Glendalough, Wales and Howth. Oh My!

So, I haven’t written on here in awhile (minus the lovehate blog., but  that one doesn’t really count) and so much has happened that I can’t fathom getting all the good details out.  So I’m just going to have to skim what I’ve done and mention a few highlights!  Following the week that I started to really get sick, that Tuesday my class went to the play that I had mentioned.  It turned out to be a total bummer; more of a sleeper of a lecture than a theatrical experience.  We went to a pub together however, so it was all worth it!  That Friday, however, was great!  It was the day of the IES-affiliate hike to Glendalough.  About 30 of us went nearly an hour outside of Dublin to County Wicklow to see this beautiful view of the two lakes (which is what Glendalough actually means; two lakes).  It was a heck of a time getting up to the top though.  One of my housemates, Helen and I were nearly at the end of the crowd as we slowly ambled our way up the path to the top.  I felt nauseous for a while because, well, you know that little hiker that some people have living inside of them?  Mine died long ago.  And I’ll blame it on the mitral valve-prolapse, yep that’s why I’m instantly red in the face after going ten feet uphill…  Anyways, so it was beautiful!  It was just what I was looking for in coming to Ireland.  Misty, rolly hills of various greens and deep blue lakes resting below plummetting cliffs amidst unexpected crests.  It was gorgeous, to say the least.  Even the weeds were arabesque in their purples and golds.

The following day Helen, Jess and I went out on the town to go shopping!  Sure broke that shopping seal; haven’t stopped since.  And yes, the purchases at the 3-floor American Apparel were necessary.  Jess and I then continued on our city-outting to see the Guinness Storehouse.  It was actually much more interesting that I had expected.  The inside is shaped like a pint glass and the layout of the place is made so that you begin by learning a lot about each of the four ingredients within Guinness: water, barley, hops and yeast.  They have large displays of each of these things, including a giant pit of barley, a luscious hops display, a refrigerator with an original strain of yeast of sorts (wierd, I know) and an icy-cold waterfall to complete the deal.  The tour continues with more details about how the process of making Guinness is done.  There is a lot to it!  They even let you in on all the details about the barrels that are used to store their creation.  One of my favorite parts of the tour were the old Guinness advertisements.  They were so cute and funny, one of the more well known of which featured a toucan with a Guinness that said “Lovely day for a Guinness.”   Finally, you can make the choice to either drink your “free” (or rather, included in the ticket fee) Guinness pint after learning how to pour it yourself OR you can go up to the very top and get your drink while enjoying a complete view of Dublin and beyond at Gravity Bar.  We chose to pour our own pints, but we were also able to go to the top (we just couldn’t have another drink, obviously).  The view was grand.

The next day we went to a HURLING game!  This is legit my favorite sport now because it was so damn intriguing and hilarious to watch!  It reminded me of Harry Potter in a way, with people running around with sticks (rather than brooms of course) hitting each other and running around carrying the “slither” as the ball is called, atop the same multi-purpose sticks, or “hurlies.”  One can hold the slither for up to 3 seconds with their hands and run with it, they can carry it on their hurlie, or they can bat it like in baseball to get it across the field.  This game was the final as well, Kilkenny versus Galway.  Kilkenny won, which I hear, is no surprise.  I was rooting for the underdog, but it didn’t help.  Anyways, not only is the game interesting, but it looks entirely difficult!  There are two ways to score, either through  football-like goal posts (one point) or in a soccer-like goal (three points)!  There are two men on either side of the goals wearing long white lab coats; there is a science to this game really.  This very unpredictable and amalgamated sport is mesmorizing, even for someone like me who is not that into sports!  It was a great time.

Then of course, the weekend was up.  The week went by with nothing too exciting happening; the internship is great, but sometimes there is a lack of work, or rather, un-monotonous work.  But I am grateful for it and for the company of the other interns. 

This most recent weekend Jess and I went to Cardiff, Wales.  The plane ride was only about an hour-long and provided for a great little GRE study session both ways!  Yay!  😛  Once landing, we slowly came to realize just how small the place was.  There was no stamping of our passports.  The one ATM machine was out of the way and upstairs next to the one restaurant in the airport.  The airport itself was quite small.  And when we finally went outside there was only one taxi!  Which was only there, thank God, because it was dropping someone off!  The country is probably the size of Rhode Island, and thus, we learned, that the capitol is not entirely exuding with things to do.  The very sweet and geniune cab driver gave us a few helpful tips though.  He told us that the beer of Wales is “Brains,” that cockeles are one of the fewer remotely Welsh foods that you should probably try in Wales, and that there is a lot of great farm-made ice cream all over.  Conveniently, there was a festival occuring that weekend at the Mermaid Quay (pronounced “key”) where we could try the ice cream!  YUM.  I got banana toffee crunch of sorts.  Tasted like one of my favorite desserts from my best friend Vy’s restaurant, fried banana and ice cream.  De-licious.  Oh My God.  I know, dramatic.  But still.  Okay, moving on.  So the festival was nice.  The people were curiously friendly.  We saw Cardiff Castle, the Parc outside of Cardiff Castle and the National Museum of Wales.  I also found a great place with two-for-one dranks on Friday night…long islands and rum/tequila mixers!  Great choices…We went home on Friday night after that dinner and wanted to go swimming, only to find that the pool closed at like 8:30 or some crazy time like that.  Pretty much sums up the life of Wales.  Oh Wales…if I ever go back, it will be to the north, possibly Snowdonia (I hear that’s pretty) or some other part of the country-side. 

Then, this past Sunday, after getting back from our Wale of a time from the Rhode Island of the Isles, Jess, Helen and  I went to a little town on the water, known as Howth, only 20 minutes north of Dublin.  We took the Dart (the train) which only cost us 4.20 Euro roundtrip.  It was a darling little place with tons of sailboats, colorful edifaces, seals that bob up and down awaiting an easy catch, a lighthouse, a church and a couple little shops and pubs.  It was quaint and a perfect day weather-wise.  I even got an “I love Ireland” jumping photo taken there!  Can’t miss out on that!  A plus of going on a Sunday was that there was a little market happening at the time, which we were pleasantly surprised about.  Tasty treats, fudge and cupcakes, jewellery such as the malacite shamrock ring I bought there, breads, nuts fruits, veggies and many other things were being temptingly sold.  As we made our way back to the train station we realized it was quite a satisfying weekend, especially that particular day.  Sitting on the train next to a nun for the next 20 minutes was just the way to take it all in and let it silently absorb (*arcasm, sarcasm*).  I do love trains though, which is why I am extra excited to go to Cork this weekend!  They are a great way to let your mind just fly away with each passing idea that catches your subconscious eye.   

Anyways, I’ll of course update about Cork, especially as it is going to be the last weekend of my study abroad program!  🙁  This is very sad to me.  I’ve met great people here and don’t really want to face the fact that I likely won’t see them again, at least in the “non-Facebook” world.  Speaking of which, today at my internship the crazies that I work with were absolutely nuts!  We were having a lot of fun being goofy while working today.  Being tired really does make everything more fun.  On top of that, we all get along really well in the first place.  I wish they all went to UPS.  I’m jealous of the Iowa students here because they will all be able to hang out after the program is through considering they all go to the same university!  Lucky.  I will, however, probably be going to the Jameson Distillery with two of the other interns tomorrow which will be great!  Good times ahead.  And I can’t wait for my family to get here in a week and a half!

Well, I can’t hardly let myself stop writing because there is SO MUCH MORE TO SAY!  But alas, I must.  I need to go to bed so that I can actually wake up for my internship tomorrow!  Yayyyy!  🙂  Good night Europe and good afternoon Tacoma!

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