Bright Lights in the Big City – China Day 11

Written and published March 13th, 2018

Today we flew to Hong Kong! It was Alex’s birthday as well so we sang and had a cake for her in the airport. When we got to Hong Kong we checked in at our hotel, toured the city, went shopping at Temple Street, and saw a laser show on the river. The photos were taken on my phone and there aren’t that many since it was a travel day.



Une Excuse d’une “Mauvaise Touriste”

March 10th, 11th, 12th

“Not all those who wander are lost”– J. R. R. Tolkien

I would admit at the beginning that I’m not really good at traveling. I’m not good at planning my day ahead of time and I’m even worse at following my plan throughout the day. Also, I never have the best luck when I’m traveling: I would arrive at the bus stop to find that my bus has just left; if I decide to turn left at a crossroad, I would soon discover that Comédie Francaise (the place I’m looking for) is in the opposite direction; if I decide to not bring an umbrella today, it would definitely rain, but if I did bring one, it never rains; in the worst case scenario, I’ll finally arrive at a place I longed to visit to find it closed for the day or even the season. When I travel, there’s simply too many unexpected “accidents” and too little time to plan ahead for all of them. I will admit that many of these accidents happened because of my own fault: because I’m really bad at navigating, or because I forgot to check the museum website for open hours. Yet, there are times when nature plays tricks on me, like today when a heavy shower hit while I was enjoying the sun and the statues at Jardin Tuileries. IMG_7145

A statue at the Jardin Tuileries just before the storm

Yet, I would say, despite my lack of skill and general misfortune as a traveler, I do possess one important gift: making the best out of my situation. For example, when the sudden rain forced me to alter my plan to enjoy the Jardin Tuileries, I found myself not distressed, but glad that I could take some time to myself and enjoy a pot of tea at the small café in the garden. When I found that I have run out of time to visit another private museum today, I found myself happily wandering into churches that are not even on my original list of places to visit. To be honest, these impromptu visits often bring me the most joy and excitement.

FullSizeRender 17

The impressive dome at Église Notre-Dame de l’Assomption (the church I wandered into)FullSizeRender 36FullSizeRender 37
Interior of La Madeleine


My favorites at the Musée de l’Orangerie

I believe these accidents and wandering is the best part of traveling alone. Because I’m not afraid to be lost and to wander, I can travel to a broader horizon without getting afraid. I wonder and discover, knowing that I’ll find my way at the end. And perhaps, I will find a new part of me on the way.

Weekend adventure to Fontainebleau
Some Gallo-Romain artifacts at Château de Saint-Germain (Le Musée d’Archéologie nationale)IMG_7054.JPG


Alexandre Dumas père’s study


Exterior and interior of Alexandre Dumas père’s house Le château de Monte Cristo

I’m grateful to be in Paris, a city where I can wander aimlessly and still be awed. I’m even more thankful for having enough time to “waste” in such a breathtaking city!



Goodbye Sunny Days – China Day 10

Written and posted March 12th, 2018

Today was our first full day in Shanghai! We took what was supposed to be an hour bus ride, turned out to be three because of traffic, to the city of Suzhou. Suzhou, the Venice of China, is where T. Bei used to live and grew up so it was really special to see her home. We also were able to meet her parents for lunch and they traveled along with us the rest of the day. T. Bei’s parents bought us yummy Chinese snacks like rice cakes and a type of Jello. Continue reading “Goodbye Sunny Days – China Day 10”

Hill House

Hello everyone! This is just a reminder that due to a lack of wifi and poor cell reception I have been unable to update my blog and that the date these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses. Thank you!

March 7th, 2018 || (March 11th, 2018)

Today my father and I traveled to Ardara to meet my Uncle Allen Given and his wife, Silva. I say Uncle Allen, but in fact, he is my first cousin twice removed, since my great-grandmother Rebecca was his aunt. Anyway, Uncle Allen is the only living member of the Given family who knows where our family homestead, Hill House, is located. After a short five-minute car ride from the quaint town of Ardara, we drove out to the center of a peninsula on an extremely steep one-way road called Loughros Point road. However, the view of the cliffs that lined the south side of the peninsula was beautiful and the pale blue waters of the “wild Atlantic” were rolling up against white sandy beaches. Likewise, the coast of the north side peninsula was nearly a perfect semicircle, which showcased the raw beauty of the sea. It was in this moment of observation that I finally understood why my grandfather had visited Ireland so many times and why my father had come back here so many times. It was the most beautiful sight I had ever witnessed. More beautiful than the Giant’s Causeway. Continue reading “Hill House”

Beijing, a World of Difference

After over thirty hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Beijing, the capital of China. I will be breaking this blog up by city and then by day. With Bei as our tour leader, we do over five things everyday so it is going to be hard to talk about everything, but I will try my best! Please enjoy!

Day 1:

After arriving at the airport, we met with our tour director, Sunny. Sunny is absolutely amazing and Bei has been working with her for the past couple of years so Sunny is super excited to be working with us! We immediately board our coach bus and our itinerary begins at full speed. Our first stop was lunch in the center of Beijing. Lunch was traditional Chinese food, which wasn’t too shocking, however, I didn’t get out of the restaurant without some culture shock! Apparently in China, there is something called a squatting toilet, I’m sure you can figure out why this was shocking! Continue reading “Beijing, a World of Difference”

Soft as Silk – China Day 9

Written and posted March 11th, 2018

Today we went to the Jade Buddha Temple and Yu Yuan Garden, toured a silk factory, explored Shanghai, walked around the Bund waterfront and Nanjing road, visited the world’s largest Starbucks, and saw an acrobatic show that was incredible.

Enjoy the photos!

-Anna Continue reading “Soft as Silk – China Day 9”

Giant’s Causeway

Hello again! I’m terribly sorry for the lack of blog posts! I’ve been travel through several rural areas of Ireland with horrible wifi and cell phone service. However, I’ve been writing my blog posts all along and now I’m finally able to post them! An important side note: the date that these posts were written will be listed first and followed by the day they were posted in parentheses.

March 6th, 2018 || (March 10th, 2018)

Ireland is a lot more beautiful than I thought it was going to be. Before coming here I had this preconceived notion that in Ireland it was going to be constantly raining, drizzling at least, with cloudy skies, ugly green hills, and dark navy oceans. I was so terribly wrong. After landing in Dublin on March 5th my father and I embarked on our two-hour drive (on the “wrong” side of the road) past Belfast to Ballyclare to meet with my cousins Stephan and Stephanie Deyermond. Then as a group, we drove up to Port Rush and had a lovely dinner together. The following morning my father and I adventured to Giant’s Causeway. In my family, it’s a tradition to visit Giant’s Causeway when in Ireland. For those of you who don’t know, Giant’s Causeway, or simply the Causeway,  is a series of 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, which formed as a result of an ancient volcanic eruption. They are also infamous due to their hexagon pattern. Furthermore, Giant’s Causeway has been recognized as a World Heritage Site and national park. Continue reading “Giant’s Causeway”

Aux Grands Hommes (Et Femmes)

March 8th and 9th

“And while I understand and feel/ How much to them I owe,/ My cheeks have often been bedew’d/ With tears of thoughtful gratitude/…/ My place with them will be,/ And I with them shall travel on/ Through all Futurity;/ Yet leaving here a name, I trust./ That will not perish in the dust” –Robert Southey

March 8th and 9th, I went to pay homage to Paris’ two most iconic sites for art and literature: the Panthéon and the Musée d’Orsay.

The modern Panthéon in Paris is named and (partially) modeled after the famous Roman Pantheon in Rome. The name “Pantheon” means, in Ancient Greek and Latin, (temple) to all the gods. rome-pantheon

Continue reading “Aux Grands Hommes (Et Femmes)”

Above the Clouds – China Day 8

Written and posted March 10th, 2018

Today we flew from Guilin to Shanghai! While I was extremely excited to be going to Shanghai I didn’t want to leave Guilin and today was probably one of the worst days on the trip. Late last night and into the morning about nine of the twenty people in our group got sick with food poisoning. We still aren’t exactly sure what it was from, however, it made for an interesting morning and day. After we arrived in Shanghai we summited the Shanghai World Financial Center which is the fifth worlds tallest building. It was amazing being able to see the whole city! The sick people then went back to the hotel to rest and I and about ten others explored the Shanghai mall and went to a quick dinner before returning to the hotel ourselves to sleep.

This blog post is extremely short since we didn’t do much with it being a travel day and people being sick. Enjoy!

– Anna