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!

Je T'aime Paris (Part I)

The First Evening
Bonsoir! I made it to Paris! And I'm reunited with people, finally. Waiting for them to get here was odd. I ate some candy while I watched someone get taken away on a stretcher. What a lovely Parisian welcome. After some time casually searching we found our hostel and the 6 of us were lucky enough to have a cozy room all to ourselves. Sharing one bathroom is interesting though. We already flooded the floor with the water from the shower. Oops. Tomorrow morning we're going on a bike tour, something I've wanted to do for months, for a few hours.

Day 1
On our first official day in Paris we pretty much went all out, or as Val would say we went HAM. We started by going on a bike tour around Paris. The tour was awesome and our guide Aaron was great. We found out after the tour that it was his first one! I'm glad they told us that after the tour was done, otherwise I would have been 10 times more nervous while we were weaving in and out of cars. Anyway, on the tour we rode through parks, streets, and through the area of the Louvre, even though we weren't technically supposed to. Here are some pictures from the tour:
Notre Dame
Canon ball stuck in the wall of the building
The Louvre

After our tour we sat in the park near the Louvre and had some gelato. Our dinner experience on the other hand was a quite unexpected event. We ended up accidentally eating at a fancy, fixed menu, multiple course French restaurant. We all tried things we normally wouldn't have, but since we all had to pay so much for it we went all out. All in all, the food was probably some of the best I've ever had... whatever it was...
Something shrimp
Something beef
Something sweet
After dinner we wobbled our immensely full selves to La Seine for our boat cruise that we pre-purchased tickets for. However, we missed our boat, which is beyond typical for us. Luckily, the tickets were good for any day, anytime so we changed of our loosely organized plans and decided try again the next night. Instead, we watched some intense rollerbladers do tricks on a nearby bridge over the river.