Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaving On a Jet Plane...

I am officially departing tomorrow morning, bright and early, from my dorm.  I have managed to finish all of my final papers and Ulysses.  I've also had one last order of fish and chips, a Bulmers, banoffi pie, and one last Guinness.

I am so excited to be going home, but I've decided that my adventure isn't going to end when I leave the Emerald Isle.  I figure that with a final semester of law school, moving into a house, the great job hunt, and planning a wedding, I'll have quite a few more adventures to write about.  So, stay tuned...


Thursday, December 9, 2010

One Week to Go

I cannot believe that my time abroad has dwindled down to one remaining week.  I've been holed up in my dorm room the past several days working on my last paper before my school work is complete, so I haven't been able to get out and do much more in the way of adventures.

I figured this would be a good time to reflect on all the things I've gotten to do, a sort of highlights reel.  It's easy to lose sight of the great things here when I'm so excited to be home for the holidays, so I also wanted to make a list of the things in Ireland that I will miss when I'm gone.

The places I've been: Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock, Glendalough, Clonmacnoise, Galway, Gort, Cliffs of Moher, London, Paris, Rome, Basel, the Black Forest, and Freiburg.

The things I've done:
Toured: Guinness storehouse, Jameson distillery, Georgian House Museum, Chester Beatty Library, Dublin Castle, Malahide Castle, Dublin Writer's Museum, National Gallery of Ireland, National Library of Ireland, London Aquarium, Louvre, National Museum of Italy, the Vatican (Sistine Chapel, Vatican City, Vatican Museum)

Hiked/Wandered Through: Wicklow Mountains National Park,  St. Stephen's Green, Carysfort Park, Trinity College, Harrod's, Freiburg Christmas market, Castle Mountain

Eaten/Drank: Tea at the Queen of Tarts and Shelbourne Hotel, lots of Guinness, Bulmers, banoffi pie, fish and chips, black pudding, the best pasta of my life, mulled wine, German beer, gelatto

Landmarks (excluding the ones above): Houses of Parliament, River Thames, River Liffey, the Seine, Tiber River, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the Marble Arch, Picadilly Cirucs, Trafalgar Square, St. Paul's Cathedral, London Tower, Tower Bridge, Westminster Abbey, Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, Paris' military school, Hotel des Invalides, Champ du Mars, Champ Elysees, Notre Dame, Paris Opera, St. Peter's Basilica, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, Colosseum, Constantine Arch, Plaza Navona, Roman Forum, Bocca della Verita, the Spanish Steps, Campio Fiori, Freiburg Cathedral, Titi Lake, and many more with names I've forgotten or missed.

Looking back, I may not have gotten around to flipping at trampoline club, but I have a pretty good list of things I've gotten to do and see.  And so I don't forget in my haste to see family, friends, and fiance again, that there are things I will miss in Ireland, they are: Bulmers, Guinness (properly poured), snails on the sidewalk, frequent rainbows, bright pink and deep red hydrangeas, fuschia, black currant flavored foods, banoffi pie, being sea side, mars bars (and mars bar rice krispie treats), free time/alone time/leisure time (though sometimes I think I've had too much here), the fact that school closes with 3 inches of snow, black pudding, the chocolate!, electric tea kettles, and listening (some might call it eavesdropping) to people talking just to hear their accent.

As much as I will miss these things and others, I am very much looking forward to the trip home and some big, long hugs (and Caribou's hot chocolate...).

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Germany/Switzerland: Day 4

Well, it was a long day getting back to Dublin.  First, I had to somehow manage to cram all of my gifts into my bag.  They would have fit easily were it not for the big cumbersome box that the music box was packed in.  Eventually, I managed to get everything packed away.  I took the bus from Freiburg to Basel, where I did some duty free shopping.  I bought two humongous bars of Swiss chocolate: one dark chocolate and one light chocolate with honey almond nougat.  I also picked up a cute little tin that says "Basel" and has leckerly cookies in them.  They're apparently famous for originating in Basel and have honey and candied peels in them.

My satisfaction with my purchases had a damper put on it when my flight was delayed about an hour.  This caused me to (again) miss my connecting flight in Frankfurt.  Unlike the first time, however, there was not another departing flight anytime soon.  Instead, I had to occupy my time until 10:00 pm, a full 6 hours after I had planned on arriving in Dublin.  Thanks to this down time, I now have less than 100 pages left to read in Ulysses, though.

The flight from Frankfurt to Dublin was pleasant, though.  I highly recommend Lufthansa for anyone who is flying in and around Europe.  Free drinks like most of the airlines I've flown over here.  However, they gave us a full blown picnic from Frankfurt to Dublin.  A small cheese sandwich, clementine, package of ginger cookies, and a chocolate Santa, all served in a cloth drawstring pouch with Santa Clause embroidered on the front!

I finally arrived in Dublin around 11:00, local time (midnight in Germany).  The air coach shuttle left at 11:30 and I was back to my dorm, after a very snowy walk from the bus stop, past midnight.  Now, I have one paper left to write, three rounds of revisions, and a whole lot of packing left before the big flight home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Germany: Day 3

Today Sören, his girlfriend Bai, and I went to the Black Forest.  It was fantastic!  We took a train there and the views were spectacular.  We actually went through a large part of the Black Forest as we made our way to Titi Lake (Titisee).  It's called the Black Forest because it's almost entirely pine trees, so even in winter the whole forest looks dark.  The train went through a part of the forest called Hell Valley, which was immediately after a town whose name translates to Heavenly Kingdom. So, we went through heaven to get to hell and the other way around on the return.

When we got to the Black Forest, it had started to snow.  We made our way to the lake and walked along the shore.  There were tons of mallard ducks and one big goose to keep us company.  The snow and wind off the lake had us a little chilled, so we stepped into a cafe for some hot drinks and Black Forest cake.  From there, we walked by a building that had an enormous clock painted on its side with working hands.  It was about as tall as I was.  Above the clock hands were two figurines, and above them was a bird.  I assume they dance and cuckoo, respectively, but we weren't willing to stand outside long enough to find out.

We went into lots of little shops and there were cuckoo clocks galore.  Every shop sounded like my Grandma's house (she has 6 in one room).  I wish I could have bought one, but I had to settle for a few small gift items instead.  Toward the end of our trip, the snow had started to come down pretty heavily, but it was so pretty that it was hard to be bothered by it.  The whole place looked like a Christmas card!

Back in Freiburg, we emerged from the train to rain.  Not quite as pretty as the snow had been.  But the Christmas market at night made up for the rain completely.  Christmas lights were everywhere.  Up and down the streets, on the booths at the market, above the paths, and in the trees.  The three of us shared some potato pancakes, a pretzel, and more mulled wine.

I couldn't resist buying myself a few more ornaments, but the best purchase was the gift I got for my Grandma.  I had been disappointed that I didn't find anything for her in the Black Forest, since she's cuckoo for cuckoo clocks.  Unfortunately, besides 100 euro clocks (and those are the cheap ones!), the only other thing they seemed to sell that was in the shape of a cuckoo clock was thermometers.  But in Freiburg, I found her a wonderful hand carved wooden nativity scene that is also a music box.  But don't tell her, it's for Christmas. :)

Tomorrow, I leave this Christmas paradise and head back to Ireland, where it will be back to the grindstone for me.  One more paper to write, followed by some serious revisions.  But for now, I will sleep in heavenly peace.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Germany: Day 2

So... Switzerland didn't happen today.  We got too late of a start to make the cost of the train ticket and the hour each way worth the investment.  So, instead we hit the Freiburg Christmas market.  Sören and I had mulled wine, served in little glass mugs with a Christmas market scene on them.  You get the mugs for take away, and you can either keep the mug or return it when you're done and get 1 euro 50 back.  I, of course, kept my mug. :)

The Christmas market is fabulous.  There are lights everywhere, all kinds of food, and lots of people.  When we went, there were a few rowdy groups getting ready to go to the local football game.  Lots of fun!  The booths sold all sorts of great Christmas items too: ornaments carved out of wood, hand blown glass ornaments, nativity scenes, and those great Christmas carousels that spin around using the heat from candles.  So much to look at!!

After the market, we warmed up with some cappuccino and then took off to hike up a very slippery mountain.  We only went a little ways up, but it still gave a great view of Freiburg down below and faced out into the Black Forest, where I hope to go tomorrow.  Only wiped out once on the way back down, and then it was back to the apartment for some much needed R&R.  Feeling a little under the weather, but I hope it won't drag me down tomorrow!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Germany/Switzerland: Day 1

After maybe 5 inches of snow over the last few days had all but shut down the entire city of Dublin, I was skeptical of my ability to get to Freiburg today.  Fortunately, the airport was reopened and my flight was only delayed by one hour.  But of course, the wait for check in began with a mother traveling alone with three screaming toddlers, prompting the ''please dont be on my flight, please don't be on my flight'' internal chant.  Then, of course, they were on my flight, which prompted the ''please don't have them sitting near me, please don't have them sitting near me'' internal chant.  Thankfully for my sanity, they were not seated near me and they were relatively quiet on the flight.  The flight delay, however, meant that I missed my connecting flight out of Frankfurt, but there was ample room on the next flight out to Basel.  From there, it was a brief bus ride back into Germany to Freiburg where I was met by Sören, my old friend, at the bus stop.

We walked the few blocks to the apartment he shares with his girlfriend and spent the rest of the evening getting me settled in and getting us all caught up on each other.  It was so nice to sit around and hang out.  We all had a drink (Sören and I had a Paulaner and Bai had a cola-beer, which I'll definitely have to try soon) and played a card game well into the evening.

Tomorrow, Soren and I head off to Switzerland while Bai is at work, and then possibly to a Christmas market.  I'm so excited for the Christmas markets!  The more the merrier my Christmas will be.
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