Christmas time is coming!!!

I'm so excited! Killarney is so beautiful this time of the year, I knew when I was planning my trip that I would enjoy Fall and Winter most here and I was correct. It snowed last night! Our first snow of the season! I stood outside for ages watching the huge fluffy flakes fall gently onto the branches of the trees, and onto the grass. I awoke to the snow; thankfully it didn't burn off until much later in the day, and even then it didn't burn off completely. Every weekend until Christmas, town centre has booths set up in the street where merchants sell everything from hand painted ornaments (which I purchased of course!), to scarves and jewelry, to food and warm mulled wine! They set up speakers down every street in town which play Christmas carols so you can hear them no matter where you are. Add to that the garlands and lights draped all along the streets and the beautiful window displays and you have the most festive and happy atmosphere I've experienced in some time. It's amazing! It is quite chilly out, so everyone is bundled in thick coats, gloves, and hats, and you can see each breath in the chilly air. What I find most entertaining is to watch how inventive parents get trying to keep their kids warm, it's hysterical!

Dublin was very nice! I really enjoyed my Thanksgiving there. The streets in the part of town I stayed in were all festively decorated and cute, even if they were extremely convoluted and confusing to manuevor (although I must add that by the second day I did considerably well navigating--I'm quite proud of this fact!). I visited the Natural History museum and it was fascinating!!! I stayed there until closing; it was so interesting to learn about Viking Ireland and see all the work of goldsmiths from so long ago. Quite impressive. Their Egyptian section was small, but put ours in America to shame! The artifacts they had displayed were things that we normally only see pictures of, even within exhibits. They even had two female mummies and a mummified cat, plus x-rays showing the skeletal structures of each.

I visited the Guinness Storehouse on Thanksgiving and I was incredibly impressed. I wasn't expecting the building to be as interesting as it was, nor did I expect to enjoy touring it as much as I did. I learned quite a bit, and got a complimentary pint of Guinness in the room at the top of the building which is round and offers a 360 degree view of the city from high above. Best foam EVEEEER! :D

Finally, I visited the Book of Kells and the library in Trinity college. I cannot possibly stress to you how much I was touched by the library. It's a miraculous thing....it almost felt as if the air had weight to it, surrounded by such old texts. Almost like I had entered into some sacred place where voices must be lowered in respect for an unspoken, and undetectable force. I spent ages in that library. It was funny; in some ways I ached to touch and look at all of those books on their shelves, and in others I was terrified to get near them. So peculiar. Oh! I also learned how leather books are made and bound, it was fascinating!!!! I actually have been thinking about doing it myself at some point. I think I would really enjoy such work...a new hobby perhaps? I think I should get a spinning wheel first, then we'll see. :)
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Well hello everyone! I know, it's been ages since I last posted. My apologies!

A lot has happened recently...I decided what I want to do when I get back in the states! I'm going to go to Seattle Central community college, and then I hope to transfer to the University of Washington when I can. I'll be starting on January 4, the beginning of the Winter term. I'm actually really excited about this. I can't wait to go to school again, and having a job wouldn't be so bad either, that's for sure! I'm hoping that I will be able to get a job fairly easily once in Seattle. We'll see how this all works out though. I'm hoping there won't be any huge snags.....

Other than that, I'm off to Dublin this Tuesday. I wasn't really planning on going to Dublin, I didn't see the appeal when I could see the small coastal towns all up the west and south, but Mom told me the museums there are phenomenal so my mind's made up. :) Dublin here I come.

I finished my first knitting project in Ireland. Woot woot. It's a hat, small surprise there, but it's been so bloody cold I've been thinking three things with my knitting: hats, gloves, and socks. The important things you know.

Other than that, not much has been going on. Talking with friends, staying around town....that's about it. I did hurt my back somehow though, about a week ago and it isn't getting better. It's getting worse in fact. It's so odd. It feels like a similar joint pain as I have in my hips, only at the base of my spine. It started with the pain you get when you really need someone to crack your back and graduated from there. Oh well, enough whining for me, hopefully it clears up soon.

I'll be taking my camera with me when I go to Dublin, so you'll get pictures then. :)
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10/23/2010

I know, I'm wildly behind on my poor neglected blog, but I've been busy!

My trip to Galway was wonderful! I saw the Cliffs of Moher:


Kylemore House, Abbey and Gardens:

Lots of beautiful, authentic thatched roof cottages:

Burren:

Ailwee caves, Connemara, and a few other awesome sites. It was great! Galway city itself was okay, a bit too college-y for me. Bigger than Killarney, but I still like Killarney better. I chose well when I picked the town I wanted to live in. One of the things I wanted to see most when I was planning my trip to Ireland were the Cliffs of Moher, so I'm very excited that I was able to see them. I stayed in my first hostel in Galway too. It was great, I met a couple of really cool people, and went on tours with two of them. The hostels have a great atmosphere. It's very easy to connect with other travelers.

Since then, I've been hanging out in Killarney. It's been wonderful! I've been doing a lot of hiking, and a lot of reading. The weather is finally changing too! It has been so sunny and warm, apparently I happened to come on a year with a very abnormal September and October. Usually I would have had constant rain, but within the past few days we've starting to get great windy rainy weather! Yay!!!! On that note, I made my first turf (peat) fire and it was a great success! (I'm wayyyyyy too proud of this fact, it's true.) It's funny because Jer (one of my housemates) always makes the fire if one of us lovely ladies are at home, but he's up the coast for a week with Norma. In the past Kate and Norma have tried to make fires and they never got warm, or lasted. We figured it needed a man's touch. Not so! I rocked that fire!!!! Lol. Like I said, way too proud of it. Maybe it's genetic? Or maybe I'm just a pyro, who knows. Haha. I should have taken a picture of it but didn't think of it until the fire was just embers.

I heard the best Irish band I've had the pleasure of watching since getting here; in Courtney's two nights ago. Oh my god, they totally had everyone going! Irish music is so catchy and fun. It's infectious. I actually bought one of their CDs. The band's called The Side Over, and the two main guys are Jeremy Spencer (fiddle) and Sean Leahy (guitar). They've been playing together for eight years and it shows, they mesh their instruments in a way that is just phenomenal. They also had a banjo player, who's been playing with them for about a year now. What a seriously good night. :)

Mom's coming to visit me November 5th through the 14th! I'm very excited, I can't wait to show her all of the great places I've found. This will be fantastic! Yay!!! I'm just glad that it is going to work out as we didn't think she'd be able to.

Oh, and because I'm weird and I think food is very important, I had the BEST tiramisu I have ever had last night. Oh my god, it was...wow. Should have taken a picture of that too! Geez, I'm a picture and blog slacker. Shame on me. :)
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10/6/2010--Galway Update

I don't have much to say at the moment as I'm staying in a hostel in Galway, and have been since Monday, but I will give everyone great stories and details when I get home tomorrow. I took lots of pictures, saw the Cliffs of Moher, Kylemore Abbey, and a plethora of other sights. I also met a ton of fun people! Just wanted to give you a quick update!!!
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9/30/2010

Today I chose to explore on foot, so I walked to the town gardens, which are fenced off by a huge, sprawling stone wall. It was a beautiful walk that took me into the national forest and followed this small creek. It was amazing!!!! The trees have started to change color, so there were fallen orange and brown leaves littering the forest floor. They contrast so well with the European forest canopy which is so different from American forests, at least on the West coast. There are a few pines, but they definitely do not dominate the landscape. It's mostly broad leafed deciduous trees with pale green leaves. I'm not sure what kind they are, I've been asking around with little success.

I had no idea where the trail went, but soon found myself on the shore of Lough Leane, one of Killarney's lakes. It was poetic in its beauty! The clouds were hanging low, obscuring the mountains so only the bases could be seen jutting out into the lake. The fog added that noiseless quality to the air and muffled even the sound of the trees blowing in the breeze. Swans drifted on the surface of the lake, ethereal, seeming to float over the water; small ripples in the calm lake passing unheeded by. Small groupings of rocks protruded out of the water, joining their plentiful island kin. The atmosphere of this magical place was so all consuming that when the occasional person passed by, it came as a bit of a shock, as if you forgot momentarily that others existed at all. As I followed the path along the shore of Lough Leane, the top of Ross castle came into view above the tree line. It was so mythical! Like nothing I've ever experienced, it was almost as if I had walked in to the realm of fairy tales and they had become my new reality. You hear people speak of Ireland in all of it's beauty, but there is no way to fully appreciate it until you have stood on these magical banks yourself and seen these scenes unfold before you. It must also be noted that the pace of life here in Ireland is so much more casual and laid back, people take their time, and enjoy the beauty surrounding them; which adds to this feeling of timelessness that you feel. It is humbling and so serene. It literally fills you with such a deep sense of contentment, like time has stopped.
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9/28/2010--Ring of Kerry

I took a bus tour of the Ring of Kerry today. The Ring is a huge tourist attraction here in Killarney, it draws a lot of people in. Honestly though I wasn't as impressed with it as I was by Dingle. Dingle just blew me away; I could see myself living in Dingle, it was just--me. Don't get me wrong, the Ring was lovely, I'm just saying I was a little disappointed by it.

It was a bright and sunny day, although it did rain a bit in the morning (and I of course chose today to NOT have my umbrella with me after carting it all over for the past few weeks and not needing it). One reason I did enjoyed this tour is I sat next to this man (also traveling alone) and I learned quite a few things from him. He's been traveling all over the world for over 25 years and he had some great advice and some wonderful stories and experiences. I definitely have a growing list of places I want to see, that's for sure! So anyways, all of the tours stop for lunch and I sat with him and chatted. The rest of the tour was pretty bland. The guide was not nearly as chatty as the guide I had for Dingle and therefore, much of the trip was spent in silence. The tour takes you to the top of the mountains, so the scenery was fairly boring and brown, although we did pass through some forest land and a couple of waterfalls.

The image above was taken at Ladies' View, as was the picture of me. It's named Ladies' View after Queen Victoria visited.

I did see a sheep dog demonstration however that greatly impressed me. This man trains his dogs and has four at the moment. When he herds the sheep, he said he will normally bring three or four sheep dogs along. It was incredible! Each dog has a different set of whistle and voice commands depending on how far away they are, and they all know four directions: left, right, forward, and back. The control he has really just blew me away. All of the sheep were on the hillside above us when he started the show, in the right hand corner. He told us he was going to have the dog drive them to the left corner, take them back to the right, then drive them down the hill. Using just a whistle he did just that in no time at all! To top it off, the dogs only respond to their own set of calls--he can be talking normally and in the same tone without faltering he can add in a command and the dog will do it. Incredible. The dogs lay down when not driving the sheep somewhere so the sheep can be at ease, and the way he coordinates the direction and resting of each dog was damn near poetic. I'm glad I watched the show, I almost didn't because I figured it would just be a stupid tourist trap of a show, but thankfully I enjoyed it.

Oh, and in relation to the sheep herding demonstration, another woman from my bus was standing next to me while we waited for the show to start. It was raining at the time, and this one sheep kind of sidled up to us before shaking off and covering us in rain water. We looked at each other and laughed, and what else could we do really? We spent the rest of the day smelling like wet sheep. Only in Ireland! :D

Another random thing; I used one of those toilets with the pulley the other day! You know the old fashioned ones where the rope hangs down from either the wall or the ceiling, and it has the tassel on the end? Yep, I've used one. I thought that was so kick ass!
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9/27/2010--Dingle Peninsula

6:06 AM by silverstag21 0 comments
Today I took a bus tour of Dingle Peninsula and I can't even tell you how beautiful it was. Picture Ireland: that's pretty much Dingle. It was so green! There was the sprawling farm land divided by rock barriers, cliffs, mountains (hills really), small towns and villages....I could go on. It was captivating. The weather was perfect for a tour too. I personally would rather it be overcast because it adds to the feel of the land and amplifies the beautiful green. I took a tour of the Ring of Kerry on a bright blue day, and to be honest it detracted from my enjoyment of the tour. So I was very happy that my tour of Dingle was accompanied by a cloudy day.
The sheep were everywhere! It was so perfect! What I found interesting is the number of variations in the sheep. In America, if you do see sheep, they all look exactly the same--not here. It's kind of neat.

There were these forts called "lios" forts, pronounced "lis" all over! They are mere rings in the earth, but slightly raised. Some had trees around them. You can read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_fort, but basically families used to dig out these structures underground so they would have a place to go if they felt threatened. The forts almost always had tunnels leading away from the fort for easy escape, and most were placed in the center of farmland; so we can see that the people that used them were farmers. Also, they were all positioned toward the base of the hills and mountains for added protection. What I think is interesting is that none of the farmers throughout history have demolished the lios, despite the fact that they could gain a lot of farm-able land. It was considered bad luck, as the people who built the forts supposedly buried their dead in there as well, and to disrupt the dead is to anger the spirits. People are pretty superstitions here (at least the older people are) and it is not uncommon for someone to raise their hat every time they pass a lios, or refuse to pass one once it is dark out. The lios are also thought to be faery rings by some; adding to the lore and superstitions.
The above photo is of Gallarus oratory. It was built around the 7th or 8th century and it is the only perfect example of a rectangular-built oratory remaining. It was brilliantly built--there is an outward inclination to all of the stones to deflect rain water away from the inside; so it didn't leak even when wind blew the rain at an angle. There are only two openings in the structure, the door and a small window in the rear wall. Even the window is angled so as to avoid water getting inside. There has been no repair work on it--everything is how it was when it was built. The ceiling is starting to sag in on the right side, but they are waiting until it is absolutely necessary before they do any restoration work. To anyone who's seen the movie "Ryan's Daughter," three or four of the scenes were filmed in Dingle. Our bus driver pointed them out, but as I've never seem the movie the references were lost on me. Oh, and I feel I should mention that people here don't call them movies, they call them films and with their accents it sounds like they're saying "fill-ims." I get a kick out of that.
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9/25/2010--Tattoo!

I got my tattoo!!! I'm very excited, I love it!!!!! It took just under four hours, and was done by Eoin Oriain at Pachamama Tattoo Studio in Killarney Ireland. He thought it would take two, maybe two and a half hours tops, so by the time we finished it was 7 PM, and we were the last ones there. Earlier Eoin, Ozzy, and Vinny (the three tattoo artists at that shop) had been planning their night as it was Arthur's Day, and asked me if I wanted to come along. So, after the tattoo, we all went out and a few other people joined us, it was great!!! So much fun!

Other than that, not much has been happening. I've been sick, so I took yesterday as a rest day. I'm glad I did too.

Anyway, just a quick little update.
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9/22/2010--Muckross House and Torc Waterfalls


Today opened with pouring down rain. It was lovely to hear as I got out of bed and got ready to go exploring. I love the rain! Thankfully though, the rain stopped by the time I actually was ready to go.


First I made my way to Muckross House and bought a ticket for the next tour, at 1:40. I had a while to spare before it started, so I wandered around the grounds and looked at the gardens. The green house was amazing! Vast rolling lawns, perfectly mowed....made me think they have to start on one end, and by the time they finished they'd have to start mowing all over again. For the record, I didn't notice any sprinkler heads. Haha, guess they don't need them.



The tour was great! It was pretty lengthy too, lasted for over an hour. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert visited the house and stayed for a few days. After they visited, tourism to Killarney greatly increased. The furniture pieces were simply breathtaking, and the library was....out of this world. All those books! Originals to the house; they had everything! Novels, encyclopedias, record books from Dublin. Simply amazing. I wanted to look inside them sooo bad, too bad I couldn't. :)


After the tour I walked to Torc waterfalls. They were gorgeous, not huge, but gorgeous. So serene....At this point I could see the rain clouds moving in over the lake and I was exhausted anyways, as I'd been walking all day, so I started on my way home.



On a side note, when I was on one of the remote roads to Torc waterfalls, the Google maps car drove past me!!!! How funny right? What are the chances!



That's basically what I did today, a lot of it was spent walking.
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9/21/2010 Part II

Hmmmm, today was a bit disappointing. On a good note, I stopped by the tourist office, so I have plans for what I'm going to do next. Tomorrow I'm going to get started early and tour Muckross House, Muckross Abbey, and if I'm lucky Torc falls. Then I'm going to drop by my tattoo artist to see if my drawing is complete. If it is and I okay it, I'll set up an appointment to actually get it done. Once I have that date set, I'll know when I'm going to head up the coast. I'm going to take a bus tour up the coast to Dingle. I have to decide if I want to make that a multi-day tour, or if I'm going to stick with the rest of the tour and just do the day trip. If I chose to split up the trip, I will head up to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher another time and stay in hostels for a few nights.

Now to the not so good news. I dropped by the immigration office today, and apparently what the Irish embassy in San Francisco told me isn't true. They said that I should just check in at the local police department as soon as I get here and I would be able to stay here, no problem. Not so.

I will be coming home on December 10th, which is my ticket date because apparently I can't stay longer than that; and there's no way around it--simple as that. Then I have to stay in the U.S. for another 90 days, at which point I'm free to come back here for another 90, and so on. If I want to work here, I have to go home, wait the 90 days, pay around $400 to the American government for a work permit, and then I can stay in Ireland for a year but no longer. Which sucks. As much as I want to see all of you again, I was really looking forward to staying here for longer, and I'm pretty pissed that the embassy didn't tell me this over six months ago when I both emailed them and called. Very very frustrated.

No matter though, it is what it is--I'll just have to enjoy my time while I'm here. Still very disappointed though....
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9/21/2010

3:35 AM by silverstag21 0 comments
So, I don't think I mentioned this previously, but I think I might pick up a bit of an Irish accent afterall!!! I said "craic" a few days ago, it's pronounced like "crack" and means fun in Gaelic. That would be so awesome if I do pick one up!

This may seem a bit random, but if you think I'm tall in America, I seem much taller here. Especially compared to the women, everyone I've been hanging out with has been shorter by at least 6"? They had heels on too. The men are short as well. Besides a surprising number of men that are literally over 7'. I think I've seen 3 men that tall? That's more than in America--and yes I'm sure it wasn't the same guy three different places.

On a side note, I was surprised that very few people have red hair. Almost no adults (who could quite possibly be dying it, who knows) and a few children. It's just funny to me that it's only kids with the red hair! Just interesting.

It's funny to me, every now and then something will trigger a memory and I get this weird deja vu-like feeling--but I feel like I'm in a Potter book! Hahahaha, I get a kick out of that every time it happens. I do believe I mentioned buying the European version of Deathly Hallows, and I've been reading it because this deja vu feeling gave me the biggest urge to reread it. And come now, how awesome is it to read Harry Potter in IRELAND? I'm loving it, that's for sure. :)

I found out the minimum wage in Ireland is 8.65 euros; which amounts to $11.36! Crazy, right?! So I'm thinking that I should work before I go home, because I'll be making more than if I went back home and worked for the same amount of time. We'll see. I have had three or four job offers while I've been here, which is fantastic!

Today I plan on running by the police station so I can start the process if I do decide to stay in Ireland longer, and find out how to get a work visa. Then after that I plan on running by the tourist center to find out tours that I can take up Dingle and Cliffs of Moher, so I can start to plan that particular trip out. I'll probably stay in hostels when I do that. Woot. I bet that will be awesome, just spend a few days exploring up the coast.
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9/20/2010

Today was a pretty boring day, not much happened. I'm thinking of going to Dingle, and perhaps the Cliffs of Moher late this week, or maybe early next week some time. Should be fun!!!!

I stopped by to see my tattoo artist today! I absolutely LOVE the sketch he came up with, it's exactly what I wanted. So excited! He has to make a few small adjustments, and then he'll have the drawing ready for me by late Wednesday, or Thursday sometime. Yay!!!!! Oh, and his name sounds like "Owen" but it's actually spelled Eoin. Just something I thought was cool. :) Anyways, that should be good. He got what I wanted perfectly. Woot woot!

The only other thing that I really did, besides read, was go grocery shopping. Not that exciting, like I said. Hah.

Just a quick update today. Hopefully I have more to say tomorrow.
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9/19/2010--Gaelic Football Final!

6:01 AM by silverstag21 0 comments
I had so much fun today!!!! The Gaelic football final was today!!! County Cork versus county Down. It's an all-Ireland game, where all of the counties have a team and they play it out until the finals where one county gets the cup. It's EPIC! Cork hadn't won in twenty years, until tonight!!!! We left for the pub at about 2:45 (the match started at 3:30) because we wanted to make sure we got seats, and ummmm...prepared. Finbarr is from Cork, so he's been talking about this match since long before I got here a week ago. The actual match was so interesting, I totally got into it. For the first half, Cork was not playing well at all, it was so frustrating! They were sloppy, and were down by two I think by the end of the first half. Thank god they came back for the second half and were on FIRE! They finally won by two points, and the match was extended by another two minutes or so. Well played altogether though, I enjoyed it immensely. After that we celebrated, of course. We had to go home early though because two of my housemates had work at 9 this morning, so we were home by 11:30 or so. A great day, if slightly unproductive. :)
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9/18/2010

Wow, today was pretty freakin' spectacular. I decided that I would take the day slow and relax to give my body a break as I have been walking all over the place and I was getting stiff. I started my morning by getting all my laundry done and hanging it up (we don't use the dryer to conserve energy), then walked into town. Yesterday, while in town, I noticed a tattoo parlor but they were closed; so I wanted to stop in and talk to the guys. The guy at the desk paired me with Owen, who is best at color work. I talked to him and looked at his portfolio, and I really really like him! I feel very comfortable with him, he's a nice guy. I ran home, got my computer, and ran back so I could show him pictures of the clovers I want, and he's going to have the drawing ready on either Monday or Tuesday! Not only that, but he's also available to start next week! Wooooo! So excited to see what he comes up with. Hopefully everything goes well and I'll have my first tattoo within the next week or two.

After that I went into my little cafe. They were ridiculously busy! When the lady got a free minute she came over to talk to me and she wanted to know if I had a job lined up for my time here, and when I said no, she said she'd put in a good word for me if I did decide I wanted to get a job! I didn't even ask, I thought that was super nice! While I was there I finished the book I've been reading (The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane) and it was fantastic! I loved it!

When I got home, Finbarr was here with his girlfriend, so I sat and talked with her for a while, while we waited for the rugby match to start. I've decided that I really like rugby, it looks like sooooo much fun!

Okay, now here's the point where those who are faint of heart should stop reading! (Yeah, like that ever works. Hah!).....

I was watching the rugby match with Finbarr and Nicola when Kate came downstairs asking if I wanted to go out with her and a few friends, and to be honest, I'd already had a few. Hah, so I met Kate's sister Illeen, and we went into town. Soooooo much fun!!! We hit basically every bar except for two (i.e. 6? 7?) Met lots of fun people, had some interesting encounters...like the guy that followed the three of us for the last 4 bars or so and kept trying to hug us or dance with us. Yeaaaaah, he came up to us as we were leaving and gave all of us goodbye hugs....got a bit friskey and sucked on my ear! Ewwww, and it was sloppy too, as he was hella drunk. Gross. Haha, good stories....Other than that it was just a flat out fun night. Talked to a bunch of locals, danced...fun stuff! We finally got a taxi home when the club we were in got shut down, at around 4, and got home at 4:30 AM. First night out in Ireland! Monumental!
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9/17/2010

Today was a great day! I actually got a lot done, surprisingly.

I woke up on time today--at 9:30! On my own! I was very excited about that. I headed off to Ross castle at around 10:30 and I took a tour of the inside, it was so interesting! The castle was built in the 15th century. All of the rooms inside are accessible by a spiral staircase in the center of the tower. Which, insidentally, is built in a clockwise direction to aid the soldiers defending the tower and impede the attacking soldiers as everyone fought right handed (the left hand was considered the devil's hand and so all soldiers were taught how to fight with their right hands). The steps themselves are all different heights and are called "stumble steps". They were intended to cause attacking soldiers to trip as they charged if they made it past the exterior defenses. Also, the one bed, which belonged to the lord and lady of the castle, was very short. There are two reasons for this. The first is that laying flat mimics the dead, and therefore was to be avoided. The second was they all had breathing problems and therefore it was essential to sit in an elevated position. They had respiratory issues due to the closed quarters inside of the castle, and what they burned for light. They would gather a few dried reeds and tie them together, then dip each end into animal fat. Each gathering of reeds would burn for about 15 minutes, and the smoke that came off of them was very thick and acrid...causing the lung issues. Due to this and the use of pewter dinnerware (which contains lead, and therefore causes lead poisoning) the life expectancy was 30 years old. It was all very interesting.

Sometime in the past couple hundred years, a new law went into effect--the two roofs law. It said that if you had more than one property, you had to pay taxes on all of them, regardless of if you were living in all of them or not, as long as they had roofs. So in response to this owners of castles all over Ireland took the roofs off of their castles, and Ross castle was included. Only one castle in Ireland still has it's original roof. Of course, without a roof, the castles quickly fell into disrepair and became dilapidated. In the 1950's one of the men who helped build the Pentagon, bought the castle, and brought the Irish government in on restoring it. Work crews and artisans trained to use the tools used in the 15th century, and the same materials, restored the castle over a twenty year period, and then the owner gave the castle back to Ireland so they could open it up for tours. So cool!!!!!

After I took the tour, I sat on the edge of the lake, which is called Lough Leane by the way, and wrote in my journal for a little while, and oh my god, it was gorgeous out!!! All day today it was bright and sunny, with very few clouds. The breeze was a bit chilly by the lake, but other than that it was perfect. On my way back to town I took a small detour to see the pier (also on Lough Leane) because one of my housemates told me it had a great view, and indeed it did. Just lovely.

I stopped in one of the small local bookstores. It was soooooo cute!!! It had two stories and it was shoved into this super tiny space. I loved it. I admit I bought the final Harry Potter book because when I was by the lake I decided I had to read it again, in Ireland. Plus, I need to get the rest of the series in the British format, as I only have books 1-3. After that I stopped back by my little cafe that I like, Skelligs Chocolate Cafe, and chatted with the girl that works there for a little while. Such a sweet person, I really really like her. I hate to admit it but I've forgotten her name....Kara? Something like that. Anyways, after that I decided to explore more and went a different way into town and found some new shops, including the tattoo parlor! They were already closed, as it was 5:30 PM by then, but I plan on going back to ask about prices and look at their portfolios, etc. I'm determined to get my clovers done in Ireland. I think that would be awesome! Woohoo!!!

After that I walked into the gardens, but I was worried I'd get locked in--as it was twenty to closing, but I'll go back later, it looked beautiful! So green, with lots of roses.

Not much has happened since then, I made myself dinner and talked to Finbarr and Jer for a while. It's getting extremely cold as night falls. Two nights ago it was freezing, last night was mild, and I have a feeling we're in for another chilly night. Oh, I love Ireland. :) To be honest, the weather reminds me of Placerville in the Fall and Winter. It has that same feel to it. With the crisp clean air. Just add more wind and rain and viola! You've got Ireland. The trees have already started to change, just barely; and a few have already started to lose their leaves. Can't wait to see Fall in Ireland. Sounds breathtaking.
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9/16/2010

Jet lag is officially kicking my butt. I couldn't fall asleep until around 3:45AM last night and for the second day in a row slept until 3PM!!! I couldn't believe it! I even set the alarm last night for 10:30AM and I have no memory whatsoever of it going off. So, needless to say, I didn't get the early start I was hoping for. When I finally got up and going, I headed over the Ross Castle and oh my god, it was gorgeous out. I almost enjoyed the walk as much as the castle itself! I was surrounded by trees, with the canopy extending over the road above me. There were wild roses, ferns, ivy, and blackberry bushes growing alongside the road, it was surreal. The air is so crisp and cool here, and it smelled of the forest. It was, honestly, so amazing. I wish that pictures could share all of the other sensory details as well....



Ross castle itself is gorgeous. The first thing you see is the top of the tower peaking over the treetops as you walk up. They have jaunting cars (horse pulled carriages) for hire and I thought it was great to watch the cars go around the carriages. The castle sits about 20 feet from the edge of the lake, and the Killarney mountains are on the opposite shore. When I got there, there were blue patches of sky showing through the cloud cover, and it was fairly warm, but within twenty minutes or so the clouds descended on the mountain tops, covering them, and a cold wind blew in over the lake. It started to rain, so I took cover under a huge oak tree. It was so peaceful!!! Looking out over the lake when it was so stormy reminded me of the 18th century oil paintings that I have admired in museums for years...and I now know where they got their inspiration. I could have sat there for hours. I think that I will go back tomorrow, as I got there too late to take one of the guided tours of the inside. I can't wait to learn more about the history of the castle. So much fun!!!



I love how chatty the Irish are, you'll pass people on the street, and they're so cheerful! Or at least most of the locals are. It's so refreshing. I walked past one man today who was "getting his evening walk" as his dog pulled him determinedly around the corner. There's one girl who works at the cafe I like that calls me "love" and refuses to take my tips because she knows I'll be here for a while. Just super friendly people.



Oh, and another thing; most of the Irish I've talked to don't like the rain...does anyone else see the irony here? Hah.



I got home around 7:40 or so, and my housemates were all home, so I sat and talked with them for a while. Thank god I feel tired tonight, I need to go to bed early so I can hopefully get used to the Irish clock!



Goodnight!
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Day Two

Today was not nearly as eventful as yesterday, mostly because I slept WAAAAY later than I meant to, as in *cough cough* 3PM. Yep. I woke up at 10:30AM and went back to sleep thinking, "oh, I'll just sleep for another hour or so." No such luck. My plans were originally to walk into town to get the few errands I needed to do done, then hike into the national park to see Ross Castle. Once I got going though, I really only had time to get my errands done, as it gets dark around 7 or so.

First things first, I walked into town because I needed a converter for my computer cord, and the two stores I tried yesterday didn't have what I needed. The converter I brought with me was only a two pronger and I didn't realize it until I got here; and my computer was dead. So three stores later and viola! Success at last, I was starting to worry I wouldn't be able to find one. After that I bought a phone, I just need to buy minutes and it'll be up and running. Finally I went grocery shopping. That was interesting. I grabbed everything I'd need and then checked out, which would be fine, but they don't give you bags for your things! Thankfully I had the bag with my phone, because I was able to fit most of the stuff in there, the rest in my backpack. That poor paper bag almost didn't make it home since it was raining and it fell apart as soon as I set it on the kitchen table. Yay for a bit of luck and timing!

Then I made myself a sandwich, made sure my adapter worked for my computer, then walked around. By this point it was getting dark, so the pictures aren't fantastic, but I did manage to take a few. It was beautiful out, it was breezy and crisp all day with one small shower and mist the rest of the day. By 9 or so it was super cold out! I actually wished I had my scarf to go with my wool jacket. But I came in and sat by the fire with Norma (one of my housemate's cousin) and warmed up a bit. Soccer and Gaelic soccer are HUGE here, so it's really fun to watch it with everyone. The Gaelic soccer finals are on Sunday and Finbarr (another of my housemates) is a huge fan, he's been talking about it constantly, and I can't wait to see it! Cork actually made it to the finals this year, too bad Kerry didn't! That would have been fantastic! Anyways, I'm told I'll get to see a super drunk Finbarr Sunday...there is no way I'll be able to understand him then. Haha. Speaking of drinking, Norma and Kate are taking me out to the pubs either tomorrow night or Friday. It'll be great! Can't wait!

Tomorrow, I hope to wake up early...although that's a bit doubtful at this point as it's 1:30 AM here now...I want to walk to Ross Castle, and then walk around the national park and take pictures. Good ones this time. :D
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Finally in Ireland!!!!!


After a ridiculous amount of time either in flight or in airports, I'm finally here! It is so surreal to see everything in person, after looking at so many pictures. I think it is remarkable; Ireland has more levels of solid clouds than anywhere else I've ever flown. It was bizarre, we'd increase our height, and pass level after level of rolling, solid clouds. Four or five levels worth. What's more is that they completely covered the island in every direction that I could see, so it looked like an island of clouds from above. It was mesmerizing to watch.

As far as the whole travel process goes, I'd have to say that flight-wise, the cross country flight was twenty times worse than the main flight from JFK to Dublin. Which surprised me, but Aer Lingus is wonderful! Everything was new and high quality. I actually thought it was kind of fun, but I love to fly. And get this, their food was actually really good! I know, plane food that is good? Doesn't happen normally. We got beef stew with fresh vegetables, a roll, salad, cheesecake (which was fantastic for the record, and I don't even like cheesecake), and cheese. It was great!

I thought for sure that Dublin airport would be the death of me. That place is my nemesis! No signs, very twisty and convoluted, but thankfully I was still early for my flight to Co. Kerry, so no big deal I guess. Either way, I'm just glad to finally be here. It's been so long in the planning, that I can hardly believe it. On the taxi ride into town I kept getting this jolt and realizing that I was actually HERE, in IRELAND! This actually IS happening to me. It sounds so simple and obvious when I write it here, but in my head it's monumental. Speaking of the taxi ride though, it was both very scary and very endearing. My taxi driver was an older guy with fairly thick glasses, and a very odd Irish accent, I've never really heard anything like it. I decided that it was healthiest for the both of us if I didn't talk to him or ask him questions while he was driving, because every time he started to talk to me, he'd look at me in the mirror, and the car would drift as it saw fit. We almost hit a car head on...eek. Then, we almost side swiped a few different cars when he attempted the round about. It was kind of cute though, he was a super sweet and helpful man. Lived here all his life! Lucky guy, no?

Oh! I've also embarrassed myself....already. I accidentally went into the men's bathroom in the tiny Kerry airport (my final destination), and three men walked in after me before any of us realized I was out of place. Whoops. Super awkward, but funny. So classic.

It is 12PM here in Ireland, and I have yet to get jetlag. I left my house at 5AM yesterday morning. I feel fine though. I figure it will hit me tonight, if it does hit me. We shall see! Can't wait to meet my new housemates, hopefully everything goes well with them.

Finding wifi has been a bit difficult in town, but I finally found exactly what I was looking for--a cute little cafe with bar seating against the window. It is so peaceful! I'm drinking a pot of black tea, eating a fruit scone with preserves and Irish butter, and just watching people go by. There's a classic Irish pub across the street, I love it!!! I pulled the dorky tourist move and took a picture. Yay for my first "meal" in Ireland!
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One month to go!

Things are definitely starting to come together! One more month and I'll be in Ireland, I'm so excited!

Tonight was my last night at Peets. It's kind of bittersweet for me, I actually really enjoyed working there; I had some awesome coworkers. :D Had to do it though of course. I think I need to either be a barista or bartender in Ireland, now that would make my life complete...gotta have dreams, right? Haha...

I've contacted a few people about housing, so hopefully I hear back from them soon.

Finding flights has been a bit of a pain in the ass, but whatever. I just want to get it done so I don't have to think about it anymore! Gah.

I got my passport a month and a half ago or so, so that's all taken care of.

Anyway, just a quick update. Cheers!
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I set a date!!!!

I finally set the date for when I'm going to leave for Ireland!!!! I'm going to leave September 13th and my return ticket date is December 4th; although I may stay longer. I'm so excited to finally be able to set the date, it makes everything so much more real. Yay!!! I should be able to reach my goal of $6,000 by then, but even if I miss it by a little bit, I'll be fine. I'm so antsy, I can hardly wait. It will be interesting to compare what I'm expecting to what it is actually like over there. Woooooohooooooo!!!!!


Just a quick little status update. I have my bar certification test tomorrow at Peets, wish me luck! Oh, also, today was my last day at Michaels. I'm super happy about that! :)

Cheers!
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Nike

I had to put Nike down today, that was a terrible decision to have to make, but I had to do it. I miss her immensley already. She was the sweetest, most wonderful companion I could have possibly had over the past ten years. I'm so grateful I had the time that I did with her.
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Michael's

I got a laptop! Suzanne got it for me for Christmas, and it is amazing! I couldn't have been more surprised and I'm very very grateful.

I gave Michael's my two weeks yesterday. I feel...relieved. It will be nice to not have to deal with them, and I don't make enough for it to be worth my time anyways. I'm going to start applying for other jobs tomorrow. I found out that it can take around 18 weeks to get my birth certificate in the mail, so I should be getting that soon. I definitely hope so!!! I need to have it to apply for a ID card and passport. I'm really hoping to be able to leave in either August or September. Yay! I'm so ready to go.

Okay, just a quick update. I must go to bed, I've got work in the morning. :)
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Places to Visit

There has been lots of stuff going on! First, I found out I will have to apply to stay in Ireland for longer than 90 days as soon as I get there. I'm fine with that though, it will honestly take a bit of stress off me. I'm working crazy long hours, and as soon as I get my birth certificate in the mail I think I am going to get another job and drop Michaels. It isn't worth my time to be working at Michaels when I could be making more at another job, and it isn't worth the stress anymore. I'm starting to get really burned out working so much and I want to get this done as soon as possible. Tips are always nice so I was thinking about waitressing or maybe another coffee shop, something of the sort. Hopefully my clumsiness isn't a huge problem. :)


Second, as I mentioned I will need a laptop. I asked Chris to help me find one since I'm absolutely oblivious when it comes to finding anything even remotely close to what I need. He found a really really super cool one too. I'll wait a few more months before I get it, but I'm very excited! Here's the link:

Beautiful, right? And it sounds perfect for what I need.


I started putting together a list of all the things I want to see and do as soon as I get to Ireland. I have to admit I'm going to have a lot of fun being a tourist for the first couple of weeks. I'm especially excited for the castles, Killarney National Park, and the main street area. When you look at pictures of Downtown Killarney, it is totally surreal.



Here's a general list:


Muckross House











Muckross Abbey










Gap of Dunloe


Ross Castle


Dingle Peninsula
As you can tell I had fun finding photos, but I can't wait to take my own! :) I'm going to be permanently glued to my camera once I get there. Can't wait.
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Dia Duit!

Okay, well...I decided to start a blog for when I move to Ireland. This seems like a great way to share pictures and stories with my family and friends. :)



As of now, I've been saving for about 6 months and I should only have about another 6 months left; hopefully! I'm very excited because it is starting to feel real and I'm absolutely ready to go. For those of you that don't know, I'm moving to Killarney. It's in co. Kerry, in southern Ireland. The town is very small, and right next to beautiful Killarney National Park. Killarney is on the Ring of Kerry. Absolutely magical. The town is touristy, but that's not such a bad thing. If I'm going to stay longer than the three months I'm allowed without applying to stay longer, I'll need a job and I'm hoping that since it is so touristy I'll have more luck with that.



I started learning Gaelic! I know that no one actually speaks it anymore, but it's something I've wanted to do for years. I got the Rosetta Stone for Irish for Christmas this year and I love it so far!!! It really does make learning a language easy...well, at least so far. Ask me after I've completed a few more units and we'll see if I still say the same thing. I am having fun though.



That's about it so far. I've been looking at rooms to rent while I'm there and it is amazingly inexpensive! They look like nice places too. I'm actually kind of excited to share a house with someone. I think I'll have more fun that way than if I get a place to myself. I've also been looking into laptops so I'll be able to go through my plethora of pictures I will take and upload them both here and on DA.



Speaking of which, here is a link to my DA page:

http://silverstag21.deviantart.com/

Slan for now!!!!
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