Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Weekend in Ireland

On Thursday night, Nate and I and Heather and Steven
left for Ireland for the weekend.
Heather and Steven lived in Ireland last year, both studying
at a university there and they accidentally bought tickets to the show
"Dirty Dancing" a year in advance, thinking it was for the current year.
So they decided to take a trip out to their last year's home country
to visit friends and use their year old tickets.
They were kind enough to invite us along.
We flew on Ryan Air which is super super cheap,
but they get you with fees and luggage prices.
You are only allowed a small carry on item per person
and checking a bag is way pricey.
Plus, they are very strict with the size of your carry on,
and will charge you if it doesn't fit within all the limits
both weight and measurements.
So Nate and I bought these matching bags at a tourist London shop
that advertised for selling "Ryan Air Suitable" bags!
I loved how matchy matchy they were....
mine was navy and pink and Nate's was black and white.
Aren't you proud of me for only bringing that much stuff with me?
It actually wasn't that hard.
You can fit quite alot in that little bag.
The real problem will be on our
Scotland/France trip when I have to pack for about 19 days
in that one little bag!
That's going to be tough.....
We rode the Gatwick Express train to the airport
which were both fun experiences.
The train was so smooth and you could see the London lights from the window.
I felt like we were riding on the Polar Express.
The flight wasn't bad either, super short.
We sat next to a guy from Dublin who flies back and forth to London for work.
But before we got on the plane, we stopped at Nate's favorite restaurant...
McDonald's!
It was conveniently in the airport,
and was staring us down while we were waiting.
I got a Smarties and Cadbury Crunchie McFlurry.
The ice cream is really all I care for at McDonald's.
Yum!
As soon as I got off the airplane, I realized that all the signs
were written in two languages.
English and Irish!
I didn't realize that there was an Irish language!
Only a small part of the people actually speak Irish on a daily basis still,
but it is required for all children to learn it in school.
When the British were attempting to take over Ireland,
the Irish people were band from speaking Irish, so it is now a lost language.
Reminds me of the Hawaiian language.
Heather studied Irish Studies last year and was our personal tour guide
for the weekend and was able to explain lots of Irish culture and history to us.
We stayed at Heather and Steven's friends house.
Crystal, Hue, Jade, and Lilly were great hosts,
and very fun to get to know.
I taught Steven how to play Speed Scrabble
while Jade sat and "built words" with the tiles
and then would ask, "What does this say? Is this a word?"
She was happy when she finally spelled a "real word,"
which was "Now."
Crystal also made us some traditional Irish food which was fun to try!
Our first morning she made an Irish breakfast
which is similar to the traditional English breakfast.
It includes:
sunny side up eggs, dense wheat/rye bread, sausage,
rashers (which is similar to bacon but more like strips of ham),
OJ, grilled tomatoes, and drum roll please....
white pudding and black pudding.
What is that you ask?
Well, it is not "pudding."
You should look it up.
Or maybe you shouldn't, because then you probably would never try it!
Thanks Steven for saving me.....
Crystal also made us Irish Stew, Irish Soda Bread,
apple and blackberry pie with custard around it,
(European Custard is really really good)
and gourmet mint hot chocolate.
It was probably the best hot chocolate I have ever had.
Serious.
The secret? Sweetened condensed milk.
She said that Irish people always drink either coffee or tea with their desserts
so since we don't drink that, she made us some hot coca instead.
I didn't think I would really LOVE Irish stew that much
because it has lamb in it and that isn't my meat of choice,
but it actually was really yummy.
The Irish soda bread was good too.
She got the recipe from an Irish cookbook that she has.
Before you bake it, it says to cut it down the middle both ways,
so you can, "let the fairies out."
I think I will start a tradition of making Irish Stew and Irish Soda Bread
every year for St. Patrick's Day.
After we landed in Ireland,
we rented a car so we could have our freedom of driving where we wanted.
This was a good idea and all,
except for the part of Heather and I both feeling completely car sick.
The roads are so windy and we were in the car for a while.
Good thing neither of us threw up! :)
On our drive,
we ran into this old castle and stopped to check it out.
First off, there are castles EVERYWHERE in Ireland.
Heather said that there used to be tons of kings here
for every county.
And their castles are still partially standing.
It made me wish that we could go back in time
and see who used to live there.
So interesting!
Such an old building.
I am sure they were watching us from the grave trampling
all over their property!
The back side of the castle.
It had a cute little path around the whole castle that we explored around.
A view from the back of the castle.
Speaking of castles....here is another one that was in Dublin.
Rock Walls.
In most of these pics I look so out of it.
Partially because I was freezing the entire time.
January is probably not the best month to visit Ireland
because it is already a cold country,
and the January weather doesn't help much.
It is much colder than London by far.
Weird, since they are so close together.
But anyway....back to rock walls...
they are everywhere in Ireland.
I don't think I saw a single wooden fence,
but instead they just build rock walls.
Heather said that she asked one time how they move the
animals from pasture to pasture without a fence door
to open up and let them through,
and they said that they just tear down part of the rock wall
let the animals through,
and then rebuild it.
And speaking of animals,
there are alot of sheep in Ireland.
There are some rock walls that have absolutely no purpose
and that lead to no where.
These are historical rock walls.
They were built by Irish people in return for their food long ago.
The British made them work for their food,
so they had them build pointless rock walls everywhere
just so they are working.

One night we went to Galway which is on the west side of Ireland.
It was a cute little quaint town.
We walked down a fun little narrow street with shops.
We got some Butler's chocolates, Heather's favorites,
and they were very good.
I also found a really cute green scarf that has clovers on it.
I can't wait to wear a real Irish scarf on St. Patrick's Day!
On Saturday we headed over to Dublin.
In the morning we went to the Prison there and took a tour.
It was interesting to hear about all the sad things that happened there.

Heather, Me, and Nate standing solemnly by the prison doors.

Me, inside one of the prison rooms while
Nate takes my picture through the peep hole.
All these doors are prison doors.
I thought this little bridge was kind of cute.
Steven and Heather showed us around
their campus from last year
and I was blown away by how gorgeous it was!
It was so old and majestic looking,
like an old castle/church.
It had this cool door on it that opens with a
smaller door in the middle of the big door,
just like at the Tower of London.
What a fun place for them to have gone to school!
We went to church on Sunday and it was fun hearing all the Irish accents during the talks and lessons. It was another testimony building experience for me that the church is the same no matter where you go in the world. Whether we are in Hawaii, Idaho, Utah, London, or Ireland, it is the same doctrine and same teachings. I will never have to go "church shopping" whenever we move to a new place. Everyone there was so friendly and sweet and so Irish! Before church, Heather and I made crepes for us and Crystal's family. After trying several different pans and griddles, oils and sprays, we finally got them to look somewhat decent. Crepes are so heavenly when put with mascarpone filling, nutella, bananas, and whip cream.
One funny thing, when we were at Tesco shopping for our crepes breakfast items, we were buying other food items for breakfasts and snacks. I picked out a bag of oranges for us to all share. I thought I was getting a steal deal because this bag of oranges was way cheaper than all the other bags for the amount that you were getting. I grabbed it, we bought it, and went home. When we were unloading all the groceries, Nate saw that the tag said marmalade oranges. I was thinking that it didn't matter and that we could just eat them anyway. But then right on the tag, it says, "Not suitable for eating raw." Who has ever heard of a bag of oranges that you can't just open up, peel, and eat? So yes, another Tesco trip was scheduled into our weekend.
Crystal's house was pretty freezing because it is super old and doesn't have good ventiliation. So the first night, I was freezing to death the entire night. I woke up several times and was freezing. So the next night, Crystal offered me to use one of their hot watter bottles and I accepted. After that night, I was hooked. It was so warm and comforting and brought me back to my rice bag days. :) (Nate hates my rice bags because he thinks they smell weird, so I don't use them much anymore.) I slept so good that night! So the rest of the nights, and even on Sunday during the day, I was carrying around that stupid little hot water bottle! It was like it was my blankey or my teddy bear that I couldn't be separated from. :) I think I need to get myself one of these...
I think I want to go back to Ireland again sometime but in a better month like May or June. It is so green there, even in January! I can't imagine how green it would be later on in the year. They call it the Emerald Isle for a reason. There are so many cute bed and breakfasts and quaint little towns. I think Ireland would be a great place to visit when you just need to slow down a bit and get out of the city. It would be fun to stay in a B&B and relax, while watching the sheep out of the window. It was nice to breathe in some fresh air, instead of the smokey London air that we breathe in all the time. Ireland is definitly much cleaner than where we live now. :)

2 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for the pics of your trip. Like I've said before, living vicariously through you!!!

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  2. Soooooo fun!!!!!! When you get a chance, call me so I can hear more about it!

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