Friday, August 03, 2007

If I Were a Simpson

Ok I revised it to make it more my color!

So instead of organizing my place, I more productively simpsonized myself. You can do the same here:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Winding Down

We have now been in Dublin for the last three days and are enjoying the slightly slower pace of travel. We also splurged on hotels the last two nights and have spent a good deal of time catching up on sleep and appreciating private, hot showers. We have three more nights in Dublin, but will be staying in a hostel for this last leg of the trip. While here we are planning to go to the Jameson Distillery, take a day trip to an area outside of Dublin (not sure where yet), see the Book of Kells at Trinity College, and see Riverdance before we part ways. The night life here is also great. We have planned on getting home at a reasonable hour the last three nights and still we find ourselves getting in no earlier than 2am. There are so many fun and interesting people here, you just can't seem to get to bed before then.

So the trip with Katie ends Wednesday when she flies home and I fly to London. I am then going to spend two days in the city hopefully catching a Shakespearean work at the Globe and visiting a museum or two. Then I hope to catch a red-eye on standby Friday night to get in a little earlier. (Mom and Dad call me so we can arrange this).

Our trip has been amazing. Seriously the coolest things I have ever done by far, but we are hitting that wall. I can't wait to not have to drag around my suitcase, to shower in my own shower, and to not drop a ton of money everywhere I go. So, a few more fun days in Dublin and London and then happily home again. :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Time Has Been Flying By!

I can't believe how quickly this trip is passing by, though I will be happy to come home in little over a week. I am going to briefly recap everything we have done since my last post, but I am tired so forgive the incoherent rambling.

After Galway we headed to a small town called Cahersaveen located in the Ring of Kerry. On our full day there we rented bikes again, (much more comfortable seats), and rode all around the countryside. We were able to explore the ruins of a really cool old castle that we just climbed around at our own risk. It would never happen in the US but it was awesome. We then hiked around a fort that was built between 50 B.C. and 300 A.D. It was really amazing. The sites here are fantastic but really the scenery is what just pushes it over the top. So incredibly beautiful. And somehow for the most part the sun follows us and it just rains on our travel days. We have really had a blessed trip thus far.

After Cahersaveen we took a bus through the Ring of Kerry that was beautiful but quite nauseating. It took us to Killarney. We visited some of the local pubs this evening, and met some nice people... and a few kind of creepy ones. (Ask Katie about that one!) Our full day in Killarney was the best yet! We woke up with the intention of riding horses through Killarney National Park, but after getting up extra early to do so we were informed that they were all booked. Disappointedly we made reservations for the following day then found a plan B. We were advised to go up to the Gap of Dunloe. We were bused up to the lakes where we were given an hour and a half boating tour of the many beautiful lakes in the Ring of Kerry. We then were dropped off at one side of the Gap for lunch before we were to take a three hour hike to the other side. As we finished our lunch this leperchaun-looking man that was missing his front tooth approached us and asked if we would be interested in riding horses through the gap for €20 less than the riding in the park would cost. A little apprehensively we followed him down this hill where we found a family in two carriages ready for a tour and two additional horses that were needing riders. It was unbelievable that they had randomly brought two extra horses along to make a little more money and they just happened to approach us. So off we went up this very steep and beautiful climb. (So thankful we didn't have to walk.) The ride was fantastic. Not only did we get to run the horses riding English style, but it was probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen. The ride lasted around 2 hours and was quite possibly the coolest thing I have ever done. Seriously, look up Gap of Dunloe to get and idea of what we did.

That evening we went to the annual Killarney Horse Races and Katie won the first two races she bet on. I however did not. Sorry mom, your horse just didn't pull through. We also ran into one of the guys we had met the night before. Daniel, who will hence forth be know as Danny Boy, introduced us to his friends. Were starving at this point because we had unfortunately only eaten some chips (fries to you Americans) because the burgers we bought were the most disgusting things we had ever tasted and then threw away. SO we grabbed a bite and later met up with Danny Boy at a cool night club that is oh so different from anything we have in the US. Great Day!

Alright, so the next morning we woke up incredibely sore from the horses and a little grouchy. We traveled on to Cork and were met by pouring rain. Our luck had run out. After grabbing some food we did a little shopping and I decided investing in some cheap rain boots was a must. I was so excited and comfortable once I put them on. However, as my Irish luck would have it, it hasn't rained since. I feel that Cork owes me a pint personally, but whatever. I guess I should be happy with the blue skies, and ten more pounds to carry in my suite case.

This morning we of course woke to sunny skies and took a city tour of Cork. Mehhh... it was alright, kind of drab but we finish the day off with the Blarney Castle. Blarney was really cute and quaint... exactly what you "tink" of when you "tink" Ireland. And we did it...We kissed the Blarney Stone. Supposedly we are now more elloquent speakers, but in truth we probably have just acquired some nasty lip fungus. It was really nice up there and I was left feeling a little better about the Co. Cork, seeing as this is where most of my ancestors are from and I wasn't really feeling it. So, tonight we plan to catch a later dinner and hopefully some more Irish music, and hopefully Irishmen to snog (for you mom).

Tomorrow we head for Kilkenny for a night and then back to Dublin for four more days! Post again soon. Love ya!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

So Proud to be from Galway!

Well we are spending our last evening in Galway tonight, and we are sad to go. After leaving Sligo a bit disappointed (the scene at karaoke was just not for us) we feared some of Ireland was not going to measure up as we had hoped that it would. However, Galway has completely turned things around. Yesterday we shopped a good deal of the day and found some amazing things. (Family be excited, I got you some awesome stuff). We then spent a fantastic night out listening to a local rock band that had hints of Irish flare. (The Rye if you want to look them up. Bought a CD so I'll share when I get home). It was a really cool scene at a popular pub called the King's Head. There were tons of people out, and lots of locals which seemed so odd for a Wednesday night (as all of you know I don't go out on Wednesday nights). I was informed by this young redheaded local that "our kind are going extinct!" Our kind being redheads... he was hilarious and he also suggested that we go to GPO after the concert was over. So we stopped by. It was a really young, huge club, and it was 80's night. The Irish love 80s music... it's great! So we had a pint and went crazy on the dance floor for about three songs, and then utterly pooped out and went home. It was really fun but too crowded and too much dry ice. Yeah, we're old.

Today we took a bus to a ferry to get out to the Aran Islands. It was beautiful out there and very cool. We rented bikes and rode around the island. Sounded fun, and for the most part it was, except for the fact that the bikes had hard seats and horrible shocks so we are really sore in unmentionable places. We got so sore and tired at one point that we walked down to the white beach and took a nap in the sand. It was just what we needed, so we rode back to drop off the bikes rejuvinated and happy for our day's adventure. Tonight we plan to have some food and enjoy the music and scene of the bar/pub that is directly across from our hostel. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention how centrally located our hostel is. The main area of Galway is all of these shopping streets with restaurants and pubs that are pedestrian only. It is where everyone goes. It is also where our hostel is. Perfect!

That is it for now... Off to the Ring of Kerry tomorrow.

Oh almost forgot... We heard an Irish man say "top of the mornin'" and genuinely mean it. So it is true! It's not a made up phrase used only on St. Paddy's Day!

Ok, love you all. Bye!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Kendall and Katie Checking in from Sliiiiggggooo!

Okay, so I will explain the Sligo pronunciation in a minute.

Alright, since the last time I checked in I have met up with Katie and we have already been having an amazing time (just in Dublin thus far, but 2 weeks still to go).

We are going to recount our last two days for you to paint the clearest picture (for you Mike) and really because the entire town of Sligo shuts down at 6 and we have some time to kill.

We began our afternoon together by having lunch and a pint at Saint John Gogarty's Pub. There was lovely traditional music and really good Irish stew. We then strolled around Dublin (saw the castle, Grafton St.) but wound up right back in Temple Bar at Saint Gogarty's.

This time we were approached by two English soldiers on holiday before flying back to Iraq within the hour. I (Kendall) was told I was the "bee's knees" by one and said I was June and he was Johnny. Nice enough, but glad they were headed out. Shortly after, British boys: rocker Liam (looked a bit like Gallegher), James (who will thus be referred to as Legolas- he was a bit elf-like) and sweet Sean. Stupidly we asked what Britain thought of Americans, and Liam informed us that mostly they thought that we were really dumb. He consoled us however by saying that he believed that we in fact were "really, REALLY dumb." Though they were sort of teasing we had some good political talks and discussed our lack of exposure to the world view. After hanging out a bit we called it an evening around 9 or 10. Hats off to Katie. She trucked on through the day despite the fact that she had just flown in and hadn't slept in over 24 hours.

Second day in Dublin was one for the books. We began by taking the Dublin bus tour around town about 10 times. We are actually considering appyling for jobs as guides being that we know everything about Dublin and we might not want to leave...ever. Amidst our touring we shopped at O'Connell Street, stopped at the beautiful Arlington Hotel (where Bill Clinton stayed) and toured their immaculate restroom facility, took the Guinness tour and had a pint of the perfect Guinness from a 360 glass atrium overlooking Dublin. We then planned to conclude our day at the Jameson whiskey distillery but they closed just before we arrived. (Going to earn our whiskey tasting certificates on our way out July 20th). We then had dinner, regrouped and then headed back to our favorite pub, St. Gogarty's for some live Irish music and chilling out. Not what was in store for us however. As if my prayers were answered--- (earlier that day I said to Katie that it would be great if a team of Irish athletes would come into a pub and just hang out with us)--- in walked 8-10 guys in crazy hawaiian and disco themed shirts. They approached us shortly after and what do you know, they were actually Irish! As we continued to talk to them we found out they were wearing the shirts as a mourning of the loss of their hurling championship match the day before. There are too many details to recount on here, we'll tell you when we get back, but highlights of the evening...
1. Attmpting dance to traditional Irish music, following the locals.
2. Celebrating the county victory of the Sligo football team with one of the team members that was friends with the hurlers. (We did this by shouting Sllliiiiigggooo in a way that you really have to hear to understand).
3. Comparing our white, freckley arms and realizing that Katie and I are actually whiter than the Irish.
4. Basically joking, laughing, and singing until the wee hours of the mornin'!

Oh that so can't do it justice, but we have a ton of great pictures and videos that we will share when we get back.

So tonight we plan to karaoke in Sligo and hopefully continue to celebrate the football (soccer) victory. WE have been instructed to go in to any and all pubs and say "We heard that the Nester Cup has returned after 32 years and we have come to see it!" Apparently the folks of Sligo will love this. We'll see!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Finally a Little Time

Sorry for lagging on posting for the last days. I have been traveling non-stop (and have been to some pretty remote places, without internet- or at least not accessible to me).

So far I have seen some amazing places but haven't nearly had the time that I need to really even get a taste of life in these regions. However I am making many mental notes as to places I'd like to return to. (i.e. Salisbury and Pembroke, Wales).

Quick recap so you can get a sense of what the last almost week has held for me.

Wednesday, July 4th- Flew into London. Was exhausted. Caught my bus after waiting for 2 hours. Rode the bus for another 2 hours to Salisbury. Caught a cab. Was taken to the Old Mill Hotel not the Old Mill House. Took another cab to the correct place and then basically slept the rest of the day, with small breaks for a decent English meal. I was actually relieved that my B&B was pretty remote because I didn't feel guilty for sleeping the whole time. Also met some interesting people, but I will tell about them when I get home.

Thursday, July 5th- Bused from Salisbury to Pembroke, Wales. Took nine hours. My cabbie informed me it was a three hour drive. Ahh well, what can you do? Pembroke was beautiful. I was dropped off at a medieval castle (where Henry VIII's dad was born) with my two heavy suitcases, as the wind howled, and I couldn't get ahold of a cab company. Luckily I was able to go into this horse race betting place and get the guy to call me a cab. My B&B this time was fantastic. Short walk to the beach, though the weather wasn't great this night, but I got down there the next morning and it was a beautiful sunny day.

Friday, July 6th- Beach in Pembroke in the morning then caught the ferry to Ireland in the afternoon. As always I managed to get the weird middle-aged man on board to not leave me alone. (This time he was Welsh). He started out nice and just chatty but a few Guinesses into the four hour voyage he became more flirtatious and more obnoxious. More than anything I was embarassed because his flirtations were loud and drawing attention even though I was attempting to give him the cold shoulder. Wasn't much I could do as I was stuck on the boat! Nah, it wasn't that bad, just annoying. However his buddies bought me a little sheep stuffed animal as a trophy for having survived his incesant talking. All in good fun!

I am ready for Katie to be here though. Fine on my own, but it will be nice to have someone to talk to that I know.

Anyway, today I went down to the beach near where I am staying in southern Ireland. I also helped the family I am staying with chase the cow into the field. I made it into town this afternoon and have been walking around shopping. I don't know if I am feeling sensitive, but some of the people here are not as friendly as I had hoped. Maybe it is just Wexford. Nevertheless, I am anxious to meet Katie in Dublin tomorrow. Going to head back soon, and take some cough medicine I picked up from a local pharmacy. Don't feel too bad, just have this annoying cough.

I should be keeping up with the blog a little better from now on because I think the hostels are more inclined to have internet for guests. We'll see. Alright, post again soon.

BTW, I am having a wonderful time, just a little tired now and for some reason have seemed to focus on all the negative. There are lots of wonderful stories that I don't have time to tell right now but I will when I get home.

Love you all!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Too Much Good Stuff!

Alright, once again it has been a while. Quick update... First trip to Europe with students was a success. Condo purchased and moved into, thanks to some wonderfully efficient movers! (Thanks again moving crew! I am so appreciative of all of your help!) Finally, I am about to take off for Europe again tomorrow. I will be gone for 25 days in England and Ireland, and I hope to post frequently to share all of my adventures with you guys!

Be back July 28th! See you all then.