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!