I was reunited with one of my best friends and USD roomies, Lauren! She and her Florence roommates Katherine and Kelsey arrived in Dublin last week, and I caught a bus just hours after Kendall left for home to meet them! The four hour ride passed pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was locked in a tearful embrace with Lauren in front of our hostel. Let’s just say that after a few months, it feels good to finally be back together! After the emotional reunion, we began a great day of exploring the city of Dublin. The largest city (by a lot) and the capital of Ireland, Dublin reminded me of a mini New York or DC with the hustle and bustle of tourists and locals always on the move. The mix of architecture was so beautiful- Gregorian-style mansions with brightly painted doors contrasted the Gothic cathedrals. I loved it right away. I usually do not consider myself a city person, but the combination of Dublin’s charm and the excitement of seeing my friend captured me for the weekend.
At Dublin Castle
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
The hop-on, hop-off bus tour ticket ended up a smart decision as it decided to rain for the duration of our time there. The bus dropped us off at all of the main attractions around the city and allowed us a place to rest our weary legs as we enjoyed the commentary of the bus drivers as we passed the landmarks. We toured Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, a beautiful illuminated manuscript of the gospels painstakingly created by monks from the 6th to 9th centuries. We also saw the Long Room Library, a breathtaking room with high arched wood paneled ceilings and shelves brimming with books. After our tour we were starving, so we ate lunch in a 300 year old pub- it was the best sandwich I have ever had. Brie, cranberry sauce, chicken, and stuffing, aka Christmas in a baguette. Satisfied, we made our way back out to explore the Dublin Castle. The castle is mainly used for important government business these days, such as the swearing in of Ireland’s president (which will actually occur this November, as they are in the middle of election season!). Lauren and I did not really pay attention to the tour guide and instead spent our time snapping pictures of the ornate ceilings and glittering chandeliers. We were also taken below to see the old entrance to the city of Dublin and part of the wall which had been excavated during the renovation of the castle. After that, we stumbled upon one of life’s greatest pleasures- a bakery. The Queen of Tarts was a precious little shop and we all decided that it was dessert first for us tonight. I had apple berry crumble and it was worth every euro! We continued our culinary tour through Dublin at The Elephant and Castle (which I am told has a cousin restaurant in New York) in the Temple Bar part of town (the happening place to see and be seen) where I had an amazing chili burger and fries drenched in vinegar. MMMM!
Enjoying our treats at Queen of Tarts
Dublin at night
The next morning, we began our day at one of Dublin’s four Starbucks shops. All of us were overjoyed at the thoughts of caramel macchiatos and chai lattes and real brewed drip coffee. After my Maxwell House freeze-dried junk, this tasted like caramel-coated heaven in a cup. Our stops on the bus included Christchurch Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and then on to the Dublin Writer’s Museum. Dublin is one of the literary capitals of Europe, producing some of the greatest writers including James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, and Oscar Wilde to name-drop a few. Having just studied many of their works (such as Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels) in my British literature class last year, I was inspired to learn about these amazing authors and follow their journies through the museum.
We ended our day at the Guinness Storehouse where we learned about the ingredients, brewing process, and history of Guinness, the stout that has become a symbol of Ireland. Our tour through the old factory ended with our “free” pints of Guinness at the Gravity Bar perched right at the very top where we enjoyed views of Dublin in the rain spanning in every direction as far as the eye could see. We lingered over our pints, talking, laughing and enjoying the view. We missed the last bus out due to our wander through the gift shop and walked back to the center of town through pouring rain, yet warmed from the inside from that good ol glass of stout. After drying off from the rain at dinner in a cozy pub, we made our way to another pub to listen to some live music. We were thrilled to hear “Sweet Home Alabama” played, among other hits, by some truly talented musicians. I introduced Lauren, Katherine, and Kelsey to Bulmers, my favorite cider beer, which had them hooked after the first sip.
Dublin Writers Museum
Guinness Storehouse Tour
The next morning we took a stroll down Grafton Street, home of the fancy shops, then made our way by bus back to Cork. I reveled in the thought of showing Lauren around my home away from home for the rest of the week. We saw all the sights, ate at my favorite places (including Wholly Grain!), sampled the famed fish n’ chips at Jackie Lennox (well, just chips and a little burger for me!), cooked up some delicious favorites (chicken parm and enchiladas) and took in some of Cork’s nightlife. I also got to experience a night out at the movies where we saw The Help . Every night, with Lauren and I snuggled in my twin bed and Katherine on the couch cusions next to us, I went to sleep thoroughly exhausted from the eventful days and long talks. What a great week!
I am so grateful for my wonderful friends and family, and I am so blessed that many get to visit me while I am on my adventure here in Ireland! I just want to say a quick thank you for all of your love, support, guideance, and prayers. Not a day goes by I don’t think of you! You know who you are :) I love you with all my might!
Let me just say this: I love movies. I love my Red Box (with free rental codes), my Netflix account (well, my dad’s), and I love my (limited) collection of DVDs at home. But most of all, I love going to the movie theater. I hardly ever feel guilty forking over a handful of hard-earned cash for even the most rediculously over-priced movie tickets, and sometimes even accompany them with a $5 bucket-o-Diet Coke. It’s a lifestyle. There is always something to talk about at the end of the when everyone shuffles bleary-eyed from the dark recesses of the theater, whether or not the film itself was highly regarded.
This past summer I spent at least one night a week out at the movies with friends or my favorite movie-going companion, my mom. We’d laugh and we’d cry, escaping the leftover heat of the day or a late-night thunder storm for a couple of hours over bags of buttery popcorn. Right before leaving for Ireland, we concluded my time at home with a trip to see The Help.
After devouring the book in the span of two days in early August, I was so excited to see my favorite characters on the big screen. I loved the movie and how the relationships were brought to life right before my eyes. If anyone asks however, I still highly encourage reading the book first so that you can create your own vision of the characters. As always, the book is better than the movie.
Here in Ireland, I have been disconnected from previews and ads promoting the latest film releases. Cork also tends to be a few months behind the States when it comes to releasing the latest and greatest. At a coffee shop the other morning, Lauren, Katherine and I noticed a little poster while ordering our chai lattes: The Help was being released on October 26th! Lauren had just finished the book and I was eager for a movie and more relaxing night, so off we went to the cinema!
Though much less crowded than opening nights back home, we thoroughly enjoyed the plush seats in the cozy theater, our Diet Cokes (for Katherine and I), and the somewhat reasonable ticket prices- 7 euro. Just as I suspected, The Help was just as good the second time around. I laughed and cried just like I did in August, attaching myself even more to the characters as I lost myself in their relationships, struggles, and successes. On top of it all, the theater gave me that little touch of home I had been missing.
Much to my joy, my roommate Maddie just finished reading her copy of the book and now I get to experience it all over again :) Who says you can only read books just once? A story this wonderful possesses the right to be enjoyed over and over again. And always remember:
“You is kind, you is smart, you is important”
and feel the first snowfall melt
between our held hands.” —
Heard it was the first big snow storm back home in Colorado. I could sure go for a caramel latte and a snuggle by the fire with a good book and my pups right now!
This week, Kendall and I enjoyed a breath of fresh air as we escaped Cork city for the town of Killarney in County Kerry. Though I had previously visited Killarney National Park with my parents (twice!) when they came to visit a couple of weeks ago, I could not ignore the call of the mountains and the urge to show my sister the awe-inspiring sights. We decided to make a little weekend of it and stay the night in the town of Killarney. Patches of blue sky revealing sun-dappled mountains greeted us upon arrival. It was a short walk to our B&B, where the owner showed us to our room straight away. We were so excited for two big, comfy beds in our room and the thought of a good night’s rest and delicious breakfast in the morning. After settling in, we were itching to explore.
Biking is by far the best way to get around the national park. We rented two bikes from our bed and breakfast and pedaled to Ross Castle first. Along our path, green leaves were fading and changing into brilliant yellows and oranges, some drifting lazily to the ground and coating the forest floor like a thick carpet. We finally emerged from the tree-lined road and stared in awe of Ross Castle against its backdrop of lake and mountains. Clouds were beginning to thicken, yet they all remained high enough for us to enjoy the breathtaking sight of the mountains the rest of the day.
After a picnic lunch, we biked around to the other entrance to the park. The meandering bike path set us out on a course offering views of the many Lakes of Killarney, Macgillicuddy’s Reeks (the highest mountain range in Ireland), and forests in transition to autumn. We made a stop at Muckross Abbey, ruins of a Franciscan Friary from 1448. Now, the abbey stands roofless yet well preserved, and surrounded by a graveyard with both old and new headstones. It was so silent and serene, as we were the only tourists in this particular spot. Large, vaulted windows stood empty, and vines inched up the stone walls. A giant yew tree grew tall and proud in a courtyard, straight out of a scene in from Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle.
Our next stop included the grounds of Muckross House, an old mansion done up in the grand Tudor fashion with Victorian-style interior. We strolled about the gardens and the arboretum, imagining what it would be like to live in such a luxurious palace set with perfect views of the glorious natural surroundings.
Our bike ride continued on the path to Torc waterfall were we sat in silence for a few moments soaking in the soothing sound of water tumbling down over rocks set deep in a mossy green forest. After our break, we turned back down a bike path that led around the lake with beautiful sights before heading back to shower and enjoy a hot cup of tea at the B&B.
That night, we enjoyed dinner at a pub then walked around the quaint little town before settling in at the bar for coffee with Bailey’s and a good trad session. The coffee is a new favorite drink for sure! Chilled cream is spooned on top of the beverage, and part of the enjoyment involves sipping the hot coffee through the cool cream. A pair of scrumptious cupcakes (one Bailey’s and one caramel flavored) we had purchased from an adorable little bakery called Bake before dinner topped off the evening. Though we were the youngest in the pub by at least 30 years, we thoroughly enjoyed our evening listening to the band and impromptu sing-along that ensued.
The next morning (after a delicious Irish breakfast) we took a stroll about the town of Killarney. Colorful shops and restaurants lined the streets, beckoning tourists and locals alike to step inside. One of my favorite finds was a little bookshop with a display of Irish literature. A few of the books chronicled Irish history through the eyes of those who have been residing here for upwards of 80 years. Their character-filled faces filled the pages next to their stories of war, famine, the fight for independence, and the spirit of the Irish.
We returned to Cork tired but peaceful after the wonderful little getaway. Kendall left this morning at 4:20am for the airport. I was unable to fall back asleep and needing to wake up to catch a 7am bus to Dublin, so I decided to write this instead. I am so glad that my sister got to visit and explore the beauty of this country and friendly charm of its people in the place I have been calling home for the past two months. Her departure is yet another reminder of how quickly time is passing! I am holding on and savoring every minute left here, soaking up my experiences and recording them diligently so that I too may one day share my stories of Ireland.
This week, I got to see Cork through a fresh set of eyes as my sister came to visit! She arrived last Sunday morning, and we immediately set out to enjoy the SUN(!!!) that was beaming down on the city. Blue skies can be few and far between here, and even though the temperature has been dropping to the coldest temperatures I have experienced since last winter break in Colorado, this week gifted us a few more moments of blue that I normally experience here. Sunday we sat in Fitzgerald’s Park by my apartments, catching up and watching little kids feed the ducks in the pond. At one point I closed my eyes and just let the sunshine stream down onto my cheeks. (I’d like to think I may have gotten a tiny bit of color!) We also saw St. Finbarre’s Cathedral which was practically glowing in the light.
Monday brought a little bit more rain and gloomy skies, so we headed to the old Cork Gaol (jail)
and toured around listening to headsets that explained the history of the place and what it was like to be a prisoner there. In some of the cells, original sketches and inscriptions from the prisoners themselves remain. We walked back to the city center and ate lunch at the Wholly Grain,
a favorite sandwich place for all of us studying abroad here. We both got chicken, pesto, goat cheese, and bell peppers on thick granary bread. Because it was so chilly, we treated ourselves to caramel lattes as well. After a shopping trip to Penneys resulting in a new jacket, boots, and scarf purchase, we made our way back home. That night, we cooked a delicious chicken parmesan meal for my roommates with ingredients we had picked up at the English Market. The night came to a close at the Franciscan Well, a cozy microbrewery and pub that serves up a tasty cider beer. Kendall excitedly (and legally!) ordered her first drink! A jam session played “Wagon Wheel” with traditional Irish instruments in the corner.
On Tuesday, we took a trip in the morning to the Blarney Castle. Even though I had been at the beginning of my time here, the castle renewed the sense of excitement that I had felt the first time I saw it, fresh and new to my Irish experience. We both kissed the stone before touring the grounds. I was surprised at how much more we got to take in, parts of the park that I had not seen previously. The fern garden reminded me of something out of Jurassic Park. Creeper vines grew everywhere, and sunlight filtered through tall, mossy trees. After a walk around the lake, our blue skies turned to gray with a flash of rain. For dinner, we couldn’t ignore cravings for a good ol’ Taco Tuesday and invited over a few other girls for what turned into a lovely evening full of tacos, chips & salsa, wine, and laughter. That night we explored Cork’s nightlife at some of our favorite haunts such as The Bailey and The Brog.
I was in class most of the day Wednesday, leaving Kendall to her own devices to explore the city. We did meet up on one of my short breaks to sip a caramel latte (me) and a caramel hot chocolate (her) at O’ Conails, an adorable little cafe that serves to-die-for drinks. They make their hot chocolate the proper way, melting flakes of chocolate into milk and stirring in flavors such as peppermint oil, praline, and caramel to name a few. This place is charming enough to convince a non-chocoholic like me to slow down and sip a cup on a lazy afternoon in Cork.
Thursday and Friday were spent with a trip to Killarney and biking in the breathtaking Killarney National Park, which deserves its own separate post, coming soon.
I was so happy to have my sister here this week. There is almost a sense of pride that bubbles up inside of me as I show my family around the city I have been calling home for the last two months. I cannot believe that my time here is slipping away so quickly- Monday marked the “halfway point” in my trip. Kendall’s visit kicked me out of my normal schedule and routine and let me re-examine Cork, seeing it in a different way with a greater appreciation. I am so blessed to be here and have this experience. The icing on the cake is sharing it with family. Love you sis :)
Though I am currently separated from my country by a giant body of water, news still travels. I would have to say I am a bit flabbergasted by these “Occupy Wall Street” protests. After a few short days, the occupy protests have spurred quite the following, with sister protests popping up in cities all over the US including San Diego and Denver. While I have been attempting to keep up with what exactly is going on back at home, I discovered today that I am not as far removed from these spectacles as I would like to think. After a quick stop by the English Market with my friend Hannah (that included grabbing my favorite fresh-baked bread, 20 pack of eggs, and a slice of AMAZING Chester cake to welcome my sister to Cork!) we were surprised to see a gathering across the street as we exited the market with our goodies.
We made our way over to the crowd and watched as a group of people began to hang signs on the front gates of Bishop Lucey Park in Cork city center. Thankfully, Hannah had her camera on her and we were able to snap a few shots before the mist began to fall too heavily. I watched as they laid out cardboard signs, donned Vendetta masks, and passed out fliers to curious passers-by, urging them to sign a petition and get involved in their movement.
But a movement of what? I looked down at the flier and began to read as a few drummers began to pound out a beat on their bongos and an older woman with long dark hair began to sway along with her eyes closed. The first sentence on their flier is this: “Occupy Cork is targeted directly towards the growing social and economic injustice that is rampantly undermining the very vulnerable people of society in Ireland today!” Well, I enjoy their enthusiasm, but just what are they attempting to accomplish? Using the skills I took away from my logic class from freshman year (yup, I learned something!), I easily began to reduce their argument into an emotionally charged pile of fallacies. (May I just quick mention one thing: as an Irish citizen, I would be mortified at being referred to as a “very vulnerable person” by this group!) The rest of the flier goes on to complain about the “endless greed and corruption on which our financial system is based”.
In the end, they “do not claim to have a complete list of solutions”, but rather believe by gaining members, they will have enough power to make a change. I also find myself wondering, what are they occupying? This is a park! There is no government building, or even a bank, on the same street as the protests!
I will not sit here and tell you that I know anything about Irish politics- I have only just begun my learning. I will tell you, however, that I believe the thinking of many in these “Occupy” movements are deeply flawed. While I can respect people’s desire for change, I cannot say that I agree with everything they are standing for. When Hannah and I were discussing what we saw, we agreed that sheer numbers and intimidation is not often the best of tactics. Making other people angry is not the way to get what you want, I learned that when I was just a small fry in a booster seat! The biggest flaw that I see is lack of a cohesive argument and goal wanted achieved by these movements. Without a coherent purpose and at least a few solutions, how can one expect to get what he or she wants? I will explain more of my reasonings in the next post, coming soon.
I am truly fascinated by these events, and I will surely be stopping by the protest within the next couple days to talk to those involved. I wish to gain a better understanding for what these people want and how they pose to fix said problems.
To be continued…
Because where would we all be without those fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers,
And friends I’ve made, long lost lovers,
I wouldn’t be who I am today, if not for those I’ve loved along the way” —
Missing my family and friends! But seriously cannot wait for Kendall to arrive Sunday and then Lauren visiting the next week!!! Things just can’t get any better right now with all of this excitement heading my way.
Every night when we sit down to dinner, the smell of olive oil and oven smoke clinging to our hair and woven through the fabric of our clothes, my roommates and I applaud ourselves on yet another culinary achievement. Our kitchen is caught in a flurry most evenings as us four girls take our new-found chef skills for a spin; pasta boiling on the stove, chicken baking in the oven alongside a pan of sliced potatoes, a medley of vegetables sautéing in a frypan. Often accompanied by a varied playlist to satisfy all of our musical appetites, we cook. Whatever happened during the day, whatever trials and tribulations we may face, no matter the scale, they all seem to fall by the wayside as dinnertime comes around.
Answering the call of our stomachs, we gather ingredients at the English Market in Cork city center, a wonderful market brimming with stalls selling only the freshest and finest of fare. Some of our favorite finds include fresh baked Irish stone ground wheat bread, pizza dough, Cajun-seasoned chicken breasts and kabobs, and one chocolate birthday cake. Do not get me started on the abundance of beautifully decorated pastries displayed temptingly on the counters! After supplementing our goods with a few necessities from Tesco, the local grocery store, we somehow find a way to puzzle-piece four people’s perishables into one tiny refrigerator.
While most of our evenings find us dining together yet cooking our own meals, my favorite nights involve a collaboration of skills, tastes, and fixings as we prepare a delicious dish together. From chicken parmesan to pizza to mashed potatoes to enchiladas, we have conquered the exploration of many a culture through food, constantly surprising ourselves with just how good we can make ‘em!
Though I have been cooking since I could stand alongside my mom in the kitchen, I haven’t cooked for myself as much as I would have liked to while in college. My hectic schedule often sent me scurrying from class to Kappa meetings to Bible study to the library, and the ease of a meal in the SLP just a swipe away kept me from the kitchen more nights than I wanted. Here, my blissfully empty days leave me with plenty of time to cultivate my passions: not just for writing, but for food.
A meal shared with another is one of the best ways to nurture a relationship. You can learn so much from another person through what they like to eat and the conversation that a good dish (or even a bad one!) inspires. Cooking with my roommates here has made me three new, close friends. Already bonded by the adventure we call “studying abroad” in Ireland, our dinners together offer an atmosphere where walls crumble down and honesty plays alongside humor, providing us with a comfortable place to simply share life with one another. Along the way, we teach each other new cooking styles, learn an appreciation for new foods (thanks to Megan I now enjoy mushrooms and artichokes, and Sam has me eating my veggies almost every night!), hear stories from childhoods brought on by a recipe straight from Mom’s kitchen, and maybe even break a dish or two. No matter what the adventure may bring, it always leaves our stomachs full, our hearts closer, and our kitchen an absolute mess. I wouldn’t trade these meals for one dish at the finest of restaurants in Cork! Well, maybe just one. Maybe.