Sunday, April 27

Here comes the sun

Make Today Tomorrow's Dream
Then it will be a Yesterday worth Remembering

Finally! Some nice weather, t-shirt weather, weather that I don't need a jacket to go out in. It couldn't have been a better day to go to Windsor Castle. I invited Linda (Sarah's Mum) to come with me on my adventures today, and it was nice to have someone to share the experience with! I would have to say that the highlight of the entire day came when we first arrived at Windsor with the intent of seeing the changing of the guard. We were walking up towards the castle and there were so many people lined up on the streets, and we just assumed that it was for the changing. We were wrong in that assumption, and we missed the changing of the guard, and we had no idea what we were even waiting for...but we waited. And turns out, it was so totally worth it. Here is what we saw:


That's right, it's the troops coming home!


video
It was so good I just had to take a video, because pictures are not sufficient enough to show the emotion that was there. I wish you could see the men's faces. My eyes were leaking tears as I watched these soldiers march down the street in uniform, with the band playing and flags waving. Some of them had tears of their own creeping down their cheeks as they saw the welcoming crowd. I even got to wave a flag, and I must admit that I felt supremely patriotic at that moment. I felt patriotism towards the British soldiers, and felt proud and privileged to be able to be there in that moment holding a flag welcoming home the men who had just returned from a war-torn country, who had faced battle, and some who had paid the price of freedom with their limbs, and other's with their hearts. It was a truly humbling experience, and there were a lot of people like me who could not keep their eyes dry! Linda and I both agreed that seeing the precession was the best part of the day!

Following that we walked up the hill and paid a bone-breaking 15 pounds to see the castle. For goodness sake, they charge so much for everything here! The petrol alone for the drive was 20 pounds, and the parking was 11!! Go ahead, convert that to the US Dollar...(good thing I was splitting this 2 ways or else I probably would have passed out on the pavement, hit my head, and woken up the next day in hospital with a bill and a ticket on my car) Anyways, here are some pictures from the Castle--the favourite home of the Queen.






Check out this tree!! It is a fiery red with yellow and orange to boot, it looks like it belongs in the autumn, not spring. It was my favourite piece of nature I saw there on the grounds, and they were really beautiful.



These guys march all over the grounds, and they never break pace or stop. A few times I saw some people walking absent-mindedly in the direct line of them, and one of the soldiers would shout "Make way for the Queen's Guard!" and people would scramble out of the way sometimes with only seconds to spare before the red-coats squashed them.



St. George's Cathedral, where lies the remains of King Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, as well as the late Queen Elizabeth and her Husband, along with several other important historical and royal figures. It was cool. And on a side note, I am wearing my new capris, new pink top and new tan top t-jacket, which I bought all on very good sales...and that puts a smile on my face.

It takes me a really long time to upload videos, but I have some pretty good ones from Ireland that I will try and put up here this week so you can see. Hope everyone had a good week and a good weekend! I am trying to figure out where next weeks "adventure" will take me... I am thinking Nottingham and Sherwood forest? or perhaps a day in London? I haven't been to Cardiff... if you have any suggestions or ideas shoot them my way, please. Or maybe we shall just see where the train takes me! Cheers everybody.


Thursday, April 24

Ireland

I think the best way to describe my trip is through a picture tour, so...scroll down and visit my favorite spots in Ireland!

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER






The tower overlooking the cliffs--wow.







They have these signs all over...to stop people from, you know, hurling themselves from the cliffs.

Yes, we went past that sign and stood on the edge of the world! It was great...and scary...and amazing!




Me and my friend Sarah from Australia.


Not quite sure about this one...but it shows you just how right-on-the-edge we were!

Sarah is a good photographer.

DRIVING & LITTLE COUNTRYSIDE ATTRACTIONS


This is our minibus that caught the eye of everyone we passed...I mean, how could it not? The bright green stands out for sure, and the clearly labeled "Paddywagon" with a big leprechaun head kinda makes people point and laugh at you when you are driving through town. On the upside, it was always easy to spot when it was amongst other tour buses at all the hot spots.


During the famine they made starving people build these walls of rocks just so they could have work to do to earn money.


We drove along this tiny, curvy, bumpy coastal road along the western shores of Ireland, It was a beautiful ride!


Views from the drive


We stopped at Corcomroe Abbey, which still has 12th century Spanish graffiti on the walls. Super Cool.


This is the Rock of Cashel, where supposedly St. Patrick himself was converted to Christianity in the 5th Century AD.

BLARNEY CASTLE










Going down to kiss the stone... You have to hold down and bend backwards to get to it!

Kissing the Stone! I now have the gift of the Gab. Yes. I'll talk your ear off.

The grounds of the castle, they were so beautiful!! It is so easy to see how stories of ferries and leprechauns and other mythical creatures came about when wandering in a place like this. I half expected tiny winged people to come sprouting out of the ground myself! It was magical.






Witches stone cause it looks like the face of a witch...?



The wishing steps! Make a wish while closing your eyes and walking backwards down them, and in a year your wish will come true. I'm counting down the days!

She snapped my picture right as I was saying "right, ok, I have my wish!"

Sarah walked behind me to make sure I didn't crash! And there were two other girls from Philadelphia that took pictures for us.

The tour ended on Sunday around 5:00. It was somewhat of a relief actually because our bus driver/tour guide was a little off her rocker that third day. She woke up an hour and a half late, after being out until 5:30am drinking. Everyone on the bus was sure she was still intoxicated after about the 3rd curb she hit. What can I say, she was Irish.

Sunday night was nice because i just chilled. I didn't really go out at night because as we drove back into the city our driver pointed out all the places we should really stay away from especially at night because they were a bit dodgy. And if she thought they were dodgy, I was definitely staying far, far away. Problem is that these areas were quite close to the main streets and I could see myself, while looking around, easily walking into these drug dealing zones. Besides, there comes a certain time of the night in Ireland where everyone is so drunk anyways, it's not fun anymore. So it was an early, stay in and chill night for me. It was cool though because it let me relax some of the tension that had been building in me all day riding in that bus...

Monday, I met up with Sarah to go to Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). It was probably the most worth-while thing I did while in Dublin. I learned a lot about the history of the death penalty, and a time in Ireland where people really struggled to be free. Any resistance was taken to the jail and shot or hung by public execution. People were starving so badly because of the potato famine that they would commit crimes just to be put in Kilmainham so they could get a guaranteed meal. Because no matter how bad the food was in there, it was better than having no food at all outside of it. Ok, enough with the history lesson. More pictures!


The exercise yard, where prisoners would have to walk with their heads down in a single file circle for one hour every day.


One of the prisoners painted this one the wall after they executed her husband.

After the jail, I went to Trinity College which is one of the oldest colleges in the world, and it houses the book of kells which I saw, and the long library. No photos were allowed, which is too bad because it was all pretty cool.





I did some more sight seeing/wandering later that day before heading off to the airport to catch my flight.


the Guinness Storehouse...


The Famous Temple Bar!


Of course. They had Adds like this for the black stuff everywhere!

Well, That's my trip in a nutshell! It was so much fun and I had a really great time...and I had no problem getting back into the country! woot! Look out for more exciting stuff this weekend when I take a day trip to Windsor Castle with Linda--weather permitting!

Saturday, April 19

So Far...


Ok so I have been in Ireland for about 2 days now, and I find myself with extra time to kill at a hostel in Galway and an internet connection. What better thing to do than update my blog? So I arrived in Dublin Thursday evening, it was supposed to be afternoon but my flight was delayed... so I spent precious Dublin time sitting at the airport. I spent the remainder of the evening walking around O'Connell Street, trying to find somewhere cheap to eat, and some cool sights to see. Turns out, the entire society from what I can tell is based on Guinness, Ireland's own beer. People spend money to come to Ireland and get wasted. Anyways, here are a few pictures of my first day.


Statue of O'Connell himself, at the bottom of O'Connell street.


O'Connell bridge


This monument was erected in 2000 for the millennium, it is enormous, and underneath it is buried a time capsule. It is called the "stiffy on the Liffy" by the locals. The Liffy, for those that don't know, is the river running through Dublin.


Sunset on the Liffy


Yesterday I was really looking forward to starting the tour, and seeing a bit of the country outside the beer city. Our first stop of the day was at a place called Clonmacnois, which was founded in the 6th century by St Ciaran, the monastery became a great centre of learning and many famous manuscripts were written here, including the Book of Dun Cow written in the 12th century. Amongst the many remains at Clonmacnois are two complete High Crosses plus the remains of another. It was a pretty cool place to see! Here are some pictures of it

Perhaps I shouldn't look so happy amongst gravestones...

Ruins of the monistary

We arrived in Galway around 2:00 yesterday afternoon, and basically just had the rest of the day to kill in this city. I actually think I prefer Galway to Dublin (from what I have seen so far) but only because it has quaint little shops and the buildings are colorful and cute. I appreciate cute buildings.




Well, that's all for now, maybe I will get the chance to post before I get home, but if not I will definitely put up more pictures when I get home!