Sunday, September 25, 2011

Galway +

Hi everybody!
So, besides the concert going on in Croke park, about 1mile from my apartment, things are pretty quiet around here this evening. I just spent the last 4 days going non-stop, so I figured giving up watching the Bills beat (I wish) to the Patriots to snuggle in bed and blog.
Thursday was Arthur Guinness Day; if you consider Valentine's day a holiday made up by greeting card companies, well this is a day made up by a brand to sell more of the delicious brew. And it works. What happens is that you get a ticket to a random bar in the city that;s hosting Arthur's Day. Then when you show up and present your ticket, you get into the music venue. It's usually just a small stage in a bar. Anyways, the important part is that you get to see some surprise band show up and play. You don't know who it's going to be until they show up. So, on thursday, my friend Amber and I go to Oliver St. Gogarty's and see 2 famous British bands. Of course, we aren't too familiar with them, but it doesn't matter because they were really good. The first band is 5 girls called The Saturdays. Apparently they're very well known. For the next band, Amber and I staked out two front row spots in order to get a good look. We bought our beers and settled in to wait. About 45 min after the first band stopped playing, a new funky looking band comes on stage. And the lead singer is Nymphadora Tonks from Harry Potter. Her real name is Natalia Tena. We jammed to them for over and hour, here's a bit of their MUSIC if you're interested. During the set, she had a little contest to give away the Guinness she didn't want. Amber and I were AWESOME, but didn't win it... unfairly of course. So the bass player, who was obviously into our outrageous dance moves, gave us his! It was pretty freakin cool. Then after they came off the stage, we met the singer, trumpet player and bass player. It was awesome, they commended us on our dancing, and gave us hugs. Obviously, Thursday night was amazing!

Then, early friday morning, we left Dublin for Galway. On the way we stopped in Athlone, but only for some food. I did take a picture there, but you can't tell it's Athlone. No matter, at least I can say I've been to the town where Grandpa Matt was from. We got back on the bus after some delicious hangover-curing breakfast and went on our way to Kylemore Abbey.
There will be more pictures soon, but this was the best one so far. Kylemore Abbey was built in the mid-19th Century. It housed the Henry family and also some monks. There was the Abbey, the chapel and the gardens.
PAUSE- just watched the play by play of the BILLS beating the Patriots for the 1st time in 9 seasons. I had to just add that in. UNPAUSE
The abbey and the gardens we really cool, especially because they were so well crafted for the 1860's.
The cool thing about the church is that Henry, who designed it, wanted it to look like a small scale version of a cathedral, so he put in 4 different kinds of marble to decorate it. Each type of marble is found in one of the 4 provinces of Ireland. Green from Connaught, Rose from Munster, Black from Leinster, and Grey from Ulster. You can kind of see the marble columns lining the walls.
After Kylemore, we traveled on to our hotel, had delicious dinner in Galway, made a pit stop at the hotel bar, where the mean age was 57, and went off to bed.

Saturday we went to the Aran Islands, there are three, but we went to Innis Mor (innish more). The main language on the Island is Irish, so all of the signs were in Irish and all of the 800 inhabitants were fluent. We climbed to the top of a mountain to an old Viking fort, but of course, the cool thing is that it was built of a cliff with a 300 foot drop into the Atlantic. It was spectacular.

I cannot describe the rush of air that comes up at you when your head is extended out over the edge of a 300 foot drop. It is unbelievable. I have never felt anything like it. After climbing the cliffs, we stopped in a bar in town for fish and chips. I had waited all these days to have fish and chips in a real seaside town instead of Dublin, and it was totally worth it. After we came back, we had another great meal, and I was a little under the weather so I went to bed.
Today was our last day of the trip. We went to the Cliffs of Moher, also known as the Cliffs of Insanity from the Princess Bride! That's right, I was at that very spot today!
We climbed up and took some great pictures, unfortunately my camera was dead, so the one's of me won't be uploaded until tomorrow :( but here are a couple!

We couldn't get as close to the edge here, which probably was a good thing. It was an amazing experience to see these cliffs. The pictures don't and could never explain how breathtaking the scenery is. After a quick lunch, we took the 4hour bus ride back here to Dublin.
There are so many other things to say, but I'll be sure them bit by bit the next time I see/talk to all of you. I love you all!
-Go Bills
p.s. sorry for not proofreading, I know it's probably annoying, but I really don't have the energy <3

Monday, September 19, 2011

We are finally getting into a regular schedule here in Dublin. Which means that a lot of my time is spent in a classroom learning about Irish history, culture, politics, economics and literature. Unfortunately, these classes get tedious when I sit in the same class for 6 hours straight. BUT, I'm not complaining... it's a small price to pay in order to be where I am. Last week wasn't too eventful, I spent time walking the streets of Dublin, meeting some new people... the usual for Dublin. All of us are anxiously awaiting our normal classes to start on monday so that we can start meeting some Irish youth.
Skipping over the boring week, on Friday, our program of 20 students went out to the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) for a tutorial on the traditional Irish sports. We met a very cute trainer for the Dublin Gaelic Football team, who made us play Gaelic football and hurling. It was really nice to be playing a game on grass, for most of us, it was the first time in a while.
Then, on saturday, the girls and I went down to Bray. It's a town about 40 min from Dublin by train. We were planning on hiking up this mountain-
but we missed a turn and ended up walking around the mountain for a long time. Along the way, there were little plaques to tell hikers about the history of the views and the towns. At one plaque, there was a sharp incline right next  to it, obviously not something that had been taken by many people. It was extremely muddy and probably a bad idea to climb, but after walking on relatively flat land for an hour, I wanted some higher views. So, I talked the girls into veering off of the path to take this hill. We slipped and climbed up part of this mountain to reach a perch above the Irish Sea.

 After spending 2 weeks in Dublin and not getting the realest sense of being in Ireland, this was exactly what I needed. I couldn't believe the beauty of the nature that was surrounding me. It was absolutely what I came to Ireland to experience. On the way back, we tried our best not to use that narrow path as a slip'n'slide. On the way back around the mountain, we took some pretty good pictures, here are a couple.

And then there were a few novelty ones that I took thinking of some of you...

That pretty much concludes Bray, Of course, we stopped for a pint on the way back to the train, why not right?
Then yesterday was the all-Ireland Gaelic Football final. Dublin was playing Kerry. You should all know that  Kerry was certainly slotted to win, and there were a couple reasons of why it was such a big game. Kerry is considered the country, for those of you who aren't so familiar on Irish culture, and Dublin is obviously the city. Kerry has won the most titles in the history of the all-Ireland games. So its the country vs. the city and Dublin hasn't won in 16 years. What an intense game, anyone who's interested should look up the highlights because it came down to the last minute when Dublin took the cup. Absolutely insane in the city.
So, that was my week! I'll try to talk to as many of you as I can i the next week!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Just Another Week In Dublin

So I'll give you the highlights of this week because I started school, and that makes things a little less interesting.  Monday, we took a bus tour around Dublin as part of our Irish History class. Our tour guide, Garvin, was pretty awesome. We went to Christ Church and St. Patrick's Cathedral, both Protestant churches. I thought this was peculiar considering the presence of Catholicism in Ireland. We took some pics outside of Christ Church. 

After our bus tour, Garvin took us to a tiny bakery on the South Side. It was delicious. It's pretty tiny, only about 3 tables, but it was great. I had this to-die-for carrot cake. My friends and I find that the times we have the best food and drink are the times we ask the shop workers what to get. They have favorites and they hear reviews from customers, so their recommendations always win out.
Tuesday, a bunch of us went to a club called Dicey's which was a ton a fun. We danced and sang and met a bunch of fun people. Of course, Wednesday morning we had to be at class at 9am and it's a 35 minute walk to class, needless to say, it was a rough morning. Totally worth it.
Thursday was trivia night at a pub on the east side of the city, there were a bunch us just hanging out with our program director, Genevieve. After trivia night, we tried to find some live music, but it's difficult on weeknights after a certain time.
Anyways, it all led up to a beautiful Friday. It was sunny and 70 in Dublin in September, if only I could explain what a rarity sunlight has been. Apparently the Dubs had one of the darkest and coldest summers this year, so we're all just happy this isn't a summer program. We went to Leinster House on Friday, the meeting place of the Senate (Seanad) and the Assembly (Dáil). We got to go into the actual assembly rooms where decisions are made and constitutions changed.
Outside of Leinster House (Ireland's Parliament)

After a really, really good bagel sandwich on Nassau St. we departed the South side to go back to our apartments and prepare for the evening. 2 of my friends and I are currently working on the plans to go to Italy for a week long break we have in November, so we spent part of the afternoon working on the details. 
Then I made some dinner...
Yes I do realize that all I ate was cider and potatoes, but I had to carb-up for the evening. Plus, everyone was very jealous of the delicious smell coming out of my kitchen. Later, we went to a bunch of different bars. Including 3 with live music. There is a place my friend Susan and I love, but we keep arriving right at  the end of the live music set. So we are working on our strategy for tonight. 
For anyone who comes to visit me, know that I'm already planning places to take you!!!!!!
Love you all :))))))))

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sunday Night in Dublin

Hey Everybody,
SO I wanted to write this before bed on sunday night so that it would still be fresh in my mind. Today was our cliff-walk to Howth, a B-E-A-utiful town just 20 minutes east of Dublin. Unfortunately it poured on us, so we all had mid-day showers while walking the cliff above the Irish Sea. Oh and it was that razor sharp rain that feels like exfoliant on your skin. Anyways, pictures of that are on the way I promise. It was freezing and I was soaked to the bone, but absolutely gorgeous. It was my first experience that really made me believe I was in Ireland. I mean, this place is amazing even in the pouring rain, when the gray sea and the gray sky meet somewhere you can't find. After our trip to Howth, we all came home, changed into PJs and went to bed.
A few hours later we met at a pub down the street, where we are becoming fast friends with (some of) the bartenders. There was an Irishman singing (Irish) country songs in the front, so we went out and had a listen. Before long my friend Tory (from Buffalo) and I were out there singing "Brown Eyed Girl" in front of about 40 people. It was awful I'm sure, but when you're behind the mic it never sounds as bad as it is. Luckily we weren't boo-ed off the mic. I made yet another Irish friend, of course, around 60 years old. He told me all sorts of stories, of which I only heard about every 5th word because he was a few pints for the worse.
I've now realized that there are things I would only have the courage to do here, includung singing in a pub!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

First 2 Days in Dublin

Hi everyone!
Yes I have arrived safely in wonderful Dublin city. I already feel like I have been gone for a week, though its only been 2 days.
So the flight here was ok, I got very lucky and sat next to an American girl on her way to Limerick, about 2 hours west of Ireland. The flight was long but fine, I mean how bad can it be when you're on your way to Dublin, right? Even in the line waiting to get on the plane in JFK I heard many irish accents so that helped me stay excited the whole trip. As you would guess, the flight attendants AND the pilots were Irish so that was awesome. Also, the whole plane was green, inside and out including a shamrock on the top of the tail wing.

Once arriving in Dublin, I met my ride at the airport and it has been an absolute whirlwind since then. After arriving at my accommodations with some other students, I was shown to empty apartment :( A little depressing when you have two hours to kill before orientation and you're not allowed to sleep... so one of the building managers brought me to a room with other girls in it. And Guess What Happened! Living in that apartment, and apparently on the same trip as me, was a girl I've know for years from Buffalo. I was her catcher when we were on the same softball team in middle school and we actually saw each other last summer in Canada. So my whole plan of coming to Dublin not knowing anyone was ruined, but definitely in a good way.

Anyways, once orientation started on Thursday we walked all around the North side of Dublin from Blackhall Pl, where I live, to Henry street which is a main shopping thoroughfare, closed off to cars. We did a bit of shopping and got cell phones. Lots of things to see in Dublin, we walked past the the Jameson Distillery the Spire of Dublin and about 100 other places that I can't remember. After what seemed like a very long walk, we came back to the apartments, scrounged up some food and went to bed.

Friday was another long day, but necessary to help us get adjusted to life in Dublin. We spent the day in a classroom for orientation learning about the academic system, the sports and societies, library, IT and volunteering opportunities. Then we went on a brief walk to find all the school buildings and had dinner at a nice restaurant, dinner was included in tuition. I, of course, had steak because I doubt I'll be able to have it again for a while. During dinner Tory (my friend from Buffalo) and I sat with the women running are program, which made for great conversation. After our walk home, we decided to opt out of a big night on the south side with a bunch of other students. Instead we tried to strike out on out own at a local pub, Glimmerman's, we soon ran into some American friends and met many new Irish ones, who I'm sure are regulars. It was a hilarious night, exactly what a first night out should be.

Sorry I'm not posting any pictures this time, I forgot new batteries, but I'll try to take some today! I'm sure I forgot a bunch of stuff, but I will add some soon.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Hi Everyone!
I'm here in Dublin and all is good. LOOOOONG post tomorrow I promise!