“Guys, we just sat in a pub for 5 hours”

Yesterday is most likely one of my favorite days of this entire trip and a day I will always remember. Meghan, Kathleen, and I decided to make the most of our day by getting up at a decent time and going to the markets near Temple Bar. We ran into one market on the way that has clothes, hats, jewelry, etc. outside for sale. We wandered around there and in a few stores for a bit and then made our way to the other market. As we walked towards it there were 3 men playing guitars and i LOVED every song they played and loved hearing it as I sampled the different foods at the market. They had a bunch of different vendors and I got a churizo taco that was soo delicious. I LOVE churizo and really want my mom to make it when I get home :). After this we showed Meghan Avoca, the cutest store ever and I want all of the stuff from there! I bought a really soft scarf that I have been thinking about getting for so long now. After this we wandered around the streets a little (oh and by the way, the weather was PERFECT) and ended up at a cool pub called the Hairy Lemon. There was a rugby match on so all of the pubs were packed. We were lucky we found a nice booth and enjoyed a Guinness. We just spent our time talking and laughing until we noticed we had been sitting there for almost 2 hours! Eventually a drunk man from norway came up to our table and asked if he could sit with us. His friend joined as well and we ended up spending 3 more hours talking and laughing with these norwegians. They were so fun and witty and taught us a lot about Norway. They were some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met and I couldn’t have had more fun. At one point all of a sudden an Elvis song came on so the one guy got up and pulled me up with him and said, “The king is playing we have to dance”. So we slowed danced and he dipped me  couple times and just laughed while we danced in a packed pub where no one else was dancing. Come to find out, hes a world-class  professional dancer. That definitely put my dancing skills to shame.

Sigord and I at the Hairy Lemon

After trying to get us to eat dinner with them we decided that since it was 8pm we should probably head back to our flats. We got ready for the night and ended up at Fitzsimons with the whole crew. It was a really fun night and Kathleen and I didn’t make it to bed til about 6:30 am. It was a pretty eventful day and I know I will always remember it forever.

I am getting so sad that I have less than one week left til I go home but as I’ve been trying to spend each day making the most of it, I know that I will go home with so many wonderful memories and life-long friends.

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GAA- A lifetime of hurling and gaelic football

Today, for one of our mobile seminars (required through our program, womp) we took the DART to visit Parnell stadium. It is one of the places where the GAA uses a field for Hurling and Gaelic football. The GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) is an organization that was created in efforts to separate Ireland from the UK. If someone was part of the GAA  playing hurling or gaelic football they were not allowed to play rugby or futbol, and vice versa. A fairly large group of us gathered in a room to play a couple warm up games with a GAA coach and another member. We then sat and talked and had Q & A session about the organization or rules of the game. The chief executive of GAA also sat in on the meeting and answered questions. It was quite interesting to listen to them talk about the Irish organization, and to know that there are small GAA orgs. in the USA.

Those who play hurling or gaelic football play for their home county which all fall under the four different districts (depending on location) of the Republic of Ireland. After watching a video about hurling and talking to the members, the coach took us to an indoor gym to learn the rules of the games. We did some drills and learned how to handle the Hurley (stick) and control the sliotar (ball). After some warm up drills We then played a round of Hurling, in which my team won (woo!). After this, we learned the rules and techniques of playing Gaelic football. Its played with a volleyball-like ball and the rules are similar to handball. After some more drills we played a short game in which my team won again (woo!). Sadly, it was my most intense workout, or only one, of the semester but it was a lot of fun! It was really cool to learn the rules and get a chance to play the games taught by a GAA coach. Though it took a while to find the stadium through the town and slippery ice, it was definitely worth it to experience a long time Irish tradition as well as a very large part of their culture.

A Wonderful Christmas Time!

Long before Thanksgiving the city of Dublin has been decorated with lights, christmas trees, and wreathes inside and outside. In Jervis shopping center there is even a huge area built for Santa Claus to take pictures with the children. It has been really exciting to see Christmas decorations around the city and has gotten me ready for Christmas back home. During this month there are various markets that have been occurring. There was supposed to be a chocolate market that showed christmas movies on big screens outside, but it was unfortunately cancelled because of the treacherous snow. One market though, we did attend this past Saturday December 4th, it was the German Christmas market down at the Docklands. Now, i’ve been to a Christmas market in Vienna which couldn’t have been more amazing, so this market would have had to do a lot to impress me. It was in the same area as Dublin’s Oktoberfest and was very cute and quaint. It wasn’t as big as the one in Vienna but it had german sausage ( i wont attempt to spell it on here), as well as other food and candy we sampled. There were a couple stands for gifts to buy which I did, but I cant say on here because they are Christmas presents! The market though was a lot of fun and the 7 girls we were with wandered the stands as we listened to the band play Christmas music. Unfortunately it was FREEZING on Saturday so all of our toes were frozen and we stopped for a hot chocolate and bailey’s inside while we warmed up. Overall, it was a good way to spend our Saturday as well as get in the mood for Christmas and all its festivities!

Top of the Christmas Market where the sausage and crepes were!

Steph and I with our sausage! soo yummy

View of the rest of the market-so cute

You’ve been, thunderstruck!

Well I don’t have much to report on, other than the amount of snow and hail that has been falling from the sky since last friday night. Friday night, we were out on the town, and I noticed (while I was standing outside for an hour and a half, a story for another time) that the sky had been lighting up continuously. Since it doesn’t thunderstorm in Dublin ever, I dismissed the fact that it could be lightning and thought it was a club or something. Well I finally made it back to the apartment and started to hear loud crashing noise from outside. I then realized that it was thundering and it had been in fact lightning the whole night. First of all, I couldn’t believe it was actually thundering and lightning but I could believe what was gonna happen next…It started to snow! I was soooo happy that it was snowing/hailing and couldn’t believe that this came after thunder and lightning…?

Well it didn’t snow very much, but enough. The next day it didn’t snow until that night (saturday) when we were going to a club. It was very heavy flurries and though I was cold and wet, I was so happy to be walking in a winter wonderland. After leaving the club, the city had practically shut down and taxis weren’t picking up anyone! Luckily we were able to get a taxi after about 40 minutes of walking around.

Since then, it has been on and off snowing for the past couple days. It is now Tuesday and I cant believe that this is still going on, and that yesterday morning it was a mere 19 degrees. UGH! It is supposed to be on and off snowing tomorrow as well and I believe Friday. Though the temperatures look like they will be rising too high for snow, so I don’t know how much longer this will last. Apparently last year was the coldest winter they had seen in a very long time, but considering it hardly snows in Dublin, Im assuming this year might have it beat. I am still appalled by the thunder and snow effect but I am not complaining, since it is definitely a cool thing to experience. On the downside, temperatures are supposed to fall into the negatives in the north. Lets hope that temperature drop doesn’t move over to Dublin.

Here is a link to the lightning in Dublin from Friday/Saturday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL4vou2tars&feature=topvideos

Here is a link to the weather forecast where it looks like it will be on and off snowing for the next week or so: http://www.wunderground.com/global/stations/03969.html

Stay warm!

A celtic tiger no more

After Ireland’s long history of struggle with independence and such, it finally joined the EU, had Irish natives coming back to their homeland, and experienced an economic boom. This economic boom is very recent and was an exciting point for the Irish. This boom is known as ‘The Celtic Tiger’. Unfortunately many Irish took advantage of this and started living larger lifestyles than ever before. Now, in this economic crisis, many are  having a hard time with money. The banks were forced to split and now the Irish are looking to the EU for economic support. It is all over the news these days but I came across an article to post here about it. Hopefully their 4-year plan will prove to be successful/helpful..

Here is the article from BBC news:

Euro slide continues as Irish debt fears persist

Protesters outside government buildings in DublinAusterity measures are proving deeply unpopular

The euro has continued its slide against the dollar as investors digest the Irish Republic’s austerity plan.

The currency fell by almost half a cent to $1.3325, and has now fallen by more than three cents this week.

The four-year Irish plan is designed to save 15bn euros ($20bn; £13bn) through spending cuts and tax rises, but investors remain unconvinced.

The government is also negotiating a bail-out package with the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

This is expected to be worth about 85bn euros.

Investor fear

The austerity measures are designed to reduce the Republic’s budget deficit, which is the highest in the eurozone.

However, there are doubts about the Irish government’s growth estimates, which directly impact its deficit forecasts – many investors see them as overly-optimistic.

The government still expects the economy to average 2-2.5% growth in 2011, and 3.5-4.5% the year after, whereas rating agency Standard & Poor’s has said it expects virtually no growth over the next two years.

There also are also doubts about the whether the government will be able to push through its austerity measures when parliament votes on the budget on 7 December.

Compounding this uncertainty are fears that the Irish debt crisis will spread to other countries with high deficits, in particular Portugal and Spain.

EURO V US DOLLAR

LAST UPDATED AT 25 NOV 2010, 09:36 GMT*CHART SHOWS LOCAL TIMEEUR:USD intraday chart

€1 buys change %
1.3314

-0.00

-0.15

All these factors are putting pressure on the euro.

Tax rises

In total, the spending cuts announced in the recovery plan will amount to 10bn euros, while tax rises will bring in a further 5bn euros.

The cuts include 2.8bn euros of savings in social welfare spending, 24,750 public sector jobs cuts and a 1 euro reduction in the minimum wage, to 7.65 euros an hour.

The tax rises include an extra 1.9bn euros from income tax changes, an increase in VAT from 21% to 22% in 2013, and to 24% in 2014, and a new “site value” property tax to raise 200 euros from most homeowners by 2014.

The government has already implemented 15bn euros of cuts in the last two years.

The measures have proved deeply unpopular with the electorate, and junior government partner, the Green Party, has called for a general election in January.

Voters go to the polls later in a by-election in Donegal to elect a new TD (MP) to the Irish Parliament.

This article among many others can be found here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11836514

Onwards and upwards- A trip to Waterford!

On Monday, November 22, I took the 9:20 train to Waterford with Steph and her 3 friends who are visiting her for the week. We stayed in Waterford for the day and took the 4:50 train back to Dublin. Since its late fall and the weather wasn’t very nice, I would say this was the perfect amount of time to spend in the city. It is a small and quaint city/town. It is apparently the oldest city in the country and is a Viking town. We walked around a bit and stopped in for lunch. We also went to the Waterford treasured museum. We got a 2 for 1 plus student deal so we each only had to pay 3 euro but I would recommend not going here unless you really love museums.

We then went to the Waterford Crystal museum, which you might know this is what Waterford is known for. The factory was really really awesome! We only had to pay 4 to get in and we got to actually go into the factory and watch them make the crystal. It was one of the coolest experiences. We saw each  step; first they make the molding, then they blow it and make the shape, then it cools, its then inspected, then it is carved and etched, inspected again and  so on. This is definitely something worth going to Waterford to see.

worth $100,000 just for the clock

making the molding for the base

turning and molding the hot crystal before he blows it up to size

marking where the bowl will be etched for design

using a diamond wheel to make the design

making the super bowl trophy!

 

Ciao Bella!-Italia

This past week, November 15 -20 I spent my time exploring Italy! It was a long week and so much happened that I cant simply put it all on this post but I will try to highlight the best parts!

After my longest flight this semester (just under 3 hours) we departed the Ciampano airport and took a bus to the central station where we found our hostel close by. We stayed at Hostel Alessando Palace & Bar. It was a great hostel, where we shared a room with 2 other people whom we hardly saw anyway. After getting dinner and having a few drinks in our hostel bar we tried to make it out for the night. We took a taxi that dropped us off at the Colosseum where we were all in awe of our first site in Italy, not to mention it was lit up under the night sky. We didn’t make it to anywhere since it was  a Monday night and everything was closed so we called it a night in anticipation for our busy day of site seeing.

We only had all of Tuesday to see Roma so we started early and did a hop-on hop-off bus tour. We saw all of the most beautiful architecture including the Colosseum, the Forum, The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, and a few others. It was a beautiful day where we spent walking around, getting gelatto, eating a divine lunch served to us by a waiter who was the first of many Italians to show us their animated and intense emotions as he tried to tempt me into taking a ride on his vespa that night with all mine and his friends.

At night we met up with a friend we had met in Barcelona that was staying in Rome. He took us to a place for diner and then we went to a bar that wasn’t too crowded but fun none the less. The next morning we woke up early again to go see Vatican City. We couldn’t get into the sistine chapel or vatican though because there was a ceremony going on where hundreds, or at least a thousand or two people were gathered. Apparently the pope makes a speech or appearance twice a week and we caught one of the gatherings. Unfortunately we had just missed his presence. After this we went to the Spanish steps which is the longest & widest staircase in all of Europe. We ended Rome with a quiet outside lunch and a run to the train station to catch our train to Florence.

After about a 2 or so hour ride to Florence we found our hostel. In efforts of keeping this post from being too long, we had a creepy experience at the hostel and decided to cancel our reservations and find a new place. We finally found a nice hostel and settled in. It was Dawn’s birthday and Emily was staying with a friend from home. We had a quiet dinner and then got to celebrating Dawn’s birthday. We met up with Emily, her friend, and others studying in Florence and had an eventful and fun night of dancing out on the town. The next day we made our way to the leather market where I spent too much money, though I successfully haggled everything I bought, and am in love with all of my purchases. We then met Emily and her friends for lunch at apparently the best pizza place in Florence ( it was delicious, so I believe it). We also saw the Duomo which was beautiful and went to a famous museum which unfortunately was all but cool/interesting/worth the 10 euro spent. After this we walked around and then made our way to dinner.

The place we went to for dinner is called Dante, and let me just say it is AMAZING. We get free appetizer bread thing, plus regular bread at the beginning, amazing entree, and then FREE, let me repeat FREE wine. We got 3 bottles of wine and only had to pay for our entree. Apparently its  student deal so we just told them we attended Academia Europa. Also, at the end of the dinner we got free lemon cello shots and free t shirts! What could be better? Ironically we ran into a bunch of girls from Elon who invited us to go out with them. After dinner we made our way to the bar where everyone was and got to hang out with SO MANY elon people. It was really fun to catch up with everyone.

On our last day in Florence we had previously signed up for a day trip around Tuscany. It was an all day event I couldn’t be happier doing. It took us to Siena, lunch in Chianti which was divine, San Gimignano, and Pisa. It was a day well spent and I was so happy to see the Italian countryside. After a long day we still decided to go out with some other girls and guys from Elon who are studying there. We went to a club until it was time to go back to our hostel to leave for our bus that would take us to the Pisa airport to catch our flight home. We had an early flight of 7 am and I was definitely sad to leave Italy already. It was one of the best weeks of my life and I cant say enough good things about Italy. It is a country I think everyone in the world should visit. Who doesn’t want restaurant after restaurant filled with Gnocchi, Penne ala Vodka, Spaghetti Bolognese, Bruschetta, Fettuccine Alfredo (though this isn’t Italian & we only found it at one place), and of course pizza and wine.

Needless to say, it is my dream destination. Ciao!