A Blustery Day

This morning was rather nondescript unless you consider the 40-mph wind that didn’t fail to stop gusting until well into the afternoon worth noting. I certainly did.

Just a slight breeze, really.

After our 8am class, I went with Libby and Danielle to check out the Crunch Fitness health club in Dun Laoghaire. It’s apparently health and/or wellness week at IADT, and we were given free one-day trial passes for the gym. It wasn’t far from the DART station, and we were instantly taken aback by how nice the facility was inside. The lobby was an electric-candle-lit subterranean chamber decorated in black marble and gold tile, complete with a check-in desk that was also a tropical fish tank. We were instantly grateful for the free pass, as I’m sure none of could afford to enter the doors on a normal day.

We were shown to the locker room, which seemed much less ostentatious until we saw the jacuzzi, steam room, and shower area.

I now refuse to shower in anything less glamorous.

The actual workout facility was no less flamboyant. The first floor was reserved for cardio machines, and there were a lot of treadmills, ellipticals, and ski machines, and the second floor had weights; this is pretty typical for a gym, but the actual room looked more like a night club than a place to get into shape. There was also a studio for classes and a lap pool, both dimly lit by electric chandeliers and decorated with mod furniture that would have been at home in a high class hotel.

I feel like more people at home would go to the gym if it felt like Hollywood.

Despite how unbelievably fancy the actual building was, the machines were of pretty poor quality. The treadmills were all pretty old and had annoyingly loud motors, while several of the weight machines I was on had rusted tracks that made use pretty difficult. It was still nice to get a good workout in, though. I’ve really missed being able to go to the gym, so it was a great feeling to get to go. The shower was also amazing, and since our shower in the apartment still wasn’t working, that might have been the best part of the whole experience.

Later in the afternoon when I was home, Kelsey and I decided to watch Braveheart because Kelsey had never seen it, and a lot of the movie was actually filmed in Ireland, and we were able to identify parts of Wicklow we had been to.

There.

Around 6pm I went into Dublin with Kelsey, Libby, and Danielle to see an art show being put on by some students we know from IADT. There were some very interesting pieces in the exhibit, but I also don’t know all that much about art so some of the messages probably went over my head. There were some amazing paintings throughout the gallery though, paired with free wine and the art students’ gratitude for everyone coming, it was a very nice evening.

Attention to Detail

Another early morning sans a working shower, though this time we got to walk to the DART under threat of downpour. Classes went pretty well. We discussed topics both serious and otherwise (war in Libya, rise in moob reduction surgeries) for Hitchcock’s class, and continued to watch Sense & Sensibility in Romanticism.

Just like this, but with Alan Rickman.

For my Cinema seminar my group finished writing the script for our movie, as well as drawing the storyboards and finishing the shot list. We’re filming next week and were assigned tech parts. Libby got assigned stage manager, Mo’s in charge of communication, and I’m in charge of continuity due to my affinity for stupid little details and because I drew the storyboards.

After class I went with Danielle, Kelsey, and Libby into city center to get new DART passes for April, and then stopped at Tesco for groceries on the way home. Once home we worked on homework, and I helped Kelsey prepare for a Skype interview she had for a summer internship.

We’re going to chill out and watch a movie next door now. Peace.

 

Back to School

Today was the first day in a week I had to go to school, so it was a little bit of a shock to the system to wake up at 6am again. The fact that our shower stopped working save for a pathetic drip of icy water was just a little bonus to start the day.

Why have you forsaken me?!

School actually wasn’t all that bad, it’s just weird to think that while I was sitting in my Cinema lecture, at that time last week I was hanging cliff-side in Doolin.

After seminar I came home and started on my long overdue laundry, and began working on homework and getting caught up on my blogs.

The best part of the day actually took place back at Loras, where housing sign-up was going on.

Remember this?

We got our house back!

 

Tetris

This morning we came full circle and had breakfast at Bewley’s like we did last Monday. Mom was very excited by the amount of protein in her full Irish breakfast, and I was excited for my soy cappuccino.

We decided to go to Phoenix Park, since it was just about the only notable thing they hadn’t seen in Dublin yet. We walked through the Victorian gardens admiring the many different blooming flowers and plants, as well as the various statues and rocks that littered the grounds. We also walked up to the Wellington Memorial which Dad thought was really cool.

It is the tallest obelisk in Europe.

We walked for awhile in the park (because honestly, we haven’t done enough walking this week) and saw the President’s house and the Papal Cross before we left the park for city center. We made one last stop at the Tourist Information Centre so Mom could get the “Sláinte” signs she wanted for the kitchen and the cabin, then went across the street to O’Neils for a pint. I had never been to O’Neils but it was actually very nice; it had about 25 taps of foreign, domestic, and specialty beers which included things like Molly’s Chocolate Stout, Belfast Blonde, Trouble Ór, and Galway Hooker.

Mom and Dad really enjoyed O’Neils, and after we finished our drinks we returned to their hotel so they could assess what all needed to go into the suitcases. Dad then proceeded to pack clothes, souvenirs, shoes, and laundry with strategic dexterity normally reserved for Nintendo games of the late 1980s.

Just try and get the theme song out of your head now.

Dad wanted to print off their boarding passes, so we found an internet cafe on Grafton Street while Mom sunned herself in front of Butler’s to fight off the wind. For dinner we decided to hunt down some seafood chowder, and ended up back at The Shack in Temple Bar, which actually has better-than-average seafood chowder for city center.

For our last hurrah we went back to the Hairy Lemon for one last pint even though their favorite bartender wasn’t there (yes, I said favorite. They’ve been here a week and they have a favorite bar and a favorite bartender that they closed down with), but it was really nice.

They probably won't even let me in after those two spent so much time there.

They’re leaving for the airport tomorrow morning, but I actually have class tomorrow so today was the last time I get to see them on their trip. They walked me to the DART and we said our good-byes which was kind of sad. I was really happy they came to visit, and I had a really great time with them.

I’m excited to see them in May when I come home!

Ireland Has Churches?

Considering yesterday was my 21st birthday, I think my parents were more surprised than anything that I was not only awake and functioning, but also dressed and at their hotel in Dublin by 10:30am. Granted it would have been sooner, but I forgot about the Daylight Savings Time switch (Ireland goes a week later than the states). We got breakfast and coffee at an Insomnia near St. Stephen’s Green, then walked around for awhile trying to think of what might be open on a Sunday morning.

We ended up walking through Trinity College, which is the largest University in Dublin and has a really nice campus. It’s not like most big schools in big cities because it’s contained to itself rather than spread throughout the city — in fact there’s a wall that surrounds the entire campus. It was kind of weird being back in a school environment like that though, it kind of made me miss Loras.

Though Loras doesn't have stuff like this.

We also discovered at about 12:20 that the chapel holds Catholic mass every Sunday at 12:15 (Trinity is Protestant), so we missed out on that.

Given that it is a Sunday and that my parents had gone nearly the entire week they’ve been here without stepping foot inside a church, we decided to take the bus across town and see St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We actually ended up overshooting our route just a little bit and ended up in front of St. Augustine’s church instead, which is one of the only large Catholic churchess in the city (St. Patrick’s and Christ Church are both Protestant). Sadly we missed another 12:15 service at St. Augustine’s, but we got a pretty good look at the sanctuary from the entrance.

St. Patrick’s was only a few blocks away so we got there without a problem, and walked around in the little park next to the cathedral, which allowed us to annoy some ducks living in the fountain, for whom we hadn’t brought any bread, as well as get a great view of the church.

3rd church of the day...new record.

St. Patrick’s is a really nice church despite being much smaller than most of the other famous cathedrals of Europe, and the gift shop selling everything from snow globes to shot glasses in the back of the sanctuary. It was founded in 1191 and therefore has a lot of history; I actually managed to impress Dad (who is the king of useless information) with my mini history lesson on the irony of the throne of King William III being stationed in one of the chapels.

Once we were done in the cathedral we visited the National Archeology Museum for something to do, and because I knew Dad would really enjoy it. It was my fifth visit so I was a little less-than-phased by everything, and Mom wasn’t a big fan, but Dad could have spent a few more hours in the place.

At least the building is cool.

We took the DART into Sandymount after a quick bite to eat at the Brewbaker Cafe (which probably has the best cup of coffee in Dublin), and made our way to St. Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church for 6pm mass. For those of you keeping score, this would be our 4th church of the day. After mass we went to Ryan’s for a pint before coming back to my apartment to trade pictures and unsuccessfully try to Skype Alex.

Today was another long day, but tomorrow is their last full day here, so hopefully it will be a good one!

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Yes, today is the day that most people aspire to spend passed out in a bar having ingested many more shots and drinks than anyone else thought possible: it’s my 21st birthday.

Yaaaaaaaay.

I had no such aspirations for today. I met my parents at their hotel and we walked to Temple Bar hoping to go to the Meetinghouse Square Saturday market for breakfast; however, the square is currently under construction and quite closed, which made getting breakfast a bit difficult. We instead went to Half Moon Cafe and had some really great crêpes and coffee.

After breakfast we walked around Grafton Street and Nassau Street looking for things to bring people back home, and were joined by Libby and Kelsey. We got quite a bit of shopping done, but were hard-pressed to find something for Alex. He had asked for a Celtic Football Club jersey, but we hadn’t found one in any store we had looked all week. Libby was very helpful finding different sporting goods stores, and we were eventually directed to a Celtic Football store in the Jervis shopping center on Henry Street, where we finally found the jersey.

Most elusive souvenir. Ever.

By now it was lunch time, and I went with Libby and Kelsey to meet up with Danielle, Mo, Anders, Rob, and Matt at Cactus Jack’s for my birthday lunch. It was a great little Mexican restaurant with a cantina that had fabulous mojitos and awesome food, and we had a lot of fun.

After lunch everyone went back home and I met back up with my parents, who were still shopping for people. We managed to find gifts for just about everyone on their list, plus a few things for them, so Mom was happy about that. We stopped back at their hotel so they could give me my birthday presents, which included a Minnesota Twins shirt (to represent home), a scarf (which Mom and I had incidentally been admiring earlier that day), and a really pretty necklace.

Plus it's Irish.

For tonight, I don’t have any big plans. I don’t want to go to a club because they’re so expensive, and I don’t want to be stupid and do the 21 shot tradition that everyone thinks is such a great idea. I want to sit with my friends and have a couple pints, and take the train home so we don’t have to pay for a cab.

And it’s my birthday, so that’s what we’re going to do.

We’re heading out in a little bit to the Dark Horse in Dublin to do all that, and hopefully my parents will join us for a drink or two as well. It’s been a pretty sweet birthday, so thanks to everyone who made it that way!

Acrophobic Kisses

Today started with another early breakfast at McDonald’s (just bagels today, it is Friday after all) and walked up to Busarus to catch our 8am bus to Cork. Unfortunately there weren’t enough people for a second bus, so we were stuck on the non-direct route, which takes about four and a half hours.

On the road again...

We arrived in Cork approximately two minutes before the shuttle to Blarney left, which we luckily caught and got to sit for another 45 minute bus ride. Blarney was beautiful and sunny, and my parents loved the grounds and the castle. We didn’t spend as much time exploring the caves and rooms in and around the castle as I did when I came to Blarney with Danielle, Kelsey, and Libby. Once we got into the castle we pretty much went straight to the top where the famous Blarney Stone is located. Mom didn’t actually know the stone was up at the top which was a little inconvenient since she’s afraid of heights. She freaked out a bit, but she eventually put her faith in the professional trained to keep her from falling, and kissed the Blarney Stone.

She wasn't necessarily happy about it.

Dad didn’t kiss the stone because he’s German and “it’s not part of my heritage.” Whatever, he’s the loser who climbed all the way to the top and didn’t kiss the stone, though he probably doesn’t need help with that gift of gab thing.

We descended the freakishly narrow staircase nearly as quickly as we got to the top, and took a stroll through the poison garden and atop the battlements surrounding the castle, then made our way into the rest of the grounds. They were impressed with the waterfalls and the flowers, though none of us braved the wishing steps. Mom’s favorite part was definitely the Witch’s Kitchen, and she got a pretty sweet souvenir hat. They had a really great time and loved the grounds and the castle.

How cute.

We barely caught the shuttle back to Cork from Blarney and grabbed lunch in Cork before catching the 4pm bus back to Dublin, again non-direct, again about four and a half hours.

I steered my parents in the general direction of some chippers and went back to Sandymount, where the girls had made a cake, and surprised me with an early birthday present.

It's a Blue Moon Birthday!

Good-night kids.