Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A little Irish hospitality.

Just a quick note, on why I love the Irish.

1. For one of my classes, I entered into a Fantasy Rugby league. Apparently it's just like Fantasy Baseball, but I don't really get how either of them works. I do, however, know the rules of baseball, as for rugby, not so much. So I blindly picked a team, watched some games, and didn't ever think of my team. In class yesterday, my teacher handed out prizes. He called my name at the end, handing me a soccer ball and telling me I should probably try a different sport because apparently I had the lowest score of the entire class. Go me. But hey, free Irish soccer ball. WOO!!

2. Emily's mom was in town for a visit. She decided to take me, Emily and Pat out for dinner. She wanted fish and chips and Irish stew, so we obviously had to go to two different restaurants. While at the fish and chips place, a nice man was sitting next to us, a little drunk, but chatting away. On our way out to find stew, Emily asked where the best place was. He automatically got out his cell phone. "Kitty, put on 4 plates of stew. I have some friends coming in." We were beyond confused. He then gave us directions, but there was no need. He told us to go to Monroe's, the place we hang out every Tuesday. We walked over, found a table and had 4 plates of Irish stew waiting for us, because apparently the guy was the owner of Monroe's, just setting us up with a good dinner, no big deal. We were so happy, mainly because the stew was so great, but also because the Irish are so dang nice.

3. This has nothing to do with the Irish, but added to my happiness yesterday. My other friend Kelsey had egg dye sent to her! So even though I wasn't home, I still got my Easter eggs.

Monday, March 29, 2010


St. Patrick's Day!

Gotta love the Irish flag
Star Wars costumes
Little kids marching

In Doolin

Saturday, March 27, 2010

If I wouldn't have been in Ireland, Megan and Molly would have had no where to go.

My visitors had arrived. We had had our moment in the airport, where you see each other as one walks through the gate, running into each others arms for a huge hug. I couldn't have been happier to have that moment, especially in Ireland. Megan and Molly, both on Marquette Spring Break were ready to have a great week, I was was going to be their great host.

After a long bus ride, a run to the grocery store, and a dinner of mushroom and chicken risotto made by me, we finally went to bed, ready for a filled week. Sunday we went on the Cliffs of Moher tour, but got dropped off in Doolin for the night. Once the bus left, we went to our hostel and rented bikes riding all over the Irish countryside, with stops to look at castles, cows, and the ocean. The weather was perfectly sunny and warm. Dinner consisted of traditional Irish food at the local pub and Molly and Megan's first Guinness in Ireland. The next we finished our trip to the Cliffs, even braving the Do Not Cross line, following fellow tourists to get the best view possible.
A fun night out once we got back in Galway reminded me of being in Milwaukee. With a live band, we danced the night away, finally going home only because we knew we had a long week ahead of us.
Tuesday consisted of exploring Galway during the day. I showed them all the main tourist attractions, which took about an hour. So the rest of the day we strolled along the Salthill Prom, even though it was cold and windy. A little Irish dancing and traditional Irish music ended the night. We were getting ready for the big day aka St. Patty's Day!
St. Patrick's Day in Ireland is pretty much what you would it imagine it to be like: green, Irish flags, and beer. My apartment building, full of mostly Americans, had a little party on the patio, stopping only to go to the Parade down Galway's main street. The parade, while claiming to be one of the best in Ireland, was slightly disappointing. While Milwaukee's parade, one of the best I think, is filled with girls Irish dancing, lots of bands and music, and political figures waving at onlookers, Galway was the complete opposite. Instead of Irish dancers, belly dancers. Instead of old men playing traditional Irish music or high school marching bands showing off, we had grade school aged kids playing instruments with cheerleaders following. No leprechans, but instead, church groups dressed as Star Wars characters and aliens. It was strange, like no parade I had ever seen before. We got over it quickly though, and finished the day by making stops at all our favorite pubs, enjoying each pint of Guinness we had.

The rest of the week consisted of Clifden and Dublin with Molly, while Megan met up with more friends in Rome (where I will be in 3 days!). Saturday we hung out with the locals in Dublin, watching the Irish rugby team lose to Scotland and drinking more beer.
The week sadly came to an end the next morning when I put Molly and Megan in a taxi to the airport, back to Milwaukee. Time to catch up now on homework, projects, and planning before I head off to my Spring Break trip to Italy, Prague and Budapest. Stay tuned.

Sorry the pictures aren't working. I'll keep trying I guess.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Capital of Culture 2008

Where oh where to begin. It has been one jam packed couple of weeks ever since... well, 5 weeks ago I guess. Finally a break to catch up on blogging, classes, homework, and laundry and sleep in my own bed.

After the Ring of Kerry, we all came home to Rag Week aka College Week. Named College Week because apparently Rag Week got a little to out of control for Galway. Basically, Rag Week is a couple days for NUIG students to skip class, hang out by the Spanish Arch in the sun, drink, and trash the city of Galway all to raise money for charity. Its a week of fun but you're supposed to throw your change in buckets for a Galway charity of NUIG's choice. I took part in most of the events. Hopefully you can guess which ones.

The weather was perfect the entire week, which added to the appeal of laying out in the sun all day. Down by the Bay, on the River Corrib, hundreds of students played outside. It was the biggest party I had been to yet. At night, the pubs were filled to the brim which wasn't quite as enjoyable, but still a good time.

Emily, Pat and I, however, had to end our week early and head off to Liverpool. I wasn't complaining.

Liverpool was amazing. I should probably come up with something better to say since I say every European city is amazing and great, but its true.

A long night of traveling meant a long morning of tiredness, but after a cheap breakfast and some coffee, we were ready to hit the town. We saw museums, the Three Graces, the biggest Anglican Cathedral in the world, rode the Ferris Wheel, and bought new gloves. Dinner at a pub to watch the Liverpool soccer game and a night on the town for three tired tourists. We didn't last long which was a little sad because we had been listening to a great jazz band, but we had to turn in for the night.

Eating treats on the docks (not tasty treats though....)
In front of the Ferris Wheel we rode. We decided not to purchase the VIP car with champagne , fancy seats, and tinted windows.

In the Liverpool Cathedral, where they focus on the big space the building creates, not on how big it actually is.

Liverpool skyline from the Ferris Wheel

The second day was my favorite. In the morning, we toured the underground secret tunnels of Liverpool. Some man with a lot of money decided to give poor Liverpool families jobs back in the early 1800s. Finally rediscovered and reopened for tours in 2002, we climbed through Liverpool underneath what is now University of Liverpool student housing. Originally used as walk ways under the city, then as a place to get rid of all your garbage and waste, volunteer excavators have found cool artifact after cool artifact. Still digging, the excavators aren't quite sure where all the tunnels will end.

Next up was our Beatles tour! The three of us and an all knowing guide, we saw all the birthplaces of the Beatles, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the Casbah (the club where the Beatles started), and the Cavern, basically all the old stomping grounds of Ringo, George, John, and Paul. My camera was dying so I don't have many pictures, but I learned more about the Beatles than ever before. I know can't stop wanting to listen to all Beatles music. I can think of about 50 people that would have loved this tour.

Dinner at a Chinese buffet and a night out at the University of Liverpool college bar, our trip was coming to an end.

In the hostel, which was actually very nice, we had a wake-up call at 3 in the morning from our 4th random roommate we didn't actually know was staying with us. It didn't lead to much more sleep for me and then again a wake up call in the morning from his friend looking from him. These guys had come all the way from Dublin for a night on the town in Liverpool and were just getting in. They had lots to tell us and definitely was an interesting morning. We got up then to catch our bus back to the airport, where we knew we had visitors from back home waiting for us!

Another great trip, another great city to check off the list.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dingle Dangle

Another fabulous tour given by the Galway Tour Company. This week our destination was the Ring of Kerry and Dingle Peninsula, apparently must sees for Ireland. The trip was mainly more of a bus tour, getting great views from the comfort of our bus seat. The first night we stayed in Killarney, getting a small taste of Killarney pub life.

Looking out at the Skellig Michael in the distance
panoramic view

We woke up early the next morning to start the real tour. Some of the highlights being Skellig Michael, two small islands off the coast where monks lived and carved over 600 steps into the side of the mountain. Pretty cool. We also stopped and ended up seeing the islands, along with another great view.
Another castle, the Killarney National Park waterfall, peat fires. We saw it all and all of it was pretty. Inch Beach was also a highlight, apparently a famous beach.

Killarney National Park

We ended in Dingle for the night. Another cup of seafood chowder and hanging out with some locals at a pub. Sunday we drove around the Peninsula and eventually ended up at home.

Dingle Peninsula
Inch Beach

The trip was definitely one of my favorites from around Ireland, even if I didn't make it sound too exciting. It just made me want to come back to every place we visited, since all we got was a taste of each thing we saw. Ireland has so many great areas, and I'm excited to be able see them all. It just makes me want to stay here and travel around forever.

Its Rag Week here at NUIG. Basically it means none of the Irish kids go to class and just drink all day outside by the Bay. It basically doesn't compare to anything back home. I don't mind though. I'm trying to act more Irish, so yesterday I joined them in the sun. It turned out to be the most gorgeous day ever, even giving me a little sun burn.

Next up for me: Liverpool and visitors. Oh yeah.. and some homework eventually.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pure Dead Brilliant

The view from the top near the Castle
A 3 hour bus ride at 2 in the morning, snow on the ground in Dublin, and sitting in our plane on the runway for 2 hours, waiting to be deiced. All for a 35 minute plane ride to Scotland! Finally though, after even more time in the train from the airport into the city, we made it to Glasgow.

The differences between Scotland and Paris, where I had been the weekend before were astounding. Where Paris was pretty, delicate, full of pretty colored buildings, beautiful monuments and Parisians dressed in boots and black, Scotland was basically the complete opposite. It was rainy and cold the entire weekend, first of all. The buildings were brown and big, with pointy harsh tops. It had more of an industrial feel. A few churches here and there, big shopping streets like most main cities. We ate chips and pies covered in gravy and drank beer, not wine. All these differences and I still loved it. I might have even loved Edinburgh the most out of all the places I've been.

After walking around in the rain for the afternoon in Glasgow and seeing the Cathedral and Necropolis, stopping at a pub for coffee and scones to warm up, we went back to our hostel to get ready for dinner. The Goose was our restaurant of choice where I got curry because apparently Glasgow is the curry capital. I've basically decided every place in Europe loves Curry. Dinner and a recommendation from a girl we met on the street led us to a bar that had karaoke and Scottish bagpipe players. Couldn't get any better.
At the Necropolis

The next day we went to Edinburgh. Coolest place yet. One one side is the new part of town, with big stores and restaurants. One the other, is the old town. The Castle is overlooking the entire city on a bluff. Churches, museums, shops, and pubs fill this side of the city. You can see it all from the main street, overlooking the city. We decided to take a bus tour to see everything, which was 11 pound well spent since it was rainy and cold. Dinner out and another pub, early to bed.

Looking up from the main street

The next morning we explored the Royal Mile and the Castle, snapping beautiful pictures. Lunch was at the famous Elephant House, where JK Rowling created Harry Potter. I could definitely see why she loved writing there. Every inch was filled with pictures and statues of elephants, with the back room full of windows that look out to the Castle. A little new town exploring and we were back to our bus and the airport.

Birthplace of Harry Potter

Edinburgh Castle

Another great weekend, seeing the sites of the UK. It will always amaze me how different each of the cities I visit can be. But all so pretty and unique in their own way.

Last night I booked tickets to Rome, Prague, and Budapest for April. I'm at my halfway point almost, with 3 weeks left of school and friends visiting in 2 weeks! Boy does time fly here....