Samara O'Shea

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Good News of Great Joy

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

Last night I received a text from Tom (the friend I wrote about yesterday). He told us he’d gotten out of surgery six hours ago and everything went as well as it could. Now we hope for the best regarding future surgeries—that they are completely unnecessary! I am most grateful to those who sent good vibes.

I also got the CD from cousin Kate with all the Honduras photos on them. Here are two of me and an adorable monkey named Sonny. He jumped right on my back! It’s incredible to feel a monkey’s furry hand wrap around your finger. Most animals have paws, but monkeys have little bitty hands. More photos tomorrow: I have something fun planned. Until then!



Suddenly Summer

Monday, January 24th, 2011

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is I had a spectacularly warm, adventurous vacation in Honduras. The bad news is I dropped my camera in a gift shop. I hit the floor right away to find the batteries. I put them back in and turned the camera on. It still worked. Whew! Sadly, I realized hours later that the memory stick had fallen out, too, and I lost all the photos from the first half of the trip.

Fortunately, cousin Kate was with me and she was snapping photos the whole time, so I’m not coming home completely photo-less. I do have to wait for her to send the pics to me.

For now I have a few images to share:

First up is me (and my tough girl face) flying through the air on a canopy tour. We zipped from tree to tree like the monkeys. This pic was taken by someone at the park.

Without the memory stick, my camera holds a few pictures, and that’s where these come from:

Kate has a pic of one of these guys on my shoulder. For now, isn’t it amazing that these colors exist in nature. I went snorkeling (as promised) and saw electric blue fish. Electric blue!

We saw lots of men with really big guns. We didn’t see any violence thankfully, but some people (like this guy) were prepared for it at all times.

These next few photos were taken at the Copan Ruins–an area built and occupied by the Mayan people. Like the Colosseum and the pyramids, these are extraordinary structures testifying to lives lived long ago.





Gone Snorkeling

Friday, January 14th, 2011

And now that I have confessed my love for winter, I am going to leave it for a week or so. Absence make the heart grow fonder! I am going to take a break from blogging, too. Be back on the 24th.

Until then,

Ooo La La

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Check out my friend Patrick’s first blog for The Huffington Post travel section. I’m so proud! It’s called Biking by Velo in Paris.

The Bucket List is Born

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

I don’t have an active bucket list, but I have just come up with a fun life assignment and since my self-imposed deadline is “before I die,” I suppose the list begins today. Here goes . . .

I, Samara O’Shea, declare that before I kick the bucket I will attempt to visit every place on the planet named Samara, which includes the following:

~ Samara, Russia, a city on the eastern bank of the Volga River, Russia

~ Samara River (Dnieper), a river in Ukraine, left tributary of the Dnieper River

~ Samara, beach city in Costa Rica

~ Samara, Agra, village in Uttar Pradesh, India

~ Samarra, an ancient city in Iraq (if I’m willing to go to the good places I must brave the dangerous ones, too. Plus the Great Mosque of Samarra looks really cool.)

~ Samara Flag Monument, a monument in Stara Zagora, Bulgaria

~ Samara (house), also known as SAMARA or the John E. Christian House, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright located in West Lafayette, Indiana

If you know of other places called Samara please tell!

Are there any travel magazines out there willing to sponsor the journey to such a unique set of places? Any?

Going Dutch

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Travel Tales Part Two: After jumping from city to small town to city in Ireland, it felt good to put my bags down at the hotel in Amsterdam knowing I wasn’t going to have to pick them up again for four days. Going in, I knew the two things that most people know about Amsterdam: pot and prostitution are legal. Other than that, I was open to discovery. My first (and favorite) realization was the gorgeous city itself. When one thinks aesthetically pleasing European city, Paris and Rome come to mind. To my pleasant surprise, Amsterdam can architecturally hold its own also. While there is no Effie Tower or Colosseum, the canals are a unique wonder (albeit a bit smaller), and the buildings are striking.

Fun Fact*: The staircases in Amsterdam are insanely steep. I’m talking ladder steep. At the top of every building is a large hook (not really visible in the pics below, sorry). This is how furniture is moved in and out—attached to the hook and through the window.

*This is a not-so-fun fact if you are wearing stilettos or intoxicated. Woe is you if you are wearing stilettos and intoxicated.

Some photos:

A canal at twilight.

A canal at lunchtime.

A canal blessed with my presence.

The Dutch are friendly folk.

Wooden shoes galore.

I had to try a pair on.

We saw this beauty on a bike tour through the countryside. If you go to Amsterdam, go on the bike tour. The terrain is flat, so even if you’re not the best biker you’ll be fine.

The Van Gogh Museum is the best single-artist museum I’ve ever been to, and I haven’t been so awestruck by an artist’s versatility since the Frida Kahlo exhibit was in Philadelphia. I also discovered that VG was quite the letter writer. I’ll let you know if I read anything good.

Getting ready for the World Cup.

It was a treat to be in Amsterdam on World Cup day. Despite the eventual loss, I’ve never seen an entire city so excited. I got completely caught up in the national pride—even if it belonged to another nation. I also visited the Anne Frank House (of course!). I wrote about that moving experience for .

Living in Thatch

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

Going to Ireland, like going most places in Europe, feels like stepping back in time. Buildings and streets are smaller and history is all around. It may be the site of a castle or of a building obviously built in the 1600s, but there is something on just about every corner that will take you to a time you never knew and (yet somehow) are completely familiar with.

The weather was autumn-like the whole time we were there, which was fine by me as it was 98 degrees and above with hardcore humidity back home (still is). We started in Dublin and spent a day/night there before heading to a small town called Nenagh (pronounced Neena), where my friend Lisa lives, and then we went all the way west to Galway. I loved both the big cities, and it was lovely to see provincial Ireland as well. A few photos:

A stereotypically beautiful picture of Ireland on the Aran Islands, a short ferry ride from Galway. It’s the only place in in the country where they still speak Gaelic.

This cafe, also on the Aran Islands, has a roof made of thatch. Yes, thatch. Though it looks small on the outside, it’s actually quite big and they serve a divine potato gratin.

My cousin Kate on a windy day, which is pretty much every day in Ireland.

I enjoy seeing the language I know and love used in alternate ways. This is a sign at Trinity College, Dublin.


Rohan’s is one of the oldest pubs in Nenagh. Once upon a time, all pubs doubled as general stores. Rohan’s is the only pub in Nenagh that is still both a general store and bar. It’s pretty sweet—in an early 20th-century kinda way. And what would a century-old bar be with a Facebook page!

I took this at the James Joyce Center in Dublin. Honestly, I was disappointed with the center. In fairness, it’s difficult to have a museum/center dedicated to a writer. What the writer leaves behind are the words, and that’s more than enough. A museum dedicated to one artist, however, is a different story entirely. In Amsterdam, we went to the Van Gogh museum. That was incredible. Amsterdam blog to come . . .