at their offices on the pier but if you book through their website you get a 10% discount. The crossing only takes 10 minutes. They claim it to be the fastest crossing.

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What To See

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What To Do

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Where To Eat

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I didn’t get a chance to explore the whole island. To walk the full loop of the island takes about 19 km. I would recommend a weekend on the island to experience everything it has to offer. And there is plenty of accommodation to choose from. Have you ever been to Clare Island? Let me know what you think of the island.

Marteen x

Join me on an adventure around the beautiful Clare Island off the west coast of Ireland

Travel Posts I Love

I can’t believe that I only have four weeks left in Ireland. I don’t know where the time has gone. You might have noticed that I’ve been posting more content regarding responsible travel on my social media accounts. I don’t claim to be an expert as my area of expertise is Irish culture and heritage, although there is a sense of responsibility when visiting a site of cultural importance. However, my impeding move to Canada has me thinking about what kind of impact my travels will have on the environment and wildlife and the communities I’ll come across. I’m excited to learn more about green and sustainable travel and share with you my responsible travelling experiences. I also feel I’ve found my travel niche that I’m happy with. The posts I’ve picked for this months Travel Posts I Love reflect this. So sit back, relax and happy travels ☺

Do you have any favourite travel posts that you’ve read recently? Share them with me!

Marteen x

Travel

From Ireland With Love | Cliffs Of Moher Photo Essay

The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher on the west coast of Ireland are unique landscapes that everyone should experience at least once. The changeable weather shouldn’t stop you, just come prepared.

Have you been to the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren? If so what did you think? Check back for my review of the tour with Galway Tour Company.

Marteen x

Join me on a tour of the Cliffs of Moher and the Burren with my Cliffs of Moher Photo Essay

From Ireland With Love | Connemara Photo Essay

The wild and rugged landscape of the region of Connemara in the west of Ireland is like nothing I’ve seen before. It is where the famous Connemara Marble is mined. The mountains reflect the different shades of green that can be found in the marble. It’s truly a site to behold. To think it took me to be leaving Ireland for me to see this beautiful place.

Be sure to check back soon for the full details of my tour around Connemara. Have been to the region of Connemara before? If so what did you think?

Marteen x

Join me on a tour of the wild and rugged Connemara with my Connemara Photo Essay.