This wasn't my first trip to Ireland; it was actually the fourth time I visited. However, all of the other trips had been very short and mostly centered around Dublin. The goal of this trip was to decide which city in Ireland I would most want to call home.
Due to my knack for flying on the cheapest and also least comfortable flights, I had two overnight flights in a row. This time, it included a regular Sunday work day, followed by a drive up to the Denver airport. My flight then arrived in Boston at 5 AM. Since I had until 5 PM before I left for Dublin, I wandered around the Harvard and MIT area. The most exciting part of Boston was meeting a blog reader! I was eating lunch at a vegetarian restaurant recommended by a friend and mentioned my twelve hour layover to the waiter. As I was leaving, he asked if I would like to store my bags in their office. I said yes and thanked him and he said, "I too have been a stranger in a strange land." I paused, mentioned that I had a blog by that name, and he replied that he thought so and was a regular reader! I had never been recognized from my blog before!
Then, it was another overnight flight to arrive in Dublin at 4 AM. I went to meet a friend for coffee and was greeted by this sign, "Insomnia, Love Being Awake!" All of the coffee shops were still closed, it was that early in the morning! We were literally the first customers to a nearby coffee shop when it (finally) opened at 7:30 AM. I'm not sure if I was making any sense at that point, but with her help, I managed to get to Heuston Station and on the train to Waterford.
When I arrived in Waterford, I told myself not to fall asleep until 8 PM at the earliest. So, I checked into my hostel at 2 PM and promptly fell asleep. I woke up around 5 PM, wandered around the city, discovered that all the museums I wanted to see were closing, changed the following day's bus ticket for a few hours later, and went back to the hostel. Without even getting ready for bed, I feel asleep around 7:30 PM and woke up feeling fully caught up on sleep and ready to explore. Then, I checked the time. 2:30 AM. So, I went into the kitchen, met a Frenchman, and talked about American and French politics until 6 AM. At that point, I returned to the hostel room, woke up at 9:30 AM and was finally ready to go explore the city.
At the recommendation of the Frenchman in the kitchen, I took a short bus ride to Tramore and started off my morning with coffee and a beach side view. Then, it was back to Waterford. Waterford is Ireland's oldest city and was founded by Vikings. Some sites, like Reginald's Tower, are over a thousand years old. I just so happened to be in Waterford on a day when entry to the tower was free of charge so I climbed up the winding spiral staircase and saw lots of Viking artifacts.
As someone obsessed with Medieval Literature, I also visited the Medieval Museum, which is a must-see for anyone interested in the Medieval world.
Waterford is also home to the famous Waterford Crystal, but I didn't take much time to look at that because it was time to catch the bus to Cork! I stayed with a friend in Cork and met all of her friends so I felt already like a local. The city was very welcoming with a similar vibe to Dublin but slightly less hectic. I also asked all of her friends for their vote for the best coffee shop in the city, since I knew I'd be up almost all night talking. They voted for Warren Allen coffee and that was where I began the next day.
I actually didn't realise how close Blarney and Cork were until recently, so I then went to visit the Blarney Castle. Unfortunately, after clearing the massive queue to get inside the castle grounds, there was another two hour queue just to get inside the castle. I like to think I already have the "gift of gab" and am too germophobic to actually kiss the Blarney Stone (I don't need any more diseases!) so I just wandered around the gardens and castle grounds.
The next stop of the trip was Killarney. There were A LOT of American flags in Killarney. When I first arrived in Ireland, it was July 4. When people heard me speak, they would ask, "Are you American?" and when I replied yes, they followed up with, "Oh, it's a big holiday in your country today! Happy Fourth of July!" It was adorable, and I suspect some of the country's interest in the Fourth of July comes from their own independence from England.
Killarney took the Fourth of July celebrations to a new level. A local told me that they have a parade every year featuring former American presidents (Abraham Lincoln is always a popular one) and people dressed up as cowboys. Okay, then.
The next day was a day tour of the Dingle Peninsula. I had considered renting a car, but due to my age and inability to drive a manual transmission, it was going to be too expensive. Once our bus was actually on Slea Head drive, I was really glad I wasn't the one driving! The road was narrow and overlooking treacherous cliffs. The tour stopped in the seaside town of Dingle, Tralee, and everything in between, including a stop to see baby lambs.
I met some lovely solo female travellers on that day trip and we enjoyed dinner and some live Irish music once we'd returned to Killarney. The next morning, I went to the train station and given my regular challenges with technology, the ticket machine printed a ticket that read "Mallow to Mallow" rather than "Killarney to Mallow and Mallow to Dublin." The train station worker was so amused by this he asked if he could borrow my ticket, take a photo, and show all his co-workers. Then, he said it was fine, since they added a special train from Killarney to Dublin, without a stop in Mallow due to Coldplay. Yes, they were running special trains just for the Coldplay concert. One of my main goals this year was to somehow see Coldplay in concert since they're the only band I've listened to ever since I discovered there was music beyond "radio music" a decade ago and they've hinted that this might be their last year touring. When I found out they'd be in Ireland at the same time as me, plus that I had friends in Dublin on the same days, I added in a couple of days in Dublin to my itinerary.
I've done a lot of things alone while travelling, but this was the first time I went to a concert alone, nicely wedged between two Irish couples. I had the worst seat in the house due to an extreme side view of the stage, but it was the best 60 euros for a bad seat that I could have possibly spent!
Once we entered the stadium, we were given a wristband that lit up in time to the music. It automatically changed colour and sometimes there were several different colours. It was so cool, but I have no idea how they work! I think this might have been the best concert I've ever been to (although Bastille in Vancouver and George Ezra in DC come close...see the recurring theme of British musicians?)
I heard there were over 100,000 people at this concert and I believe it!
In addition to the wristbands, the show featured fireworks, all sorts of special effects, and Chris Martin running all around the stage with an Irish flag.
The rest of my time in Dublin was spent meeting up with friends, visiting bookstores, and seeing the Book of Kells again. They change which pages are open frequently so I saw two different pages.
I took an evening train to Galway (and spent most of the trip listening to Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl" on repeat.) I had previously visited Galway in November but only long enough to visit a Christmas market. The town is small, but charming.
The city has a free museum about its history and a well-know university and cathedral. I learned that this is where the traditional claddagh Irish ring is produced. It is often used as an engagement ring and sometimes is passed down throughout generations. I know you're all wondering if I've found an Irish fiance yet and no, I have not, however at least I know where the engagement rings are located!
So which city in Ireland was my favourite? It's a tough call. Cork felt very welcoming, but I loved the charm of Killarney. I also loved Galway, but it might feel too small for long-term. Then, there is always the thriving city of Dublin. Or, if I was feeling brave, there is the gaelic-speaking region of Dingle. Then, there is still the whole northern region of Ireland left to explore. Ireland is definitely one of those countries I could spent ages exploring and still have so much left to see!
In February, Cazzy of Dream Big, Travel Far shared her experiences of travelling with type 1. Today, we have another guest, Luke from @t1traveller on Instagram. Like me, Luke was diagnosed in adulthood, after a significant amount of travel. His diagnosis has not stopped his travels!
Can you give us a little background about where you are from and how you got interested in travelling?
I'm from the UK England and currently in my 4th of what will be 18 months travel across Asia and Australasia with my girlfriend. So far on this trip we've been to India, Kuala Lumpar, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Heading to: Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
When were you diagnosed with type 1? Was this before or after you started travelling?
Unfortunately I didn't travel much until my mid 20's. Around the time I turned 27 I started travelling every other month - mainly city breaks to different European cities.
I then ventured to Vietnam for a 2 week holiday and experienced Asia for the first time which was a real eye opener for me; The new foods & smells, the crazy motorbike traffic, the pace of life and above all the people who whilst poor were incredibly hospitable.
The 40 degree Celcius (104 degree Fahrenheit) heat and crazy humidity did take some adjustment.
After this I really had the bug to travel further again.
Once I had enough holiday allowance and money I made my way to Sri Lanka and travelled the country solo by motorbike for 18 days which was hard work at times, but amazing! I say hard because I got so badly sunburnt I had to wear a jumper for a week and I got soaking wet several days and had to ride through heavy rains for hours.
Riding through tea plantations, mountain villages and along the coast the views were absolutely stunning. I didn't see any other tourists for days, at times I was in the middle of nowhere.
I vividly remember stopping at a village shop for a drink. When I finished my drink and walked back to my bike I found 5 young men standing around it. They just stared at me completely speechless - I don't think they'd seen a Westerner before. That sort of thing happened often on that trip.
5 months later (September 2015) I became quite unwell. After checking a few symptons online I was pretty certain I was diabetic so I went to my GP. My fasting Blood glucose was 16.8mmol and my GP diagnosed me with Type 2, which seemed odd as I'd just turned 30, had a healthy BMI, an active job and zero family history.
I started taking metformin and going back to the doctors every other week with a cold/infection/virus, eye ache and everything else associated with sky high BS. I waited 2 months and lost 10kg/22 pounds (and my patience) before deciding to go private to see an Endocrinologist. Within 5 minutes of my appointment he was arranging insulin therapy for me and I haven't looked back. I think its safe to say I must have had some pancreatic function left otherwise I think I'd have gone into DKA within those 2 months.
Having got off to a bad start with my GP I was fortunate enough to meet a superb team of Dr's and Nurses at Barnet Hospital, North London who got me on track. Regular appointments with my Endo, Nurse and dietician and then a FEFI course which taught me how to carb count properly and how not to bolus for Pizza (which I still have problems with).
Once I mastered the art & science of Insulin therapy I booked to go back to Vietnam with my new found appetite.
How did your blood sugar cooperate on your first type 1 travels?
I found the heat and humidity really increased my insulin sensitivity. I'd eat a large meal with lots of carbs, test 1 hour after eating and be around 12, then 2 hours later be at 3.5 and sweating like crazy - but hard to tell I'm having a hypo because of the warm weather. Also Vietnamese food can be high GI so you do feel hungry before your next meal meaning I was ignoring hunger pains initially.
Fortunately in south east Asia, pressed sugar cane drinks are sold everywhere and are a perfect hypo remedy.
However, I always now carry glucose tablets or sweets with me everywhere I go. Though during my current travels I haven't experienced the same increased insulin sensitivity from the heat as before. Perhaps my honeymoon period has now finished.
What preparations do you make for your diabetes before a trip?
Before I travel I make sure I order double the supplies I'll need - I won't be able to take them all with me (especially on this trip) but its good practice to take extra and leave some at home for when you return. I've got enough to last until I get to Australia where i hope to be able to see a Doctor and get more.
Frio bags are a lifesaver for storing insulin, currently got 6 with me.
Have you met any other type 1s on your travels? Do you tend to tell people you meet that you are diabetic?
I haven't met any other Type 1s on my travels. I don't tend to advertise my diabetes either. I don't hide it, ill inject novorapid at the table or in the street if we're eating out. If I was travelling solo I guess I'd be eating with/around new people all the time so I'm sure questions would be asked. I got caught injecting Lantus in my Glute by a Tuk Tuk driver outside a train station in India (we had a 14 hour train to catch) who asked if it was drugs. When I explained he started telling me his fasting BG - as did any man who spotted me injecting in India. Type 2 is endemic there and testing is cheap and readily available. Trying to explain that Type 1 and Type 2 are different - impossible as everyone's a doctor...
Thanks for sharing your travels, Luke!
Do you or someone you know travel with type 1 diabetes? I am looking to expand this in to a monthly feature so please contact me if you'd be interested in sharing your story!
Hi, I’m Crystal! Just like you, I love to travel. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 24 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
What am I up to today? Check out my Instagram feed below to find out!