Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 09:35 pm

Got up early. Ate lots of toast. Hostel food gets boring quick. Try to figure out bus schedule. Find correct bus. Board said bus. Take bus to Kilmainham Gaol. End military speak.

            Kilmainham is the famous jail in Dublin where many a historical figure was housed throughout the ages. I would go into more depth, but we did a lot and I don’t want to wear everyone out early.

            From the Kilmainham tour, we went to the National Museum of Modern Art. It was at the National Museum of Modern Art that we learned we don’t really have an appreciation for modern art. Important lesson.

            From Modern Art, we went to the Guinness factory! Fun fact: this is the most visited spot in Ireland. It is also shaped like a giant pint glass. It is also 7 floors. That’s about 6 floors more than I ever need to know about a single type of beer. I was a little worn out by about floor number 5. I BARLEY made it to the top. It was almost too much to BEER. But I gotta tell you, the place was HOP-in. (Maura and I greatly enjoyed the vast number of puns one can make in the Guinness factory). It was here that I confirmed another lesson I already knew. Sorry Dad, sorry Uncle Steve, but even in Ireland, Guinness is just yucky. I had a much great appreciation for the Jameson Distillery.

The only reason I'm smiling is because I'm holding the Guinness and not actually drinking it

            We washed out the taste of Guinness with, what else but Coffee! Then it was time for event number 4- the Wax Museum. For some reason, the Wax Museum is pretty much the one thing you can find anywhere in Dublin – there may not be street signs, but you could walk a mile and still be seeing signs for the Wax Museum, it’s incredible. I advise anyone ever planning on visiting Dublin to go. And to go late on Saturday, when the museum is empty, because it allows one the opportunity to play in the children’s portion of the museum and to take as many photos with the wax figurines as you please, which, of course, we did.

 GEORGE BERNARD SHAW!! HE AND I SPENT OVER HALF OF TENTH GRADE ENGLISH TOGETHER- IT WAS NICE TO FINALLY MEET HIM IN THE FLESH- I MEAN, IN THE WAX

Playing in the Children's tunnels!

            After a good deal of time spent with wax celebs, we were starving, so we scouted out Temple Bar for an authentic Irish dinner, but, failing to find a restaurant that appealed to us and our budgets, we returned to our favorite Pub Crawl pub for some Guinness Stew. (The beer may be gross, but it is delicious slow cooked with beef and potatoes). After digesting our massive meal, we took a self guided tour of Trinity College and then back to Jacob’s Inn for some hostile, I mean Hostel sleep.

Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 09:06 pm

Sunday involved another ambitious early rise with the intention of attending mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Although it was a valid attempt indeed, we did not make it to the Cathedral on time due to a) difficulty finding proper buses b) My slightly problematic inability to read a map (Maura took over after a bit) c) a massive swarm of Garda that forced us to take a detour d) great difficulty in finding the actual entrance to the Cathedral. Regardless, we still had a lovely morning walk, walked the exterior perimeter of St. Pat’s and made it to our next destination with plenty of time to spare.

 Saint Patrick’s Cathedral!

            And what, I am sure you ask yourself, could that destination possibly be? DUBLINIA!!!!! The interactive medieval Dublin and Viking museum! We were the first ones in the door, which gave us the ability to try on all the Viking helmets and medieval activities free from the judgment of other adults that are not as fortunate as Maura and I to be in touch with their inner child’s.

Knight helmet!Dublinia and Christ Cathedral

              Dublina conveniently connects via an overhead bridge to Christ Cathedral, so guess where we went next?! After sufficiently touring Dublinia, we awaited the opening of the Cathedral then took the grand tour. It was a very cool little tour indeed.  After this point, Maura and I began to lose steam. Having packed an arsenal of nutrigrain bars in attempt to spend the whole day touring without wasting time for trivial things like food, we thought we could make it to 6 pm when we caught the bus home. But we were wearing thin. Alas, great touristing crusaders that we are, we pressed on.

The Chester Beatty Library and the grounds of the Dublin Castle

            On to where?! Why the Chester Beatty Library and Dublin Castle, two large tourist attractions that were free and offered, in the case of the Lib, a free “present” with your Dublin Pass! How Grand! We embarked on the library exhibitions first, but before initiated the library viewing, we took a quick bathroom break. Now I’m sure at this point, you may be sick of reading about Dublin, or Ireland, or just reading my rambling, typing, but bear with me now, because I’m almost done. I’m sure you’ve been wondering why this post is entitled, “Flushing Dublin down the Toilet, A 3 part Saga”. Here’s what you’ve been waiting for, at long last, the answer to how I flushed the capital of Ireland down the toilet. Well, don’t beg, I’ll tell you. I knocked my 46.50 Euro Dublin Pass into the toilet in the third stall of the ground floor women’s bathroom at the Chester Beatty Library. And it flushed! Before I got my free present! And my free entrance to the Dublin Castle! I couldn’t believe it. And, to top it all off, the Chester Beatty library featured exhibits on ancient Asian storytelling, which I have absolutely no appreciation for whatsoever! In retrospect, this was actually rather comical (Although the vindictive side of me really hopes ol’ Chester Beatty had to deal with some serious plumbing complications with my credit-card sized Dublin Pass wedged in its pipes), but, exhausted and lacking my free gift (an art book that, alright, I’ll admit I really don’t need), this was the most catastrophic event in the world. That and I was sick of nutrigrain bars. So, at 2:30 that day, Maura and I headed back to Temple Bar for some real food. A delicious lunch/dinner of soup and tea later, we decided to cut Dublin some slack, because it’d had enough of us by then, and head on home.

            We boarded the 4 pm express back to Cork, tired, but (After I had gotten over the loss of my beloved Dublin pass) happy. It was quite a grand trip. Quite a grand trip indeed.

It's been good, Dublin, but now we must part

Uncategorized21 Feb 2010 07:58 pm

            Armed with guidebooks, brochures and a hostel reservation, Maura and I found ourselves on O’Connell Street headed towards the tourist center last Friday afternoon. Although there is many an O’ Connell street in the lovely land of Ire, we were in fact on the most famous of them all- we were in the center of Dublin! And we were ready to take on the city. Initially, we decided to purchase the oh-so-valuable Dublin Pass, which is essentially an all access pass to the city’s attractions. (Now this may seem like a useless bit of information, but it is essential in my story later on).

Ready to take on Dublin!

            We checked into our hostel, the lovely Jacob’s Inn, located just a few minutes’ walk from the Dublin bus station and headed off towards our first city attraction: A Pub Crawl! Now, since this whole blog is for school credit and since it is being reviewed by my Academic Advisor, and, since most of our travel tips come from our English-teachin’ former rowing coach, I will let all of you know that, it was, in fact, The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. It was run by two professional actors who acted out bits and pieces from Irish literary works as we walked around the Trinity College and Temple Bar area, weaving through a handful of historical pubs. At the conclusion of the tour, Maura and I duked it out with this Californian couple (East Coast .v West Coast!!) for the literary pub crawl quiz and the literary pub crawl prize. Alas, we lost to the West Coast-ers by a hair, but don’t worry, folks, Maura still won a complementary nip of whiskey! We hung out in our favorite of the pubs, O’Neil’s, for a few hours while sipping- uh…soda- and then headed back to the hostel.

Hostel Numero Uno

On the topic of hostels. Let me start by saying that I have learned, in the last 6 weeks, that I lived a very pampered travel life. Mom and Dad, you have spoiled me. I am, in fact, terribly domesticated. And, I am not too proud to admit, I like hotels. Hotels with big, comfy beds and plush, cozy comforters. The idea of a hostel terrified me. Perhaps it was the exhaustion of traveling, perhaps it was that “soda” at the pub, or perhaps it really wasn’t as bad as I was convincing myself it was, but I slept just fine and dandy for our two nights at the Jacob’s Inn Hostel, and, although I will still yearn for hotels, I think I can survive a few more hostels.

Uncategorized05 Feb 2010 03:29 pm
Well, I’ve decided to mix it up. I’ve found a new way to travel and see Ireland off the beaten path: Maura and I joined the UCC Mountaineering Club. In a burst of outdoor-sy-ness, I happened upon the Mountaineering club on the school’s website. Making a fairly snap decision, we transformed almost overnight into ambitious aspiring mountaineering folk, outfitted to the nines in some seriously attractive waterproof pants; thick, high socks, and of, course, the awesome boots.

Hiking the Paps!

This past Sunday we got up before sunrise and had a hearty breakfast before embarking on a journey to County Kerry for our first expedition with the UCC mountaineers. After wandering for quite some time down a scenic (but paved) road with some lovely sheep decorating the scenery (and by wander I mean practically jog- they like to wander rather quickly apparently), the road just sort of ended and we found ourselves facing a lovely green mountain: our destination.

on the way up...

Now I thought the guide was consulting where exactly the trail was, but to be honest I have no idea why he even bothered with the map, because it was at this point that I vastly broadened my mountaineering education. The primary difference between Irish mountaineering and our American ‘hiking’ appears to be that the Irish like to rough it, and mountaineering actually means that you will be exploring the mountain any way you choose, because there are no trails. This mountain at whose base we stood expectantly was one of The Paps, the two mountains we climbed that day. As we climbed the cliff, ascending from the green sheep filled fields literally into the clouds, our guide gave us a fun Irish cultural legend lesson.

Antarctica? Heaven? What did we get ourselves into?!

The Paps are actually twin mountains that were named for an ancient Celtic goddess of nature, and these mountains were said to be the breasts of the goddess. As some point, some association of Irish mountaineering-park ranger type people (presumably a collection of men with a sense of humor) decided to erect rather large stone structures at the top of each peak. This goddess-breast humor is apparently the sort that is international, because the American, Irish, French and German boys in the climbing group found this hilarious and made the event a highly photographed occasion. We reached the crest of the first breast- a rather rough challenging trek I must admit and found ourselves in apparently the arctic- there was ice and snow and high winds oh my!

I swear- its NOT fake! I also swear that this is the same moutain!

Quickly we descended into the cleavage (again, international male humor- many jokes made here). Then we climbed the second peak and stopped for lunch at the top- leaning against the oh-so-lovely nipple-esque stone pile. We made our way down after that at a leisurely pace through a vast diversity of landscapes- fields of hay and rocks and more snowy patches and a bog- pretty much any landscape I could imagine-  certainly there was no lack of things to look at! We reached the bus again, and stripped off mud covered layers (Again, the boots and waterproof pants were a very, very good investment). After a stop at a pub, we drove off to home in the sunset, fighting and being beaten by exhaustion as sleep and darkness enveloped the weary mountaineers. A fine day for certain, a fine day indeed.

tired indeed- but well, well worth it!

Uncategorized21 Jan 2010 12:19 pm

Last weekend, we embarked on perhaps the tourist-iest attraction on this whole island, yes, for all of you sitting on the edge of your seats in eager anticipation; we went to kiss the Blarney stone. Despite a dreary forecast, the gray skies of Ireland miraculously decided to cut us a break, threatening rain all day, but holding back as we wandered the grounds of Blarney castle. While all of the tourist attractions in Kinsale our first weekend had been closed seasonally, Blarney stays open year around and was pleasantly crowd free. We had a slightly larger traveling group this time (We had  run into some fellow Spires-dwellers at the bus station), so there were even more photo opportunities, as, of course, every person had to be photographed with every scenic view, and, on the treacherous climb to the Blarney parapets, there are many scenic views indeed.

 wicked sweet fog        adorable picture of me and maura

group with blarney bench

 

 

When we reached the top, we of coursed kissed the stone. Now for those of you who haven’t hung upside down off the top of this castle, let me explain how this works. This questionably older gentleman (I say questionable because I am greatly afraid he will drop me) tips you over the side of the stone wall (I am probably making this out to sound worse than it really is- there are protective grate-like-things that would probably stop you if the questionable older gentleman were unable to physically hold you). You hang upside down and kiss this rock- the great Blarney stone. Many a famous person has kissed this rock (there are lots of commemorative plaques with cartoon Einstein’s and George Barnard Shaw’s that tell you this), with the purpose not only of fulfilling that great tourist-iest of touristy Irish dreams, but also with the intent of become a more eloquent speaker. No one knows, as far as I can tell, quite where this legend comes from (I suspect it was invented by the Irish government as a revenue generator, because they charge you a flat rate of 8 euro per person to enter the castle grounds.) but, apparently, if you kiss the rock, you will be graced with the gift of gab- the ability to impress many by showering everyone you meet with a flowery rhetoric of flattery. I actually kissed the stone twice (the photo of my first kiss did quite turn out the way I would have liked), so I suppose I have extra flattery skills now. Let me see… I’ll test them out…

 

Dearest Mum and Dad,

   I would like a pony. Please. So that I may tour the Irish countryside riding sidesaddle on the back of my great steed and so that I may find the prince of Ireland, who will undoubtedly need to rescue me from a great dragon of sorts and whisk me off to a castle where he will marry me and I will, at long last become the princess of the Land of Ire. I am enjoying my stay here in Ireland, but I believe that a pony would make this great adventure much more memorable and even more enjoyable for all.

Love,

     (The future princess and pony-owner) Lindsay

 

Next Post, look forward to hearing all about the pony!

 stone kiss #2

Uncategorized21 Jan 2010 12:09 pm

Maura and I took our first “day trip” two weekends ago to the village of Kinsale. Saturday, we got up early and caught the bus. Up and out before 8 am here for the first time, I realized that the sun here doesn’t rise until 8:30! Now, geographically, Ireland is located in a rather north, so I suppose this shouldn’t have come as too much of a shock, but it blows my mind. The days are only 8 hours long- in Virginia you all are getting like 9 and a half hours of sunlight! (I know this because I was, in fact, so baffled by this shortness of sunlight that I proceeded to weather.com every place I could think of to see how long their days are. In case you are wondering, Antarctica is currently averaging 6 ½ hours of sunlight a day)

 Sunrise in Kinsale

So, as I was getting to, we went to Kinsale early Saturday morning. For another quick geography lesson, the town of Kinsale is a small sailing village located in Cork County, Ireland, along the southwest coast. It wasn’t far from Cork city (where we are living) at all- a mere half hour bus drive. We arrived just in time to see the just-risen sun peaking over the horizon casting its glorious sunlight on the sailboats in the Kinsale harbor. We had big plans for a walking tour, but it was so cold that we skipped it and just spent the day wandering in and out of the little shops and seeing what this well-known B&B and restaurant town had offer in way of scones, cappuccinos, and sandwiches (all, I might add, absolutely delicious!) I think we wandered in and out of every little shop in the town. I also learned that in Ireland, a “Book-maker” is not a shop that makes novels- it is a fine establishment where one can go to place bets on the horse races. Luckily, there was a real bookshop, so I was able to get my literary fix.

 Maura and the fishing village

Unfortunately, because it’s January, a lot of the historical places to visit were closed for the winter months. Kinsale is famous not only for its quaint village scenes, but also for its role in the US involvement in the First World War The sinking of the Lusitania, the event that invoked US president Woodrow Wilson to enter the war in 1915, happened just outside the Kinsale harbor. There is also James Fort, which is one of the last traditional 17th century forts in Ireland, but tours there were closed seasonally as well. Pehaps there will be a return trip for us in March… I certainly wouldn’t mind heading back!

Uncategorized11 Jan 2010 04:08 pm

I flew from Dulles airport to meet up with Maura in Boston on the 31st of January, celebrating New Year’s on the lovely Aer Lingus airplane. It was a bit rocky getting out- it was snowing in D.C. and there were several inches of snow already when we boarded the plane to Dublin. Once we were up in the air, however, I relaxed a bit. It never snows in Ireland, landing shouldn’t be a problem. We were just going to catch a bus from Dublin to Cork, arrive with a few hours to kill before checking into the apartment and enjoy the journey.
Passport and Plane ticket- I'm Dublin bound!

 
Passport and Plane ticket- I’m Dublin bound!

Things did not go quite as planned. When they tell you- they meaning Mr. Frommer of Frommer’s guide to Ireland 2010 that the weather is mild and very very rarely snows in Ireland, they do not anticipate the coming of the next Ice Age that Ireland is currently experiencing. Dublin airport decided to shut down while we were halfway across the Atlantic. But we were able to land safely at Shannon airport, across the country from Dublin. We landed at approximately 5:30 am, the pilot of our lovely plane informing us that no one was actually in the airport working, so we would sit on the plane until the employees arrived or until Dublin airport reopened and we could fly to our intended destination. After 4 hours of sitting on the plane in Shannon, our pleasant pilot regretted to inform us that, alas (when all is said in an Irish accent, it really is quite pleasant), he and his crew had run out of their legal flying limit and were no longer able to work. Off the plane and into Shannon airport we went! We bought bus tickets to Cork, where our school was, had a bite to eat, and went to board the bus.
***Travel Tip! Always make sure you have the right bus- do not board the bus to Galway while the bus to Cork drives off into the distance if you wish to head to Cork****
Luckily, we only had to wait an hour for the next bus. We still had 8 hours to spare before we could get into our apartment, so this was no problem. At 12, our journey to Cork via Bus Eirann finally commenced. Determined to stay awake and soak up the scenic Irish countryside in its mysterious thick fog, Maura and I, naturally, fell asleep. Thankfully we did not miss the stop at the Cork Parnell Place bus station.

         Laden with our heavy luggage we stepped into the streets of Cork City Centre, which on New Year’s Day, has a tendency to be quite empty. We finally found an authentic, Irish… McDonald’s, where we hunkered down to wait it out until 6pm, when the “warden” arrived to check us into The Spires, the apartment complex that would be providing the roof over our heads for the following six months. We caught a taxi at a quarter to 6, learned that we were living on Bandon Road (not Brandon Road- although this took a while to figure out, on account of the fact that we had to ask our taxi driver to repeat himself at least, I don’t 4, 5 times). As we walked through the gates of our new home and knocked on the door to the Warden to receive our keys, we shivered in the cold, but it wouldn’t be long now until we could walk into our nice, warm new place!
***Travel Tip! Never assume that your apartment should be warm. Plan for sub-Arctic temperatures.****
Apartment 19, The Spires was freezing. Luckily, our lovely Warden turned on the heat. Unluckily said heat takes approximately 24-28 hours to really heat up. I was smart; however, I stole a blanket from the airplane- a thin, threadbare piece of fleece the size of a child’s scarf- absolutely brilliant! My outfit for the first night: underarmour coldgear turtleneck, nike coldgear zipup, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, down vest, north face jacket (at least I was sporting the R.E.I. winter catalog) along with 2 pairs of thick socks, spandex underarmour tights, sweatpants, gloves, an earwarmer and a hat. And I was STILL COLD. Thus began the coldest night of my life. Maura and I tried to sleep in the same bed for warmth (did not work- bed too small for two people) and cold person + cold person unfortunately doesn’t = warm people. But I couldn’t sleep. I tried sleeping in a chair, on the floor, under a desk (next to the heater) all to no avail. But eventually, many cold miserable hours later, it was morning. Maura and I headed into town to buy duvets. We found them eventually and bought double sized ones, desperate for added warmth. We got cell phones and had lunch. We returned to the Spires laden with our new purchases. Night 2: Warmer, but unfortunately, we forgot pillows. That wasn’t too bad; I was simply able to stuff my pillowcase with 1/3 of the previous night’s pajamas and had an instant fluffy pillow! Also, we forgot food. I don’t know how we could have done this, but, still jetlagged, we awoke the next morning at about 1 pm absolutely starving. And while this may seem like a long sleep, it wasn’t- jetlag had us awake until about 4 am.
The following day, January 3, was successful! We got groceries! We were introduced to Crunchy Nut cereal (DELICIOUS!) and learned that brewed coffee is a rarity, and good brewed coffee is even rarer of a rarity. We bought cappuccino mix, don’t worry, America, Lindsay and Maura are finding ways to get caffeine and are thus, surviving!
Reading back over this, I feel as though I should you all that I am, in fact, enjoying Ireland! The town of Cork is very cute and I have met lots of nice people (or at least I think they are nice. Because of the accents, I catch about 75% of what they really say, so they could only be ¾ nice, but I’m willing to give the ol’ Irish the benefit of the doubt). I’m a wee bit late in getting my initial post on the web, so it’s been about a week and a half since the above events actually occurred. I’m still fighting the culture shock a bit…well a lot not a bit, but, overall, I think Ireland is pretty class! (Irish Translation: class = superb! Fantastic! Great! It’s all good in the hood!)
Cheers,
Linds

 

This is the Main Quad at my school in Ireland. Thanks for sending me to Hogwarts Mom and Dad!
This is the Main Quad at my school in Ireland. Thanks for sending me to Hogwarts Mom and Dad!
Uncategorized04 Jan 2010 12:56 pm

I decided this past Fall to spend the spring of 2010 in Cork, Ireland! I’m a visiting student at the University College Cork as an American Studies major (which, I know, seems rather ironic- going to Ireland as a student of American culture…) Contradictions aside, I’m here in Ireland ready for the grand European travel adventure- complete with my trusty roommate Maura, a few guidebooks and a case of culture shock!

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