Sunday, March 31, 2013

I Jumped Off the Pier

Title says it all... I gave in to "pier" pressure (see what I did there?) and took a leap with three of my friends. The water was frigid, but the air when I surfaces ripped through my very soul. Some of the others though I was going to need help getting back to shore because I was making some pretty bizarre noises. I was trying to scream/breathe/say something funny and it ended up just sounding like I was passing away...

 And yes.. I am in my underwear... I wasn't exactly prepared for this

We had to walk an hour  and a half to get to the pier. It suffices to say nobody wanted to do that on the way back so we procured a bus. A few of us did end up going for groceries on the way back where we drew quite a few looks largely due to the fact that we looked homeless and smelled like high tide....


Hey guys!! This trip may have happened a while ago but better late than never right?

Waterford is the home of Waterford crystal and the oldest city in Ireland so there is a significant amount of history going on there. Elizabeth planned this trip in no small part to acquire an item from the famed crystal factory.
All the people with me. Kierston, Elizabeth, and Danae
We got into town after dark with no idea where our hostel was so we had to wonder around a strange place until we found someone who could help us.

The next morning we started our journey around the city, which was quite small. There were museums EVERYWHERE and covered any time period you would want to learn about

We found little emblems like this all over the place
 We we wondered around for a while and stopped in a few museum/castle ruins. There were crumbling old castles and walls all over the place.                    

view from across the river

I have a solid 150 pictures of museum goods... I will try to spare you from that

Trying to navigate through narrow stairs

Troll in the dungeon!!

Pretty much the only picture I took of actual crystal
They sort of frowned upon taking pictures in the store


Elizabeth breaking the news to her parents that
she bought an $800.00 bowl. 
 Elizabeth had been given permission to buy an item from the crystal factory. She chose a very expensive bowl that she was in love with. Sadly a few days later they were torn apart by equally costly transport fees
Beautiful church

Just a lock of Napoleon's hair. No big deal

Shame on me....

Hey everyone!!! I wanted to let you know that I haven't forgotten about you, I just suck. I am setting at my computer all day today in hopes of getting as much done as I can so get ready for some new posts!!!

Monday, January 21, 2013


     I've been getting a lot of questions from back home about the food in Ireland. I must admit one of my major concerns with this trip was the food. Everyone has heard stories of awful gastronomical goings on in England, Scotland, and Ireland; from the horrors of haggis, to the intimidation factor of blood pudding, it all sounds a bit, well, gross. I, for one, LOVE food and will try pretty much anything once (to be fair, I my personal ethos requires me to try it twice) so knowing that I couldn't turn down a new food, I came in expecting the worst. I have been nothing but surprised and pleased I am happy to report.

     Taking a page from Andrew Zimmern (one of my idols), I believe you can tell a lot about a culture and it's past by looking at it's food. Irish food reflects the difficult and tumultuous past that it has survived through. There is a great appreciation for using all of the parts that you can of any given food item, making organ meats and blood common enough to mention. The idea of using what you have to get by is fairly evident in this, as well as in the use of potatoes in most dishes. Meals are also fairly hardy, but simple. For example, a traditional Irish breakfast consists of : Two links of sausage, two bacon strips (thick, meaty bacon), fried eggs, rounds of white and black pudding (made of organ meat, animal fat, spices, a grain, and blood for the black pudding),  a grilled tomato, some form of potato, toast, and mushrooms or beans. Its a lot of greasy, filling food. It stems from a time where this one meal would likely have to tide you over until dinner, after a hard day of physical labor and there is nothing extravagant or pretentious about it.

     The places serving traditional food will all have a fairly similar menu of staples including; Bangers and mash (Sausages and mashed potatoes), Fish and Chips, Shepard's and Cottage Pie (with lamb and beef respectively), Roast Lamb of some sort, Bacon and Cabbage, and the list goes on. All of these equally as hardy and unpretentious as the last. Soda bread, and other traditional baked goods are just as readily found, often house made or from the bakery next door. One bakery in particular, Griffith's, has been active since the mid 1800's and bakes pretty much anything you can imagine.

     Along with all of the tradition, there is a MASSIVE movement of modern and ethnic food in every price range imaginable. Thai, Indian, Chinese, African, Polish, you name it and it is here. The modern restaurants often play with traditional dished, breaking down, or deconstructing them and reimagining the whole get-up. All of the quality local ingredients makes the chef's jobs a little bit easier. Fresh fish, lamb, beef, vegetables  the butter is even magnificent on it's own.

     Awesome coffee is available almost literally everywhere. The Irish take their coffee seriously, each place serving it is equipped with a beautiful espresso machine. White coffee, basically a cappuccino  seems to be the drink of choice, but pretty much anything is available. The sickly sweet "coffees" from back home are a little harder to find though, giving way to drinks that actually taste like coffee. I have grown fond of straight espresso shots, in no small part due to the tiny cups they come it, making me feel like a giant.

There has been one experience that I will not soon forget, and not for good reasons. It is the only food that I have taken a picture of so far, just because it looked really cool, and because I refuse to be one of "those" people who have a photo session of every meal they have ever eaten ever. This was an Open Faced Smoked Salmon Sandwich. As you all know, I am a fan of sushi, so the raw fish bit was no problem. What was a problem. however, was the fact that the meat tastes like a horse smells. Not good eats....

Galway: A Walking Tour

     Here I am again! I want to start off by apologizing for the lack of pictures I actually have of Galway. It started raining on our walking tour, and I really dislike the thought of going into town, by myself, and being an uber tourist taking pictures of everything. The ones I have now will hopefully tide you over until I can do that though.

Massive Pipe Organ
     So as I mentioned last time, Galway is awesome. For our walking tour Dermot took us around the the whole city showing us points of interest, and wearing our feet out. One of the first points we made it to was the Galway Cathedral, which was absolutely spectacular.  

 It was giant on the inside, as you can see from this poorly taken photo. We ended up wandering around here for a good 20 minutes before Dermot rounded us up.
This was one of the more well lit ones while we
 were there

There were giant stained glass inserts everywhere one would fit depicting various bible stories, or what have you

A view from the steps of the church back toward the city. The River Corrib runs through here as well and seems to be within spitting distance of everywhere.


 Consequently, there are water birds EVERYWHERE. They have no shame. Pigeons also.

Sculpture representing sails of ships in Eyre Square

One of the billion or so pubs scattered around the city

 Well the formatting is not being cooperative, but we
will preserver. The last few pictures are a view across the bay at the rest of the city.

Monday, January 14, 2013


     Well it's been a little while since my last post and I figure I had ought to catch everyone up.

Our bus
     For starters, Galway is AMAZING. I absolutely love it. It is big enough that you know you are in a city, but at the same time it seems really friendly, cozy, and accommodating. There are loads of neat places to find, good food to eat, and things to do. I am just realizing that I haven't really posted anything about the time I've spent in Galway so I guess I will start with the first day we arrived here.

     Well we left Dublin early(ish) that morning on a charter bus. There were several groggy eyed Americans who piled on filling whatever seats weren't occupied with people with loads of stuff. We took a wonderful 3.5 hour drive across the center of the the country and got a great overview of the countryside. Pictures were difficult to snap from a moving bus, so I just gave up after a few attempts. It was absolutely beautiful. We got to see the lush green hills that are on every postcard from Ireland EVER, which was nice, along with herds of sheep, large and small kept in by stone and hedge fences.

     My favorite part was getting to see the medieval buildings in various states of decay. They dotted our trip on the way through just nestled in with the landscape, or near a farm, or just wherever like it was no big deal. Most of them were probably older than our country, with centuries of history, war, strife, and whatever else and they were just there. It seems to be a pretty common theme here in Ireland. The modern and the old, side by side illustrating, quite literally, how big of a role history and tradition play still in day to day life.

     Getting back on topic, once we finally got to Galway and made it to our apartment complex thing, we got an hour or so to unpack and rest before Paul and Dermott took us to Dunnes Store right across the road to pick up some essentials. Dunnes is sot of like a JC Penneys mixed with a Wal-Mart and scaled back a bit. We all had to get pillows, blankets, towels, food, and the like. Food was my first stop (of course) and as soon as I got to the food section, I got extremely overwhelmed. I guess buying food to live off of sort of drove home what I had gotten myself into and I panicked a little bit. A lot of the stuff seemed just familiar enough to tempt me, but I ended up running around for 15 or 20 minutes and only came out with a handful of things.

     After we all got settled there, we headed back for another couple of hours. Paul and Dermott took us all into town so those of us who didn't have a phone yet a chance to get one. This was the first time most of us had seen City Center, the main shopping portion of Galway, and that too was pretty overwhelming. There were people everywhere, shops everywhere, street performers everywhere, and just a lot of stuff. After everyone was finished there, we headed back for the evening and went to sleep.

     Over the next few days we had quite a bit going on, both as a group and independently trying to figure out the city, what classes we were going to take, and going to various orientations at the university. at some point in there, I went to take a nap at around 5:00 one evening and ended up sleeping for 16 hours.... I felt soooo much better afterwards, but it was so long. We had pretty much been doing something since we landed in Dublin, along with the jet lag which ended with a very tired Austin. 

     Well I have class in a little bit and need some food, so I will be back shortly with pictures from our walking tour of Galway and stories from the first week of class.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Guinness Factory Tour

We also got to go on a tour of the quintessential Guinness factory in Dublin. It was MASSIVE and pretty darn nifty.
This was a big waterfall thingy right as we started the tour. People had thrown  hundreds of Euros in here, and Mark and I were trying to make a plan to teal them while no one was looking 

The signed 9000 year lease from the cocky founder of Guinness. He was
Confident enough in his product that he knew it would last forever

My personal favorite part, this was carved from
a giant barrel

And the harp the that the Guinness Harp was
based on. It's from the 1700's 

And of course, a wall of Guinness recipes

OLD bottles

And the view on the way out