Monday, March 22, 2010

Paddys Day, Dublin and Cliffs of Moher...! (never leaving Ireland :) )

Hi again!!

Lots has happened since my last post....most importantly ST. PATRICKS DAY!! Here, they call it Paddy's Day or St. Paddy's Day. Padraig is Irish for Patrick. And it just so happens to possibly be my favorite holiday...and I was able to celebrate it in Ireland!!

My friends and I dressed up in our Paddy's Day outfits (which took some serious thought and planning, mind you) and headed down to the parade in Galway! I had my green, orange and white knee socks on and my friends and I invested in some temporary shamrock tattoos from the 2 Euro store. Great investment!! The streets were filled with people with shamrocks on their faces and everyone was having a great time. We also headed down to the Spanish Arch, an area outside right on the river, where we were greeted with a mass amount of Irish college kids, with their pints of course, kicking a ball from their balcony into the crowds and shouting...doesn't take much for them to have a good time here..haha!
The next day my friend visiting from home and I went to Dublin! It was a really quick trip but we were able to see the General Post Office, St. Stephen's Green, Grafton Street and we even went to Dublin's oldest pub, The Brazen Head! Of course, I did have to visit to the Guinness factory where I had my first full pint of Guinness. I have to say for a proud Irish-American, I am not fond of the Guinness. But I dealt with it and had a pint just so I could say I did. :) For dinner, we did however hit up the Hard Rock Cafe for my first plate of nachos in about 2 months, needless to say they didn't last long! The Hard Rock Cafe was really fun and I loved walking around the city! I'm also traveling to Dublin again this weekend with my program to do more in-depth tours, to see the Book of Kells, and Trinity College! I'm so excited! I also have friends and family in Dublin that I'm excited to see.

On Saturday, I took a trip to the Cliffs of Moher. We were so lucky to have such a nice day where the cliffs for completely visible. They were really high up, my mom would not have liked the look down thats for sure, but I got awesome pictures and I was really happy I finally got to visit! We took a bus tour that brought us to The Burren, and explored/explained a few little towns and sights on the way. I was happy we did the tour because they stopped at a lot of cool places and I was able to be my typical obnoxious photographer self!

I can't believe how fast this time abroad is going by. Everyday I say to myself its going to be harder and harder to leave this country! I feel like I fit in here so well, among the disorganization, lateness, tea drinking and very proud Irish :). I do miss my friends and family at home though sometimes, but I'm excited for my friends that have visited and those coming very soon! My roomie Cassy, currently blogging away from Greece, is coming next week for my birthday! I'll be turning 21 next crazy!! My family is also coming in May, which I'm very excited to see Ireland with them. My grandmother is from Belfast, so we'll be taking trips to there and visiting some of my other family all around the country!

I'm also going to Italy for a few days after Easter. I can't believe how lucky I am to be able to travel and see the world. I love my little St. Mike's but being able to see how the other world lives is amazing! :)

I hope everyone is doing well! I love hearing from everyone reading my blog! I'll try to keep everyone updated with my travels and adventures. Talk to you all soon!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Paris, Hiking, Letterfrack, and rugby!


Things have been pretty busy around here :). I have so many things to write about but first, I'll start with the API program trip to PARIS!!

We did so many things its hard to even remember:

On the first night we got into our hotel a little late and we decided to just walk around the area and get some dinner. We quickly found we were staying in the area affectionately labeled "the red light district" it was very interesting...but we were right down the street from Moulin Rouge and at night the city lit up was beautiful. So at dinner, I decided to be adventurous and order the dish of the day (in french, mind you.) Our waiter told me it was fish, and made the hand signal of something swimming. I was like hey, I like fish, I'm from Cape Cod, I can handle it. Needless to say my fish was DELICIOUS. A little bony, but delish none the less. So then my program director, Kevin, told me that it was in fact Stingray. Yes. I hate stingray, in France. We then walked around and saw the, again, VERY interesting sights and headed in.

On Saturday, we walked around, took a bus tour and saw all of the sights. We drove through the city, stopped at the arc de triumph, the Eiffel tower, the opera house, the louvre, etc. I also was able to take a few artsy pictures from afar of Chanel, Dior, (Insert favorite french designer here) etc. As fashion-savvy as I am, I had to look from a distance in fear of getting too close and forgetting my study abroad college student budget.

After the bus tour, we took a small guided tour of the Louvre museum and saw all of the highlights. I was able to sneak through the crowd, (one benefit of being short), and take a picture of the Mona Lisa. Afterwards we headed to go up the Eiffel Tower. The tower was so beautiful and I am so glad we went up. It was windy, and basically freezing but a beautiful view and something I will remember forever. Here's a picture of me kissing the tower ;)

At night, a few Friends and I walked along the Champs D'Elysee, the main shopping street, but again, no bargains in Paris. We saw the city again all lit up at night and then headed back to the hotel!

On Sunday our last day, a few friends and I headed to Notre Dame Cathedral. It was so beautiful and something that you literally have to see in person to know how AMAZING it is. It was one of my favorite parts of Paris. Paris was such a fun city, but I was really happy to return to Galway again. I actually liked Paris better than London. It had so much culture, and the food was so good. Throughout the entire trip, I ate about 5 baguettes, 4 fromage (cheese) quiches, and so many pastries I can't even count. I would stay in Paris for another week to just eat.

When we got back from Paris, we were all super tired and went through another week of classes and hung out in Galway for the weekend. I attended a silent disco at one of the bars downtown, which was hilarious/great craic (fun) What's a silent disco you ask? Well, its where everyone has headphones, there's no music outside the headphones and their are two DJ's playing different songs and you take off your headphones and realize everyone is dancing and singing to different music!! Kind of weird, but so much fun...

This week, we had a small break in classes and my friend Meg and I traveled to the countryside with one of our friends and spent a mini "holiday"-vacation in Letterfrack, Connemara about an hour away from Galway. It's literally the smallest, but still prettiest towns, I've ever seen. We spent a day hiking up Diamond Hill, where I realized how much I miss my swimming lungs, and spent a night in the small town bar listening to the locals compete in a talent show, great fun in itself. I loved seeing the countryside, getting away from the city, and being with such fun people. Definitely made me realize why I came to Ireland and how happy/lucky I am to be here. (I will be posting pictures soon once I steal them from my friend!!)

And on a final note, I went to an Irish rugby game tonight Connacht vs. Glasgow, Scotland!!! It was so exciting and so much fun. My friends were even interviewed for an online TV channel...I think they thought it was funny that we didn't really know what was going on. They ended up tying but it was a great game and the crowd was awesome and so into it!!

Tomorrow, our API program is taking us on their excursion to Connemara. I think it will be fun and different from our own little personal tour this week, and it will be fun to be with everyone!! Next week is College week, with so many events going on for the university students to raise and give money to charity. It used to be called RAG week (raise and give) but they've changed the name this year and it's a pretty big deal around here. Google it ;). I'll have lots of stories coming up in the near future. Hope everyone is doing well and talk to you soon!