Monday, March 29, 2010

HALFWAY aready?!?!?

This past weekend was full of relaxing and enjoying the city of Dublin. Friday was spent giving presentations and touring the Southern part of the city and found the coolest coffee shop in Dublin. Saturday a group of us went south along the coastline to Bray. We did a little hike to the top of a small peak to overlook the town. In terms of weather, it was one of the nicest days we have had. Yesterday (Sunday) I actually did some studying and wrote a paper, I sometimes forget that I am here going to school! As I look back to the first half of this semester, I can see so many highs, as well as a few lows. Two months in and I already feel like a new person. All this traveling and meeting new people has really helped me to define and refine what kind of person I am, and also what kind of person I want to be. I am thrilled that I get another 2 months, I just hope they don't go by as fast as the first two! It feels like last week Isaac and I were waiting in the Chicago airport, wondering what I our lives would like in a couple of hours...

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I realize that it has been a few days since I've been back and still haven't posted anything... I had some things come up that I needed to take care of, classes. I Don't even know where to start with this trip! We flew into Girona, communication barriers brought us to a hospital instead of the hostle, two hours later, we found the hostle. The next day we toured Girona, and old Roman settlement with narrow streets and big cathedrals. That night we went to Barcelona and quickly found our hostle. We met up with my friend from HC, Lindsey Etterbeek, and her riend Mallory Missad. They took us around the city briefly that night and we spent a relaxing evening chatting and getting to know each other. Turns out Isaac and Mallory went to the same high school (Grand Rapids Christian) and didn't even know it! The next morning the two of us took off and saw some of the sights, meeting up with the ladies for a 4 hour lunch on the beach! Lunch is the big meal there and always takes a few hours to eat out. Again, we just chilled that evening playing cards, Scrabble, Uno and chatting away until the late hours of the night. The next day Isaac and I saw Park Guell and the Sagrada Cathedral, two amazing creations of Gaudi, a famous architect. We didn't meet up with the girls until later at a tapas restaurant. Our last day in Barcelona was spent exploring the Barcelona Soccer Club's stadium. We caught our train back to Girona that night and flew home the next day.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

St. Pat's Day

I realize I haven't posted anything new for a while, I have been crazy busy traveling and things. I am going to split the last week into two segments. Starting with St. Patrick's Day. The night before a big group of us went into the city to get into the spirit of things, and I have never seen so many people crammed into such a small city! We stayed out far too late and got up early the next morning to get ready for the big parade. We went all out! Everyone painted their face, and we were all wearing our green and orange. We eventually caught a packed bus into the city and found somewhere to see the parade. This was unlike anything I have ever seen! The Macy's day parade is cool, but the costumes and floats of this parade put it to shame! Everyone was into it, and the crowd was going crazy the whole time! We left the parade sight a bit before the parade was done so that we could find our way to Croke Park, where we watched the national championship of hurling. One of our program leaders was there explaining all the rules to me, and I really wish I could have grown up playing this sport, it's so fast and action packed. So much fun to watch! Isaac and I left as soon as the game was over and headed to the airport, Barcelona bound!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Moher of Ireland

This was easily one of the most beautiful hikes of my life. These cliffs are unlike anything I have ever seen, they are almost 4 times higher than the cliffs in pictured rock! The trail itself doesn't get more than 5 feet from the edge and everywhere you turn the view is breath taking. The trip started Saturday with an early bus ride out to Galway, then we took a guided tour out to the cliffs. That brought us through some interesting parts of the area, and a Celtic burial site. We stopped at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center, about the halfway point of the cliffs. From there we took the bus back to a small town, Doolin. We told the bus driver that we would be hiking from there, and thanks for the ride. We left Doolin at about 4, and began to meander our way to the Ocean. We had no plans of where we would be hiking, or sleeping, we just wanted to see some cliffs. We followed the coast until the beginning of the cliffs and hiked along them for about 2 hours to get to the visitor center just as the sun was setting. From there we found a farmer's field to pitch our tent and called it a night. The next morning (Sunday) we hiked out to a castle on the cliffs and took our time taking it all in. We kept following the coast (jumping electrical wires and playing with horses) and soon found the end of the cliffs. From this point we hiked along the water until the next small town, Liscannor. An old fisherman fixing his boat told us of a surf city just around the bay, so we went there. After exploring an old graveyard/church ruin, forging a river and walking through the icy ocean, we found Lahinch. We grabbed something to eat and found the tourist info office. They told us of the next bus, and we decided to hop on. The best part about the whole trip was not knowing where we would end up in the next hour, even the next 100 yards. Everything was unexpected!

Saturday, March 13, 2010


This morning we take off for the west side of Ireland (again) to visit the cliffs of Moher. we will see those later today and then start hiking south along the coastal region until we don't want to hike anymore. We are hoping to make it back to Dublin in time for St. Patricks Day, and then we fly out of the Dublin airport for Barcelona the night of St. Pats. I will try my best to keep you all posted throughout this escapade.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The West Side

This last week I have been staying on the west side of Ireland in a smaller town called Westport. My whole study abroad program went for a required 'class trip' to learn more about the legendary potato famine of the 1840's. We stayed in a really nice hotel where everything was already paid for, so it felt like we were getting a free breakfast and dinner everyday! Food was incredible too, all local products used in the cooking. We left Wednesday morning, stopped at the Strokestown Manor (a huge house where a landlord lived during the famine) on the way out there and got into the hotel just before dinner. Thursday we went on a sight seeing tour of Connemara (that was the name of the area we were in). WE saw some famine monuments and memorials, walked to the base of Croagh Patrick (Mount Patrick, Ireland's holy mountain), and made some stops at national parks along the way. Friday we set out to Achill Island in the morning and stopped at one of the few remaining famine-era farms. The guy who owns it collects things from that era and takes people on tours through his family's old home. The group left on Saturday morning, Isaac and I stayed back to climb the mountain we saw two days earlier. We made out way out there in the morning and took a good part of the day climbing it. It was a perfect day up for it! It's not very often that you get a day in Ireland when it is that clear. We got back into town a little early and met a bartender from Chicago who had moved out there! He was really interesting to talk to and hear his story. Then we almost didn't catch the train back into Dublin. It was an amazing week, a day of rest was much needed.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Galway Climbing

Galway was such a blast! I would love to make it back there again before I leave. The city is a bit smaller than Dublin, and feels much more like home. There are tons of small little mom and pop shops (and pubs). We got into Galway Friday night, found our hostel, and joined the other climbers at the host school's on-campus pub. The rugby match between England and Ireland was on (it's a pretty big deal), so we watched that and everyone was getting really into it. When you get a room full of climbers, things start getting climbed, in this case it was the bottom of tables. Hahah, it was crazy. All day Saturday we climbed in the competition. It was set up in 15 walls. Each wall had two routes, A and B. If you climbed A you got 20, 19 or 18 points, depending on the number of tries. If you climbed B, you got 10, 9 or 8. The only difference was that the B routes had some additional holds thrown in. I started out doing pretty good, mostly 20's and 19's. Once the afternoon came I started burning out and in the end I was struggling to even finish the B routes in 3 tries. I guess climbing 3 times in the past 2 months doesn't help much. However, I did end up being the best climber from my school, DCU. On Sunday we spent the day in town, finding cozy places to catch the Celtic vs. Rangers game, and then Aston Villa vs. Manchester United. Very relaxing. We caught the bus home at 6, and got back to campus somewhere around 9:30. Tomorrow is my first day of interning; I have to go in really early, 10:00.