Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Country With My Name Everywhere

This last weekend was our first long weekend at Harlaxton. We finished classes on Wednesday with our first British Studies exam (two solid hours of essays) and then the weekend began! I left immediately after the exam, which I feel I did pretty well on, considering it covered 1600 years of history, and headed off to Ireland! I ended up sharing my travels with another Aaron from Harlaxton, even though it was completely unplanned. The timing of hitting the school shuttle, the train and the flight was a little off so we spent a lot of time hanging around the airport. We were flying to Dublin on RyanAir which is definitely not the most high-class airline. But as a traveling student, you take what you can get for really cheap! Luckily, Aaron and I managed to get in the front of the line before boarding the plane and got to choose nice seats. As the nice Irish lady behind me in line informed me, "This is RyanAir. You don't get assigned seats". It was literally a free-for-all rush to the plane to get the "good seats".

I arrived in Dublin roughly around 9:30pm on Wednesday and was greeted by Ian! (I left Aaron to meet up with the rest of his group who were arriving on the flight from London, five minutes later, rather than East Midlands like we had come). We headed to Jen's parents house where they have been living since Lazy F, in a Dublin suburb that I've already forgotten what it's called (it's hard when everything is in Irish!). I was greeted by Jen and quickly offered tea as we caught up for a bit. It was great to bring back the old Three Amigos from Lazy F!

[Side Note: I'm very aware of the fact that Ian and Jen will eventually read this blog post, so if you want to know the REAL story of my weekend, make sure to ask me about it later...

Just kidding! They were fabulous hosts all weekend!]
One of the mounds at Knowth

Thursday morning I was greeted by a traditional Irish fry cooked by the Englishman, Ian. The fry consisted of sausage, "white pudding" (whatever that is), mushrooms, tomatoes, a poached egg, some other things that I think I forgot, and toast, if you wanted it. It was a very delicious and filling meal! We then got ready to meet up with Jen and Ian's friends to head off north to a historical site of Irish tombs older than 5000 years! These mounds are older than Stonehenge and Jen and Ian had never seen them before. I was their excuse to do all of the touristy Irish things! We visited two of the main mounds, Knowth and Newgrange and explored the informative museum. The mounds themselves were pretty bizarre and kind of odd to explain. Basically, the people of the Neolithic Age built giant rings of stones and made them into large mounds as a burial place, or tomb for their people. We couldn't go in the first mound, Knowth, but in Newgrange we were able to walk inside. It had a claustrophobic-style entrance that lead into a large tomb area. It was very interesting, but hard to fathom how much history had taken place in such a weird structure. Fascinating!

Whilst at Newgrange, we enjoyed a delicious meal of home-cooked hot dogs from a backpack, courtesy of Jen and Ian's friends, on the top of one of the mounds. We also got to enjoy the view of the countryside from the top, which was very cool. The day also consisted of lots of paparazzi and photo shoots by Ian and Jen because of their new fancy-schmancy camera. This also meant that we had to pose for a lot of pictures, no matter how many takes it took!

That evening, Jen managed to get the three of us into an Irish Night show at the pub she used to work at. It is normally an expensive evening of dinner and the show so it was awesome that we got to see it for free! We watched Irish dancers, a tenor and a soprano, as well as a comedian. The whole show was great and I definitely enjoyed it a lot.

The next day, we headed into the city center, via the Luas (apparently it's Irish for "tram"), and met up with another one of Jen and Ian's friends. They showed me around Trinity College (where Jen went to school) which I found very fascinating. We checked out the Book of Kells - a VERY old Latin translation of the four gospels. I thought it was really neat to read about in the little museum and then to see. But I really loved the old library that was above it that was full, floor to high ceiling, of hundreds of years old books. We then explored more around the campus where I happened across giant male deer skeleton in one of the buildings that I think has been giving me nightmares....After visiting the college, we went to Dublin Castle, Temple Bar, The Dublin Spire (which was the most ridiculous tourist monument I've ever experienced), and viewed the city from a rooftop! We also had some adventures in the tourist shops, which are, of course, inescapable. We headed back to the house to enjoy another delicious meal with Jen's parents (food with the families here are so spoiling!) and relaxed the rest of the evening.
Me and the Leprechaun!
Our view of the city from a rooftop

Saturday morning, before I headed back to Harlaxton, we took a drive to see the scenic areas of Dublin. We went up one of the "mountains" to view the area and drove to the coast. I enjoyed learning about the Dublin suburbs (which are all Irish names so it took me forever to be able to pronounce them, let alone spell them) and seeing the different areas. We walked along a boardwalk area in Dun Loaghaire (spelled right??), which is pronounced, dun-leary, and I enjoyed an ice cream as we watched a lot of dog-walkers and an outdoor, by-the-sea, workout class. After that, it was time for me to go! So we said our goodbyes and I journeyed the "long" journey back to Harlaxton!

Since then, I've been glued to my desk chair with hours upon hours of studies and homework. I gave an AWESOME British Studies presentation on Monday (my professor said ALL presentations should be like mine!), took an Environmental Science exam yesterday, and have been drawing flowers and fish like there's no tomorrow. I still have a bit more to do, but all will be well because I leave for Brussels, Belgium tomorrow to visit Elizabeth! But before then, I'm off to Peterborough with the school to visit the "big" city in the area. So much to do in life!

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