A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: laporlier

Slainte, Ireland!

Now its time to go home.

semi-overcast

Our last two days in Ireland were bittersweet. Monica was gone, so that was sad. Also, of course, we were sad to be leaving Europe. BUT we were both so excited to be heading home soon.

So two days ago we slept in and it was wonderful. Then we wandered around Dublin again, getting lost a couple times (it is very clear now that Monica was the one with the BEST sense of direction). Later in the afternoon we toured the Guinness Storehouse, which was pretty cool. We learned all about how they make their beer, and then we went up to the Gravity Bar. There you get a 360 degree view of Dublin AND a free pint of Guinness! It was really neat! I was told that the Guinness tastes totally different in Dublin (before its shipped all the way to us in the US of A), and everyone who told me that was right. It was really quite good!

In the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse

In the Gravity Bar at the Guinness Storehouse

After our tour we tried to do a little souvenir shopping, but then we gave up. We decided it was time for dinner. Too bad the only place we could find that was cheap and open was an Eddies Rockets (Europe's Johnny Rockets). Then it was off to bed for us!

The next day was great! We went on a Wild Wicklow tour which was amazing. I'm really upset Monica couldn't join us for this one. Our tour guide was really informative, but also hilarious! He took us all around Wicklow National Park, which is the film location of movies like Braveheart, P.S. I Love You, Leap Year, and a bunch of older movies I need to check out now. He even gave us all baby shots of Jameson while we looked out over one of the lakes. (Jameson is gross.)

Sandy Cove

Sandy Cove

Right when we entered Wicklow National Forest

Right when we entered Wicklow National Forest

I'm at the bridge in P.S. I Love You

I'm at the bridge in P.S. I Love You

Again, windy.

Again, windy.

Guinness Lake! They moved sand there to look like the head of a pint glass (which the lake is shaped like).

Guinness Lake! They moved sand there to look like the head of a pint glass (which the lake is shaped like).

Green Trees

Green Trees

After our tour was over we decided we needed to check in. Here's where the fun begins. The website wasn't allowing us to check in online. Then we checked the flight status. It was said to have arrived on time... yesterday. So then I freaked out. We called our travel agent Nora and eventually got everything figured out, but we still left our hostel at 4:50AM (for a 9:45 flight) just in case. Well good thing we did since the bus that was supposed to pick us up outside of our hostel was late. Actually it was supposed to be there at 5:15 and by 5:45 we saw no bus. Also, we were being talked up by some old, racist, scary, Polish men, so we had had enough and grabbed a cab. We got to the airport and found the desk with only a little confusion, then sat and waited. Finally we got to board our flight. This was clearly an older plane, and of course, one of the 3 planes in their entire fleet without on-demand tv screen things for every seat. And the movies they were showing: Shrek: Forever Young, The X-Files, and Bedazzled. Great. I gave in at one point and tried to watch part of The X-Files... about 1 minute in the sound for our half of the plane went out. Of course. On top of that we had some pretty fun turbulence (which I don't mind so much) and also our pilot really seemed to enjoy giving us all that free fall feeling (which kind of scared me sometimes). Oh, and, there were 13 small children on board. I counted. So that flight was fun.

Now I'm sitting in the Toronto Airport waiting for my flight at 5:20. I'm in the middle of a walkway charging my phone that was completely dead (?) and finishing uploading my pictures.

I can't wait to get home!

So all in all the last 8 weeks have been amazing! I got the chance to meet a bunch of great new people, both from Cal Poly and just around Europe, and see beautiful areas of the world! There were definitely some ups and downs (much like my flight earlier), but overall it was an experience I wouldn't trade at all. I'm so grateful my parents gave me this opportunity.

Now I get to start paying off my credit card for the next year! Hooray!

Until the next trip (in many, many years I'm sure), farewell!

Posted by laporlier 11:22 Archived in Ireland Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Winding Down

Last, but not least: Ireland

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Alright. A lot has happened (or at least it feels like) since my last entry.

As it turns out Orleans didn't have much, but then we took a train to Blois. Blois is a little town with shops, restaurants, a chateau, and Houdini's house! It was SO hot that day, so we spent a long time just hanging out in the shade, drinking cokes, and looking out over the city and river.

Overlooking Blois

Overlooking Blois

Houdini's pad

Houdini's pad

Our feet are gross.

Our feet are gross.

The next day we spent around Paris again. This time we saw the Arc de Triumph, Champs Elysees, and Trocadero. But, the best part of our day was on our way to the Eiffel Tower. We found the fountains (the ones in front of all the Eiffel Tower pictures) and it turns out that everyone swims in them! So we hopped in too! It was nice and cool, and so much fun. Emily met a girl, Allison, from San Diego (just graduated from Berkeley) in the fountain and she ended up coming up to the top of the Eiffel Tower with us.

Playing in the fountains!

Playing in the fountains!

In the fountains infront of the Eiffel Tower

In the fountains infront of the Eiffel Tower

Super guards.  They were around train stations and the Eiffel Tower

Super guards. They were around train stations and the Eiffel Tower

Top of the Eiffel Tower!

Top of the Eiffel Tower!

The line for the tower was long, but worth it. I'm not sure I would pay to go up again, but its definitely something I had to do at least once! We took lots of pictures at the top and there is a video of Allisson's of us spitting off the top floating around on YouTube, too.

We finished off our time in Paris at a cafe in front of the Notre Dame. We had drinks and I finally got my French Onion Soup!! It was so neat to hang out in a Parisian cafe looking out at everything all lit up.

Notre Dame and music by the river

Notre Dame and music by the river

The next morning we got up at 5:15 to catch a train, to catch a taxi, to catch a plane to Dublin. We had issues (again) with our baggage. I swear the airport scales are all off. This time I had to take half of my clothes out of my suitcase and force them into my backpack. And I hid a purse under my jacket (only one carryon allowed). But everything worked out and we are now in Dublin!

Yesterday we just wandered the city and had dinner early then went to bed since we were so tired. I had a delicious slow cooked beef and Guinness stew. I am going to have to learn how to make it.

Walking down O'Connell Street

Walking down O'Connell Street

Rugby field at Trinity College

Rugby field at Trinity College

Somebody made him look a little more hip.

Somebody made him look a little more hip.

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One of the many, many pubs.

One of the many, many pubs.

Today we went on an all day tour. We went all the way across Ireland stopping at various spots to get to our main destinations, the Cliffs of Moher. Everything was so green, and there were so many sheep! It was a tiring day, but so neat to see that much of Ireland.

Our Paddywagon

Our Paddywagon

SO COLD. Zero degrees Celcius.

SO COLD. Zero degrees Celcius.

Monica and I are rebels.

Monica and I are rebels.

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Tomorrow Monica goes home. We are all very, very sad. Emily and I will be sleeping in then roaming around and eventually hitting up the Guinness distillery tour. Then on Friday we're going on another tour around Wicklow. Saturday morning we head home! I love Europe so much, but I'm ready to get home!

Posted by laporlier 15:24 Archived in Ireland Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

We're in Paris!

And its currently raining!

rain

So. It turns out that free, decent internet is really hard to come by in Europe. I THINK I'll have access to internet for the rest of my trip though.

So Munich was amazing! We got up and took a tour of the city. We walked EVERYWHERE. It was great to hear all the history though. The thing I really like about Munich is that it wasn't all in your face. Tributes and memorials were actually kind of hidden.

Glockenspiel

Glockenspiel


Lederhosen Man!

Lederhosen Man!


The Devil's Footprint

The Devil's Footprint

In addition to the historical stuff we also got to go to a real beer garden! During our tour we visited the Hofbrauhaus which is the oldest (I think) and also the most touristy. Instead of having our last German meal there, we met up with Monica's friend and her friend who are currently studying in Munich, and they took us to Augustiner Keller, which is a more local beer garden. We had tasty food and 1 liter beers (that's how they serve it there). It was really neat to eat with the locals.

1 Liter Beer!

1 Liter Beer!

That night we got on a night train to Paris. We figured a night train would be great since its cheaper than the hostel and we usually fall asleep on trains anyway. Not so great. The seats were the least comfortable on a train yet, so none of us really slept. And in the morning we were woken up to "POLICE!" and a scary looking French policeman staring us down. He just wanted our passports, but he could have been a little less frightening. I do think that it was still worth it though, considering we bought ourselves an extra half day in Paris. But, upon our arrival things went downhill. We were supposed to arrive in Nice that day, but we couldn't get a train to Nice until Monday (when we would be in Ireland). So that was out. We also couldn't get a hold of the hostel in Nice to cancel our reservations, so we have to pay for one of the nights still. Then we had issues finding a place to stay in Paris. We eventually figured it out, but the hotel was a little run down. It all turned out fine though.

Our first day in France we went to see the Palace of Versailles. The palace was neat, but all the rooms started to look the same. What was really neat were the gardens. They are HUGE and so, so pretty.

In the Gardens of Versailles

In the Gardens of Versailles

Yesterday we explored Paris. We walked around all day hitting up almost all of the sights: The Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, etc. etc. We ended the day with wine, cheese, baguettes, fruit, madelines, and crepes at the base of the Eiffel Tower while it was lit up and sparkling. We also had some Spanish musicians behind us so we had entertainment! The only really annoying part of the evening was the fact that every ten minutes someone would come around trying to get us to buy stupid items we didn't want. They would not go away. We did get to see some of them chased around by an overweight cop though, so that was entertaining.

Shakespeare and Co! My new favorite bookstore!  There's even a piano upstairs to play and a typewriter cove!

Shakespeare and Co! My new favorite bookstore! There's even a piano upstairs to play and a typewriter cove!

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

Today we went to the train station and basically asked the lady to just send us to the ocean! We ended up in Deuville (or something like that, I'll have to check...) and it was really neat! It would have been so much better had it actually been warm, but I loved the small town atmosphere. Tons of little shops and restaurants on the boardwalk, colorful cabana/tents on the beach, and nobody spoke English. It was far less touristy than Paris. Wonderful!

Tomorrow we are going to Orleans. I'm told Joan of Arc was supposed to be from there or around there? I'm not sure. I'm just happy to see anywhere new! So far it seems like the smaller, lesser known towns have been my favorite.

It's currently raining here, but hopefully it clears up for tomorrow. Also, I am currently eating something called Fritelle Gout Nature. I think they're supposed to be like crunchy french fries, but I really don't know. I'm hungry though.

Posted by laporlier 15:12 Archived in France Tagged round_the_world Comments (2)

Hallo!

(That's German for hello.)

overcast

Hallo!
That’s German for Hello.

So we made it over to the continent! I was slightly nervous about getting over here and into our hostel, but everything worked out fine.

We did have a bit of an issue with our luggage before our flight into Dusseldorf. It turns out that the luggage scale I brought isn’t exactly accurate. When we got to the airport we all weighed our bags and we were a bit over. After several attempts to meet the weight limit by moving things around I eventually had to part with one pair of jeans, one pair of shorts, a shirt, and some toiletries. I wasn’t too thrilled, but I also was not about to pay the extra 20 euros per kg. Luckily, both Emily and Monica still had some room in their carryons so I didn’t have to get rid of more than that. After that was taken care of we got through baggage check and security just fine, got breakfast, then went to wait at our gate. The flight was quick and the plane was not nearly as questionable as I thought it might be. It even had classical music playing throughout the cabin for boarding and disembarking.

On our Ryanair Flight!

On our Ryanair Flight!

When we got to Dusseldorf we definitely knew we were in a different country. Most everyone spoke English, or at least enough to understand us; it was figuring out the ATM, finding the bus, and figuring out how to buy tickets that gave us a little confusion. Then once we got to the train station we hit another few snags figuring out what trains to take, and if we had to pay for them, but we ended up at our hostel just fine.

We’re staying at Hostel Pathpoint Cologne, which is really very nice. Not what I was expecting as it is a renovated church (I was expecting the outside to at least look SOMETHING like a church), but we are very happy with it. There is a nice common area, kitchen, courtyard, and washer/dryer area. We are on the second floor in eight-person female room with one shower and one bathroom. The place is brand new so everything is really clean, and our beds are pretty comfy. The only problems are that its incredibly hot at times, and that the shower is kind of odd. It seems to flood a bit, and when I showered tonight the water pressure was so strong that the shower head went out of control and ended up showering the ceiling. I only had a minor heart attack though. I’m fine now.

Yesterday we explored a city an hour out of Cologne by train called Aachen. It’s a small city comparable to Oxford. When we arrived the city seemed dead. All of the stores were closed, and there wasn’t a person in sight. Then we found the town center. Aachen’s Dom and another church mark the center. Surrounding that there are plenty of shops (unopened) and restaurants (open). This is where all the people were. The area is full of narrow cobblestone streets that zigzagged and got us a little confused at times. We all loved the city though, and should we ever go again we won’t go on a Sunday so we can actually go in the shops. When we got back to Cologne we had dinner at a traditional German restaurant. I couldn’t remember what I used to order at The German Restaurant back home, so I just took a shot in the dark and ordered Jaegerschnitzel. It was delicious. I wish it came with those potato pancakes I used to get, but I have yet to see them here, so maybe that was more of an Americanized German food. After dinner we wandered around some then got gelato, and sat and people watched for a bit. Then we planned our next few days and went to bed.

This lady was just wandering around grabbing coins....

This lady was just wandering around grabbing coins....

Today we gave ourselves a treat and slept in till 10:30. Considering we had gotten up at 4 that morning, we really needed it. Actually, we got up at 1 on accident (shoddy alarm clock at the B&B), and then I kept waking up every half an hour thinking we were going to miss our cab. So sleeping in really helped. When we got up we wandered over into the old part of the city for breakfast. I wish I remembered the name of what I got, but it was something like sweet bread rolled in cinnamon sugar with an apple piece inside. Delicious. I also got a Kaffe Creme. I’m still trying to figure out what the difference is between that and a Kaffe with milk. No clue. Of course right when we were about to eat it started drizzling (and we’re in shorts and tank tops… we looked pretty out of place). We found a tree to sit under though so that helped. After we ate we went to see Cologne’s Dom. It is an amazing gothic cathedral. We toured the ground floor, and listened to the pipe organ then went and climbed the 533 steps to the top of the belfry (and the 533 back down). The view was amazing. My shaking legs later were totally worth it. After we recuperated we walked around what is supposedly the busiest shopping street in Europe, which included way too many H&Ms to count and a giant outdoor store that puts REI to shame. That took up a lot of time. Then we went to where Eau de Cologne was created, and washed our hands in pure Eau de Cologne. Awesome. Next we crossed the Rhein for dinner. We had Italian because we told Monica last night if she tried our food we’d reward her with an Italian meal. It was nice to sit and eat. We were pretty dead by then. To end the day we sat looking out on the river waiting for the Dom to light up (which took forever.. it wasn’t dark until about 10). Now we are at the hostel, and I’d like to put this online and put in the German words for food and places, but apparently I have an invalid username or password. A new girl showed up in our room who is from Riverside (she just graduated from Stanford) and knows someone at Cal Poly SLO. She’s giving us tips about Germany since she studied in Berlin. It’s pretty cool how we run into people from home (I also saw a guy with a CSUN sweatshirt in Dusseldorf).

View of the Dom from the other side of the river.

View of the Dom from the other side of the river.

View from the top of 533 steps in the Dom.

View from the top of 533 steps in the Dom.

Where we had our first German meal!

Where we had our first German meal!

Off to and Munich tomorrow!

Posted by laporlier 15:28 Archived in Germany Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

The Day Before The Day I Go To Germany

The Last Day In England

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We've packed up and left our flat and London. It was bittersweet leaving. I love London, but I'm excited to see more of Europe! One good thing about studying abroad with people from my school is that saying goodbye was no big deal. We'll see them next month.

So we hopped on a train out of London and arrived at Bishop's Stortford around 1:30 this afternoon. I messed up didn't call the B&B to set up a pick up time soon enough so we were stranded at the station. Since we couldn't even check in until four we decided to hang out in a pub near by the station and figure out more travel plans. Then we got on a bus and arrived at George Green Farm Inn.

George Green is an adorable B&B built in 1726. It's right next to a 200 year old pub and surrounded by grassy fields. There are even sheep right out back, but unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see them. When we arrived we met one of the owners, Doug. He's so friendly and immediately booked us a table at the pub for dinner, and arranged for a cab to take us to the airport tomorrow (at 5AM... yuck). A bit later we met his wife, Marie, who is just as nice, and stayed and talked with us for a little bit.

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We all just took amazing showers in the cutest bathroom I've ever been in. Now we get to sleep in comfortable beds. Emily and I are THRILLED since we have been subjected to stone mattresses for the past six weeks. We're currently watching The Perfect Storm and getting ready for a short night's rest.

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I'm hoping to be able to update at least twice a week until the end of my trip, but I have no idea how my internet access will be. The next time I write, I'll be in Germany! Auf wiedersehen!

Posted by laporlier 14:37 Archived in England Tagged round_the_world Comments (1)

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