EuroTrip: Finale!

In Munich we met up with Colin’s friend who he had met this summer in the Dominican Republic who lives in Munich; Christopher. He was a friendly tall blonde German guy our age, funny and was excited to show us his city. So the 4 of us; Chris, Emily, Colin, Sami, and myself headed to the first thing that the guys wanted to do… the BMW World and museum.

BMW World

The BMW world was amazing, a modern building from the outside right by the Olympic stadium, you walk in and immediately are inside the biggest and most shocking car show room ever. New BMW models covered the floor all waxed and gorgeous. There were also simulations were you could drive the different models in different weather conditions, to show you how their new suspension or STC worked. The most amazing thing was the actual dealership on the second floor. If you live in Europe or have the money, you can come here, choose the exact model, accessories, what have you, and within minutes a lift brings the exact car from an underground garage up to the showroom floor, where you literally drive the car out of the building. It was amazing, to see these beautiful cars and the entire building. Next we went to the BMW museum and saw the history of BMW along with come custom and concept cars,

Amazing Art M3

very interesting and without a doubt made me crave one of those German sleds.

After leaving the museum we headed to the Hofbräuhaus; a traditional German beer hall. This may have been the highlight of the trip… German music playing and blonde German girls walking around in lederhosen serving Hofbrau beer by the liter. The traditional German food was amazing and went beautifully with the beer. If I were to die and go to heaven, this is where I would go…

Munich

We continued to walk through the streets of Munich, admiring the people and the beautiful buildings and the overall feel of the place. Out of all the cities I went to in Europe, this has the best atmosphere and the most welcoming and inviting people. They were happy to see an American and were more than happy to give directions or advise. Having a local with us was a huge advantage; we never got lost and were able to hit all of the sites in record time, and with the opinions and history that only a local could give.

That night we went out to a few local bars with Chris and had a great time laughing, telling stories and discovering once again that no matter what country you are from, all guys in their 20’s are the same. Emily was a trooper and held her own with the boys and I’m pretty sure had a blast as well!

The next morning we got up early to take a train to the Dachau Concentration camp.

"Work Will Make Free"

What surprised me when we arrived in the town of Dachau was that it was indeed a town. The camp was only a 3 min bus ride within the city, I could not imagine the residents of this town living only a few hundred yards where thousands of people were murdered and tortured. The weather could not have been more appropriate for our visit, cold, grey, and spitting rain as we entered the enormous courtyard of the facility. I simply could not imagine what this was like 60 years ago. We were able to tour the main building, which has a museum trip through the processing of the prisoners and has a history of the camp. Dachau was not a

Dachau Courtyard

kill camp but needless to say thousands died. The camp was designed for only 6,000 people and at its height there were over 60,000 inside its barbed wire fence. It was a sobering experience and defiantly made the things we have learned about in history class real to me. Seeing the ovens where the dead were cremated with no regard for humanity was one of the things that I will never forget. After leaving Dachau we went to the main bus terminal in Munich and grabbed our 5-hour bus to Prague! The bus ride was uneventful, and since it was dark there was not much to see, mostly we talked slept and listened to music.

 

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EuroTrip Part 2

Arriving in Florence at around 10pm we met Collins friend Brian at the train station. Brian has been studying abroad in Florence since September as well, so we all bonded over the crazy and amazing times we have had studying in Europe. As we rounded a corner we came across the Duomo, the most famous cathedral in Florence,

Duomo

lit up and shining in the dark this huge church has been decorated on the outside with paintings and sculpture, it was an amazing sight to see. As it turned out Brains apartment was only one block from this church and he walks past it everyday… no big deal.

We dropped our bags off at his apartment and claimed which couch would be our bed for the next two nights and off we went to dinner and then to go out with all of his friends. We ate at a local place that they frequently go to, and the food as always was amazing, and cheap… since Italy apparently doesn’t need money like Ireland. Everyone we met while we were out was from America, and surprisingly the tri-state area. It was a nice change after being surrounded by Europeans and being the only Americans but at the same time, I have gotten used to it and was slightly disappointed that there were not locals. We nonetheless had a blast. Sam and I left the club together and on the way out spotted a group of girls, being the gentlemen that we are we decided to introduce ourselves. After a few minutes for the charm to sink in they invited us to “the Secret Bakery;” a bakery that remains open past 1am, which in Florence is the legal time store, must stop selling food. We made our way through back alleys and roads until we find a group of people standing around a back door with an Italian guy whispering; “quick quick, what you like, what you like?” At 4 am the idea of a chocolate cover croissant is an amazing thought, not to mention the girls offered to pay… so being gentlemen we accepted!

The next morning we got up, showered in what could only be described as the devils shower… 8 guys using a shower for a semester, with only a mist going, made the thing something out of a Saw movie. Our first stop was the Duomo; this church is enormous with a beautiful fresco on the massive dome. The painting depicts the wicked descending into hell and being tortured by a medley of demons, while the righteous ascend to heaven and are greeted by angels. The damned don’t have an easy go of it in this paining, there are people being skinned alive, cut, burned, and my favorite two people being sodomised.

The Dome

Quite interesting for a church I thoughts, but it defiantly put the fear of god in me! We were able to climb to the top of this enormous dome, which too 456 steps and about 20 minutes, squeezing through tight spaces and climbing hundreds of years old steps.  When we reached the top we were rewarded with the most amazing view

Top of the Duomo!

of the city and surrounding mountains, it looked like a Italian city looked like in my mind, sunny warm and filled with orange roofs we spent a good hour on the top admiring the view and soaking in the sun.

Next we walked through the streets until we found the Ponte Veccho, a bridge that has shops on each side, making it almost an extension of the street itself. The shops are all jewelry shops and it has a very romantic feeling to it. In

Love Locks

fact clipped to the bridge in the thousands were “love locks” pad locks with the names of lovers carved or written on them. Of course I clipped one to the bridge with Katie and my name on it, it will make a nice surprise when we get home and I show her the pictures. Florence was an amazing city with a ton of Americans, which was fun, the history was not as impressive as Rome, but the overall aura of the city was amazing. We were also able to get in to see the David. It was huge which was surprising to me and of course of a flawless work of art, truly a masterpiece. What i liked the most was Michelangelo unfinished work, massive sculptures cemented in the block of marble, it is amazing to see how that is transformed into something like the David or the Peita. The last night there we went to a dinner at a steak house, and I had the most amazing thing that has ever passed my lips. A fillet cooked to perfection, glazed in a blueberry sauce. It was the best steak I have ever had, and it was only 15 euro for a whole

Ponte Veccho

meal. It was easily worth 50 euro. After this we made our way to the train station for our all night ride to Munich!! After a few minutes of panic because our train was not on the departure board (its called Monaco in Italian…) we found our train and

Sneaking a pic of the David

situated ourselves into the cramped bunk beds on the train. Sleeping in a cabin with 3 older Italian men was not the most comfortable nights rest I have had, but waking up because your ears were popping traveling through the Alps was a cool feeling. We arrived in Munich about 6:15am. We made it to our hostel and were informed that check in was at 9:00. So we crashed on our bags on the lobby for three hours before we were able to check in, take showers and get ready for our day.

 

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EuroTrip Part 1

This was the trip that we had planned since September, the culmination of my European experience!  Thirteen days and eight cities! We began the journey on our program trip to Northern Ireland. Our first stop was the city of London Derry, or depending on what side of the struggle you are on; Derry. The city was unique in so many ways, the first thing you feel when you enter the city is still a sense of tension that hovers very the city.

London-Derry

When you enter the main apart of the city there are still bullet holes in some of the buildings as well as 50 foot high fences to prevent people from hurling “petrol bombs” into the Protestant or Catholic areas of the city. We walked around the city and saw all of the murals on the side of the buildings, depicting hopes for peace or support for their own freedom fighters. We were able to go into the “Bloody Sunday” museum on the actual spot where the massacre occurred.

Murals in Derry

As everyone knows “Bloody Sunday” is when English Paratroopers opened fire on a crowd of protestors killing thirteen. We were given a tour by a man who was there that day and witnessed his brother being shot and killed in front of him. His story was truly heart breaking and it was clear and understandable that he still held his hatred of the English.

The next city we visited was Belfast; I did not like this city as much as Dublin, but we had an interesting time seeing the separation of the two communities via the “peace wall” and the different murals that cover the buildings. One of the nights we were there, the group of us went to a local pub for a few pints. The bar was one of the coolest I have seen, built in the 1600’s the different tables were divided by high walls that gave each table their own private room. It was a lot of fun hanging out with people that I haven’t had a chance to get to know in our program.

We returned to Dublin for the evening where I met Sam; Colin’s friend that would be joining us for our trip, we packed and went to be bed early so we could be ready for our 10 am flight to Rome!

We arrived in Rome at about 5:30 PM Rome time. We took a bus from the airport to the main bus station in Rome; from there we found our way to our Hostel; “When in Rome.” The front desk recommended a restaurant close to us that had authentic Italian food. When we found it, we were hustled inside by a suspiciously Indian looking man… that should have been our first clue as to how the dinner would go. After him being way to close to us, being all in our personal space we finally ordered to his calls of; “I take care of you, you take care of me, no?”

Inside

The food we received wasn’t bad, in fact it was pretty good but the constant hovering of our host made the whole meal truly uncomfortable. The last straw was when after repeated times telling him that we did not want any dessert, he brought out 4 plates of tiramisu. We refused to accept them and made him take them back; it was obvious that he was hoping that we would just take them out of confusion. We paid the bill with him standing 3 feet away and rushed out without leaving a tip (which is ok in Italy).

Sam - Adam - Me - Colin

Rome is an amazing city which lived up t everything I had ever heard about it and more, in the morning we rallied after a late night the night before and made our first stop at the Coliseum. Rounding a corner and seeing this epic stadium that still looks like it could hold events was stunning, Adam and I paid for a tour of the Coliseum and Palatine Hill. The inside of the Coliseum was stunning, I literally have no words for how shocked you are when you enter this huge structure, it was awe inspiring. Our next stop was the top of Palatine Hill to see the 2000 year old palace that the word “palace” is stemmed from. Once at the top you have a great view of all of Rome, you can see the old ruins of the race track and the Palace.

Palatine Hill

The original marble floor is still visible in some places wich boggles the mind. Our tour guide was great and had a lot of amazing historical facts to tell us. What I loved the most was the view over the Roman Forum. Having seen this in my Art History books in high school it was an amazing sight to see in person. So far Rome had shocked me and my eyes hadn’t stopped bugging out of my head since landing.

Me Inside the Pantheon

From the Forum we traveled about a mile to the Pantheon. Again another building that I had studied in high school Art History class, before going in we stopped for pizza and some gelato. Gelato gives a whole new name to ice cream, there are flavors that I would have never dreamed of, and for 1.50 Euros they pile it on. My favorite my far was Nutella flavor.

After a half hour in the Pantheon we started our walk to Vatican City, when we arrived outside St. Peters we were all amazed at the size of the grounds and overwhelming feeling of the whole complex. I just kept thinking about how someone who lived 300 years ago must have felt when he or she first saw this basilica. We decided to wait in a short line to enter St. Peters itself, there were signs all over displaying proper dress for entering the church, no short shorts, tank tops or other beach apparel! Come on Pope we have to look good!

Vatican City

Walking into the church, you see everyone, stop and stare up… letting out a gasp. The inside is enormous, I don’t think pictures can ever do this place justice. It is the most massive detailed and beautiful structure that I have ever seen. The walls are covered in 10-foot tall marble sculptures, gold inlays and designs. The enormous alter in the center of the church is an beautiful and imposing sight. We all split up because out heads were aimed up and not looking to where everyone else was going, but it didn’t matter you

Notice the people bottom left

could have spent hours inside and still not seen all of the church. In one order was the Michelangelo’s Pieta; an amazing marble sculpture of Mary holding the body of Christ. After wandering the enormous building for about and hour we found one another and made our way back to the train station to catch our train to Florence.

**More to Come**

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Amsterdam… this can’t be real?

Normally I wait a few days to let the dust settle from one of our adventures, but I needed to start this post at 11pm on a sunday just so that I can begin to describe the place that is… Amsterdam.

View from our jet

Colin, Jordan, Emily, Dawn, and I set off from Dublin airport on Ryanair. This was the first time I was leaving Ireland in the last two months so needless to say I was pretty excited. Plus it was Amsterdam… what 20 year old guy wouldn’t be excited about it? We flew into Eindhoven and took a train into central station where we looked at the signs in Dutch and realized “oh… there is no english here….” After finally figuring out what direction our hostel was we hopped on a tram that run in the middle of the street.

Central Station

It was not until the next morning we grasped the craziness that is Amsterdams roads. I got off a stop early so I could meet my Mom’s “Dutch Brother,” Arjan for dinner at a mexican restaurant. After being a confused, lost American for about a half hour i finally found the restaurant.

Arjan and I had dinner for about an hour, it was great to see him again and tell him all that I had been doing in Ireland for the last two months. We talked about our families and what we had plans for in the future, and of course my Moms time in ‘dam. He was so helpful and had printed off about 10 pages of things to do with directions and times for concerts and places for lunch, as well as a whole deck of different walking tours in the city. I can not thank him enough for this it was so helpful.

After dinner Arjan walked me to my hostel so I wouldn’t be lost in Amsterdam until morning. We wanted to try to do brunch on Sunday before I left but unfortunately the timing did not work out. After we met at the hostel we walked around the “Light square” and went to a bar called “the Watering Hole.” This was a very cool rocker bar, with a live band playing and pool hall. The atmosphere was great and we were able to meet a few locals who pointed us in the direction of a few clubs that we could go to for the night. The guys went to a club called Parideso for the night. This was an enormous church that had been converted into a club, with a laser light show, live techno band and several bars. It was a crazy place where we met lots of locals. We didn’t meet one person not from Amsterdam the whole time, so the Americans stood out and attracted attention.

Dam Square

The next day we walked around the city and to Dam Square, which is an enormous open area in the city center. There were a few street performers but for the most part it was pretty quiet. That was one thing that struck me about the city was that it seemed to be a very quiet city. Not a lot of noise and the people who were talking seemed to use their inside voices. Or who knows maybe im just an obnoxious loud American. We walked through the Red Light District in the day light and were not impressed with the “talent” that was out during the day. The streets there were lined with sex shops, upscale and otherwise, as well as smoke shops and advertisements for mushrooms.

Red Light District

After the trip through the Red Light district we decided to take a canal tour through the city. This was great to see the house boats, and the different monuments and churches. It also gave a very good overview of the city’s history. After the canal tour the guys again split off and we headed to the Heineken Brewery. This being the 4th brewery tour I have taken in Europe I fancy myself the expert on brewery tours. The tour was self guided and very interesting, the inside was all modern with green lights everywhere, you were given 3 glasses of Heineken throughout the tour.

Henieken

The bar wasn’t as cool as the Jameson or Guinness but the TV screens playing different movie clips where the beer was featured was awesome. The brewery ranks a 7 out of 10 on the Drew Brewery Tour Scale.

After that we managed to get ourselves lost on the way home to our hostel. Amsterdam so far is the only city where I have been completely clueless about where I am or even what direction to go in. We were lost in the pouring rain with no jackets for about an hour before we found the right tram to take us to our stop. Amsterdam owned us, it took us wherever it wanted. We had no control over where we ended up.

Amsterdam!

The next day we got up and went to the Amsterdam library to eat lunch (a suggestion from Arjan). The whole building is modern with white lights and straight clean lines. It basically looks like Apple designed the inside of this library. At the top there is a cafeteria style restaurant but the food was incredible. Cheap good sandwiches and an amazing view of the whole city. After lunch we went to Dam Square and took a 3 hour walking tour of the city. The tour is run my students who work on a tips, so you pay what you think the tour is worth. While our guide was a little corny she knew her stuff and we got to see much more of the city than we would have without her. Many good picture opportunities and places we wanted to go back to check out.

On Saturday night we decided instead of going out we would go to “Museum Night.” This was a special night that for 17 euro from 6pm to 2am you could go into any museum in Amsterdam, with free transportation. In the museums there were drinks served and DJs playing music. So it was a lot like a party inside these museums.

Outside of Red Light District

We went to the Van Gough museum, the iFlim institute, and the Amsterdam aquarium. All were very cool and the atmosphere was very casual and fun for us. After 2am the girls wanted to go back to the hostel because we had to check out at 10am the next morning. The guys of course wanted to go to a club. Amsterdam had different plans for us however. We ended up getting lost and finally when we thought we found the bus to go back to the hostel, we were informed that we were going the wrong way on the right line, taking us miles away from where we needed to be. We ended up taking a cab back and arriving at the hostel at 4:30 am, only after getting something to eat.

The group!

The next morning we got up early and checked out of the Hostel. We still had not seen the “I AMSTERDAM” sign, so we headed off into this crazy city of bikes, trams, and confusing road structures to find the sign. When we found it I was surprised at how small it was, in all the pictures I had seen it looks a lot bigger. But we had fun posing for pictures and climbing over the sign. After that we headed to the Anne Frank house for a final museum before we departed.

Canals

The museum was packed and we had to wait a half hour in line before even entering the house. It was very moving and well done, there was different quotes from her diary as well as other witnesses accounts. The attic they stayed in for 3 years was kept much the same as it was when they lived there. I could not imagine the hardship that those people had endured, it was a very different side of Amsterdam. All of us were moved at the end of the tour and when we head to Germany in a few weeks we are going to make it a point to go to one of the concentration camps. What a period in time, hopefully one that will never be repeated.

As we sat at our gate getting ready for our plane to board I couldn’t believe that the weekend had gone so quickly. This city is unreal. Literally you have to see it to understand. It is like every sin or desire you have could be fulfilled in this place, yet it has a charm and history that is beyond all the stereotypes. The people are friendly and always quick to point out that Amsterdam is not like all the stereotypes. Bottom line; an amazing city, with amazing entertainment, and people, so much history, and defiantly a culture shock to the system.

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Drbal’s do Dublin

This past week, I was lucky enough to have my family come visit me! Mom, Dad, and Tyler flew into Dublin on the 7th of October. I was great to see them and show them around where I have been living for the past 6 weeks. During the day I took them around where I have classes, and of course the sites around Dublin.

Family in the Guinness Gravity Bar

We saw the Dublin Castle and Christs Cathedral, and of course, the Guinness Storehouse. Of course Mom insisted on telling anyone who would listen (and even some who didn’t) that we had a dog named Guinness.

On Saturday, we took the DART to the coastal town of Howth. I had been there twice before, but I wanted to show the family this fishing village and take them Tyler Striking a Poseon a hike in the hills overlooking the cliffs. We dined on fish and chips and braved the wind over the cliffs. Even Mom was a good sport pretending that she wasn’t freezing.

When we got back, I took them to see parts of the Dublin Docklands, where we met up with my friends at Oktoberfest Dublin! All around the actual event were German vendors selling Bratworst, deserts, candy, and of course… beer. We waited in line to go down to the actual event which was set up in a huge white tent on a dock.

Drbal's at Oktoberfest!

Dad was kind enough to supply the whole family with enormous litre stiens of Eninder beer. After locating my friends who had been there since 11 am in the back of the tent, my family; Mom Dad and little brother all joined us at the table. My friends couldn’t believe that my family was there and drinking and singing with the rest of us, they were really impressed. It was definatly

Oktoberfest

one of the most memorable times with my family, never would I think I would be slinging beer, and chanting in German with my whole family!

The next morning, after a late start we hit the road for the Wicklow mountains and the nature preserve. Having Dad driving one the oposite side of the road, and a manual car, created a few interesting moments where we secretly feared for our lives, but believe it or not we all survived with only mental scars. Driving through the Wicklow mountains was beautiful but very stressful for poor Dad, with fog and the 2 lane road being barely wider than the crappy ford we had rented there were a few “holy shit!” moments. But we arrived safely at the Powerscourt, a 1800’s mansion with enormous gardens and grounds, as well as an incredable golf couse. While we all drooled over this, Dad made a “wrong turn” in the Ritz Carlton. Why we ever believed him that he didnt have any hotel plans for the next few nights is beyond me!

Ritz Bathroom...

After walking into the gorgeous lobby with marble floors and huge flower arangements, we were shown to our rooms by the bellhop. Everyones mouths dropped to the floor when the room was opened. Not only was the “room” as big as my entire apartment in Blackhall, but it was the most luxurious suite I had ever seen. The bathroom was complete with a Jacuzzi tub, a rain shower, and a TV set into the mirror! The living room looked like something out of a magazine with soft couches, a desk, and the most amazing scones with sweet butter waiting for us. The entire room including temperature, lights, and the automatic curtains was controlled by a touch screen pannel on the wall.

Living Room

After touring the hotel and the grounds we came back to the room to get dressed for what would be the most amazing dinner I have ever experienced. We went to Gordon Ramsey’s (who is the head chef on the TV show Hells Kitchen) signature restaurant on the ground floor of the hotel.

Moms Seabass

The meal was amazing, with the wait staff bringing out samples “courtesy of the the chef.” The food was beautiful and tasted even better than it looked. the food never stopped coming, and at the end of the three hours everyone was completely stuffed and in shock that food could actually taste that good.

Powerscourt in the Morning

That morning while Tyler and Mom took a bike ride, Dad and I played a round of golf at the Powerscourt. It was an amazing golf course, unfortunately the clubs we rented and our lack of golfing shoes made the day slightly difficult, but we had a blast regardless. The course was beautiful and what more could you ask for than playing golf in Ireland with your Dad? Dew sweepers.

The next night was a bit pof a change from the luxury of the Ritz… on the advise of our mother, we chose to make camp at the town of New Ross. Expecting to find a quaint small town we discovered a near ghost town. The hotel we stayed at was by far the most popular place to have dinner and there were perhaps 20 people in the restaurant. But we all laughed and enjoyed our time together as a family.

Blarney Castle

The next day we braved the roads again to try and make it too the Blarney Castle and get me on a train back to Dublin for classes. After struggling to find the Castle (after being in the parking lot unknowingly) we arrived. While it was the biggest tourist trap known to man, it was very interesting and very cool. The castle looked like a runin and we were able to walk inside it, up a spiral staircase that was barely wider than I was. Tyler was the only one of us who kissed the Blarney Stone. I refused to do so because I have been informed that the locals use it as a toilet when the tourists aren’t around.

It was amazing to have my family here and to share what I have been doing all this time with them. It was hard to see them go but I know that they had a great time with me on their Irish Adventure!

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Galway Trip 9/30-10/3

This was the first of our two program sponsored trips to Ireland. This weekend we hopped on a bus and drove across Ireland about 3 hours to Galway. When we arrived we had a few hours of free time to explore the city.

Galway Docks

It was traditionally a fishing village that has exploded in population and has many shops, restaurants and pubs. Colin and I were able to walk along the coast for a few hours and explore the streets. We found where the traditional Claddaugh Ring (two hands holding a heart with a crown) is made, and ate amazing fish and chips. That night we had a dinner at the hotel and the boys took advantage of the steam room,  weight room, and sauna.

The next morning we jumped on the bus again and drove about an hour through the Irish countryside to Mamean. This is a pilgrimage trail up through the mountains to a small chapel built in the 7th century. Following our tour guide the boys on the trip soon left all 30 girls in the dust working our way up the mountain.

The scenery is breathtaking, the valley was carved out during the last Ice Age creating mountains and valleys covered in stone and green grass. Reaching the top we looked back at the valley and saw black storm clouds coming through the valley. Lucky for us there was an alter built into the hill where we could wait out the quick shower, unlucky for the other 30 girls halfway down the mountain there is ZERO cover from the rain whipping through the pass. After we made our way down the moutain we found 30 very unhappy girls waiting by the bus for us. Oh well, should have walked faster!

Kylemore Abbey

From there we drove to the Kylemore Abbey, in Connemara. This castle and abbey are tucked into the mountains and rest on the shores of a glacial lake. The view was amazing and the history of the abbey was fascinating. That night we ate another dinner at the hotel then went out to listen to live traditional Irish music at the Kings Head Pub. The pub was packed and the band was great. I met 3 guys from Topeka Kansas who also happened to be SigEps. Very cool to run into 3 brothers all the way across the atlantic.

The next morning bright and early we took the ferry to the Aran Islands. These islands off the coast have been inhabited for over 3000 years. The trip over was extremely rocky, with 3-4 foot waves rocking the ferry all over the place. I could not imagine trying to make the trip from the mainland to these islands in a small boat like those first settlers did. Immediately upon arriving you feel like you have gone back in time. This island only got electricity in 1970, and the 800 inhabitants still rely heavily on agriculture and fishing to support themselves.

The Cliffs

The island is covered in thousands of stone walls, all made by hand hundreds and thousands of years ago. These walls were made in order to use the rocky ground to graze cattle, so what to do with the rocks? Might as well build a wall! Walking through the old village we climbed to the cliffs and were able to walk in and around a 3000 year old celtic fort. This fort is situated on the edge of 500 foot cliffs and has been standing since before Christ. The cliffs with the waves smashing into them made you feel very small.

Adam, Colin and I on the edge

We had to watch our step because the uneven rocks around the edge made it easy to slip and there wasnt much forgiveness 500 feet down. The whole experience was mind blowing.

That night we all hit the town and had an absolute blast, we visited 4 clubs and made fools of ourselves on the dance floor. It was a great time. This trip gave up some of the best pictures thus far in the trip, it was by far the best weekend since I have landed in Ireland!

Dun Aengus Celtic Fort

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Weekend in Kilkenny 9/24-26

This weekend was the first of our independent European travel experiences. We went to Kilkenny in the south of Ireland for the weekend. Grabbed a train from Heustan Station which is a ten minute walk from Blackhall and rode it for about an hour and a half until we reached the mid-evil city of Kilkenny.

Kilkenny

The city (as they insist on being called) of about 22,000 people has been around since mid-evil times and it shows. The city is mad up of windy narrow streets and dotted with stone buildings that have been around since the 11th and 12th centuries. On Friday when we arrived we toured the Kilkenny Castle, a castle built by the Earle of Pembroke in the late 11th century. It was beautiful and huge complete with a ball room and its own art gallery. You could just imagine the people of the day strolling through the stone hallways and bedrooms.

Kilkenny Castle

Ballroom/ Art Hall

That night we met up with other students traveling in our hostel (which conveniently was attached to a pub). All of the Irish guys in the group thanked Colin and I with high fives and even a few hugs, for bringing them 8 new girls to flirt and hang out with (Colin and I were outnumbered on this trip 2 guys 8 girls). We hung out with them in the hostel itself before heading out to explore the Kilkenny nightlife. Kilkenny has over 200 pubs in the town and we took complete advantage of that. It was a great night visiting hundreds of years old pubs and socializing with our new local friends.

St. Marys Cathedral

The next morning we were off to a late start a side effect of the night before, but we packed a lot into the next day. We visited St. Marys Cathedral and marveled at its huge stained glass windows and enormous naive and hall. We then visited St. Canice’s Cathedral and tower. The tower was one of the most amazing things I have seen. Built in the year 700 AD it is oer 1000 years old and still standing. Archeologists have uncovered that the foundation of the 100 foot tower is only 2 feet deep, they are in awe that it is even standing at all. So hearing this Colin and I decided to climb to the top! At the tope we had an amazing view of the entire city and country side. Being up there you got a sense of just how old everything was, really an amazing feeling to be standing at the top of a 1300 year old tower.

1300 year old tower

At the Top!

That night we met a new group of kids and visited more of the pubs and clubs. Another fun crazy night. The next morning we got up and Colin and I walked around the city one last time and found St. Kieran College and watched a hurling practice. Hurling is a combination of Lacrosse, Baseball, Rugby, and Futbol. The most intense sport I have ever seen.

Colin and I also toured the 300 year old Smithwicks (pronounced Smid-icks). The tour of the actual brewery was lead by a Master Brewer, who on completion of the our poured us all pints of the brew, it took him 15 minutes to pour the pints because of the artful way in wich he poured it. Afterward he walked us through how to taste beer, and what flavor and “notes” we should be tasting/ smelling at each point of the beer. His passion was contagious and it was by far the best tour we have gotten thus far.

The Abby in the Center of the Brewery

The weekend was amazing and we came back home and collapsed into our beds. This week begins actual classes through DBS.

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