After quitting my job, I decided to eat, pray, love for two weeks around the world. I went to London, Nice, Dublin, and Austin – and had a dandy time at all those places. Songs were sung, drinks were drunk, and food was eaten – I was spending my money at an irresponsible rate but I was having fun. My ambition for new experiences in foreign lands will forever be unquenched! I’m not writing this blog as a travel guide – just as something to provide a vibe check on how these cities were. I went to Europe with my three old roommates: Bott, Callum, and Roddy. While in Austin I went alone and stayed with my friend Nick.
I had been to London before back in 2016. At the time, I lived with my uncle during the summer for a month in a suburb 1.5 hours outside of London. So although I got to experience something new, it wasn’t exactly super exciting as I was with family and was far away from the action. We did typical tourist stuff but most of my time was spent outside of London – being with family. This time around I went with friends and it was a lot of fun – I definitely think I enjoyed this trip more as I was given a lot more access to the city. First off the bat, Bott had never left North America before (aside from a vacay on a resort in South America) so this was his first international excursion. I think that I was more excited for him, than I was for myself.
While there I met up with my buddies Theo and Rob who I had met previously in Lisbon (you can read that blog here). I had envisioned myself being out until 4am but me and the boys were gassed. Between the jet lag and the lack of sleep – I just couldn’t muster up the energy to be out past 1 am. I apologize to Rob and Theo who might be reading this but next time, I will do my best to get some good sleep. London is a great city, historically it’s great with all the monuments and with all the activities and cultures around. Is the food good there? On average, no – but if you look in the right places you can find some great meals. The boys and I went to Borough Market and had a great time trying out the food vendors. Yes, coffee was good as well.
Something about me is that I have subconscious anxiety to go along with my real anxiety. My body doesn’t process new places well and I get poop and sleep anxiety which just puts me in shambles. So not only did I not sleep very much in London – I ended up not pooping for like 2 whole days and when I had the opportunity – I clogged the toilet at some coffee shop in Leicester Square – I even made eye contact with the lady who was going in after me . . . yikes. London with the lads – a good time, would definitely do it again and visit all the other markets and maybe even head out of the city and head to neighbouring cities/towns.
Perhaps the most scenic place I’ve ever been in my life. Not super fast but with enough to do where you won’t get bored. Definitely slower than most major cities. Although a good place with the lads, I kept seeing in my head that I would come back if I ever had a girlfriend/wife – which means that I’ll probably never be back 😮💨. The fact that you can stay in somewhere as beautiful as Nice, then take a 30 minute train ride east or west and go somewhere even more beautiful is insane.
We went to Menton and Monaco – both incredibly scenic cities with very different vibes. If you want to feel poor go to Monaco. Menton however was absolutely lovely. At one point Roddy wanted to see a picture point he found on Google Maps, only for the Uber to get us halfway there, realizing that we can’t go further, and have a park ranger escort us halfway down the mountain again. We then decided to hoof it for an hour – where we eventually caught a city bus going down the mountain. I almost threw up due to motion sickness. The boys and I had a great time for sure but damn, did I wish I was there with a woman.
We were dumb (well I was dumb as I had planned the itinerary for the entire trip) to only have two whole days in Nice. The problem was that our flight into Nice at night was delayed so that we got to the hostel around midnight, which prevented us from walking around at night when we should have arrived at 8 pm. As someone who prides himself on their planning ability and the skill to create team bondage, I should have been more aware and this is a skill that I will get better at. I think that if you go to the French Riviera, you’re definitely going to need at least 3, maybe even 4 days to see all that it has to offer.
We were met with windy weather while there which deterred us from lying out on the beach, regardless though the French Riviera is quite breathtaking – like people really live there? Don’t get me started on the food. Oh lord, we had two incredible dinners. One at a Le Canon (local ingredients, French) and another at La Favola (seafood, pasta, French). Roddy wasn’t a fan of seafood until we went to La Favola, I think we converted him. The mussels, the salmon tartar, the pizza – just incredible. French food can get it.
After our little seafood dinner, we met up with Callum’s med school friends and got our dance on at Waka Bar. Callum’s friends were fun, the club was fun – just a swell time with new friends in new places. We lost Roddy at the club for an hour, only to realize that he was outside the club the entire time. We got home to the hostel drunk as piss with Callum being exceptionally drunk – reaching undergrad second year levels of drunk. The French Riviera was definitely my favourite part of the trip, I only wish that we had more time in Nice. But realistically, I wish I had a girlfriend. Coffee was good.
Dublin is an exciting city in the touristy parts. There’s always a party going on, there’s always music being played, and there’s always Guinness being drunk. I don’t love Guinness but to invoke the Irish spirt I tried my best to stay away from any other beer. Does it taste different/better – I honestly couldn’t tell you, I never drink Guinness back home. Weather was not great but it’s Ireland, that was the expectation – although it was sunnier than I thought it was going to be. Before Dublin, Callum made sure to remind us that Ireland is incredibly gloomy.
If you like drinking and rowdy pubs then it doesn’t get better than Dublin. If you like spending a lot of money and $30 on lunch, then it really doesn’t get better than the tourist area in Dublin. Food wasn’t great in Dublin but maybe we just weren’t looking at the right places. I won’t lie though, Callum took us to this place called Hatch (sorry, can’t find the website) and they had the best breakfast sandwich that I have ever had in my life.
Our second day in Dublin, we had a our eyes set on Glendalough. What a hike! We put in around 17km over something like 5 hours and it was really a struggle for some of it too but was tons of fun. Had some good conversations with some locals while up there, overall a great time with incredible views. I think that Dublin is fun but if you want to really experience Ireland you have to do a hike like Glendalough just to understand what nature can provide for you in a country where everything is green. A blog article on the Glendalough hike coming soon.
We even went to Leinster vs Leicester for a quick rugby game. I had been to pro rugby matches before in Canada but this was so much better. We saw some absolute weapons out there on the pitch and the atmosphere was incredible, especially due to Leinster being the home side and how they smashed Leicester. What a game! What did we do for all our nights there? We drank, then we drank, and then we did more drinking. I drank less than everyone else since nowadays I’m really not in drinking shape anymore but I tried my best.
Funny story, we were in a shared living space at a hostel and one of our roommates comes home drunk with a friend who wasn’t a guest and tries to convince him to stay, the friend leaves, the roommate then proceeds to play music on his phone at 3 am and throws up in the washroom all while locking himself in. When I woke up for my flight in the morning I had to use the hostel lobby washroom to brush my teeth. What an asshole. Dublin was fun, not my favourite city but definitely somewhere you should check out with friends. Coffee was not bad.
I don’t know if I would had gone to Austin if it weren’t for my friend Nick. Imagine your younger brother who is super bratty, kind of innocent and shy, but also quite annoying – that’s Nick. I don’t know why I keep him around. Anyways, I went down to Austin for his birthday weekend and had a great time meeting his friends. I think that I can confirm that if men were Pokémon, I would be the Pokémon master by catching them all. For real, Nick’s male friends and I got along really well. This was especially evident while we were club hopping on 6th St and getting to know each other. I think the something cool about Austin is that it’s actually not too different from Toronto but has a shade of uniqueness due to the Mexican culture.
Texas has a huge Mexican population, which is a community of people that I don’t really get to spend time with in Canada. Something I regret not trying while there is Mexican food. Being able to meet and speak with folks from that culture was really interesting and I hope to speak to them again. Chinese people and Mexican people are like the same thing if you really think about it. We love wrapping small pieces of meat in wraps, our parents are loving but also racist and homophobic towards others, and a lot of us wish we were white passing.
But come on, you all know who I am. You know that your boy likes to eat and you know what Texas does better than anybody else? BBQ brisket. We went to the famous Terry Black’s and it was pretty wild inside to see that they open at 10:30 am and it was already pretty full. People were scarfing down fatty foods and beers that early in the day. We got unlucky as our brisket was too lean but we got a beef rib – holy moly – that shit was insane in size and flavour. Everything is bigger in Texas . . . because you just eat a lot of food and get fat like I did.
We also went to Buc-ees which is a chain of mega gas stations/convenience stores known for excess, grandeur, and clean toilets. I made sure to use the washroom but I think I got a dud because my toilet bowl did have a poop streak. But as I left the stall there was a staff member on duty to make sure that I cleaned up my duty. The brisket sandy there was insane. If a Canadian restaurant had BBQ like Buc-ees did, they would be famous for having the best BBQ in town. Austin is a great city with lots to do and see, I definitely recommend checking it out. Coffee would have been alright if they didn’t throw a cup of milk in all my coffees – when I asked for just a dash of it.
Now that I’m back I am relieved to sleep in my own bed and poo in my own toilet but I still get the itch to go somewhere else. And I totally would too but I need to focus on my career and getting a job again. As of writing this, I have two interviews this week so we are making progress. I would like to thank the homies: Bott, Callum, Nick, Roddy – and all the others mentioned in this article for making these past two weeks so much fun! Although I do love solo traveling and plan on doing more of that in the near future, it’s great to have shared experiences with others and try new things. I’m all for team bondage. I think that since December, I’ve just been so anxious and stressed out, that it was nice to freshen up my life and take on new perspectives with my friends. Why yes, I am Mr. Worldwide.