Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left."

That's a Chinese proverb, and I couldn't agree more. I had such an amazing experience studying abroad in Ireland, and I would do it again in a second. I feel like I really grew as a person and learned a lot about myself and other people. I thought it was fitting to wrap up my blog with a short but certainly not comprehensive list of nuggets of new-found knowledge in no particular order...

1) The first two weeks of anything are the hardest...trying to understand foreign accents, adjusting to a new city, getting over homesickness and heartbreak, cooking for oneself without poisoning oneself, figuring out schedules, etc.

2) A pint of Guinness is fantastic. And two are better.

3) I loved volunteering and want to keep it up!

4) Being away from singing was really tough, and I missed it a LOT.

5) I have a new found love of travel and adventure!

6) It's important to go with the flow and not be a control freak. (Read: Eyjafjallajökull)

7) Surfing in February with a wetsuit isn't nearly as cold as you'd think. Also, leaning over a cliff 700ft above the ocean is a total rush.

8) I am a lot more capable of taking care of myself than previously thought.

9) I love love love being independent.

10) Ireland is amazing and will always have a special place in my heart, but I'm so glad to be home!

11) Skype is a God-send.

12) I highly enjoy striking up conversations with strangers in a pub.

13) The friends I made here are so great, and I miss them so much already!

14) Ryanair might be uncomfortable and make me fear for my life, but it's only a 2 hour plane ride to most of Western Europe, holllla. Suck it up and hop on the plane, why don'tcha?

15) Irish sayings: Savage, class, do ya know like, wee (only in Donegal), CRAIC!, saying like at the end of a sentence

16) Sheep are crazy cool, and I'll miss their mad bahhing. And beautiful horses that let me kiss and pet them.

17) Just letting things happen as they will.

18) No doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

So those are just a FEW things I learned whilst living abroad. I also know how to curse you in Irish, so watch out.

Thanks for reading my blog these past few months! Cheers!


Monday, May 17, 2010

Donegal is a ball.

This past weekend I headed out to Donegal and Derry with my Irish friend John. I met John through my dear friend Wiz, who's been keeping up a splendid long distance relationship with him for the past year. Power to ya'll! Anyway, he picked me up and we drove to the most northernly point of Ireland, Malin Head, in County Derry. The ride up was sunny, lovely and uneventful. We chatted, got ice cream (a gross strawberry crunch bar for me, white chocolate Magnum bar for him--better choice), and enjoyed the long lasting sunshine. We arrived at our hostel at 9:56, 4 minutes before closing time, and John and I were the only people there! It was slightly eerie, but it was a nice hostel nonetheless. Freezing cold, but lovely. We headed to the local old man pub down the road and enjoyed Guinness, hot whiskey and some truly ridiculous company. We met a lady from Galway who married a Donegal man and has been "trapped" up there ever since. She was SERIOUSLY sloshed and told us how she was with child whilst swinging around a glass of wine. Charrrrming. I hope she was kidding. She also informed us that her husband was two timing her, yet her husband was so drunk he couldn't actually form words. Madness! Then a gnarled old gentleman approached me singing some Irish ballad and then informed me that his wife had died 4 years ago "but you just have to get on with life." He asked to see my hands (I assume to check if they were fit for hard labor), told us how he has 500 sheep with only 5 lamb casualties, a huge house with 9 bedrooms and then lastly told us about his knee and how he broke it in 3 places. And then sang to me again. And may or may not have accidentally brushed up against me and then insisted he wasn't a perverted old man. I'm pretty sure he wanted me to be his new bride, and I'm not sure what I was thinking turning him down. It was a crazy night.

But we slept well that night, made eggs for breakfast and then drove around Malin Head. It's really beautiful and has some amazing views of the Atlantic, though we couldn't see Scotland because of the rain/hail that pelted us for 20 minutes. But after that the weather was quite lovely and sunny. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is so, so blue! We visited Banba's Crown (the actual tip of Ireland) where they used to receive messages from America (or something, sorry the details are fuzzy), the raised beaches where you can apparently search for semi-precious stones, though we didn't find any, the "Wee house" and old church remains--according to legend the wee house (a cave) could hold as many people as would enter and is now a big Christian pilgrimage, drove the Inishowen 100--a lovely drive around the coast, hiked around some cliffs, and I suspect we saw the Devil's Hole, a huge chasm in some cliffs, though I can't be sure. Anyway it was good fun and we found a beautiful beach to walk along on a bay. Yay! Then we stopped into Malin for lunch and continued on to Derry!

Our hostel in Derry (in Northern Ireland) was SUPER super nice. It was basically a house and had the most amazing freshly baked bread. I actually may have eaten half the loaf. Ok so I did, whatever. IT WAS SO FRESH. But we hung around the hostel for a bit and watched some of Snatch. We were sooo tired for some reason--probably all the driving. But then we headed to Flamin' Jacks (?) for dinner and I had a delicious dinner of chicken tandoori and BANOFFIE PIE. It was so delicious and I couldn't stop smiling as I ate it. Then we headed to a cool pub-Peardagh O'Conor's?-and hung around with the locals. I got a Smirnoff Ice-I have no idea why, probably because I was too full for Guinness and drinks were CHEAP-and a Baileys on ice. So gooood. Then we came back to the hostel, watched a little of Superbad (I retreated to our room to read) and fell asleep. HOWEVER, I was awoken by the LOUDEST snoring I have ever had the misfortune to hear. At 5 or 6 in the morning. So I tried to fall back asleep but was too hot and ended up reading Cosmo in the kitchen downstairs, home-baked bread in hand. Eventually we headed out and walked around the wall of Derry, a fairly massive defensive feature that circled the entire city back in the day. It's a bit over a mile long and quite wide. It was interesting to walk along it and read some of the history of the city, but other than that there wasn't a whole lot to do.

So eventually we headed on our merry way, stopped in Buncrana, Bundoran and Ballyshannon for food/pit stops/ice cream/beach walks and stopped in Sligo to visit old W.B. Yeats's grave. Then after some pics stops (heh, get it?), we finally made our way to Tuam, where I met John's family and had a wonderful home cooked dinner. And delicious rhubard pie! And so much tea and good craic. And cows! I got to meet the cattle (he lives on a farm), pet some beauties, AND I RECEIVED SOME COW KISSES!! I ALSO got to sample some very potent poitín watered down with sugar and water. Illegal Irish moonshine! So exciting! My street cred is hitting the roof, I'm tellin ya. I stayed the night, slept in a tad and eventually got a lift back to Gort na Coiribe with his brother.

Such a fun weekend!!!!! Now I just have to start packing, fully enjoy my last few days in Galway, hit up Coole Park and get shepherd's pie and an Irish coffee. MAN I can't believe my time here is coming to a close...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's springtime in Killarney...

with all of the folks at home.

So on a bit of a whim, I decided to go to Killarney with a few friends. I had planned on going for a while, but wasn't sure when I could fit it in. Well, how about Thursday to Saturday? Great. So we took a way-too-early bus to the darling little town, checked into our amazing hostel, the Sugan, which Katie recommended from her dino-roaming days years ago, and walked around the town. The hostel is super cozy and charming, complete with fireplace filled with peat, mugs hanging from the ceiling, and bunches of bunches of homey photographs and paintings hanging on the walls.

So we walked around the town and made our way to the Killarney National Park, where we saw real live deer! and a big castle. We toured Ross Castle and fell in love with the tour guide's lilting Irish voice. Her voice was so silky it was almost creepy, actually. But we headed back, I ate some Goodfellas pizza, and wandered around to see the night life. Or rather, the non-existent night life. The pubs were filled with a more...grandfatherly...crowd, and we decided to find a pack of cards and play rummy all night. It was FANTASTIC and we laughed, cried, drank tea and died. Soo many heart to hearts in that tiny little area. And a lot of laughter. And trolls.

The next day my homegirl companion and I took a boat trip through the lakes with a sweet little old man while the men folk golfed. Our ship, as I like to call it, was more of a row boat that had enough room to hold our bicycles and a few passengers. I even had the honor of hopping out of the sailing vessel onto the grass bordering the lake to pulllll the ship through some rapids at one point. Very exciting! But we made it through after meeting Charlie the tame and ever-present pheasant (heh, heh) and stopped for cupcakes at some Lord's cottage.

Interesting side story: On our walk to the bottom of the mountain, we encountered a large field full of sheep, and naturally we approached it. What happened next is hard to explain. We saw a little lamb galloping towards us, clearly freaking out because it was on the wrong side of the fence. BUT all of the sheep started walking slowly towards us and BLEATING soooo loudly and ridiculously I couldn't help but laugh and be terrified all at once. I could only imagine alien sheep calling their mother ship to come and beam us up, it was so strange. But very entertaining. Check my facebook for a video.

Anyway, then we pushed our bikes 3 miles up a mountain and eureka! We made it to the top! The Gap of Dunloe! It was a lovely view and very scary/fun to bike down the ridiculously steep mountainside. I deffo took mah time and had the breaks on constantly-I didn't want to flip over the handle bar because of some dumb rogue rock! But yes we had a grand time and biked another 26 km back to town after stopping to pet lovely horsies. It was borderline exhausting and my body is currently paying the price for it.

That night I got shepherd's pie (meh) and designer fancy pants ice cream. Apparently they ONLY use the most rare and indigenous cows to Ireland, and there are only 2 herds of them. Weirdoooos. But it was good--REAL legit rum raisin with a crazy ton of rum...yum! Then we headed baaackk to the hostel to continue our game of rummy and chats. So so fun!

Then I came home today, went for a run, got a donut before AND after--don't judge me--and made a yummo dinner of salmon, cous cous and sauteed spinach. Holllla. OH and Wednesday night I went salsa dancing and got up the nerve to ask a few gentlemen to dance with me. I didn't want to just STAND there all night, and I was all dolled up anyway. So I danced a bit and a cute little old man (or so I thought was cute and old) asked me to dance and I said yes. It was cute for about 2 minutes until he wouldn't stop spinning me and swinging me around like a crazy person. He came up to about, oh, I dunno, my shoulder and would spin me around and pull me IN THISCLOSE and rest his bald little head on my collarbone. Whoaa buddy ok there. Then he made me dance with him again and we were THE ONLY PEOPLE on the dance floor. I at least hoped someone would take pity on me and help a sista out, but NO. Oh well, it makes a good story. I guess.

I can't believe I only have 2 weeks left! It's so bittersweet...I am really looking forward to seeing my family and friends from home and school, but I love it here so much! Also, I need some friends in D.C. Forget about trying to make money with a job, just make me some friends! If you know anyone in the area, hoook a sista up!

Katie and Chris's Visit!!!!!

WELL, last week Katie and Chris arrived in Galway, and it was sooooooo fabulous of them to come and visit me! I showed them around town the first day, got McDonagh's fish 'n' chips (oh how I'll miss you!) and got acquainted with the city. And I finally bought a Guinness baseball cap, though it has a slightly wonky brim. Whatever. That night I showed them my humble abode, made them dinner, and we all went into town to check out some pubs. I was very impressed with their ability to stay awake after traveling for so long--we even hit up a bar that had salsa dancing, though we didn't have the proper footwear to engage in said dancing. But it was exciting to watch and I definitely went back the next week..more on that later.

Thursday we walked around campus, got lunch, wandered around some shops and walked through Salt Hill along the ocean. It was a splendid day and I headed home to get my hair did for the Arcadia Farewell Dinner. But before the dinner, a few of my friends came with me to meet K&C at Tig Coili for a pint. So goooood, I'll surely miss that Guinness. But after the dinner (which was lovely), we met them at the Quays, sat for a bit, K, C and I went to get dessert next door, and then met up with the group at Townhouse Bar, which is so awesome. I don't know how I've missed going into it, but every different little nook is a different theme room from a 1950s style house. SoOoOo adorable. After that K&C decided to hit the hay while the youngin's skipped over to Coyotes, a superbly trashy night club. The same place I was in on the celebration of my 21st year. Anyway we danced to bad 90s techno for a bit and promptly headed home.

The next day was supposed to be the Cliffs of Moher trip, but considering it took them 35 minutes to drive to my house (it should've taken 4 min--they got lost) and we took a wrong turn getting there, I was a bit nervous about missing one of the 3 bus rides home. So I opted to stay home while they continued on their journey; good thing as it took them 2 hours to get there, which would've made me miss the bus.

On Sunday I took an early bus to Dublin to take in some of the sights I hadn't seen previously. SO, I started at the Queen of Tarts, a DELIGHTFUL cafe with the best darn scones I've ever had--full raspberries baked in--and got some tea. I visited the Chester Beatty Library and Dublin Castle after my treat; the castle was meh, but the Library was very cool. An American miner left all of his Asian art and bible/Quran collections to Ireland for some reason, and they made a cool museum out of them (which happened to be free). So I checked out snippets of the oldest gospels in the world, learned more about world religions, and generally enjoyed myself. Then I headed to Trinity College and--gasp!--snuck into the Book of Kells. It was really easy, actually. Instead of getting in line to pay 8euro (no way), I decided to look through the gift shop. HOWEVER, in the gift shop is a set of stairs that sort of say "No Entry," but I moseyed on up and found a beautiful library that Belle would've swooned over. Turns out I had found the museum part! I saw cool old books, the super old famous Irish harp, and the Book of Kells! Definitely wasn't worth 8euro to see, but I'm glad I got to see' free! Then I took a DART train to meet K&C at Clontarf Castle (no big deal, we stayed in a castle overnight). However, the directions were RUBBISH, as they always are. But seriously, this time the directions said "Exit the station and at the second traffic light make a right and the hotel is on the left of the roundabout." YET the station exited into a NEIGHBORHOOD. There wasn't even a stop sign that they could've confused with a stop light. So naturally I started walking in the wrong direction, found some people to help me (they were shocked I wanted to WALK to the castle--they didn't understand my desire to save money and just foot it a few miles) and eventually got there. It was loooovely and very cool. We had some drinks, headed to Temple Bar for dinner, had delicious burgers--mine with cashel blue cheese--and hit up the Porterhouse Pub. It was really neat inside and had lots of different homemade brewskies. Yum in my tum. Then we headed back to the castle to all sleep in the king size bed where Katie refused to spoon with me, and slept soundly.

The next day we took a free walking tour of the city, learned about the history of Ireland and saw all the cool sights with a really funny tour guide, stopped for snacks, took a rest and toured the Guinness Warehouse. Then we got dinner at an oh-so-charming establishment, complete with adorable waiter and live music. Katie tried to convince me to sing with him, and I TRIED but I just couldn't remember all the words to Oh Danny Boy. Better luck next time. But we had DELICIOUS "Boxty pancakes," which are basically crepes over goooorgeously cooked steaks. I must say, Katie and Chris spoiled me FAR too much, thank you guys :) Anyway right before dessert, our delightful waiter informed us that all flights out the next day were cancelled. Oopsies.
So they stayed another night in Dublin, and the next morning we went to Christ Church Cathedral where I saw the famous and weird mummified cat and rat, and then we headed to the National Museum to see the bog people from 2500 BC. They were so strange--preserved in the bog for hundreds of years with leathery skin with shocking red hair. Crazy stuff, very cool. Then we stopped in a pub for a pint and I headed home.

It was SUCHHHH a lovely visit, thank you guys so much for coming and spoiling me so so much! Love yaaaaaa :-)

Monday, April 26, 2010

In love with a little city called Sevilla.

So my last blog post may/may not have been a little cranky and sleep deprived, silly me. I can't believe I spent so much time freaking out about my trip, when really it was prrrrobably the five best consecutive days of my travels to date.

So when I was in the train station in Madrid, I met a charming woman who spoke English and was able to help me navigate my way through the various confusing lines. As previously mentioned, I had missed my 12:00 train and had to get into an obnoxiously long line to get a new ticket and pay another exorbitant fee. I was upset and alone, and I'm convinced she was an angel specifically put there by God to help me. Anyway, I hopped on the lovely AVE train and enjoyed the views of the Spanish countryside as we sped towards our destination, Sevilla.

Even though my Spanish came in handily enough--Donde estas [fill in the blank] Calle?--I couldn't understand the various passerby's responses and decided to straight up call the hostel to figure out where they were located. The hostel is right on the Alameda de Hercules, a nifty little square with a sort of "alternative, hippie" crowd. That night there was a large party sorta thang going on, complete with a band, DJ and girls dressed up in flamenco dresses who later stripped down to booty shorts and tank tops. But I met lots of really interesting people from my hostel, including a bat biologist from Germany, many Kiwis, Brits, French and Italians. It was a most enjoyable night. Then we all headed over to a bar and a few of us went to La Feria afterwards. I don't know how to explain the Feria...I've never experienced anything quite like it. Basically, we walked 40 minutes to a large fair grounds that had all the normal sort of rides you'd expect, but the main attractions were the "casetas," or tents. Families from Sevilla put up these massive tents and serve food and drinks, but you have to be on the guest list to get in. Luckily there were a few public tents that we managed to hang out in. The women looked so beautiful, dressed up in either fancy cocktail dresses or their amazing flamenco dresses. Seriously, regardless of their shape or size, they looked HOT. I wish I had had money to buy one/enough room in my little carry on. Which, let me remind you, contained enough outfits for 4 days...not 11. Needless to say I wore the same dress every other day. Anyway we returned home around 4am and I woke up 3 hours later for my bus tour through Andalucia., which was fantastic and left me very sunburnt!

Wednesday I slept in much later than I usually do, but I didn't even care! I was traveling by myself and didn't have to feel guilty about sleeping in or trying to get somewhere early in the morning. I absolutely loved being by myself--it was so much easier to meet people and do whatever I wanted, whenever. Don't get me wrong, I adore my friends and traveling with them, but it was such a unique experience! Anyway I walked to the Cathedral and climbed the bell tower--such amazing views, and strolled through the Alcazar, the old palace. I honestly don't know much about it because I didn't understand all the Spanish signs and didn't get an audio guide, but it was beautiful and the architecture was fascinating. AND THE GARDENS. I've come to the conclusion I'm in love with nature and beautiful things. I spent most of my time in the gardens, wandering around them and taking awkward self timer pics. Wa wahh. But seriously they were so beautiful and grand. I also got some delicious apple cake at the little cafe overlooking the gardens. So quaint! That night I made dinner and met up with a friend I had met at my hostel. We did a bar crawl with his hostel and had a really fun night, where I met even more people from around the world. It was super enjoyable, and we all got to have some rebujito, a traditional Feria drink that consists of sickeningly sweet white wine and Sprite--it tasted better as you drank more of it. After a few bars we headed to a public caseta at the Feria and danced the night away. I tried to learn the special dance they were all doing--the Sevillania? and asked a nice Spanish man to teach me--"Yo quiero bailar la Sevillania pero yo no se como!" ...or something like that. Anyway it was a great night..and I randomly ran into a high school friend studying there. Such a small world!

Thursday I slept in again after getting home in the wee wee hours of the morning--so early/late that people were heading to work when I was heading back to the hostel. Oops! But I headed to the Belles Artes art museum, hung around the Maria Luisa park and shopped around for souvenirs. I bought a poster and a flamenco dress-inspired apron. Love ittttt. The charming young Spaniard working there chatted me up and gave me his number--he said he noticed my eyes from across the room and commented that my smile is "simpatico." What a charmer! Too bad I couldn't get another euro knocked off the apron, but I did get an invitation into a private caseta ;) My friends joke that I am good at making new friends/getting discounts/things for free by tilting my head and smiling at prospective friends/helpers/whomever. I don't know if it's true or not, but hey!..if being smiley and charming gets me ahead in life, I'll take it. I had an early night in after getting sub-par paella and sangria--I think I went to bed around 11pm!

Friday I went to the bullfighting museo pero it was CLOSED because of the fight. I would've gone to one but they were expensive, and I didn't want to watch all the gore by myself. I walked around, shopped, tried on espadrilles, got ice cream, strolled through the Maria Luisa park and visited two museums there. The museums were a little bit boring to be honest, though I enjoyed the one on Sevilla customs and art more than the archaeology. Later that night I got churros con chocolate--they were way greasy and icky--but then I saw a flamenco show with my new Kiwi friend, Ben. The show was so beautiful--the dancer was so passionate and firey! Very fierce. And the 2.50 Dos XX wasn't bad either!

All in all, it was a fantastic trip. I had such a great time hanging out with my friends in Madrid and Barcelona and by my onesies in Sevilla. I feel like I learned a lot about myself and am more independent than ever! It's an empowering and very cool feeling. Woooo! Except now I have no money to travel anywhere else, but it ain't no thang. After all, I came to Ireland to study and live here, so I'll try to budget in one or two more trips within the country. Maybe a bike trip around Killarney and somewhere farther up north? We shall see.


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This is why God invented credit cards.

So my flight to Dublin was cancelled because of the dumb volcano. I bought the way too expensive plane ticket to Madrid to spend some time with my friends, but I wish I had thought about a bus...oh well. Anyway we spent 2 days there in the pouring rain, which was slightly miserable. But we saw the Prado (luckily I got in for free before a bunch of people in my group were charged 4euro). I tried to call Aunt Tara´s neice who lives in Madrid but unfortunately she never picked up, boo. But I spent a fare amount of time freaking out, trying to figure stuff out, and decided to extend my vacation to Seville by myself. Hopefully my flight won´t be cancelled this Saturday, woof. I also cancelled my Scotland trip and won´t be going to London-Amsterdam-Bruges either because I have no moneyyyyyyyyyy. Anyone who wants to contribute funds to me is very welcome to do so.

Anyhow, on Monday I had an adventure getting my train ticket. I bought a ticket at 11:30, after waiting in line for 45 minutes, for a noon departure. But silly me, I didn´t bring my bags with me. So I RAN through the Metro, SPRINTED through the streets of Madrid and ran up 4 flights of stairs to grab my bag, ran back and missed the train, of course. SO I waited another hour in line to get a seat at a different time, paid another fee and waited. The train was nice though, and the country was beautiful. And, in true Teal fashion I got lost finding the hostel...the directions were VAGUE! But I made some friends, got groceries, made dinner and hung around the square last night listening to live bands where everyone was drinking litres of cheap cheap beer. Then we headed to a bar for 1euro cups and walked a good 40 minutes to the Feria, which was SO AMAZING! Ridiculously cool and crazy. Came home a few hours later than I meant to, woke up 3 hours later to shower and got ready for my bus tour!

Jenny recommended a tour through the Spanish countryside where an Australian guy takes you through some of the white towns, an olive oil mill, a winery and gives you a chance to just enjoy the scenery. It was so ridiculously beautiful--possibly moreso than Dingle¿?-and I even got burnt! My fair skin just doesn´t know how to handle the Spanish sun. But I climbed a castle, soaked up rays and ate a delicious frozen mango treat on a stick. Now I´m exhausted and must take a nap before more festivities tonight!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Espana...Barcelona Part 1

I love when the biggest decision of the day is which twisty straw to drink my sangria out of...normal sized straw or huge one?

After 12 hours of travel to Spain and getting lost for 45 minutes looking for our hostel, we crashed. The next day we wandered around Las Ramblas, a really crazy street full of street performers, exotic birds and flowers. We also hit of La Boqueria, an AMAZING market full of dead animals, cheese, fresh fruit juice and crazy fruit and candy. And I'm serious about the dead animals...I definitely saw a lamb's head with the eyeballs, teeth and tongue still entact. It was awesome. Then we tried to find a tapas place Aunt Tara recommended and ended up dining at a lovely, less expensive place across the street. I had FANTASTIC iberian pork with quince jam that was salty and oh so crispy. I also got fried camambert cheese with red fruit sauce. Not too shabby! Then we walked along the beach, got ridiculous hot chocolate the consistency of pudding, and headed to a market for bread, cheese and wine before dinner. Kelly, my travel buddy, and I drank the wine, ate most of the cheese and a full baguette. YUMMO. A bit later we headed to Las Ramblas for dinner, found a special with tapa, paella and dessert, got sangria *I've definitely had better* and ate waaay too much. But it was very lovely. Then we met up with some other Arcadia peeps at a cute bar that seemed like a fairy tale. It was decorated with trees and levitating people..very cool. Then we went to bed!

Yesterday Kelly and I met some of the boys to check out the soccer stadium, though little did we know how much it would cost. She opted to sit out, but I thought it might be interesting to see...with the price of admission I figured we got a tourguide and a free soccer ball or at LEAST a soccer player to take home, but nay. We got NONE of the above and just walked through the place. Succch a waste HOWEVER the museum at the end was cool. Then a few of us got picnic fixins and I embarrassed myself trying to use what little Spanish is left in my vocabulary. I tried to chat it up with the cashier-hola, como estas? and he may/may not have tried flirting with me by asking if I was on vacation but I didn't understand what he was saying so I went all catatonic on him. I turned bright red, the people in line behind me looked at me like I was a moron, someone asked me if I'm on holiday, I said yes, turned even beet redder and ran away. Traumatizing. Anyway we continued on heading to Parc Guell and just died. It was SOOOOO awesome. Gaudi is one creative dude and must've had a wicked sense of humor. We enjoyed our cheese, meat, baguettes and strawberries-olives for the ladies and pringles for the boys-and explored the park for a good four hours. The view of the city was incredible and there were so many new and exciting and different things around every corner! Then we got more pudding hot chocolate, met up with the rest of the group for dinner, found amazing sangria and then ate at a DARLING restaurant, Petra. It had silverware for chandeliers and had an excellent and inexpensive menu. I had duck magret salad with pumpkin dressing and sesame seeds and blue cheese gnocchi, of course. And we all decided to split 5 desserts and pass them around. So delightful.

Today Kelly and I wandered around La Boqueria again, got picnic fixins, but it started raining so we went back to the hostel to eat. And for me to change. Apparently I don't believe in weather forecasts, or they don't believe in me because I brought sundresses to wear. Oh well. Though I've gotten SO many weirdo looks, but ya know what? I think YOU'RE weird, lady in the down jacket that goes to your ankles. It's APRIL and you're in wool/leather with fur/whatever. It's springtime, embrace it. But yeah a lot of peple looked at my pasty American legs with confusion. Anyway I changed into my black cropped pants, we went back out and went to the Picasso Museo-coolness-and then the beach. It was beautifulll and there were 2 nudist dudes walking around...everyone else was fully dressed, weirdos. But I received a lovely text from RyanAir stating my flight home to Ireland is CANCELLED due to a little volcanic throw up in the north. Flights are cancelled until at least Monday, woof. Guess when God gives you lemons you make Sangria and extend your trip to Madrid!! Flights aren't cancelled within Spain, just EVERYWHERE ELSE in Europe. Although I am supposed to be in Scotland on Wednesday--I already bought the plane tickets and stuff. We'll see how that goes. But yeah. There's an update!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Have you seen lambs dancing in a field next to the ocean? I have.

Well I have just departed from Mom and Dad, and I must say I had a fabulous time with them. And there’s a man in front of me with wicked dreadlocks poking into my bus-seat bubble, and I kinda want to see what they feel like. But no.

So, to start off this epic journey, I met M&D at their hotel in Galway, where mom burst into happy tears of joy upon seeing me. We all chatted for a bit, and I showed dad around town and campus. Unfortunately we had THE rainiest week I’ve experienced yet whilst living in Ireland, but it did not damper our spirits. Anyway I suggested we go to my class on Irish lit so that I could hand in my paper and go to my lecture (I also may or may not have a major crush on my teacher). Dad thoroughly enjoyed the class and is even inspired to read On Another Man’s Wound now! We got a scrumptious dinner at La Carla, a Spanish tapas restaurant, where I got the MOST delicious duck with plum and honey glaze, decent fried calamari and not-the-most-wonderful goat cheese balls. But it was so much food, and I’m not at all used to eating that amount of stuff in one sitting. I had sort of been living on small portions of vegetables in a pita and fruit for the past two weeks to save on money and just an overall desire to eat more healthfully. It was paying off…until now. Anyway, after dinner we went to the Bierhaus where I got a Belgium Leffe—woof—and dad tried the Galway Hooker. THEN we headed to Monroe’s for Guinness and Irish dancing, though the dancing wasn’t quite what I thought it’d be; I thought it would be more interactive, but nay. Then they put me in a taxi to go home—such a luxury—and bade me goodnight.

Wednesday I picked them up for my Irish language class--which they thought was fun when they weren’t dozing off from jetlag—and headed to MacDonagh’s for fish ‘n chips! Then I finally got my claddagh ring and did a bit of shopping with mom. I had her bring me some clothes from home, and she commented that she “has no idea what I’ve been wearing at school” because all my clothes are “horrible.” I have to agree—I brought the bulk of my cute stuff here with me, but I’m so sick of it now (though I knew I would be, I just didn’t realize to what degree). So I showed them around the city more, had tea and got a few new dresses, yay! Then we went to Nimmo’s for dinner and I had steak for the first time in months, and it was lovely. After that we did a pub-crawl of Tig Coili, The King’s Head and the Quays, took a taxi home again (so exciting!) and went to bed.

Thursday we drove through Connemara (beautiful, as always) and I made, if I do say so myself, a delicious dinner of rocket salad with pear and Parmesan, mushroom risotto and chocolate biscuit cake. We stayed in that night and watched Criminal Minds (finally! I’ve found it on the telly!) after I had my international phone call interview for the Center for Talented Youth (a gifted youth camp organized through Johns Hopkins). If all goes well and my background check is clean (which it is—spotless, even), I’ve got a summer jobbbbbb. Woo!

Friday we drove to Westport, a charming neighboring town, though EVERYTHING was closed because of Good Friday. Not cool. Dad and I took a walk to the Quay and then we headed back to Galway for Italian food. I had gnocchi, yum. It was a filling meal, though the guy across from our table WOULD NOT stop staring at me in the creepiest way. Even mom and dad noticed. I can’t say I’ve ever felt like I was being hunted like that before, but whatever.

Saturday we went to the market, but Daniel my donut man wasn’t there. So sad! But his sister was getting married that weekend so I guess I can forgive him. He and I are tight, so I know these things about him. Anyway we got falafel, shopped around and got some Connemara marble jewelry and sweet bread for Easter morning. Then we got way lost on the drive to the Cliffs of Moher, but all was well. It turned into a lovely day, thank goodness, and we enjoyed our time there. Though, I must say, it was more exciting when I was on the complete opposite side in February—the part where most people don’t go. I didn’t realize how much they cut off the cliffs from the public and how many barricades are set up. I live life on the edge, and the cement slabs were cramping mah style. Anyway, we got burgers at Boogaloo, a gourmet-type burger joint and attempted to go to a few pubs, including Taaffes and Busker Browne’s, but it was waaay loud for my parental’s delicate ears and we headed home. BUT they finally got to meet some of my friends, and that was good.

Sunday I made a really tasty Spanish tortilla with lots of fresh veggies, some fruit, crispy rashers and the cake from the market for Easter brunch. Then we headed to the cathedral for mass, came home and packed, and headed to the Ring of Kerry! The weather was pretty dismal for a few days, but we drove through the Ring and stayed in Kenmare, an adorable little town. We had a delish dinner that night (I had duck breast with some duck liver, so francy) and for the next few days we relaxed, drove around, jumped around in crazy wind, and got “Ireland’s best fish n chips” (they lied, they weren’t); I also read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for the 6th(?) time. I was hoping to do a boat trip across some of the lakes, too, but Dad thought the weather was too ugly to do such a thing. I think I’ll go back to Killarney in May with some friends and see about those boat/bike/hiking excursions. OH and the charming hotel we stayed at, the Landsdown Arms Inn, is a 250 year old establishment, but more importantly, had amazing porridge with thick cream and Irish whiskey. Hollla don’t think I won’t try to make it myself.

Anyway we drove to Dingle on Tuesday and were blessed with some beautiful weather while there. Dingle is so insanely beautiful it’s hard to believe it’s real. Beautiful, beautiful clear blue-green (or teal, ok) water, rocky cliffs, ridiculously green grass, SO many sheep, and lovely sloping hills. The most beautiful and peaceful place I’ve been to yet. We drove around the Peninsula a bit, took an amazing walk (listed in a book as being among the top 14 most beautiful walks) along some cliffs, visited a 2500 year old ring fort, a famine cottage, saw baby lambies dancing around and having a rave, and also checked out a really cool pottery shop/factory. I splurged and bought a lovely single stem vase and an olive oil container (?) and got a free tea candle holder! Wooo holla for the free stuff. The B&B we stayed at was so lovely, and had amazing breakfasts, too. Ya’ll know me, I love food. Dad and I also went horseback riding! His horse, named Guinness, was “the least spirited horse” he’d ever been on, and mine was worse. I could barely get her to move, and all she wanted to do was munch on grass, the big turd. I would pull and pull on her reigns but to no avail! It was also interesting to ride in the English saddle—I think I prefer the Western; it’s a little more comfortable and has the horn to hold on to. Needless to say I was prrretty sore the next day and a half.

Next, we stayed in Kilkenny for a night before heading to Dublin. Kilkenny is a quintessential Irish town, with great shops, restaurants and a huge castle. I had the 2nd best dinner of my trip—rare tuna rolled in sesame seeds—and dad and I went on a really nice run the next morning. The weather was beautiful again, and we ran through the grounds of the castle. It felt awesome to stretch my legs and run again. I definitely need to get back into it. Then we showered, checked out and shopped a bit before driving to Dublin.

Our time in Dublin was fun, though short-lived. We stayed in a really nice townhouse/hotel/B&B kinda thang and got comped free drinks and a delicious selection of cheese for mixing up our reservations and giving us the wrong room. Then we got a nice dinner, and dad and I headed into town for a walk. Yesterday we had a super full day! We started on the hop-on, hop-off tour (which dad affectionately refers to the “ho-ho” bus) and went to Kilmainham Gaol. It was soooo cool, and sort of spooky. I learned about the penopticon (the shape of the more ”modern” gaol) in one of my lit courses, so it was neat to see that applied to real life and see it in person. I can’t exactly remember the context of learning it, but something about literary theory. Anyway, then we headed to the Jameson distillery where dad and I were selected as whiskey taste-test volunteers, yeah boiii. We sampled Johnny Walker Black label (Jameson said they might be a little cocky for having us taste this particularly aged label), Jameson, of course, and Jack Daniels. I have to admit, the Jameson was smooth, but I preferred the taste of Jack Daniels. The tour guide had everyone push forward the shot glass of the whiskey they preferred and dad and I, with two others, pushed forward the Jack Daniels. Haha, oops! She teased us and told us our punishment would be to take the tour over and over again until we changed our minds. However, she gave us a second chance to choose our next favorite; I chose Jameson and dad was “wrong again” with choosing Johnny Walker! Wa wahhh. Afterwards we got certificates and a glass of Jameson (with cranberry and lime for me, on the rocks for dad) and browsed the collection of ridiculously expensive bottles of vintage whiskey. My favorite was the bargain price of 50,000euro for 13 bottles of whatever special kind it was. What is this?! Then after a seriously immediate buzz, we took the bus to the Irish writer’s museum, and I saw the first edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula! That was pretty cool, fo sho. And some old editions of other writers’ stuff too. Then we got dinner, went to the hotel packed up and hung out a bit.

It was suchhhhh a lovely treat to have them come, and I’m so grateful to be able to share a little bit of my Ireland experience with them. Thank you again for coming, ma and pa! Love youu.

Also, I promise not to let these blog posts get so out of hand anymore. That is just way too much to read, if anyone does read it. Wa wahh. Up next: BARCELONA!

Stay tuned…

Sunday, March 21, 2010

London Bridge is NOT falling down.

This past weekend I went to London with Dayna and Miranda to visit a friend, Leslie, from grade school. She happened upon my facebook one day, saw I'm in Ireland, messaged me and then we got in touch about visiting! She graciously offered to host us for the weekend and it was soo fun to catch up with her! We arrived Thursday night, got some mixin's for stir fry, drank some wine and caught up on life. Then we walked to her college and got some amazing waffles with ice cream!

Friday Dayna and Miranda took a bus tour, while I opted to have Leslie take me around and show me the cool jams. We were going to take a free walking tour but the tube was ridiculously backed up and we missed it, unfortunately. But we headed to the Tate Britain, which I thoroughly enjoyed. My favorite work was in a large sort of rotunda where the walls were covered with snippets of conversation that the artist had overheard. I can't remember his name, but he was fascinated with light and dark, good and evil, basically any opposites and the phrases and sentences had opposites on other walls in the rotunda. Some of the words were written backwards, too, and some things made no sense, like "from the moment you hear this to the moment you kiss someone with blue eyes" or "tell someone a beautiful truth" with "tell someone a beautiful lie" printed on the opposite wall backwards. Stuff like that. I'm sorry I didn't explain it well but trust me, it was really cool. After that we went back to where the next free tour was supposed to start, ate some sandwiches and then found out the tour started at 1pm, not 2pm. SO I was annoyed I had mixed up the times but we got ice cream and took a double decker bus to the last stop, which happened to be the area where Oliver was being performed. We checked out ticket prices and then Leslie headed home while I went to the Museum of Natural History. I spent a good 2 1/2 hours looking at dinosaurs, mammals, gemstones, sea creatures and other SWEET stuff. I seriously could've spent the whole day wandering around. I get REALLY into museums and like to take my time checking out the scene and reading the plaques (only if I want to and am interested, I don't read every single one just to read it) and I loved all the dinos! And I learned more about the human body than I'd ever learned in any health class (read: never had a proper health class). But it was pretty amazing. Then I headed back to Leslie's apartment, met up with the ladies, mapped out our next day and got Indian at the restaurant around the corner, and it was DELISH! So tasty. Then we hung around the apartment and went to the flat across the hall for some fun and games before everyone went out.

SATURDAY we planned to go to Westminster Abbey for a service at 9am (it was free, as opposed to paying 12 pounds to take a tour) but of COURSE my tube was backed up and their bus was on time. So they got to go and I didn't, but it ain't no thang. I took a tube to Notting Hill to walk around Portobello Market, met them and had fun wandering around the millions of stalls set up. I'm really excited about the ring I got--it's sterling silver with an amber stone. I haggled it down to 10 pounds, woot woot! And I got a pretty summer-y pink paisley scarf. AND of course, a delicious bratwurst with the works and apple strudel. I love walking around markets and poking my head into cute and overpriced boutiques. The girls left a little earlier than I did as they had a "rockstar" walking tour to catch but after I had my fill of the market, I headed to Buckingham Palace to take some pics of me awkwardly standing in front of it with a camera in hand. I walked through Green Park and St. James's Park, and ended up at Westminster Abbey for the Evensong. It was ridiculous and so beautiful inside. And the choir was amazing, of course. It was sort of funny, though, to see all the people at the Evensong. Some to most of them, like myself, were tourists, but a lot of people had no idea what was going on. Luckily I'd been to an Evensong before and church in general, but it was slightly entertaining to watch people hesitate before doing anything or making any moves. So after the service, I was supposed to meet the ladies at Harrods and take tea. Well, OF COURSE the tube was delayed and the most direct line was under construction, so it took me 45 minutes to get through 3 tube stops. I would've walked but had NO idea where I was going, though it probably would've been faster if I had gotten lost on the streets of London. At least I would've seen sunlight..or rain. Whatevs. So EVENTUALLY I got there, ran through the beautiful fine jewelry section as sparkly things danced across my eyeballs, and found them in the "food court" of Harrods, which is must francier than any food hall I've ever seen before. But we sat down for tea and I realized it was all wrong! We were supposed to be the grand tea room on the 4th floor, but as I looked at the time, I realized we wouldn't have enough time for tea AND the Grim Reaper tour we had planned for the evening. So we left Harrods WITHOUT TEA and without looking at the beautiful and way expensive gorgeous Valentino bags, Burberry anything, ridiculous jewelry, and whatever treasures were hidden from my direct line of vision as I walked out slowly and in very bad spirits. Harrods! You've slipped through my fingers again! At least I made it in the building this time, BUT STILL. I suppose a nugget of back story is needed. When mom, dad and I went to England years ago to visit Katie, we drove past Harrods and I begged them to take me inside but we "didn't have enough time" to go in. SO 10 years later I was finally there but still didn't get to look around :( Anyway, we took the tube to the tour, and it was really cool! And creepy and fun! It lasted about 2 hrs and 45 minutes in the rain and darkness. We learned about the Black Plague, Tower of London, Jack the Ripper and Prostitute's Church! It was really interesting and the tour guide was awesome! After the tour, we went back to Leslie's, had dinner and went to a club in Piccadilly called "Shaftesbury." Luckily we got the 5 pound cover rather than 15. Holllla! I loved the music--the beats were siiiiick, yo. And I got a gin and tonic that was more like gin and TOXIC, but it was palatable. We got home in the wee hours of the morning, and I slept like a rock.

TODAY Dayna, Miranda and I headed to the Museum of Childhood. It was full of toys and fun stuff geared towards children, but I liked it even if it was a little bizarre. We even played dress ups and did puppet theatre! Then we took a train to the airport and eventually landed safely in Shannon. Ryanair flights are somewhat crazy, and they reinforce why I hate flying. Every flight I've been on with them has made me fear for my life for about 10 minutes and then feel kind of ok. I can't explain the feeling, but I'm curious to know where their pilots come from. They're just crazy. If you've been on Ryanair, you know exactly what I'm talking about, with the feeling of being pressed down into your seat and feeling like you're on a roller coaster.

Anyhoo, I had a nice weekend, albeit short. I wish we had had more time in London--I felt like 1/3 of my time was spent on the tube or chasing people down to meet up with them. I certainly didn't mind spending most of Friday by myself. It was nice to wander at my own pace and not feel like I was holding anybody back. I might just have to schedule another trip there this semester before I go home to check out Harrods (obvs), the Tower of London (I didn't take a tour because I heard the exhibits were closed down but I wish I had anyway), and the Tate Modern art museum. Phew! Busy busy.

This week I have to read a book, write 3 more papers, and make a portfolio of my volunteer work for my literacy service course before M&D come A WEEK FROM TUESDAY! I can't wait to see them, it'll be so nice to have my family with me!!!! Yay! Ok time to buckle down.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

How old are you? Oh, 21. No big deal.

So I rang in my 21st year to Dexy's Midnight Runners "Come on Eileen," and it was very epic. We started the night off trying to get into Roisin Dubh but there was a cover so we walked very quickly up to Shop Street to see where the cool jams were. We found a lovely young lady promoting "Coyotes," a honky tonk sort of bar that was giving out free shots of whatever. So we got there, had the free drink (champange mixed with red food dye? it was weird and gross), danced a little bit and then I jumped up and down like a crazy person at midnight. A few minutes later a fight broke out amongst some guys and a girl, and I must say, I've never seen a girl with so much..will power and flair. I should also note the sorts of...ladies...who were at Coyotes. To put it delicately, I have shirts longer than some of their dresses, and they looked a lot like Bratzzz Dolls. But anyway we left that place quickly and headed to Bar 903 which was a lot of fun! We basically danced all night, hung out at the Spanish Arch and of course got Charcoal Grill. I'm not sure if I've mentioned Charcoal Grill, but it's a kebab/burger place that serves dirt cheap (2.30 for a cheeseburger) food and it's amazing in the wee hours of the morning. So my gal pal and I enjoyed our burgers and headed home. It was a fun night and I'm glad I got to spend it out dancing woooo!

Later that day after I woke up, I picked up my friend Colby (from my a cappella group NOTA), and it was SOOO awesome to see him. I was (and am) so excited and happy that he came-it's so nice to see a familiar face. We walked back to my house, ate lunch and then walked along the ocean for a bit before getting Guinness at Tig Coili, my fave place for the good stuff. He was completely in heaven the entire time. Then a bunch of my friends met us for dinner at Tamarind, a cool Asian fusion place and I treated myself to the 24euro appy and entree special, and I got fried goat cheese wontons, Pad Thai and a glass of white wine that had a terrible after taste, but whatevs! It was so nice of my friends to come and we had a great time. AND I got a complimentary bellini from the restaurant for my birthday, holllla! After that we skipped home to get ready for the party that my housemate was throwing for me and I put on my black sparkly sequin-y dress that I bought for the occasion. Then we headed downtown and danced a bit at Roisin Dubh and tried to dance at Bar 903 but it was waaaayyy too packed. So we headed home to bed.

So this past week was RAG week (Raising And Giving but more like Rum And Gin), which is supposed to be about raising money for charity but it was mostly about drinking copious amounts of alcohol. People were milling about outside for 4 days in the suspiciously beautiful weather, playing games and smashing bottles everywhere. It see how ridiculously drunk people would be by 3pm after I got home from classes. Unfortunately I couldn't join in in all the fun because I had classes I absolutely HAD to go to, but I didn't stay in the whole time, no worries. Colby and I went to a few parties during the day and at night which were all really fun. But Monday night I didn't go downtown because I presented at a conference on Service Learning on Tuesday (it went well), and I had to be up by 8am. But Tuesday night we had lots of fun at an apartment before heading out. However, before we even left Gort (where I live), I sprained my ankle really badly. To make a short story even shorter, I jumped in the air and crumpled to the ground. So Colby took me home and I iced my ankle all night. But all the people who went out came home almost immediately because someone forgot their I.D. and they brought the party to me! So that was kind of them and I didn't feel so badly for not being able to take Colby out.

Wednesday I had more classes but couldn't go to them because I couldn't move, so Colby helped me get to the student health clinic on campus where the lovely nurse gave me a compression support sock sort of thing and it's absolutely helped my recovery. I can totally walk on it and it only hurts when I walk on uneven surfaces or rocks. More on rocks later. So I just stayed in all day while Colby went shopping with one of my friends to get his souvenirs. Then I made dinner for us and we just chillfaced before he went out dancing with my friends. Then he left the next day for Cork!

Yesterday we went to the Aran Islands (specifically Inis Mor) through Arcadia. I think there are 900 people who live on the island, so it's really small. There's one ATM on the island and I think one grocery market. But it was absolutely beautiful and so peaceful. We rode bikes around and stopped by every horse and fed it, petted it and I even kissed a few for the "Romance" photo competition Arcadia was doing that day. I have no idea what it's for (other than cold hard cash) but it was fun. We also went to Dún Aonghasa, a 2000 year old ringfort on top of a cliff on Inis Mor. It was really really cool and old. The only catch is an uncomfortably long walk up a rocky and gravely hill. It would've been cake if I hadn't injured myself but oh well. Then we got home and I made AMAZING pitas with my friend. We bought eggplant, mushrooms (I know, mom and dad, I'm surprised too), pepper, onion, olives, feta cheese, spinach, celery, and tomatoes and hummus and it was so delicious! Oh my goodness I'm going to eat this every day for the next month. I haven't exactly been eating healthfully the past week so it's good to get some veggies in my diet.

Phew alright there's a recap of my birthday week long celebration!

Friday, March 5, 2010

I had my cake and ate it too.

So this past weekend I spent my time in Belfast. It was sponsored through Arcadia and we left Friday morning and arrived around 3pm. It was pretty rainy and dreary, but we were seriously ahead of schedule so a few of us decided to walk around. BUT before doing so we were warned NOT to go to the Royal Pub because it's dangerous. And also right behind our hostel. OH and the hostel room I was in had TWENTY TWO GIRLS IN IT. It was ridiculous and there was a LOT of estrogen floating around. And it smelled kinda funky. But a group of us walked around and saw City Hall and a giant ferris wheel. There was also a super cute shop we wandered into with all sorts of fun cooking supplies and aprons and home goods and what not. Reminded me a lot of Urban Outfitters/Anthropologie. I picked up some lotion to sample and realized it was SOLID PERFUME and I smelled like an old lady for a good solid half hour before we found a store to wash my hands. Oops! Then I went to a cupcake cafe and had a nutella cupcake and tea...yum! Then we had dinner in the hostel [chicken curry--Sorry God, I couldn't help eating meat :(] and then met my good friend from home's Irish boyfriend (I'd met him before) who lives and works in Belfast. It was so nice to see a familiar face and we headed to a karaoke bar where they wouldn't let me sing. BOOOO. Apparently I was too late signing up, but I begged and promised I was good. Oh well, their loss. So we chatted and caught up, had a lovely time, danced and went home.

The next day we headed to Giant's Causeway, and it was really cool though I thought it would be bigger. There are tons and tons of hexagonal rocks sticking out of the ocean. Pretty cool and spectacular. So we got a tour and took lots of pics. I also made a wish in the famous "wishing chair" though I can't remember it and if I did I WOULDN'T TELL YOU! Then we stopped in a beach town for lunch and got fish n chips. It was really bizarre to see all the British flags. Weirdddd. Then we got home, and I took a nap because I hadn't slept well the night before, and then met John for rugby at a pub. It was crazy to see so many men standing in one room staring up at a giant screen, screaming and jumping and cheering. But we met some of his friends, had a pint and then headed back to the hostel to get dressed for dinner. Arcadia provided dinner for us at a nearby hotel, but it was pretty meh. Soggy lasagna, potatoes and rice. I definitely don't need that many carbs in my diet, but I ate it anyway. THEN we went back to the same pub, hung out and John met up with us again! We left after a bit to go to the Stiff Kitten club but the cover was 14 pounds soooooo we headed in a different direction, and I got samosas. After searching for a pub for a bit and realizing how tired I was, I parted ways with him and headed on home to bed and slept quite soundly.

Sunday we had a lecture on the murals of Belfast which was actually very interesting. Then we had a bus tour of Belfast, saw some really cool things we wish we had known about Friday so we could've gone to those cool things, saw where the Titanic was built and then saw some of those crazy murals. Some are very creepy...armed, masked men pointing very big and scary looking guns directly at you. Others are a bit more friendly, but it was still a little unsettling. Then we headed home!

It was a reeeeaaaallly quick trip and I wish we had had more time, but I might be going back with Mom and Dad. It was interesting to hear about how we couldn't go into certain parts of the city because of the strong Unionist that pub. John was also talking about showing us a mural but decided against it because "they wouldn't like my accent in that part of town." CRAZY.

Anyway, this week has been pretty busy. I'm working hard on finishing about 8 papers before March 31. We'll see how that goes. Well, it must go because I want to get them done before mom and dad get here. Wednesday night was pretty friends threw me and my good friend a joint surprise party! Our one friend invited the two of us (me and Liza) over for macaroni and I was going to go home to do work but he insisted I go with him to watch Glee at Liza's house. He was pretty persistent so I finally gave in, thinking I'd stop by for 10 minutes. We walked in the door and there was a cake on fire and about 20 people!!!! It was really really sweet and the cake was vegan red velvet--so delicious!!! No one's a vegan, it's just a delicious recipe :) But then I had to go get dressed, naturally, and put on the LOVELY awesome new birthday outfit mom and dad sent me for my birthday in a lovely carepackage including a beautiful ring and about 8 cards, and just about everyone from Arcadia went out to a club to dance. It was so much fun! I definitely needed to get out of the house after being trapped in my room for the past few days and it was great to express myself through the medium of dance. Wa wahh. But it was perfect. Then todaaaaay the weather was ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS and I went for a run, did laundry, returned a book to the library and got an overdue book fee knocked down, and then went to a CAKE TESTING COMPETITION at the Galway museum. My cooking teacher told us about it and how she submitted a cake. The competition was intended to benefit Fairtrade, which I didn't know much about but now think is really great. Anyway, I taste tested FOURTEEN different cakes and voted on the chocolate Guinness cake with crystalized rose petals as the winner. It was delish! (the audience got to vote on the best cake and the winner got a gift basket of fairtrade stuff). THEN I went shopping and got a dress for my birthday!! My Irish housemate wants to throw me a party on Sunday for my birthday and to kick off RAG week! Rag week sounds like it's going to be out of control. It's supposed to benefit a charity but it's just an excuse for all the students to get rip roaring drunk. I don't know that I'll be participating in all those crazy things, but I'll definitely go to some events because my dear friend from NOTA Colby is coming to visit on Sunday! WOOOO!

Alright, back to work!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Paris: I've never eaten so many baguettes

Sorry I don't know why the pics are all at the top. I tried to put them in after certain paragraphs. Oh well.

SO this past weekend I spent the weekend in Paris! Tre chic. We flew out of Shannon airport (which is super small and surprisingly easy to get around) to the Beauvois airport which is waaaaaay outside of Paris. But oh well. We hopped on the bus and an hour later were dropped off, found a metro and had a slight panic attack because we had noooo idea how to read it. But I called the hostel, they gave me detailed instructions and we were on our merry way. We checked into Aloha hostel, ran to get some groceries before the kitchen closed, made pasta, ate delicious goat cheese on baguettes, and then walked 20 minutes to the Eiffel Tower. It was all lit up but I didn't feel like it was the most romantic thing in the entire world. I thought it would be...bigger? And more imposing? But it was just kinda chillin there and the men shoving cheap keychains in my face didn't help. But it was still cool and beautiful in its own way. We snapped some pics and headed home to bed.

Friday we stared our day with really delicious cereal (I think it was granola with dried fruit, but still!), baguettes with jam and butter and chocolately hot cocoa. Yummm. Then we took a 3 1/2 hour FREE walking tour through Sandeman's Free walking tours. It was great--our tour guide was Irish and she said what brought her to Paris was a man, and she's still there. It was really cute. Anyway we saw some major sites, such as the Notre Dame, Latin Quarter, the Lourve, Pont Neuf, Pont de Arts, etc etc. We learned about the most romantic bridge in the world, where couples come and attach a lock to it with their initials written on engraved on it and throw the key into the river. I think it's hopelessly romantic and I found some really funky and cool locks. The most memorable one had my initials on it. one had cows on it and the other was the shape of a big red heart. It was awesome. We also learned about the Pont Neuf, and how one of the kings had all the faces of his drunkard friends carved onto it. Our guide called it a "medieval facebook." Haha. We also saw the Tuileries Gardens which were....sparse. Back in the day they considered grass a weed and uncontrollable, so it's mostly sand/dirt. Weirdddd. We also stopped for lunch and I had SUCH a delicious baguette with chicken, grilled veggies and pleeeenty of goat cheese. So the walking tour was really cool and I'd highly recommend it to anyone going to a city where they give the free tours. Work it.

After the tour we decided to walk down the Champs-Élysées. It's the main street of Paris, and honestly kind of reminded me of Times Square. Allll sorts of people--tourists, super rich looking women in fur coats and lots of make up, families, etc. On our walk down the street we found Laduree, apparently a really famous tea room that has the most beautiful pastries. We snapped a bunch of pictures before they told us not to, but oh well! We got some macaroons--I got pistachio, and the girls got chocolate and rose petals, which they said actually tasted like rose petals. We all split the last 2, caramel and raspberry, but I like mine the best (naturally). Then we kept walking down to the Arc de Triomphe, tried to get to the top for free but couldn't because we're not in the EU, and took some pics. It's quite huge and...arc-y. Afterwards we headed to Angelina's tea room, a little place that someone named COCO CHANEL used to frequent. The line was OUT the door, but they have famous African hot chocolate which actually tastes like the most scrumptious magical chocolate bar melted into a mug with real fresh whipped cream. It was amazing and ridiculously expensive, so we all split 2 "pictchers" and each got a teacup full.

Then Abby and Audrey were hungry, so we sat down with them and chatted while they ate croque miseurs and we gabbed and had all sorts of girl talk fun. Plus we were absolutely exhausted from all the walking around, so it was nice to sit. Afterwards we headed to the Lourve to see all sorts of famous stuff, obvs, and it was way cool because we got in for free after 6pm because we're students and it was Friday! Holllla. So we spent about an hour and a half there and took the metro to Pigalle to see the Moulin Rogue, Sacre Couer and Red Light District. Oh my goodness. I've never seen anything like this street before, with SEX in blaring red lights on every other building, creepy shops and "entertainment venues." It was a little disconcerting, to be honest, for my young and innocent eyes. But we got a pic of the Moulin Rogue, which is actually quite smaller than I thought, and ate dinner at a cafe across the street. I got a croque madame--a ham and cheese sandwhich with eggs and cheese melted on top. Yum! Then we got crepes, naturally, and started the loooooong trek up cobblestone hills to Montmarte. We found the area and immediately understood why they say Paris is for lovers, or whatever it is they say. It's such a charming little area with beautiful buildings and tons of cafes. We walked in the wrong direction forever, got pointed in the right one and saw the Sacre Couer, which is huuuuuge. I think, though I'm not sure, that Joan of Arch was put on trial here? Or something like that. But we sat on the steps listening to the guitar player singing American songs and thoroughly enjoyed people watching and the music. Then we hopped on the metro and passed out. Phew! Done with a super full day!

Saturday we went to Versailles and got in FO' FREEEEE! It was great, we flashed our Irish immigration cards (which we didn't think would work) and they let us in. The palace is crazy and big, though it's hard to imagine people actually living there. Plus, I've seen quite a few palaces in my day (ain't no thang) so I wasn't toooo shocked by it all. To be honest I enjoyed Marie Antoinette's house and area better. I like the decorations more and the grounds were beautiful and twisty and it was great to get lost in them. After we took some silly jumping pictures with my gorilla tripod and couldn't stand any longer and were grumpy with hunger, we walked into town and got lunch. I got some sort of fried up meat and tziazicki? sauce. Yummo!

When we got home we decided to do backrub trains because we were soo so sore from walking around and being on our feet all day. So we did that. got some dinner fixin's and got ready for a pub crawl through the free walking tours. However, on our train ride there, we wondered if it was sort of a scam. They take you to 4 pubs and one really exclusive clubs and you get drink specials all night. HOWEVER, none of us wanted to spend money on drinks, so what was the point of this? Well, we decided to do a drive by and check out who was there and decided if there were more North Faces than we wanted to see, we'd peace out. We didn't want to be hanging out with bros and sorority chicks. So we walked past, saw FIVE GIRLS, 2 of them in North faces. Naturally we kept walking, got back up to Montmarte and split a bottle of wine at a charming restaurant with a piano man and French singer. It was awesome and we had great fun chatting and stuff. Then home to bed!

SUNDAY is kind of a blur. We were going to go to a really fun outdoor flea market, got on the metro and I should've realized by the people getting off at the stop that maaaybe this wasn't what we thought it would be. It was more of a gypsy market with stolen electronics and one shoe laid out on blanket? Why would I want 2 shoes when I could get one? Obviously. ALso people had canned corn and other weird stuff laid out. Sooo we walked through, hopped back on the metro and laughed a bit about it later. Every trip has one little blip :) So we went to try to find the Marais neighborhood, stopped in a cafe to get coffee and croissants and it was delicious! Afterwards we couldn't find the neighborhood so we decided to go to the Notre Dame, which sort of made me feel funny to walk through it during a church service. But it was grand and beautiful. Then we went to the Musee D'Orsay and saw all kinds of impressionist art. I saw a bunch of paintings I've learned about in my English classes, so that was pretty awesome. And Monet, Van Gogh and Renoir. Then we got lunch after being waaaay cultured out, headed to Montmarte to see it by day and spent some time there shopping around and keepin' it real. We saw this awesome wall where "I love you" is written in tons of different languages. I loved it. And the small children that were playing in the park. We all felt really creepy watching them and smiling and stuff, but I really miss my little babies at home. I really want to hug a child..preferably one of my nieces/nephews, but I'll take whatever I can get. Then we went back to the hostel, relaxed, and drank some wine. Then we went BACK to Montmarte to eat dinner at a restaurant with a 10 or 14 euro special 3 course thang and I got French onion soup, steak and coconut tart. It was decent, though my baguette from lunch the first day was probably more exciting. Anyway afterwards we headed to bed!

MONDAY we walked to the top of the Eiffel Tower and I really don't see how it's so romantic. It was just a big machine. But I guess for other people it's romantic. Anyway then we went to a famous cemetery where lots of famous people are buried and we saw Chopin's grave and kissed Oscar Wilde's grave, which is some sort of weird tradition. Then we went home!

Wow we were busy and that actually took me like, a half hour to write. Man oh man!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Gidget goes Hawaiian? Nay, Teal goes Lahinch.

This may or may not have been the best weekend of my recent life in Ireland. I don't think I stopped smiling the whole weekend. My face and the rest of my body are SPENT.

So a little back story is necessary. If one good thing came out of going to choir that first night and not leaving early, it was the after party at the college bar. We got free potato wedges and sausages and Bavaria. It was lovely and I met some really awesome people, one of them being Liam. He's an Irish lad with ginger hair and I'm very jealous of it. Anyway we were all chatting (Dayna, Kevin, a dairy farmer from Sligo--who shared his pizza with us aka more free food, Liam and I) and we learned that Liam is a surfer and has a groovy little business going in Lahinch in County Clare. SO I basically invited Dayna and myself to have him teach us to surf and he obliged. An exchange of digits and figuring out a good weekend and fast forward a few weeks.

Liam picked up Dayna and me in his decked out surf van this past Friday and we took the lovely journey to County Clare through the Burren along the coast. The Burren, I'm told, was carved out by glaciers and now looks a bit like Mars. It's totally rocky and strange and very cool...or "class," as the Irish say. On the drive Liam regaled us with stories of him and his friends surfing out in the ocean with Dusty the wild but very friendly and lovely dolphin playing with them. It was the most gorgeous and sunny day I've experienced yet in Ireland and cold but not TOO cold. We stopped at a beautiful tower stone castle, took some pics and soaked in the surroundings and continued on our way. Eventually we saw the Cliffs of Moher (which I still can't pronounce quite right--maw-her?) and he gave us two options: take the touristy route and pay a bunch of money to park and walk the normal boring touristy way OR take some "higgeldy piggeldy" (his words, not mine but they're very funny) roads and make our way over to some farmer's fence, jump the fence, and walk to a much cooler and less well known part of the Cliffs. I think ya'll know which way we took. After some bumpy dirt roads and an awkward park job, we hopped the rusty barbed wire fence and set off to the castle in the distance.

We walked up to a grassy clearing and my jaw instantly dropped. It was seriously THE MOST beautiful natural sight I've ever seen. It was unreal...beautiful blue skies, an enormous ocean, CLIFFS and seagulls were all around me. I couldn't quite contain my excitement or stop smiling. We poked around the castle and walked some (I thought) treacherous little paths to get down to different parts of the cliffs we were on and just soaked in some amazing views and compared pronunciations of various words. I really can't get over it and I wish pictures could do it justice. You must see them..702 feet above the ocean and just breathtaking. We took some funny jumping pictures where it actually sort of look like we're jumping off the cliffs and just hung around. We also walked down a very muddy and slippy path that I definitely slipped in a few times. It was about 18 inches from the very edge of the cliff and slightly terrifying. Then we lay on our bellies and stuck our heads out over the cliffs (BA, I know) and watched seagulls playing in the wind and watched them neck. It was cute.

On our walk back to the van from the cliffs, Liam suggested we just crash at his house for the weekend rather than the hostel I had already given my credit card info to. So I called them after we got to his house and he awkwardly asked his mom while we were RIGHT THERE if we could stay as I stared on in horror. They said it was fine but I might be charged for the first night if they didn't book the beds. Whatevs. [they did charge us for the first night] So his mom was so kind and made us curry and we had wine and chatted. But before dinner we walked into town and Liam knew EVERY OTHER PERSON who passed by. I guess Lahinch is a small town and everyone knows everyone. It was cool to see. Anyway, after dinner we watched the most beautiful can see the ocean from his living room.

Then we headed to Lisdoonvarna (home of the famous match-making festival) to see/hear a trad session in a cute little pub where everyone looked at me and Dayna when we walked in. I guess my muddy runners and mud-caked jeans gave me away as a foreigner. But the session was great--8 or 9 musicians just keepin it real and playing awesome tunes. Then a little old man in the corner started singing a song and the entire pub went quiet to hear his beautiful high tenor singing an old song about Queenstown. It was grand! Then we headed home to bed!

The NEXT day we woke up, ate some Crunchy Nut cereal and poured ourselves into winter wet suits. It was very funny to try to get them on, hike them up our legs and squeeze into them. I sort of felt like Cat Woman, though not quite as sultry. Anyway Liam gave us a bit of a crash course in surfing because he had to man his van (haha) and set up and rent out surf gear before joining us. So Dayna and I put our boots and gloves on and headed to the sea with our boards at our sides. IT WAS SO COOL to walk into the water and not be cold! I could see my breath but it just felt like a bath or something. Class. So we just played around and pretended to know what we were supposed to do. Eventually Liam came in, gave us a proper lesson and his
Canadian friend Mark helped out too. It was soooo much fun and amazing to be SURFING in February in Ireland. I even stood up on the board! WOOOOOO! Cowabungaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. But seriously, it was ridiculous.

We surfed for a good bit of time and then headed home to take hot showers and scarf down some leftover cake from the night before. After that, we headed to a pub to get linner and watch the France/Ireland rugby match. Rugby is SO MUCH COOLER than American football. It's shorter, for one, and it's just a lot more intense and exciting. Ireland lost, unfortunately. But I got the lamb stew and Guinness special for 10euro (why not splurge, I didn't have to pay for a hostel), and now I understand why the Irish aren't quite known for their cuisine. The veggies were a bit mushy and bland. But at the pub we met another handful of Liam's friends and enjoyed the match..well we didn't enjoy it because we lost but you know what I mean. Then we walked back to his house and just hung around and watched Dana O'Brien, a HILARIOUS Irish comedian for a bit. After we recovered some strength we went to Frawley's, the oldest publican in Ireland. He's 80-something, has a glass eye and only has Guinness on tap. The place was the size of my single dorm room last semester but it was super cool. We watched some boxing whilst enjoying our pints and then headed to the same place we had dunch. Again, we met more of Liam's friends and had some good craic.

Today we surfed again, though my entire body feels bruised and battered. I have bruises in the most bizarre places. I suppose carrying the board down to the beach and then having it crash against me walking into waves banged up my hips and sides, though I'm not sure where the ones on my ribs came from. Also on the back of my knees? Weird. We didn't surf too long today, as Dayna and I were exhausted from the day before and I could barely push myself up onto the board. Surfing worked out some muscles I didn't know I had in my ab region and glutes. But hey, no pain no gain! HOWEVER I stood on and rode a wave for a good few seconds, and that's all I wanted to accomplish! After catching a few waves, we headed home to shower, make lunch and pack up. We then went back to the Prom to meet up with Liam and met his Czech friend, George. He was really nice and it was nice to chat with him after I practiced my Irish with Liam. He conveniently learned a DIFFERENT dialect than the one I'm learning, so there were a few barriers. Plus he couldn't understand my accent. Irish speakers have a really strange way of speaking...super fast and kind of mumbly jumbly. But anyway he got lunch and bought me tea (Dayna coffee) and we eventually headed home a different route through the Burren. It's such a crazy landscape! The roads we took were super windy and narrow..I felt a bit sick but nothing I couldn't get over.

All in all it was such a fantastic weekend. Absolutely the best one I've had so far in Ireland. Changing up the scenery and "going on holiday" to Clare was so nice and a great way to change it up. It's made me REALLY want to see the rest of Ireland. Or maybe not come home at all. I'm only slaggin', I'll be home...but slightly reluctantly. Just Kidding!

...but seriously. Naw I'll be home :)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It has come to my attention...

Via my dad from my mom that my blog is mostly about food. SO I thought I'd update it. And only mention food a little bit.

So this past weekend, I DID NOT (but kinda) base my Saturday around the food at the market. I started with a lemon, vanilla sugar and butter crepe (wonderful), a donut (yes, I know) and then walked to find the B&B mom and mad want to stay at. I awkwardly knocked on the door right as the owner was walking up the street to go in, I chatted with them very briefly and they had no room at the inn. So I deiced it was waaaay too foggy to go to the beach as planned and instead headed to the Galway Museum, which was very lovely. And free. So I spent a good chunk of time in there learning about the history of Galway and checking out some really cool old fashioned fishing boats made from woven baskets and animal hide. Very cool. Afterwards I wandered into a claddagh ring shop where the owner talked my ear off for 20 minutes about politics and literature and goodness knows what else. I would've been more interested to talk to him if he hadn't insulted me by saying American has no history of our own and we just try to latch on to other people's histories. I said, "Excuse me sir, but America has a VERY RICH AND WONDERFUL HISTORY, BACK OFF" and graciously scaddaddled outta there as soon as I could. That's the second time I've been in that store and both times I have been insulted by the people working there. If you go to Galway, don't go to the jewelry place right by the Spanish Arch. Then I headed to another store, the original makers of the claddagh and tried one on. Yay! Now all I have to do is wait for a special someone to come and buy me it for my 21st birthday :) You know who you areeeeeeeeeeeee.

Then I ambled back to the market and got a fantastic falafel from the falafel man, who was very dreamy in a mountainy hippie sort of way. Next I went to the Cobblestone Cafe to get some tea...the owner of the Cobblestone Cafe is giving a free cooking class to NUIG students at college and I loooooove going every Thursday from 6-8 and then sampling every she makes. So far I've made the chocolate biscuit cake, home made brown bread, celery, apple and onion soup and the potato, veggie and onion frittata. Next up, mushroom risotto! Oops, no more food talk.

I walked into a really neat shop that I think mom will love filled with antique-y stuff, mirrors, etc etc, another awesome boutique which showcased this fantastic Orla Kiley (I have no idea who she is) bag that I've been seeing everywhere with stenciled colorful leaves on it. It's so expensive but I really want it and naturally won't get it. It's totally springy/summery and a great size and interesting shiny material. Then I went grocery shopping and came home, ate, and went out with some people but all the pubs were PACKED from the rugby matches going on so we sort of all went home.

SUNDAY was finally clear and I went to mass and walked to the beach. I LOVED ITTT. So pebbly and seaweedy but it was beautiful in its own special way. I saw tons of swans and I thought I saw a whale but I think it was just a log with seaweed on it, but I was really excited about it. Oh well. Then I came home, exhausted, and spent 3 hours reading short stories on my computer because I was too cheap to buy them. I fell asleep before the super bowl started but I'm not too concerned about missing it.

So my dilemma is this: I want to travel alllll around Europe while I'm here, but I want to give Ireland its due respect since I'm studying here and all. I want to really know and experience all this lovely green country has to offer. I have Paris and London lined up, which I'm super excited about, but I also think it'd be awesome to go to Prague, Edinburgh, Spain, maybe England again (I really want to go to Bath!) and really anywhere else. What do the very small handful of people who probably actually read this think? I have to consider how much all the traveling would cost, when I'd go and stuff like that. Thoughts????

I guess I didn't do a very good job of not talking about food. I went shopping last week!!!! I got electric blue pumps, a little mini skirt with studs and a faux chanel red quilted purse ALL FOR 10 EURO! So exciting!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hold up now, ya'll

UMM SOO this week is Green Week at college (we don't call it 'school' because that would refer to secondary school aka high school, ew). So at college there are all of these stands from THE OPEN AIR MARKET INCLUDING THE DONUT MAN. Naturally when I learned this yesterday I freaked and asked my darling housemate Dayna to pick me up one because I didn't have time. She was wonderfully obliging and I enjoyed it last night while skyping with mom and dad. WELL the fair thing is still going on today and I enjoyed YET another piece of heaven. I may or may not turn into a donut. But I asked him his secret and he said a) he grounds the cinnamon fresh everyday..he just buys cinnamon sticks and works his magic, and b) he made a pact with the devil, and I don't even doubt it. How can something be so sinfully good yet touched by an angel? Then I got a single falafel (delish) just to try it because I'm going to get a falafel pita pocket on Saturday when I roam around and theennnn I got a farbulous German brautwurst with ketchup, mooostard and onions. It was perfect and for some reason reminded me a lot of home and I felt a little pang of homesickness. But it ain't no thang.

Ok off to be incredibly ambition and start researching stuff for my 3000 word castle paper due at the end of April..but I want to finish it by the end of February so I can finish all my other papers and then not have any work to do once classes end and I can devote my time to keepin it real. And apparently I'm really into run-on sentences Kbyeeee!

Deffo gots the gift of gab, yo.

So this past weekend 3 other lady friends and myself ventured to Cork! We left Saturday morning and took the 4 hour bus ride to the city, checked in our hostel and headed into the city center. We went to the English market that was I was slightly obsessed with and would have spent the whole day in there if I had an empty belly and cash to burn (I brought my lunch on the bus to be economical and wasn't super hungry). I DID however split the famous Cork culinary masterpiece, Chester Cake, with my friends. It's basically a cake made up of leftover breadcrumbs held together by sugar syrup with sugary white icing on top. It was as delicious and dense as it sounds. I wanted to get a full one for myself at 1.25euro a pop, but I resisted. Next time I'm getting my own, though. Anyway I visited the cheesemonger, as always, and the lady sold me some delicious creamy cheese, but I have no idea what it was called or what animal it came from. But it was gooooood. Then I stopped at the chocolate man (naturally) and got a homemade caramel truffel. I'm such a sucker for sweets. Then we tried to find the Cork Public Museum but realized it's closed on Saturdays--why would they close a museum on the most popular tourist day? So we headed to the Crawford Art Gallery (free!) because the BUTTER MUSEUM is closed for the winter season and looked around for a while. It was actually really cool-one of the exhibits was on terror and the sublime which I'm currently learning about in my 19th century gothic lit class! Small world. Then we walked around an outdoor market and sampled some especially stinky blue cheese, found a fudge place with BAILEYS FUDGE-delicious, and then headed to a trendy cafe for 3euro tea. It definitely wasn't worth that much--is tea ever? But we looked through my handy-dandy guidebook for places to eat dinner at and found a few, walked to one of them and realized they only took reservations/were super expensive. So we sort of scrambled to find a pub which were sort of hard to find, imagine that. We seriously walked around for 10 minutes before we found one, and they stopped serving food at was 5:40. So we freaked and tried to find another...and another...and another. ALL WERE CLOSED FOR FOOD! SOooooooo annoying. So we headed back towards our hostel and found Mike's Diner, decked out with Elvis and Marilyn Monroe pics with the Eagles live album playing in the background, and then Johnny Cash. It was cute and homey and everyone working there was just lovely. I ahd the fish n chips special which was so fresh the scales were still on-slightly creepy. Then we headed to the Franciscan Brewery, an old Franciscan monastery which was thought to be on a magic well or something that healed people. The well is all dried up now but the beer flows! It was really cool and sort of hipster inside. I got a Red Rebel, a yummy beer I thoroughly enjoyed. After we finished our frosty beverages we headed to the "Craichouse," a comedy club where we laughed at some up and coming comedians. It was mildly entertaining, I enjoyed myself.

The next day we headed to Blarney Castle! I absolutely loved was so cool and old and in ruins. We poked around the dungeons, some caves and toured the remains of the building. And, naturally, kissed the stone. It wasn't scary at all, considering you have to sit facing away from it, lie down on your back while a dear old man holds your waist as you hold on to some bars and learn out over the tower, stories and stories from the ground. What I was more concerned about where the 100 teeny tiny steps you had to walk up to get there. Phew! But the guy taking the touristy photos of you kissing the stone is a composition grad student at UCC. He told me all about his project on the 7 stages of grief and I told him if he needed a soprano to let me know. I really really miss singing :( Anyway the girls were really cold from being out in the cold weather for an hour and decided to go get an Irish breakfast after we explored the rock gardens which were SO AWESOME. Old druid caves and apparently the site of the first Celtic settlers. Very spooky but awesome. So the girls left but I decided to get my 8euro's worth and take the lake walk through the grounds by myself. The weather warmed up and it was just beautiful! Although I did get a bit lost. But it was allll good. Then we headed home! It was a fun weekend, and I think one night there was just perfect, though I do wish we had been able to see the Butter Museum/UCC's campus (I hear it looks like Hogwarts!)

So I'm staying home this weekend to explore Galway a bit oh my own, get me some amazing heavenly donuts, visit the free museum and walk along the beach to the lighthouse. I want to look into some more Claddagh ring stores to find a new ring--apparently mine isn't even Irish. Stupes! Then next weekend I'm headed to County Clare for a surfing trip with my housemate and our new Irish surfer friend. Cowabunga, dude! He'll provide wetsuits, boots, gloves and boards for us and a 2-3 hour lesson! AND he lives 5 minutes from the Cliffs of Moher so that'll be awesome to see them and now have to take a 25euro bus trip to do sooooo.

I'm looking into some other choir options in town..I'm not quite comfortable in the Choral Society at school. It's just a tad different from what I'm used to, and by that I mean having a competent director who can keep a beat and warms us up higher than a G above middle C. Last night I took a free yoga class and wasn't sure I'd be able to contain myself. I figured I'd laugh the whole time but it was actually quite relaxing! I also registered with the Garda this morning before the sun woke up and it was actually quite painless, except for the whole paying 150euros to stay in the country. But it ain't no thang! AND I registed with the U.S. Embassy! Coolio.

Alright I'll keep ya'll posted!