The Gift of the Gab and other Adventures
Apologizing again for such a long post, I promise after this one I will do my best not to have to smush a week and a half into one post.
After all of my adventures in Dublin, I headed off on a two day tour. Now, many of my friends know I don’t like tours and that is true — I purely went on this because it was much cheaper than trying to get around on my own. The tour got me where I wanted and for that it was worth it. So in the first day of touring we headed out to Cobh (pronounced Cove) which is a town in Cork County. Some of you may find the name sounds familiar and that is because it was the last port of call for the Titanic before it sunk. There is this whole Titanic experience you can do there and such. Afterwards we headed off to the Blarney Castle where I quickly got in line to kiss the Blarney Stone. In the process, I met some Americans from Ireland on holiday for St. Pats. I also met someone who is from Ithaca and had just graduate from SUNY Buffalo — small world, right? Nothing prepared me for kissing the stone though, the entire time I was freaking out that I was going to fall. Basically, the way it works is that you lie down and hold two iron bars while a guy holds your hips and pushes you backwards so you can kiss the bottom stone. It sounds easy, but trying to tilt your head to catch the right stone is not so easy. Anyways, I did it and I have picture proof.
After the castle we were whisked to Cork which is where I spent the night with five other members from my tour. It was a great little city and I would love to go back and spend some more time. I ended up walking around and shopping a bit before settling down at a little pizzeria for dinner. The pasta was nothing really to go home about, but the cheese garlic bread was so delicious. I would go back there again and again just for that. I liked Cork a lot and I think that has a lot to do with its architecture and having the more traditional narrow streets of Europe (unlike Dublin). The next morning we headed out to the Cliffs of Moher. I was so excited, I knew the weather wasn’t going to be great but as long as it wasn’t foggy I didn’t care.
The Cliffs were gorgeous. We had picked up some more people for the tour in Limerick and I ended up teaming up with two girls from Philly to walk around with. It worked out great because we all wanted the same types of photos and didn’t mind waiting around. I would definitely love to go back again when it was nicer just to see them in the sunlight. Either way, it was so worth it. That day I headed back for my last night in Dublin. I stayed in a completely different hostel and loved it (so if you ever head to Dublin I definitely recommend the Apache Hostel in Temple Bar). Plus you get half off at the pizza place next door which actually turned out to be pretty good.
Which brings me to my last day in Dublin (3/19) I had a bunch of errands to do like finding postage stamps and the bus that would take me to the port for the evening. However, the weather was horrid. It was like Seattle, but ten times more temperamental. So I did my errands, and then walked around trying to find somewhere dry. I stumbled upon a mall, but the great thing within the wall was I found a library. So I ended up spending a couple of hours there and when I eventually headed out again it was bright and sunny. The weather was so weird though, half the day it was sunny, the other half it was pouring and hailing. I finally got to see Grafton Street and Trinity College before heading back to grab my bag. I got on my first bus (of many) to the Dublin Port. There I got on an Irish Ferry, it’s name was Ulysses. It was huge, I wasn’t expecting it to be so big, but it transports semi trucks so it makes sense. On Ulysses I ended up chatting up an Irish woman who was sitting next to me and an Irish lad sitting a bit down from us. It was nice to pass the time talking to people. Kieran (the Irish lad) and myself ended up talking the entire trip. He was even nice enough to walk me to my bus to make sure I found it. So, I found myself on my 2nd bus headed to Manchester and then onwards to London. Now, I had left Dublin for the port at 6 pm, and I found myself in London at 8 am. I then got on the bus to Glasgow, which was supposed to be an 8 hour bus ride but turned into 10 hours due to traffic. Once I finally got to Glasgow, I hopped into the first taxi I saw and booked it to my hostel. I was so exhausted from all of the traveling.
On Saturday (3/22) I spent the day in Glasgow walking around and soaking up the city. To many (including those from the United Kingdom), Glasgow isn’t really an awe-inspiring city. That being said, it is the best shopping capital in the UK outside of London. I enjoyed my walk around though, I got to see the sites and even stumbled upon some sort of anti racism parade thing. I’m not entire sure what was going on, but it was interesting to see. But Saturday night was the real reason why I had come to Glasgow – I had tickets to see Fall Out Boy. I was so pumped. So that night I had a taxi bring me to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow which is this really new concert venue they have in Glasgow. It’s really cool from the outside. The building changes colors at night plus they must have some sort of projector set up so they can project onto the building who is playing that night. The very first thing I did when I got through the doors was get in line for merchandise. After I was the proud owner of my very own Save Rock N Roll European Tour shirt, I headed to my seat to catch the 2nd half of their first opener, New Politics. I hadn’t heard of them before (which is common of most openers). But I was very impressed, they are a great band from Europe and I would love to see them again. The other opener I wasn’t so impressed by was Pretty Reckless but everyone else seemed pretty excited. Fall Out Boy was incredible though. I really didn’t know what to expect but I was personally blown away. In my mind I much prefer going to concerts for the music than for the show (don’t get me wrong though, they do make great shows). I thought Fall Out Boy did a great job of meshing the two together.
On Sunday, I headed back to the bus station to move onwards to Edinburgh. Once I got to Edinburgh, I immediately fell in love. The city was gorgeous. It was a great combination of old and new. I dropped my stuff off at my hostel since they were willing to hold it until I could check in (I got there really early) and the women gave me a map. She also talked my ear off about some free walking tour I could go on. Now, like you all know by now, I’m not a big fan of tours. But as I was walking around the city I really wanted to know more so I decided to head to the tour meet up point. The tour guide, Colin, explained the expectations of the tour – it would be 2 hours long and at the end you could choose how much to pay him. As we walked along the city I realized I was losing track of time and really enjoying myself. Colin was great at mixing the history of the city with modern day references that would crack you up and keep you entertained. By the end of the tour I was really glad I had gone and would honestly suggest them to anyone. After the tour I walked around the city some more and headed back to my room for the night. I had quite the experience when I headed back to my hostel. I had originally made my booking for a 6 bed female dorm. I think they had mixed up my booking though because I ended up in a 10 or 12 bed mixed dorm. I mean, it was fine and I have no problem staying in a mixed dorm, it was just quite the shock when I opened the door and came face to face with an older gentleman. The next day I walked up and down the Royal Mile (which is almost exactly a mile) and also headed to one of the free museums in town. That night I headed off to the bus station yet again, for my final long bus ride. I was headed to London.
At 6 am on Monday I got into London and had no idea what to do. I knew I couldn’t go to my hostel that early in the morning so I sat in the bus station, reading a book and people watching (which is quite entertaining). Afterwards I asked several people before I finally found the underground and made it to my hostel. Again, I had made it to my hostel too early but they were more than happy to hold my bags so I could walk around. I really needed a nap though so I took a map and decided to just walk around until my room was ready. Little did I know I walked in the wrong direction than I thought I had, but I got to see Abbey Road and Abbey Road Studios because of it. It’s quite cool from the outside, people have written all over the fence that they’d been there. I even watched some people copy an “Abbey Road Picture,” on the sidewalk. After that I headed back to the apartment so I could sleep before meeting my friends boyfriend for the night. We headed out and got dinner at Yates (a classic dive type of place I was told I had to eat at before I left the UK). Afterwards we walked around Leicester Square, we ended up going to King’s Cross Station where I got to take a picture going to Platform 9 and 3/4. We also walked along the Thames and saw Big Ben. It was really nice to just have a night to walk around London. The next day I got up and headed to the London Borough Market to meet up with a friend of mine who is studying in Rome for the semester. We got brunch at the market (which was delicious) before heading to the Camden Place Market to shop and walk around. The Camden Market was cool, but definitely not as lively as I bet it is in the weekend. Afterwards, we headed off to the LONDON ZOO. I’ve actually been before, but it was really nice to be back. We literally saw the entire zoo, even though it started pouring at some point.
Afterwards, I headed back to my hostel to grab dinner before heading in for the night. The next day I woke up super late, which I know sounds nice, but I had things I wanted to get down and was crunched for time. I went to the London Borough market for lunch and got some amazing falafel. I then headed off to embankment pier so I could catch a river cruise to Greenwich for the day. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is go to Greenwich and have a foot in both the eastern and western hemisphere. I know it’s nothing life changing or anything, but it’s really nice to have been able to do it. Afterwards I had to run back to my hostel (which took like 2 hours) so that I could get changed and head out to see OneRepublic in concert. I originally was going to leave London on the 27th for Rome, but when I heard about the OneRepublic concert I called up my airlines and changed my flight so I could stay for it. I’ve seen them once before and I knew it was going to be a night to remember. It totally was. The band just has so much swagger on stage, it’s a delight to watch. Plus they ended with lose yourself on the drums and it was just a moment beyond words. Cool just doesn’t do that night justice.
On Friday morning (3/28) I headed to Heathrow to catch my plane to Roma. I couldn’t wait to be back and that’s where I am now.
Stay tuned for my next post — This is the Roman Life, 2014 Edition