Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Snow Crisis in Dublin

 Last week, I had my first every college snow day!  Actually there were three from just 10 inches of snow.  It was great!  I had three exams postponed, one of which was permanently cancelled!  woohoo!  There really wasn't enough snow to warrant a two hour delay in Indiana, but they don't have snow plows in Ireland.  Lucky us.  And of course, everyone knows what most Irish students' first reaction to a snow day is house party.  So Centra, the only store within walking distance of our campus, did very good business that night.  Their wine supply was quite low the next morning.  However, on the down side, the snow never really was cleared off of the sidewalk.  Now I just about bite the dust every time I try to leave the apartment.  

However, for the snow days, my roommates and I had a grand time as we were trapped on campus.  We built a snow igloo, a snow angel, and a snow man.  There were snowball fights, movies, and Christmas music.  

I got to know my roommates very well over the last couple of days, which is really sad because I have to leave in just 11 days.  My roommate, Debbie, is from Donnegal.  That is the most northern part of Ireland, but she will make sure that you know that it is not a part of Northern Ireland.  Those are two completely different things.  A lot of people make fun of the country folk up in Donnegal, but I think I can identify more with that.  They make fun of their accent and crappy roads.  haha.  Many of the people in her family are musicians and she is studying English and Music.  Sueanne is a Business Major from Telamore, which is a small city or large town in the middle of the country.  Both of her parents are Chinese and she is learning to speak Chinese.  She's loads of fun and she is always having her friends over who are also studying business Chinese and we all hang out together all of the time.  It's nice to get to know people who are actually from Ireland, unlike many of the other American students studying here.  Boshen is studying Business at UCD, but is from Beijing, China.  She is fun because I get to learn more about China and she is teaching me to count in Chinese.  I'm a terrible student, though.  I was never very good at learning foreign languages.  I also have gotten to try a lot of authentic Chinese cooking.  Ginger is from Delaware, but studies at the University of North Carolina.  She studies art history, but wants to become a lawyer.  She is also very fun and nice.  Hannah is from Hawaii and goes to Notre Dame and studies Chemical Engineering.  She actually knows how to speak Hawaiin.  She's not around a whole lot, but is also of Asian Heritage.  Our apartment always smells like Asian cooking!  That's not a bad thing, though.  It smells very good.  

I am sure there is so much more to tell about Ireland from the past couple of weeks, but I can't think of anything else.  I'm having a great time, except when I'm studying for exams, which is quite often, lately.    

This tree lights up in three different colors in the middle of O'Connel Street, the main street in Dublin.

It kind of reminds me of Dickensville.
Me (left), Boshen (middle)
me (left), Boshen (middle), and Sueanne (right) in front of our snowman at midnight.
my snow angel
so pretty!  This was taken at sunset
Sueanne preparing to pelt me with a snowball!
Igloo in progress
They still haven't shovelled a lot of the walkways!  This is 5 days after the major snow.
Henry Street, one of the main shopping areas.  That is supposed to be a brick walkway.  It still wasn't shovelled four days after the big snow.  It just keeps melting and refreezing at night.
This also reminds me of Dickensville

Finished igloo with me inside!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


      Upon arrival at Paris, I honestly wasn’t all that impressed with the city.  It is supposed to be a city of beauty and romance, but I just wasn’t feeling any of that.  We arrived at our hostel at midnight and had trouble getting a room because the hostel’s computer system was down and they didn’t know who was in which rooms.  When I say we had trouble, I mean that the person in charge of checking us in was dual functioning as a bartender.  He was an American engineering washout trying to figure out the mess of room assignments while doing shots with some guys at the bar.  The computer system consisted of a laptop.  This obviously wasn’t the best of places.  So we finally picked not the greatest hostel, by accident.  We should have known we were going to have trouble when we read the name, "Peace and Love Hostel" written on the building.  It just goes to show that sometimes all of the best reviews in the world don’t necessarily mean anything.  However, we did finally all get beds to sleep in and the room assignment situation was figured out the next morning with a more professional (and sober) day manager.
                However, my impressions of Paris changed a bit when we took a tour of the city.  We walked around the city for 4 ½ hours (for free!) with a funny, more than likely gay tour guide from the United States who had spent the last two years working on his graduate degree in Paris.  He showed us as much of the city as he could in four hours and then invited us to go to a mom and pop Parisian cafĂ©.  We had a lot of tasty food, for relatively (compared to the other restaurants, where most meals are 25 euro) little money.  I had a delicious cheese sandwich thing, shared a meat and cheese platter, and had a glass of wine for 11 euro.  I was stuffed for the day and that was a late lunch doubling as dinner, too!  The restaurant owners were very nice, but spoke little English so our tour guide had to order for us.  He then led us to the correct metro line to get to our next destination, where all of the shopping was.  Needless to say, we tipped him as generously as three broke college students on a trip to Paris could afford. 
                The main reason we went to the shopping center was to buy a pair of pajama bottoms for myself (I forgot to pack mine) and a pair of socks for Ginger because her socks were soaking wet from the constant drizzle we enjoyed all day.  Canvas shoes + rain=very cold, wet socks.  We also went to the Lafayette mall, which has pretty much every high dollar designer brand imaginable.  It was weird seeing them all in the same mall.  However, we just mostly window shopped because designer clothes only come in designer prices.  The mall was all decked out for Christmas, inside and out.  Then we walked to Moulin Rouge before retiring to bed. 
                Day two in Paris was spent going inside some of the museums and churches.  We started at Notre Dame.  It cost 5 euro to climb to the top of Notre Dame, but I got in for free posing as an Irish student (a citizen of the European Union) under the age of 26.  I saw the sign saying EU citizens can go in for free and gave them the card I had to get in order to register with immigration in Ireland.  All they saw was my birth date and Ireland and they waived me through free of charge.  However, once I got to the top of Notre Dame (after 400+ steps), I decided that it would have been worth the five euro if my guise had not worked.  There were dozens of quite interesting gargoyles lining the catwalk.  I loved them.  Then we went to see the bell of Notre Dame, which Quasimodo would have rung.  It was pretty sweet! 
                After Notre Dame we went to San Chapel, which is supposed to be beautiful with an alter surrounded in gorgeous stained glass.  Unfortunately, they had covered most of it while they were restoring the building.  I felt cheated out of both my time and money.
                Next we went to the Louvre, which was about to close.  We only had 30 minutes to find the Mona Lisa (the only reason most people go to the Louvre) and to look around.  Thankfully, my European Union citizen trick worked again and we got in for free.  Another 7 euro saved!  We found the Mona Lisa and then through the windows of the building we saw a beautiful Parisian sunset.  It was wonderful. 
                We then walked along the Seine towards the Eiffel Tower and the Arc du Triumph.  We were running a little low on our budgeted cash in Paris so we thought it would be funny to have McDonald’s under the Eiffel Tower.  It really hit the spot, and it’s ok because we were having French fries in France (even though French fries came from Belgium as we found out on a previous trip).  Paris at night is wonderful with all of the lights.  I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a November evening than by the Eiffel Tower eating McDonald’s and watching all of the people. 
                Then, we left for the Arc De Triomphe.  I stopped at the coolest automated bathroom ever where it sterilized the place after every use and had a super neat automated sink.  And the toilet was free!  You can’t ask for anything better than that. 
                Arc de Triomphe was cool because it is surrounded by a huge roundabout.  12 major roads intersect at this roundabout and neither your car insurance nor your health insurance covers you or your car in this area.  There are not any marked lanes or traffic lights, so dodging traffic is out of the question.  Thankfully there is an underground tunnel that takes you underneath the arc.  We tried the European Union citizen trick again, but failed this time and decided going directly underneath the arc wasn’t worth 5 euro, so we walked through the tunnel to the other side.  We spent the rest of the evening window shopping at all of the closed shops along the road leading up to the arc before going to bed for our early flight the next morning.  Overall, we had a brilliant time, but there were many things that we missed in Paris, which turned out to be a quite lovely city at night.  I hope someday to return to spend the amount of time in this city that it deserves.


The Seine
This bridge is lined by faces of different people
The faces. 
You put you and your lover's initials on a lock and lock it to the fence.  Then you throw the key into the river, forever sealing your love.
Allegedly the world's first greenhouse.  It has oranges in it.
I don't think this one needs a caption
This is where hundreds of people lost their heads to the guillotene

Notre Dame
Cheese with my wine!
The Galleries Lafayette shopping mall
Inside the Galleries Lafayette
Inside the  mall again
All these "presents" were hanging from the ceiling

Moulin Rouge (obviously).  Crazy street!
I guess this is what French people think we wear in Indiana.
The large organ in Notre Dame (I wanted a better picture, but mass was going on and we weren't allowed to use flash)
A model of Notre Dame
Walking up the 400+ steps to the top!

I think this gargoyle is dreaming about a Parisian romance

A view of Paris from the top of Notre Dame
The Parisian skyline
There's my boyfriend!
ok, so I really liked the gargoyles
About to take flight (wait, he doesn't have any wings!)
I'm getting ready to walk up the belltower
Ginger climbing up the belltower
I found the bell, but no Quasimodo
An elephant, and I don't know what that other one was
Heading back down
San Chapel
The floor of San Chapel
San Chapel stained glass windows.  They tell the story of the Bible.

San Chapel
This keeps people out of some sort of government building.
Inside the pyramid entrance to the Louvre
In the Louvre
Mona Lisa
Ok, so I found the building more interesting than most of the art.  I saw very similar artwork in Rome, so I was pretty sick of this style.

This picture does not do this sunset any justice at all
I liked this room, but most of it was roped off.
Underneath the Eiffel Tower (Megan has a lot of the other Eiffel Tower pictures, so I will put them up when she uploads them to facebook)
Arc de Triomphe

This means "walk under the street to the Arc de Triomphe", lol.

Aaaaaahhhh, Harry Potter!  They had to wait longer than we did in Dublin to see it.  Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to see it still.  Too much travelling!