Introduction to Weekend Traveling

Emily Facciolo headshot
Emily Facciolo
February 8, 2024
About a quarter of the way up Holyrood Park

Normal life while studying abroad is much more fast paced than normal life while I’m at school in the United States. After my first week of classes, me and 4 other girls took a train to Belfast, Northern Ireland for the weekend. We traveled there by train, making it an easy journey, but I still got to see a country for the first time, which is always amazing. For anyone studying in Ireland, I would definitely recommend going to Northern Ireland (or vice versa) because of how cheap and mindless getting there was; round trip train tickets were just 30 euros.

Throughout the whole weekend in Belfast, I spent around 120 euros, which include the train and hostel. I think the biggest money-saver was having breakfast included in the hostel, as well as getting free pasta, so my friends and I just had to buy the pasta sauce for dinner. This was my first experience in a hostel, and I was pleasantly surprised. Hostels have a reputation of not being the nicest places to stay, but it is a great option for saving money and if you find the right one, it can even make the entire experience. 

Another money-saving tip during weekend travel is simply just doing your research before going to a new city. Everything we did in Belfast (besides eat) was free, and it was still wonderful. My favorite activity was going on a walking tour, where a local woman shared lots of Northern Ireland history, but more so how it affected the capital city. Furthermore, she was born in 1969, so she was born into a tumultuous and historic period in Northern Ireland that was her “normal” for decades. This walking tour gave me great insight of the city, and I also learned a lot about the Titanic, since it was built there. I would highly recommend Belfast if you are looking for interesting history and also wanting to save some money, but I think two days was enough time to get a feel for it.

The following weekend, I went to Scotland and had a great time. We flew into Glasgow because it was much cheaper than Edinburgh. This was my first time flying with Ryanair, and I would say that it was definitely worth the price. By that, I mean that it is not a very expensive airline with which to fly. It was a quick flight, so it was fine, but the 3:30am wakeup call made it difficult to enjoy anything in the morning. We got to Glasgow at about 7:30 a.m. and basically had the entire day to do whatever we wanted. This trip was much more expensive because our hostel did not provide any free food, but it was still a very nice place to stay. We walked to University of Glasgow and then went inside a free museum close by. We ended up being awake for about 21 hours that day, so we walked 35,000 steps, I still cannot believe that. I did the math, and it was more than a half marathon.

The next day was no different. We took a train to Edinburgh, but our original train got canceled so we were very stressed for about ten minutes, but the man working there told us what to do, and everything ended up being easy (and at no extra cost). It was only 45 minutes away, and we basically just walked everywhere again. Edinburgh is a beautiful city and I really would have loved to spend more time there, but it was super expensive for girls on a tight budget. We went to the Scottish National Gallery and then walked around old town and window shopped there a lot. The Harry Potter Museum was cool to see, but definitely expensive. We walked up to Edinburgh castle, which was beautiful, although we did not go inside. The area also had beautiful views throughout the city, and it was nice seeing all the other tourists there enjoying themselves just as much as we were. 

Fast forward a little, I was suddenly on top of a mountain. We went on a hike, which I thought was going to be more of a walking trail, but it was certainly on an incline the entire time. This was a big struggle for me, because I was wearing a maxi skirt, tights, and Dr. Martens, so my legs and feet were in a lot of pain. Although, the experience and views made it worth it for me, and I am so glad I did it because of all the memories that came along with it. After that strenuous hike with some intense winds, me and my friends were craving hot chocolate. Most places were closed, one person said they were closing in 20 minutes so they could not serve us, but then we finally found somewhere that had some of the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted, so it ended up working out great. A lot of money spent later, we were on the late train back to Glasgow; we played cards on the train, and there were a few Scottish people who were asking us about the game, but we couldn’t understand about 90% of what they were saying, which was pretty funny.

The next day, we were back on the flight to Dublin, just more than ready to go home. With over 60,000 steps taken in the last two days, all we wanted to do was shower and sleep for the entire afternoon, which is what we did. Northern Ireland and Scotland are two experiences that I will never forget, and I am greatly enjoying learning how to get around Europe on my own. 

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Emily Facciolo

Hi! My name is Emily and I am currently a sophomore business major at the University of Pittsburgh, but I am from Delaware County, PA. Before going to Dublin, I have been to six other countries. My biggest passions are reading and traveling. 

2024 Spring
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