The Things I’ve Done For Luck.

If you’ve traveled anywhere, I can guarantee you have been told that by touching something, swimming in a certain body of water, or doing some odd activity will bring you luck and good fortune. I was thinking about a few things I did on a recent trip to the Caribbean that was supposed to be healing for the body and it reminded me of all the things I have done since beginning my travels in 2010, some silly, some scary, and some just plain gross. So I thought I would compile a list of the moments that stand out for me in terms of doing something because it was considered lucky or “rejuvenating”.

The Gift of the Gab


The land of the Irish is filled with stories based around luck and good fortune, leprechauns hiding their pots of gold and fairy rings that should you step inside the ring, you’ll be cursed by fairy protectors or transported to a land of supernatural beings or forced to dance until exhaustion and death (nice things, fairies, aren’t they?). But most importantly, and often boasted about, they believe in the gift of the gab. The ability to talk your way out of anything or being a smooth talker. For those of you interested in being blessed with such a gift, you can take a ride on up to a town called Blarney, just north of the city of Cork.

Here, you’ll find Blarney Castle and the famous Blarney Stone, or the Stone of Eloquence. Up the tower you climb until you get to a human-sized hole. It’s in this whole, a rough back bend down, that the Blarney Stone sits in the stone wall. At 90ft. above the concrete, I lay on my back and put my life in the hands of a grey-haired old man. With his hands gripping my calves, I leaned my upper body backwards and down into the hole, hanging on to the bars mounted on the stone wall. With a quick glance at the concrete below, I kissed the Blarney Stone and shot back up to safety.

Eternal Beauty

On the Isle of Skye, Scotland, there is a particular river that I’ve forgotten the name of. Flowing under a bridge, we pulled up beside it and sat around listening to a legend of the most beautiful girl in the village. Many, many years ago on her wedding day, this girl was riding her horse across the river when the horse lost her footing and down tumbled the bride-to-be, smashing her face on a rock with a pointed tip. A gruesome event, the poor girl had an eyeball hanging from its socket, her face mangled. No longer was she the most beautiful girl in the village. Determined to be married, she popped her eye back in place, though not well, and hid her face behind her veil. I Do’s were said but when the groom pulled back her veil to kiss the bride, he recoiled in disgust and, being the superficial man that he was, refused to marry her.


Humiliated, the girl ran back to the river, where she met a leprechaun.. or perhaps a fairy. After hearing her story, the leprechaun told her that all she had to do was dip her face in that very river for no less than 7 seconds and she would be eternally beautiful. As you can imagine, we quickly lowered ourselves down and dunked our faces into the ice cold water and counted to 7.


Clear Skin in Trinidad


Many bodies of water around the world are said to have healing properties, rejuvenating qualities, etc. On a recent trip to Trinidad, we stopped at Pitch Lake, a “lake” filled with pitch. All of the major highways around the world use the asphalt from this lake and every time, the lake renews itself, filling again and again with asphalt. Black and smelling of tar, you can walk on the lake as the top layer is hardened, a slightly squishy surface. Certain areas of Pitch Lake are filled with small pools of water, some green in color, others black as Coca-Cola. Locals come to the pitch lake to bathe in one of these small pools as it’s said to aid in healing psoriasis and arthritis due to its medicinal properties.


Another pool of water in the Pitch is said to be safe to drink a small bottle cap-full once a day as it’s said to keep the skin clear from acne. After playing in the water a little bit, two of us were brave enough to fill up our bottle caps and shot it back.


The Sai Sin Bracelet


Thailand has more symbols and amulets for luck than anywhere I’ve been. You ask any vendor on the street what the symbol on a ring, image, or other piece of jewelry means and they’ll tell you it’s for luck. You can often tell a backpacker in Southeast Asia by the collection of bracelets adorning their wrists and ankles, but there is one bracelet in particular that is said to give the wearer great luck. The Sai Sin bracelet. Up on Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I knelt before a monk and a shaman as he blessed the piece of white string before tying it to my wrist and was told that it would bring me luck in my travels, my health, and my prosperity. Whatever you do, don’t cut these bracelets off. Rather, they must break naturally from your wrist when the time is right. If you do cut it off, all the luck it was supposed to bring will be gone.

Three Wishes at the Trevi Fountain

On our very first night in Rome we found ourselves at the Trevi Fountain. There’s a number of legends about the fountain, which started many years ago. It’s said that originally, tossing in a coin or taking a drink from the fountain would ensure good health. Today, the Trevi Fountain has become a mecca for tourists from all over the world. We were told by a traveling family that you could make three wishes, on three different coins, of three different currencies. Swapping coins with one another, we each had three coins of different currencies and, with our backs to the fountain, tossed them in over our left shoulder, one at a time. Each coin had a different wish and, though I’m sure you’d like to know my wishes, they will forever be a secret.


The Cursed Tomb of Alexander Stewart

Despite all the things I’ve done for luck, my reckless self also did something that is said to curse the individual for as long as they live. In the small Scottish town of Dunkeld sits a cathedral. Within that cathedral, is the resting place of the Earl of Buchan in 1812. After leaving his wife and six children, he was excommunicated and, as a result, he burned two towns to the ground. They say that anyone who touches his tomb will be cursed with bad luck for the rest of their lives. Whether this is true or not, perhaps the many things I have tried for good luck outweighs the curse. Either way, whenever I get a bout of unluckiness, particularly without explanation, I blame Alexander Stewart.


These are just a few stories of the things I’ve done around the world in the name of luck and beauty. For more stories, you can read about swimming in Tobago’s Nylon Pool for rejuvenation, rubbed Juliet’s breast for luck in Verona, and doused myself in mud in St.Lucia for soft skin and healing properties.


Sunday Snapshot: Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Kilt Rock, Isle of Skye

On the beautiful Isle of Skye is where this photo of Kilt Rock was taken. With these cliffs towering 55 meters above the sea, Kilt Rock and it’s cascading Mealt waterfall has become a popular tourist attraction on the island. I had the opportunity to visit the Isle of Skye with a wonderful tour group through Haggis Adventures. It was a Wednesday, and our theme for the day was magic, a fitting theme for this island. Have you been to the Isle of Skye? Visited the Kilt Rock?

The Home of Quasimodo

 When, after long gropings up the dark perpendicular stair-case which
pierces the thick walls of the steeple towers, one emerged at last unexpectedly
on to one of the two high platforms inundated with light and air, it was in
truth a marvellous picture spread out before you on every side;
– Victor Hugo

Once upon a time, I stepped into the life of Esmeralda and danced around the towers of the Notre Dame, shaking my tambourine.

Just kidding. Nobody can shake a tambourine like Esmeralda, but I did get to wander around the towers of the Notre Dame on a crisp Paris afternoon.


Not only was my time in Paris a bit of a whirlwind, I was also on a very strict budget. If you are looking for a beautiful attraction to visit and don’t want to spend a dime, you can visit the Notre Dame and attend a service or simply take a look inside the cathedral completely free of charge. However, for just 8 euros you can climb to the top of the towers.

I was not about to miss out on the chance to explore the towers of the Notre Dame, so I stood in the cue and patiently waited until it was my turn. As you walk up the steps, it isn’t long before you pass by the Emmanuel Bell, the largest bell in the tower (and the one that Quasimodo had to ring every day).


You may be daunted by the long lines that form, as they only allow about 20 people up the tower at one time, but your patience will be rewarded with impeccable views of the city in all directions and the chance to become friends with the gargoyles.



The cathedral itself is a stunning piece of Gothic architecture.

And this is the view of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower in the distance that this lucky gargoyle gets to stare at each and every day.

Now, if I were you I would dress up in big hoop earrings, dangly bracelets and gypsy attire, grab a tambourine and dance my way up and around the towers.
Have you visited the Notre Dame? Let me know what you think!

Sunday Snapshot: Lipstick Kisses

“Keep love in your heart. A life without it
is like a sunless garden when the
flowers are dead,”
– Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde, the famous Irish poet and writer, is laid to rest in the Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris’ largest cemetery. Home to other famous icons such as Jim Morrison, the cemetery often has a few tourists walking around. Over the years, Wilde’s monument was adorned with quotes, hearts and red lipstick kisses (including my own) from those who visited. I found the tradition to be beautiful but officials deemed it graffiti and in 2011 a barrier of glass was placed around it to prevent any more lipstick kisses.

Do you have a photo you would like to share for Sunday Snapshot?
Submit it to to see it here the next week!

On Falling In Love With The World

Three summers ago I fell in love. Not with a man, as expected at my age. That hasn’t quite happened yet. Instead, I fell in love with the world. I dreamed of spending my life living in new countries, exploring the continents, learning new languages, embracing new cultures and meeting new people.

Two summers ago, my heart was taken again, by Thailand. Still a part of the world, but a bit more specific. A lot of the young travelers who arrive in Thailand are there for the parties, the cheap prices and the beaches. Throngs of young people migrate to particular areas in each city and on each island to drink buckets of Sang Som, attend Full Moon Parties and see controversial ping-pong shows. While the cheap prices are certainly an added bonus and the parties are indeed some of the wildest I have ever been to, Thailand is so much more than that. I fell in love with the people there: the men and women working hard at a street stall, children zigzagging through the crowded bars trying to sell roses to drunken foreigners. I volunteered and became passionate about something I knew very little of before I went. I got my priorities straight, realized just how lucky I am, and learned about a new way of living that I’ve tried to integrate into my daily life at home.

Cambodians lounging at their countryside home

Thai streets

Cambodian children

With a love of travel comes a sacrifice and for each individual making travel a priority, their sacrifice is unique to them. Some may sacrifice romantic relationships, friendships, wealth, or material possessions. Some might sacrifice the idea of a career or a family all together. But with that sacrifice comes something that many travelers yearn for. An indescribable feeling that comes from a mixture of ultimate freedom, terror, empowerment and lack of control. Travel isn’t easy. It can be hard, but it’s both the good and bad that make me love it. I haven’t gone as far or seen as much as many but I have gone and seen more than some. I am both thankful knowing that I have been born into a lifestyle that allows me to continue to see new places and grateful for the things I have already seen.

do as the romans do!

Each destination I face brings out a new reaction. I am disappointed by some, others I enjoy but will never return, and a special few steal pieces of my heart. It feels as though every time I fall in love with a new city or a new country, a piece of my heart is left behind with it. It takes a special place to do that but it is because of those special places that each time I come home I feel as though I’m being stretched farther than before. There is something beautiful, yet terrifying, about that feeling. Having your heart belong to so many places already, feeling the intense pull whenever you hear its name or see a photo.

sheep in Ireland

Laughing in Trafalger Square, London

Abbey Road!

Travel isn’t for everyone. I don’t believe that you have to travel in order to be cultured, aware, or a better human being. A traveler is not better than anyone else. A businessman or woman is not better than anyone else. For some, travel can only happen in the summers. For others, travel is their lifestyle. Either way, travel is something more than a vacation. It’s more than five-star resorts and parties on a beach. It’s forcing you, especially as a backpacker, to trust. That’s something people don’t seem to have a lot of these days.  It’s becoming as fully integrated into the local culture and way of life as you can get yourself in the time that you have there. It’s exploring parts of a town that few tourists have. It’s befriending the music students in the park, the lady at your favorite smoothie stand, or the homeless child on the street.

looking out over Chiang Mai, Thailand. One very special place.

As it is now, I feel my heart scattered across the world in Thailand, Canada, England and Ireland. Four places, so far apart from one another. Travel is so many things: invigorating, fun, tiring, terrifying, spontaneous, and enriching. But why do I do it? I travel to push my own limits. I travel to find something that I wasn’t aware that I was looking for. I travel to connect with people, nature, myself, the world in general. I travel because it is what makes me the happiest. I travel because I can’t imagine not.

So, for all of you readers who also travel, why? What does it mean to you?