Hello all! Sorry it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted, but I’m going to make it up tonight with an extra long one.
Let me start with our Ring of Kerry tour two weekends ago. Alison, Norah and I hopped on the Paddy Wagon, a big green tour bus with a smiling leprechaun on the back. The bus took us on a very, very curvy road on which I felt rather nauseous the whole hour-long drive to Killarney. The tour guide sang a traditional Irish tune about the Great Famine however, which was a good distraction. Once we made it to Killarney (vomit-free!) I felt immensely better and we got to tour the town, which is absolutely darling. It reminded me of Ashland but older and more Irish with fewer weirdos, as far as I could tell. We had an hour in Killarney, and then we got back on the Paddy Wagon to drive around the Ring of Kerry. The Ring of Kerry is basically a gorgeous drive with lots of viewing points onto the rugged coastal southern landscape, so we got lots of pictures, mostly thanks to Norah who has a nice camera. On one stop we got to hold a lamb, which was arguably the highlight of the trip, and on another we got to see the Wild Atlantic Way, a viewing point that was named the most beautiful place on earth by National Geographic a few years ago (the Irish are VERY proud of this). Another great spot was the Killarney National Park, which we saw on the way back from the Wild Atlantic Way. We got to go on a little hike to see a waterfall, and there was a bagpiper playing in the middle of the woods, which is about the most majestic thing I could’ve imagined. As we were getting close, a said to Norah, “I wonder if he takes requests. Like could I ask him to play ‘Amazing Grace’? I was joking, but apparently he heard me because as we passed he winked and started playing Amazing Grace on the bagpipes in the middle of the woods in front of a waterfall. It was awesome. We got back to Cork around 8pm. The next morning Alison and I went to mass (I say morning—it was actually noon) at a church near the dorm. I had dressed up, but no one else had, because apparently they had read the weather report. So I sloshed through puddles in heels while the rest of the congregation was in pants and raincoats. But now I know for next time! Alison and I are trying to go to a new church/chapel/cathedral every Sunday, because there are so many gorgeous ones in and around Cork. I didn’t get to church this Sunday though, which brings me to my next recap:
Oktoberfest. This weekend I met my friend Emily, who is studying in Florence, in Munich for the opening weekend of Oktoberfest. I flew into the Franz Josef Strauss international airport in Munich, and was feeling dandy. Every airport I’ve ever been to has free wifi, because it just makes sense, what with the number of people these days who skip the kiosks and just check into their flights online. Every airport, that is, except Franz Josef Strauss. “It’s fine, though,” I thought, “because I’ll just get a cab to the hostel and use the hostel’s wifi to let Emily know I’m there.” This was not to be the case. Here’s a travel tip: when you book a hostel, look up how far it is from the airport RIGHT THEN. I did not do this, so when the cab fare was up to 35 euros and we didn’t even seem to be in the city, I asked the cab driver, all casual-like, how far we were from the hostel. “Oh, 20 minutes or so,” he replied. “How much is that going to cost, do you think?” I asked, a little worried now. “75, 80 euro” I was not willing to pay this, even though I was in the middle of nowhere, Germany, so he drove me to the nearest U-Bahn. As I paid him and got out, he remembered something. “The last train leaves in 2 minutes or so. Goodnight!” and he drove off, leaving me in full-fledged panic mode. I ran to the dimly ticket kiosk and tried to read the microscopic german instructions, but as I was doing so the train roared in. I now faced a choice: run onto the train with no ticket, or be stranded at the station in the dark with no phone or internet. I got on the train, wracked with guilt and fear. At each stop, I was sure a ticket nazi was going to take me to a German jail. But alas, I was able to ask a nice English-speaking german how to get to the hostel. I got off at Marienplatz and onto another train (I paid a little more than I had to in order to ease my consious about the last train) and made it to Arnulfstrasse, where the hostel was. But now I realized that I didn’t know which way down the street to walk. I was able to ask a hotel clerk and get the right direction. After walking about 10 minutes and not seeing it, I started ugly-crying in the middle of the street, and was just composing myself when I stopped into another hotel to verify directions. The scary Deutsch receptionist scoffed at me when I asked for directions, because apparently it was only a block away at this point. Which of course I took extremely personally, and which sent me over the edge again. But alas, I saw the A&O Hostel sign gleaming in the distance, and felt a sense of joy probably akin to that of Lewis and Clark when they found the Pacific. The hostel was really nice, and I was able to meet up with Emily and YAY WIFI was able to let my parents know I was ok. So that was a valley, but the next day was a peak. We woke up around 9 and bought coffee and dirndls on our way to Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is like a huge fair but with more beer and traditional Bavarian clothing. There was a parade, a bunch of rides. a huge cheer as an important person (the mayor?) opened the first keg, and enormous beer tents. First we watched the parade, and then we wandered around looking at the things for sale at the many stalls. We tried unsuccessfully to find a table in one of the beer tents, but people who had finagled a spot were never going to give it up, so we ended up having lunch in a small restaurant on the premises, which was nicer because we could actually hear ourselves think. Emily couldn’t convince me to go on any of the rides except the famous one with the chairs that spin in a circle. Around 4pm or so we decided to leave and see Marienplatz. We shopped for a bit and were able to see the famous clock, and had dinner at the Hofbrauhaus. The next day we walked around Munich, and I lost track of time a bit. I hopped a Lufthansa airport bus (something I would have known about earlier had I done any research at all) and made it to the airport 40 minutes before my boarding time, which is much less time than I usually give myself, but I got to the gate with 15 minutes to spare. Landing in Dublin was the first time Ireland has really felt like home to me. I prefer it immensely to Germany. It’s not that I didn’t have a good time there–we saw a lot of great landmarks—but the Irish people are just so friendly and willing to go out of their way to help. Anyway, sorry for this lengthy post, and I’ll be in touch next week! ❤ Jackie