I have one more free breakfast at my hotel since I am still enjoying the rate my friend booked. My friend is out the door when I am still half sleeping and I am sad to see her go. I have one more day in Dublin and today I am taking a day trip to the peninsula of Howth. It is supposed to be pretty out there and worthy of a day trip.

Lobby of my hotel

I leave at 8:30 and walk 30 minutes to the Dart station (Dublin Pearce). On the way I walk through a park I have yet to walk through. I definitely need to spend more time in Dublin. I will return.

When I get off the train I consult the trail map and admire all the boats in the water.

I pick a trail that walks the coast and go on my way. The trails are color coded and most follow the same path for a long while but mine suddenly disappears. I follow one of the other ones for a while until I get near the lighthouse and then there is a visible exit to a parking lot. I decide to head back that way. I follow the roads back into town. I want to head in to catch some fresh crab and lobster for lunch.

I am disappointed to find that I can find no fresh crab or lobster anywhere today. I am assuming they are not in season. I decide to get lunch at King Sitric Seafood Bar, the place I had picked out for today anyway. I enjoyed a snack of oysters and a cheese crab dish thing (not fresh crab apparently).

I walk around the rest of town. Noticing no crabs available anywhere. I am still a little hungry and intrigued about the half and half fish and chips (half traditional fish and half smoked fish). I wouldn’t say it tastes bad because under normal circumstances I would like it but I am absolutely sick of greasy fish and chips. I have a very hard time eating it. Unfortunately I end up tossing most of it.

After already getting the most out of the town for the day I head back by train to Dublin.

At the start of the day I had planned to come back from Howth and see the Epic museum and go see an evening Celtic show. None of that is happening. The most I can do is walk back through town, get ice cream and get another look at St Patrick cathedral.

The next morning I find my flight already delayed so I switch my itinerary to fly into a different airport in the USA.

I have one more whisky at the airport. I realize I have already gone through customs here in Dublin so I don’t need to do so in the USA. I could have carried on some bottles from duty free all the way back home if I really wanted too. I am not sure why I didn’t pick up some bottles of local whisky.

I going home for a month or so. I have a music festival, a friend coming into town, a grand birthday to celebrate in New Orleans at the French Quarter Fest, and hope to catch up with some friends and family back home before I go out to travel again.

After two months what have I learned?

I am heading home after two months of traveling.

What have I learned from this go around of traveling, because really for me traveling is about learning and growing and not necessarily relaxation.

  • I can no longer stay in moist climates or moldy/moist lodging for too long or I will have sinus issues.
  • Some people’s idea of paradise can be hell for others – Bali. There are plenty of good things about Bali but for me the bad outweighed the good.
  • Even with my broken body and advanced age I can still do many things with time and patience (surfing). Imagine what I could have accomplished if I didn’t get sick during my surf week!
  • I value my alone time but I also don’t mind much having travel companions. In fact it is quite nice.
  • I am amazed of how friendly and accepting people can be outside of the USA. At home I feel invisible most of the time outside of my friend group or network. While traveling people see me and are generally interested in me. It is a good feeling and makes me try to come out of my shell to reciprocate. 
  • Many of my “issues” are due to the standard American lifestyle and diet. Over the weeks of traveling I noticed my need for over the counter anti-acid medicine and topical pain cream lessened and almost disappeared. I hope I don’t go home a return to like it was before.

Catch up with you soon when I am back on the road.

The not so wee Titanic

Slip for white star ships

I am in Belfast and everything is wee this and wee that. I originally thought we was a Scottish-only thing but watching the amazing show “The Derry Girls” corrected me in that matter. Side note: I wanted to originally visit Derry during this trip but due to me traveling off season, none of the tours are running there yet. I love the show and cannot visit the town without a proper tour of all the filming locations. If you have not seen it, this fantastic show gives you a glimpse into life of Northern Ireland during the 90’s through teenage girls. This show hits even harder because I was a teenage girl in the 90’s and I get to see what life was like for girls my age overseas in Northern Ireland.

Anyway today I am to visit the Titanic experience and tour around town. I look at the weather report and rain is expected this afternoon so I force myself to go wander around town this morning before my Titanic reservations.

I finish my morning tour of the city at the waterfront. I have to cross the Lagan Weir footbridge across the water to make the walk to the Titanic Museum. It is a about a mile walk but there are things to look at along the waterfront like Game of Thrones glass panels and a sound activated wind chime that makes sounds that replicate an active ship construction.

I finally pass the smaller boat, the nomadic, a smaller version of the same class of boat as the titanic. I will tour this boat a little later.

I get to the main building, it is designed to look like a boat, even the reflections in the pools outside are specifically designed.

I am early for my entry time and I guess because I bought the package with a guided tour I have to actually wait. I go to the cafe to try to get a cider while I wait but they have the same law as back home, you cannot purchase alcohol before noon on Sundays (I find out later that is the case for bank holidays too).

Finally it is time to start and our guide takes us to the building across the way. Normally more time is spend outdoors but it is still raining so she takes us to cover so we are comfortable. The tour I am on basically takes us through the offices of the company that designed and built the titanic White Star Line (building is now a posh hotel). We learn many things about how the boats were constructed and the workers who built it. For example, workers building the ships were not known by name, only by number and had to have access to their numbered time card at all times or they would not get paid or worse fired. Bathrooms breaks were pretty strict. It basically seemed like hard work.

Good thing I did my sightseeing before titanic because I end up spending multiple hours at the titanic so there is little afternoon left when I am done.

I start at the nomadic after the guided tour because it closes earlier. I get to see inside a smaller version of the company’s ships.

Finally I enter the main museum. The main exhibit is huge, being multi-floors and interactive. It is very thorough. There is a little ride inside that takes you through a titanic construction experience. There are exhibits about the missions to discover the wreckage years later. The museum also talks about immigration and labor history. A visit to the titanic museum can take the entire day if you tour it properly.

I make a dinner reservation for the early evening because I don’t want to be caught scrambling like I did last night for my dinner. It is at a fish restaurant. I enjoy oysters and a cod with a side of chips.

It’s raining again so I am in my hotel lobby drinking a smithwicks. As you remember I have some beer homework to do to prepare for St. Patricks Day so its all legit. I just have to force myself to stay up somewhat late so I don’t wake up at 2 am once again.

Snorkeling at Nusa Penida

Nusa Penida

My retreat package doesn’t include any weekend activities so I do a snorkeling excursion to Nusa Penida with a couple other girls from the retreat.

We have to be up at 6 am for our car ride to the ferry but I wake at 3 am for no reason. I lie in bed for about an hour trying to sleep then eventually turn the lights on to catch up on some research. After about fifteen minutes I start hearing buzzing from a very large flying bug. It is annoying but really likes the light. I’ve got the mosquito canopy so I am sort of safe for now. I soon hear more buzzing. It is almost like a bunch of eggs have hatched many of these things in my room. I count 6 during one count. It is time for me to get ready and they are everywhere: One on my backpack, One one the shirt I want to wear. They are scary looking and I have no idea if they bite or sting. I open my door hoping they will fly out with no luck. I eventually manage to get all I need for today. I lock my room and decide to deal with it when I get back. Fortunately when I return that night only one is left and he just hangs out at the light so I leave him alone.

Our driver picks us up and takes us to the ferry that will take us to the island of Nusa Penida, where we be snorkeling today. The traffic is terrible trying to get to the ferry. Our driver is going to be with us all day. He parks his car and directs us to the ferry. I am glad he is there because all the ferries look alike to me and I would never know which one to get on. Our guide sits in the back of the ferry but us three girls pick out a row. I grab the window seat so I can have the breeze but offer it to the girl in our group that gets sea sick. She refuses but I know her pain. I have taken my medicine so I should be ok for the ride no matter where I sit. Traveling out for a day at Nusa Penida is a crapshoot this time of year. It is the rainy season so the waters can be uncomfortably choppy if the weather is bad. Fortunately rain isn’t expected until later today so we seem safe.

The ferry ride is about an hour. We can not only see Nusa Penida in the distance but we also see a mountain. We try to determine which mountain it is. We get to the island and the boat backs up to the shore. We are not getting off at a pier; the way off is through the back and into the water. Because I am short and clumsy I have a slight fall exiting the boat and end up getting wet in the lower half of my body. One can stay on this island overnight but thank goodness I am not trying to haul my heavy backpack off this boat. I am sure all my things would end up getting soaked.

Our guide takes us to the snorkeling shop where we try on fins and pick out our lunch choice. We are to get our other equipment on the boat. We are waiting around a long time to start, it appears they want a larger group. I use this opportunity to apply sunscreen.

Waiting for more people

Our main guide tells us he will meet us later and we go to board the boat. Luckily the group isn’t too large where the boast is overly crowded. The water is beautiful. We use the opportunity to take a few pictures before snorkeling destroys our appearance.

We have 4 stops today. The first is the furthest away Manta Bay. The guides warn us the the seas will be rough on the way there (on the boat and in the water) but the reward is that we will see a manta ray. They didn’t lie about either. I start to feel nauseous on this part of the tour even though I had my motion sickness medicine this morning. The boat is rocked around. When we enter the water to snorkel it isn’t much better. The waves cause me to swallow what seems like gallons of sea water. I am constantly emptying out my breathing tube (no I don’t know how to “blow” it all out like the professionals). There isn’t much to see at this location since the fish are scarce and the coral isn’t impressive. At some point when I am underwater I look over and a Manta Ray that’s diameter is longer than me comes swimming toward me. It is partially scary and partially amazing. He kind of looks like he is smiling at me. He glides by without touching me. I pop my head up and tell my friend to go look down right away so she gets to see it as well. Unfortunately there are no photos of this event. We get back on the boat soon after.

The second stop is probably my least favorite, Crystal Bay. The beach area looks beautiful and we see some fish but I am not impressed.

One of the girls with me notices that some of the girls on our boat that are choosing to snorkel are not able to swim. Why someone who couldn’t swim would attend this is beyond me but what happens is that they hang out in their life jackets and hold on to this raft and scream and monopolize the fish guides the entire time with their drama. They also get the best photos from the guide as evident at the end when our trip photos are sent to us all.

Our next stop, Gamat Bay, is the most impressive so far if you ignore the Manta Ray from the first stop. You can see some nice coral here that hasn’t been bleached out. The fish are plentiful. The guide gives me some bread so I have a cheat with the photo moments. I think this is my favorite of the day so far.

The tour advertised online three stops but we have four today. I am getting tired of getting in and out of the boat and the previous stop is good so I think about skipping this stop. In this stop, the Wall, we are told that we swim up to the wall and let the current take us down to view all the good stuff. I decide to go in. Again they did not lie. This is a tie with the third stop of which is best. There is plenty of coral to see as well as colorful fish, with not much physical effort. I am glad I got off the boat.

We head back to shore after this. My only complaint about this tour is the last time I snorkeled in coral areas I not only got some photos of myself but also some photos of interesting fish and coral taken by the underwater photographer. There were no such photos such as these. I would have at least liked photo proof of the manta ray because he was so dang scary and cute at the same time.

When we get to shore our guide meets us along with another gentlemen who I guess is the driver on the island since we didn’t bring a car with us. They take us to a resort for our lunch.

We are directed to a shower to use that looks kind of like a bidet hose and not very sanitary so we all decided to stay drenched in seawater. In retrospect this should have been a red flag. There is a pool nearby and one group of girls jumps in while we wait for our pre-ordered food. It takes a while. My chicken curry comes out with a plate of rice and some raw vegetables. The curry is more like a chicken soup, flavorless, but I eat it anyway. I am smart enough to not eat the raw vegetables but as you will find out later I am not sure it made much of a difference.

We get back in the car and drive for a while. We end up at the viewing area called Kelingking Beach. The beach is actually a 45 minute hike down the stairs but we are not doing that. We are here for the photo opportunity. The place is a madhouse with “models” and tour groups. If you have been following my travels for a few years you will hear me complain constantly about influencers or instagrammers and how they are totally destroying travel. Today we contributed to that just a little bit. If I was on my own I would have taken one look at the crowd and said see ya but our driver was very eager to take us to the best places to take pictures and somehow he knew how to avoid the long lines. I still didn’t like 50% of my photos because I have body image issues but I appreciate what he was trying to do. The only part I didn’t like is when he had us practically running uphill, in our sandals to get to another spot. When we had a moment to enjoy it was a great view though. We made good time because it starts storming as we are leaving. That driver deserves a tip for rushing us.

We then drive down broken road, which is a REALLY broken road, to broken beach. At that location we see the arch from earlier when we were snorkeling. We also see the Angel’s Billabong that is an interesting rock formation. We rest here for a few minutes then start heading back toward the ferry.

We have to hop back into the water to get on the ferry and it is once again very awkward for me. My bottom half gets wet because I am short and clumsy. Also we are fighting the waves while trying to step in onto a swaying ferry. The ferry takes us back to the main land of Bali and then the van back to our retreat.

Swim out to the ferry for us short people

We decide to order dinner out as a group because there is an order minimum anyway. I order a so-so pizza and mango sticky rice. Soon it is bedtime because I am exhausted from the day’s activities. I sleep well … until I don’t. I have some nightmares about high school – very bizarre.

Bali Belly Strikes Again

It is Sunday I don’t set an alarm. The only thing I have scheduled is a 9 am massage today so I do my version of sleeping in. My finger is still weird and I don’t feel the best. It seems like that pizza last night has not agreed with my stomach. It feels a little like a hangover with out the drinking. I bravely try breakfast.

I find it really hard to eat. I know I need to eat but food seems disgusting at this point. I do as well as I can then I excuse myself because I am increasingly nauseous. I walk up the stairs and realize I am not going to make it to my room. I throw up my entire breakfast all over the beautiful lawn of the retreat. Luckily there is a hose there that is used by the surfers. I try to hose away evidence of my mess but it is too much and more is coming so I warn the guys who take care of the facility, apologize and run to my room for more.

I think I have it all out of my system for now. I have no idea what I am doing for lunch but I decide to make my morning massage appointment. There can’t possibly be anything left in my stomach. As the day progresses so does my symptoms. I sleep most of the day and spend a good amount of awake time in the bathroom. I officially have Bali belly. I have had this before last time I was on the island. It is not fun but sometimes it can clear up in a day or so. There is not much I can eat so I try to wait it out.

Hopefully this is a 24 hour thing and I feel better tomorrow.

Diet of champions


Malacca River

Today I am visiting the city of Melaka (or Malacca is English spelling). It is a must see on the tour of Malaysia since it is so rich with history and has a large Dutch influence on its architecture. It is south of Kuala Lumpur and not too far from Singapore.

Luckily my calf issue seems to be on the mend and today is a travel day. I’d hate to lose a day of being out and about due to an injury. I already missed out on the hike yesterday.

It’s a very curvy first half of ride from Cameron Highlands. I forget to take my motion sickness medicine until the bus starts moving so at the start I feel queasy. Luckily it doesn’t take long for my medicine to kick in.

I waited until the last minute to book my transportation within Malaysia because typically with bus tickets you can get them a couple days or the day of travel. I don’t think it is a big concern to travel from Cameron Highlands to Melaka in my initial planning. When I finally go to book my ticket I realize there are no direct buses. I do a little bit of last minute research and I try to use the website that I used to get to the Cameron Highlands but it would not route me to Melaka even with a transfer. I see that there are buses direct from KLIA to Melaka, which is the international airport in Kuala Lumpur and then I realize they are buses from Cameron highlands to KLIA. I buy one ticket to the airport, making sure I have enough time in between the buses, and then book my ticket to the second bus separately. On my first bus to the airport there are multiple stops which is common. It isn’t until after the first stop that people in the front of the bus started acting a little strange and asking questions but I can’t quite hear what they were talking about. I think to myself it probably a good idea to stay alert. When we get to the second stop it’s at a station called TBS, which is also a Kuala Lumpur and the major bus station. The driver makes it known that this is the last stop. I get off the bus and I’m confused because my ticket says KLIA and there’s nothing that says a transfer in the ticket. I ask the driver and he tells me to follow him up the escalator. I’m waiting there because there’s two other guys that are confused and he’s helping them but in another language. He finally hands me a ticket for a transfer to another bus which leaves at 1:30 which is in about an hour from now. I go inside the station and I realize that this is a major bus station and maybe I could just book my bus to Melaka direct from here. The ticket counter lines are long but I see a self service machine. I book a ticket for the same time that I am to catch my transfer to KLIA. Why am I going to the airport to transfer when I can ride direct from here? So here I am waiting for my direct bus to Melaka.

First thing after checking into my hotel is to get something to eat. I’ve only been eating snack food all day. I settle on a Pernakan restaurant called Kocik Heritage Nyonya Restaurant. I walk in and there is no hostess. I looked confused and two nice men who are dining tell me I can sit anywhere. Eventually a waitress appears and I order a couple Peranakan dishes that look appetizing. I can’t possibly finish it all as a single diner but I want to sample a couple things. While I am waiting for my meal I have a nice chat with the men who are just in town for the weekend from Kuala Lumpur. One is a doctor I believe. My visit to this city is already off to a great start with meeting such friendly people. All the food is amazing. I drink the fish curry sauce like it’s a soup because it’s so good.

I wander around Melaka and decide to take a cruise on the river close to sunset. We just go up the river and back. You can tell at one time this boat had many stops and people could get on and off at different locations. Probably another casualty of covid. Like the other cities I’ve been many business that cater to tourists have been permanently closed.

I decide to get roti canai for breakfast the next morning down the street but first a stop at the ATM. It gives me a 20RM instead of one of my 50’s. Basically shorting me the equivalent of 7USD. Not excited about this but the bank isn’t even open yet so I’ll have to deal with it later. I head over to Selvam Restaurant, an Indian restaurant. I order roti canai, a fried egg and a coffee without sugar (finally!). It seems like eating roti canai for breakfast is common so I am not doing something out of the ordinary for once. When my bread comes out the waiter gives me a metal canister with three different sauces for dipping. I am used to only one type in the USA so I am curious. I can tell he is leading me to the milder sauce but I want to try them all so I put all of them on my pate. The milder one, while good is watery. I prefer the other two: one slightly spicer curry that is thick and a white sauce that tastes like cucumber maybe and is slightly spicier than that. None of them is too spicy for me or my taste buds are toughing up.

I planned to go see the pretty mosque this morning but its pretty far out and I don’t feel like walking that far or taking a grab this morning so I stay local. I head over to the old Portuguese church on the hill, Church of Saint Paul. It is the oldest church in Southeast Asia. It’s been used by different Christian colonizers over the years but now it is roofless and hollowed out and holds some old very large tombstones.

I walk down stairs to the A Famousa, an old gate to the Portuguese city. It is all that is left from that wall that the British detonated at some time to prevent it to be taken over by Napoleon’s France. Wow just reading this stuff reminds me how lacking our US education system is. I never heard of this important city that I describe as “Melaka is to Malaysian kids what Saint Augustine is to the Florida kids”. Basically every kid here does a field trip to the town to learn its important history.

I start to begin my day of eating with a pineapple cookie and some sightseeing while I wait for this cafe to open.

I’ve been wanting to visit this highly recommended cafe called the Daily Fix. I get there early so there is no wait. It is very cute inside. I try some Gula Melaka coffee (palm sugar coffee a local specialty) and pandan pancakes. While the pancakes are good I hardly taste the pandan so there is a little disappointment there (I’m addicted.).

Baba and Nyonya museum.

I visit the Baba and Nyonya museum. The museum is in a Peranakan house that was in use by many generations. It is a good example on how life was like during the times. There is no tour guide but they provide a good guide in English that describes the rooms and life. I love the present day family photos of all the different generations.

I visit an old shoemaker that has foot binding shoes on display. He wants me to buy some binding shoes. What the heck am I going to do with these little shoes. I say no thank you and carry on.

The big news is that I tried durian again. I read that one of the local favorites is Cendol Durian ice cream. I get some courage and order it. It is actually not bad. The durian fruit is whole in the dish but when mixed with ice cream it isn’t too terrible. Maybe it is growing on me.

I finally try Putu Piring after being unsuccessful in Singapore. It’s an ok snack but they give you a very large portion for the price. I could only eat a little of it.

I am here on the weekend so I get to visit the famous Jonker Street night market. There are many stands to buy various things and a large food area. Of course I’m too full from my eating spree earlier to want to eat anything.

I am leaving soon. Not one of my proudest moments but I complained about my neighbors smoking this morning. Last night when I came back from being out my entire room smelled like cigarette smoke. It was gross. I thought about complaining then but the smell seemed to dissipate with time. When I was ready to go to sleep I heard noise from my neighbors and once again the smoke smell. I thought about once again getting dressed and going down to complain but I fell asleep anyway. I am not sure how since the smell is disgusting. After breakfast this morning I smell it again. Yes I am packing to leave in two hours but I’ve had enough. I finally complain. Besides being against hotel rules (I don’t really care about that) it is hella inconsiderate to your neighbors. So I am that person that complains about others now.

Besides the smoke I think the moisture in the air the past few days, and high sugar diet, are causing me to get some sort of sinus thing. I hope I can beat whatever this is quickly.

Now I’m off to Kuala Lumpur to hopefully a non-smoking, hot water, good WiFi hotel.

Cartagena: Rosario Islands

Our first cruise to the Rosario Islands got cancelled. Today is our rescheduled catamaran cruise. The weather is perfect for sailing today.

Our destination is the Rosario Islands off of Cartagena.

Once on the boat we find a comfortable and shaded spot to hang out for our departure. We don’t need lots of sun exposure so it is enough to just have a good view of the water.

Once everyone has boarded we slowly head out to open waters. Funky music plays at a very enjoyable level. The music is mostly island music. The cruise is relaxing so far.

Once we are further out the blue-green colors are more noticeable. I can even see the reef below.

There are two stops and both have snorkeling. I didn’t try the snorkeling because the gear costs extra and the reefs didn’t look too amazing (I snorkeled in Great Barrier Reef and this couldn’t compare). I am happy just swimming around the boat. I thought it was cool to swim under the boat, something I’ve never done before.

There are people in small boats selling food and drinks at the stops. One guy cuts open coconuts and mixes a myriad of liquids from bottles from the floor of his boat. I reluctantly order this Coco Loco thinking it could end badly but fortunately I only have a happy buzz and don’t get sick afterwards. It is a unique experience watching someone make the drinks on a small dinky boat. I only regret being cheap and not buying lobster from the lobster guy. I’ve read it is supposed to be amazing.

The second stop is close enough to swim to a small beach for those that have some sort of swimming fitness. I saw some getting picked up and dropped off there on jet skis so you may be able to pay someone for that if you are not a strong swimmer. It is challenging swimming back due to the current.

The next couple pictures are taken with M’s go pro.

Our boat out there.

We swim back to the boat and they are serving some great seafood paella for lunch.

Seafood Paella

Beverage purchases are credit only. Many people only brought cash on the boat. I like not having to deal with cash but I only wish we could have paid for it all at the end instead of having to take the card out each time we wanted to order something.

As we head back we enjoy cruising to island music. We feel good, always a sign of a good day at sea. Luckily we didn’t die from our boat booze.

While back in town we stop to have an early dinner at Marzola Parrilla Argentina, an Argentinian restaurant that has some fun décor.

We end up once again at Cuba 1940 where we catch live music.

We head back to our favorite La Cevichería to order the curry shrimp once more and a dessert.

Guava melt with cheese, mint and mandarin juice

There is great people watching from our outside table.


There are many street performers right near where we eat. We catch “Michael Jackson” for a little while. He is a good impersonator.

Michael Jackson hopping onto a carriage

One very fun thing to watch is the street rappers of Cartagena. A guy will target a sometimes unsuspecting tourist and start following them and rapping along with music (they expect tips for the performance). I spent time trying to avoid these guys but later on M and I teased each other that we would get one of these guys to rap for the other. It is fun to watch when you aren’t the target.

We end up outside a champeta music bar (champeta is a style of island music of Colombia – combination of Colombian chalupa and Afro-Cuban percussive music). The club looks like fun and we almost go in but instead listen outside for a little bit. It is late and we are tired.

We love our time in Cartagena but we are off to Medellin tomorrow.

Cartagena is not a long plane ride from Florida. I’ll probably head back here sometime for a long weekend with friends.