So many new experiences in such a short amount of time!
I have been several places since my last update, and yes I actually meant to go to these places this time, unlike in my last post. I have gone on two day trips with the International Student Society here at UCD. They turned out to be really great deals! I spent 20-25 Euro a piece for the trips and that included my transportation and admission to anywhere we went. We rode in a bus called the Paddywagon, and just listening to the bus drivers talk was worth the money alone.
The first trip was to Wicklow, where we hit Powerscourt Estate, Glendalough, and Avoca. Wicklow looked like what you would expect when you think Ireland. It is where many movies have been filmed, including Bravehart and P.S. I Love You. The driver said that it has to do with the taxes for the film industry being low there.
At Powerscourt Estate, we got to walk around the beautiful gardens and they had really adorable shops there too. Highlights for here include a Rapunzelesque tower that we got to go up. I would need to grow my hair out a little longer if I am going to have prince charming climb up. They also had a Pet Cemetery with a few pretty comical gravestones. The walkway down to the fountain was also awesome; the sidewalk had patterns in the stonework that were just incredible!
Next up at Glendalough, we got some more fresh air and quality exercise as we walked along the trails. Glendalough means “valley of two lakes.” Yes, there were two lakes with land between them. But, there were also super neat structures left from an old monastic settlement!
Our final stop was in Avoca at the wool mill. We were running behind, so we had a shortened tour. I was slightly disappointed, but at the same time I was pretty tired at that point and I am not sure how much longer I could focus. They had a shop with a ton of merchandise like scarves and blankets that had been made in their mill.
The other day trip I went on with ISS was this past Saturday, and it was to Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK. So, that alone was pretty interesting because they had a different currency there! They use the Pound Sterling rather than the Euro. I did find Jif peanut butter in the city of Belfast there, but I couldn’t get it because the shop wouldn’t accept card and the only cash I have is Euros! It’s okay, I probably wouldn’t have bought it since the price would have been equivalent to around 8 Euro for a standard sized jar. While that is cheaper than the $50 it was going to cost my mom to ship me peanut butter, I am still too cheap to spend that much on a jar.
Our first stop in Northern Ireland was the Carrick-a-Rede or Rope Bridge. It was a nice exhilarating activity. I am not afraid of heights, so I personally didn’t have any problems, but my roommate Kelly was kind of freaking out because she doesn’t like heights. Reasons why Kelly loves me: I shoved my camera at her and said “take pictures.” I also yelled “Remember to look down!!” I am such a nice person 🙂 The weather was pretty touch and go, it wasn’t completely terrible, but we did get a nice little rain shower as we were walking back- it looked like I had taken a shower in my clothes. The good thing about the weather in Ireland is that if it is bad, it doesn’t last for long. So after that small incident, it didn’t rain anymore while we were out. Also at this stop, there was a tiny little island plateau you could see off the coast. It is called “Sheep Island” because a long time ago the people living there in Ireland put a thousand sheep on the island as a peace offering to the vikings. Even though there aren’t sheep there anymore, it’s still a pretty cool story 🙂
The next stop was at Giant’s Causeway. The rock formations were unbelievable! They looked like they had been manmade, but they were actually a result of ancient volcanic eruptions. There is a fable that is told by the Irish about how a giant named Finn McCool is responsible for building it as a bridge to Scotland, but I think I am going to stick with believing that it was a result of volcanoes 🙂 Random side note: I was told this is where they filmed parts of Game of Thrones… I wouldn’t know any different since I have never seen that show.
The last stop here was in Belfast as I mentioned earlier. We didn’t have much time here, so there really isn’t a whole lot I have to say. On the way out of the city the sky was absolutely beautiful with all sorts of colors ranging from blue to pink to orange. We also stopped at the Peace Wall, which serves the purpose of dividing Protestant and Catholic neighbors. There were elaborate murals relating to social and political issues painted all along the wall.
In between those two weekends, Ali, Kelly, and I made an independent trip by train to Howth, which is on a peninsula. Walking along the harbour, we stopped at Crabby Jo’s and got fresh seafood. I had calamari, which was an excellent choice. We also were able to see a bunch of sea lions showing off in the water. After the walk along the water, we started a hike. Since we got a late start, we didn’t do the complete hike, but we still got some great views of Howth and would like to go back when we have more time.
Night life in Dublin is pretty intimidating for a girl from the midwest. Rather than going out on the weekends, they go out on the weeknights… definitely an adjustment from the way things work at Purdue. The first time I went out was to a free comedy club in the Stag Head Bar. It was extremely packed in the tiny little basement, and had there been a fire, we would have all been in trouble. But the various comedians who came up and did their little spiel were pretty funny and it is totally worth going to (you don’t have to pay for entry, so you can afford to spend money on some Guinness). They also give out free ice-cream at the intermission, so that’s another reason to go! The crowd was very international, so all the countries were the butt of the joke at some point or another. One of my favorite lines from a comedian there regarding the Irish was, “We’ve been raised on a diet of alcoholism and rain.”
Last week was Ag Week at UCD, so there were several events hosted through that. Monday night, a band called the Wolfe Tones was playing in a bar called Dtwo in Dublin City Centre. Ali and I went and felt very out of place because the Irish girls get all sorts of dressed up with super high heels and make-up piled on! We have limited resources as far as clothing is concerned since we could only pack so much, but we did the best we could! It was nevertheless a great experience and I am really glad we went. Hearing a bunch of drunk college students singing along to a very Irish band I didn’t know made it worthwhile.
The next night, we listened to a comedian that came to UCD. Irish comedians like to directly target people in the audience. It is pretty scary, which is why when the guy asked if there was anyone from outside Ireland the room was dead silent. I am not sure if Ali and I were the only ones from outside Ireland in there, but either way none of us were brave enough to speak up. The other pretty hilarious thing about listening to Irish comedy is that by the time I process through the accent, I realize that I don’t even understand all of the jokes. Many of the jokes that night in particular were very relevant to Irish culture, so of course I wasn’t going to pick up on what was so funny. I just kept laughing at everyone else laughing.
Wednesday night, they were having “Ag’s Got Talent” at the student bar on campus. Going to a bar on campus, connected to the student centre is pretty strange to me. I just keep imagining what it would be like if Purdue’s student union had a bar attached to it. I had a nice relaxing evening procrastinating from studying for my test the next morning, and learned that if you want to actually reach the bar, you kind of have to push your way forward or everyone else keeps sliding in front of you. There is no such thing as single-file when college students want their alcohol.
There is much more I could have covered (my journal I am keeping is proof of that)… but this is what I get for waiting so long to blog! I did the best I could to hit the highlights!!
Notable Quotes from the Paddywagon bus drivers:
“In July, when it’s pissin’ rain… it’s good craic.” –Don
“Sit here for a wee second.” –Don
“Go to Ireland… Cheap tax, cool people.” –Don
“Those old monks were way ahead of their time.” –Don
“Welcome to Ireland, we bring our sheep for drives on Saturdays!” –Don
“Irish guys on the beach… you don’t want to see it. It’s like a big milk bottle standing there!” –Val
“Have you ever seen the Irish president? He is a leprechaun.” –Val
Cool Words and Phrases:
- Half nine = nine thirty
- “Fair play to you!” = something along the lines of “Good for you”
- Cuppa for “cup of”
- Tele for television
- “Post” is used rather than “mail”
Irish lady on American football:
I wish someone had told me it lasts 3 and a half hours. Someone grabs the ball, walks 3 steps and then the whole team blows up! They go in for a tea break and a whole new team comes out!”