I went to Ireland and it was the most magical place. The people were so nice, the scenery green and breathtaking and the food was perfect for the weather (lamb stew…yum!).
Kelly and I took a very free-spirited approach to this adventure, which made it so much more fun. Our preparations included booking one night in a bed and breakfast and checking out a Rick Steves’ book from the library. Seriously, that was it. Who better to ask what to do than the Irish? So we did just that…asked people we met…”Where should we go tomorrow?” and the answers dictated our travels. We flew in to Cork, and journeyed to Cobh, Tralee, Dingle, and Galway.
Things that surprised me about Ireland:
- I didn’t expect people to be so nice! Everywhere we went, people went out of their way to talk to us, help us, or buy us a pint. I could definitely get used to that!
- While I know that Ireland is synonymous with Guiness/drinking in general, I didn’t anticipate seeing so many drunks. And beyond that, it was shocking to me how people seem to view public drunkenness. In the U.S.A, I would assert that being incoherently drunk in public is not exactly socially acceptable unless it’s your 21st birthday. It appears to be a commonplace occurrence in Ireland and no one really feels compelled to say anything if a drunken man you don’t know decides to sit down next to at dinner and shut his eyes (not that that happened to us or anything…).
- Also on the subject of drinking, I tried my first Guiness with black currant juice and it was delicious!
Something that I’m learning after each trip I take and each day I live in Spain is that it’s very difficult to re-count an experience in as glorious a fashion as it happened in real life. Not to discredit the value of writing, but sometimes the beauty of time spent with people or in a place (beautiful or otherwise) is best kept in your heart and in your brain because it may not be described as wonderfully with words. Ireland is on the top of my list of places visited, but it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly why. The company (Kelly), the new friends (many…Irish and otherwise), or the familiarity of an English speaking country could have all played a role in my love affair with Ireland, but more than anything it was a feeling of contentedness. When I got back to Spain, it seemed pale incomparison and part of me is hoping for another chance to go back for a more extended period of time. WWOOF? Working at a B&B? Kelly and I started plotting…but who knows.
More photos to come.
The Spanish have an interesting tradition to celebrate New Year’s Eve. In the last minute of the year, they eat 12 grapes (one every 5 seconds). You may think this sounds easy, but in fact, it’s really fast and your mouth fills up really quickly.
Each grape signifies a month of good luck. But don’t you worry, I shoved all of those grapes in my mouth because I WANTED that good luck. And not to brag or anything, but I may have been the only person to complete the challenge.
Before the grapes, Kelly and I had an amazing dinner with my friends Ralph, Abby, Valerie, and Ralph’s mom who was visiting (and was the fantastic chef).
While we had a great time, we all agreed that NYE is much more climactic in the U.S. I really missed the countdown, the ball drop, and Dick Clark (wait, is he still alive?). Either way, judging by the quality company of the evening, I am certain that 2011 will be a good year.
Guadix (pronounced Gwa-deeks) is a town close by Granada known for its cave dwellings (that’s right…people build inside caves). Many of my friends teach in this town, but I had never been there. It’s got a beautiful view and a cave museum (which was closed…curse you, siesta!).
One of my best friends, Kelly, came to visit me in Spain, and we took this excursion together. Kelly is an amazing person. She’s incredibly unique, but we are able to relate on so many levels. I am so fortune to have this selfless, hilarious, and kind friend! Thanks for making it across the Atlantic to see me, Kell!
Since we were foiled by the fact that essentially everything we had planned was closed, we walked around Guadix and toured a cave home. It was actually kind of bizarre. It looked like a regular house, but it was in cave. The walls were painted and smooth. I feel awkward standing in someone’s bedroom, gawking at it, as if it were some sort of miracle that it were in a cave. Resourceful, sure…but quite anti-climactic. And I think the woman expected a Euro.
Photos for your enjoyment:
More posts on my adventures with Kelly pending…
I just returned home from the most amazing couple of days in the Netherlands. It was so amazing, that I nearly forgot its tumultuous beginning, but I will recount it as it is filled with Annie’s unfortunate luck!
Saturday morning, I got up at 5:30, packed, showered, and scurried out the door to catch my bus to the Malaga Airport (approximately 1.5 hours away). Upon arrival, around 9 a.m., I walked into the airport to find the departures board riddled with the red and angry word that no one wants to read “CANCELLED.” Low and behold, my flight to Rotterdam was listed as such. There was a spontaneous national air traffic controller strike, and as a consequence the air space in Spain was closed. I wandered around looking for the Transavia desk for a solid 20 minutes. Nothing said Transavia (it felt a lot like being in Wal-Mart and trying to find the nail polish remover and everyone keeps tell you different aisle numbers…and you’ve looked in three different aisles and its not there and you finally make the last person walk you there, because if you look one more time and you cant find it, you might cry…). Finally, I discovered it (listed as something else) and stood in line for over an hour waiting to see the status of my flight.
When my shining moment at the front of the line came, I learned that the flight was potentially going to still happen, but later in the day when the air space re-opened. I went to check my bags and stood in line with many Dutch people for over an hour. Dutch people have an advantage on the rest of the world. Most of them can speak fluent and beautiful English but they can also speak Dutch, which I was told is the third most difficult language to learn (second to two Chinese dialects). In my waiting stint, I met a girl named Siggy (not really her name, but I couldn’t pronounce her real name), who was hoping to make it home for the Dutch Christmas-type celebration that evening. She had lived in Granada for the past 3 months teaching English, and she was so eager to get home to see her family (spoiler: it doesn’t end well for her). Siggy and I were the last two to get on the rescheduled flight to Rotterdam. There were three more people in line behind me, and I thought how lucky I was to get the last seat on the plane.
I checked my bags, went through security, used my lunch voucher, dawdled…
The minutes were crawling and there was still no word on whether or not our flight was even going to happen. I did notice, however, that the three people in line behind me were put on the first flight to the Netherlands that left Malaga (hmph). Finally, around 3 p.m., the board listed the estimated departure time as 9:55 p.m. Just needed to kill 6.5 hours of time. I brought things with me to do. Cards to write, books to read, etc. But when you’re bored, none of those things seems appealing.
I picked up every trinket in the souvenir shops.
I bought a book in Spanish that its probably too difficult for me from the cute boy who worked in the bookstore.
Instead of reading that book, I doodled on the bag from the bookstore.
Then, I took pictures of the bag on which I doodled.
Around the time that I was examining the trinkets in the National Geographic store and walking laps around the terminal (I’d estimate 7 p.m.), a voice came over the loudspeaker and announced that all flights to the Netherlands had been canceled. I power-walked back to the Transavia desk to discover that Rotterdam and Amsterdam were closed because of a snow storm. This was disheartening to say the least. And poor Siggy was crying.
The Transavia desk had a quasi-line forming when I arrived, but as time went on, it started to look more and more like a mosh pit. The kind people in front of me were able to get helped (by the ONE employee…poor soul!). After which, they scolded other people in Spanish for having cut me in line, and the seas parted so that I could change my flight. I was rescheduled for 11:20 a.m. the next day. The timing was most unfortunate because it wasn’t logical to go back to Granada, so I was stranded in Malaga and shared a room in a hostel with two strangers, and also ate dinner with them. Pedro and Dorle, thanks for hanging out with me. I’ll probably never see you again.
Meanwhile, in Paris, my friend Sean (who I was meeting in Amsterdam) had an equally traumatic experience with delays and angry train conductors and snow. Read about those here on his fabulously fabulous blog.
The good news is that the third time was the charm. I took my flight to Eindhoven the next day, and a bus to Amsterdam. When I saw Sean, I gave him the biggest hug.
And now, for the fun part. Stayed tuned for part two…