Hello, once again, dear sirs and madames. I’m finally relatively stationery (in between bouts of shivering and dancing and cleaning) so now to relate just a bit of what has transpired since the last installation in the study abroad saga. Spring Break began on Friday, March 23 with a train to Holyhead, a ferry to Dublin, and a taxi ride to the ridiculously gorgeous hotel the Villasusos had arranged for us. We went to the Temple Bar district and found some talented musicians on the stage at the iconic, if long touristic, Temple Bar. Good drinks, good food, good music… interesting inhabitants, to say the least. Then we went up to the mountains for dinner in one of the famous restaurants there. The next day, we met up with the rest of the study abroad folk, took a quick walk Tecwyn-style back to the Temple Bar district where we watched several more bands play.
In Dublin, I also saw the art gallery and got lost (happily), taking a respite from all the walking in one of the parks. As a group, we visited the Oscar Wilde memorial, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Molly Malone, Trinity College, the Book of Kels(!!!!!), and tons of other places. Come Monday, though, it was time for the four hour bus ride across Ireland over to the charming city of Galway. We made it to the beach quickly, soaking up the sun and delighting in the sensation of barefeet on a few patches of sand. Of course, Snow Patrol lyrics followed me there and I was ceaselessly hearing the line, “I will race you to the waterside and, from the edge of Ireland, shout out loud, so they can hear it in America: It’s all for you.”
That night we checked out the Latin Quarter and discovered Gino’s, an amazing ice cream shop that entertained us more than once during our three day stay. We also went to the Claddagh ring shop and came out with pretties. We spent most of the rest of the evening at the hostel, meeting a couple of interesting gents, Jeff and Jeremy, both from the states. Small world, right?
The next day we went to the Aran Islands, one of the most thoroughly Irish places in the world. A small population maintains the land, refusing to allow tourists to move there to preserve the Irish culture that radiates from the place. Even the grocery store sections were labeled in Irish, and ONLY Irish. But the most spectacular facet of the place were the cliffs. After standing at the edge of the world, wrapped in the wind racing in from the sea, staring at the impossible blue of the ocean… I’ve found my very favorite place in the world. If the only way to move there is to marry in to the community, I’d best start checking out the eligible bachelors lol. *giggles* Destination wedding tba!!
Other best part: Monroe Tavern. Yes, the food (pizza) was deliriously good. However, the draw to this place was the weekly folk dancing we managed to catch. Unlike most of the places we saw in Dublin, this place was not designed for the tourists, with Galway Girl blaring from the stage as the entertainers ask the audience where they’re from. This was local music for local people who came to dance every week. Not because of who would be watching or how much revenue could be gained. Just because they want to, week in and week out. And they were really good too. Such a good night.
A few days (and the Hunger Games movie) later, it was time to head out for the solo adventure. I left out early on the morning of March 31st for a train to Manchester. A bit of tricky navigation later and I was on a plane bound for Zurich. From Zurich I flew into Marco Polo Venice airport. Have I mentioned I love the Swiss? Or, at least, their airlines. They give you Swiss chocolate on the flight. This is good. *nods*
And finally (finally, finally, finally, finally, at long stinking last, after two decades of waiting and waiting and waiting with ever decreasing patience) I was in Venice!!!! With the uplifted spirit and confidence of a naive tourist, I set out for my hotel, reassured that it was only a 45 minute walk to my destination. Well… 4 1/2 hours later, I and my luggage turned down just another twisty street and found (much to my undignified relief) the Locanda Silva hotel. But, it was totally worth it and I got to really see the city in all the places the masses don’t make it to. The hotel was great and the family that runs it made it feel like home when I needed a quiet retreat from the crashing waves of people that flooded St. Mark’s Square. There, I saw St. Mark’s Cathedral, Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs, and the Museo Correr. I also found the edible love of my life. Signor Cannoli and I will be traveling to the aforementioned cliffs soon to make it official. Watch your post for the invitations to come. I traveled to the islands of Murano and Burano, listened to street performers, had amazing food, rode in a gondola, and was quite sad to leave on my last day.
Vicenza was largely uneventful. The hotel was nice, which was good since I spent most of the time in there. Managed to get sick and lived off the McDonalds that was down the street. I did make it to a nice park and climbed a hundred and sixty-four thousand million stairs to what was supposed to be an ancient temple only to come across the private property sign with a menacing black van for emphasis.
Verona, however, was another story entirely. I was all over the city in the days I had there, keeping the Shakespeare nerd inside me in a constate of euphoric squealing. Yes, there’s even a video of me standing at Juliet’s tomb reciting one of her monologues. No, I don’t think I’ll be posting it 😛
On the morning of April 9th, it was time to leave Italy. At 4 am (who knew there was a 4 in the morning time too??) I was in a taxi and headed to the airport. I flew into Munich and then Paris Charles De Gaulle. Paris did little to impress me, but I can conceed that there are likely many gorgeous things that I merely didn’t get to see in the span of a day. Notre Dame, however, was exquisite, a beautiful testament to devotion.
Another long train ride (and even longer experience with customs) got me to London. I arrived too late to get to the Globe theatre, but will be going back in a few weeks to remedy that. I found my hotel in the Earl’s Court area, got food, found the place where the Mad Hatter would go to get frozen yogurt, and worked on a paper that refused to not exist (even when I asked in my most polite, half-desperate voice).
The next morning I was at the airport again. That night… wait for it, wait for it… I was in… TEXAS!!!!!!!! My darling state, rarely have you looked so gorgeous. I got to meet my mother, father, and brother at the airport. Yes, I was kind of a zombie at that point, since it was 4 am back in Bangor time, but between epic hugs and Wienerschnitzel chili cheese dogs (don’t look at me like that >.< If my arteries and I were craving it, there will be NO judgment.) I was awake and talking all the way home from Houston. I hadn’t realized just how much I missed home, but it was so good to be back. I got a week and a half of seeing family and friends and helping the lovely Carissa Aramantha Riedesel (a.k.a. -my- Birdie) get ready for the epic wedding of DOOM (inside joke of which there are many) to the also lovely Chip Russell. It was a perfect day, and there was seeing of the Sia and the D.Bo and the choir peoples to make it even better.
So now I am back in Bangor, having just completed a weekend in Cardiff with my girlies (Kelsey, Nikki, Gina, Sara, and Lindsey), where we saw abbeys and cathedrals and castles and dragons and arcades and kilts and ambulances and trees and Thor and aliens and profiterolles and tiaras and… Many, many, many things.
There are only a few weeks to go for OP and there’s hopefully surfing and sea level traversing to do. Then traveling and the mommy will be arriving on May 11th. Hard to believe the semester will be ending so very soon.
But, for now, I’ll go enjoy the day. Possible picnic in the works 🙂 See you all again soon.
P.S. The Occupy Austin Airport Movement (just kidding, TSA people, just kidding) will be occuring on June 2nd for ALL the collection of hugs. You should be there. Kk. Love you all.
Yes, there are tons of pictures, but the loading is going too slowly, SO… if you’d like to see pictures you can
A) Check facebook. There are tons and tons of them there.
B) If you’re not on facebook (*ahem* Here’s looking at you, Dad <.<), then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you pictures to your heart’s content.