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…

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