Monday, November 19, 2012

Kylemore Abbey in Connemara

My second day in Galway, I booked a trip to Kylemore Abbey, which is in Connemara. Connemara is an area in west Ireland, containing beautiful mountains, lakes and parks.

After a few hours and more than a few rest stops, we finally arrived at Kylemore Abbey.

Kylemore Abbey was once a girls' boarding school run by nuns. It opened in 1923 and closed in 2010.

Flashback! My mom and I visited Kylemore Abbey when we vacationed in Ireland last January. When we arrived, the area was closed to visitors... but that didn't stop my mom. Since there was no one around, she hopped the fence and began wandering around taking pictures. I soon followed. Like mother, like daughter. Here are some pictures from that trip.

Oh look! It's the same bench in these two photos, taken a year apart.

Kylemore Abbey is definitely a beautiful place to check out if you're ever in western Ireland. Even though it is a long drive, I highly recommend visiting it!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fun in Galway

Tony, Darrah, Aisling, Sarah, Frances and I all went out the last night we spent in Galway. Here are some pictures from the night!

That creeper on the Galway train? Yup. He's there in the middle in the blue shirt.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Creeper on the Galway Train (And Other Scary Stories)

Last Thursday, I packed up my stuff for a weekend getaway in Galway. The first time I traveled by myself, I took the train to Galway, so it seemed fitting to go there again by myself. This time, I stayed in a different hostel - Kinlay Hostel. This hostel was amazing! I stayed in an 8 person mixed dorm right across from the bathrooms.

Let me start off with a story that happened to me when I was on the train to Galway.

I took a seat on the 2 pm train and pulled out my journal to write in. Everything was fine, until a Hispanic man about my age sat down across the aisle from me. When the train started moving, he moved seats to directly behind me. Okay, cool bro. I like playing musical chairs at parties, but whatever. To each his own. I kept writing. Then about an hour later, he moved to directly across the table from me, which creeped me out. The train was practically empty and he chose to sit across from me? I was annoyed, but more so because I like my personal space, and this guy was pushing it. Plus the fact that he just looked creepy wasn't helping either.
Do you ever just know when someone is looking at you? Either out of the corner of your eye, or you just have a feeling? Yeah, that was how the next half hour went for me. I could tell that this guy was eyeing me up, and as a lone traveler, I had enough.
I packed up my things and moved two cabs down. I'll show him I'm not messing around and that I know a creepy guy when I see one...
When the train terminated at Galway, I saw this guy again. I quickly walked past him to the hostel, which was a block away from the train station. I thought I got away from him!

Nope. He was going into the same hostel as I was. Fantastic.


I prayed that he wasn't staying in my room (thankfully, he wasn't), but I avoided him like the plague the rest of the night. I went out for a walk by Lough Alalia and stumbled upon these two beautiful swans, which made me feel better.

Later that night I was sitting in the common room, writing and minding my own business, when THIS GUY who I've been trying to avoid comes up to me and says, "You still writing?"
Well obviously, Sherlock!
I gave him a dirty look and kept writing.
So an hour goes by, and by now it's like 9 and getting pretty rowdy where I'm sitting, so I move over by where a guy about my age is playing the guitar. I strike up a conversation with him, and I learn that he's actually staying in my room. Long story short, he invites me to play drinking games with us and our roommates, who I barely met before I went out sightseeing. I'm never one to turn down drinking games (and making friends) so we head over to the kitchen area.
I sat down and got the NICEST welcome by my new Irish friends, Sarah, Tony, Darrah, Shauna and Aisling. The saying is true: Irish people are incredibly nice. We're all having a jolly good time... when all of a sudden I see the creepy Hispanic guy pull up a chair and sit next to me with a beer. My life is a joke, right? It gets better.
He tries to make conversation with me but I try my best to ignore him. A little while later, he pulls out his phone and shows me his baby cousins and baby nieces and baby nephews. Like out of nowhere! I'm ignoring him and all of a sudden he wants to show me his cousin's baby pictures?! What planet is he from??
I start talking to Sarah, and I find out that her and the rest of her friends just graduated from Trinity College and are spending the night in Galway! She invited me to go out with them, so after getting ready for a little bit, we all went out around midnight.
And who invites himself with, but Mr Hispanic Creep. Awesome.
Besides trying to avoid the awful Mexican, I had a blast! Everyone I was with was so nice! I'll post pictures of the night soon, but they're on Tony's camera. We went out to a pub first, then a club, which was really crazy. Of course the only time I ever go out in Ireland at night is my last week here! Figures.
I'd like to say that el hombre gordo left, but I caught him and one of the girls in my group kissing each other in the club later! I was like GIRL. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!
I shuddered. Thankfully he left shortly after and I didn't see him until he bothered me the next morning at breakfast. But seriously, I have had it with creepy guys at hostels. 

When Rose and I were in Krakow, this weird middle aged guy invited himself to dinner with us at the pizza place next door to the hostel. He seemed nice, so we were fine with it... but he ended up ordering NOTHING. Why go out to dinner if you aren't going to eat anything?! His friend sat with us a few minutes later, and Rose and I could see the meth scabs on his arms and face. They wanted us to go out with them later. 
HA. HAHAHA seriously? No thanks, you meth maggots.
We also experienced creepers in Berlin the week after. Rose and I just got back from sightseeing and shopping and were headed up to our room at our hostel, when a random guy wanted to get into the building to our rooms too. You needed a hotel-esque swipe card to get in, so it was locked to anyone who wasn't staying at the hostel. Rose let us in and we hopped in the elevator... where this guy (who was also Hispanic, I'll have you know) started talking to us, asking us where we were from, and calling me a sex pot. We could tell he was on something by how he was giggling uncontrollably and repeating himself. Rose and I tried best to avoid eye contact with him because we were so creeped out! 
When we got to our room, Rose swiped her card to get in, and this guy followed us in. We thought he was staying in our room, which would have been quite a coincidence, but we just ignored him. Rose and I locked up our purchases in the lockers and left as quickly as we could, because this guy was seriously giving us chills. About a half hour later, when Rose and I went back upstairs to grab our sweatshirts, she noticed that her metal locker was bent open and her wallet was out of her purse. This Hispanic prick stole 30 euro from her wallet. Nothing else, not even her credit cards or her camera, just the cash. She was infuriated. We notified the hostel desk workers and we had to deal with the German police and Rose filed a report to get her money back, as the hostel has theft insurance.
We later learned from the security cameras that this guy didn't even have a room at the hostel. He just sat in the common area, that was open to the public, and watched for easy targets. We could see him eyeing us up as we came through the door and follow us to the next door. Talk about creepy!!
Rose explains this more in her blog, which you can read here:

All of these experiences have made me totally more aware of my surroundings and the people in it. It is definitely more intimidating to travel by yourself, and I was scared out of my mind the first time I did, but as long as you are especially aware of your environment, no creepers will ever bother you. If they do, just show them your cousin's baby pictures. That ought to scare them away.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Casting Call

As you may know, I am all alone for the next four days! I haven't gotten lonely yet, but I'm sure I will. There is hardly anyone in the apartments and the weather hasn't been too great, so I've been staying inside the past week (besides my trips to Galway and Cork). 
Yesterday, I checked my DCU e-mail and saw that there was an open casting call for all DCU students to be photographed around campus for the new prospectus (aka handbook), plus they would get paid 50 if they get chosen! Of course I went to the casting call. One thing that photographers love more than taking pictures is to have pictures taken of them (most of the time).

So I went, and I got a reusable bag filled with goodies! I love free stuff!

In the bag was a tiny box of cereal... I was so confused. Who puts cheap boxes of cereal into gift bags? (The cereal was delicious by the way)

And noodles. I hate ramen noodles. Even if they are super.

A chocolate rice crispie bar! They know me so well.

I also got this sample energy tablet. I definitely thought it was a condom at first.

And perfect travel-size lotion, which I was most excited about.

So, we'll see if I get an e-mail that I got chosen. If not, it's totally cool. I'm fine with all this great free stuff! I still think I'm a winner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Few Words of Irish

When Ryan and I went to Kilkenny, we got this great free map from the hostel. When we got back to Dublin, I hung it up in my room, along with my other maps.
I'm leaving in a little over a week and am starting to take down all the posters and pictures in my room. This is a 'before' picture of my map wall.

And the Kilkenny map.

And the reason why I'm posting this is because of the bottom half of the paper. It says, "A Few Words of Irish". Luckily for Ryan and I, we didn't have to use any of these phrases. That's a good thing, because some of them are pretty strange... and a little out-dated. I can't imagine anyone asking me, "Any chance for a kiss?!"
Here is your Gaelic lesson for today!

Irish..                                            What it Means...                         How to pronounce it.....

Dia Dhuit                                      Hello                                             Dee-a Gwit
Conas atá tú                                 How are you?                               Kunnas a-taw too?
Ar fheabhas ar fad!                       Great altogether!                         Er ow-ss er fod!

An bhfuil pionta uait?                  Do you fancy a pint?                    On will pyunta oo-it?
Beidh an-chraic againn               We'll have a right craic                 Beg on-crack a-gwing
Ba bhreá liom gan dabht!            I'd love one without a doubt!       Baw vra lum gon dowt!
Ceann eile b'fhéidir?                     Another one perhaps?                   Ki-own ella bay-der?

Táim as mo mheabhair ar          I'm out of my mind drunk           Time oss muh viower er     meisce                                                                                                    meshka
An rachfaimid ag rince?             Will we go for a dance?                On rock-ha-meed eg rinka?
Aon seans póga?                          Any chance for a kiss?                  Ain shance po-ga?

Ceol agus Craic                            Music & fun                                  Ke-ole og-uss crack
Ól agus Craic                               Drink & fun                                   Ole og-uss crack
Go n-eirí an bother leat               May the road rise before you       Guh ny-ree on bo-hir lat
                                                           (Good luck)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Things I Will Miss About Ireland

My time here is coming to a close and I am starting to realize a few things that I will miss about being here. Now, these are just a few things off the top of my head, not all of them. Like I said, I am a very lazy busy girl! I don't have time to blog all the time!

1. I will miss the accents. Irish accents are so dreamy, I tell you. When Rose and I were in Barcelona, the last day was spent making fun of people and sleeping in the airport. After five days in a terrible city that made us hate our lives, we were SO ready to go home. At first in the airport, we spent a few hours sleeping in a deserted area with chairs, but later made our way to some benches near a cafe and the terminals. Rose looked at me and said something about how we picked a terrific spot to sit. I was confused... until I heard the family behind us, speaking with Irish accents! Literally the best sound in the world! I will always associate Irish accents with happy times (and Spanish accents with horrible times... but that is another story).
2. I will miss how everyone uses reusable bags here. I haven't seen a plastic bag in so long and I love it. We've seen older ladies drag small suitcase-like bags on wheels throughout stores and they are just so convenient!
3. I will miss having my own bathroom. It's a small convenience but it makes being a hermit so easy!
4. I will miss all this free time. I have had so much "me time" over the last four months and it has been absolutely wonderful. I thrive on alone time. Especially since classes have ended, there isn't a lot to do around here in Santry, so I've taken advantage of it by sleeping in, catching up on Lost and doing a lot of reading and writing!
5. I will miss living in Dublin! I love Dublin! I love it so much I almost want to get James Joyce's quote, "When I die Dublin will be written in my heart" tattooed on me somewhere. I have a long list of things I love about Dublin in my head and may blog about it someday, but for now I'll keep it short. I will miss this city a lot.

And of course I have to write about things I will not miss!

1. I will not miss my living situation at all! Sure, it's really nice having my own room and bathroom and huge window (I'm a sucker for natural light), but it has not been made up for with our terrible Spanish flatmates. They are disgusting, lazy, loud and do not clean up their messes in the kitchen. They also stalked us on Twitter for some time, but that is another story. I know I speak for Rose when I say that they are the absolute worst flatmates we have ever stayed with and we have many, many stories to back that up.
2. I will not miss the weather. We have only seen a handful of beautiful, sunny days since we've been here. Other than that, it is always cloudy, usually rainy, and sometimes cold. It is amazing how the weather can affect your day.
3. I will not miss how much traveling I've done the last four months. I'm talking about actual traveling, the process, the in-transit, the airplane rides and train rides and walking with heavy suitcases to the hostel. That part absolutely stinks. I have had my fill of airplane rides for a while and am really not looking forward to my 8-hour plane ride back to the US.
4. I will not miss how everything is in Euros here. The exchange rate isn't that good (but it's better than the British Pound), so everything is a little bit more expensive. I've spent so much money while I've been here and I am looking forward to saving some money this summer.
5. I will not miss how far away I am from my family and friends! I am 3600 miles away from southeast Wisconsin and six hours ahead. It sometimes seems so unreal that I'm this far away from home, and I will be so happy to be back in good old Wisconsin soon.

Worst Flatmates Ever

This post had it coming. Yes, I am going to write about my terrible Spanish flatmates! One of my very first posts was about how the two of them are terribly loud and always slam their doors, but it has gotten way worse since then. 
As a precursor, read this post that my wonderful American flatmate wrote!

As some of you may know, Rose and I don't use the kitchen all that often. I'm a terrible cook to begin with so I usually make sandwiches, pasta in the microwave or cereal and yogurt. Easy stuff to make. Rose is the same way. We have
never used the stove or oven, only take up two shelves and a door shelf in the refrigerator and we store all of our food in our room.
This story stemmed from when I wanted to make brownies in the oven on Monday night. My mom had Ryan bring me four brownie packets and oven-save containers and I was absolutely craving brownies! (Although I have to admit, I was sad that I couldn't just make them in the microwave...) When I opened the oven, this is what I found.

Disgusting, right?! I don't want to make brownies in their mess! So I knock on one of their doors, ask her to come to the kitchen, and I explain why she should clean the oven. It's their mess. Anyway she agrees and says she'll clean it within the next day or two. That was MONDAY. It has now been a week and it's still not clean.
Tangent: Speaking of messes, while Rose was cleaning the microwave she found this underneath.

And this in the refrigerator.

Like I said, Rose and I only use the top two shelves in there and one drawer shelf. But you're with me when I say that this is disgusting, right?!
Rose put signs up in the kitchen asking them to clean these areas. They are clearly not our messes and we just want to live in a clean space! When they were in the kitchen, I went out and asked the girl if she would clean the oven today. 
It's been a week since I asked you and it still isn't clean, I said. 
She rolled her eyes and shrugged, saying Maybe today...maybe tomorrow.
I'm sorry, are you 15?! Rolling your eyes is so immature and aggravating! (I should know... sorry, Mom) I asked her again, Will you please clean the oven? It is disgusting and I just want to use it to make brownies.
She smirked and said, again, Maybe. If we have time today.
Are you kidding me?! How old are you?? I ask you to do one thing that is way over due and you act like you're still in high school!
I told her, Alright if you don't clean it I will e-mail Annand (our landlord) and you'll be stuck with a fine.
She shrugged and said Ok.
Which is fine by me. I hope they get fined because of their messes. Rose and I don't use the kitchen because it is so terribly gross and messy. There are always oil spots on the counters, sauce splattered across the cabinets and long, black hair clumps on the floor.
This one episode is one of many, and every time Rose and I keep getting more and more annoyed with them. We have had multiple problems with their cleanliness and loudness and we caught them multiple times smoking in the apartment. I've had to put my towel wedged beneath my door to keep the smoke from coming in my room, because smoke travels. They are by far the worst flatmates I have ever had.
I have had it with them. But, karma will do it's job and they will get what's coming to them.