Thursday, July 29, 2004

travelling is fun...yet exhausting.

and HELLO! i have lots to write about b/c i've had a looong week...i don't know what you people did without my blog for a week...but no worries, i'm here to tell you all about my whirlwind week around europa! i'll break this up as easily as i can.
oh first of all, last thursday some people from the office took kat and i out for drinks, but we were supposed to meet her mom for dinner, so we downed our drinks in a very short amount of time, and were quite tipsy when we met up with her mom, who found it hilarious. we went to "thunderroad cafe" which is like..ireland's version of hard rock cafe which was really fun, then i just went home, packed and slept b/c we were leaving fairly early friday morning. so here we go then.
Friday, July 23rd: Katie, Rachel, Jess and I caught the 6:15am Aircoach to the airport, jess and i left one bag in left luggage to pick up on our way to Brussels, and we caught our 8:30a flight, the first of oh so many flights! and it was late...which we found is a trend with RyanAir, despite their slogan being :The On Time Airline...hmmm. About 2 minutes after we landed in Glasgow we had to run and catch the train going into Glasgow, which was only about a 35 minute ride (and the flight was only about 40 minutes). Glasgow was very cool, the builings were beautiful, but i kind of felt rushed the whole time i was there b/c our final destination was Edinburgh and we had our very heavy backpacks on, but we walked around and saw lots of stuff (not sure i could tell you exactly what...but we saw stuff!)...glasgow is more of an industrial city, but very nice nonetheless. and i love the scottish accent. LOVE IT! possibly more than the irish accent *gasp* there! i said it. we ate at the "BierHall Republic", where there were apparantly like 300 beers that we could order, but none of us ordered any alochol, which i believe resulted in us all waiting about an hour and a half for our food...when everybody else around us was eating away happily...grrr. Around 2 we walked to Queens St. Station and got there just in time for a train to Edinburgh, which only took an hour to get there. and there were cute little scottish kids talking in their little scottish accents on the train with us! aw! Got off at Waverley Station right in the City Centre...soooo beautiful!! so we decided to walk up to our hostel.....good feelings GONE! despite it being right off Prince St., it was a hooooooole. in a back alley, so awful. they only accepted cash as payment (what? hello mr. shady, how are ya!?), there were nooo locks on the doors, and the mattresses and sheets were grossssss. just a major creepy vibe from the entire place. none of us wanted to stay there, so we went to the Edinburgh Tourism Centre to ask for other options, but in the end we just decided to stay (long story...too long for blog.) so we bought our own damn sheets and stayed b/c the place is cheap and we're only sleeping there and it's in a really good location. And I had an awful night's was so loud and i woke up like on the hour and it gets light out at 3am so i was so confused. and people liked to do really loud and really bad karaoke in the bar beneath our hostel. lovely.
Saturday, July 24th: Up early to catch a City bus and make our way to the Brittania, which is the ship that the Queen used to travel around the world on...very interesting, with pics of the royal family and everything (william! and he has a cousin that is equally as good looking...just a thought.). we spent about 2 hours there walking around the ship, and they gave us individual little audio tour things so we learned all about it and i took lots of pictures...although it all seemed pretty exorbidant (sp?), and it does make more sense to travel by i guess that's why she doesn't use it anymore. then we caught the bus back to the city centre and made our way up to Edinburgh Castle, stopping for lunch on the way. The castle was incredible, i had no idea it was so intricate and huge! it was up on a volcano that overlooked the entire city, and admission included a little 30 minute tour, and they all wear kilts and our guide was younger and so great! he pointed out main interests in the castle and made jokes, which were perhaps made funnier by the scottish accent?! then we just walked around and saw all thedifferent things by ourselves and once again, took tons of pictures! woo! but it was absolutely frigid out, we're talkin i could see my breath kind of cold. so what could i do but buy a sweatshirt that says "edinburgh university" on it?! teehee. then jess and i went to the Camera Obscura, which was very cool! you go upstairs in this old building and they have a...not periscope..or is it periscope? i don't remember, but either way, you could see the whole city through a pinhole size thing in the roof that had a mirror on it. and if you turn the mirror you can see different parts of the city and stuff...then the rest of the building just has all optical illusions stuff you can play was cool i'm glad i went.  ummmm...then over to the hostel where we met katie and rachel and went to dinner! and when we went back to the hostel we could hear the westlife concert going on at the castle...hahaha. ah.
Sunday, July 25th: ok sunday was a big day b/c we did our mini-bus tour of scotland! but first we had to get out of the hostel. which would've been easy if there hadn't been homeless men sleeping (or passed out) in the stairway. yeah, that's right. and they had left um...other things in the stairwell also, and it was disgusting. but somehow the guy that worked in the hostel got them to leave, and we all went to meet our tour! our bus driver was in full scottish kilt gear, i love it! and he had been in the army for 18 years so he was very proud and full of scottish knowledge. he had tons of stories to tell about scotland and different areas we went to. we saw some highland cows...cutest damn cows i have ever seen in my life! they're so shaggy and cute! aww. we made our way up to loch ness, stopping for lunch and picture opportunities along the way...and unfortunately i was dissapointed with loch ness. its a pretty town and we took a pretty boat tour of the loch (didn't see nessie though..bummer.) but we paid like £6 for it and they talked maybe 4 times, so i didn't think it was worth that much. he didn't tell us nessie stories or anything...oh well, still pretty though. we passed so much stuff and i don't remember the names of it all :( oops. but we headed back to edinburgh and got back around 7p and went to eat at the hard rock in edinburgh...and we had a crazy waiter who made me order a Corona b/c everyone else ordered water (how dare he! mwaha.) so scotland was fun, i'd love to go back and stay somewhere nice and have more time to see more things.
Tuesday, July 27th: yes i realize i skipped monday, but i don't have monday in my notes from the week, therefore monday did not exist. just kidding! monday we flew into brussels but didn't get to the hotel til 430 b/c of delays and our airport was way out of the city. so we met kat at the hotel and swapped stories up til then, then we to see the Palais de Justice, Museums, Palais Royal, St. Michael's Cathedral, then stopped to eat on this cool street right near Grand's a really narrow street full of resutarants, and they all have their tables set up outside, so cute! there was also a cool little walk through near there witha  huge chocolate store...belgian chocolate.mmmmmmm. then we went to the Grand Place which was GORGEOUS!!!!!!! aaaaaaah i loved's a square with all these beautiful buildings around it...ah it was lovely. and i also saw Manneken Pis. which i the statue of a little boy peeing that is apparantly hugely famous??? weird but ok. so for real on tuesday, we took a train into luxembourg at 11am and realized that our hotel was about 20 minutes outside the main city so we just decided to wait til the evening to catch the bus there. we walked all around hte city, tiny! and we saw pretty much everything there is to see, including the Bock Casemates and we went on a tour of hte Grand Ducal Palace! beautiful yet again! ate dinner in Place D'Arms, overall it's a really cute city and full of history for such a small place. but i was so tired from walking around..and hte night before i had gotten a really bad leg cramp in my sleep, and when i woke up i could barely bad! don't know why! that never happens to me. anyway, luxembourg was fun for that day, and our hotel was lovely, OH! and we watched "the calcium kid" starring orlando good! he's so adorable! go watch it.
Wednesday, July 28th: Took the train from Lux and were back in Brussels arond 12:30p..but on the way we saw this weird accident..there was a train stopped coming hte other way, and i saw a woman lying down on the ground and they had a big gold blanket on her? i guess to keep her warm? but it was really weird and it freaked me out. we walked back to the hilton and checked back in, but this time we got to go upstairs to the diamond suite and have a private check-in...i didn't even know those existed. yay for jess's dad. and we got free drinks! so we put our stuff away in the room and jess headed off to see more museums, and kat and i headed to the EU can imagine how psyched i was to see those!!!! but it just so happends that the quickest way to the EU buildings is through the African part of Brussels...i mean there were like..neon signs in the shape of Africa and kat and i were the only non-africans in like a 6 block radius. so we felt a TAD out of place. to say the least. but we got to the EU and it was awesoome but we missed the tour by like 15 minutes which was annoying. but they had a whole information room full of brochures, which i took one of each. so i have about 15 leaflets about the EU, which i will be reading on the plane back home to educate myself on all things EU (or at least brush up my knowledge of it). then we went over to a big shopping street and i bought 2 very fun shirts from Mango! and one is kind of 80s but not in a scary way...anyway, then we met jess at Grand Place and went to dinner on that same street again, THEN...we got...BELGIAN WAFFLES!!!!! aaaaaaaah my gosh they were so delicious. then we had kind of an interesting experience b/c this guy came over and started talking to us, and he was talking to his friend in Arabic and told us he likes to watch Al-Jazeera for his news...ummm that's when the big red flag went up in my mind. and he proceeded to talk to us about how he tried to get into the states but he couldn't b/c he doesn't make enough money, but he REALLY (said emphatically by him) wants to seet he White house and the Pentagon.....scaaaryyyyyy.  oh and the most important part...he's from Morocco. MOROCCO. not to stereotype but that is quite a terrorist areaaa. then we wanted us to go get "english coffee" with him?! how bout NO. i'd rather not be drugged by you mr. moroccon man. then he tried to say he'd walk us back to the hotel and kat was like 'actually we're not even sure where it is..and we don't know the!' and the whole way back we kept checking to makes ure he didn't follow creepy.
So now we're up to TODAY! right? yes, thursday! caught our 10:50a flight back to dublin, back in the apartment around 1p, got lunch, wanted to relax but didn't. went to hand in my phone to IES, mostly b/c i needed the €35 i got back for it..yaaaaay! food for the next 2 days! and we talked to the IEs people for a while and said goodbye, and then i came back to write this monstrosity of a blog. which if you've made it this far, congrats. you are truly my friend! yay you! anywayyy i should probably pack...b/c i'm kind of leaving on and it's kat's last night so they're having a bbq over there so i have to get some stuff done before i go do that. so alright!
i'll spare you the poem b/c this is already way too long.


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