So I know that I said I would be posting stuff at least once a week, and I did…for about a week! So I apologize to those who actually read my blog who have been waiting to hear what adventures I have been on all semester. Initially when I got here I had more free time than I knew what to do with, so it was easy to just sit and write about everything that was going on. But, at some point I must have figured it out because I rarely find myself just sitting at my computer looking for something to do. Since my last update (seems like centuries ago) we have been all around Ireland exploring this beautiful country! Let me give you a breakdown of what I have failed to update you on.
1) Following our weekend in Dublin we went away to the Ring of Kerry on a heritage trip put together by UCC. Although the weather was not the greatest we still managed to have a wonderful time. Our first night we represented Theta by wearing our matching letters to show support of Spring recruitment! Recruitment was all we could think about the entire weekend! While wearing letters we were taught about 5 traditional Irish dances and danced the night away with good craic and meeting lots of new people! The rest of the weekend we toured the Ring and the Skelling Island. Although it was quite foggy, we were still able to appreciate how beautiful the surrounding areas were. We thought the weather was clearing up so during a few hours of free time in the afternoon we decided to go hiking with a few new friends. What were we thinking!? We hiked higher and higher into wind, rain, freezing cold, and misery! Although it made for a good laugh as we walked back to the hotel soaked from head to toe! We continued our weekend sightseeing and headed on home on Sunday, but not without sightseeing for the entire day of course!
2) The following weekend we then traveled with a large Quinnipiac group all the way to Belfast. Belfast, along with the rest of northern Ireland, is a part of the United Kingdom. As we arrived there we had to take out pounds as currency for the weekend because they, like the rest of the UK, do not use euros. Friday was a full day of traveling since Cork is all the way south and Belfast is all the way North! We were given time at the end of the day to walk around the city for a few hours. After we went to a local restuauant to try a boxty, a traditional northern Irish dish. Saturday was spent making our way to the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, the Giant’s Causeway and the town of Derry. What a sight to be seen! It was absolutely beautiful! Sunday we took a black taxi tour and learned all about the troubles in Belfast. It was a very eye opening experience. As we headed home we stopped in Dublin for a few hours. Since we had already been there we knew exactly where to go and visit! We arrived home that night exhausted and ready for bed!
3) We took two weekends off of traveling as people’s parents came and we needed some time to stay in Cork. But at the beginning of March we decided to make our first big trip, all the way to ITALY! I think I have found my one true love! I am so lucky to have been able to travel back to Italy for a second time!! We were in Venice for Carnivael and than spent a few days in Roma! I cannot even put into words how much of an amazing time we had! The Thursday we left was a travel day and we arrived in Venice at about 6. We checked into our Hotel where we had to sneak 6 people into a 4 person room. Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting this on the internet, but oh well! This part was very nerve wrecking because the last thing we needed was to be caught and deported out of Europe! But everything worked out okay. We enjoyed some AMAZING pizza for dinner at a local restaurant and hit the hay early for an early morning. The next day we walked all over Venice searching for the perfect masks to wear around for the day! After finding some we headed in and out of all the stores and went to San Marco square where we awed in amazement at the extraordinary costumes that everyone was wearing! Did I mention the perfect weather we had, oh and that we had that weather every day of our trip! We were so lucky! The next day we still continued to explore and decided to take a rest on the Rialto bridge and soak in some sun! It was so much fun people watching and gazing at the boats float by on the canal. We were in for a treat as a bunch of drunken fools sat next to us and one jumped into the canal! The rest of the day was spend out and about, and of course enjoying some yummy gelato! We were than off to Rome where we spent 3 days of sightseeing, taking pictures, and of course eating some more gelato! The weather was still beautiful and we found it hard to part this beautiful city!
3) The best part came over last week where my best friends from school all came to visit! It was unsanitary conditions for a week in appt 78 room 4, but it was all worth it and I wouldn’t change it for anything. While they, along with other girls, were here we ventured off to FOTA wildlife park, Blarney, Dublin, celebrated St. Patty’s day, Kinsale, and walked around Cork! We attemped the Jameson distillery but we ran into bus troubles (what else is new) and were unable to make it to the last tour being that our bus was practically on fire!! We still managed to make the best of it!
4) My family comes to visit on Thursday and next Sunday I start my 40 day EUROTRIP! I am beyond excited for this trip! We will be traveling to Paris, Munich, Prague, Budapest, Athens, Santorini, Madrid, Lisbon, London, Barcelona, and Ibiza! I am the luckiest girl in the world to be able to do all of this! All I can hope for is beautiful weather and safe travelling!
That’s all that I have been up to the past 3 months in Ireland! I will not be able to post while we are on Eurotrip, but I will be sure to mobile upload and change some facebook statuses to let you know where I am or where I will be headed next!
Love and miss everyone,
Dublin is Ireland’s capital and its biggest city. Dublin is also the place we learned that there really aren’t enough hours in one day. Before we started our weekend long adventure to this fine city the girls and I sat down and planned what we might want to do and how much everything was. We were so excited that we had so much planned to do, but to our dismay when we got there 48 hours just didn’t cut it. However, we made the best of it and had the most wonderful trip!
This trip, like most of our trips got off to a rocky start. Thinking we could walk to the bus station in 30 minutes with our entire luggage was our first mistake. Forgetting the bus ticket was our second! But we gracefully recovered and headed on our merry way into town. About half way there and only 15 minutes until our bus was scheduled to depart we decided there was no way our two feet could get us there quick enough. So we hopped in a cab crossing our fingers that we would make it to the station in time. Did I mention how two of the other girls had fallen behind and didn’t get into a cab until 5 minutes after we did? Well it happened and not only were we worried about getting ourselves there but also getting them there as well! We finally arrived to the station at 11:56 for our 12:00 bus. But where were the other girls? Just as we were boarding the bus and ready to accept their defeat I heard my name screamed from across the room and watched them sprint toward us catching the bus in the nick of time. Pfew! (if you have been reading my other posts you would know that us and the bus system do not mesh well together) So we traveled on our merry way, on the bus, for four and a half hours. Good times.
We finally arrived in Dublin a little before the sun started to set. We had just heard from the other two girls who took a separate bus after us because they had class. They had missed their bus. Apparently a sprint across the city just doesn’t cut it! Remind us not to travel on buses if other options are available. While laughing at their tragic bus story we somehow managed to pass the location of our hostel and not even ten minutes into being there we were lost. Figures. With some redirection from locals we were able to backtrack and find our hostel. It was literally a 45 second walk from the bus.
Now since Dublin was our first overnight trip anywhere this also meant that we would be staying in a hostel for the first time. We eagerly checked in and swiped into our room. As we peered through the door thinking we were going to run into some of our fellow bunk mates the images I had of summer camp came rushing back. It was one great big giant sleepover with your best friends in bunks in less than perfect conditions. You with 6 sets of bunk beds stationed around the room and one sink, mirror, shower, and stall for 12 people. Oh and not to mention that it was also a coed room.(this part was not like summer camp) Although we were set back by the place initially the hostel turned out to be really nice and we left the hostel each morning with a belly full of a hot Irish breakfast!
Our day of arrival just consisted of a self guided tour of the city. We walked through the temple bar district, passed the historic bank, walked down Grafton street, saw the entrance to St. Steven’s green, and grabbed a bite to eat at a small restaurant back in the temple bar area. The weather was freezing the entire weekend. After dinner we sat and listened to some live music. Danielle and I snuck away to go check out some of the others pubs. They were of course packed, but a lot different from the pubs in Cork. Dublin tended to have more of a mixed age range for people that we saw in the bars. Dinner was served in all the places until about 10. (In Cork we find it hard to find pubs to eat at past 3-5 p.m and the crowd tends to me mostly younger but on weekend old because the students go home) But in staying true to tradition all of the women still wore the shortest dresses, highest heels, and all of their make-up to the pubs/clubs. The nice treat was that in checking out a lot of the pubs we got to see some with a lot of character. They all had their own history to them, some even dating back to 300 years! It was a cool experience to just walk and view how the people acted and interacted with one another even though we didn’t stay in any to have a drink. We had to call an early night so we could meet the other girls and hit the hay early for our early start the next day.
Our first full day in Dublin started bright and early with a hot Irish breakfast provided free from the hostel. We set out to the Guinness Factory early so we could get there at opening and maximize our hours in the day. (we were rudely mistaken) After wandering the streets and getting a little lost, although in every detour we discovered something new and interesting, we finally made it to the factory. We walked through the 7 floors of the museum at a casual pace just enjoying being there. I found it to be quite interesting. We opted to pour the perfect pint as our free pint that came with our admission ticket. (we did make sure to go to the gravity bar at the top to check out the view first) We each took our turn learning how to pour Guinness the proper way and at just about 12 noon we sat down for a drink? It’s 5 o’clock somewhere right? After realizing how much time we wound up spending in the factory we needed to get a move on things! Since the Kilmainham Jail was located on the same side of the city we decided to do that next. The jail was interesting and absolutely freezing! Here we learned that they actually would send kids to prison for stealing bread or potatoes! The day ended with us walking back down Grafton street doing a little shopping and grabbing a bite to eat at O’Neill’s pub. We each got a traditional Irish dish and made sure to try a little bite from each other! We had a lot of fun just hanging out and enjoying each other’s company in the warmth. The difference between restaurants in Ireland is that they are in no rush to kick you out. You are more than welcome to stay for as long as your heart desires! This was followed by some gelato and hanging out at a pub to listen to live music!
Our last day started early again as we traveled to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to attend a service in the chapel there. This was followed by wandering the city a bit more. We passed through St. Steven’s green, visited Trinity College, saw the Dublin Castle, and once again saw Grafton street (during the day this time) along with quaint other side roads. Being that it was Sunday a lot of places just weren’t open or opened later in the day. By this point we had basically walked and covered every square meter of the map! So we had to move on, to the other side of the river that is! We covered more land by walking and went to see the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA). This is the big stadium in Dublin that hosts all of the Gaelic games like hurling and handball. After given a tour of the stadium and getting to see it at every angle (on the side of the field, VIP, box seats, and nose bleeds) we gained access to the museum that they had there as well. With this they also had an interactive section where we could test our different skills like reaction time, jumping, and throwing and kicking the balls. Here we all learned the real reason why we don’t play any of these sports! After this we grabbed a quick lunch and caught the bus (with time to spare) for a relaxing ride home. (excluding the French people who seemed to have shouted in French to each other the entire ride home!!!) To our surprise it was an express bus and we were able to make it back to the city in just under 3 hours.
Although we did not get to do everything we set out to do, there is nothing that I would have changed about our weekend away! We definitely left enough to do to go back and visit and maybe even watch a sporting game or two! Anytime away with my girls is always a pleasure!
Slante! Love and miss everyone!
Cliffs of Moher
Traditional Irish music session
I have been in Ireland for just overthree weeks and I have already fallen in love with this beautiful country. Last weekend is what really set my feelings over the edge. Despite the entire day of rain that we received on Saturday, Ireland surely made up for it though the absolutely gorgeous weather that we received on Sunday. Who said there are no blue skies in Ireland? This beautiful weather was quite convenient because a small group of us had booked a tour through a company called ‘The Paddywagon.’ We woke up bright and early Sunday morning to walk into town to meet for the tour. Of course with our luck we heard the wrong time and got there an hour before we were actually supposed to! Not that I needed that extra hour of sleep or anything! Finally the first bus arrived and we thought that our group was going to be split up amongst two buses, but the women on the other bus kindly switched so that all of us could be together. Since I was the last to get on the bus (I seem to be the last at everything so I wasn’t surprised) I was voted the person to sit in the front seat with the tour guide the entire trip! Initially I was skeptical because I hardly knew the guy, but I ended up having the best seat in the house (or mini bus). The entire ride I sat glued to the window staring out at the countryside and was even given the honor of taking attendance. Good thing (for the rest of the bus at least) the microphone did not reach to my side of the van because I would have commentated the entire trip. I was practically driving the bus, NBD!
Our first stop was in Limerick where we saw the river, a fort, and Munster Stadium (hopefully we will be up again to watch a rugby game there!) After another short drive we stopped at the beach so we could see the ocean. The beach was unlike any beach I have ever seen! The waves were huge! We had walked down to take a couple of pictures by the water, naturally with mine and Danielle’s luck the waves almost got both of us. Danielle was able to escape a wave but slipped in the process and a big lob of foam landed right on her boots! I on the other hand was luckier. While posing for a picture I heard my name being called in slow motion and somehow without hesitation knew I needed to run for my life! The wave literally just missed me by a hair! While recuperating from this experience and thanking God for making it alive and dry we were finally driven to the Cliffs of Moher. The view was something that I could never describe in words. I liked how Maddie put it a lot better. She described it as being more of an experience than something that you can describe. You need to go and be there to fully understand it. The surrounding area just captivated me. I was able to see the ocean, the countryside, the sun, the moon, the cliffs, mountains, and blue skies all at the same time! Where else are you able to see all of this in one single moment? All I can say is you have to see it for yourself to believe it.
After the cliffs we were driven through an area known as the Burrens, or ‘rocky place.’ This is an area entirely of limestone but in the summer months is known to have some of the most beautiful flowers and specialists from all over come to the Burrens to study and take pictures of them. Initially I didn’t think I was going to like it because who wants to look at rocks for miles on end. But, to my misjudgment they were beautiful! It overlooked the ocean and the waves were so big that they came up over the cliffs and could get you wet. Since I learned my lesson the first time around I decided not to go close to the edge and risk getting wet. Don’t worry I took a nice rock of limestone as a souvenir! (not that it looks any different than any other rock you’ve ever seen!) We proceeded to get back in the paddywagon, I hopped back in the front with my new buddy ‘Big Mike’ and we continued on our merry way around the barrens some more. For a bunch of limestone it was quite the sight! The day just kept getting better!
Since we were in no rush and neither was Big Mike, we took our time coming around the mountain and looking at all the animals and abandoned settlements from as far back as the potato famine. We stopped at the leprechaun’s well and all made a wish over our shoulders! Although it wasn’t much we all enjoyed the stop! We continued on our drive watching the sunset. The nice thing about being in the mountains in Ireland is that there aren’t many trees throughout the landscape so you always have a beautiful view! Our next stop was to an old megalithic tomb called Poulnabrone, which we actually learned about a few days later in archaeology! We stopped for a few pictures but it was starting to get cold so we headed back in for our last stop. We stopped at a castle but it was too late so it wasn’t open but it was nice to look at. The best thing about the castle was that located right next to one of the most famous pubs in Ireland called ‘Dirty Nelly’s.’ We all stopped inside to get a drink. The place was a cute little pub with badges of fire departments, rescue squads, and police departments throughout all of the United States hanging from every open inch of the ceiling and wall. Apparently when people come they actually bring a patch just so it can be hung up! There were plenty from New Jersey =) I sat with the group and enjoyed a nice Irish Coffee. There’s a first time for everything!
We finally started heading home and I was able to fall asleep for a little. That was until we decided to do karaoke in the bus and sang to every song that came on! Our driver was nice enough to drop us off right back where we are living at Victoria lodge. Although it was an exhausting day, a bunch of us still managed to go to a local pub to watch the football game. To our surprise this pub has traditional Irish music sessions every Sunday so we were able to dance along with the songs they were playing. One of the older men even came over to me and handed me the badhran (pronounced like moron but with a b), or the irish drum, and I was able to play it for a little bit! I wasn’t half bad but it hurt my hand so I gave it back and decided I was better at listening than playing! We had so much fun clapping along! It was the perfect way to end such a perfect day. For the first time in a long time I did not have a worry in the world for the entire day, and it was wonderful!
"Tokyo" - Gemma Hayes
Before I came to Ireland people constantly told me how the three best things here are the people, pubs, and music. Before yesterday I had only been able to experience two of the three (obviously the people and the pubs). But, we have been constantly trying to find different places and opportunities to see some live music (both traditional and modern). Both Thursday and Friday we finally got our opportunity. Last Thursday night my roommates had a few guys who are in a band and they had invited us to see their band perform the following Thursday night. So when Thursday night came around we were able to make it to the venue and heard them play a couple songs. They were actually pretty good! We were also able to stay and another band play a few of their songs too. On Friday we got a second opportunity to see another performance (for free) at UCC’s Glucksman Gallery by Gemma Hayes. Our modern music teacher had told us about it and we also found out that there are shows almost every Friday put on at the gallery (all for free!) Gemma Hayes has had several of her songs featured in Grey’s Anatomy and in a few shows on HBO. When we got to the venue it said it was full but we still walked in anyway. Danielle and I were able to sit on the floor right in the front. When she started singing I was completely captivated. She has such a wonderful voice, but I will let you be the judge of that. Check out the video of one of her songs! She has two CD’s out in stores.
I first want to apologize to all 3 people who avidly stalk my blog (if there even are that many!) for I have not posted in what, 2 days? My life still continues to be my life. Today at the gym I forgot to bring my UCC I.D. because, well I would. So I had to kindly ask the people to look up my name and somehow prove that I am actually Danielle Giordanella (I also didn’t know my student ID number either) after some convincing they let me in. Two friends and I decided to share a locker together and put our stuff in it. After working out together for a little bit we separated and they wound up leaving before me. While we were separated I was trying to find Michelle so we could go to a class together, in a failed attempt to find her for a good 15 minutes I managed to pace the hallways looking for the room that I thought I was going to meet her in. People watching must have thought I was crazy, although that idea isn’t too far off! After finally meeting her we went to work out in the women’s gym (soo nice and soo much cooler and less smelly) and than left to go to the locker rooms to get our stuff. Well just my luck, the locker that my jacket was in that was supposed to be open so I could have it was not open. I proceeded to check all the open lockers to find it. No luck. Finally after 20 minutes of trying to find my jacket we were able to get the locker open where it was locked in all along! Sound like something that would happen to me? Well it did. Maybe I’m being dramatic but I think that I am the only person capable of locking their jacket in a locker and being unable to get it out. Maybe I am not cut out to go to the gym.
Aside from this wonderful experience, life is wonderful. I have been able to skype with so many people who I love and miss so much! (still more people I have to skype with though, so get on it!!) I have a wonderful family! My friends are awesome! And to top it off I have the most amazing sisters in the world. And did I mention I am living for Ireland for 5 months, oh yeah that too. =)
So for when my life gets interesting again and I actually have stuff to talk about, that’s all for tonight. Short and sweet, well kind of. I just want to let everyone at home and abroad elsewhere that I am thinking of and missing everyone! I am so blessed to have each and everyone of you in my life <3
Today I went to my second class of the semester and only class of the day. Hard life, right? This class today was an Archeology class, which after the first and only 50 mins of this class that I have taken I am going to love! We will be taking two field trips through this class which should be extraordinary! Our professor showed us pictures of the places where we will be going and they looked absolutely stunning! Oh and did I mention that tomorrow, although I will have 3 classes, I will be taking Irish Folklore, archeology (again), and introduction to modern Irish music? May I also add that I will be taking an introductory course to learn to speak Irish? The cherry on top is that Physiology (that’s what they call it here) doesn’t start for another month! So wait, there are other classes that exist out there that are not science classes or anatomy? Who would have thought! Not only is studying abroad giving me the ability to live in another country and interact with their culture but I am also able to take courses that also allow me to learn about its history and understand their culture! Everything just pieces together so nicely! It’s quite wonderful actually.
After my long day of class Danielle, Jill, and I stopped to grab a cup of delicious chai lattes! So good =) This was than followed by a casual lunch in the room and wait for it…more shopping! Such a bad habit that must be broken. And a habit that is not allowed to persist at the rate that Danielle M and I develop and extreme case of A.D.D. while we are in the stores! I have been saying since I got here that I needed to get another coat because I only had my heavy duty winter jacket. But, because it is hard to go into a pub barely fitting through doorways because I am so puffed out I thought I was in need of another one. This was a success, I found a cheap jacket (or two) and a few other items thrown in there to spice it up a bit! My day wasn’t all that exciting, but it was nice to experience a less hectic day and start to take in the beauty that Cork has to offer.
There is some good news about today though (other than the good find on the jackets). I was finally able to enjoy a nice hot shower! Hot water has never felt so good! On that note I leave you this, never take a hot shower for granted because without it you would develop hypothermia and not have clean hair.
Loving and missing everyone,