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  • Writer's pictureKiah May

Old Trafford, An Irish Exploration, and A WWII Shipwreck

Hello again friends! I hope all is well.


I'm writing this as I'm procrastinating on studying for my exams next week, so I'm almost done!


I hope you all are enjoying the warmer weather back home.


My final blog will contain all my Spanish adventures, a fitting end to a wonderful trip, but first, Manchester, Dublin, and Malta!


Manchester, England

I had been to London in March of 2022, but this trip to England was for a very special reason: my first Manchester United game at Old Trafford, the "Theatre of Dreams". I've been a Man United fan for as long as I can remember and seeing them play at Old Trafford has been a lifelong dream. And my dad, who always gets up at the crack of dawn to watch games with me wanted to join!

I met him at London Heathrow and we took the train first to Paddington Station, then the tube to London Euston station. From there we got on the train to Manchester. It was really good to catch up with my dad. I absolutely love the trains here in Europe and the U.S. needs to do the same. The train ride was fairly short and soon we arrived in Manchester and headed to the hotel. It was literally right next to the stadium which was super fun.

View of Old Trafford from the hotel


After getting settled in, we headed to The Sparrows for dinner, which was fabulous. The entrance is a steel door in a brick wall with a door bell, so we thought maybe we were in the wrong place until we saw a sign. But as I've found, sometimes those places end up being the best. The waitress crafted a tasting menu for us specially based on what we liked and it was amazing! I'm an absolute sucker for pasta and good pasta will make pretty much any day perfect. Fed and happy, we headed back to the hotel and slept, excited for the day ahead.

Outside of The Sparrows Restaurant

Dinner at The Sparrows


Saturday was game day. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel explored some of the areas at the hotel set up for food/drinks for the game then headed to the Victoria Warehouse for some food. The food there was great as was the chocolate cake! Next we headed into the famous Old Trafford Stadium! Our seats were about 7 rows back from the field with a FANTASTIC view. We watched warm ups and then settled into our (very small) seats for the game. United played really well and finally broke through in the 79th minute. Unfortunately VAR got involved and gifted Burnley a penalty and the game ended 1-1. I will always remember the game finishing after United scored so in my mind they won the game. It was such a fantastic day and a real dream come true. Huge thanks to my dad for joining and making the day so special!

Victoria Warehouse

OLD TRAFFORD!!!!

My dad and I at the game


Dublin, Ireland

On Sunday, we set out for Dublin. After a short flight and checking into the hotel, we set out to explore the city. Our first stop was Dublin Castle and the State Apartments. It has been really interesting to see all the different state buildings all over Europe and how they are all slightly different. Next up was Kilmainham Gaol, an old jail, often used for political prisoners. If you're planning to visit, which I would highly recommend, you need to book tickets in advance. It was fascinating to learn about the history of the Irish fight for independence and how the jail played a crucial role in this (if you're interested in more about it, check this out or go down an internet rabbit hole as there is a lot there: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilmainham_Gaol). Our final stop was a quick stroll through Trinity College Dublin. The campus is gorgeous (with better architecture, but no view like the flatirons at CU). Throughout the day, we had some wonderful Uber drivers and got some amazing recommendations including a bank turned restaurant called The Bank on College Green where we had dinner!

Dublin Castle

Main Hall of Kilmainham Gaol

Dinner at The Bank on College Green


Unfortunately, due to his required presence at a conference, my dad had to head back to The States early Monday morning, which meant that I was on my own to finish exploring Dublin. My first stop was a cute cafe called Beanhive Coffee, which was recommended by a friend. Afterwards, I took a lovely stroll through the city including St. Stephan's Green on the way to St. Patrick's Cathedral. Similar to state buildings, I have really enjoyed seeing all the different cathedrals in Europe. Finally, on the recommendation of another one of our Uber drivers (they're very chatty in Ireland!), I went to EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum. This is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Dublin as it contains so much history on why the Irish emigrated all over the world and how they brought their customs with them. I really enjoyed Ireland, but unfortunately I had classes on Tuesday, so I had to head home.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral


Malta

My final big trip was to the Mediterranean island of Malta, just South of Sicily. The primary purpose of this trip was to go scuba diving. Shout out to my dive buddy, Sofia! We arrived to the beautiful island in the mid-afternoon and checked into the the Airbnb which was in a town called St. Julian's. Driving around on the island to the place, we were able to see a very distinct and slightly strange mix of cultures and architecture. The island has a long, interesting, and very diverse history (more here: https://www.historyextra.com/period/general-history/malta-history-key-moments/) and it was really cool to see all of it. We then headed out to find the dive shop we were to dive with the following morning. With everything set for our underwater adventures, we made some dinner, found a gelato shop and headed to bed. Side note on the gelato shop: they had a gelato called "detox" which was a mix of mango, lime, basil, watermelon, and aloe and it is by far the best gelato flavor I've ever had. I think Sofia and I stopped here about 5 times during our stay in Malta. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Friday, we set out for the dive shop. After getting all of our gear together, we drove to the South side of the island. We did two shore dives in deep, crystal clear, blue water, like something out of a nature documentary. It was incredible to be in water that blue. Unfortunately, due to scuba being an underwater activity, there are no pictures (maybe one day I'll get an underwater camera). As a side note, in May the water in Malta is about 18°C (64.4° F) which is really cold. We were in a 5mm thick full wetsuit with a 3mm core warmer and a hood and I was freezing, but it was totally worth it. Saturday followed a similar pattern, however, our dives were to shipwrecks. The first dive was to three wrecks, two that were purposefully sunk to create an artificial reef and a third that was a wreck that was slowly being dissolved by the sea. It was amazing to see wrecks like these, but our second dive definitely took the cake in terms of a wreck. The second dive was to the wreck of an X127 which was converted to carry fuel during WWII. On March 6th, 1942, the Submarine Base at Manoel Island was attacked and the X127 caught fire and sunk. It was incredible to be able to dive and witness history. On Sunday, we explored St. Julian's because we needed to ensure that we had 24 hours between diving and our flight home to reduce the risk of decompression sickness ("the bends"). The town is gorgeous! On Sunday night we had traditional Maltese food, which is kind of a mix of Mediterranean, Italian, and Greek. In my opinion, the food was okay, nothing special, but I'm very glad I tried it and got to experience that part of the culture. I really enjoyed Malta, and its definitely worth a visit if you're in the area!

Overlooking one of the Dive Site Entry Points (South Malta)

DIVE BUDDIES

A-OK After the 2nd Wreck Dive (feat. Divemasters)

GELATO!!

And so that's the end of my adventures (barring Spain which is coming soon, I promise!). On this trip I had the incredible opportunity to visit 24 different cities in 15 different countries (of which 14 countries were new). I gained incredible insight into European history and cultures. School was rough at times, but when is it not? I'm so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and everything I've learned.


I would like to say, however, that these blogs have held the best times. Social media can often hide the negative parts so I want to take a second and acknowledge that while I've had so much fun, this has also been the hardest four months of my life. I've dealt with loneliness, anxiety, and sadness among other things. It has been really difficult to be away from all of you. So just know that while I'm writing about all the amazing adventures, my heart aches for something just a little bit familiar, and maybe a hug or two when I see you.


I'm so grateful for you following along this far and I hope that you've enjoyed it.


Con mucho amor,

Kiah


Restaurant Recommendations:

The Sparrows (Manchester)

The Bank on College Green (Dublin)


Activity Recommendations:

Manchester United Game at Old Trafford (Manchester)

Kilmainham Gaol (Dublin)

Diving (Dive Systems Malta)

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