Wednesday, October 28, 2009

London pics!

First stop: Platform 9 3/4

...entering the wizard world!!! A life's dream fulfilled...ahhhh:)

King's Cross Station

Covent Garden

The National Gallery

I found a Beatty at Trafalgar Square!!!! Woot Woot:)

View of Big Ben from Trafalgar Square

Beautiful view

Stereotypical British Guard

Wellington Arch

He lost his horse...

He found his horse!

Mariel and I are at the top of the London Eye!!!

The London Eye

After the London Eye we rode a carousel:)

The House of Parliament at night with a half full moon.

Westminster Abbey


Sheep at the Hill of Tara

This is the Hill of Tara. From this hill you can see 16 of the 32 counties in Ireland. Supposedly, if this rock roars at you it means you are the true king of Ireland...we waited patiently...

We ARE the true kings of Ireland!!!

The entrance to Newgrange. These carvings on the front stone can be found inside the chamber as well as at the back of the mound.

Look how huge this thing is!!! I stood by it so you can do a comparison.

Newgrange! It's an archaeological site older than the pyramids. Stone age people built it over 400 years as a burial chamber. At the winter solstice the light travels along the walkway to illuminate the ceremonial chamber for about nine minutes...I thought about going this December, but there's a waiting list of 36,000 people for next year!

This tower is one of the only structures left standing. If the monastery was under attack then the monks would take cover in here. If it got too scary then they monks could flee from here in a secret, underground tunnel.

One of the best examples of a Celtic cross in Ireland. It is covered with carvings from the Bible. They used to let cattle graze in the monastery for a thousand years, but they stopped when they noticed that they were scratching themselves and wearing away the base:)


Howth Castle and Cookery cool would it be to cook in a castle?!

We made it to the top!!!!

View of Ireland's Eye from Howth's East Pier

Mariel and I did the Cliff Walk in Howth. It was a gorgeous day for a stroll!

The adorable seals in the bay at Howth

The view from the top of the Guinness Storehouse....The Gravity Bar gives the best view of Dublin!

Enjoying my free pint at the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse:)

Weekend in...LONDON!

This past weekend was a long one for us. Monday, October 26th was the only holiday we will get this semester at UCD. In celebration of the Bank Holiday my roommates and I went on an excursion to London. My roommate Erika had a friend from Canada visit her named Andrea. She was so nice and fun to hang out with this past week.

On Saturday morning Erika, Andrea, Mariel and I set out for Dublin Port. We took a series of two buses to get there. Of course, it was rainy and foggy and dark outside and by the time we reached the Port we were soaked...the bus doesn't take you all the way there, only to the gates. Maybe next time (if there is one) we'll take a taxi:) We got onto the bus just in time to haul us onto the ferry. It was like a floating mall. We found a table in the food court to eat breakfast. Mariel and I ate our packed food while Erika and Andrea ate a full Irish breakfast for 10 euro each. Then we wondered about the ship to find a nice spot by the windows.

When we reached Wales the buses took us to the train station to begin our cross U.K. trek to London. I believe it took around four hours to get to Euston Station. It was so exciting to see the Tube and Underground this past weekend. We found the half price tickets vendor we had looked up before hand and bought tickets to Wicked for 20 pounds! It was such a deal because originally they were 80 pounds! We had about 2.5 hours until the show so we decided to head to the hostel in Northfield to change and drop off our baggage. We only got 3/4 of the way there before we decided we needed to hop in a taxi that instant to get back for the show. We had run into some unanticipated construction on our Tube line to the hostel. We checked our luggage in the coat check and were about 15 min late to Wicked. Really we were only 7 min late but they couldn't let us in until that point in time. It was one of the best shows I have ever seen! I've been fighting the Wicked craze for years, but I am sorry that I did because I absolutely loved it!!! I think I want to read the books now.

After the show we began our trek back to the hostel to check in. We got there at about midnight. We were supposed to meet up with Mariel's friend, Tessa, who had visited us in Dublin a couple weekends ago. We walked up and down the street of our hostel but there were no taxis out in the middle of nowhere. We asked in a pub and an old man called a taxi for us. We were waiting outside when his friend came out and told us not to go into London. We should go to the club down the street. Well, the cab came and we decided against going into the city since it was so late. He charged us 5 pounds to go down less than a block to the Spinning Wheel. It cost us 5 pounds to get in to this "club" where we found all middle aged men and women shakin their thing! It was one of the most entertaining nights of my life! And the upside was we didn't need to take a taxi home, after it closed we walked right across the street to our hostel:)

On Sunday we did some sight seeing in London. We went to Platform 9 3/4 in King's Cross was so MAGICAL!!! Then we met up with Tessa and her friend to walk around London. We did Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, the Wellington Arch, the park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament, and then a night ride on the London Eye (the huge ferris wheel).

The next morning we had an unfortunate event in that our alarm was set to 6pm instead of we (yet again) had to take a taxi into the city. There were so many close calls this weekend. But we made it to Euston in time only because our train was delayed from 8:50am to 9:10am. I really want to go back to London for about three weeks sometime so that I can see everything properly!!! It's such a beautiful city with so many beautiful buildings!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Last Weekend

As I mentioned before, I have had so much work to do lately! I was really surprised because I've only had a couple of assignments outside of class so far. Now I have a giant to do list for this week: fill out scholarship applications, memorize the 20 amino acids, write a 2500 word essay for my Irish Studies class, write a report on Bacillus cereus, watch the movie "Nora" and write a response, do my biochemistry lab report, work on my waste management project, study for the food microbiology final lab test, study for my statistics test, get ready for my phone interview with General Mills......ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!! Are you tired of reading this, because I sure am!

I guess I should have stayed in a little more on the weekends to do some of this work...but it was such a beautiful day:) On Saturday I toured the Guinness Storehouse. It's an amazing place to see. In the atrium we saw the 9,000 year lease Arthur Guinness signed for the St. James Gate Brewery. He paid 100 euro down and promised to pay 45 euro a year for the next 9,000....what a great deal! It was kind of disappointing (from a food science point of view) to see that the only parts of processing they showed us was their four ingredients: water, hops, barley, and yeast. Well of course there's much more the the process than that. They had flatscreens telling the gist of each process like roasting and fermentation and so on. Then on the upper floors they had advertising from bottles to TV commercials. The best part though was the Gravity Bar at the top of the building that resembles a pint glass. You get a 360 degree view of Dublin, and it was gorgeous!!!

On Sunday my roommate, Mariel, and I went to Howth. It's a cute little fishing village just north of Dublin. At Howth Harbor we watched people feeding the grey seals. They were so cute! I got some great pictures of them because they were directly below us, eagerly awaiting the next fish that was flung towards them. After the feeding of the seals Mariel and I began our journey on the Cliffs Walk. It was a foot-wide path that wound along the cliffs of the peninsula. It was a bit scary at times. I found myself formulating a plan of what I would do if I happened to lose my footing and fall towards the rocks and ocean below....I decided my best bet was to try and grab on to some of the small trees on the way down:) I didn't fall though, we survived the hike and ended up at Baily Lighthouse. We rested here for a well deserved break in the sunny afternoon. I was surprised to find that people live on every inch of this peninsula. I think that if my car stalled at the bottom of the mountain, I'd just stay there for the night instead of climbing up to my house. When we got to the bottom and back into the village we stopped for ice cream in Maud's. I got the flavor "Pooh Bear Delight." When I told my roommate, Erika, she sounded skeptical of the deliciousness of the ice cream, but I can assure you it was wonderful! We took a quick look at Howth Castle & Cookery School as well as the National Transportation Museum before we hopped back onto the train for Dublin. I must admit that we did not set foot inside the Transportation Museum, because Mariel and I could not stop laughing at our first sight of it: a giant RV parked right in front. We figured we'd already seen enough, so it was time to head home.

P.S.-Sorry there are no pictures. I tried to upload them but all that appeared was a paragraph of mumbo jumbo computer lingo. Hopefully it'll sort itself over the next couple of days and I'll try again. Cheers!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Irish Dancers

Well, this last week has been just CRAZY with school work! It's taken me a while to get into gear to get updates done on the blog. Last Tuesday I took an Irish Dance class. It was sponsored by the Irish Society. We got together and learned dances in a group. We did five traditional dances in all, and it was so much fun to meet Irish students. There was even a fiddle player:) I was pretty tired after dancing for two hours. I'm really glad I went though, because the next night at the Student Bar they were having people do Irish dances and my roommate and I could do them!

County Cork

We went to Blarney Castle!  It was a 20 minute bus ride from Cork City.  We arrived in the morning and the weather was a bit cold.  But we grew warmer as we walked around the beautiful Blarney grounds.  

This is to show how many stairs we climbed to get up to the Blarney Stone!  It was so many stone stairs on that spiral staircase.  I was getting a bit worried towards the end because the staircase narrowed.  

Getting ready to kiss the Blarney Stone!!!

The man's job here was to hold onto my waist so I wouldn't fall to my death whilst attempting to pucker up.  He did quite a nice job and asked me, "Let's see how she kisses in the morning?"  

You probably have a hard time seeing but I'm kissing the Blarney Stone!  My lips are just beside the guy's head on the right side:)

Mom, this picture is for you!  It's a giant rock resting on another one.  I bet it'd look great in our yard but I'm not exactly sure how we'd get it back to Iowa.

This is the grave of Nano Nagle.  She was a nun who did many great things in the 18th century, especially with schools for children.  We found it by accident.  While in Cork City we were wandering around looking for a great second hand shop that was in Erika's Ireland book.  We looked and looked and finally a nice man asked us if he could help us (we obviously were lost).  It turns out that the shop had gone out of business, but we were right where it should have been.  He talked to us for 20 minutes telling us the things we should see.  We ended up visiting Nano Nagle's grave which was situated in a beautiful garden.  

Here's me in the garden smelling the beautiful flowers:)

We listened to some folk singers in the downtown!  I think these people were Russian or something because the language was not Gaelic.  It was such a fun kind of music to listen to, really happy!

On Sunday we went to Kinsale!  It was the most gorgeous town I have visited so far!  It's a cute fishing village south of Cork City.  We took a walking tour with this man.  He had graduated from University College Dublin with (surprise, surprise) a degree in history.  He knew so many stories and facts about Kinsale.  

This is the main street of Kinsale.  We walked all over to see historic houses that lover's had bought for their significant other.  One time it worked and the other it didn't.  We saw statues of explorers, an old stagecoach house, the oldest pub in Kinsale (from the 17th century), and the house where a giant eight foot tall man lived.  

This is the fort that was built by the Normans at Kinsale.  We hiked up to a hill to see it.  All in all, it was an amazing weekend!  There were 14 of us who came to see Cork and stayed in the hostel.  In our spare time we heard music at the Folk Festival events in downtown.  Each night we went out to several pubs who had live music.  Friday night featured very traditional Irish folk music.  There was a wooden fllute, a guitar, and other instruments that I did not recognize.  I think they were traditional Irish instruments.  On Saturday night we saw a country-like Irish band.  They played Irish songs mixed in with American hits.  The band was on a stage and all of us were down on the floor dancing around.  After they finished we went to another pub to hear a woman folk artist.  She was really good!  She had a really strong singing voice.  We didn't stay there long though, because we were packed like sardines in a can in that tiny pub.  I am looking forward to staying in and around Dublin this weekend.  I think we'll go to Howth to check it out!