Sunday, April 4, 2010
Our arrival to Edinburgh was a humorous one. We flew into a snow storm. Well, not storm, but lots of snow! We got there late, so we went to bed as soon as we checked into the hotel. The next day we woke up for our grand tour of the Scotland countryside. Unfortunately, the weather was so bad from the night before that they closed many of the roads that our tour needed to drive on. So...we had to do a tour of the west of Scotland rather than the beautiful Northern Highlands. The Highlands were covered in snow, so there was no way of getting up there.
We had a pretty great tour of the country though. We missed out on Loch Ness, the lake where "Nessie" is supposed to live, but it turned out to be a good day.
Thursday was great. We got to sleep in and do a walking tour of Edinburgh. We finally got some sunny weather! We saw all the places where J.K. Rowling used to go to write Harry Potter! And a bunch of other history stuff!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
This is what you think of when you think of Ireland right? Well, let me tell you something. If you ever want to visit Ireland, or Europe, for that matter, go ahead and do yourself a huge favor. GO IN THE SUMMER. Joel and I arrived in Dublin with okay conditions...a bit cold for the end of March but nothing to worry about. Well the next day, we woke up to torrential rain pour and ice. It really changed the Ireland experience for us because we didn't get to enjoy the outdoors much. But anyways, I'll start from the top.
Joel and I left for Dublin on Sunday. We arrived Sunday night and had food at the touristy, Irish bar called Gogarty's. We went ahead and ordered "traditional" Irish food, even though we had heard that it was bad. Well, uh, it was. BAD. Joel ordered Irish stew and I ordered trout. Oh boy. My fish had the skin on all over it, with tiny bones in every bite, and Joel's lamb in the stew was made up of all kinds of parts... The only food we enjoyed from the meal was the brown bread and Guinness! In fact, that's about all I ate of that meal.
Monday we woke up at 6 AM for our grand tour of the countryside of Ireland, including the acclaimed Cliffs of Moher. HA. HA. We walked out of our hotel and immediately got side-swiped by the wind and rain. We were so hungry from not eating the night before that we looked up a McDonalds to eat at for breakfast. We ran to the McDonald's in the rain, got some egg mcmuffins, and ran to find the tour place. We got lost for about 15 minutes but found it and climbed into the mini bus.
Our tour guide was great- charming, old little Irishman. But then as we went along with our tour, he didn't really give us many facts as much as tell us about his mother's sayings. "Like my mother always said, it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it..." Haha, he just would go off and tell us little ideas he had about how he was an atheist but that we should pray for better weather if we had any influence in that department. Oh dear. Why couldn't he have been the Irish Catholic stereotype? Come on...but he was a very nice, witty old man.
Our first stop- the Cliffs of Moher. It took us about 5 hours to get there from Dublin. LONG bus ride. And then we got there and it was a freezing hurricane. Joel and I trudged up the cliff to get to the top and we got soaked and scraped in the face with ice. Not to mention, the wind literally burned our faces. Pleasant right? Well, you know me, I defied the weather and got up there and put on a huge smile for a picture. And then ran down the cliff, arms flailing, crying from the cold and my face about to fall off.
The rest of the day we pretty much were in the bus. It made me SO MAD that the weather was so bad because we passed the most lovely scenery!! We even were supposed to stop at the Burren, a cool rocky landscape where tons of flowers grow. But I, and the rest of our brave tour companions, could only stand about 5 minutes outside of the bus. There was absolutely nothing anyone could do, and our tour guide did his best. But all in all, it was a disaster. I want to go back to Ireland when the sun is out because it would have been an entirely different experience. We arrived back in Dublin at 8 PM.
That night, we had dinner at an Indian restaurant called Jaipur. It was EXCELLENT! My appetizer and entree was not too spicy at all! Great flavors! But Joel ordered an entree that looked like a bowl of fire. We made a stop at the pharmacy on the way back and got some antacids. GREAT call. :)
The last day in Dublin, again, was freezing rain. It was so sad. I wanted to do a free walking tour of the city, but it was literally impossible. Or, you would just catch pneumonia after doing it. So, we had a late lunch and went to Gogarty's again.
This is going to sound weird, but I think my favorite part of our Ireland experience was our 30 minute cab ride to the airport. We talked non-stop with our driver, and it was the most wonderful thing ever. I felt like he was a long-lost grandfather or something. Hands down, the nicest person we have met in Europe. As for all Irish people, Joel and I both agree that they have the friendliness and charm that their stereotype gives to them. What a great stereotype to have!
Ireland, I loved you. Even in your absurd weather. But please know, I will be back. And I am bringing my family next time.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
Here it is—our month of travel calendar. (They call it a “month” but really it is more like 3 weeks…) The calendar was revised probably ten times over two weeks because we realized we just couldn’t do all that we wanted to do. But everyone is really excited about the finished product.
Week 1- Ireland, Scotland, and England
Sunday, March 28- Dublin, Ireland
Monday, March 29- Day Tour of Ireland Countryside & Dinner in Dublin at Jaipur, an awesome looking restaurant featured on the Food Network!
Tuesday, March 30- Walking Tour in Dublin & late flight to Edinburgh, Scotland
Wednesday, March 31- Day Tour of Scotland Countryside
Thursday, April 1- Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Friday, April 2- Train from Edinburgh to Oxford, England
Saturday, April 3- C.S. Lewis Tour in Oxford, then travel to London
Sunday, April 4- Easter church in London, travel back to Maastricht
(Switch cold clothes for warm clothes, re-pack, sleep)
Week 2- Island Time!
Monday, April 5- Fly to Athens, Greece
Tuesday, April 6- Sight see in Athens, late flight to Santorini
Wednesday, April 7- Santorini
Thursday, April 8- Santorini
Friday, April 9- Santorini
Saturday, April 10- Fly from Santorini to Naples, Italy, then a ferry to Capri, Italy
Sunday, April 11- Capri, Italy
Week 3- Italy and Switzerland
Monday, April 12- Day tour in Pompeii, spend the night in Rome
Tuesday, April 13- Rome
Wednesday, April 14- Rome
Thursday, April 15- Florence
Friday, April 16- Cinque Terre
Saturday, April 17- Cinque Terre
Sunday, April 18- Train day to Switzerland
Monday, April 19- Switzerland
Tuesday, April 20- Switzerland to Maastricht
On April 20, everyone will meet back in Maastricht. April 21 we will regroup and pack, and on April 22 we leave at 5 AM headed for the Amsterdam Airport.
April 22- Back to USA
Will we be successful in our travel goals? Nobody knows. We have booked some pretty cheap hostels and are planning on doing lots of free tours to make up for the flights we had to take for the sake of time. If you need to contact me, Joel has his phone (it is 251-656-8583). We will be checking internet as frequently as possible!
AU REVIOR! ADIOS! GOODBYE!!!! J
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
It is the end. THE END! the end? the end! of school! (I have been reading Samuel Beckett and it is not good- hence the writing style) I really did not like Waiting for Godot, but apparently it is a HIT, and revolutionary and absolutely wonderful. Only reason I would go see it is to see Ian McKellen play in it. ANYWAYS- yes. School is over. I just have to go into class tomorrow and present my paper on two books that I read this semester (Demian by Hermann Hesse and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce). Then we have a goodbye party for all the Baylor students in the afternoon. THEN, people are taking off! Leaving for good until the end of April! As for me, I will not spread my wings from Maastricht until Sunday. My two extra days in Maastricht will be to finish my independent study paper (A HUGE undertaking) and then to pack and plan. I will post our month of travel schedule in the next post. But do you want to know where I am starting...??? DUBLIN, IRELAND!!!! More to come.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As I got settled in Maastricht in January, started traveling in Europe, and going to school, I realized something. I very much wanted my best friend from Baylor to experience this. And to experience it with me! I knew this was impossible, because it was too late. There was no time for planning, no time to visit, and certainly no way any college student could afford to come to Europe at such short notice. But, I would constantly email and facebook my friend Kelly, "Come visit!! Just get over here and I will help pay for food and you can stay in the dorm with me!" Well, Kelly told me it might be a possibility, but the days I wrote these things started to turn into weeks, and school was going right along. I knew she wouldn't be able to come.