Friday, June 1, 2012

On our last day in Ireland we stayed in Dublin and did some souvenir shopping. In the afternoon we went to the Guinness Factory to see how their beer is made. It was all pretty cool.
After this we said bye to Meagan and Kelly and made our way to another pub. (All we pretty much do abroad is go to Irish pubs so why not go to as much legitimate pubs in Ireland as we can?) We went back to the pub we went to one of the other nights and ate our food while listening to two cute old Irish men playing instruments and singing.

Once we finished eating we made our way to the airport to go back to London. The next time I fly back to London is to take my Virgin Atlantic flight to JFK. What an extremely bittersweet thought. Fun fact: While on my flight from Dublin to London I sat in row 12 and row 14 was right behind me, meaning there was no row 13. I'm willing to bet they did they because 13 (or ter-teen as the Irish would say) is the infamous unlucky number. Interesting.

On my way home I thought about how I helped convince a lady who nearly backed out of kissing the Blarney Stone, since it was so high up and she was scared of heights, to just go for it. Also, on our way to the airport the man across from me dropped his phone and didn't notice until I told him. He was pretty grateful too. This makes me wonder why people aren't just nice to each other all the time. Maybe I'm being an idealist but in my point of view the human race makes things infinitely harder for themselves for no reason. Come on people, help each other out.

The Cloch na Blarnan and the Gift of the Gab

Happy Easter! Today was another great day in good old Ireland. We took another day trip and went to Cork and to Blarney Castle to give a little peck to the famous Blarney Stone. First of all, we did not expect the area of the castle to be as gorgeous as it was and we were once again pleasantly surprised. So we climbed the steep steps to the top of the castle and kissed the Blarney Stone and are now bestowed with the gift of eloquence!
One red hair... my Irish transformation
Blarney Castle
The line

While reading one of the information signs there I found out that the possible origin of the stone was from something called Lia Fail and was used to sort out Scottish and Irish kings. (If you click the name it'll bring you to the Blarney Stone website that has information about it.) I'm so proud of my little name! Thanks Mom and Dad!

Later we went to Cork City and ate our Easter meal at a hotel restaurant. I guess a tuna sandwich and seafood chowder isn't very Easter-y but it was still good. To celebrate Easter some more we got some jelly beans on our way home. We would have waited but apparently the Easter bunny doesn't bring candy to hostels. This was really the first holiday I haven't been home for and that was a little sad but I'm going home so soon that I can't even be homesick!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Cottages, Cliffs, Chorus, and Cinema

Our second day in Ireland was very eventful. We took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher but got to see much more than just that. The scenery itself throughout the bus ride was very... green, just as one would expect. The "family run" company we toured with brought us first to a castle then to their farm where they had some cows and sheep. Lucky for us the mama sheep just had babies a few days earlier and they were so darn cute! After a tour of the farm we went into the cottage to have some apple pie yumyumyum.
Cow tried to eat my camera
"Granny's Apple Pie"
Sometime during the bus ride we were given lyrics sheets and led in a sing-a-long of popular Irish folk songs. I was in heaven and got pretty into it.

The cliffs were even more massive than I thought they would be. Words can't do them justice so here are some pictures:

Later on we also went to some other cliffs where we could go right to the edge. I found a cool heart-shaped rock there and let's just say I took a slight risk to crawl and get it. (Sorry to all my friends who thought I was going to tumble head first into the water.)

The rest of our evening was spent in Galway City. We were only there for a short time but we enjoyed it. We walked down the cute little streets and to the water. Beautiful!
One of the best parts of the day was on the way home when the tour guide put on the movie P.S. I Love You. I cried a little bit, partially because of the tear-jerking moments in the movie and partially because during the gorgeous scenes of Ireland in the film I looked out the bus window and saw the same thing. Just lovely.

When we got back to Dublin I needed to hear some live Irish music so we went to a pub where we heard our favorite jams: Wild Rover and Galway Girl. We also got the entire pub to sing Happy Birthday to Dana for her 21st birthday.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Luck of the Irish

We made it to Dublin, Ireland! After some careful deliberation we planned out our travels to each end of the Republic of Ireland, including the Cliffs of Moher and the Blarney Stone. Today we did a short tour of Dublin just to see what it was all about. Since we came to Dublin on Good Friday we were able to experience one of the two days of the entire year that the distribution of alcohol is illegal. Just our luck. I'm sure we experience a whole other side of Ireland that day, even though many of the locals planned ahead and stocked up on alcohol beforehand to get them through the long day.
The more I think about it the more I can't believe this is my last trip during the semester. I feel like my first trip, to Wales, just happened. Once again, I feel so deeply grateful that I've gotten to travel to so many parts of the world and experience so many diverse cultures already.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Paris (Part II)

Day 2
In the morning we walked over to see Moulin Rouge and a popular souvenir street. 
More importantly, we finally got to see the Eiffel Tower today and it was incredible! We took our fair share of pictures there too:
Touching the Eiffel Tower!
As shown above, we got some cotton candy there. To balance out the huge meal from the day before our meals this day consisted of a small sandwich and a slice of pizza. Later we saw the Arc de Triomphe and went nearby to Lauderie to get some real macaroons. I’m not the biggest macaroon fan but they were really good. However, I couldn’t help but wonder how many poor families the lady in front of me could feed with the amount of money she was spending on her posh, ribbon adorned chocolate eggs.

Arc de Triomphe

At night we went on our boat cruise, finally. We saw the Eiffel tower sparkle at night and it was worth the wait. Everything was so beautiful:
Day 3
The next day we woke up early to check out of our hostel and get to the Catacombs (the underground burial tunnels). Seeing all the bones was extremely morbid but awesome at the same time.

After the Catacombs we went to Palm Sunday mass at Notre Dame. We got some olive branches and walked around the church afterward. 

After that we went over to the Louvre and actually went in this time. There, we saw some statues, a medieval moat, and of course the Mona Lisa. She was looking beautiful as always. And if you haven't heard yet, here's a little fun fact... the painting is actually very small.
At this point we were drained so we made our way back to the train station to go back to London, via the Chunnel. The lady at customs security must have felt I looked like a threat to UK security because she spent a decent amount of time questioning me and asking for other forms of identification. She continued to do this for such a period of time that we missed our scheduled train home. Thanks a lot lady. Luckily, we were able to switch to another train a little while after. Overall, Paris was everything I thought it would be: fashionable, touristy, romantic, and beautiful. Au revoir!