Tuesday, May 8, 2012

goodbye ireland.

There once was a girl in Limerick who had the semester of a life-time and can't believe that it's now time to say goodbye to Ireland.

I can't believe that I have been in Limerick for four months already! Exams are done and I'm all packed up...

I leave for the States tomorrow morning and as excited as I am to see my family and friends at home there is so much I'm going to miss from my semester abroad.  I'm so lucky to have made the friends I have here...

Some will only be a state away...

me, Kristi, Steph, and Sydney

Steph, Sydney, Shauna, Ellie, me, and Lauren

Others will be halfway across the world...

me, Sebastian, Phillip, Syndey, and Paul

But no matter where my friends are I know that the relationships I have built in Limerick, Ireland will be lasting!

So I guess I just have to say it's been real Ireland and thanks for the memories...

Cliffs of Moher


Kilkenny Castle


Ring of Kerry

St. Paddy's day in Cork


That's all from me for now. But who knows, maybe I'll be back...

Monday, May 7, 2012

bunratty castle.

Monday, May 7th

So it may have taken me four months, but I finally made it to Bunratty castle... only 25 minutes outside of Limerick. Despite the crazy weather today (I actually heard thunder for the first time in Ireland) I had a great day with my friend Lauren.

The castle grounds have been turned into a heritage park with old houses, shops, schools, and farm animals!

an Irish wolfhound... she was so friendly despite here slightly frightening size!

When the hail stopped and the sun came out it was a beautiful day!

The castle it's self was full of old tapestries, furniture, and interesting "art"!  There seemed to be a strange sea theme to some of the rooms despite the fact that the castle is completely land-locked.  The chandeliers in a lot of the rooms were mer-people with antlers in their back holding candles... quite odd!  I couldn't use flash inside so it was hard to get good pictures, but here's what I did mange to get...

These people must have also been great hunters!

one of the kitchens... those are tortious shells!

The beautiful Bunratty Castle!

Bunratty was pretty relaxed and fun to see and explore.  I'm glad I was able to hit up one last castle before heading home!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

kristi's 21st birthday.

Friday, April 27th - Sunday, April 29th

Last weekend I had the honor or celebrating my girl Kristi's 21st birthday with her!  Her mom was in town for a visit from the States and they decided to grab Kristi's roommate, Meghan, and head over to Limerick to see me!

On Friday night, the eve of Kristi's birthday, we hit the town in Limerick! We had dinner and a drink at a nice pub with her mom, Jan, and then we ditched mama for the nightclub scene!  It was an amazing night!

On Saturday morning, Kristi's actual birthday, we hopped in the car and made our way to Dromoland Castle in Shannon (about 10 minutes outside of Limerick).  We spent the day being pampered at the spa with messages and lounging around in our complementary robes and slippers... the place was entirely too classy for us!  We had dinner at the golf club house and enjoyed a relaxing night of girl talk in our castle!

The view out our room window!

Kristi, me, and Meghan

The weekend was more than magical and I am so lucky to have gotten to spend Kristi's big day with her!  It was hard to get back to reality on Sunday (especially since exams were starting on Monday), but I have no regrets!

Thanks for the memories Jan, Kristi, and Meghan!

Friday, May 4, 2012

edinburgh, scotland.

Saturday, April 21st - Tuesday, April 24th

Early Saturday morning (2:30AM to be exact!) Sydney and I caught a bus from Limerick to Dublin for our flight to Edinburgh, Scotland! The flight was only about 45 minutes long.. pretty impressive for crossing a channel and an entire country!  Believe it or not, we were exhausted by the time we made it to our hostel at about 11AM... So we spent the day leisurely strolling through town.  We had lunch and enjoyed the huge park outside our hostel. European countries seem to have a fascination with unicorns... this was one of the poles that marked the entrance to the park.

In the evening we made dinner at the hostel and enjoyed a little wine on the awesome porch at hour hostel before going to bed nice and early!  Traveling sure brings out the best in your cooking...

We got up early on Sunday to make up for the time we'd lost due to exhaustion on Saturday!  We headed to the center of town to join in a free city walking tour.  The tour brought us all over town and explained a lot of the old buildings and the history behind them.  Our tour guide looked like a pirate and was really entertaining!  Here are a few pictures from the morning:

I know it's no London, but I couldn't help myself!

The Edinburgh Writers Museum: Authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doylel and Robert Louis Stevenson

The Edinburgh Castle Church

"The Gothic Rocket" in the new town

Beautiful blooming trees in the park outside our hostel

A little Potter magic!
One of the highlights of Sunday was learning all about J.K. Rowlings history in Edinburgh!  The first 2 Harry Potter books were actually written from a cafe in town.  Here's the story:

J.K Rowling had just gone through a divorce and her and her young daughter moved to Edinburgh to start over.  She didn't have the money to heat her apartment and was too cold to type at home.  She found a cafe in town, the elephant house, who allowed her to sit and type all day if she bought one cup of coffee in the morning...


She choose to sit in a big back window of the cafe with a view of the Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriar's graveyard, and George Hariot's school.

The window above the word 'furniture' was Rowling's window of choice.

Her view from that window helped to inspire much of the magical world of Hogwarts...

The 4 turrets of George Hariot's school are said to be the inspiration behind the 4 towers of Hogwarts.

When Rowling would hit a bad case of writers block she would head down to the garden/graveyard behind the cafe for a walk.  The headstones in the graveyard ended up being the inspiration for a few of her beloved (and absolutely hated) characters!

Mad-eye Moodie

Professor McGonagall

And... Tom Riddle!

It was pretty cool to see the birthplace of Harry Potter and was definitely the highlight of the day for me!

On Monday I learned about the glory of paying someone to plan an entire day for you! Syd and I went on a van tour of the Scottish Highlands and Lough Ness!  It was pretty amazing!  We went into town at 8AM and hopped in a van with 14 other tourist, a guide, and our awesome driver.  We drove over 300 miles and I ended up taking 1 picture for every mile we saw! The sun was shining (for part of the day!) and the views were breathtaking! Here are a few of the highlight pictures from the day...

Pat and Dani, this one's for you... He was so cute I had to snap a shot!

Train bridge that hasn't been used since the 1960... except by the Hogwarts Express!

When the sun came out the views were unbelievable!  This view for sure gives the Boundary Waters a run for their money!

Ross, our driver, and a horse we stopped to hang out with!

I said 'smile' and he did!?

This is actually the Atlantic Ocean coming into the country!

Nessie and her baby!

Lough Ness (I took a boat tour for the lake).

The day of sightseeing was long, but relaxing!  It was well worth an entire day to see the beauty of the Highlands!

Our last day in the great land of Scots... we packed up and headed out for a day of sight seeing in the old city.  Our first stop was the Edinburgh Castle.  The caste is the home of the Honours of Scotland (essentially the crown jewels) and the Stone of Destiny! It also is still a functioning government building, so some of the areas are off limits to tourists.

The view of the new city from the catstle

One of the chapels within the Castle grounds

Our final big stop of the trip was what we've so eloquently begun to call 'the stuff on the other hill!'  Although we never really figured out what the 'stuff'' was, we made our way up the hill in the New City to check it out... 

This was the view that lead us to the 'stuff on the other hill'

The view of the Old City form the hill top

A little wet and tired it was time to head back to Ireland...

The trip was an amazing last hurrah for my time in Ireland! I clearly had way too many pictures to pick from for this post!  The beauty of Edinburgh and the Highlands, and Scotland in general, is something that I am truly blessed to have experienced!