Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Trip to the Blarney Castle, the Wicklow Mountains, and getting sick

So it was an action packed weekend.  First we went to Cork, where we caught a bus to Blarney.  Then we walked to the Blarney Castle, which was AMAZING!  The grounds of the park were beautiful and the castle was super cool.  Going through the castle felt like I was playing pretend with Heather and Ally, like when we were little, again.  The main reason for us going was to kiss the Blarney Stone.  The legend goes, that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you will recieve the gift of gab.  This is described as "pleasant talk, inteded to deceive without offending," so watch out!  To get to the stone, we had to climb up a spiraling set of stone steps (110 in all) in a small, cylindrical enclosure.  The only light coming in was from the few windows lining the stairs.  The view from the top was magnificent!  However, I was uncertain about kissing the stone once I got to the top because you pretty much have to hang off of the side of the castle with your legs held by an employee in order to kiss the stone upside down.  We were very high off the ground and I'm afraid of heights, enough said.  But I didn't travel 4+ hours by bus to chicken out of kissing the stone, so I did it anyways.

On Sunday, we (Megan and I) decided to take a bus tour of the Wicklow Mountains, which was nice because the tour guide pointed out all of the cool places that Megan and I wouldn't have found on our own.  We saw the filming location for P.S. I Love You in the Wicklow Mountains, but no Gerard Butler.  We saw Braveheart Hill and the filming location for several movies that have battle scenes.  Aparently, Ireland gives incentives for movies to be filmed in the Wicklow Mountains.  Very cleaver, I think.  Harry Potter was also filmed in the Wicklow Mountains.  The guide said they built a castle and everything, but promtly tore it all down as soon as they were finished filming.  Lake Glendalough (pronounced glen-doe-lock) was georgious!  The walkway was nice and the ruins were super cool.  We also saw a cute little town called Avoca which is the filming location of a British television series, Ballykissangel.  The guide pointed out "Ireland's dryest village" (it had no pub) and "Ireland's smallest village."  I think that village probably really is the only one without a pub.  They are a really big part of life here in Ireland.

The Blarney Castle

Vanessa and Megan working their way to the top of the castle so they can kiss the Blarney Stone

A wall surrounding the castle

We're waiting in line to kiss the stone.  We just made it to the top of the endless, spiraling stairs

Me kissing the Blarney Stone.  It was a bit awkward to say the least.

The dining room?

All these people have just kissed the stone or are waiting to kiss it!

This picture was taken out of one of the windows in the castle

A view of Blarney, the town, from the top of the castle

This picture goes with the next one

This picture goes with the one preceding it.  We need something like this in our house!

looking up from the floor of the dining hall?

Vanessa, my friend from Germany, ready to cross under the Rock Close

Megan ducking in the tunnel under the Rock Close

All of us in a garden/park thing by the Blarney castle. Megan(left), Vanessa (middle), and me (right)

The Blarney Castle from afar

A church at Glencree Peace a Reconciliation Centre. 

A cemetary by the church

The conference building (sort of) at the Glencree Peace and Reconcilliation Centre, where various government leaders of the IRA, British Parliament, etc. met to talk about a solution to the conflict in Ireland.  Various goverment leaders from the middle east still come for meetings here.

The Wicklow Mountains.  The reddish flowers are heather.

Megan in a field of heather

Me at the shooting location for P.S. I Love You. 

The grassy part below is owned by the Guinness family. 

I'm planning on blowing this picture up to be poster sized

Entrance to the monastic ruins at Glendalough.

The cemetary is newer on the ruins, but the tower is ancient.  The people would hide in here during raids.  It is on top of a well and there were tons of fruits and berries for the people to live on.

This reminded me of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Random, I know.

One of the two lakes at Glendalough

waterfall at Glendalough

Meeting of the Waters (Two major Irish rivers meet here).  This was a beauty spot made famous by Irish poet Thomas Moore.  I wonder if we're related.

Avoca, a small village and the filming location for a television series, Ballykissangel

Another view of Avoca

Another view of Avoca

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Trip to Howth!

Today was action packed, which was a welcome change from the boredom of yesterday (Saturday).  Everyone from the college went home and I think that I spent the whole day in my apartment.  :(  But today made up for everything!  It was a dreary day, except for the time we spent on the cliff when some of the clouds cleared up!  Heather, Megan, and I walked (sometimes in the rain) a lot around the Howth area and I'm glad that they were completely up for the trek!  Greatest travel buddies ever! We only spent about 1.60 to split a hog roast sandwich and a day on our Dublin bus pass for the trip that took us about an hour away from UCD.  Cheapest best trip ever!

flowers on the edge

The lighthouse

"The Eye of Ireland"
Heather (left) and Megan (right) in Howth
Heather (left) and Megan (right) at what I think is the fish market in Howth

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More pictures!

These pictures are proof that Ireland does have the occasional nice day!  haha.  I went sightseeing last Saturday with a few people that I had met through Megan's roommate.  Megan is from Purdue, like me.  Her roommate, Vanessa, is from Germany. She brought her friends along, too.  We had an excellent day of just walking around the streets of Dublin.  There is still much to see (we kept getting sidetracked from going to see the castle near where we were).  We have plenty of time to find the castles!

Trinity College was established in 1592!  It was very beautiful.  I want to go back sometime to visit the library that is as old as the college.  It is the largest library in Ireland.

We also did a little bit of shopping (mostly the window shopping type).  We did this on Henry Street where most of the city shops for clothes, food, electronics, and whatever else they need.  It's all on Henry Street.  People walk around with their carry-on bags with wheels in order to carry their purchases.  It sure takes a load off of your back and keeps your hands free since you can't just run and put your stuff in the car (what car?!).  There are very few places available for parking in the city centre anyways.

We finished the day with a McFlurry at McDonald's, reminding me that no matter how far you go, some things stay the same!  :)  

Church's Restaurant.  (An old converted church)  I ate here!

The road going into campus.  I thought it was pretty.

UCD's Centre for American Studies

The canal that runs near Dublin City Centre

This was hanging upside down from the ceiling at the Hard Rock Cafe!

There are even Hard Rock cafes in Dublin! 

Me inside the Trinity College Campus

Outside Trinity College.  It's a little sideways because I was walking when I took this picture.

A statue of the "famous" guy that owns the house (below)

This was a house of some famous guy (can't remember his name) that is located inside St. Stephen's Green

Vanessa on one of the rental bikes (3 euro per day)

The outside of the church.  It was right next to the first building that housed ucd, in which James Joyce studied.

I had to take this picture without flash.  This is the inside of the church we wondered into. It's a bit blurry because I couldn't use flash!  A wedding was going to happen here soon.

Megan and I at St. Stephen's Green

Megan and Vanessa at the fountain in St. Stephen's Green

A picture at the pond in the middle of the UCD campus

This is another picture of campus.  It's nice to have the covered walkway in the rain that is always hitting unexpectedly.