Trip Start Jan 06, 2011
Trip End Apr 30, 2011

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Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Monday, March 7, 2011

I haven't written in here in a while, so this is going to be a long one...

Last Tuesday we had another field trip for our British Studies class to the Southwell Workhouse and of the Harlaxton Manor where we live. Touring the manor was cool and interesting to learn more about where I am living. The Southwell workhouse was boring, it was very basic and all the rooms were pretty much the same.

Wednesday night there was a talent show. It was so awesome! There are a LOT of talented people here and every single act was great! One of the hosts of the show looks like a young Tom Cruise, so to start off the show he did the Risky Business dance in his underwear. There was a variety of other acts including a girl who sang an amazing song she wrote, four guys who sang Afternoon Delight from Anchorman, a girl that told jokes, and a big 'junk band’ including some of the professors playing everything from the violin to spoons.

Thursday right after class I left for Ireland with one other girl, Abby. Our journey started off a little rough. We caught the first train, but we had to transfer trains twice to get to the airport. We got to the second train station with plenty of time to get to our next train and were waiting there for at least 10 minutes. It got to be the time when our train was supposed to leave and it still wasn’t there, then a train passed by and we realized that it was the train we were supposed to be on. We had thought it was a different train because it was really far back on the platform. We had to wait another half an hour for the next train and thankfully we didn’t have to buy new tickets! The rest of the trip went smoothly and when we got to the hostel we ran into two other girls, Heather and Lizzie, from Harlaxton. We all went out to dinner at a pub that had live music and traditional Irish dancing. After a while Abby went back and the rest of us went out to explore the city, because we were only in Dublin for the night. We walked past a pub that looked like it had a lot of people dancing and decided to check it out… turns out it was just four drunk guys. One of them grabbed my hand and I figured I’m only in Ireland once, so I went along with it. Haha The guys bought me a Guinness (Ireland’s drink of choice) and I learned that they were from Poland promoting their bike company in Ireland. We talked with them until the pub closed and then left them to explore the city a bit.

Friday we got up early for our Paddywagon tour. The tour consisted of a lot of small stops for good photo opportunities as well as the main tourist sites. Our first stop was at Ireland’s only fjord, which also had a fairy tree (they are thought to have special powers or be homes for fairies). Our next stop was at Kylemore Abbey. We didn’t go in because it was expensive, but is very beautiful from the outside. They also have a Jesus statue in the middle of the mountains behind it. We made it to Galway, where we stayed for the night and walked around town until dinner. Most of our tour group went out to dinner together and continued on to a pub afterward. Abby went back to the hostel early and Heather, Lizzie and I went out to another pub. They have live music at almost every pub, so you can go to almost any pub and it will be good. We decided to move onto another pub and as we were standing outside deciding if we wanted to go into one, a guy came up to us and asked if we wanted to go to a pub with him and his friends. He was with one other guy and two girls, so we went with. They were all Irish, but only the guy that asked us to join them lived in Galway, the others were his friends from college. We went to a pub that was mostly older people, but it was okay since we were with our ‘new friends.’ After a while we decided to go to somewhere more like a club with dancing. The guy we were with was soo outgoing and seemed to know half of the people in town. On our way to the club he ran into 3 different people he knew. When we got to the club there was a big line, but of course he knew the bouncer, so we all walked right by the line of people and into the club. (VIP baby! Haha)

Saturday we stopped at a leprechaun house where you are supposed to make a wish for someone/something besides yourself. You have to throw a pebble backwards over your shoulder and make it into the well inside for it to come true… mine hit the outside… haha Our next stop was at some cool cliffs where we climbed around for a while. Then for even more cliffs, we went to the Cliffs of Moher. They are most famous for being in the movie The Princess Bride, where they were known as the Cliffs of Insanity. They had a sign there telling people not to go beyond that point because the edge of the cliffs could break off, but almost everyone walked right past it. That night we were supposed to stay in Killarney, but for some reason we stayed in a dinky town in the middle of nowhere. It was a really crappy hostel called The Randy Leprechaun, one of the walls in our room was wet and it had black mold. Some guy in town was turning 21, so in the pub next door there was a party for him where his band played. They were actually really good and I had a lot of fun hanging out with our tour group. One girl, Jo, from Australia and I eventually ventured down to another pub. Everyone there was SUPER old, like over 50! hahaha ;] We stayed for a couple songs and they played Galway Girl (a really popular song, also played in P.S. I Love You). I was hoping a cute Gerard Butler look alike would sing it to me, but I guess this will have to do. haha

Sunday we stopped at Killarney National Park and then went to Blarney Castle. They had a really cool garden with a bunch of different things like wishing steps, witches kitchen, and druids cave. The actual castle was cool and reminded me a lot of Caernarfon Castle in Wales, mainly because of the stone and spiral staircases. We made our way to the top and kissed the Blarney Stone, which is supposed to give you the gift of gab. It is not as easy to kiss as you might think; you must lie down on your back, lean over the edge of the side of the castle and kiss the stone upside down. The last stop on our tour was at the Rock of Dunamase. It is ruins of a castle and is really fun to climb around on. Our flight was that night and we got back to England late, so there weren’t any trains running by the time we got back, so Abby had asked her friend if her boyfriend (from Grantham) could pick us up if we paid him. Thankfully he was more than willing to help us out. There was road construction, so what should have been an hour and 45 minute drive turned into about 3 hours. We didn’t get back until about 2am, but is much better than what it would have been if we took a train (7am).

Tuesday I got an awesome package from my friend Amanda! It was also Pancake Tuesday and my family invited us over for dinner. We had a regular dinner and made pancakes for dessert. English pancakes are a little different than American pancakes, they are thinner and you put sugar, syrup, and lemon juice on them. We each got the chance to flip our own pancakes. Let’s just say pancake flipping is not my calling… haha I tried to flip my first pancake a few times and it just turned into a big blob. Oops! My second turned out much better, but still not great. One of the other girls, Alayna, flipped hers perfectly the first time, but Ralph didn’t get a good picture so he told her to flip it again. The pancake flipped onto the edge of the pan and half of it fell onto the floor. At least I wasn’t the only one with problems! Haha It was definitely the most fun I have had with my family so far.

Wednesday Ralph took Alayna and I around to see some historical sights. We first went to Melton Mowbray to see the pork pie shop and the Anne of Cleaves pub which dates back to the 12th century. We then went to Oakham Castle which has large horse shoes from all of the royals that have been there. It is also a court house, but is only used about once every two years. We then stopped at the sight where Charles I escaped disguised as a servant. We also stopped at Burghley House which looks a LOT like Harlaxton from the outside and I believe it is where some of the inspiration for Harlaxton came from. We finally stopped at the birthplace of Isaac Newton, unfortunately it wasn’t open, but we got to see the tree where the apple fell from. I think it would be interesting to go back sometime, because apparently you can still see some of the experiments he was working on before he died.

The weather has been decently nice out all week and today was kind of warm, so Jordan and I decided to take a walk on the path in the woods outside of Harlaxton. It is so gorgeous and peaceful out there! We stumbled upon a fort and some other cool stuff. We are planning to go out and explore even more tomorrow.

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