Ireland

St Paddy’s & Birthdays

So, here it is – the post many of you have probably been waiting for…

I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin, Ireland.

I was definitely super excited, but had no idea what to expect of this day – other than the fact that it would be some of the biggest crowds I would ever encounter, and that it would literally be madness. And on these two points, it did not disappoint.

The day started out pretty early, with everyone catching the bus at 8:30am. It was then a two hour bus ride of pictures, excitement, and face paint.

Brittany and I had bought cute hair clips and necklaces, with shamrocks, as we had nothing green and wanted to join in the fun. On the bus ride, a friend of mine nicely painted a green, sparkly shamrock on my cheek – and it was perfect!

 
My sparkly, green shamrock for St. Paddy's day in Dublin!

My sparkly, green shamrock for St. Paddy’s day in Dublin!


 
Waiting for the parade in Dublin the girls.

Waiting for the parade in Dublin the girls.


 
All the craziness of St. Paddy's :)

All the craziness of St. Paddy’s 🙂


 
 
Everywhere was a sea of green.

Everywhere was a sea of green.

Getting off the bus, we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then followed the hordes of people heading to the parade area on O’Connell Street (I’m not sure why I remember that detail…).

We stood around for a while, waiting for the parade to start, and basking in the fact that we were in Dublin for St. Paddy’s. It was truly amazing.

Except for the fact that the parade was one of the weirdest things I’ve seen, and I couldn’t even see half of it. The street was not the best set up, with an uphill slant. So, when the father put his daughter on his shoulders in front of me, my view was completely obstructed. The little snippets I did see included floats of insects and mad scientists, and a giant rubber duck balloon falling over. It was fun just hanging out with friends and trying to figure out what was going on.

We started walking before the parade ended, and split into two groups: one went for food and the other to walk around the city. For once, I was not in the group looking for food!

With Brittany, Sarah, Evelyn, and Virginia (who found us in Dublin), I wandered the streets of Dublin and took in some of the most famous sights. From the outside of course, because the inside costs money and I’m a poor student. 😉 We walked to Trinity College, Christ Church Cathedral, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and Dublin Castle. They were all amazing, and there were so many people at all of them.

 
The city was so pretty. I can't wait to go back!

The city was so pretty. I can’t wait to go back!


 
The infamous Temple Bar of Dublin on St. Paddy's.

The infamous Temple Bar of Dublin on St. Paddy’s.


 
 
We found St. Patrick's Cathedral in our wanderings. Cool to visit the church on the "saint's day"

We found St. Patrick’s Cathedral in our wanderings. Cool to visit the church on the “saint’s day”

 
I drank a pint o' Guinness for the celebrations. When in Ireland... (sorry for the cheesy pose with booze...)

I drank a pint o’ Guinness for the celebrations. When in Ireland… (sorry for the cheesy pose with booze, and bad quality…)

We stopped for a cup of tea before meeting up with the others to head to a pub, The Market Bar. I ordered a Guinness, of course. Have to have a pint of Guinness for St. Paddy’s. Or green beer. (But that was Heineken and I’m not a huge fan…)

Trying to find some place to eat for dinner was crazy. We met Kitty, Bruna and Hubert, and waded through the masses to try to find a place we had heard of – only to be told it was full. Standing in the street, we saw a little Italian restaurant to the side, where the man offered us 10% off because he heard our friends speaking Brazilian. So, we went there! Had some good food, wine, and conversation (and 3 more of our friends met us there later).

We tried to find everyone else at a club, but when following the map, the place didn’t really exist. We ended up hula-hooping in the street (it’s a long story), before heading to The Porterhouse for about 1.5 hours before the bus left. It was a great atmosphere, and we had fun all hanging out.

The bus ride back at 1am included many sleeping people, and many others who were very drunk. But in my opinion, it was a pretty great day and a crazy experience. Definitely one to remember for a long time.

On Thursday, it was Brittany’s birthday. She wanted to keep it pretty low-key, so I helped her come up with some ideas. When the day came, I surprised her by decorating her door with birthday banners, and picking up a few small presents. We met up with some friends later, and went to Geoff’s for dinner and drinks. It was so much fun to just hang out and chat. It was a great relaxing evening!

We tried to decide if we wanted to stay out, and opted for coming back to the apartment instead. I had picked up a cake, so we ate cake and drank tea while chatting some more. These people are truly awesome. I think Brittany had a good birthday – she didn’t tell me otherwise…

 
I went for another walk in Kilbarry, and figured out the timer on my phone.

I went for another walk in Kilbarry, and figured out the timer on my phone.


 
 
The skies were amazing on my walk!

The skies were amazing on my walk!

Then on Saturday, there was another birthday of a friend – Evelyn! This was the 4th birthday in one week. Brittany, Bruna, Evelyn and I met to go to city center for lunch and some shopping, just a girl’s day out. It was a pretty fun day!

That evening, we ended up hanging out in our apartment first with just a few friends, drinks, and some music. Some of us agreed to go to city center where a band was playing at a bar. So, we headed to Shortt’s to listen to the Pearly Whites – and they were so good! They played new and old music with almost a swing-type feel. We danced and had a great time, staying until the bar basically closed. It was a great night!

Other than that, not much has happened the last two weeks. Mostly, I have just been preparing for my trip… as I leave in just over 2 days!!!! 2 DAYS!!!! Can you tell I’m excited?

I am going to go to 4 countries in two weeks, travelling through various cities and cultures. I am beyond ecstatic to be stepping on the continent of Europe for the first time, and I couldn’t have asked for better travel companions.

In case you are wondering, I will put my itinerary here again: start from Dublin, and travel to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Paris and Nice before coming back home in time for classes again. It is going to be amazing.

I will unfortunately not have a computer or very good internet for the next two weeks (although I don’t have good internet here, so there’s not much of a difference there). The inability to update my blog means that you will have to keep an eye on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to receive updates and proof of me being alive and safe. Probably Twitter will be your best bet (which you can see here, on the right).

Thank you to everyone who has been supporting me back home! I love and miss you all, but am so excited for this adventure. I will try to keep you updated as best I can.

Signing off for the next two weeks…

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

“collect moments, not things”

Memories & Time

I went for a walk in Kilbarry Park, mostly because we had a gorgeous day of sunshine.

I went for a walk in Kilbarry Park, mostly because we had a gorgeous day of sunshine.

Sitting in class, time seems to drag on as the minute hand slowly inches its way to a new hour. With a new hour, another class begins and the cycle repeats.

But outside of class, it scares me how quickly time moves. A day goes by in the whirlwind of school and going out with friends. And if you blink too long, it’s suddenly the end of the week. You do a little trip and some homework on the weekend and start again.

Nonetheless, I am making the most of all my time here, even the slow moments in class.

I am reading so many interesting books and articles! I just finished Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. An interesting read – my interest was only sparked when I started reading articles and looking at the depth of the novel in class. Last week, I began reading Great Expectations of the infamous Charles Dickens. I haven’t read Dickens before and am excited for this literary experience.

This past week involved a few nights out, with a few lazy days as well. On Tuesday night, I went with some friends to the Jazz Jam Session again. There were more of us this time, and it was a great night! I really enjoy the spontaneity and the idea of ‘jamming’ to create cool music.

Love these girls! Had such a fun night at Kazbars, even if there was some weird guy awkwardly dancing at our table...

Love these girls! Had such a fun night at Kazbars, even if there was some weird guy awkwardly and drunkenly dancing at our table…!

On Wednesday, Brittany’s friend arrived to stay with us for a few days. Her name is Virginia and she is awesome. She is studying in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have really enjoyed chatting with her and getting to know her. It’s cool to get a perspective on study abroad from someone else who is participating, too, but in another country.

Thursday morning we wandered around city center before splitting off to go to class, do homework, or explore. That night, we wanted to take Virginia to a local bar in Waterford with live music. So, we headed to Kazbar’s after a short get together at a friend’s place. There was a big group of us, and it was a ton of fun to hang out with everyone! We all had a great time listening to the music and chatting.

After doing some homework on Friday morning, I ventured on the long walk to go climbing – as I really do miss being able to drive to the gym and climb whenever I want. That night was even more of an adventure, as Brittany and I tried to create a Spanish tortilla for Virginia. It was a little overcooked, but still great! We were quite proud of ourselves. Inviting a few of the girls over, we hunkered down for a movie night with popcorn and ice cream with Baileys. It was delicious.

The weekend was all about the day trips.

Now, most of our trips have been pretty mishap free, so I blame it on the Friday the 13th weekend. Saturday was our trip to Wexford. We planned to bus into town to catch a bus to a castle a little ways out. After some minor issues (including getting dropped off in the wrong place, and a friend hurting his ankle), we finally arrived at the castle and gardens of Johnstown Castle.

And man, was it worth it.

 
Johnstown Castle, Wexford.

Johnstown Castle, Wexford.


 
The back of Johnstown Castle was just as pretty.

The back of Johnstown Castle was just as pretty.


 
 
Posing like the statues in the statue garden. My bagel helped out.

Posing like the statues in the statue garden. My bagel helped out.

Walking around this garden at the castle, I imagined Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy taking a stroll.

Walking around this garden at the castle, I imagined Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy taking a stroll.


 

The gardens and grounds were beautiful. The grass was a luscious green in every direction, and the trees were a beautiful and tangled mess of branches. Honestly, the pictures don’t do it justice. I feel like in the spring, when everything is in bloom, it would be amazing.

We ate a mediocre dinner in Wexford before journeying back to Waterford, our temporary home.

This morning (Sunday), Brittany and I decided it would be fun to take Virginia to eat an Irish breakfast. We had a great brunch at Dooley’s Pub on the quay, where I finally tried Waterford Blaa (it is really just a bun/bap, but it was delicious)!!!! We then caught a bus to show Virginia the beaches and cliffs of Tramore.

I loved Tramore. And since it’s so close, I will probably visit it again before I leave beautiful Ireland. This time, it was less windy, sunny and cold; but it was a great day nonetheless! It was fun to walk along the beach and sit at the top of the cliffs and just talk with the girls. It was great craic!

 
Once again on the beaches of Tramore.

Once again on the beaches of Tramore.


 
Sitting on a wall, enjoying the view of the ocean. And the moment.

Sitting on a wall, enjoying the view of the ocean. And the moment.


 
Sitting on another wall, we had a great chat while enjoying the sights and sea breeze.

Sitting on another wall, we had a great chat while enjoying the sights and sea breeze.


 
 
These boots have taken me on adventures in Canada and now all over Ireland. Next: Europe.

These boots have taken me on adventures in Canada and now all over Ireland. Next: Europe. (My attempt at an ‘artsy’ shot)

Flash forward to a tired Julie, sitting in a cold room, writing this blog post.

And there is only more to come, as this coming week will be packed with amazing adventures (that I cannot wait for)! Spoiler alert: I’m in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day, so we all know that will be an experience all in itself.

I can’t believe I only have 2 months left here. I’m trying to grab hold of every opportunity and memory that I can. I don’t want to miss or forget anything from my time here. But I’m so excited for the adventures awaiting me down the road.

May the road rise up to meet ya

From

JH

die with memories, not dreams” [pinterest quote]

Ireland Trip Pt. 2

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

Day 4 – Cliffs of Moher

Having breakfast in a common hostel kitchen is definitely an experience everyone should have. You get to meet some very interesting people, who are there for all different reasons. The morning before we caught the bus, we met a guy who had just moved to Galway from England, staying in a hostel until he could find a flat. Super interesting stories and thoughts.

Through our awesome hostel, we booked a bus tour to see the Cliffs. This way, we got to have numerous stops, and someone would tell us what everything was or meant. Otherwise, I would never have noticed the ‘tombs’ since they look like mounds of earth, nor the fairy trees or groves, where there are trees in a circle and the grounds are considered sacred by some. We got to see Dunguaire Castle, hear multiple interesting stories about fairies and crazy women of the past who married 9 times to keep a house… plus lots of adorable baby lambs!

 
 
Our first stop: Dunguaire Castle, Co. Claire.

Our first stop: Dunguaire Castle, Co. Claire.

Do you believe in fairies? This is a circle of trees where the ground is thought to be basically sacred, and fairies are there.

Do you believe in fairies? This is a circle of trees where the ground is thought to be basically sacred, and fairies are there.



 
 
If I remember correctly, this was a stone tomb. It was pretty cool - and the rocks throughout the Burren were fantastic! All over the ground, there were lines, like fissures, carved out from glaciers and water.

If I remember correctly, this was a stone tomb. It was pretty cool – and the rocks throughout the Burren were fantastic!

And then we reached the Cliffs of Moher.

Now, a lot of my friends were absolutely speechless. Being an English major, I was only speechless for a moment before a multitude of words came to mind – amazing, breathtaking, spectacular, brilliant, natural, beautiful! Of course, climbing also came to mind, but I tried to take in the wondrous sight instead, storing it in my memories.

We spent 1.5 hours wandering the trails along the cliffs (not going too close, mom, don’t worry), and taking great and silly pictures. It was a lot of walking and a magnificent afternoon. We could even see the Aran Islands in the distance, our next adventure.

 
We had a gorgeous day on the Cliffs.

We had a gorgeous day on the Cliffs.



 
 
"And now I'm closer to the edge..."

“And now I’m closer to the edge…”

Standing at the railing of the Cliffs of Moher.

Standing at the railing of the Cliffs of Moher.



 

That night was nothing exciting unfortunately. We were all pretty tired and knew that we had an early morning, so we hung out in our tiny hostel room.

Day 5 – Inis Mor (Inishmore)

We got up early to catch the bus to Ros a Mhil, where the ferry would depart, only to find the bus completely full. We were disappointed, but the bus driver let us stand for the ride so we could make the ferry. I got a seat part way through – the others, however, had to stand for the hour bus ride.

The ferry ride was a whole other story. I have been on multiple ferries, going to Vancouver Island with my family since I was quite young. I never really thought about the fact that the others may have only ridden a ferry once or twice in their lives… and this was not the best ferry to start on. A 40 minute ferry ride across the Atlantic Ocean, with rain and wind outside, meant the ride was pretty rough and choppy. The lads survived, though.

On the ferry, a very nice, older gentleman saw our group and struck up a conversation with me. He was a local of the island and ran a bus tour. He offered to give our group a discount, and he would take us around the island for the day. We all jumped at the idea, since it was still raining, and our only other option was to ride bikes. This way, we could get the full history of everything on the island, and have the chance to go to all the amazing sights and places.

Brittany and I saw a girl who we had met on our tour to the Cliffs the previous day. She was Canadian and travelling by herself. So, we talked to her the whole ferry ride, introduced ourselves (since we hadn’t exchanged names the day before – hers was Lisa), and we invited her to come along on the tour with us. She accepted, and we all had a great time.

I’m going to list some random facts we learned about the island(s) that I found interesting:

– There are 3 islands: Inismore, Iniseer, and Inisman, with Inismore being the largest.

– It has 3 churches, 3 schools, 6 pubs, 1 store, and 1 cash machine (which I used…)

– The main language is Irish, and the main industries are fishing and tourism.

– The bank on the island is open only 1 day a week, and they have a lunch break of about 2 hours.

– While other places have doctors that fly from one area to another, the islands had a priest that would fly to each island to give mass.

There you go. Random facts.

 
 
This began our walk to Dun Aengus fort on Inis Mor.

This began our walk to Dun Aengus fort on Inis Mor.

Inis Mor was beautiful! Amazing view on our walk to Dun Aengus - we even saw a rainbow.

Inis Mor was beautiful! Amazing view on our walk to Dun Aengus – we even saw a rainbow.



 
 
Dun Aengus looked really cool at the top of the hill, situated right on the cliffs.

Dun Aengus looked really cool at the top of the hill, situated right on the cliffs.

On our tour, we stopped at the infamous ruins of the Dun Aengus Fort. The walk up was gorgeous, and the views were spectacular. I think our group loved the views from the cliffs more than the ruins themselves. It was far more exposed than the Cliffs of Moher, as you could literally walk right up to the crumbling edges. We were, of course, quite careful. It was definitely worth two euros just for the views.

We went to the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, saw ruins of the 7 churches and stopped in another graveyard, and bought souvenirs (I bought postcards and a ring). We wandered the main village of Kilronan before catching the ferry back. The ride back was much smoother for the latter half, and we got to ride on a double-decker bus to get back into Galway.

 
 
The cliffs and views along Dun Aengus were amazing! Unlike the Cliffs of Moher, you could walk right up to the edge.

The cliffs and views along Dun Aengus were amazing! Unlike the Cliffs of Moher, you could walk right up to the edge.

 
I don't want to ever forget this place. Standing on the cliffs at the ruins of Dun Aengus, Inis Mor Aran Islands.

I don’t want to ever forget this place. Standing on the cliffs at the ruins of Dun Aengus, Inis Mor, channeling my inner Judd Nelson.

 
From the cliffs, you could see almost the whole island around you.

From the cliffs, you could see almost the whole island around you.

We reached the farthest point of the west of the island, stopping at the Atlantic Ocean. Canada was only an ocean away!

We reached the farthest point of the west of the island, stopping at the Atlantic Ocean. Canada was only an ocean away!



 

We were pretty tired again – the ferry rides and another long day of bus had really worn us down. We parted ways with Lisa, and decided to hang out in our hostel. Brittany, Carlos, Bert and I went to Napoli’s to order pizza, and walked along the River Corrib. It was pretty at night, and the sky was clear so you could see the stars. We took the pizza back to the hostel, and after the guys picked up some beers, we all just hung out. It was a ton of fun, and the pizza tasted delicious!

Day 6 – Final Day – Travelling ‘Home’

We had to check out in the morning, but a few of us decided to sleep in until we had to get up. Then we just grabbed hot drinks and a snack at a local café.

We wanted to take a free walking tour of Galway city, as we hadn’t seen much of it yet. We waited for 30 minutes with no guide showing up… Finally, a girl came (her name was Laura) and explained that there had been a mix-up, the other person hadn’t shown up, and she would cover. I’m glad we stayed, because she was actually amazing and knew a lot about the city.

She told us a lot about Galway’s history, and showed us the various sites around the city. I wish we would’ve had more time to have gone back and explored them fully.

– The cathedral looked really old, but was actually built in the mid-1900s. And the ceiling was apparently made of Canadian cedar – it would have been cool to go there and ‘smell home.’

– We got to see Lynch Castle, and hear the story of how a baby saved a monkey from a fire.

– We saw the Spanish Arch, where the Irish used to trade with the Spanish, and the remnants of the old wall that used to enclose the city.

– Laura explained why the post boxes in Ireland are green – they are actually left over from the British and have the Royal crest on them. After the Rebellions, it was too expensive to replace the boxes, so they used cheap green paint and painted them green!

 
 
Eyre Square in Galway. Where we began our tour.

Eyre Square in Galway. Where we began our tour.

 
We walked along the River Corrib on our walking tour - it is one of the fastest, smallest rivers (I think in Europe...), and so pretty.

We walked along the River Corrib on our walking tour – it is one of the fastest, smallest rivers (I think in Europe…), and so pretty.

– We learned about Brehon laws – the idea of the ‘honeymoon’ comes from Ireland. If a man was strong and rich enough, he could have 2 wives. BUT – if the first wife wasn’t happy, she had 3 days to murder the second wife before it was considered illegal. So, the honeymoon was created for the husband to protect his second wife!

– Also, Halloween was an Irish tradition – it used to be thought that the veil between the worlds of the dead and living was weakened on this night, and evil spirits could come into the world and possess or kidnap you. So people would disguise themselves by wearing the skins and heads of animals. Creepy, right!?

Perhaps the coolest thing though: Laura taught me some words in Irish. I learned ‘slainte,’ which means ‘cheers,’ ‘failte’ means ‘welcome,’ and ‘creol’ means ‘music.’ (Plus: ‘craic‘ means ‘fun.’ Don’t ask me to try to say them though, as I’m told by the other international students that we have terrible pronunciation for basically every language except English).

After that, we took a bus to Limerick. Here, we wandered the city at night along the river. We realized we hadn’t really explored the cities at night, with there either being nothing to see or us being too tired. We couldn’t decide on where to eat for dinner, and somehow Brittany and I agreed to eat kebabs. They actually were pretty good – although not what I had expected at all. I probably won’t eat another one for a while – at least, not sober.

 
 
To get some people in this post, Carlos, Brit and I when we wandered Limerick at night.

To get some people in this post, Carlos, Brit and I when we wandered Limerick at night.

 
Limerick at night. King John's Castle just across the river. The city lights were amazing on the water at night!

Limerick at night. King John’s Castle just across the river. The city lights were amazing on the water at night!

The trip finished with a bus ride home to Waterford, with lots of jokes and laughs along the way. It’s weird to call this place home still, even though that’s what it is. It will be my home for the next 3 months even.

But it’s not just the place – these people I got to travel with and meet are a huge part of it. Thinking about the end of the semester, and not seeing all of them, makes me really sad. BUT – for now, we will plan more adventures and enjoy all the time we have left here!

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Pinterest

From

JH

Ireland Trip Pt. 1

This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!

This was on the kitchen wall of the Barnacles Hostel in Galway. Loved it!

 

 

Well, I have now planned a trip for 8 people (with help obviously), stayed in hostels for the first time, bused along the West of Ireland, and been to some of the most amazing places. All within 6 days.

I have a lot that I want to write – I’ve experienced so much, learned a lot, met some great people, and seen some amazing things. But, for the sake of your eyes and brains, I will attempt to condense as much as I can.

 

 

 

Day 1 – Cahir and Cashel

(We pronounced Cahir wrong for numerous days until someone corrected us – you say it like ‘care.’)

8 of us set out at the beginning – 5 guys and 3 girls.

We had wanted to go to Cahir to see a castle we had seen on the internet, but were super disappointed when we arrived to find it under construction. So, instead, we went for a walk along the river behind the castle. Honestly, it was a great decision! The natural scenery was beautiful, and we all got some great shots. Even though we had torrential rain and sideways winds for the walk back, our wet jeans and dripping jackets were definitely worth it for the views we found.

We had lunch at a little café before taking a bus to Cashel. Cashel is home to the ruins, the Rock of Cashel. My friend Hubert and I were the only ones who saw the ruins from the bus window, our excitement growing as we would finally see something really cool!

 
 
Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.

Our walk in Cahir afforded beautiful scenery. The river looked like glass at some points, and the sun held up for the walk there.

 
Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)

Despite it being under construction, the Rock of Cashel was still really cool to see! (We could actually go into this one!)

We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.

We walked all the way around the Rock of Cashel, and the other side afforded a view with less construction.

We found our hostel (pretty good for my first hostel actually), and headed off to explore the Rock of Cashel. We might have walked along an ‘out-of-bounds’ area (we aren’t sure), but the views were amazing and worth it. Green hills surrounded, and we could see even more ruins in the distance. The ruins were really cool to explore – although dodging stepping on tombs was a little interesting and morbid…

We found a little local pub for dinner that was edible, and had a quiet night in at the hostel.

Day 2 – Limerick

To get to Limerick, we had to pass back through Cahir. So, we stopped for brunch there. I got to have pancakes with maple syrup for Pancake Tuesday! I was so excited to find food from home on a menu!

Limerick was probably one of my favourite cities that we have been to so far these 2 months. The atmosphere is really relaxed, and sometimes it definitely doesn’t feel like you are in a city. We wandered until we found King John’s Castle. We had a ton of fun exploring and taking pictures all around the castle grounds!

 
 
St. John's Castle, Limerick.

St. John’s Castle, Limerick.

The view from the very top tower of St. John's Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!

The view from the very top tower of St. John’s Castle. You could see almost all of Limerick, and with the sun going down, it was gorgeous!



 

And then we were 7, as we said goodbye to Kitty at the bus station – she was going back home to Waterford, and we were continuing on. That night, the guys wanted kebabs and pizza for dinner, but Brittany and I decided we wanted something better. So, we asked the lady at reception, and she recommended a restaurant called Marco Polo. It was quite fancy, but pretty average prices – so we were really excited that we got to have one night out with really good food!

We met up with the guys afterwards, and headed to a local pub for a pint and to listen to live music. The band was only two guys playing guitar and using back beats and music, but they were really good! It was a great night out. And our hotel that night was amazing! The beds were incredibly soft, like sleeping on clouds. We all got a great night’s sleep with no bunk beds.

Day 3 – Galway

One more thing that made our hotel awesome – free breakfast in the morning! So we got to have a mini Irish breakfast to start off our day. We hung out in our great room for a bit before wandering the city streets of Limerick and buying food at a grocery store.

We caught a bus to Galway in the afternoon, and checked into our hostel. I cannot stress how awesome this hostel actually was! The people were great, and it actually offered a lot while being in a central location. I was so happy with it! And there was a Canadian girl working there who checked us in and gave us recommendations of where to go in the city – thanks, Rebecca!

 
 
Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)

Despite it being blurry, this was us in Galway our first day! (Carlos joined us later)

It's hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together - all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!

It’s hard to see, but the musicians were sitting in a circle playing music together – all from memory, of course. They would switch off leading songs, singing, and one guy even did some Irish dancing. It was a great experience!



 

And we became 8 again, as Carlos joined us after coming back from Spain.

We booked our tours for the next few days around Galway and the surrounding areas, and then headed to the Cellar Bar for dinner. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere was great!!! We had an awesome dinner there. After going back to the hostel and hanging out for a bit, we headed to The Crane Bar for a pint and some live, traditional Irish music. The bar was small and fun, and we all had an awesome time. It was a great way to end off the night!

So this post isn’t too long, I’m going to post part two of my travels in a day or two. That blog post will include the Cliffs of Moher, Inishmore, and a little more of Galway (and is longer). Honestly, I would recommend any of the places we went to or stayed at, as we had an amazing trip!

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

From

JH

Adventures and Ramblings

This band was amazing - so exciting when they played Mumford & Sons!

This band was amazing – so exciting when they played Mumford & Sons!

“Cada persona es un mundo – Each person is a different world.” – Spanish saying. (Thanks, Carlos!)

It’s funny. When you set out on an adventure or journey, you never know exactly what to expect.

Planning to come to Ireland, I never would have imagined that I would be out at pubs and clubs on school nights, going somewhere new almost every weekend, and experiencing some very different and crazy things from my life at home.

Last week, on Thursday, we ended up going out. First, we went to a friend’s house to all hang out and have a mini get-together. Later, we headed to a local pub, Kazbar’s, for some live music. It was so amazing! We had been told that it was “Irish music,” but it was funny to see when we got there that the signs said “Newfoundland music.” The band was brilliant, and even played a few Mumford and Sons songs that my friends and I loudly sang along to. Thankfully, there were people who were extremely drunk, and the music was loud, so no one cared or could hear us. It was a great night! I even got to talk to some more of the international students, and meet a few more.

Friday turned out to be an interesting day as well. I have no classes, and Brittany finishes in the afternoon. So, we met up with Bruna and headed to city center. We decided to try a new café this week. We ended up going to O’Brien’s where I had a Nutella hot chocolate! Yes. You read that right. It was amazing!!! So chocolate-y and good. I don’t think it trumped the Chocolate Café hot chocolate, but definitely close.

 
 
These ladies are awesome! We had a blast listening to the music.

These ladies are awesome! We had a blast listening to the music.

Had a great afternoon with these girls!

Had a great afternoon with these girls!



 

Then we went shopping and picked up little things that we needed. I got a yoga mat so that I can finally do some workouts in my room. It was great! And I got a thing of four rings – for one euro!!!!! I was excited. (It’s a girl thing. Hahaha.)

We decided that we wanted a little day trip; so, around 11 on Saturday, a group of us met up to go to Dunmore East. Like Tramore, it’s a coastal town with beaches and the ocean. Except for one thing: the cliffs here were amazing. It makes me wonder how much greater the Cliffs of Moher will be next week.

We wandered around the beaches, climbing through tiny caves (and taking cave selfies), climbing over rocks, and exploring. Our group of 10 often found itself separated, but we always met back up. We followed a trail that ran along the cliffs and the length of the majority of the coast. The views were spectacular. The guys climbed up a hill to get to the top, so I followed along. We found out after that there was a trail, but it was actually pretty awesome to climb the hill – despite the sketchy, moving rocks.

 
The cliffs of Dunmore East were spectacular.

The cliffs of Dunmore East were spectacular.



 
 
Cliff selfie with these guys - so funny!

Cliff selfie with these guys – so funny!

The coast line was so pretty, and the water looked amazing.

The coast line was so pretty, and the water looked amazing.



 
 
The rocks looked so cool along the shore.

The rocks looked so cool along the shore.

The cliffs and ocean were beautiful. I honestly could have sat there for hours, just looking at the view. It’s moments like these that truly remind me that I am surrounded by a beautiful and amazing country. Sometimes, the monotony of school and life causes me to forget exactly where I am. These moments allow me to take a deep breath and soak up the naturally beauty and splendor around me. Ireland is gorgeous, and I’m excited to see all of its beauty.

We had lunch in a little café before heading back. I ordered a BLT Panini, forgetting that bacon here is not like at home. It’s so odd to me that when I order bacon, I am expecting bacon strips like at home; but instead, I am given ham. I seriously miss bacon (even though I don’t eat it that often at home).

But here’s the exciting news – Brittany and I have now seen two places within Ireland that sell Tim Hortons coffee!!! I kid you not. Like the coffee machines at gas stations and convenience stores back home, we have now seen signs for Timmy’s coffee in Kilkenny and Dunmore East. Honestly, it made me really want Tim Hortons. But for now, adorable cafes and The Bagel Factory will have to do (as our friends have never eaten bagels, I’m sure that I’ll get to go there a few times 😉 ).

 
The guys wanted to photobomb my selfie!

The guys wanted to photobomb my selfie!



 
There was water streaming from here, down the rocks to the ocean.

There was water streaming from here, down the rocks to the ocean.



 

One of the things I definitely did not expect was to be partying during the week. For people who know me back home, I’m not exactly a party person. Sure, I’ll have a drink or two and go out every so often. But getting me to Roosters or a night club is a challenge sometimes. (Sorry girls…)

But here, I have surprised myself. I loved going to the live music nights, especially because I had no school the next days anyways. (Somehow, I lucked out with getting only 2 days of school a week…) Monday night was a little more though. Here in Ireland, there is an event called Rag Week. Basically, everyone parties. Every day and every night. Drinking and going to clubs. And I was so not ready for that.

I had heard of it, but didn’t really know what to expect. Thankfully, my friends aren’t really into the huge club scene either. I lucked out on that. But we were going to experience it nonetheless. So we bought our tickets for the Monday night.

 
The rocks were fun to walk across. There was probably a 15ft drop behind me!

The rocks were fun to walk across. There was probably a 15ft drop behind me!

 
I love this shot. Want to use some old rusted railings to get to the cliff edge? We didn't.

I love this shot. Want to use some old rusted railings to get to the cliff edge? We didn’t.

The sun peaked out near the end of our long walk.

The sun peaked out near the end of our long walk.



 
My awesome roommate and friend is great about my constant selfies...

My awesome roommate and friend is great about my constant selfies…



 

We went to a friend’s apartment first to hang out (I’m sensing a pattern here). And then we went to the school. Now it’s so weird to me that the school is having a party week, hosted by the Student Union. But I guess that is the way here! It was actually a ton of fun. There was a live band that was awesome and played great music. Our huge group danced around and had an overall great time.

Technically, we had tickets that would get us a discount to a night club in the city that night. But we decided it might be too busy, so we might check out another one. We ended up at The Foundry. Again, a typical night club. Not necessarily my scene. But I was having fun, and I was with friends, so I didn’t care. We went onto the dance floor and danced around for a while before heading home.

At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)

At The Dome! Awesome live music and people. (photo cred: Bert)

Obviously there were many other things that happened, but I will spare you the details. Essentially, there were a lot of laughs, some awkward moments, lots of joking, drinking, and fun. For my first Rag Week adventure, I had a great time!

But here’s the exciting news: next week, my friends and I venture on our actual adventure. We get a week off for studying for school, but every one of us is basically just using our weeks off for travel. So, Brittany and I decided to plan a trip through the parts of Ireland that we most want to see. A bunch of our friends were interested, so now there will probably be a group of about 5-7 of us. (Don’t worry – we’ve already booked hostels for those of us who are sure we’re going).

I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to write for blogging next week. A post will probably go up the week after. But keep an eye on my Instagram and Twitter, as I’ll try to update there. We are going to see many amazing things, from cathedrals to castles, museums to nature, and the Cliffs of Moher and the Aran Islands. We will pass through Cahir and Cashel, Limerick, Galway, and Inismore.

I am beyond excited for this adventure, and cannot wait to tell you all about it when I get back.

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH

CBA – Reverse Alphabet Weekend

Chocolate Cafe - JulieHuff.com

Enjoying an amazing hot chocolate on a cold Friday afternoon! Love these ladies! (Evelyn, Lenise, Bruna, Brittany, and me)

“TRAVELLING – It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

C’ is for The Chocolate Café with friends on a windy and cold, Irish afternoon. ‘C’ is also for Cork, on a sunny Saturday after a long and entertaining bus ride. ‘B’ is for Blarney Castle, the ancient and well-known being which possesses the history of past times. ‘B’ is for the Blarney Stone, which I kissed to gain eloquence – despite being completely grossed out by the idea. And ‘A,’ is for awesome, amazing, astonishing, awe-inspiring. Because that was my weekend.

I am continually surprised by how much I can experience within 2-3 days here in Ireland. It definitely doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for one month – more like a week and a half. I look back at everything I’ve gotten to do, and all the things I have planned, and I cannot believe how lucky I am.

On Friday, after Brittany finished classes, we met up with our friends Bruna, Lenise, and Evelyn to walk to city center. We planned to go to a café and then wander around. We ended up going to The Chocolate Café, a place that Brittany and I had seen and heard about, and really wanted to try. The hot chocolate was amazing – probably the best I’ve ever had! And you got a chocolate with it. For a chocolate lover like myself, it was a living dream. We had fun hanging out and chatting, relaxing with our hot drinks. We wandered around city center, stopping to shop and pick up various things we needed.

Later, we had a girl’s movie night with Evelyn and Bruna, watching The Heat, eating junk food, and drinking tea. It was so much fun to have a lazy night in, and just chill with the girls. I’m so glad I’ve met these lovely ladies!

Cork Bus Ride - JulieHuff.com

The view on the bus ride to Cork. So pretty!

Now, usually it’s difficult to get up in the mornings for me. But Saturday seemed a little easier, when I had to get out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. Crazy for a Saturday, right? Well, I knew that after a walk and bus ride, I would be in Cork. And that meant Blarney Castle. Brittany and I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks! To us, this was a must-hit on our list of places to see.

And the early morning was so worth it.

We took a two hour bus ride with our friends to Cork, where we hopped on another bus to get to Blarney. The bus ride was a lot of jokes and laughs with Brittany, Evelyn, Carlos, Hubert, and Ernany.

Blarney was gorgeous! We started by climbing through some of the caves under the castle – beginning with the one that used to be the dungeon. While the others turned back, I was convinced to go to the end of the tunnel with Carlos and Hubert. Despite some VERY narrow passages, we made it to a small room at the end, with minimal standing room. And commence cave selfies.

 

Hubert, Brit, me and Carlos in the caves under Blarney Castle!

 

 
When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.

When the sun came up, we got some amazing picture of the castle.

 
Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!

Blarney Castle, Cork. When we first arrived, the clouds made it look so eerie!

Carlos, Hubert and I in the dungeon caves. It was a tight squeeze sometimes, but we made it all the way to the end!

 

We then headed up into the castle. From every tiny, medieval window, the view was spectacular. You could see the quintessential Irish-green hills for miles around, and little houses and towns a little ways away. It was cold and windy, due to the medieval lack of window panes and heating, but the inside was just as great as the view. We explored various rooms before ending up standing in line on the winding staircase – a line-up that would lead us to the very top of the castle and the Blarney Stone.

The top of the castle definitely afforded the best view of the surrounding areas. You could see the gardens and castle grounds below, along with Blarney House, and the hills and meadows. I stepped up onto a higher part to look over the castle edge. A girl standing in the line sort of freaked out, but it was fine. I knew what I was doing. And the holes had a single bar across them, so I couldn’t technically fall through those either. But it was the best spot to get a look and pictures.

We finally had our turn to kiss the Blarney Stone. Originally, I wasn’t going to do it. It may have been the thought that I was going to be kissing a cold, dirty stone outside, or the fact that thousands of people had kissed this weird rock before me without it being cleaned whatsoever; but I wasn’t too interested at first. However – I knew that I was in Ireland, and that I might never be here again.

So I kissed the Blarney Stone.

 
 
View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.

View of those quintessential Irish hills from the top of the castle.

 

Stepping into Blarney Castle.

 

We were trying to figure out what ‘blarney’ was, too. This sign was helpful, and gave us a good laugh!

Now I’m just waiting for my Blarney to kick in… For those of you who don’t know, kissing this stone is supposed to present you with the gift of ‘blarney,’ or eloquence. Basically, it’ll make you a fluent and persuasive speaker, and will make you a lover or politician – or so the sign told me…

The day turned out to be gorgeous, despite a bit of cold wind, so we walked along the battlements, and through the gardens until we found ourselves at Blarney House. It looked very grand and elegant. Despite not being able to actually enter the house, we had a lot of fun taking pictures around it.

 
 

View from the top of the castle. You can see the tower and water, along with the stretching green grounds.

 

Walk to Blarney House was so pretty!

Our group for Cork and Blarney! Ernany, Hubert, Carlos, Brittany, Evelyn, and myself. 🙂


 

We took a bus back to the center of Cork, and wandered around the city for a little while. We had been told to visit a few places, so we tried to find them – and got a little lost. But we eventually made it to our destinations. The English Market was a cool place to see. A little underwhelming for someone who has been to the Granville Island market or the new one in Victoria, but interesting nonetheless. It was cool to see that even though our cultures are different in so many ways, a lot of things we eat are actually pretty similar. We then wandered and found a free art museum. I’m not big on art, and couldn’t tell you what any of it meant, but it was pretty cool to explore the old building and see paintings and artistry of the past.

Before leaving Cork, we found a cute little pub along the way (although I can’t remember the name of it), and decided to stop in for dinner and a pint. I ordered a pint of Murphy’s with Carlos and Hubert. It was a local beer and I really enjoyed it – probably as much as I liked my first Guinness. Brittany even liked it when she tried it!

 
 

Snapped this shot quickly when we were leaving the castle. Loved the signs in front. It shows the height and elegance, in my opinion.

Evelyn, Brit and I at the pub in Cork!


 
 

With the sun going down, Cork was beautiful. The cathedrals were everywhere, and looked so pretty along the water.

It was an awesome weekend – definitely one I will remember for a very long time. I will post some of the amazing pictures here, on Facebook, and on my new Instagram account.

As mentioned before, I still cannot believe it has been a month that I have been here. I am amazed at the number of things I have gotten to do, and the number of awesome people I have met. It is definitely the experience I expected it to be.

This weekend will be a little more relaxed, but I will still have lots to tell you, I’m sure. Lots more adventures are in the works for future weekends and breaks that we get. For our February break, we are trying to plan a trip through the west part of Ireland – stopping at many of the spots that are famous to many. And for the two weeks we have for the end of March/beginning of April, we plan to explore this continent which we are setting foot on for the first time. There is still a lot of planning to do, but the ideas are there, and the excitement is definitely growing.

View of the grounds from inside the doorway of the tower.

I’m excited to explore some more, and to go on adventures. I’m so glad that I came here with someone who is turning out to be a great friend and overall amazing person. We are lucky that we get along so well, and don’t mind spending a lot of time together – although I’m sure she’ll be sick of me soon. With our other friends, we are all continuously learning new things from each other, and experiencing new things together in this crazy place.

“And then I realized, adventures are the best way to learn.” [Pinterest quote]

From

JH

P.S. – Sorry if this post was a little picture and word heavy. 🙂

Why Ireland?

Tramore beach.

Tramore beach.

“Little by little, one travels far.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

I have been asked many times why I chose Ireland for my study abroad.

Honestly, I don’t have an easy answer.

I wish I could reply: “Ireland was my first choice!” or “The culture is so amazing!” or “I came for the booze and partying!” as so many of my friends here can answer. Of course I am glad I came here, and of course I knew the culture and history was going to be amazing. That is definitely one of the aspects that drew me here.

But first let me tell you something.

I actually applied for a study abroad over a year ago, to a school in England. I have always wanted to go to the UK, with it probably being at the top of my list of places to travel. I was so excited to live there, to have a chance to be immersed in the cultures of Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte’s, and so many others that I had studied for some years. To be in the place of the monarchs, the wars, and the center of the 19th century world.

I guess it wasn’t meant to be though. The school decided that they weren’t going to do an exchange with ours, as their students weren’t really coming to Canada, and it wasn’t worth it. I was super upset.

But I really wanted to do a study abroad. For the experience, and the change of scenery and life. In the years leading up to this idea, I had gone through a lot. I was changed as a person by events that happened in my life, and by a new perspective of the world. In a lot of ways, it made me stronger; but also weaker. I wanted to know that I could do things on my own.

So I tried applying again.

This time, I applied to go to school in Wales. I got accepted and was going through the process of picking classes, when I realized that it really didn’t feel right. I was far too stressed and honestly, wasn’t very excited.

That really worried me. So I left the program.

After a lot of thinking, I decided to try one more time: I applied for Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). I had debated somewhere warmer, like Australia, but Ireland appealed to me more. It has a lot of similarities to home.

The whole process of applying, being accepted, and getting ready to go, I felt nothing like I had the other times. I felt calm, excited. It was so refreshing.

WIT looked like the perfect school. Although they don’t offer many classes for my program, and don’t really have a history department, it seemed right. The classes are small, like at home, and the campus is really great. My professors are amazing and the classes are interesting. And the atmosphere at the school is so relaxed, something you don’t experience at home. At home, the focus is on attending class, learning as much as you can. Here, there is no attendance. Classes are cancelled in a moment’s notice.

I’m so glad that I ended up here in Waterford. It was definitely the right fit for me. I have gotten to do so many amazing things, and I have met some wonderful people. And I’ve only been here for less than a month.

For those asking, I am loving my classes so far. I am taking 19th Century Fiction, where I get to read classics by Twain, Austen, Bronte, Dickenson, and Shelley. In another class, I am getting to write – about so many different things, about whatever I want to write. I was excited, as I hadn’t taken a creative writing class before. And my last class, Literature of the Family, is my hardest class – but it is super interesting. We are reading multiple books and sources, and examining the representation of family and familial dynamics in literature. I can’t find courses like these at home.

I can’t wait for more adventures, even if that means taking exams which are worth 100% of my final grade. It is all new and exciting.

Tramore Beach. Climbed some rocks 😉

I have even adopted a new mentality and lifestyle. I am nowhere near as stressed as I usually am at home, finding the atmosphere here relaxing and calm. It’s the change that I truly needed.

So, there is my long-winded explanation of my choice to come to Ireland. I am so lucky to be experiencing this.

“Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam

                   From

JH

P.S. – this is sort of a bonus post for the week. A friend mentioned it might be cool to have a post about why I chose Ireland. I will normally only upload 1 post every week or so. But stay tuned, as I have a trip planned for this weekend. And sorry if this post was too long or deep…

An Irish Beach in Winter

The Jazz Jam Session, really interesting experience.

The Jazz Jam Session, really interesting experience.

I love the fact that life here in Ireland is so different from home. Brittany and I have had multiple conversations about how odd it will be to try to get back into a regular routine again.

Last week, we went to a pub on Monday. And Tuesday. And I couldn’t help but think that I would never do something like that at home. Tuesday, we didn’t drink at all. Merely went for the company and the amazing music. Our friend found a Jazz Jam Session that occurs at a local pub every Tuesday night. I was really curious, as I had never been to anything like that before! The music was really good, and we all had fun just hanging out.

At Geoff’s bar. Awesome night.

Friday night was the real “party” night. A party had been planned at a bar for the international students of WIT. Basically all the international students were going. We decided to go to check it out, even though neither of us is really into the bar or club scene. There was going to be a pre-party, so we decided we would check that out too. When the night came, we found out our friend was having a pre-pre-party. So we ended up going there first. I think, for me, that was the best part of the night. It was a smaller crowd and we knew basically everyone, so it was fun to just hang out.

Friends are what makes a club fun!

We walked through the cold, dark streets to get to the actual pre-party at someone’s house. Walking through the door of the house, you were instantly hit with the smell of smoke. It was disgusting. Our friend remarked that we were literally breathing in cancer. We couldn’t even get into the room where the party was happening because it was already crammed with people. A bunch of us decided that we would just head to the club earlier than the others.

The club was exactly what I expected. Big bouncers at the door, and loud EDM (electronic dance music) playing. I’m not a huge fan of that kind of music usually. So I wasn’t overly excited. But my friend grabbed mine and Brittany’s hands and pulled us onto the light-up square dance floor (yes, it looked like it was from the seventies, and yes there was a disco ball on the ceiling. 2 actually). Dancing was so much fun. It was great to see how my new friends danced, and I think it was good for all of us to let loose a little.

Sunday was probably the best day though. Around mid-morning, Brittany and I met up with our friends, Carlos and Bert, to go to Tramore. Tramore is a city along the coast, and the beaches are supposed to be really pretty.

Man, did it exceed my standards. Even though it was misty and grey when we arrived, the sand and water were beautiful with the surrounding cliffs. It was breathtakingly beautiful, albeit quite windy and cold. But we started walking, and the cold didn’t bother us anymore.

 

We walked the beach and went on some of the rocks.


 
 

Our group that went to Tramore. We had so much fun!

 

On the cliffs of Tramore, Ireland.

We walked along the beach, below the cliffs, and goofed off on the rocks along the bottom. Brittany and I found the remnants of a staircase, venturing to climb up it for a better view, while the guys climbed boulders and things farther down the beach. We walked through part of town, only to find the path to the top of the cliffs. The view was even better from above. And the sun peeked out through the clouds too. The grass was so green and lush, exactly how you would picture the Irish coast.

We had lunch at a restaurant that was recommended to Brittany. I went for the typical beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips, and it was really good. After lunch, we walked along the beach again – but the opposite way this time. The tide had gone far out, and we could walk a long ways out to the water. With the sun, it was amazing. We decided that we will go back one day when the weather will be warmer, and stay to watch the sunset. I really hope we do.

We wandered through town, searching for the cathedral. We followed the steeples that reached high into the clouds. First, we found a small church. It was surrounded by a graveyard, but the stained glass was really pretty. When we found the Tramore Roman Catholic Church, the clouds had rolled in again and obstructed a view of the very top of the steeple. It gave the cathedral an eerie feel. Inside was amazing though, with more high ceilings, gothic architecture, and stained glass windows throughout.

 
 

View from the edge of the cliff. Amazing.

 

Roman Catholic Church in Tramore.

 

The sun came out for a bit. And it was amazing.

Heading back to Waterford, we ended the day by meeting up with some friends to see The Imitation Game. It’s a movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightley about the solving of the Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II. It was a little slow, but for someone who loves history and had never learned about this, I found it really interesting.

I came home to messages from my parents about various bank issues, but nothing was going to ruin the day I had.

Thankfully, most of my technology issues are dealt with now, and I am looking forward to getting a few other things done so I can relax. Hopefully, there will be more travelling soon, as we have a few trip ideas on the horizon.

May the road rise up to meet ya.

From

JH