Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hello, Goodbye Limerick... Home Tomorrow!

The last day in Ireland was so perfect. We left the lovely Killarney to go to Limerick, and of course sight see along the way.

The first stop we made was in Adere. I wasn't feeling well so I decided to sleep on the bus for a little while longer. I woke up to the sounds of Tyg locking the door. When I opened my eyes, I saw him walking away from the bus. It was too late for me to knock on the window so I kinda just sat there... alone... locked in the tour bus. Finally, Kristina and Jeremy came back to the bus, but there was nothing they could do to help except put there hands on the window and laughed while I clawed at it. Another bus driver happened to walk by and open the emergency exit. He is officially my favorite person in Ireland.

Everyone made it back on the bus, and we made our way to the Cliffs of Moher. Kristina, Jeremy and I walked around and took photos. The photos won't be able to do it justice. There aren't even words to describe the Cliffs of Moher. We walked around... even passing the do not trespass sign to see even more breathtaking views of the cliffs. It really was a once in a lifetime experience.

When we made it back to Limerick, we checked in to our hotel rooms, and then it was off to Bunratty Castle for our Medieval Banquet. It was a blast. There were four delicious courses: soup, spare ribs, chicken and veggies, and desert. We weren't allowed to use spoons for our soup, so we had to either drink it from the bowl or to sop it up with bread. The spare ribs and the chicken were excellent... and of course the desert was amazing, too. There was live entertainment too, all of the waiters and waitresses sang... and there were harp and violin players too.

The ride home was fun as well. Joe sang a whole bunch of Irish songs that we all joined in on singing. It was a lot of fun and I really think it was a great close to the whole trip.

This whole experience has been amazing, but I'm not going to lie, I'm ready to go home. I'm beyond ready to see my family and friends... and of course my two favorites Andrew and Oscar.

I hope my blog had entertained and maybe informed the 4 of you reading (Mom, Heath, Michael and Michelle)! See you all soon! Cheers!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Day in Killarney

I woke up today with a cold. Fantastic.

Today was a free day. Micky, Jeremy, Kristina and I went back to Danny Mann's to get some footage and pictures for our web projects. It worked out really well... minus the fact that no one wanted to be interviewed. I guess we'll be able to find someone eventually.

After that, Kristina, Jeremy and I went to get all of our religious items blessed by a priest. We've been having a hard time finding someone, partly because we've been going to Protestant churches thinking that they were Catholic. We couldn't find anyone we went shopping. I couldn't by anything, but window shopping is always fun. Besides, it was a beautiful day today.

We all met up in the snooker room of the International Killarney Hotel to have a lecture by the editor of Kerryman newspaper. One of the things that stuck out most to me was that he said that the Guarda (Irish police) don't really give the newspapers information on crimes. I thought that was interesting because in my newswriting class we had an entire section dedicated to learning how to read police reports.

Today was very relaxing. Now I have to strategically pack my suitcase so that everything fits, and that the things that I need for tomorrow and the flight home are on top. Tomorrow we are going to see the Cliffs of Moher. I bet there will be some great pictures from that.

Killarney and Ring of Kerry

We left the fabulous Bellavista hotel to go to Killarney. It was an extremely gloomy and rainy day so of course I decided to straighten my hair... That worked out really well.

One of the first stops we made was in the town to visit a statue of Charlie Chaplain and toast a Guinness to him. It was a lot of fun, but so cold and rainy. There are pictures of it. I'm pretty sure our driver, Joe, and Jan took one each.

After we left there, we went to the Kerry Bog Museum. It was pretty cool to see all of the buildings and whatnot, but the best part was the ponies. Apparently, the bog pony is on the endangered species list. Joe, our tour guide, told me that fun fact. After looking through the museum, we went in to Red Fox to have an Irish Coffee. I do believe that was the best Irish coffee that I've ever had (minus my dad's of course).

We went around the Ring of Kerry and stopped along the way to take pictures of the beautiful scenery. It was so amazing... but once again, cold and rainy! Not to mention we were on the bus for about 10 hours. By the time we got back, I just wanted to pass out.

We then went to the world famous Danny Mann restaurant for dinner and drinks. The food and the atmosphere were really nice, and the best part was that there was a band. They sang a lot of Irish songs that, to be perfectly honest, I don't know the names of... but I do know the lyrics. The best song was definitely "My Heart Will Go On" that was played on the tin flute, and of course was sung by most of the girls in the Point Park group. Loved it! A few tourists came up to us and said that they will never think of that song the same way again... I hope that was a good thing. All in all, the night ended on a good note.

Tomorrow is our free day in Killarney. So excited to work on my project some more.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sealed with a Kiss

Today was really eventful. It started off with a genuine Irish breakfast at the Bellavista. Then, we hopped on a the bus... with Tig... to Cork. First we went to one of the top radio stations in Ireland, Red FM. It was really cool because we had a chance to talk to several people about their jobs and about radio in Ireland. Elish is one of the radio talent for Red FM. She speaks fluent Gaelic, which believe it or not is a dying language. She also teaches Gaelic to children on top of doing the work at the radio station.

Next we went to Blarney. There was so much to do that we all split up for a few hours. Jeremy, Kristina and I went shopping first. There are several stores in the area with Irish crafts and whatnot. Of course I purchase a few things. Jeremy got me a harp necklace that I am in love with (almost as much as I love him). We then met up with Nicole and Micky and ventured to the castle. The first thing we did was go beneath the castle in to the dungeon. The ceilings were unnecessarily low to the point where we all hit our heads a few times. It was really cool to see that but its kind of sad to think that people actually had to stay in there after committing a crime. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment.

We walked through the castle to see some of the rooms then walked up the tiniest spiral staircase you could possibly imagine (of course stopping to take pictures every two seconds). It was hard not to be in awe of the beautiful scenery at the top. We had to wait in line to kiss the Blarney stone. I'm not going to lie.. I really thought that the Blarney stone was a random stone in the middle of a field that people would just kiss for good luck. Turns out I was wrong. At least I wasn't the only person who thought that. We had to lay down on the ground and hold on to two bars while a big, buff man scooted us towards the bottom of the wall. When you're upside down you can see the ground. Scary stuff. Don't worry... Micky got all of the action on her flip cam.

I wasn't going to kiss the Blarney stone because I heard some unflattering stories about it. I'm really glad I did it though. I mean how many times does one get to hang upside down from a castle?

When we got back, everyone started packing up and of course blogging. When that was all finished, a few of us went out to dinner, drinks... and of course a photo shoot. I don't know what I am going to do without our photo shoots.

Tomorrow is going to be a busy day. We're leaving beautiful Cobh to go to Killarney... of course to stop for pictures on the way. I believe there will be a sheepdog show sometime tomorrow. Those of you who know me know that I am amazing at judging dog shows... so this is right up my alley.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hello Cobh

We left Dublin today and ventured to Cobh. On our way there we stopped at Wicklow Mountain National Park where we had a chance to look at the ruins of St. Kevin's Monastery and visit the Glendalough Visitor's Center. There were several grave stones and remains of several buildings. After our new tour guide, Joe, gave us a tour of the area we were allowed to explore the area ourselves. I took several really nice pictures that I am excited to share with everyone.

Next, we were on the bus for another 3 hours to Cobh. I slept the entire way so it seemed like 5 minutes for me. When we got here we checked in to our lovely, large rooms. There are six of us in our one apartment: Micky, Kristina, Ryan, Maegan, Maggie and me. There are three bedrooms, two bathrooms and of course a crib. Fun side note about the Bellavista... It used to be a place where young women would be trained to be nuns.

Then we went on a walking tour of Cobh guided by author Michael Martin. We went on a loop all around Cobh and learned so much about the rich history of this city. Titanic shipped from Cobh and there are several memorials to commemorate the tragic loss. Also, the Lusitania sank not far from where we are staying and there is a beautiful memorial in the middle of the city to commemorate that loss as well.

When we came back, we all got settled in to our rooms and went off to dinner in the lobby of the Bellavista. We had Asian food... which was delicious. I got spare ribs and Singapore chicken chow mein. Loved it.

Tomorrow is going to be a lot of fun. We're going to visit a radio station in Cork and we're also going to Blarney to kiss the Blarney stone. I'm probably not going to kiss it. I'm no fun... I know.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Goodbye Dublin =(

Today is our last day in Dublin (sad face). It was a free day for us so we had a chance to work on our web projects and to walk around the city on our own.

Micky and I started the day by working on our web projects. Both of our topics have to do with bars and drinking so we went together to pubs in the area to get some footage. While Micky was getting some b-roll, an Irish gentleman (I use the term gentleman loosely) decided to give a strip tease to the camera. He unbuckled his belt and took his shirt off and throw it on the camera. Obviously Micky and I were not amused. After he collected himself and left, Micky and I went back to O'Shea's to get some footage of the atmosphere of the pub. We then found a gentleman to interview that had plenty to say about both of our topics.

Next, Jeremy, Kristina and I went to Grafton Street to go shopping and eat. The sidewalks were so crowded and it was hard to walk. We found a woman on the street who sells jewelry that she makes by hand. All of her pieces were beautiful and for a decent prices. She gave me a discount, too. I'd go over what I bought but I know that the people that I'm purchasing this stuff for are reading this.

We then found a tapas restaurant and decided to go there for dinner. Apparently, this place has been visited by several celebrities... Bono included. The food was excellent. I got fresh seafood that was chilled and topped with olive oil and vinegar. Delicious!

Tonight, we're all going to pack our belongings to get ready to move on to Cobh. Then I think we're all going to go out and have a few drinks to say Goodbye to Dublin.

I just want to say a special thanks to Rachel who was our tour guide for the first week. We're all going to miss you!!!!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Visit to the UK

We left for Belfast today... at 6:30 am! We took a train from the Republic of Ireland to Northern Ireland which is part of the United Kingdom. We went directly from the train on a tour through the city given by a local man who was born and raised in Belfast. I knew that there would be several differences between the two countries, but I wouldn't have guessed it would have been so extreme.

Belfast isn't as developed as Dublin partially because of the fact that there has been a civil war between the Catholics and the Protestants for several years. The war has died down a lot since the 90's, but it seems as though the country is just recovering. One of the main things that we all noticed is that there are murals commemorating the bloodshed that took place. One mural that particularly stood out out would be a militant man dressed in all black holding a machine gun. In the background there was a quote saying "Prepared for Peace. Ready for War." Everyone seemed to have a reaction to that one in particular.

We had a chance to see the parliament building. A fun fact about this building is that it used to be white until the locals covered it with poop to camouflage it during WWII. I mean... not something I would personally want to do, but obviously it worked. We stopped for lunch at the place where the Titanic was built. We saw the place where the workers would build. If I'm not mistaken, we should be going on a tour of where the Titanic left for the maiden voyage later next week.

Director of Digital Development of the Irish Independent Gerry Patterson gave our first lecture on print journalism. He told us what his job entails and showed us several examples of the Irish Independent. He also explained the problems between the Protestants and the Catholics to us and was nice enough to answer all of our questions.

We then went to dinner at the Morning Start where I had fish and chips... and I tasted liver pate for the first time. I'm not gonna lie... I'm not a fan of liver. Dinner was excellent though and the Morning Star has a great atmosphere.

We took the train back and made it home around 10:45 pm. All in all it was a very long but eventful day.

Tomorrow is a free day for all of us to work on our individual web projects. I'm going to try to get some footage of O'Shea's pub and some more footage of the Brazen Head Pub. I'm also planning on going shopping to get some treats for my family and friends back at home. We're going to have to pack up all of our stuff because we are unfortunately leaving Dublin to go on our next adventure. I heard that there is not any broadband interent in the country so my blogs will probably not be as long as they have been.