H1'2016: Places I’ve Visited

Posted by kdow on May 27, 2016 5:02:50 PM

As part of my new role in 2016, I’ve been lucky enough to visit some amazing places, met some amazing people and collected many airline miles. I’ve travelled enough this year that it’s a running meme within my team.

This post is as much a photo essay to remind myself of my sheer luck as well as a waypoint for colleagues to point and joke amongst themselves while I’m 32,000ft in the air bemoaning the wifi.

In January we visited Lisbon for my birthday (every year we travel somewhere for my birthday since it’s so close to new year’s).

The hostel we stayed in, Lisbon Dreams, was awesome. And as a result they deserve a shout-out here. They knew it was my birthday and gave us some treats and a note. I rarely stay in hostels but this was a stunning spot to stay in. You know a place is good when, on your inevitable hangover day, you have a lovely & relaxing time in the location you’re staying in.

Lisbon is one of my colleagues’ favourite places so it came with a high bar to hit. My favourite spot is Berlin, and Lisbon isn’t really the same vibe. But I loved the city. The culture, the architecture and the food was awesome. I would definitely go back. And I would try every single stall in Time Out’s Lisbon building.

Then, later in January, I went over to Cambridge, MA. I’ve been scores of times in the last few years as this is my companies’ HQ location. And I’ve been to a bunch of local sports events too. This time, though, the new hire crew from Singapore (including two of my own team hires!) were there. So they were treated to a basketball game in one of the boxes at TD Gardens, which I was invited to tag along to.

It was great fun to be in the box with people who hadn’t really been exposed to the sport, let alone the cheesy intro with the patriotic US national anthem.

A Swede & a French man walk into a bar…

And while I’m putting up photos of travels, given my home is a place I spent the first quarter of the year travelling to/from (hot desking and occasionally sleeping in my own bed), it’s appropriate to post a photo of Dublin.

This one is from the location of our office before we moved (about 20ft down the road, granted). The sunrise/sunset on the Liffey can be stunning. But mostly it’s a grey, overcast waste of time!

Then, towards the end of February I went to the least exotic place in the world: Cork (sorry!). But it was here that my wife & I got officially hitched. We had our civil ceremony with our immediate families and people who couldn’t travel to our actual wedding, in Tenerife.

It was a great, packed day that included a photo shoot around Blarney Castle (the photos are awful) and ended with a fancy dinner & drinks session for our modest wedding party.

This ended with a long weekend mini-moon trip to Kinsale, which is a small fishing village south of Cork city. It was there that we were told to go visit Fishy Fishy, which is a renowned seafood restaurant in the town. We’ve never been big fish eaters, but after this visit we’ve been converted and eat fish all of the time. I actual reckon that visit changed our dietary habits!

Then, upon my return the following week my desk had been creatively altered by my colleagues, who decided to jazz up my work environment with lots of reminders that I was now formally hitched. Included in this was wallpaper, balloons, heart-shaped paper, and many other accoutrements.

Then, in March, I had my first quarterly visit to Singapore to visit the office & help with coaching & onboarding my colleague there. As well as to lend a helping hand wherever it was required. The long flight put my Dublin -> Boston flights squarely into perspective. But it was an awesome first trip to a genuinely amazing city. The only thing that sucks is just how warm it is there!

Singapore from the old office!

A week later took me all the way to Sydney, where our office is a few minutes’ walk from the Opera House. As such, conveniently, my hotel room had a, sort-of, at the right angle, view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Another fantastic city, with a great office & an energetic team!

The Bridge with the Opera House. This is winter.

Sydney was a weird one because the heat in Singapore was a killer (me being Irish), which meant the relatively mild Sydney weather was a break. Which was funny upon my return home because Sydney’s winter is a much, much warmer climate than Dublin’s summer.

Then, in April, we traveled to Tenerife. For those unaware, Tenerife is an island off the coast of Morocco which belongs to a Spanish colony of islands, collectively called the Canaries. This is where Gem & I got married. Again. But this time not legitimately. At this stage we were married for two months already, but this was the day we had spent 18 months planning, saving and stressing over. And it went really, really well!

The hotel venue for the wedding. Look at the palm trees, below them is the setup for the wedding itself!

Then we had a second mini-moon in Tenerife. In a beautiful spot up the mountains about 15 minutes drive from the hotel that hosted our wedding reception. We had this space for about a week, and while it wasn’t cheap it was worth every penny. I’ve never been so relaxed after a holiday before in my life!

This was our mini-moon villa!

During our mini-moon we had to dress up in our wedding gear again to head to the north end of the island for a photo shoot. The shoot started at sunrise, and continued through until the afternoon after a lot of driving around the mountains in our rental car, chasing the photographers in their BMW Z4!

It was an awesome day in retrospect, even though we got cranky afterwards (from not eating). Needless to say, I was far more bloated on that day than on the wedding day itself!

Incredible view of the island during our photo shoot day.

On one of the days we did a romantic evening getaway up Mt. Teide, which included champagne, dinner and a star guide at the end. Watching the sun set, enjoying some champagne and getting a guided tour of the stars was absolutely incredible. We didn’t expect it to be as good as it was, but my god did it deliver!


I want one of these for my house.

Then, just a few days after returning from my wedding trip I was off to Tokyo (a lifetime achievement for me) to interview candidates for our new office that opens during the summer. Not only did I get to visit Tokyo, I got to do it with one of my colleagues that aligns nicely to my thoughts on travel: do weird shit locals do.

So that’s what we did. We went off the beaten track when out together. The highlight being the toilet seats, but also the night we ended up in an alleyway sushi bar at 4am in Rappongi, where no one else spoke a modicum of English. We had to point at fish and hope we didn’t die from it. But the chefs were awesome. The sake was a great social lubricant, and it helped set the tone for how we would conduct our weekend in Tokyo after a successful week hiring people!

No photo can do the city justice.

I absolutely loved Ginza. We did a lot of shopping there!

Then I went back to Singapore for a two-day trip which was highlighted by seeing our new office space, but also in my buying my official wedding ring. Beforehand, I had been wearing a cheap knock-off one until I bought the real deal in Tiffany. I’m still delighted with it. Not because it’s a particular source of pride to announce to the world that I’m off the market. No. It’s a fancy shiny thing!

As accessories go, it’s pretty great. Goes well with my watches too!

Then, on Tuesday evening (before the Wednesday where we flew home) we went up to Altitude, which is a club on the sixty-somethingth floor of a building in Raffles. It’s so big it looks down to Marina Bay Sands. But at 8pm, as night set, there was a fantastic light show in the Bay that no phone camera could do justice to.

Altitude, looking down into Marina Bay.

And then we returned home via London, which I visited last year as many times as I had breakfasts. So it’s worth a shout out here as we descended into the city on our trusty steed (Singapore Airlines is worth the hype).

In fact, in all my time landing in London airports I don’t think I’ve ever landed so smoothly, with a clear day that would allow taking such a decent shot of the Thames!

Then, once settled back into Dublin, my team went to a posh steakhouse; Shanehan’s on the Green, where we had a fantastic meal.

Like the last mention of Dublin, I’m putting it here to remind you that I did come home occasionally.

T-bone. Mmmm.

Then, finally, one of the guys & myself went to London. I’m a huge Bayern Munich fan, but if I was to keep an eye on any Premier League club, it’d be Arsenal. And so, my buddy being an avid Arsenal fan, I went to visit the stadium with him on their last EPL game of the season, against an already relegated team; Villa.

Arsenal won the game comfortably, but even bigger news in the stadium was Tottenham (a huge London rival club) had lost their game, which meant that Arsenal went to second in the league; securing yet another year where Arsenal came ahead of Spurs in the table.

The Arsenal.

And that, my friends, brings us to today. I love my travel. I wish I could teleport to places to avoid the time between being in new, interesting places. Next month I revisit the team in Singapore, and later in the summer I’ll visit the team in Sydney.

Then, in September I’ll go to Tokyo for a month, followed by some sort of APAC tour with my wife (which will count as our honeymoon, rather than a mini-moon). This will bring us to new places & new experiences for sure. Following that, I’ll be back in Boston for work in November, followed by New York with my wife; who’ll undoubtedly spend every drop of money she’s saved on clothes. And wine. But mostly clothes.

And in 6 months time I’ll pinch myself again and write another photo-based post about the luck-of-the-draw travel I’ve enjoyed this year.

Thanks for reading!