Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Galway, Ireland!

So after Paris I decided that 5 days was enough traveling for awhile. So I packed up and headed back to the manor. I spent a glorious 15 hours there that involved unpacking, repacking and sleeping. Then it was time to head out on my next adventure! For some reason I have always been in love with Ireland and have always wanted to go see Galway (especially after PS I Love You). So that is exactly what I did. It also helps that here at Harlaxton I am allowed to miss class the same amount of days that I have it in a week so I have been saving up all my days and trekking the long hike to class everyday! So alas I was finally able to cash in and waste away a week in Ireland! Seeing as I had learned that I love traveling alone I decided to spend a week doing pretty much that. It took 45 minutes in a cab, 45 minutes on a plane and 2 hours on a bus to get to the opposite side of the country that I had already been to (the trip to Dublin is closer and took about 12 hours and included a ferry so this way was much nicer). As it turns out the world is a very small place. I had found a friend of a friend that is currently studying there in Galway so I made a connection with her and was able to stay at her apartment all week for free! It is a small world because I have roomed with one of her friends from high school and will be living with another one this next year, while on the other hand she roomed with my friend from high school her freshmen year. So we had plenty of exciting stuff to talk about along with a skype session with our BFF Adrienne. Sadly however when they say study abroad they kind of mean the whole study part so we spent a lot of our time writing papers. So although I did not get to see the entire city I was able to relax in a new location while dominating the life of Edward III.

I got to Galway Monday night and we had a nice pub meal followed by a casual night of hanging around the apartment. The next day I had the longest and funnest tour of my life. The tour left at 10 in the morning and took us all around Galway and around places outside of the city. We saw many burial sites which was kind of interesting but kind of weird especially when walking through a ruined cathedral meant stepping on many graves. But none the less it was very exciting. Another reason why it was a fun tour was because of the fact that our guide would hit the breaks as hard as he could every time he saw some form of new wildlife throughout the day. So we got a great view of a bull (that was not happy to see us), I saw plenty of other cows along with goats, sheep and even BABY LAMBSSSSS!!!!! So I was a very happy camper. One cool thing was that there were so many different countries represented on our little bus so you really realize how even when you are alone traveling a country you are really not alone as you have something in common with people from all over the world. I even met two fellow Americans that are studying abroad, one was even in England as well. Last but not least, did I mention that I started the day out with an Irish everyone should do! So it was definitely a great day. I spent the morning into the afternoon seeing plenty of graves, a castle and even had a lunch break in a pub. Which again even when you are alone you really are not. I found a bumper sticker for Irish Fest in Milwaukee, which even though I have never been there still made me excited.

After lunch it was time for the main attraction and the reason I was actually on the trip in the first place. It was finally time to see the Cliffs of Moher (which BTW I am told that they were used in Harry Potter, don't worry I am planning on watching all the movies next week). Oh did I mention that I didn't see a single drop of rain in Ireland and the Monday I got there was the warmest day ever recorded in March in Ireland, so I really had prime weather to see the cliffs. A beautifully sunny day, perfect for being an Irish girl! At this point I am just going to throw in a bunch of pictures as nothing I saw will do the cliffs justice. Oh and yes people do fall off the cliffs and die. So yes I did go past the safety rocks and crawled to multiple edges! So basically the cliffs were amazing and it you ever have some free time in your life you should definitely go see them! After the cliffs our driver was madly in love with the weather and wanted to do everything he possible could to let us see everything we could. We drove along the coast for most of our trip back and made a few different stops along a few different bluffs and they all had spectacular views! I think my favorite part of it all was just seeing cows grazing out on this country side because our country side is a field of grass where in Ireland country side could also be cliffs. (I also learned on the trip that the cows are so healthy from being grass fed especially with such well nutriented and watered grass that 3 of the top 5 companies for baby formula or milk come from Ireland). Anyways I love cows. And cliffs. And sun. And Ireland. Did I mention I even saw surfers?

So after that long trip I finally made it back into Galway and to the apartment around 7 which was just enough time to grab a quick dinner, couple of drinks, put on my nice going out shirt of "Stonehenge Rocks!" and go out to hit up the town. Which is where I experienced my very first silent disco! May I say that whoever thought of the concept was a musical genius! Basically when you walk in the room you get your own head set and you can change the volume and switch between two different stations. There are two dj's up on stage that each have their own headsets as well so you can switch between the two stations to listen to the music of the two different dj's. The weird part is when you take your head phones off because all you hear is either random talking or people yelling out the words for the more popular song at the time. The other thing that I love over here is that their night music is much more entertaining, AKA every song is singable and it's not just pure beats. I believe I even heard Bright Eyes! So I am going to try and find more of these shindigs to go to in the future!

After a bit of dancing it was time for the day to be done. I don't think I even stayed awake long enough to feel my head hit the pillow. The next day was sadly the day that my big paper was due so I spent most of the morning into the afternoon finishing it up and trying to find a nice friend to print it off and turn it in for me. So thank you Nick Selting! Congrats you made the blog! After that I did a little shopping with my new friend Mo, grabbed lunch (had my very first wrap ever! sad I know) then we headed out to an area called the Spanish Arch. It was basically just this area to lounge around while enjoying the water. Once again we had beautiful weather so it was a nice relaxing afternoon. I even learned that crows are disgusting creatures and if you think they won't come after your left overs near your feet, well my friend than you are wrong. Oh add swans to that list as well. Nasty creatures. So I fed those too. It was even nice enough to snap a few senior pics so if anyone wants I can print this last one out and write you a little something on the back! Maybe they will even use it in the yearbook here!

After laying out for the afternoon we relaxed a little more back at the apartment then Mo was nice enough to cook fajitas which were delicious and it was sooo nice to have a home cooked meal! We were also able to skype with our mutual friend Adrienne which I think we were all excited about except for the fact that we couldn't share with her! Oh and congrats Adrienne for making the blog! We missed dancing with you at the rave! But after dinner I decided I still needed to get my fix of live music in! So we went out to a pub for a little bit and enjoyed some good music which even included the Beatles! I can't wait to show my parents the pubs over here! They put so much more effort into everything they do! This pub had a balcony in the middle of the room that acted as a stage and everything just has a homey feeling to it.

The next day it was sadly time to go home. So after a little more traveling I was finally back at the manor. This time for 13 hours! On Friday we had a field trip to London! So we left at 8 in the morning and got there around 11. Once there we enjoyed the National Gallery which holds famous paintings that we have been studying in class so those were actually getting interesting to see. After that we had a quick lunch and then a tour of St. Paul. Which I didn't know it until the tour but was the place where Princess Diana was married. Needless to say I loved it and will be taking my parents there as well! Conveniently this was the same weekend that my friend Nick's parents left him an empty apartment in London. So we took full advantage of this...kind of. While all my friends went out and enjoyed the shows London has to offer I stayed in and took a nice nap (at 8 at night), got caught up on skyping and watched some Law and Order FINALLY! I was also in charge of buzzing everyone back into the apartment which was pretty intense. But eventually everyone made it back safely and we had a nice little slumber party of 8 people in an apartment meant for 3. Some how I was lucky enough to end up on a pull out with a light blanket and a sweatshirt for a pillow! All in all it was a great night and fun to bond with friends. On Saturday it was finally finally finally time to go home.

We arrived back to the manor around 3 or 4 which was just enough time to get ready for the COSTUME BALL! For the first time in my life I was on hair duty before the big event! So even though I was not at my best I was very excited to be the girl getting everyone else ready! In the end I ended up doing multiple changes between a burlesque type girl to a cow was intense. I also did the hair of a flower along with Princess Leia! The Princess almost won best costume as well so I will take credit for that. The night was one of my favorite nights while studying abroad. We were given a formal dinner which was followed by a dance. I ended up having dinner while sitting in between James Bond and Rick Perry which was quite interesting. And that was the final end to my week and a half of traveling! Sunday was spent attempting to catch up on some homework followed by going to bed early.

On Monday we finally had another trip to the prison to play some volleyball! We should have won but ended up not even winning a single game. Still a little bitter about it. But the most entertaining part of it all was when 2 of the prisoners would come and sit behind me as I was serving and tell me who to serve at. Needless to say I don't think the older prison guard was very happy with them...

On Tuesday we had yet another basketball game...this time we had 9 players which was very exciting! I don't remember anything new about this game. Just the same usual getting killed followed by the excitement of trying to get the players from the other team to dunk the ball after the game. Tonight (Wednesday) we thankfully had our last game. Once again we got killed, but this time we only had 7 players. Don't worry everyone I survived the entire game without my inhaler and only air balled one or two shots! Our main objective for playing was just to get through it to get the award we had been bribed with! Which was McFluries! And dangit all we got our ice cream. Although it just wasn't the same but we were happy enough especially with the fact that they have monopoly going on right now! And that is the end of my college basketball career. We figured out tonight that although we do have 3 college athletes on the team, not a single player on the team actually plays basketball as their dominant sport. So we can only hope that we are all much better at our actual sports!

And now I am finally caught up on the past 3 weeks of my life! Only a few blogs left so enjoy them! Thanks for reading and see you all in a few weeks! Cheers!


A few Sundays ago we finally had another basketball game! There were 4 guys and 3 of us girls. Needless to say it was a mess. I haven't run so much in 4 years since I last played competitively. I actually made a basket and was 100% on my two free throws. Oh and when you are 5'5 playing a bunch of men that are all over 6 foot you should probably not drive into the lane...that is how you get shoved and end up sliding 10 feet across the floor. Our goal by the end of the game was to get some of them fouled out because they were playing so rough. But alas, after a valiant effort the game was over with a close final score of somewhere around 55-103. We'll get them next time.

Then the day after that we had another volleyball game. It was the first time we played a team of boys our age! Needless to say I was very excited ;) Although I don't think boys like it when you are 8 inches shorter than them and can out joust them...twice. Or when you ace them a few times. Needless to say I did not get a boyfriend out of the game but we did get a big old victory! Which was celebrated with more pizza from Coach Kevin followed by a team karaoke version of We Are the Champions!

Next next next...oh yes...PARIS! A bus ride, train ride, eurostar ride through the chunnel, and metro ride later we were there! May I just say that the city of Paris is beautiful! It was one of my favorite cities I have been to so far. We spent our first night trying to find the Eiffel Tour which turned into a 3 hour walk but we finally made it! As you might have guessed it is much better in person! I did not realize this but at night for the first 10 minutes of every hour they light it up even more with twinkling lights and it is gorgeous! My favorite thing to do was lie underneath it and look directly up. The structure of it is just amazing.

We spent pretty much every night walking to the tower and drinking bottles of wine beneath it. During the day I spent most of my time with my best friend Missy, which included lots of shopping, wandering and staring at the models in the Abercrombie Palace. Some highlights were climbing to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, which is basically in the middle of the city and you can look out and see for miles! The Arc was made to honor those who died in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. It also holds the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI. If I am remembering correctly Napoleon wanted the Arc in order to celebrate victories of the French and was used for successful victory marches. I even believe US troops have marched around it after victory. It made me remember how much I love Washington DC and want to go back there someday. We also spent one night out at a church on top of a hill called Montmartre. Apparently it is a very popular place for the locals to hang out as you can see most of the city from up there too. There was even live music and fire performers at the bottom of these large staircases. The unfortunate thing however was all the men. Missy and I loved the live music but could not sit for more than literally 30 seconds without two men sitting on either side of us. Even after they figured out we didn't speak French they would not give up. So after moving to 5 different spots we finally gave up and ran away from the ones that offered to pay for our hotel next time we came to visit. Thankfully our other friends were nearby and we could stay by them in safety. If it weren't for the locals it would have been an ideal night. But none the less it was a beautiful view.

It’s always weird how much volleyball influences my life and I never really realize all the benefits I get out of it until I am put in very exciting situations. For instance when I was playing club volleyball I believe when I was 15 or 16 I met this girl that was new to my team. Her name was Hannah, or as Mom calls her Hannah Banana. Well after a long dreadful season of G-Force volleyball I made some pretty good friends. Hannah would be one of these friends and I don’t think we ever thought we would meet up to hang out for a day in Paris but that is what happened. She is studying there for the semester so I was able to meet up with her and we walked around the city on one of the many beautifully sunny days I got to experience. We wandered the streets and got some cheap steak and wine, and then she showed me Notre Dame Cathedral and took me to a quaint ice cream place. I think it was the first time I ever had to wait in line outside of a building just to get ice cream but it was worth it!

On our last full day of wandering the streets of Paris I had one of my greatest lunches of all time. Missy and I started out by hitting up a burrito place near our hotel then we took our 10 pound bag of 2 burritos on the metro and to the Eiffel Tower. We were trying to find a nice place to sit and eat our romantic meal and decided that walking along this ledge around a little pond was a great idea. Well all was going nicely until we realized we were in a field of fountains. Somehow we had managed to sit perfectly in the middle of all these fountains that went off around us as we just stared at the tower. It was one of my favorite meals of all time. After lunch we walked around like usual and stopped in the Musee du Louvre to check out the gift shop and rest our feet. Well that was until we looked up and saw a man 10 feet away from us holding a camera directly at us either filming us or taking pictures, not really sure, so we ran out of there pretty quickly. After that we spent some time in the park, I even enjoyed my first Nutella Crepe! After that we decided to head back, which basically turned into being watched by a man for ten minutes that was following us along the sidewalk (don’t worry Mom we literally sprinted away to the safest location we knew) that is how we ended up at the Abercrombie Palace yet again. After standing outside there for a few minutes taking in the last scents of our future husbands we decided to actually go back to the hotel.

In the end Paris was one the prettiest cities I have ever been to. I also learned many new things because of it. It made me really want to live in a big city someday which I have never wanted to do before. I just loved how there was always something going on no matter where you were, whether it be protests near the tower, groups of people chanting together under the tour, live music outside churches at night, or bands of people my age performing in parks. Paris also really made me realize how much I love traveling by myself. Besides the people outside the church and two weird guys watching us, the people of Paris are all extremely nice or at least to me they were. (I'll have a great story for you all in about 10 years!) The weekend also showed me that the best way to experience a city is to get completely lost in it. That is also how you will create the most memories.

Oh I also went to Paris never having opened my own wine bottle but I now have my own opener and can open a bottle in less than 30 seconds! Paris was truly a life changing experience :)