Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Blog in Dublin

So this will be my last blog of the semester. I just want to summarize everything- what I will miss, but also the main things I missed while I was here. It has been a great experience, and I can say I picked the perfect place to study- after seeing other programs and how other cities work, Dublin was definitely the program for me. Here's my list of things I miss and am excited to return to:

Great things about Dublin I will miss

  • pubs

  • being able to drink legaly

  • irish accents

  • everyone is friendly

  • "cheers" for thanks

  • the liffey

  • porterhouse

  • potatoes with every meal

  • funny drunk people in the streets

  • soup dragon

  • coppers (club)

  • the international kids I lived with

  • bailey's

  • jameson

  • baby guiness

  • leprechaun stuff

  • spar, and its chicken fillet rolls for 1.89

Things I am VERY happy to get back to in america

  • my blackberry. ive had dreams about being reunited with it.

  • a real shower

  • how the streets smell like wet dogfood here

  • cookout

  • dunkin donuts

  • my bed. a real bed.

  • frat parties that are free to get into and within walking distance of home

  • tv

  • wireless high speed internet

  • real classes- surprising, but i kind of miss taking actual classes that you have to do work in to pass

The list could go on, but overall this goodbye is bittersweet. It'll be great to get back to America, but Dublin is an awesome city and hopefully I'll come back one day!

Friday, November 26, 2010

reading week part 2: munich/prague/venice

So i last left off meeting up with my friends to go to Germany. We made our way to the florence train station and JUST made our night train to germany. We hadn't booked the tickets all together, so we realized we were all spread out in different cabins. We tried to move our seats so we could all be together, but the very strict german lady in charge said no way. So, drew was alone, Sami was alone, and colin and i were luckily in the same room. The rooms were tiny and fit 6 bunk beds, though there were only 4 people in each room. The beds themselves were fine, it was just very crammed in the room- there was only enough space for one person to stand at a time. There was an older couple in the top beds, but they were asleep when we got there. I slept as much as I could but woke up whenever the train stopped at a station. Apparently as we were going through Austria in the middle of the night it was snowing, but I missed that.

At 5:45am we were woken up and told the train would get to munich in 30 minutes. We got our stuff together and the hostel was right around the corner when we arrived. Overall, the night train wasn't terrible, but I wouldn't do it again. We got tp the Wombats hostel where we would be staying around 6:30am. This hostel was awesome- everything was really clean, the interior was decorated really nicely, and the people at the front desk were really helpful. This has been my favorite hostel so far. We couldn't get to our rooms, so we just crashed on the couch for a while until breakfast. At around 1030, drew, sami and I went for a walk while Colin was meeting a friend of his for breakfast. We found an awesome toy store- it was huge, think toys r us but 10 times better. I got a stuffed animal monkey (couldn't resist). we went to a few more stores before going to meet colin and his friend Chris. they met on vacation one year any have been good friends ever since, so we were all really excited to have a tour guide who was from munich. our first stop was the BMW museum. I wasn't really interested, but some of the cars were cool looking. I figured if I was going to drag the boys shopping, they should get to see the car museum. after this, we went to the Hofbra house to eat and drink some czech beer. we each had a liter and i ordered some traditional pork and sticky potatoes. it was great. next we bought some souveniers and postcards, walked around an outdoor market, and made our way back ot the hostel to see our room. the room was great too- really big and had a table and nice shower. there was one other girl staying there, but she was nice and talkative. we got ready and had a couple beers before going out. Chris met up with us again and took us to an area of the city where a lot of bars are. first, we got some realllyyy good kebabs. kebabs were huge there, and are actually pretty popular in dublin as well. the first bar we went to was packed though. so much so that we could barely move, so after a beer we went looking for another. the second one we went in because we saw people drinking out of massive buckets and straws. this looked fun. we ordered a bucket of a tropical mix drink. it was delicious. after finishing this the boys ordered another,but i knew this was a bad idea. they couldn't finish it all, and we went looking for a taxi home.

the next morning we woke up, got breakfast at the hostel, and decided to go to Dachau concentration camp for the day before our bus to prague. we took a train, then a bus to the camp, and rented an audio guide. this place was creepy. it was also really foggy out the day we went, which set the mood even more. the museum was actually very big and had a lot of information in it. we didnt even read everything and we spent at least a little over an hour there. it would have been better to have a real tour guide, but i was still really glad we went. when we realized we were out of time and needed to get back to the city, we caught the bus and train back, and got another kebab for lunch. we picked up our bags from the hostel, and took the metro to the bus station.
when we had booked the bus to prague, we realized it may be really sketchy. it was actually the cheapest and shortest option, and ended up working out really well. we each had our own aisle since the bus was not crowded at all, and it got us to prague earlier than expected. once there, we found a taxi to our hostel, which was also like a hotel. it was really nice- huge showers, comfy beds, and really clean. this was arguably the nicest one we stayed in, but i still liked the one in munich better. once we had settled in, we got a pizza from around the corner. we werent in a very nice area, but the tram was pretty easy to figure out. the front desk told us of a bar we could go to that night, so we tried that out. we got a little lost once we got off the tram, but found the bar and hung out for a bit and had a couple drinks. everything in prague is SO CHEAP. but the exchange rate is kind of confusing so its really hard to keep track of how much money you are actually spending. it is also hard to find legit taxis in prague. there is one company that we were told to use but we couldnt figure out how to call one and didnt see any on the street, so we ended up walking home. it was cold, but we didn't want to take a random taxi company and get ripped off or kidnapped. the bar was dead but it was still an ok night.

the next morning we slept a little late and took off to wander the city. it was a relaxed day, just walking around old city center and made our way to prague castle. we missed the last english tour so we walked around on our own. here is a picture of me in front of the castle:

it was really cold but pretty. i got some hot wine and a waffle, which was really just a thin sugar cookie thing. i didnt really like the wine but im still glad i tried it. our next stop was an outdoor christmas market. they had these amazing cinnamon rolls for really cheap, so of course i got one. delicious. we were all pretty tired so we went back to the hostel for some down time before going out. we had planned to do a pub crawl that night, so we wandered around the main city square to find dinner before this. we all had really good dinners, but when we showed up for the pub crawl we were literally the only ones there. we decided it wasn't worth it to go by ourselves, and went back to the hostel. at the bar in the hostel we met a couple of british guys. one of them was cool, but the other i did not like. he started talking about american politics, obama, etc. with a condescnding attitude. i did not like this. side note- a lot of us have noticed that even though a lot of europeans don't like america, they still take a lot of our culture. they listen to our music, watch our movies, and follow many parts of our way of life, but complain about us. doesn't really make sense. (i realize that is controversial but all of us here have noticed it and agree). anyway, these random guys decided to come out with us and we wanted to try the 5-story club prague is known for. it was a sunday night so our expectations weren't high, and it was pretty dead. there were some weird people there. we danced for a bit then got a cab home.

the next morning we wanted to do a walking tour of the city but slept way too late. instead, we headed to town and got some lunch. we then signed up for a short bus tour but had some time to kill first. this was our time for gift shopping, and i found a scarf i liked. the bus tour was kind of a waste but we saw some parts of the city we hadn't seen before. i would have felt weird not doing anything touristy the whole time i was in prague. after this we took a walk to the charles bridge again, then found a place to eat. our meals at this restaurant were HUGE. it was great. we then set off to find the Lenon wall that has all the grafitti on it. this was really cool- the entire wall has saying and pictures and stuff. we took some pictures then finally headed home. since we had an early flight the next morning we stayed in and had a couple drinks at the hostel. we met a girl from australia who is a flight attendant. she told us some funny stories and things she hates about customers, it was really interesting actually. we went to bed early since our taxi was getting us at 730am. that morning we got up and moving and made it to the airport as it was starting to snow. we were right on time for our flight to venice, where we would hvae a 5 hour layover.

during the flight we flew over the swiss alps, which was an awesome view. we landed in venice and found a cheap bus that would take us into the city. from the bus stop in venice, we took a water taxi to another stop near the san marco square. we had enough time to walk around, grab a sandwich, some pastires, and do more gift shopping. we were in the city for about 2 and a half hours, which was pretty cool. venice is a lot of fun to just walk around, but it can be confusing since there are a lot of dead ends. we were a little nervous about time, but the bus we took back to the airport ended up being very quick and we were a little early for our flight to dublin. i have a paranoia about misssing flights, especially in another country, so I was a little stressed throughout the day making sure we got back on time, but it all worked out. from venice we flew to dublin, and our trip was over!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reading week part 1 : Italy

hey everyone! So I made it home alive from my eurotrip, but since theres so much to write I'm splitting it up into 2 parts- rome/florence and munich/prague. so here we go with italy:

last monday we took ryanair into rome. it was a pretty short and smooth flight, and we made our way to the hostel once we landed and picked up our bags. I had been to rome once already, and now after seeing it twice i decided it's one of my favorite cities ever. I love it. we got to the hostel a little late at night which was by the train station. it's not a nice area, but the hostel was surprisingly big and clean. we shared the room with 2 other people- older people travelling alone, but that was fine. once we dropped our stuff off and changed it was almost 10pm, so we went around the corner to have dinner. i indulged in some amazing gnocchi and red wine, then we headed back to the hostel for a few drinks. we didn't think it was a good night to go to a club or something since it was monday and it was already really late, but we met up with the boys from our program outside the colloseum. it looked AMAZING at night. the night itself was kind of a bust since we didn't end up doing anything, but seeing the colloseum all lit up was definitely worth it.

the next day we got up early and got moving. we decided to do a hop on/ hop off bus to make sure we saw everything we wanted and it is an easy way to get around. our first stop was the colloseum again- we didn't go inside but walked around it and took some pictures. after this we took some pictures of the forum, then headed back to the bus. it took a looong time for the bus to come- i think we chose a slow running company- but it took us next to the victor emanuel III statue (aka wedding cake). this monument is HUGE. here's a picture from it of steph jordan and me:

next we took a walk to both the pantheon and trevi fountain. we had lunch along the way, and i tried spaghetti carbonara. it was fabulous, of course. we also got some gelatto finally. delicious. here is a picture of me in front of the trevi fountain:

so far we had already accomplished a lot- and i honestly can't remember what else we did. i think we walked around some more then hopped on the bus to see the vatican. we only drove around it, but it was pretty cool. we had intentions of getting off at the next stop but the bus just kept going. it was weird but it took us all the way back to the train station. we were bummed but decided it was shower/nap time. for dinner, we met up with a kid studying in rome that steph jordan and dawn had met in barcelona. he took us to a place for dinner where we had 2 liters of red wine (way too much, but of course we drank all of it), and i got penne alla vodka. once again, amazing meal. the rest of the night was bar hopping- it wasn't that wild but still had a good time.
our last day in rome we intended to get up and do a tour of the vatican/sistine chapel. however, once we got there we realized it was wednesday and there was an appearance by the pope going on. we walked through security and saw a man in white sitting at the head of the audience- naturally, we freaked out thinking we were watching the pope! dawn asked a nearby nun if it was really him and she just laughed, so we realized it wasn't actually the pope- sad. but it was still cool. it was unfortunate though we couldn't do a tour since the chapel wasn't opening until way later that day. we stuck around for a little listening to some priest talk in a difference language then headed out. we started walking towards the sistine chapel, stopping for lunch on the way. i had bruscetta and a salad. nom. the spanish steps weren't as big of a deal as i had imaginged, so we took a few pictures and left. it took us a loooong time to get home since we made a wrong turn getting off the metro, which led us to rush to catch a train to florence. we made it just in time though, and we were off to the next city!
I had plans to stay with a friend from high school (sam) in florence, but he was still in class when we arrived so i tagged along with the other girls to see their hostel. we got a little lost on the way there- partly because the hostel wasn't a legit hostel. there was no sign on the door, and it was up a few flights of stairs in a sketchy building. the lady who let us in was old and mean and it appeared that there was only 1 room in the whole hostel (which was basically just a hallway). after some discussion, the girls decided this was not what they had signed up for and bailed. we left and realized they were semi-stranded in florence. we found an internet cafe though and they were able to find another place to go. i, however, was freaking out because my phone wasn't working. i got in touch with sam, but couldnt make calls or get texts. i got the address to his place and it took me about 10 minutes to find a taxi, but i finally got there. however, when i went to call him, my phone told me i couldnt. this was my first panic attack of all semester- i had no way of calling anyone, i was on a side street at night in florence, and i had literally no idea where i was. great. i started walking towards an area down the street that looked like it had a couple shops- and asked for a phone in a couple places. one place said no, and one place had no idea what i was saying. i saw an american boy jogging by and frantically flagged him down to use his phone (he looked like one of the 50,000 college students from america studying in florence, so i figured he wouldn't try to kidnap me). right as he was about to help me sam called and stayed on the phone with me until i got to the right apartment. it all worked out, but i was nervous for a few minutes.
once i was settled in I met sam's roommates who were all really nice, then we went to dinner with one of them. we went to a place called dante's that has free wine, water, and bread for students. it was awesome. i had tortellini with meat sauce for dinner, followed by amazing tiramisu for dessert. after a couple bottles of wine, we headed back to the apartment before going out. we drank some more wine, then got in touch with my other friends to meet us at a club. we met up with them a little later, had a drink at one bar, then went to a club that was filled with locals rather than tourists. i had a blast. we stayed there for a while dancing and drinking and taking pictures with random people. i would post one, but most of our eyes are closed in them and they aren't very flattering. our walk home took forever since we kept stopped to talk to people on the street. we finally got home and then i realized i was sleeping on a couch of an apartment filled with 8 guys. they were all awake and started throwing things at each other and wrestling. i guess that is what boys do? someone threw my boot across the room and at that point i realized i needed to take cover. finally they all got tired and realized they had class in 3 hours, so we all went to bed. the next day i slept in, which felt great, and met up with sam and my friends for lunch. we went to an AMAZING pizza place. best pizza ive ever had in my life, no joke. afterwards, we walked down the ponte vecchio and towards the uffizi. we split from my friends, who i would see back in dublin in a few days. sam and i took a walk towards his apartment, and it was time to chill for a bit. i really didn't do any sight seeing in florence- we had walked past the duomo multiple times so i didn't feel like i missed out, but I was in the mood to just relax since I knew the next few days would be hectic. i arranged with my guy friends (who i would be travelling to munich and prague with) to meet at the duomo that night to catch our train to munich. i said goodbye to sam and his roommates, and was on to the next city. i met drew, colin, and sammi at the duomo and we walked to the train station. I'll pick up here next time!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Belfast and Derry

Hello! I'm going to write a very quick recap of this past weekend. I don't have any pictures to share yet since we just got back today, but ill give a summary of each city- both of which are in Northern Ireland, which is a separate entity from the Republic of Ireland. The north is still ruled by britain since it is part of the UK.
We took off thursday morning for Derry. On our way to the city we stopped at the Giant's Causeway, which is basically an area of huge rocks in very unique formations. It was pretty cool and unlike anything I had every seen before, but it got verrrryy windy and started hailing on us, which wasn't fun. Afterwards, we continued to the city but didn't see much of it- just had a dinner and relaxed in our wonderful hotel beds.
The next morning started with a walking tour of Derry. It is a relatively small city, but has a lot of charm and hsitory to it. It was unlike anywhere I had even been though, because of the conflict between irish (catholics) and british (protestants). The conflict between the two groups is still very much alive today, and each neighbourhood is blatantly on one side or another. I have never visited any place like this- where each section is distinct in its beliefs, and opposing sides live in very close proximity to each other. The conflict is even more intense in Derry because this was the place of Bloody Sunday. We actually walked the streets where bloody sunday occured. for those of you who don't know, one day in the early 1970s (73 i think), irish citizens of derry staged a protest against internment. it was a peaceful walk until some teenagers started throwing stones, but turned into a massacre when british soldiers unjustly opened fired and killed 13 people that day.
We went to a small museum that had a lot of artifacts and footage from bloody sunday, and talked to a man whose brother was killed that day. It was amazing to hear this man talk, after losing his brother who was only about 20 or so at the time. He told us the story of the day in extreme detail- where each person was shot, and how some soldiers killed multiple people in cold blood and still lie about it to this day. It was astonishing and depressing, but probably one of the most moving experiences I've ever had actually being there and hearing what happened so recently. just this past july was there an official apology released by the british government- over 30 years later.

after finishing at the exhibit, we got something quick to eat and headed to belfast. We got in just a little before dinner, and decided to stay in and do some schoolwork (crazy, right?). sidenote- I don't write much about school because there isn't much work at all- I go to class but I only have one paper for each class due by the time I leave, so I really haven't done much work for the past month and a half. Anyway, saturday morning we had a bus tour of Belfast. The city itself is pretty modern, but there seemed to be a lot going on. We had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted, and since we really didn't know anything about the city and it was freezing outside, we went to a movie. A few of us saw Due Date, which was actually pretty funny- in a stupid college kid movie way. We didn't exactly take advantage of our time in Belfast, but there just wasn't an activity that the city is known for that we wanted to do. We looked into a tour of where the Titanic was built (in belfast! fun fact) but the timing conflicted with our bus tour. so, we hung out for the rest of the day, had some-well, alot- of wine with dinner, watched tv and slept.
This morning was just a ride back to Dublin, and it was time to get ready for our eurotrip that starts tomorrow! I've started packing and am already concerned that my bag will be overweight, but hopefully ryanair doesn't give me a hard time. Here's the rundown for this week:
tomorrow- fly to rome
wednesday- train from rome to florence
thursday-take a night train from florence to munich
saturday- bus from munich to prague
tuesday- flight from prague to dublin- with a 5 hour layover in venice in between- so we'll try to fit a gondola ride in there

that's all- ill write in a little over a week!

Monday, November 8, 2010


Amsterdam is amazing. For obvious reasons, I am not going to include every single thing I did this past weekend but I'll go through the majority of the activites that took place. This will also be a very long post, because we did A LOT in just a few days.
We had a flight late afternoon on thursday. This was my first time flying ryanair, and it was all smooth except for some turbulence along the way and the annoying advertising they have going on for the entire flight. We flew into Eidenhoven instead of Amsterdam because the flight was a little cheaper, so we had to take a Tram then a train to get into the city, then another tram to the hostel. We checked in and got settled before heading out. The hostel was mildly terrifying. The bedroom was fine, except for the water smelling like a fart (not exaggerating), and the bathroom was gross. It was out of a horror film. But anyway, we went to walk around and find somewhere to eat. We soon figured out our location was awesome. We were in the heart of the nightlife of the city, which is a change from Dublin where we have to walk 30 minutes to get to a bar. The food around us was also a lot cheaper than we are used to. For dinner, we went to an italian place where everything on the menu was 5 euro. The restaurants charge for water which is annoying, but it seemed food was generally less expensive than other cities.
After dinner it was off to a bar with live music. We had a great time listening to the band for a while before hopping to another bar/club type place. The crowd was really chill and fun, and everyone we met was from amsterdam or another part of the netherlands. We are used to meeting a lot of tourists in Dublin when we go out, so it was a nice change of pace. There was also a man sleeping on the couch at this club. He took his shoes off before passing out, which made it even more funny. I don't think he was a local. After dancing for a bit, we discovered the pancake house. Think ihop meets a crepe place meets a disco. It was fabulous. As I'll tell you later, we went back quite a few times. We called it a night after eating and prepared for the next day.

Friday we woke up at a reasonable time, then headed out to get food. we tried to find a certain sandwich place but ended up just getting pastries. We also decided to walk through the red light district. This was an interesting experience, but not really pleasant, especially at noon, during the "day shift". Afterwards, we went on a canal tour of the city. This was pretty cool, since I hadn't really realized how many canals and house boats there were in amsterdam. After the tour, a few of us split off because we had a reservation to go to the Anne Frank house. We had some time to kill, so we went and sat in a really cute cafe for a little bit before we had to be there. After a sandwich and latte, we headed to anne frank. It was a self guided tour, but it was actually bigger and better than i expected. There was a lot to read and look at, and was a very different side of the city than we had seen so far. We headed home to shower and relax after the tour. For dinner we chose a place that had a "tourist deal", most likely made to attract young people staying in hostels. I had an awesome steak, fries, and salad- I usually dont order steak but it was a great deal. After dinner we played cards in the hostel until it was time to go out. The night consisted of some bar hopping and pancake house again. This time I got a pancake all to myself. Here's a picture:

Delicious. It was an early night, but I was tired from the past two days activities.

Saturday morning it was pouring out, which ruined our initial plans of going on a walking tour of the city. We decided to wait it out and go on the later tour instead. In the meantime, we went to the Amsterdam library which had been reccommended to us- it had a great view of the city and a decent cafe for lunch. We then went back to the city center to catch the walking tour. It was a free, 3 hour tour, where the guide relies on tips at the end. Our guide, Jo, was pretty strange. She made a lot of awkward jokes that really weren't funny. I'm pretty sure she knew they weren't funny too, which makes it even worse. Nevertheless, she did a good job taking a huge group of people around. We got to see a lot more of the city this way, despite Jo's weird comments. at the end of the tour it was time to head back to the hostel to change and get ready for the long night ahead of us.

Saturday night was Museum night in Amsterdam. This means if you buy a ticket, you can enter any participating museum in the city for free, and they stay open from 6pm-2am. The trams also ran for free. We figured this would be a great way to go to a bunch of museums, and also save some money because each of them are individually kind of expensive. We went to an italian place for dinner, then headed to Van Gough as our first stop. It was definitely great to go on this night- there was a dj playing, and flashing lights on the walls. There were also a couple people painting a 3d picture on part of the floor. I really enjoyed it, and the van gough was pretty good as well. After van gogh we tried to navigate to a film museum, but ended up getting lost on the way. we finally made it there but it was a bust- just a weird movie in dutch was playing, and in another room there was a freaky projection of a group of girls on the screen singing, but their heads were moving and their eyes were creepy. ( I realize that was a terrible description but it was bizarre). After we left, we stumbled upon the diamon museum. This was also really cool- it included a short movie on how diamonds are discovered, had a diamond skull on display, and a display of the picture the Starry Night with diamonds put onto it in a pattern that made the picture look even more awesome. Outside the museum was one of those huge shoes that Amsterdam is known for. Here's a picture:

After the diamond museum, we set out to try to find the Aquarium. We made a pit stop at the pancake house first, then hopped on a tram. It took us a while to get there, but we got in line for what we thought was the aquarium. Once we entered the building though, after waiting in a long line, we realized we were at the museum of natural life- a kind of zoo type place, and that we were on a Dutch-only tour. We had about 30 minutes to kill before we could get on the tour, so naturally, i got a hot dog and sat on the floor to pass the time. Our number was finally called and we went to meet our guide. What I didn't realize was that the tour would be completely outside. And it was cold. really cold. our guide started speaking in dutch, but was interrupted by a drunk canadian in our group who requested she speak english. In fluent english she said "no, this tour will only be in dutch". About 75% of the group was english speaking only, so it was less foa tour and more of a walk through a zoo in the pitch black. We did get to see some swans, llamas, a zebra before it ran away, and all of a sudden we came upon a couple of elephants. We didn't get to see their faces though- only their butts since they didn't turn to face us at all. womp. It was strange to stop and think it was 1:30am in amsterdam, and I was staring at an elephant ass. After seeing a few more animals, the tour dropped us at the front of the actual aquarium. It can't really be called an aquarium- more like a room with some fishtanks. It was still fun, despite the annoying drunk canadians on our tour who almost got kicked off. After the aquarium, we decided our last stop of the night would be the red light district, since it is a very different experience at night. It was interesting- that's all I'm going to say. It was pretty late by the time we were done, so I caved and got a taxi instead of trying to figure out the confusing bus system and where we were. That concluded our saturday night.

Sunday morning we had to check out by 10am, which was probably good so we had to get up and leave anyway- we still had a couple things we wanted to do and the timing worked out perfectly. First was the I Amsterdam sign that every tourist goes to. We wanted to get a couple pictures, which didnt take long. Here's the group at the sign:

After the sign, we split up because some of us wanted to go to the anne frank house. Those of us who had already been did our own thing. We first went to a small museum about the things that happen in the red light district. It is not blog-appropriate, so I'm going to skip this part. Our final destination was Cafe Luxembourg, which my parents had been bugging me to go to because they have a special dessert called Tarte Tatin. it is a kind of apple crisp- a very thin layer of pie crust with apple filling on top. and it was delicious. picture:

After this we picked up our bags that we had left at the hostel, and caught a bus to the airport. We had a lot of time to kill before the flight, but it left on time. The flight was a bit longer than it had been on the way over, and the landing was terrifying. I really thought we weren't going to land straight- we were wobbling until literally the last second. We made it safe though, and headed back to the lovely blackhall.

That was a long entry, but the weekend was great. The next time I blog probably wont be for over 2 weeks- this weekend we go to Derry and Belfast in northern ireland, then the next day we turn around to go on our eurotrip; rome, florence, munich, prague. crazy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Parents Part 2 and Gaga

So where I left off last entry was right after copenhagen we headed to Paris. The flight over we took easy jet, which is a discount airline similar to Ryan Air. Naturally, the crowd on the plane was full of characters. The flight went well, and we go to Paris around 10 or so. We checked into the hotel, which was a tiny building in the Opera district. The next morning we had breakfast there, which had delicious pastries, and went to do a double decker bus tour. This was my first time really looking at the city- and it is beautiful. Just seeing the buildings, cafes, and people is a really unique experience because Paris is unlike any city I had ever been to. Our first stop off the bus was the Louvre. We saw the mona lisa and some other great art- and the place was packed! I looked it up online and about 12,000 people visit every day. That is crazy. We ended up eating lunch at the museum since we were starving, then heading back onto the bus.

Our next stop was Notre Dame. We walked through the church which was also huge, then strolled around the area right next door called the Left Bank. Afterwards, it was time to head back to the hotel for some downtime before heading to dinner. Something that we found very different from Dublin is the lack of taxis in Paris. It seems there are just not enough for you to walk out to the street and get one quickly. This is very different from Dublin, which has too many taxis for the demand. Another side note- there was no evidence of any riots or protests in Paris. As you all I'm sure have heard, a lot of unions in Paris are protesting the recent rise in retirement age from 60 to 62. We were kind of nervous that our flights would be off or that places would be closed because of the riots, but we barely even remembered what was going on because we never saw any of it. Anyway, that night we went to a little restaurant in the bastille area. I was finally able to get a delicious crepe which I had been craving since arriving.
The next day we had a reservation to go to the top of the eiffel tower. It took a while to get up because of all the lnes, but when we finally did, the view was gorgeous. Here's a picture:

After coming down, we headed to get lunch, but took a picture first with the tower in the background:

I look weird because it was freezing but it was really cool to actually be there. Next stop was lunch at a cute cafe. I ordered a sandwich which turned out to be HUGE. of course, I ate the entire thing, but still it was massive. The rest of the day was more walking around and sitting in a cafe. French people are just all so fashionable and skinny, I was jealous just walking down the street.

That night we met my friend Liesel who is studying in Paris for dinner in the bastille area. Dinner was delicious, and it was nice to hear more about what living in Paris is like. The next morning we got up really early to head to the airport, and so it was back to Dublin! My parents headed home from Paris, which concluded parents week in Dublin.

The past couple days have started Halloween celebrations, but the last part of this entry will be about the Lady Gaga concert I went to wednesday night. It was amazing. So fabulous. The set, the dancers, Gaga herself, it was just awesome. I'm so glad I went, and our seats were pretty decent. It was loads of fun. I'm having trouble uploading pictures right now but I will try again later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parents Week in Europe- Part 1

This is going to be a long blog, so bear with me. I'll try to add pictures to break up my ranting, and be brief unless something is very interesting. For both my sake and anyone reading this, I will write two blogs about the past week- here is part 1:

This past week my parents came to visit. The first few days they were here we stayed in Dublin. We didn't do much the first day they arrived, just lunch at Bewely's and dinner at the Millstone- both very good restaurants. The second day we got up and bought tickets for that touristy double decker bus. it worked out pretty nicely, and brought us around to the best sights. We first did a walking tour of Trinity College and saw the book of Kells, then jumped on the tour of the dublin castle. I had to go to class, but we met up later at the Porter House for food with some of my friends. The second day, our bus pass was still valid, so we did the guiness factory tour. Unfortunately, none of us really like the beer itself, but my parents did participate in the "pour the perfect pint" lesson. pictures:

After the guiness storehouse we swung by Blackhall so I could show them where I live. Not the best area, but the apartment is perfectly fine, considering I am a student in Europe. For dinner this night we went to a place called Elephant and Castle in the temple bar area. This was good as well, and I had an awesome dessert- two layers of chocolate fudge with whipped cream and raspberries in the middle. nom

The next day we took off for Copenhagen! We didn't get in until late, but we got right up in the morning and headed to do a boat tour around the city. A little background on the city- it is the capital of denmark, and has A LOT of water. The people are very clean and NEVER jaywalk- they will wait until the light is green even if there is noone in sight. Anyway, the boat tour was nice, but it was freezing. After this we walked around a bit looking for somewhere to eat. We got kind of lost and ended up at burger king. Another fun fact- Copenhagen is extremelyyyy expensive. It was unreal. But here is a picture of how pretty it is:

After lunch we went across the street to Trivoli- an amusement park and garden all in one. It was decorated for halloween and was great! It was a lot of fun to walk around and go into the different shops they have. The food also looked great. That night (friday) we met a friend of mine Caitlyn for dinner at a little local restaurant. It was a good meal- lots of meat and the guys next to us were pretty drunk. They made my dad take a shot of some weird alcohol they were drinking with their meal. Afterwards, Caitlyn and I went back to her apartment then out to a bar. A little after midnight, a Danish reggae rapper came on the stage. He was pretty good, I just wasnt expecting it at all. I took a cab home at the end of the night- our hotel was awesome and I wanted to spend as much time in a big comfy bed as possible.

The next day we headed to the museum Kunst. It is an art museum with a sculpture garden. The art was interesting, but had some weird paintings in it as well. /heres a picture:

After we were done at the museum, we took a walk to the best shopping area in town. It is pedestrian only an had a lot of cool shops and cafes. We chose a cafe that must be very well known/popular because it was packed. The food was great though and it was fun to experience an authentic cafe. After the cafe, we walked a little more and went back to the hotel to catch our flight to Paris.
So that is a very quick recap of the first part of the trip- I will write about Paris later because I'm sick of typing!