Saturday, January 29, 2011

Another hike, and...Dublin

Ellen, with her usual expression:

(much more interesting graffiti in European cities it seems.. at least, I like this kind more):

(this one below is an art gallery that we went to as part of the faculty-led tour, but it was in the process of being put up; but we still got to see it, which was pretty neato. There were a few pieces by a faculty who sometimes taught at the Burren College of Art, and whom I had met briefly the other day):

**See ALL photos on my flickr, at this link:

I don't think I like taking a ton of time to reflect, at least not so soon, on the events and things I'm seeing and experiencing. Or maybe it's just writing about them...sometimes when I write about stuff, I end up going on and on and I analyze things and add little comments that I just thought of at the moment, and somehow the quality or just memory of the original event gets forgotten.

But, I'll try to remember stuff here.

A few days ago, I went on a hike/climb with my friend Cameron. It was originally going to be a hike by myself, but I decided to bring along someone, just to be more social (I try, maybe not quite enough, to make this a consistent goal, especially here, to reach out of my introverted-shell tendencies). It was a very good climb up the nearby hill (a giant hill, with many points of climbing), and we talked about a lot of interesting and meaningful things. We saw a parent-goat and its baby, and also a jack-rabbit or hare running very fast. Also a few cows and a bull. Here is a video of the parent-goat and its baby:

On Thursday, our entire undergraduate class, plus a few graduates and Post-Bac's, went to Dublin. We left at about 7:10 am, and arrived around 10:30 am. We went on tours until about 5:30, and then we had the night to ourselves. The hostel was very nice, and the school paid for all of it (except for things like towel rental or storage rental); it was 30 euro per person, they said, which sounds pretty expensive. And it was very nice; there wasn't a ton of space (expected), but I had good roommates (classmates), and there was a common room where anyone could go to sit on couches and watch TV. Some of our group talked to people we did not know, some of whom were from Brazil. There was also a nice kitchen, which people gathered in and had breakfast and talked in on Friday morning. Oh, and one time, my roommates and I all were out eating, and returned to our locked hostel room to find the shower on. We're thinking it was a ghost. One of my roommates thought it was cool, and so we exchanged high-fives.

Anyway, back to the topic of Dublin... I think I felt more connected to the rest of the world, or at least the rest of Europe, just being in Dublin. We got to tour some art museums, which were alright, but I really enjoyed the Natural History museum. I mean, I'm not a huge history buff (and actually I'm not a huge fan of art museums either...the re-created Francis Bacon studio was cool though, and the facts about him, and the studio when it was originally found, were cool)...but, anyway, the natural history museum had bodies that were found in bogs, which were fairly unsettling, but very interesting to be so close to. In other wings of the museum, there were tons and tons of Egyptian artifacts, and Viking artifacts (swords, skulls); I didn't have enough time to stop and enjoy all of it, but I tried to soak in as much as I could. Oh, and in one of the first museums we went to, there were some neato watercolor paintings by someone with the last name of Turner; very very very tiny lockets with portraits in them, and then some amazing (but still fairly small) watercolor paintings of landscapes (apparently they only show these particular pieces one month of the year?).

The other major thing I went and saw in Dublin was the Book of Kells, at Trinity College. I almost didn't go in, because I wasn't sure how interested I was in something having to do with religion. Anyway, it was definitely a very well put together exhibit, with lots of interesting facts in big text on the walls, and zoomed in and highlighted parts of it, before you actually get to the room with the book itself. It was pretty amazing to just stare at the page spread they had open (actually there are a few books; they turn one page a day). So much detail, very hard to believe how they made it.

The first night, Thursday, I hung out with some friends/classmates and went to a vegan restaurant (even thought none of us in the group were vegan, we had planned to meet friends there, but we were late, but still decided to try it out). Had a couple pita wraps and a treat (some kind of thing like banana bread but with hazelnuts in it). Very enjoyable time.

Some of our group then chose to walk around the city until we found a good pub (one of the group used his inner compass to find the way). After about 1.5 hours of of walking, we somehow made it back to the Temple Bar district (where our hostel was), and settled into a very nice pub, with candle lighting on most of the tables. It was very satisfying to finally sit down, after walking around so much; felt like we accomplished something I guess. I had a bottle of original Bulmer's apple cider, which I think is my drink of choice for now (don't really like the Whiskey and Coca-cola, or Guinness, that I've tried so far at other places). It was real nice and felt great just sitting and listening to the music (there was actually a DJ, playing mostly older tunes, mostly 60s, some Elvis, some Simon & Garfunkel). Good conversation and smiles and laughs and stuff.

On Friday, we again did a few tours led by faculty who had come with, and then after 1:45 pm, had the afternoon free. I hung out with a few classmates & my brother for an hour or so, and we found a surprisingly cheap but fancy restaurant to get some food at. It was literally fine dining-style, and everyone eating there seemed to be all dressed up. But I managed to get a very, very good panini with chicken and pesto for 7.50 euros. Really good and funny people as my company.

After that, some people split up, and Dylan and I went off in search of an antique store we had noticed while wondering around the previous night (but it had been closed). We eventually found it, after much walking, and it was alright, though everything was too expensive for us to buy. Had a nice conversation with the owner, then left and headed back to the hostel. Not much else happened, except that they played Happy Gilmore on the bus, on this tv screen in the front, and speakers throughout the bus (the coach/bus we usually ride to places is really fancy). I watched some of it, and it was alright. I think I fell asleep eventually.

Tonight, I hung out with some peeps at a house in town, watched a little Harry Potter, and had a home-made meal with pasta and veggies, which was very good (and healthy!). Then I went to a party out in the countryside a little ways, which was small but seemed nice enough; people sitting around a campfire, people doing a little dancing inside, some spinny colored lights, and some karaoke. There was this really cool thing that I have never seen before that they did, which was: they had this thing that looked like a small hot-air balloon, and lit a little fire on this thing on the bottom of it, and it slowly rose up from the ground and lifted off into the sky, far and away, until we could no longer see it. Pretty neat!

And now I'm at home and typing this blog post. Will go to sleep very soon. Some more video, and some pictures are included in this post, either at the top or bottom (still not sure how to arrange the images). Have a good night everyone.

Just walking around (definitely not lost):

A homeless man writing poetry on the sidewalk:

A guy doing some small sand sculptures, and a guy playing violin:

The river that runs through Dublin (a good landmark when you are lost):

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