Saturday, May 29, 2010

Day 5: Glasgow, Scotland (And Photos from the Ferry)

Hello all! Here we are in beautiful Scotland! After the ferry from the last post we arrived in Stranraer and immediately boarded another train which went to (after a transfer) Glasgow. (You can see a horrible photo through a rainy window and kind of blurry of some scenery haha)

After arriving in Glasgow we made out way to the hostel, Euro Hostel Glasgow, and checked in. We have another 4 person private room, the last for quite a while on the trip, and it is sooo awesome. Private full bathroom and shower, even a desk! So after dropping our stuff and getting settled we headed back out and got some lunch. So... Glasgow is basically a Scottish New York and our options were KFC, McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and a Chinese Noodle Place and for some reason or another we decided on the noodles, which were very different from home (okay... not great... much prefer home's!)

Not going to lie... most of today was on the trains and spent hanging out in the hostel. We have been back and forth with looking at tours, booking things, and doing our laundry so far. Tomorrow we are leaving bright and early on a tour to the Scottish Highlands, Sterling Castle, and some more things, so much more exciting blog post tomorrow. However, I will now leave you with as many pictures as I can upload in my final moments before my internet timer runs out from the amazing Ferry to Scotland. Cheers!

Simple Ferry, or Cheapest Luxury Cruise Ever?

Wow so... We are on the ferry to Stranraer, Scotland right now and it is amazing. £25 and it is gigantic, beautiful... With cafes, comfy seats everywhere, music, places to eat, curious george-themed childrens area, arcade, slot machimes, movie theater, places to eat, bar, free internet, quiet lounge, nail salon, and some more!

The ferry ride is 2 hours to Scotland, and to be quite honest I kinda wish it was longer. This place is awesome, and I hope I get hungry soon to try the food.

I first typed this on the ship computer but the connection is understandably bad and I lost it all, so now I'm on Sharon's blackberry... No pictures :( but first chance I get pictures of this cruise are going up! Either ill edit this post to have 'em or make a new one, we shall see...

Oh well, off to Scotland!

PS: uncie, uncie, uncie, uncie, uncie... I accept checks or cash

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ireland: The last hurrah!

Hi all! Shorter, picture-less post today due to lack of USB port on this computer and only a few minutes before my timer runs out. But it is okay because today was not too busy anyway.

We started by waking up a bit later then normal (8/9) and having an absolutely delicious breakfast courtesy of Aunti Merlin and Uncle Tadhg. We had cereal, fruit, tea (total tea count thus far: 6), orange juice, black pudding, eggs, bacon, and delicious Irish sausage. Little better then our toast, jam, oatmeal, and water choices so far in the hostels.

Uncle Tadhg took us after to the Cork train station and it was good bye Cork, good bye family, and hello Northern Ireland. We took the train to Dublin (3 hours) and then had lunch at a cafe on Marys Street, it was alright I had a pretty good nice thick chicken soup and role.

We made our way to Connelly Station and took another train, about 2 hours, to Belfast. After taking a 10 minute transfer train to the area of our hostel, Belfast International Youth Hostel. The hostel is nice, our first 4 person room with no other backpackers :( but it is not as nice as the Dublin or Killarney, those were exceptional (and Tadhg's of course!)

We only really had time for dinner, and the only thing near by we saw open was a KFC.. but we found a pub named Lavery's near by and it was excellent. Affordable, delicious, but most importantly the people were the nicest people in the world. The manager talked to us about traveling and told us how to get to Scotland most efficiently (I was correct!) and where the ferry was, and our waiter gave us free chips (fries), a 10% discount, and a free bottle of white wine for my birthday! (Which I'm told was the best white wine they ever had, ya know not drinking and all.. but I did try it and it was not gross like most I have tried haha)

So now its good night, hang out at the hostel, and get the ferry to Scotland in the morning! Hopefully the next hostel has a computer with USB for pictures! No real pictures for today anyway..

Bye for now!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cullen, Blarney, and County Cork!

What a busy and awesome day! So for starters my Uncle Tadhg picked us up at 9 from Killarney and we packed our stuff up and went onward to Cullen to see some of my family, some houses, and my great grandparents' graves. Cullen was beautiful and then from there Tadhg took us to Blarney where we explored the Blarney Castle and, of course, kissed the Blarney stone. While we were there we actually ran into a girl who was in classes with Jen at TCNJ, weird right? Somehow we ran into someone with relation to every person BUT Dave, instead of the other way around as expected!

So after Blarney Tadhg took us to Cork City and dropped us off at the Cork Goal, which is an old prision where we took a tour that was actually really cool and we liked it a lot, plus we had never done a head set audio tour before so that was kind of neat. When we were done there we walked down into the city and explored for a little while, and after crossing the river we stopped in a cafe and had some nice food and just sat and relaxed in the cafe for a while looking at the river. After we were done we had 20 minutes to get to St. Patrick street and find "Sevoy" which we later found to be a shopping complex, and had no real idea where we were going. So we wandered about and managed to find Patrick Street, but wen't up and down and could not find Sevoy. We asked and got sent back and forth until we stopped and walked to the street and looked up to realize that the sign was over our heads the whole time and we couldn't see it from our position. Just as we realized we were in the right spot Tadhg pulled right up to get us again. Perfect.
Next we went back home with him to Glenmire and his house is - the same with every house we saw in Ireland today - beautiful. We stayed and a bunch of family came over and we had a delicious dinner. Tara brought the kids over and we met them (finally! Cute kids!) and when all was said and done, it was time for the main event - a sailboat race!

Micheal was unfortunately stuck late for work so we went with Tadhg to get his boat, the "Lady T" (named after Tara of course!) and we took it out into the water for a race for the Cork Yacht Club (I think it said open since 1720? Crazy!) We of course were no help really, aside from being dead weight to balance the boat out, but it was an awesome race. We sailed around for an hour and ten minutes in total and came in second place in the race, first in the league after today! It was awesome, and it involved lots of scrambling back and forth from side to side on the boat to keep the balance even on turns, and once the sail came swinging back and pinned Jen to the railing and smacked dave in the head... from my angle it was totally awesome though because it sailed right over my face so I was cool, haha! (Dave and Jen are totally fine by the way, Dave did get a little bit of a bloody nose though but he's a trooper!)
After claiming our prize at the award ceremony (a pack of Heiniken) we headed over to Micheal and Tara's place (again, beautiful house) and we hung out there for awhile. It was geat, and when it was finally time to go (around 11:25pm) we headed back to Tadhg's and sat around with everyone talking in the living room for awhile (including singing happy birthday to me at midnight) for quite a while into the morning. The day in Cork was the best day yet, and it is hard to think that tomorrow on the train and in Belfast can compare! Talk to you all soon!

Killarney! (a day late)

Okay! so we had no computers at the Sugan hostel in Killarney yesterday so there was no chance to update the blog, so I'm going to do a brief recap before moving on to a new post for Cork. We arrived in Killarney after the 3 hour-ish train ride (which was excellent compared to any train I have ever been on) and checked into the Sugan Hostel, which was excellent. We had 2 roomates, a pair of girls from Germany who had just left Cork and were going to Dublin next, our opposite funny enough. They were fairly shy so we did not get to talk to them too much.

We went to the Killarney National Park next and spent a few hours walking around and exploring the park, seeing the Swans, flowers, trees, and little Irish girls in fairy costumes having tea parties in the woods. We got to Ross Castle and explored there as well. After that we then went back and got ourself some real Irish Shepards Pie at a pub called Silver Fox, and it was the best shepards pie I have ever had in my life, hands down (naturally).

After our shepards pie we went back to the hostel for a spell to rest and decide our next course of action, and we decided to go out around the town to find a pub where someone was playing traditional Irish music and spend some time there. We eventually found one (Killarney was quite empty that day) called Danny Mann and there was a group of 2 men, a guitarist and a fiddler, who were absolutely great and we listened to them for an hour or two. When they finished we got out picture with them and talked to them for a while. After that we were quite exhausted and went back to the Sugan for the night.

county cork... in progress!

We are sitting in a cafe called city gates by the river lee I'm cork city and I wanted to put a quick post up on sharons blackberry.

No computer in the killarney sugan hostel last night so no post:( but it was awesome!

Spent the whole day so far with uncle tadhg, saw cullen and blarney, then he dropped us off in the city for a bit.

Time to go meet him again on patrick street actually! Proper full post coming soon I hope!

Bye for now!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

First day in Europe! Dublin, Ireland

Hello world back home!

Coming to you live from the Barnacles Hostel in Dublin!
The time here is 19:20 (7:20 pm) and we have had quite a busy day so far! (And it is not over yet!
We landed in Dublin Airport at 9:00 and took an aircoach bus to Trinity College (picture 2). While there we explored the campus and saw the Book of Kells, as well as walked through the "long room" library full of ancient tomes and books, busts, etc. It was amazing and looked strait out of Harry Potter movies! (No pictures allowed...)
From there we came to the hostel to check in and drop off our bags in the back lockup and then went out to explore some more. We visited St. Steven's Green and then walked back up Exploring Dublin some more. We stopped at St. Patrick's Park by the church and rested in the grass for a while and it was very beautiful. After finally pulling the girls up off the grass we continued through the city (next picture).

For lunch we stopped at a farmers market set up in front of Dublin National Bank, loaded up on free samples, and than Dave and I had a... Shredded Hog Sandwhich? I don't remember exactly I don't have my journal on me this moment. Anyway it was delicious, and the girls had falafels and said it was also good.

After lunch we wen't to the Guiness headquarters and took the tour and it was very cool. We went through the processes of making Guiness and learned how they have been using the same exact Yeast that Mr. Guiness himself first discovered and just keep growing it in an area under lock and key. At the top we got to a totally awesome 360 degree gravity lounge with free Guiness and Coke where we could see all of Dublin.
After that we made our way back to the hostel, stopping at all the churches and cathedrals we passed along the way, and detoured to Dublin Castle before getting there. So now we are taking it easy for a bit in the hostel before going back out, the plan is to go to a real Irish Pub for dinner (probably the Temple Bar Pub down the road, a real classic looking 160 year old pub)

Talk to you all soon!

Monday, May 24, 2010

And here we gooo...

Well, here we are... 15 hours from now I will be on a plane to Ireland! So let's get a little stuff ready on here before we go...

I won't be updating every day here, but I will do it as often as I can, just about every night we have access to the internet. I'm going to be putting some pictures in these posts right here, but also if you look in the top left of the blog you can see that I have a stream of photos from my flickr account on here as well, and you can click there to look at all the photos. (or click here)

Here is our planned itinerary...
25th - Dublin
26th - Kilarney
27th - Cork
28th - Belfast
29th - Glasgow
30th - Edinburg
31st - Edinburg

1st - Liverpool
2nd - Oxford
3rd - London
4th - London
5th - Barcelona
6th - Barcelona
7th - Madrid
8th - Paris
9th - Giverny
10th - Versailles
11th - Bern
12th - Interlaken
13th - Zurich
14th - Rome
15th - Rome
16th - Naples (and maybe Pompeii)
17th - Capri
18th - Florence
19th - Venice
20th - Vienna
21st - Vienna/Prague
22nd - Prague
23rd - Berlin
24th - Berlin
25th - Munich
26th - Regensburg
27th - Neuschwanstein Castle (the city name is too crazy to remember)
28th - Brussels
29th - Amsterdam
30th - Amsterdam/Iceland (for layover)

1st - Leave Iceland, Land in JFK

So let's get ready for a wild ride!