Thursday, December 1, 2011

Ireland and Edinburgh-The leftovers

Huzzah! Thus begins day two in Ireland. We wake up to attempt to find some decent grub in the hostel (besides the half bag of Doritos and left over Dr. Pepper) and we found instant coffee, and toast. So we went to Starbucks. That's right, Starbucks. Laugh if you want, but it's one of the greatest inventions of all time. And we went there a lot. I love coffee.

So after that we decided to take a little self guided tour around Dublin. This included stopping in and around various cathedrals, taking adorable pictures, and generally being amazing. Eventually, we decided that it was worth grabbing some lunch before the Guinness storehouse tour. So we dropped into this cafe and had some wonderful soup. Now you're thinking, I mean, yeah soup, whatevs. LIES. After having pasta and pizza and pasta and pizza and gelato and pasta and pizza, SOUP IS AMAZING.

After that little tidbit, we went over to the Guinness factory. Now, I'm not what you would call a good Irishman (woman), so this could be a serious struggle. But, like a true trooper, I was going to enjoy every minute to the best of my ability. So that was that.  As someone who knows nothing about alcohol fermentation and different grain combinations and such, this was a fascinating experience. It is all pretty well organized, using a variety of different mediums to keep you moving and entertained. I will say that one of my favorite parts was the room of various add campaigns. So interesante!  One of these included that you should drink a Guinness a day for health reasons. Similar to the concept of an apple today. This was recommended by doctors!  So there you have it folks, a Guinness a day. Just like the doctor ordered.

Keep in mind that this storehouse is 1) built on a 9,000 year lease (hey dad, got any of those?) 2) It's the largest pint shaped glass in the world.  Lots of pints fit in there. 3) It's 7 stories tall. So if that wasn't enough to swallow, we managed to actually do the entire tour all the way up to the top where there is a panoramic view of Dublin while enjoying our pints of fresh Guinness. It was just so much fun to be with wonderful friends in a unique landmark.

After that we decided to walk around the shopping district for a bit, then grab some dinner.  We dropped off our stuff at the hostel before dinner and wandered around for a bit before deciding to try a 'boxty' place. Now if you don't know what a boxty is, then you are not alone. So as we were seated in almost our own private room, we just had to ask what we should order. And that came back as get anything with boxty in it. Ok, then when the waiter described it as an Irish burrito, we were sold. So a few minutes later he returned with our boxtys (ies?) lamb for Kate, steak for Erica, and chicken for moi, and they were delicious. Simply wonderful.

After that we had to enjoy our last night with Vanessa by going to find some live music/Irish dancing. And low and behold, we found some. Vanessa and I planned our escape, and that was basically magic. The Irish step really just reminded me of two very different things. 1) Ava. 2) The Congressional Award. Both are strange associations, but I think very applicable. But we sadly had to leave and get some shut eye because we were leaving the hostel before God gets up. And by that I mean we had to be down stairs for the shuttle at 4:30 AM. AM. BAH. And that's without pump up music loudly playing, or other people around. Boo.

Fast forward (it's only 4 hours, you didn't miss much.) and we are in a shuttle driving backwards. Literally driving backwards. You thought Cadi's picture with the semi was confusing? Imagine if you will driving on the left-hand side of the road IN REVERSE. Of course at 4:30 am, this irony is just too much to vocalize without drooling or crossing your eyes (it's kind of like a strange dream where you can't figure out if anything is real or not.) So I (and this is rare) kept my mouth shut and didn't make any smart comments about how they really do drive backwards here....  None the less, we made it to the airport, mostly driving forward. So that's good.

At the airport I got Naked. No, not like that....  I found (at Starbucks=life saver) Nakeds and I was basically the happiest person in the whole airport. I actually think I'm at my funniest around 4-5 am. I think the team will attest to this.  And we jumped on that earlybird Ryan Air flight and enjoyed everything that they tried to sell us (Newspapers, cigarettes, food, Women of Ryan Air calendar-Christmas list for sure, and there was one more, but it was a short flight... so I forgot.).  Get into Edinburgh and get ready for our just over 24 hour experience.

Find the hostel, find a Starbucks (yes, again. It's like crack) and then go to the cafe where we were going to meet Claire and Ava. Now this is the final reunion of the semester, and this time we got smart and took pictures. Way to go Erica. The pictures basically show pure joy. And with that many pretty people, it's hard not to see joy and beauty at the same time.  There was lots of squealing and hugging (trend?) and then we all had more coffee and bagels (yeeessssss) and all talked very quickly at the same time just rying to catch up as quickly as possible without being super obnoxious. Eventually we peeled ourselves from the warm cozy atmosphere of the Black Medicine cafe (I think that's right) and began our tour a la Edinburgh.

First impressions: It's suuuuper windy. (just like GAC!) It's adorable (Part of this reaction is because I don't think you can quite call Rome cute. So everything smaller than Rome is automatically precious). And there's that realization that there are some really cool things that have happened in this city. Like, oh yeah, Harry Potter began here. WHAT!?!?!  Yes, that's right. The Elephant House, I went there. It was amazing. There are so many nooks and crannies that history just lurks and people remember all of it.

We walked through a Christmas market and past the soggy ice skating rink, all the way up to the view point that over looks the water. And it was so windy that you could lean at a 45 degree angle and the wind would hold you up. There are so many pictures of us trying to either stand upright, hold on hats, or just giving up and letting the wind do with my hair as it would.

Then back down to take a few pictures of the castle, and then off to lunch. Lunch was a wonderful plate of nachos and a burger, you know, very Scottish food. And we talked for a few hours before heading off to Claire's apartment to relax and catch up a bit. Then while Claire's boyfriend Kalin began cooking, Ava took us out for a little bit of shopping.  We bought our kilts and headed back to the apartment for some delicious moussaka. It was absolutely delectable.

After dinner, we went out to meet some of Claire's friends, and had to say good bye to Ava. That was a bit heart wrenching, but I managed to keep my tears back.  Enjoyed the company, the atmosphere, and eventually headed back to our hostel after saying goodbye to Claire and Kalin.  I miss them all desperately already.

And pretty much the second my head hit the pillow, I was out for the night. We got up kind of early the next morning to get to the airport.  Layover in London, then on to Rome. Nothing too terribly exciting to report (no backwards driving), got home later than expected, but not because of delays. All in all, a fantastic weekend.

Since those adventures, I've been trudging though papers and attempting to go to school. It's sort of working. Oh, and I leave for Prague tomorrow. So that's awesome. It's the last trip of the semester though! I'm thrilled to be going with three wonderful ladies and we are going to have a wonderful time of it. I'll try to let you know how that one goes sooner than I did this week.

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