Bed and Breakfasts Forever

My parents arrived the Saturday after Saint Patrick’s day. I took the bus into the airport, but ran into problems because a water charges protest was taking place. There were parades of people flooding the streets. People were chanting and holding protest signs.  It seemed almost crazier than Saint Patrick’s day! My bus couldn’t continue on it’s normal route, so the bus driver got on the intercom and said that the bus would be re-routing. I got off to try and catch my next bus at another stop, but buses all over were not running! I finally made it to a stop I needed, and even managed to end up with a protestor sign in hand. IMG_2444 IMG_2446 IMG_2452

I waited at the arrivals gate for my family who never came out. After an extensive miscommunication, we were reunited. My dad, who may be slightly crazy, decided to rent a car. Not only did he not know the roads, he also had to add driving on the left side of the road. We made it back to my apartment alive. I showed them around what little there is to show at my apartment, and then we sat and talked to Kelly and Ali before hitting the road again.

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We headed to county Tipperary, where we stayed in Rockville Hose Bed and Breakfast. After getting settled in, we ate at Bailey’s hotel, where we discovered our love of Camembert cheese and red pepper relish. After a night’s sleep filled with plenty of snoring by my dad, we went to Rock of Cashel, which could be seen from our B&B.

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After Rock of Cashel, we stopped in Cobh and went to the Titanic Experience. Cobh was the last stop of the Titanic before it left on it’s infamous final journey. The museum was in the White Starline Ticket Office, which is where some of the passengers would have passed through before boarding.

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The dock passengers would have used to get onto the transfer boat headed out to meet the Titanic

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After lunch at Jacob’s Ladder, we headed on to Blarney. Our Bed and Breakfast for the night was called The White House. The Woolen Mills and Blarney Castle were just a short walk away; however, they had just closed for the night, so we headed back. The next morning, I had to go back to Dublin by train to turn in a paper for class, and then later that night trained back to Killarney where my parents had traveled to after visiting Blarney Castle.

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The roads were super narrow and windy. It was pretty scary, yet exhilarating considering how dark out it was. The road was only wide enough for one car, yet there was two way traffic. We didn’t meet many people on the way there, but when we did, whoever reached a pull-off point first would get to the side. The scary part was the rocks and drop-offs on both sides. Our Bed and Breakfast for the night was on a sheep farm called Hillcrest Farmhouse. In the morning, we got to feed the sheep! They were really friendly, which may have been in part due to the toast we had in hand. A few of them kept trying to get right up in my face– I was not about to complain because I love sheep.

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In the morning, I was able to see the roads we had driven the night before, which is in a region called the Black Valley.

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Afterwards, we headed over Lady’s View, where we saw a complete rainbow stretching across the valley, and then traveled down to Lough Leane. It was all so beautiful! Ellen and my dad both fell multiple times as we were climbing around the rocks and such by the lake. The Stuckwisch family likes to pretend to be outdoorsy– we just aren’t always very good at it. We also got caught in a random hailstorm. However, Irish weather is bipolar within the day, so it cleared up within a few minutes and went back to being beautiful outside.

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Hail!

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Ellen in a hailstorm

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Afterwards, we headed over to Killarney National park. We hiked a little bit, saw Torc waterfall, and found bright green, shag trees that looked like they were carpeted in the 80’s.

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We were going to spend time in Muckross farms, but it was still closed for another weekend. Instead, we went into Muckross House, a huge 1800s mansion. It had 25 bedrooms and 22 bathrooms. We couldn’t take any pictures, but you can take my word that it was very ornate.

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From here, we went through Limerick and ended in our Bed and Breakfast in Ennis, which was called Railway View House. The next morning, I went back by train to Dublin because I had an exam to take. By the time I got off the bus at campus, it was 1:51 and my exam started at 2. I power walked across campus and made it just in time for a pretty difficult short answer equine nutrition exam. 1511046_10205854083372687_6157238595690935732_n 10452325_10205854082692670_539757875218768551_n 11058267_10205854082052654_2183354080300518442_n

My parents came back and met up with me the next day, so Thursday I showed them around Dublin. We went to the Chester Beatty Library, which has a bunch of religious documents, including old Bible excerpts on Papyrus paper. We also walked through the Temple Bar area, ate donuts at my favourite shop on O’Connell Street, and grabbed some food from my favourite burrito place.

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That night, we flew out to England, and stayed in Faringdon for two nights with Sarah, who had been hosted by my dad’s family 35 years ago on an exchange program. The first morning there, we explored the Cotswold region, Lower Slaughter, Bibury, and the Uffington White Horse.

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Day two, we went to Folley Tower. It was pretty much built just because the guy could. Then we walked through the Great Coxwell Barn, previously a storage place for crop tithes to the abbey. To end our England excursion, we spent some time in a coffee shop in Faringdon before heading back to collect our belongings and return to Ireland.

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We had a lot of good food while in England– hot cross buns, lardy cake, and a nice home cooked dinner.

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Back in Dublin, we spent the night at another Bed and Breakfast. The next morning, we went to the Little Museum of Dublin, and then walked over to my church. 11054527_10205880585115214_8236881493472507864_n 11018616_10205880588075288_5716506406193124961_n11082634_10205880593075413_5641254743503327527_n

We did what any family would do after a nice church service, and visited the Guinness Storehouse. None of us who were legal could get our whole pint down. Ellen didn’t get a chance to try because she isn’t at the drinking age for Ireland. I have since learned that we weren’t drinking it correctly. You don’t sip Guinness. You take six, big gulps and it should be gone.

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After the Guinness Storehouse, we hurried over to Dun Laoghaire to try and catch the last of the farmer’s market. Fortunately there were still vendors out, and we ate lots of delicious, warm bread. From there, we went on a walk along the water, but a storm started rolling in. So, we headed back to the airport and had dinner there before we parted ways. My parents had a hard time saying good-bye, and even I had a little bit of a sad feeling as I took the bus back alone.

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Notes:

  • We had a full Irish Breakfast at pretty much every B&B. It was a lot of food! I wasn’t so much a fan of the black sausage. It may have been a mental thing knowing that it had blood in it. However, brown bread is delicious. My mom tried taking special flour home to make some, and kept getting stopped by security. To my knowledge, the flour made it home.
  • I was exhausted by the end of the week from about three straight weeks of running around. I took the next week or so catching up on energy.

St. Patrick Better Not Be Claustrophobic

I feel like I ran nonstop the entire month of March.

Day 1 post spring break trip: I absolutely had to get busy doing laundry since I had pretty much no clean clothes left to wear. I ended up having two full loads, which is impressive when you consider that I don’t really have that many clothes in Ireland. This was the first time I have ever had dry clothes come from the Belgrove laundry room. Every other time, I’ve been forced to turn my bedroom and bathroom into huge driers where I hang my clothes everywhere and crank the heater up. After laundry, Kelly and I had to run into Dublin for some grocery shopping since we had no food. Ali came home later that night with Greg, who also goes to Purdue but is currently studying in London. We stayed up really late Monday night hanging out, which didn’t help me rest up after traveling but was worth it. I don’t think we got to bed until around 4. Ali was sleeping in my room for the week to make room for Greg, and we couldn’t stop laughing because we heard the morning birds chirping as we laid down and tried going to sleep.

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On Tuesday, we got up around 9 and got ready to head into Dublin for the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. We took a taxi in since buses weren’t running as usual. In Dublin, we met up with Mckenna and Jon who are also friends with Ali and were in Dublin as a part of a Purdue spring break trip. We found a spot to stand for the parade where we could see moderately well. By the end of it though, we had managed to squeeze up a little towards the front and were squished in the mob on O’Connell street.

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The parade was pretty abstract. I couldn’t tell you half of what I saw. There were a few bagpipe bands and a ton of American high school and college marching bands. I heard a guy next to me joke that “Americans come all the way to Dublin, just to watch Americans in the parade.” Beyond the marching bands, there were a lot of strange floats. My favourite parts were the gingerbread man with a terrifying face, the huge rubber duck, and woodland creature section. During the woodland part, dirt was thrown into the audience. I was far enough out of reach that I didn’t get hit, but Ali had dirt all in her hair She told em that she realized what was going on as the dirt was falling so she tucked her head. But, the girl in front of her looked up and got dirt all in her mouth and eyes.

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After the parade, we stopped by Trinity college for the Book of Kells. Jelly and I cut off from the group and stopped in Costa Coffee to get some caffeine to keep up going. We sat in the lawn area of Trinity since we weren’t quite sure where everyone else went. Jon walked out and saw us and said the rest of the group was inside in the gift shop. After finishing our coffee and going in, we kept peeking at Greg and Ali from around the displays buy they didn’t see us. We managed to follow behind Ali out without her noticing almost all the way back to the main sidewalk. Finally Greg turned around and saw us and said, “Oh hey! I didn’t know you were back!”

Next, we went to go find food, of course. We stopped at metro cafe where our server was super friendly and kept filling up our water. I got so used to paying for water over vacation as we ate our way around the world, that it was weird how freely we were being given water. It was a really cozy meal. We sat underneath heaters outside in their porch-like area, and I had a nice beef-stew with bread. Ali, Kelly, and I cut off from the rest of the group because they went back to the hotel to rest. We went to the Temple Bar area to see the huge St.Patrick’s day crowd, We ended up having to hold onto each other, forming a train, as we squeezed through the pack twice. There were people smoking and drunk everywhere. I felt like I was in a mosh pit, but it was exhilarating. Alyssa would have cried had she been there. I texted her and told her that, and when she asked why, I responded with a picture of the crowd, to which she responded “Oh HECK no!”

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Afterwards, we walked to the hotel. We sat in the lobby and eventually Ali went up to go talk with Mckenna, so Kelly and I stayed downstairs. We both fell asleep in the chairs, but woke up to children running through the lobby with whistles. We decided to go find ice-cream, and then came back and sat around the lobby for a while waiting on everyone else. No one was answering their phones, so we assumed they were asleep and headed out to go to a pub and then later went to find somewhere to eat. So, we didn’t go crazy on Saint Patrick’s Day, but we still had a nice time. Kelly fell asleep on my bed and I fell asleep on Ali’s temporary bed on my floor while we waited for Ali and Greg to come home. They got back pretty late, but as soon as Kelly got up from my bed, I passed out in my actual bed.

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The next day, I had planned to study for my final the next day, but instead went hiking in Howth with Ali and Greg. It was a beautiful day for a hike! We ended up going back to the cliff walk and then stopped by a fish stand before catching the train into Dublin. We made sure to stop by the donut stand in Dublin we love so much so that Greg could get some for the last time before boarding his Aircoach to get to the airport. We said goodbye to Greg, picked up ice-cream for Kelly who sadly couldn’t join us that day, and headed back home.

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I tried to study when I got back, but fell asleep around midnight, woke up around 2 and decided to set an alarm and try again for the morning. I ended up waking up around 4:30 to my watch alarm going off from when I set it in the train on the way to Krakow in case I had to sleep in the bathroom the whole night. Then I woke up at 6:30 to my actual alarm for the day, before falling back asleep until 8:30, at which point I finally got up. I loitered around all morning and then found my way to the Blackrock exam centre, which I had to take a bus to. But, at least it was another beautiful day! The exam was pretty terrible… 100 multiple choice questions with -0.5 for each wrong answer. But, life goes on.

I went to the grocery store before returning home mentally drained. I needed to get my room in order, finish a summer job application, and video chat Alyssa so she could get me the clothes I needed sent to Ireland with my parents. Ali and Kelly had to go into Dublin, and they brought me back donuts since they knew I was having a rough day. It was much appreciated. If you haven’t caught on, we like to appease each other with food. The next day, I got a ton of cleaning and organizing done and then went into Dublin for game-night at church.

So… still no good rest before my next wave of activities– hanging out with the Stuckwisch family (-Alyssa)

Nomadic Adventures: Krakow

After our night on the train, I woke up still not feeling rested.

In the airport, we had to figure out how to get to our hostel. We found an ATM to withdraw some cash in their currency, the Zloty, and also wifi to look up transportation. We ended up figuring out the bus system, and it only cost about 30 cents to get to the stop we needed. Right off the bus, Ali bought us peaches from a roadside stand. We asked them and a few other people for instructions and quickly found our way to 4 Friends Hostel.

Upon arrival, they told us they didn’t have room for us. Since we had booked online already and didn’t get an email telling us that there was no room, they helped find us other accommodations. They also paid for a taxi for us. We hung out at their hostel all morning and ate their breakfast. They had coffee as well, which I desperately needed. I am pretty sure we all fell asleep in their little common area at some point. There is picture proof of me sleeping…

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Our new hostel, called Hotele Sudenckie,was actually really nice and was cheaper! It ended up being a portion of their college dormitory that they had sectioned off for tourists.

I passed out most of the day. We ate at around 2 or 3 in their college mess hall. I just had Ali’s leftovers once I woke up. I wanted more of their breaded tenderloin but no one spoke English, so I couldn’t get it ordered. The food they eat is pretty heavy: bread, potatoes, meat, etc. They also eat a lot of sauerkraut. We continued to bum around that evening, but did go out later for dinner. We found a Mexican restaurant that was well priced and had terrifically seasoned meat and authentic corn tortillas. With flan to-go, we headed back to the hostel, still completely exhausted.

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The next day we got started a little later because we were still moving pretty slowly. After booking our Saturday tour to Auschwitz, we got walking around noon. It was rainy and chilly. We walked around and saw their main square. Many streets are cobbled and the buildings have slightly skewed shapes. My favourite part of the day was the indoor market with Polish goods. There was pottery and a ton of amber.

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ummm… random head statue

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totally prepared for a picture

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I bought myself a teapot and a little amber craft. I also bought my Pappy a wooden finch that can sit next to him, because he loves watching finches outside his window. I had my mom bring it back to him, and I guess he is enjoying it.

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After the market, we went into another elaborate church. I embarrassed myself by going to kneel and falling forward with the bench. Kelly’s phone clicked as she took a picture in the church that we weren’t even supposed to be taking pictures in. Next, we stopped in a diner-like cafe for warmth and planned out what we were going to next.

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After eating, we visited the underground museum Rynku, where we saw the archaeological discoveries of the ancient Krakow streets and buildings. As we were leaving, we bumped (literally) into a lady from Tennessee. It was so nice to hear an accent from home. She was extremely friendly and told us about the trip she was on as a chaperone for the Christian high school she counsels.

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Some people came prepared for the weather with umbrellas… we just came prepared with rings of bread

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When we left the museum, it was around 5 o’clock and was already dark. We went ahead to try and see the castle, but it was closed. So, then we walked on to the Jewish quarter to see the former Krakow ghetto. It was really dark, but you could still see a difference in these buildings compared to the ones in the city centre. They were kind of old and dingy looking.

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We decided to grab food and take it back home since it was still cold and rainy. My shoes and socks were completely soaked through. Water was squishing out of them as I walked. After eating, I headed back to shower and then passed out shortly afterwards.

The next morning, we had to be up and ready by about 9:30 to be picked up for the tour. The way we booked the tour worked out really nicely because it included transfers to and from, which would have been pretty difficult to figure out alone. It also included a guided tour of Auschwitz I and Birkneau.

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Visiting Auschwitz was depressing, but it was neat to actually be able to see the place you hear about in Holocaust accounts. It was cold and rainy again; however, we really couldn’t complain because it wasn’t near what all those innocent people endured.

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There were sections of Auschwitz II-Birkneau that were complete mud. My boots were soaked and covered in mud. It was a good day for Mama Stuck as my beloved grey boots she has been trying to make me get rid of were finally thrown away.

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By the time we drove back into town, my feet were actually in pain from the cold. We went back to the market in search of teacups and then tried to find a place to eat. When we sat down, I took my socks off and my right pinky toe was completely white. Thankfully, Kelly had told me to bring along dry socks, so I was able to wear those at dinner and then on the way home so I could regain sensation in my toe.

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We spent the next day before our evening flight, walking around Krakow and getting to things we had missed. We didn’t get up until about 9:30 and left shortly after 10, which is great timing for us.

First we tried to find a donut shop our tour guide pointed out to us the day before, but we couldn’t remember which street it was on. So, we settled for a cafe with free wifi; that way we could look up pottery places. It was really adorable inside. Their menus were hand crafted with leaves and we sat in a little nook area. I had “white coffee,” which is just coffee with milk. I also had green cake to eat with it. I needed some food on my stomach since I was drinking coffee, and I wasn’t really sure what the green cake was when I ordered it. It was green, and it was one of the greatest cakes I have ever had. I still don’t know exactly what it was (maybe pistachio with hazelnut?).

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Ali left a really sweet note in the guest book… “I ate food here.”

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When we finished eating, we headed out to find teacups. The first place we went into was super expensive. So, we ended up back in the market. I still didn’t find the teacups I wanted, but I did get a little pottery woman to hold cookies for tea time. Well, right now it is being used to hold Turkish Delight for our Chronicles of Narnia night…

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It was a beautiful day out so there were a ton of people and performers on the streets. We went into Saint Mary’s Basilica, which was having a service, so we just stood in the back for a little bit. Afterwards, we ate gelato, took pictures, visited Wawel’s castle, and went into a bunch of cute little shops.

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For lunch/dinner we went into a Polish Cuisine restaurant in search of pierogis. When we walked in, everything got dead silent and everyone stared at us. Once, we sat down, everything was fine, but it was definitely eerie coming in. We ended up ordering a 30 piece mixed bowl of pierogis to share. There was mushroom and cabbage, potato and cheese, and a type of meat. They were all good, but the potato was probably my favourite. In the words of Polish Forrest Gump, “Life is like a bowl of pierogis, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

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On the way back towards the square, we found a great pottery shop. I was able to get teacups that I liked that weren’t too expensive. There were a ton of pieces I would have liked to have gotten, including a coffee grinder, but I didn’t have room to transport it… or money to buy it.

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After grabbing our last bread rings for the trip, we went back to the hotel and figured out how to get to the airport by bus before heading out. Ali fell on an old lady in the bus because she lost her balance. After that small incident, we didn’t have too much trouble getting home. The people at the passport check booth in Poland did act a little suspicious since we flew in through Budapest and were flying out through Poland. Luckily, Ali went first and remained calm and casual so then they let Kelly and I go through more quickly with less questioning.

Wrapping Jelly up in the Purdue Flag

Wrapping Jelly up in the Purdue Flag

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Random Notes from Krakow:

  • E. Wedel chocolate is fantastic– particularly the Creme Brûlée. It has crunchy caramel in it as if you are eating actual Creme Brûlée.
  • There were Scottish people in our tour group to Auschwitz, we got so excited to hear accents from close to our Ireland home.
  • Poppyseed is apparently popular. There were street vendors all over the place selling the bread rings coated in poppyseed.
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  • At Auschwitz, they were particular about the size of bag you could have. Ali and Kelly were both stopped because their purses, which were pretty small, were still considered too big.
  • I learned to interpret Polish coffee vending machines
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Overall, spring break was a blast. Though by the end of it, we were excited to be back with the Irish. We didn’t get much rest in the next weeks following, because Saint Patricks day and family/friend visits found us…

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