What a year 2018 was and now that it’s coming to a close, I’ve decided to have a little look back at some of the best experiences I’ve had over the last 12 months. It’s been a busy one, with 6 new countries added to the Wall of Flags and a ring added to my left hand. These are some of the most memorable experiences of the year for me, in no particular order.
1. Getting Married
Well I suppose I better start with this. On the 19th of October, I got married to my boyfriend of 8 years, Denis Ryan. We had a really special day with relatives and friends coming to celebrate with us in the Majestic Hotel in Tramore. The weather was better than we could have asked for, although I’m a little worried that Emer from work told me last January that we’d have amazing weather for it. I think she’s a witch. It was a fab day all round and everywhere we looked, people were laughing and enjoying themselves. There was even a sing-song before the meal had even started. After all the organising, everything worked out perfectly for our movie themed wedding.
So after a wedding, you need a honeymoon and our first stop was Orlando, Florida. I’d been there before, back in 2008, and at that time they were only building The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This year, I got to experience it and it was even better than I expected. We’re both huge Harry Potter fans. We visited Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and it was a great way of blowing off steam after the wedding madness. I was totally blown away by Pandora: World of Avatar and especially Flight Of Passage which I think is the best theme park ride I’ve ever been on. Orlando is somewhere I’d just love to go back to over and over again.
3. The Muppets – Live at the o2
From as early as I can remember, I’ve been a HUGE Muppets fan so when they announced they’d be playing a special live performance in the O2 in London, I HAD to go! I dragged my oftentimes travel companion Patrick along with me and we actually enjoyed a really nice few days in London, despite the sweltering heat. The Muppets were all I imagined they’d be and more. When Kermit sang Rainbow Connection, I actually had tears in my eyes. It was so great to be there on what felt like a very special night.
4. The Snow
Okay, bare with me on this! We got a LOT of snow earlier in the year when the Beast From The East came along and let’s be honest, it was a bit of craic. From running out of bread to a few days off work, it was all very exciting for the few days it lasted.
5. Skiing in Cypress Mountain
Talking about snow… In January, I had a really amazing time in Vancouver visiting my niece Paige and her boyfriend Cian, alongside my nephew Scott and his girlfriend Jade! #TeamCanada. I celebrated my birthday at the top of a revolving restaurant and we did lots over the week and a bit we were there. Probably the most memorable though is going skiing on Cypress Mountain, home of the snowboarding events for the 2010 Winter Olympics. I’d been skiing once before, back when I was 16, but I got the hang of it again pretty quickly and we had a really great day.
6. The Stag Party
I wanted to do something a little different for my stag party, something that didn’t involve everyone going to a pub, mainly because I don’t drink and really don’t like them! I decided on Avon Ri in Blessington and we had an absolute laugh from start to finish. We stayed in houses on site that slept 10 each and we all just ended up sleeping wherever we landed. We’d a great day of adventure activities where it was my workmates V my family and then that evening, we’d a quiz and karaoke. We laughed the whole weekend. Couldn’t have asked for a better stag to be honest!
7. Book Of Mormon
Patrick wouldn’t be a fan of musicals at all so I was delighted when he asked me if there was something I’d like to see on the West End while we were in London. I thought of something that he might enjoy and knowing him to be a fan of South Park, thought he’d get a laugh out of Book of Mormon. He loved it, and so did I. It was hilarious from start to finish and I’d happily go see it over and over. 100% recommend, even if you’re not into musicals.
I really didn’t know what to expect from Miami. I’d been to a few places in America before (Orlando, San Diego, LA and Seattle) and each had good and bad points. I’d heard stories about Miami which weren’t that good so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved it. The weather was amazing, the beaches were beautiful and we took an open top bus tour around the city which was really enjoyable. At night, we walked to South Beach and Ocean Drive, seeing the house where Gianni Versace lived. I’m looking forward to going back again soon.
9. The Original Starbucks
The first time I had coffee was actually in Starbucks in Leicester Square in London. I think I might have been about 19 and up to then, had never had any interest in trying coffee. I was hooked. When I worked in Quinn Insurance, we’d have Starbucks for morning break every single day. There’s just something about their Caramel Machiatos that I love. While I was visiting Paige in Canada, we took a little trip south of the border to Seattle and there, we had coffees from the original Starbucks. It was a really lovely experience to share with her.
10. Alton Towers
I make no secret of the fact that Alton Towers is my favourite place on earth. I’ve now been 5 times and I would go back every year if I could. This time, I got to visit with my fiance (now husband) Denis and best friend Patrick and it was really great to be there with them. We got to stay in an explorer room (I’m a big child, I know) and I got to go on Wickerman, their new ride. Both of them had a great time and said they’d happily return. Result!
11. The Lego Store
While I was visiting London for work conference in May, I popped into the Lego Store in Leicester Square before heading to the airport. I wanted the wedding set but they only had male/female couples. One of the guys working there, Dann, gave me a second set free, telling me I shouldn’t have to pay extra for equality. I wrote about it on Facebook and we decided to ring him to thank him on the radio. Fast forward to just before the wedding and I got a very lovely surprise from my work colleagues and the Lego Store in London!
12. It’s Britney Bitch
I love Britney – another well known fact. So when she announced she was coming to play a gig in Ireland, I was up at the crack of dawn for tickets but they sold out before I could get any. I was RAGING. Then randomly a few months later, I’m in work and I see an ad for Britney at the 3Arena. I thought it strange to advertise given she was sold out but when I clicked in, there was tickets available. I bagged 3 for myself, Debbie and Brian and even though she mimed the whole way through, we had an amazing time. Glad I finally got to see her “live”.
13. Tayto Park
It’s not every day that your working day consists of a trip to a theme park! For Beat’s 15th birthday, we took some of our listeners to Tayto Park for the day and were able to hang out and enjoy it for ourselves. It was a really great team building experience and we laughed all day. I think I might suggest to the boss that we make it an annual event!
14. Rock of Ages
Following Patrick’s earlier experience with Book of Mormon, I was delighted when he suggested we go see Rock of Ages in Dublin, until I learned it was the week of my wedding. I was raging I couldn’t go but then a sliver of hope emerged. I had to be in Dublin for a meeting!! Tickets were bought and a great night was had. I love the Bord Gais Energy Theatre by the way. If I lived in Dublin, I’d go see every single musical they put on.
15. MSC Divina
I’ve wanted to go on a cruise for YEARS so the honeymoon seemed like the perfect opportunity to go do it. Denis had his eye on one that went from Miami to Jamaica, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico and The Bahamas and I was happy enough to go along with it. What an experience. The MSC Divina was beautiful with so much to do and we made really great friends. Seeing the Mayan ruins in Costa Maya and the Pirate Museum in Nassau were probably 2 of my highlights from our trips ashore. We loved it so much that we already have our next cruise booked for next September!