A whirlwind last 3 weeks

Hello all! Once again I have slacked on my blog posting, but here we go!  Two weekends ago my dad, sister and brother decided to come visit me for four days. The first day we spent around Cork City, trying to ward off the jetlag, which had hit Sean especially hard. At one point dad parked the rental car, we took all took a picture of St. Finbarr’s Cathedral on the roof, and we went downstairs only to realize that Sean was missing. After five minutes of searching and thinking he’d gone to the wrong floor of the garage, Summer found him asleep in the car, into which he had apparently teleported after our group photo.

Eventually we got back to the hotel with great consternation, as dad couldn’t see how far left he was driving and there are woefully few road signs in Ireland (something I hadn’t noticed before because I’d never had to drive anywhere). We had dinner at the hotel and then everyone crashed at 9pm.

The next day we spent touring my campus, then going to Midleton and Cobh. We spent a while in the Cobh heritage museum which was nice. The day after that we drove out to Kinsale, where we watched the boats and had a traditional Irish breakfast, and then took the Wild Atlantic Way out to Skibereen. The drive was lovely, and dad did a great job driving a car on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road, shifting with his left hand.  They left the next day, so it was a quick trip but really fun.

Last weekend, I whisked myself off to Austria to visit my friend Emily and her roommate Anna. We started in Vienna, which was beautiful. We went to several Christmas markets and did a walking tour to get oriented with the city. Next was Salzburg, which was my personal favorite. Salzburg is surrounded by scraggly mountains with snowy peaks and adorable houses painted in different colors. The three of us did a Sound of Music Tour, which was a little cheesy but really fun and took us to a lot of key sights that were in the movie, including the 16 going on 17 gazebo (which you can’t get into because an old lady tried doing Liesel’s dance and broke her leg). The rest of the day was spent around Salzburg Christmas markets and trying to get warmth in our icy fingers (Salzburg was COLD). The next day we were off to Innsbruck, where I only had an hour and a half to spend before I had to be in the airport, but I spent that time playing in the snow, so it was perfect.

Which brings me to Thanksgiving! The Irish don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, although they have introduced Black Friday sales this year (shudders). But my roommates and a few more friends decided we’d attempt a Thanksgiving anyway, and we invited four Irish students to come along. We bought two chickens instead of a turkey because it was so much cheaper, but otherwise everything was fairly traditional, and between everyone pitching in we had a pretty impressive spread. The Irish kids commented that “if this had been an Irish party there would have been just a chicken and LOADS of cans, like.” There were 9 people in our apartment all together, which we were a little nervous about, but we brought out our swivel desk chairs and it all worked out.

And now there are only 12 days before I arrive home, which is absurd. On Monday Norah, Alison and I are going to Amsterdam for two days and Berlin for another two, and then I’ll have to start packing. But I’ll save he sappy farewell to Ireland post for later. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

And Merry Christmas!

XOXO Jackie

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London, Dublin, and Belfast

IMG_1668Hiya! So I think it’s been three weeks since my last post. Oops. Let’s get started shall we?

From October 23-25 I was in London with Norah and her two friends from Alaska. The first day we went to Stonehenge, which was 2 hours outside the city. It is exactly what it looks like in the pictures, which is to say some rocks on some other rocks. With this in mind, I’m not sure why we went other than the fact that it seems  like something you should see when in England. But the weather was perfect and I snapped some pictures. We stayed in a nice Airbnb and used Uber to get there. Both services were ones I’d never used and I think they’re both great. The next day, after ordering full English breakfasts in a French cafe, we did a London bus tour, which was great because we got to see all of the important landmarks in the city and get oriented with it. We sat on the open-air top of the bus and it began to rain, but we’re from Oregon so we toughed it out (the Alaskans gave up and went downstairs to the ground level of the bus). After the tour we did a quick stop at the National Gallery and then went to Victoria Station, which was a tube station/mall. Then Norah and I went to Big Ben to meet Emily, who was also visiting London from Florence. We got there 20 minutes early or so, so we took pictures of Big Ben and the Parliament building from many an angle. When Emily showed up, we went to Chipotle, which we were all pretty enthused about. Halfway through dinner a police van stopped in front of the Chipotle and a whole squad came in to eat Mexican food. So that was fun. After dinner Emily went to re-meet her group and Norah and I went to a bookshop and then to a pub with the Alaskans. The next day we all went on a river cruise, then toured the outside of the Tower of London (it was 20 pounds to get in so we decided we didn’t need to see it that badly). Afterward we headed back to Cork, where I succumbed to a horrible cold for a few days.

Last weekend, or Halloweekend, we went to a haunted house in Cork. It was three levels and pretty fun, although Alison, who came with us despite the fact that she hates haunted houses, was not as pleased. In fact, she spent the whole time latched onto my back whilst screaming into my ear canal, which was actually more terrifying than the haunted house itself. The rest of the weekend was spent watching old halloween movies and getting my history essay written.

This weekend Norah’s mom came to town and we went to Dublin and Belfast. It was a really quick trip but we saw a lot. On Friday we took the bus to Dublin and toured the Guinness factory. At the end we got a free Guinness, which tastes the way gasoline smells. Then we went to the Trinity College library, which houses the Book of Kells. Although the book of Kells is cool I preferred the Trinity Long Room, which was an incredibly ornate room with really old books and is also the home of the oldest Irish harp, which dates to the 1400s and is the harp that every Irish mascot harp is modeled after.

That was all we did in Dublin (like I said, quick trip) but in Belfast we did a tour to a few famous Northern-Irish sites. First we went to the Dark Hedges, which is apparently an important place if you watch Game of Thrones, but I don’t so I just saw some cool-looking trees and not the Entrance to the Seven Kingdoms or whatever. The next stop was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. I didn’t go over the bridge, because nonononononono noo, but the hike to the bridge was stunning. The hills had a thousand shades of green and the water a thousand shades of blue. The next stop on the tour was the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, which features a ton of volcanically-formed hexagon-shaped stone pillars. This is also a Game of Thrones filming location, which is understandable because it doesn’t look like a real place. It looks almost man-made. After Giant’s Causeway we went back to Belfast, got dinner, and went right to bed. That night my dad texted me to see if it was ok if he and Summer and Sean could come visit THIS THURSDAY. Which I’m super excited about! So I’m going to sign off to clean my room. We’ll see if I can keep it clean until Thursday.

P.S. I’m celebrating Christmas now because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here.

Merry Christmas!

xoxo Jackie

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Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

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