Ireland, October 2015: Checking off Lists

Well, turns out Ireland is all it’s supposed to be.

I did a little solo trip there 2 weekends ago and it was just about the best of the best.  I went to Dublin and Galway, and took day trips to the Cliffs of Moher and Aran Islands.  With all the alone time I did plenty of observing and over-the-top, Anne of Green Gables/Jo March style writing. But lucky for you I also love making lists.  As much as I’m sure you wish I would, I’ll hold back from going totally late-19th/early-20th century female on you and will give you for the most part the list portion of my notebook contents.

I started off my trip with my usual travel to-do list.  These are usually made while waiting to board planes.  This one was no exception.  I stuck in my lil’ old headphones, started my Ireland playlist, and made myself a lil’ Ireland To-Do List.

Ireland To-Do List
(These list items are exactly as they appear in my notebook,  Go ahead and judge me.)

  1. Lay in REAL GRASS
    Check.  I can’t explain how homey the smell of grass is.  I didn’t realize it till I smelled it again, but that fresh, cool smell is just home.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen more than questionable city patches of grass so I was practically ready to eat the stuff.
  2. Read William Blake somewhere outdoors.
    No check.  I want to say check so badly but couldn’t find a darn bookstore that had even the tiniest volume of William Blake.  First and only strike for Ireland.
  3. Cliffs of Moher + Atlantic Ocean Breeze + Hair down
    Yeah whatever you would have wanted your hair to blow over cliffs too so don’t even try to judge me.
     I spent most of my time at the Cliffs walking and had to rush back to catch my bus before writing much.  But here is what I did write:”I am sitting in the deepest, brightest green grass with little tufts of heather all around me. I’ve been all alone for the last few kilometers and could have stepped back 400 years for all I know.  Three feet in front and 700 feet down is a dark blue Atlantic ocean crashing white against mossy, jagged, grey cliff walls.  Thirty feet behind me is a thin wire fence separating me from some giant Irish cows.  Pretty sure one could eat me.
    Soft green, long-since tamed farmland rolls into far-off gentle mountains-a sharp contrast to the wildness it faces in the Atlantic.
    The sky is a pale blue spotted with cotton-candy fluff clouds.  Sunshine is bouncing off the Irish green all around.I love it here.  I love having nothing but air and ocean.  I love friendly faces.  I love speaking at the same speed as my brain is working.  I love black coffee…Dear Cliffs of Moher, you are a wonder of scale and contrast and I love you.”
  4. Make Irish friends
    So in my head Hannah making friends with Irish people pretty clearly translated to this specific scene from PS I Love You.   In a classic turn of events however, 100% of the 3 local phone numbers I collected that weekend were from Irish grandmothers.  That’s cool though…I mean I wanted that actually and who cares about Irish men and their perfect accents anyways!?  NOT ME.  So here’s a picture of me with a cow because at least he liked me.IMG_7743
  5. Potatoes
    Not really sure what I meant when I wrote this.  Maybe I wanted to go digging for potatoes?  No wait actually who am I kidding?  I totally just wanted to eat potatoes.  And did I ever!  I ate mashed potatoes with everything.

  6. Guinness
    Check Check CHECK.
    Guinness is Ireland.  Ireland is Guinness.
    Hannah loves Guinness therefore Hannah loves Ireland.  And vice versa.
    Word on the street has it that Irish Doctors prescribe this stuff to patients.  I saw multiple bars with advertisements in the windows touting the strength-building benefits of Guinness.  So it’s healthy?  I guess?
  7. Cheese
    I walked into the Cheesemonger in Galway and after staring at all the wax coated wheels of heaven for about 10 minutes finally asked Charlie the Cheesemonger to give me his strongest Irish cheese.  This, my friends, was a fantastic decision on my part.  He directed me to the bakery just around the corner where I obviously RAN in order to buy a whole wheat scone which would become the conduit to my precious cheese.  I went on to pound my 2-part culinary masterpiece while listening to live music on a Galway corner.  Afterwards I had to shake the equivalent of a half scone of crumbs out of my scarf.  That moment could be considered both a high and low point for me.
  8. Hike Connemara
    No check.
    Instead I ended up going to the Aran Islands.  I boarded a ferry in the morning and obviously I got off at the wrong island.  But it urns out that this was one of my best travel mistakes to date. I ended up on Inis Meain island inhabited by 160 Irish-speaking inhabitants (fun fact-Irish is a separate language from Gaelic.  It’s totally different and THE most beautiful).  The island is a patchwork of ancient stone walls.  The entirety of the island is divided into square patches no bigger than 40×50 feet.  How you get between and to some of the center ones I have absolutely no idea.

    On Inis Meian I met a little old lady who served a new friend and I tea in a garden and she described the island best.  “You step off the ferry onto the island and you feel like you found a new old world. And one you’re on the ferry back to the mainland it all feels like a strange dream.”  There’s nothing better than that to be said about this little bit of earth.

  9. Live Music in Pub
    Check. Turns out this was every pub always.  Music was everywhere.
  10. Watch rugby match
    Check.  Ireland v. France.  The Irish won.  And thank heavens they did because I am entirely convinced I would have lost my life to some brawling Irish man with a 10 pound glass Guinness stein.
  11. Cream Tea and Scones
    Check.  So if I drank tea with whole fat milk constantly in the hostel (because it was FREE) that counts, right?
  12. Trinity College Library
    I love books and I love the smell of books.  Therefore, I love libraries.  This place has been on my bucket list ever since I started reading lists of “the world’s most beautiful libraries”-and I started reading those lists a long time ago.
  13. Irish soda bread
    This stuff is like putting a brick in your stomach.  And I mean that in the most complimentary sense.  I’d eat this bread every morning if I could.
  14. Black pudding
    No check.  Honestly wasn’t too jazzed about checking this one off anyway considering Wikipedia defines these as “Sausages filled with blood that are cooked or dried and mixed with a filler until they are thick enough to congeal when cooled.”   Terrifying.
  15. Buy yarn.  The real stuff.
    No check.  BUT I found the real stuff and wanted to buy it.  But obviously they don’t even have a single ATM or credit card machine on Inis Meian, so it wasn’t happening.

Crozet, Virginia


Crozet, Virginia: the place that taught me early on that words do not sound as they look.  Crozet: CROW-ZAY (really wishing there was a rapper with that name).

Crozet, Virginia: the one place that stays constant.  I counted it up and realized I lived in 9 different houses growing up.  The white, black-shuttered house in old-town Fredericksburg, Virginia now qualifies as home after 11 years of my family living there-but the wide-porched, blue trimmed house on St. George Avenue in Crozet, Virginia is the only place to have seen me from cross-eyed, chunky baby to lazy-eyed, long-legged 23 year old.

So here’s a post dedicated to homeyness and nostalgia.  I’ve been in a foreign country for almost 11 months without visiting home so JUST YOU GO AHEAD AND JUDGE ME.  SEE IF I CARE.  Immabe as nostalgic as I please.
If your last name is Copeland, you’ll get this post 150%.  If not, you’ll hopefully smile at least once.


On the front porch there´s a swing that´s rocked back and forth against the rhythm of many shouting laughs and many whispering tears.

To the left of this wood swing is an outlet.  This is not just any outlet.  It is an unnecessarily protruding, dull grey outlet that has never been used as anything but an instrument of torture.  How torture?  Well let me tell you.  Some of my earliest memories consist of shouting and shoving matches with cousins over who would be the unlucky one to sit on the left arm of this big wooden swing.  The unlucky loser of aforementioned shouting and shoving match would be relegated the left arm of the swing – precisely where this outlet became a potential bruise with each front and backward motion.  You had better believe that whoever lost the fight and ended up on the left side was sending up a prayer with each swing that the outlet wouldn’t find their leg.  So I´ve clarified that the left side was cursed, but the glory of the right side of the porch swing must not be underestimated.  The right arm of the porch swing guaranteed free leg-kicking and pure joy for a fat 4 year old.  Somehow Grandma always ended up in the middle of the swing-her hymns and West Virginia tunes making even the left side of the swing worth the risk.


In the kitchen I´ve eaten my body weight x 50 in pies and my body weight x 100 in Grandma´s crispy-topped mac & cheese.

The kitchen table is synonymous with kids’ table at any family gathering.  I could be 97 and I’m convinced I’d still end up seated at this table.  Each cousin has fought for the spot next to Grandpa (on his left) since it’s always across from Grandma (on his right).  Each cousin knows to converse with Grandpa in something just below a bellow during meals since his hearing aid is out.  Each cousin knows Grandpa will eat anything that is on his plate and has at some point been sure to sneak the lima beans from their plate to his.

The kitchen was the destination of many sleepy-eyed, sleepy-headed 5:00 am mornings.  My cousins and I all knew that Grandma was a human who did not sleep.  Or if she did it was only when we tried to convince her to watch a movie with us.  So what does a Grandmother who does not sleep do?  She bakes bread.  It didn’t matter how early you woke up-Grandma always beat you downstairs and always had her 17 bread machines filled with rising dough.  I remember my cousins and I vying for the earliest waker award.  Who would be the first up to spend those precious morning hours alone with Grandma?  I had my fair share of wins and my fair share of losses.  I vividly remember the horror of waking up to a full sun – panicking at the thought that Stephen had had Grandma all to himself for at least 3 hours by then.


I’m so thankful to know a place that has a parlour.  The word “parlour” sounds insufferably pretentious and this room did its best to live up to the name.  Something about this room was just a bit more hallowed than any other in the house.  Maybe it was the fact that the furniture wasn’t quite comfortable enough.  Maybe it was the piano.  Oh wait-it was definitely the piano.  Grandma would force me to the piano for a full-blown classical concert with each guest that entered the house.  So it’s my fault.  The pretentious parlour is all my fault.  Glad I figured that out.

But then some nights pretentious parlour filled with warm night glow.  You know-the kind where you know anyone walking by is peaking in and wishing they were inside of all that gold yellow light.  These nights were usually the ones when Grandma was making us sing hymns.  Mom or I would be sitting at the piano.  Other relations were a real toss up – but the most common postures were eye-rolling, bellowing with gusto, or some alternating combination of the two.



Oh man. These stairs are the BEST.  Upon these remarkably un-squeeking stairs sits the world’s most dependable bannister.  Did you know a bannister could be dependable? No? Well now you know.  This bannister is as sturdy as they come.  Whether our parents or grandparents knew it, this banner has been slid down hundreds of times by my cousins and I.  Come to think of it, our moms and dads probably did the same.  So now we’re up to thousands.  This indefatigable bannister has held a few thousand thrill-seekers and still refuses to wiggle even the little babiest bit.


Layers of soil down are the blood stains of football heroics. Often locked out of the house – waiting for the next meal hour when the door would be unhinged – my cousins and I became something along the lines of PROFESSIONALS at good ol’ tackle football and any variation of football that could be thought of.  Many knees were scraped.  Countless ankles were twisted.  One tree was run into (many times).

Next to the garage is the scar of the pond I managed to convince my cousins would be a brilliant addition to our newly constructed bamboo fort.  So we grabbed every last shovel from the shed and dug a big ol’ hole.  An oasis for a week, this tarp lined, hose-filled body of water quickly developed into a mosquito breeding ground that nearly gave our dear Grandfather a heart attack.

Well, there’s Part 1 of Nostalgia by Hannah Copeland.  There’s always more to be said.  Didn’t even get to the living room, peach orchards, Mint Springs, un-fenced farm pastures, Dollar General, OR Crozet Pizza.  So future post, HOLLA.

A few more photos just for good measure:


Dear Copeland family as a whole: I miss you all and will be back for Christmas – I swear on the sacred peanut brittle of Aunt Lucy!


3 Days, 4 Pals, 5 Countries

I´m sitting here trying to sing the title of this post to the tune of Beyonce´s Countdown…and it´s actually going really well.  Too bad you can´t all hear me. So guess what guys-I´m still in Europe and I´m still alive and I´m still having the best of times!  There have been at least 74 happenings I should have written about in the last 6 months but I´ll just have to carry those memories close to heart and hope the dear Lord doesn’t take my memory for a good long time. This last weekend was a lil´ slice of heaven.  Sunday the 12th my dear friend Olivia (check out her blog-she actually writes more than bi-annually) and I sat on her bed, little sunburnt crips, wishing our weekend in Costa Brava, Catalunya hadn´t just ended.  So what do two burnt little wonderlust-struck crisps do?  They thank their lucky stars that they have friends driving back from Switzerland the next weekend and immediately book flights.  (Thanks Tim & Dennis.  PS-you’re great dancers.)


I’ve been trying to get back to Switzerland ever since I left just after Christmas.  Just outside Geneva there’s a little town named Cologny.  In this little town sits a not-so-little home filled by a not-so-little family.  The Masters family of 9 was kind enough to open their home and family to a Christmasy-homesick vagabond (me) this last December.  By some magic stepping through the front door of the Masters’ Geneva home was like unlocking a trans-Atlantic portal back to my own warm, white, Virginia home.  I guess it was some mix of the Christmas pies, brother fights, blankets-on-floor-movie-watching, bookshelves full of adventure and theology, guests gathered from corners of the world, and most of all-the love of Christ encircling the rest.  All that to say-I’ve been wanting to make it back to that home away from home.

So-Tim, Dennis, and Olivia picked me up from the airport and we headed to the Masters where everything was as perfectly homey as always. After a lil’ QT with the Masters we figured we should decide a route back to Barcelona.  OBVIOUSLY that meant I needed to write a list.  Now guys-about this list.  If 14 year old Hannah had been told this list was full of real possibilities she would have dropped dead as a doornail.   The list went something like: Portofino (Italy), Nice (France), Monaco, San Sebastian (Spain), Cinque Terre (Italy).  Yep.  Little Hannah dead.  There’s that. Somehow or another a pros and cons list never happened and Cinque Terre was the final call.

So back to 14 year old Hannah-at this point she’s clutching her beloved Cinque Terre wall calendar, library checked out backpack travel guides, and is for SURE jumping up and down.  Present 23 year-old Hannah is right there with her.

We loaded into the Porsche ( L O L ) and headed South.  Within that “headed South” were Alps, traffic jams, good music, more Alps, and lots of smiling so hard it hurt.


First stop: Genoa

Genoa was pasta and pesto, little backstreets, limoncello, a pretty gross beach, and a hotel with grand piano in the lobby.

Second stop: Vernazza

Woke up bright and early to catch the miraculously 6€ train from Genoa to Vernazza.  Got on the train a bit groggy and croissant-stuffed.  Exited the train to yellow tinted sunrays bouncing back and forth from one color-drenched building to the next.  The kaleidoscope Vernazza street dipped slowly down toward jewel-blue, boat-lined sea. To the right of the street was a little supermarket where we bought apples and lemons.  Apples because they are the best and lemons because having Italian sun-bleached hair is also the best.

We made our way to the end of the main street where white boats bob up and down on Mediterranean blue.  Next to one of these boats stood a little old Italian man.  By some miracle he decided to try to strike up a conversation in Italian with the pretty clearly un-Italian Olivia and myself.  By some extra miracle we answered in Italian/Spanish decent enough to make him keep talking.  Francesco comes to Vernazza 2 months every summer.  He comes back because he met his “amore”-Margherita-there many decades ago.  The Francesco and Margherita that met those many years ago now return with their grandchildren to the timeless, sun-stained streets and waters of Vernazza every summer.  So yeah-it’s cool.  We all just want to be Margherita and stuff but WHATEVER. NOT JEALOUS.

Francesco took Dennis, Olivia, and I out for cappuccini and we all felt pretty darn good about life.  Still not sure how it all could have been real but here’s a picture to prove I didn’t go all 14-year old Hannah and just daydream it up. (photo cred: Dennis)


After this time got lost.  I’d rather keep the rest of the day a dream-like blur.  The blur is all half-opened eyes in blue, salty  water, sun-warmed stone, sunBURN, barnacle rock scraped fingers, melting gelato, cliff jump weightlessness, kayaks and coast, and absolute failure at skipping rocks. I could write an essay on every one of those things. But Lord knows this is already ages too long so I won’t do that to you.

Sunburnt and burned out on late Italian trains, we finally made it back to our hotel and slept like lil’ angels (JK woke up like 72 times but whatevs). Woke up the next morning and had THE breakfast of champions.  Not even going to go there.  Let me just tell you it was a BUFFET.  Scratch that it was about 12 buffets: yoghurt/toppings buffet, fruit buffet, pastry buffet, bread buffet, meat buffet, vegetable buffet, omelette buffet, coffee buffet, EVERYTHINGBUFFETGAAAAAAH.  I can’t even talk about it anymore.  Just trust me-it was gosh darn delicious.


We began the trek westward to Barcelona.  The westward trip included a Tim Keller sermon, word-association game, lots o’ musicsss, maybe a little speeding, and finally, a stop in…


Yeah Monaco…I’m pretty tired and this thing is so long ain’t nobody going to read it. So I’ll just tell you this: Everybody and everything in Monaco is rich.  The cars are rich.  The casinos are rich.  The boats are rich.  The roads are rich.  The parks are rich (like…you’re not allowed to walk on the grass so what even is the POINT!?).  Probably the cockroaches are rich (L O L . As IF they even know what cockroaches are).

Well folks, there’s a wrap. I’m all written out for the day. Here’s to hoping I can do another one of these before another 6 months pass.

And disclaimer-only 3 countries were mentioned in this post BUT-technically we passed through France AND ended up back home in Spain.  So there’s that.  5 countries fair and square.

Treat Yoself

Treat Yoself: February Edition

Oversleeping, Patatas Bravas, books, pancakes, cerveza, long city walks, Icelandic bakeries, outlet stores, cappuccinos, a healthy bit of Spanglish, vino, time spent with the loveliest of friends, and checking off lists: if ONE of these things happens in a day, you know it’s been a good day.  Now, if they all happen in one day it can only mean one thing: today is a TREAT YOSELF Day!

The plan was to head to Tarragona this weekend, but due to the fact that the our dear Sammy was feeling under the weather and couldn’t join us, we decided to postpone this jaunt and opted for a homey Barcelona day.  We soon realized that the Barcelona bucket list we hoped to check off mostly revolved around food.  By our third food stop just decided to justify all decisions by inaugurating it our first “Treat Yoself” day.

Stop 1: Caravelle 
This has got to be one of my favorite spots in the city.  Doesn’t hurt that it’s 5 minutes walking from my piso in Raval. But honestly, I’d walk about 2 hours for their muffins and super-size (equivalent of a Starbucks “Tall”)  coffee con leche option any day, no problema!
The lovely Mona had a chai tea latte, I went with an oat milk cafe con leche which was upsized for free after one of those blessed mix-ups that cafes occasionally have, and cool-cat Kathryn went all in and treated herself to a “supersize” cafe con leche AND muffin.  GET IT GURL.

Stop 2: BarcelonaReykjavik

I didn’t know that Icelandic bread was a thing before I saw it in Barcelona, but I guess it is because this stuff is BALLIN’.  We made a stop post-Caravelle to gaze at their wondrous multigrain bread.  This place is an oasis in a land of very, very white Spanish/Frenchish bread.  Don’t get me wrong-I love the white stuff-but occasionally you just need a little pumpkin seed to your bread, you know?

*Bonus* They had a basket of discount day-old bread.  Can we say GET AT ME?!

Stop 3: Plaças and Streets of Sarriá

This lovely little Plaça can be found on Carrer Major de Sarriá just on the side of the Parroquia San Vicente de Sarriá.  There was a nun sighting so GAME OVER.  Maybe the whole nun thing should be normal by now, but I’m okay with the fact that it just never will be.  They could start singing “How do you solve a problem like Maria” at ANY MOMENT, guys!

Stop 4: Bar Tomas
Give me an A-I-O-L-I.  A for Aced it, I for Inches added to my waist, O for Oil, L for LIKE I CARE ’bout the inches added or oil, and another I for I AM IN LOVE.

After hearing tell of the wonders of the Bar Tomas patatas bravas plate, we knew it was a Treat Yoself Day must.  Turns out this was a fantastic decision and the Catalan force was strong with this classic bar.  Not to be overlooked were the classic croquetas, olivas, and last but not least-cañas of our beloved Estrella.

Stop 5: Urban Barbeque/Plaça Calçotada

We stumbled across one of Catalunya’s best traditions-the Calçotada-in a lovely little plaça near Bar Tomas.  I came dangerously close to kidnapping this old man and also stealing every freaking last grilled onion.

Stop 6: Hibernian Bookstore, Gracia 

This was the point at which my phone died.  But books are about words anyways, so you can use your imagination.  This little used bookstore on Calle Montseny is a little English lit-lovers paradise in this land of Catalan and Castellano.  I’m excited to get started on my 1,98€ purchase: Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.  Since The Observer has described it as “a ripping historical yarn for the girls” and it is set in my almost-neighbor city Carcassonne, I figure this purchase can be nothing but a great decision.

Stop 7: Mama’s Cafe, Gracia

Obviously exhausted from consuming aioli loaded patatas and the choosing of literature bound to expand our minds-we stopped at Mama’s Cafe to recover.  All I’m going to say is if you’re within a 500 km radius you’re going to want to get on the closest airplane/train/moto and get yourself over here for these pancakes.  THEY COME WITH MAPLE SYRUP.  I’m crying just thinking about it.

Not pictured: Oatmeal heaven breakfast en casa, the blessed outlet stores of L’Eixample, and the bottle of wine and Spanish TV show that I am currently watching.

Wherever you are, I suggest you make yourself about this Treat Yoself Day business immediately.  Tienes que darte el gusto!


Siempre Tarde//Always Late

Remember that time I was going to move to Spain and start a fantastic blog that would regularly update an enormous following on my pinterest-level life in Spain?

L O L, me too.

Do you also remember that time that I arrived at least 30 minutes late to coffee/class/dinner/movie/party?

Yeah, me too.

So here I am-in classic form-writing after having now been in Spain 4 months.  Apparently I’m one of those God-forsaken folks who can’t do a thing till I’m sure it can be perfect, but seeing as one of my New Years Resolutions is not to be a God-forsaken folk, I figured I’d do my best to change things up.  So here’s a non-perfect, not-thoroughly informative or inspiring post from yours truly.

Here’s a little bullet point list to get you up to date on my life in Spain so far:

  • I was an au pair for 3 months, realized I’m apparently not cut out for the family life and am now looking for a new job. *Holla at me if you happen to live in Barcelona and know of one.*
  • Mi castellano ha mejorado mucho-puedo comunicar mas o menos sin dificultad, pero seguro que no es casi a perfecto.
  • I have discovered the Holy Vatican of cheap bars in Barcelona.  It’s the only address I have memorized other than my own.  El Gato Negro, Carrer de Sant Luis 47.  If you’re anywhere in this hemisphere you should go tonight.
  • I’ve got friends!  Plenty of ‘em!  Where but Barcelona would I make fast friends from Hungary, Austria, USA, Germany, Spain, France, Brazil, and the list could go on…
  • I had 3 Thanksgivings-perks of every American in Barcelona wanting to celebrate this very American Holiday.
  • I spent Christmas/New Years in Heaven.  Kidding-just Switzerland, Austria, and baby bits of Germany and France…so we can just go ahead and agree that those are pretty heavenly. Future post(s) alert!
  • I moved into a new apartment the day I landed back in Barcelona from Munich.  It was the last place I saw before Christmas and with the help of a bottle of wine and a couple of friends I made the snap decision to take it.  Based on how the last 2 days here have been, this may be one of my best snap decisions to date.  Future post alert #2.
  • I’m working on New Years’ Resolutions.  Future post alert #3.  One of them is to keep this thing going.
  • I have found a wonderful church family here and I cannot begin to say how much the Lord has used this place and the people there to help me fall more in love with Europe and what the gospel can bring to my city.
  • I’m teaching private English classes now and guess what-passive voice is now understood by some of my students!  (You get that if you’re a Grammar nerd).
  • This list could be a lot longer…like a LOT LONGER.  However, I am going to accept that nothing in this life will ever be full and complete (EVEN my prolific bullet point lists), and so my not-so-thorough, not-so-inspiring first post must do.
  • I’ve got 50€!  Yep.  That’s right.  50€ in total. Let’s do this!

*In keeping with the title-this post was written more than 2 weeks ago and is just now being posted-in all it’s unfinished glory.  Here’s to doing things that aren’t perfect this year!*