Photo after photo flooded my Instagram and Facebook with that hashtag for 3 months straight last spring. If you are friends with me on either of those platforms, then you probably remember seeing it and either thinking, “Wow, how exciting! Keep sharing your adventure with us!” or “Screw you, Kaya. Are you ever coming home so we can stop seeing posts about how awesome your life is?!” If you thought the latter, then I’m not quite sure why you’re here reading this, but thank you for sticking with me! The purpose of sharing my travels with you all is not to rub my happiness in anyones face, but to hopefully inspire you too to create a cool life for yourself and follow your dreams, whatever they may be!
With that said, allow me to expose the inner workings of my mind during my Western Europe backpacking adventure with my then-boyfriend (now-very good friend), Aedan. Segment number one; the flight overseas.
We started saving our money in August of 2012, bought our flights in October of 2013, and took off on a $583 roundtrip flight to Dublin, Ireland on the evening of March 26th, 2014.
While waiting in the terminal at JFK before our flight, Aedan and I realized we still had a small amount of American cash on us. Naturally, we got rid of it by spending it all on beer and mini bottles of wine for the flight. Never before had I been drunk on a plane, but I was about to learn how much easier it made getting through long, red-eye flights.
Sitting on the plane, I drunkenly giggled at the sound of English accents all around me as I realized my dream of traveling around Europe was finally beginning to unfold. I was still in disbelief, but actually being on that huge plane made me certain of two things: I was about to cross the Atlantic ocean for the first time, and I was so blessed to be sitting beside the best travel companion I could’ve ever hoped for.
I dozed off, buzzed and content with the knowledge that I was on my way to somewhere new and exciting.
Our final destination was Ireland, but our first stop on this trip was actually England since we had a 4 hour layover at London Heathrow Airport. To my surprise, it was here that I first experienced a feeling of self-consciousness about being American. I was a true foreigner for first time. I had the accent. I’d been out of the country before, but Canada and a cruise around the Caribbean never filled me with this disconcerting sensation.
I kept this feeling to myself, only writing about it in my journal. I figured it was worth noting, but that it would pass quickly.
And so it did…for a time…but I’ll pick up on that elsewhere.
The small, and very short flight from London to Dublin brought me great comfort when I quickly realized that the Irish are just as loud and hilarious as the Italian-American side of my family that I grew up with. I knew I would feel right at home once we got there. Not to mention, I strongly believe that somewhere in my lineage is celtic blood. In a way, I wasn’t only heading to a country that I’d always dreamed of seeing and where Aedan had roots, I was also heading to what I felt was one of my many spirit homes in this world. A new wave of excitement washed over me.
So, on we flew for an hour and 15 minutes. As the loud chatter of a group of Irish bridesmaids filled my ears, my mind got lost in the clouds, daydreaming of Guinness and old men playing fiddles.