The Island of Inis Oirr

Following our night of dinner and pints, the Wallaces + Megan and I ventured to the island of Inis Oirr, off the West coast of Ireland.


We roused a short while after eight am. Papa Wallace drove us down narrow, two lane roads toward Dingle as the ever-present Irish mist coupled with the fog to blanket around the vehicle. We were rushing to make the 11 o’ clock ferry, and nothing was standing in the way of our Texan driver making sure we made the boat.

We made the ferry, and the man who sold us our tickets even spoke of a rumor that the sky was supposed to clear up the afternoon. We boarded the ferry and set out for the island.

The winds were high and the water choppy, which made for a precarious trip over, complete with domino-effect blunders, windswept hair, and blue dolphin sightings!


However, our sightings of the Cliffs of Moher did not fare as well that day, as this is the most we saw. image

No, really.
Where’d they go?

Despite the Cliffs being cloaked in fog, Inis Oirr was quite clear when we arrived (thank you, Ferry man!) The island itself was beautiful; home to crumbling buildings, horses, wild berries, a graveyard and, of course, a shipwreck site. Oh yeah, and slugs. image

They day was also witness to candid moments of affection, which I so expertly chronicled with my camera. image

I have an insane amount of events to catch up on.

So I’m starting with ones that make me nostalgic.


Galway, Ireland

Pictured Top (left to right): Elaine, Megan, Christian, Mama Wallace, and myself.
Middle (left to right): Papa Wallace aka Original Cowboy and his son.
Bottom: Mama Wallace noms some Pizza Napoli.

My dear Texan brother Christian’s parents come to visit. We give them a proper Irish welcome, complete with good food, stories and, of course, pints on pints on pints on pints. After a delicious Cava dinner of tapas and wine, we went to Tigh Neachtain to show off the local Irish pub culture. Naturally, that had to include a stop at the glorious next-door Pizza Napoli, despite the earlier meal. I’d say everyone was pretty pleased.

Over the summer, I made some really cool amigos de España via Couch Surfing se llaman Eli, Esther and Alejandro o “Alé.”

We meet up one night in the Cellar Bar and split a few pitchers or “cántaros.” Their English is about as good as my Spanish and we fumble faultingly through both languages until the ceverza makes us un pocos baratos and we can converse more freely.

Eli is a tall, morena native of Barcelona, where I have held an internship with an architecture company called ON-A. She is also studying architecture and that is her reason for being in Galway; she’s enrolled in a summer program at the university.

Alé and Esther are from a small village in the mountains about three hours from Madrid called Teruel. Esther y Alé son novios—girlfriend & boyfriend. They all really want to improve their English and I’m hoping they can help me expand my Spanish.

The photos above are from a Masquerade Party held in the basement of the Cellar Bar and the Silent Disco on Dominick Street.

They stayed through about the middle of August then travelled home, extending an invitation to me for whenever I find myself in that part of the world again.


I’m still here! Though, five months later, the specific location of “here” has modified slightly: I’m back living in Washington, DC, working at the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.

I do have quite the backlog of photos from travels that I will be updating the blog with over the coming months, in the absence of new adventures.

May the horizon be your home.

stevelepore asked:
Hi Olivia, hope you're well! I see you're a music writer, and I'd love to get back in touch. Have you seen Laura yet? I saw her at a show in New York. She looks beautiful and as happy as a person has ever looked. I hope everything's going great, it certainly looks like it is based on your travels.

Ha I’m just getting back to this. I haven’t seen Laura, no. But if she’s going to shows, I’m sure she’s well. :) Things will be going better once I get a job!

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You should all like the SSv Facebook page because I’m writing news for it now. You’ll get updates on the latest tour dates, music video premieres, etc. Go on, you know you want to!

Blue skies and hot weather graced us for my only festival experience of this summer, Pukkelpop 2012. My boyfriend, Garry, and I headed over to Belgium on 18 August to see some amazing live music. I’d set up a group on Couch Surfing prior to the festival, and ended up meeting some amazing people. A lovely girl named Paveen, originally from Kenya but getting her Master’s in Belgium, stayed in a spare tent that Garry and I brought. While waiting for her to meet me at the campsite, I hula hooped near the entrance to Campsite B to a round of applause and standing ovation from the campsite security.

I’m also eternally grateful to Steve, a tall Belgian lad who picked us up from Charleroi airport and drove us straight to the festival site. He was waiting for us in the airport when we arrived with a sign that said ‘Olivia + BF.’

‘I expected you to be taller,’ he said.

Always independent at festivals, I’d anticipated setting us the campsite then dispersing to different stages for the artists we each wanted to see. However, when Steve pulled out his schedule — with preferred acts highlighted — it coincided exactly with the bands I wanted to see. We had a great time the whole weekend, dancing, drinking Belgian beer and being treated to some amazing tunes. We managed to get into the main stage pit for Bush, Santigold, The Shins, The Hives, The Black Keys, Foo Fighters, The Stone Roses and Eagles of Death Metal.

I’d forgotten my camera, so there are the few shots I managed to take with my phone. Videos to come later! (I about died when the Black Keys played ‘Little Black Submarines’ — so good!)

Nickname I earned over the weekend: Captain Nosering.

Festivals and new friends make me love my life.


I cannot wait for this fucking festival.


…just not for me. I attended my friend Rachel’s wedding reception last night. She’s the first of my friends to get married — the first wedding I’ve been to that isn’t family-related. She and her husband looked lovely and happy, as seen above.

Actually, all of us looked lovely, I must say. You can also see a few of the girls from the MA Writing/MA Lit & Publishing programs dressed in their finest summer formalwear.

We all had a great time up dancing and I was seriously ecstatic to be reunited with the best dance partner ever, Fiona (the gorgeous redhead in the blue). Everyone seemed to have a fabulous time. Megan also caught Rachel’s bouquet, which means she and Christian should be getting engaged soon.

I was also just really happy that — for once — Garry actually volunteered to take pictures with me. Bravo, boyfriend. :)

Hen Party Shenanigans

Because it was my friend Rachel’s wedding yesterday, naturally we had to have a Hen party for her. We had a few rounds of drinks and games at Cat’s house pre-dinner, exposing her darkest secrets and quizzing her on her knowledge of her now-husband, James. My favorite had to do with ‘happy shakes.’ After a few hours of grilling Rachel and imbibing a few drinks, we headed into town.

Aine had taken charge of planning the party, and did an incredible job. We were able to have a three-course dinner at the Bentley (formerly Cuba/Bar 903) for a mere €15 per person. I had a cajun chicken salad with sundried tomato AS MY STARTER, fish & chips as the main and a raspberry cheesecake with chocolate chip cookie crust that was orgasmic. No really, I swear, I almost lost it at the table there. That €15 also got a free glass of wine, entrance into the nightclub, and a cocktail and VIP session on the top floor.

After eating to capacity, drinking to inebriation and dancing to the point of ass-soreness, we proceeded down to the docks to watch the boats come in at around two in the morning. There were thousands of people down on the docks, on this random Monday night, at two AM. It was weird.

It took ages for the boats to reach the docks and we kept asking ourselves where they were: ‘They were at Black Rock twenty minutes ago! We could have walked down from there in that time!’
When they finally did arrive, it was in the form little red lights floating high in the air that slowly approached the docks until — suddenly — a massive boat was visible. France were the winners, if you’re taking notes.

Thankfully, it only started raining after the boats came in.

This marks the second summer in a row that I’ve spent American Independence Day abroad. Last year in Spain, I spent the day with my Syrian friend Aseel and three British boys. Get ready for the throwback photo:

Chyeah. Happy and thin on the streets of Barça. There really wasn’t much of a marker that it was the Fourth of July excepting that I was wearing red, white & blue and that I kept shouting to the the Brits, ‘TODAY IS MY INDEPENDENCE DAY FROM YOU.’ It was a good time.

This year, due to that damned Volvo Ocean Race, there were actual American celebrations in Galway! And by that, I mean a parade and fireworks (pictured above).

My friends and I took the liberty (pun intended) of engaging in All-American shenanigans. These included: Budweiser (two 20 packs for €25), four different types of pizza (€4 each, courtesy of Four Star Pizza), Buffalo Chicken Dip, an American playlist, and — of course — American apparel (not the company). There was also Poutine, courtesy of Canadian Megan. Christian, my Texan friend, and I both dressed up to show our patriotism, he in his very Amurrican shirt and me in all the colors of the American flag. Also pictured above are the (North) American ladies from the festivities, Megan, Miriam and I (left to right).

It is also worth noting that Christian’s housemates played a trad session outside for an hour and half and earned around €180. I guess that’s what happens when hundreds of thousands of people come to your city to party.

The Volvo Ocean Race is Swallowing My Soul…and Free Time

Due to the fact that the Volvo Ocean Race has come to Galway this week (causing the population to triple), I’ve been a bit behind with the blogging. Add to the mixture a second job, Masters work, and my friend Rachel’s wedding this week, things have been a bit hectic. I’m finally getting time to sort through everything that’s happened, all the photos I’ve taken, etc. Without further ado, a few posts on recent events in Galway.

Long overdue photos from my brief foray into the world of Irish festivals. I attended Forbidden Fruit in Dublin (the last day), and was way more excited on the bus (first photo) than I was when I actually got there (second photo). I went by myself because no one else was free that day or had the money. The performers—Wilco, Mazzy Star and Andrew Bird, among others— were impressive but the crowd energy was terrible. Perhaps it was just because it was the last day of a three-day festival, but I was embarrassed for them.

People in Ireland need to learn how to dance! Not how to dance well, just how to dance at all. Don’t stand around listening to music intellectually.

So, I’m finally getting around to writing about my London trip a week ago. The trip was sparked by my ability to get a free flight somewhere in Europe by opening a new student bank account with Bank of Ireland back in September. I opted to take a second person for an extra charge: my boyfriend, Garry. It was his ‘belated birthday present,’ and he paid for a nice hotel for us there as mine. Despite a few hiccups along the way securing the tickets (mainly just that I had to call the booking agency every step of the way including just to check in and get our boarding passes), the trip went off without a hitch.

We left early Tuesday morning, the twelfth of June and got into London around ten AM. We decided to do all of the touristy stuff in London (which is, admittedly, pricy), so we promptly hopped on a big red double-decker bus to tour around a bit. We got off at Buckingham Palace at half eleven, just as the changing of the guards ceremony was starting (great timing, huh?). Despite the crowds, we did manage to get pretty close and I have some decent pictures, one of which is above. We then met my friend Kayla (who I last saw in Liverpool) for lunch and checked into the hotel for a well-needed nap. We didn’t do much aside from get dinner and plan that first night, but we had the 48-hour tour bus tickets, so it was grand.

On the tour bus the next day we saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, and a number of other notable London landmarks, but I’ve just chosen to include my best photo of Big Ben so as not to bore people with ‘postcard’ images. The bus route was actually fairly practical because transportation in London (the Tube, the Underground, taxis, etc.) is quite pricy and we really didn’t know where we were going a lot of the time. It allowed us to see everything from the top of an open-air bus as well and, considering we were lucky enough to get a two-day pocket of sunshine in the middle of a rainy week, worked out perfectly.

Though we didn’t ride the London Eye (too expensive for a ferris wheel, really), we did tour the Tower of London and had a Yeoman tell us the history of the place. The dragon is from the museum in the Tower, and is made of guns, scrolls, and other historical artifacts. If I had a lot of spare guns laying around, I’d definitely attempt a replica. We also went into the London Dungeon which, despite the attraction not being in an actual dungeon, was SO COOL. It had actors and even rides, so it was kind of like a mini-fright night at an amusement park — wasn’t allowed to take photographic inside, though.

That night, we went to see We Will Rock You the musical, which was phenomenal! A futuristic show using the music of Queen, I was singing along…the whole time. They incorporated LCD screens and whatnot — it was innovative and different from most of the musicals I’ve seen before. Afterward, Garry and I went out for dinner at a steakhouse and I had fall-off-the-bone ribs. SO GOOD.

The last day, we toured Madame Tussards and I got a photo with my alleged doppleganger, Drew Barrymore. I also got a photo kicking JBieb in the nuts, which is honestly one of the highlights of my trip. Of course I had to take the classic red phone booth photo. We watched part of the Ireland v. Spain match in the airport that night, but only saw one of the four goals scored against Ireland because we had to board the plane home…which could be considered a good thing.

Verdict: London was super awesome, but wayyyy too expensive for me to want to go again anytime soon.