Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Last weekend was spent in Galway, which I always want to spell as Galaway thanks to my friend, Patty.  The weather was A-MAZ-ING!  There wasn't any precipitation and the sun showed through all day, which was better than I had hoped for.  I was just hoping it wasn’t pouring when we went to the cliffs of Moher (a light drizzle instead of heavy rain).  It’s supposed to be cold, windy and wet on the west side of Ireland, which is where Galway is located.

You all need to listen to a song that a lot of the pubs in Ireland play about a Galway girl.  The girls from Galway LOVE it.  This song was stuck in my head the whole time I was there, lol.  It was written by Steve Earl while he was staying just outside Galway for a bit.  Here is the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nt_TirDyKU  

We (Megan from Purdue, Rachel from Kansas, and I) took a three hour train to the Galway city centre, which is much less stressful than taking a plane, like we have for the other trips.  We sat and ate cheap food from home and talked, facing each other on the way there with plenty of leg room.  In addition we didn’t have to go through security, arrive 2 hours before our plane left, etc.  It was grand. 

Once we arrived in Galway, we dropped our bags off at the hostel and walked around the town all day.  We went to a farmers market that was right next to St. Nicolas’ Church, which is said to have been where Christopher Columbus stopped to pray before departing for the New World.  The farmer’s market had your typical vendors of gloves, leather goods, food, toys, art, and knick knacks.  There was a guy there making doughnuts on the spot and we decided to try them.  They were so delicious that I want to go back to Galway just to get those doughnuts!  They just melted in your mouth.  Mmmmmm……  Then we went window shopping around town where we saw some people tap dancing/clogging (I’m not sure what you would call it) trying to raise money to go to Haiti.  It was pretty cool.  The city was just very cute over all and bustling for the bank holiday weekend.  It was right beside Galway Bay, which was quite beautiful, with the Aran Islands and some cliffs in the distance. 

On Sunday we went on a bus tour of the Cliffs of Moher and the surrounding area.  We went inside a cave, walked along the cliffs, viewed old castles, etc.  The Cliffs of Moher were not as nice as the cliffs that we had previously visited in Howth, in my opinion.  They were nice, but it was so busy and we weren’t given that much time and there were walls that were pretty high so you couldn’t even get a great picture of yourself there.  Apparently people die all the time there by losing their balance when they get too close to the edge.  Maybe that’s why the walls were there.  Also, if we had gotten there earlier, we could have seen puffins.  That would have been pretty sweet!  However, it is hard to get there early enough when you don’t have a car.  The road signs are confusing anyway, so I’m not sure that I would have made it there with a car, anyway.  As anticlimactic as the Cliffs of Moher were (they were still quite beautiful), I still had a great time because I was in such a beautiful part of Ireland with breathtaking views, absolutely magnificent weather, and great travelling partners.  I couldn’t ask for much more!     

In the centre of Galway
It's Guinness Time!
A Catholic church built in the 1800's
The canals that run throughout the city
The church up close
Church window
Stained glass window inside the church
Church organ
I'm not sure why this area was called Nun's Island. haha.  It was an island because it was surrounded on all sides by the canals
The canal
In Galway
I liked the flowers
The ducks were nice too
They were having a charity balloon race.  I'm not really sure what that is, but it looked cool!

they moved this from somewhere else.  It's really old, but I can't remember really what it's from. 
View of Galway from the top of a hill
Galway by the coast
I just thought this looked pretty.  It was in Galway
St. Nicolas'
Door to St. Nicolas'

Waterfall in the Alowee Cave (I'm pretty sure I spelled that wrong)
A view of the countryside from the top of the hill outside the cave

That cow was posing, so I took a picture
This goes with the next picture
This goes with the previous picture
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher with tourist overlook tower
Cliffs of Moher
Castle.  The tour guide said that at one time, the guy that lived in here hung a bunch of dead bodies off of the side of the tower.  I couldn't catch why, but I thought that was creepy.
A Castle!!!
Up close of the same castle
This species of swan doesn't make any noise.  I thought it was pretty.

Me (front), Rachel(middle), and Megan (back) posing by one the canals.

Megan (left), Rachel (middle), and me (right)
We just thought this would make such a pretty picture and it did!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


This last weekend I went to Rome, Italy! 

I woke up very early for my flight (around 3:40 am).  The plane left around 7:00-ish am.  When we arrived in Rome (around noon), we immediately got the Roma Pass, which included public transportation around the city, two museum tickets, and discounted museum tickets after that. 

Then we went to the Coliseum, which was amazing!  To stand in a place walked through by people about 2000 years before you is just hard to wrap your mind around.  The structure was huge and to think that the technology was even sufficient to build such a massive building is mind boggling. 

We found our hostel, which looked like it was going to be an interesting (maybe quite terrible) experience from the looks of the outside of the building.  However, once you walked into it, it was amazing that something so awful looking from the outside could be so nice on the inside.  Many of the basilicas throughout the city were much the same.  You walk in the front door and all you can say is “wow, I didn’t see this coming from the looks of the outside.”  The hostel had a free pasta dinner on weeknights, so we only had to pay for one dinner! 

The next day, we walked around the whole city, looking at most of the squares, monuments, and buildings.  We arrived first at the Trevi Fountain, which hadn’t been turned on yet.  We were there around sunrise.  So we watched the people turn it on, which was pretty neat because you can see how huge the fountain actually is when people are walking across it!  Then we went to the Pantheon, which was incredible!  It was HUGE!  To think of the engineering required to build such a huge building, in marshy lowland with a ginormous domed roof, is unthinkable for the second century AD.  Apparently, it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.  Pretty cool.  Then we went to the forum, which was also interesting.  We would have just known that we were walking around a bunch of ruins, because we were there too late to use the audio tour that they sold, but we followed a very loud English tour guide, who told Megan and I all we wanted to know about the forum.  It is considered as the centre of the Roman Empire that had many political figures, like Caesar, walk through it.  However, it should be noted that this was not where he was murdered (contrary to popular belief).  It is a site of much interest to archaeologists because most of the structures were torn apart to be used for other building projects, and then used as a dumping ground for when structures in the city were torn down.  So it has a lot of old stuff/junk from the people of past centuries, haha.   It was pretty fun.      

The exception to the rule (of the outside of the buildings not matching the insides), of course, is St. Peter’s and the Vatican City in general.  We woke up bright and early to go because we knew there was quite a bit to do in the area.  We started at sunrise in St. Peter’s Square, where we had to go through security.  Then we went into St. Peter’s church, which was AMAZING!  It was massive for one and there are statues all over the outside, which are great.  The outside was wonderful, but not nearly as brilliant as the inside of the church.  Next, we walked up over 1000 steps to the top of the dome of St. Peter’s.  We were tired, and I was scared, but the view was IMPRESSIVE.  I enjoyed it while clinging to the wall of the building, while my friends leaned over the railings to get good pictures, haha.  On the way up, we could see the paintings and a mosaic covering the ceiling and walls of St. Peter’s up close.  Once again, I was scared because you could see all the way down to the church floor, but I definitely enjoyed the experience.   Then we went through the Vatican Museum, where we saw loads of statues and paintings and tapestries and murals.  We ended at the Sistine Chapel, which was amazing.  Thankfully, my friend, Heather, actually knew something about the Sistine Chapel, besides the fact that Michelangelo painted it!  By the end of all of this our feet hurt really badly and I was glad our perusal of the museum was finally over.  We saw the tombs of past popes, also.

The food of Rome, was pretty satisfying, especially after the food of Dublin, lol.  All the restaurants had pizza, which was interesting because it had extremely thin crust, but the deliciousness of the toppings made up for this inadequacy.  I had a salami pizza, which was excellent.  At another restaurant, I enjoyed gnocchi, which is pronounced “no key.”  The Italian waiter laughed at my gross mispronunciation, and quickly corrected me, haha.  It was wonderful and I hope I can find some in Indiana!  We also sampled the various house wines at the restaurants we went to because it was the same price or cheaper than the water.  Oh, and the free pasta was excellent as well!  Especially because it was included with our hostel!

While the wonders of Rome were splendid, the actual city was not so great.  The city itself was very dirty and there were hoards of people everywhere you go.  In order to get around, you have to push your way through.  So I was always getting pushed and shoved around because I’m not very good at pushing my way through crowds.  It was also incredibly loud and there were constantly ambulances going by; and ambulances in Rome have the most annoying siren ever! 

Therefore, while I immensely enjoyed my stay in Rome, I was very happy to come back to Dublin, take a shower without any flip flops (in my own very clean bathroom), and drink a warm cup of tea while talking to my friends in our apartment.

Sorry that this took so long to get out.  I've been fighting the Internet for the past week trying to get the pictures up.  I will hopefully have them up by the end of this weekend.  :)

I think one of those mopeds could take out this little car.  It makes the Smart Car look large.
Coliseum and me!
Inside the Coliseum
The Trevi Fountain.  It had just been turned on and there weren't many people because it was so early.
One of the many site throughout the city still being dug through by archaeologists
Me in front of one of the many Catholic churches
We just thought this sculpture was funny!
Megan and I inside the Coliseum
Inside the Coliseum
Outside of the Capitoline Museum (the world's oldest museum)
A cool building (I can't remember what it was).  Maybe the Capitoline Museum?
Megan with her first round (of at least 5) of gelato
The Coliseum
Inside the Coliseum

Inside the Coliseum
Outside of the Forum
One of the ginormous murals in the Capitoline Museum
A huge foot in the Capitoline Museum
This pottery reminded me of Hercules (like the Disney movie).
A for real chariot!  The wheels were wooden.  No wonder they broke all the time!
I just really liked this horse sculpture in the Capitoline Museum
This tunnel, connecting two buildings of the Capitoline Museum, dates back to the Roman Empire.
I thought this was a cool room in the Capitoline Museum.
I liked this statue outside of the Capitoline Museum.
I liked this.
Me in front of some ruins!  Look!  I'm in shorts!  The weather in Italy was so nice!
this was a part of a large fountain
Outside of the Pantheon
Megan, for scale, outside of the Pantheon
The hole in the roof of the dome in the Pantheon
Inside the Pantheon
A super old library
All that's missing is the Tramp and a cocker spaniel
Part of a larger fountain
The rest of the fountain
An organ inside a huge church
The Tiber River

A view of Rome
A second view of Rome from a park at the top of a hill.  It was wonderful!  Fewer people and peace and quiet for a little while.  A much needed break from the noise of the city.
Salami pizza!  mmmmmmmmm......
Inside the Forum
Part of the ruins in the Forum
The Palatine (right next to the Forum).  It was a palace
They used to hold competitions here.  Like chariot racing.
Something about ruins seems to attract cats.  They were everywhere!
I just thought this looked cool!
These steps are interesting I think
Inside the Foro.  This was a display talking about the coexistence of the Mogul and Roman Empire (I think).  It was all in Italian with a few pictures.  haha
a fountain in St. Peter's square
Inside St. Peter's basilica
halfway up to the top of the dome of St. Peter's.  This mosaic wrapped all the way around.
A close up of the mosaic
looking down on the inside of St. Peter's
Me hugging the wall.  We were so high and I was super scared!
Heather (the girl who took pictures from the top with my camera) made me at least stick my head out so she could get a picture. 
The kind of view you get 500+ steps up to the top of the dome of the basilica
Inside the Vatican City walls
One of the many types of steps we had to scale to the top
Megan (left) and Heather(right) posing on another type of stairs.  This reminded me of a fun house!
Another type of steps.  
I can't believe we climbed to the top of that.  This is a view from 300 steps up.
Fettuccine Alfredo in Italia!
The wall surrounding the Vatican City
An interesting statue inside the Vatican Museum
Another interesting statue inside the Vatican Museum
An example of the interesting paintings inside the Vatican Museum
A for real sarcophagus!
An Egyptian statue inside the Vatican Museum
Another Egyptian statue
I LOVED this one!
She's the only person in the painting to look directly at you.  Interesting, huh?
She's (Heather) in a moat!
A castle that we went in after the Vatican Museum.   Our feet hurt, but you can't turn down a chance to walk through such a legit castle!
Awesome view from the top of the castle
Megan and me in the castle.  That's St. Peter's in between our heads.
A HUGE treasure chest!!!!
A good view of St. Peter's from the castle
Another view of Rome
This statue was at the top of the castle. I really liked it.
Cool picture inside the castle
This was above the doorway in one of the buildings we walked by
super cool!
My last meal in Rome (breakfast doesn't count).  It's gnocchi and one of my new favorite Italian dishes!  The wine was good too!