Scotland (4/12-4/15)

I realized I never wrote about Scotland, so here’s a short summary!

Friday:
We arrived at 7 a.m. on Friday and had the time of our lives! I went with my roommate Kathleen & good friend Olivia. We had a nice little trek to our hostel, the Lighthouse Hostel, and absolutely LOVED it! We immediately made our way to The Elephant House Cafe. This is where J.K. Rowling wrote the 2nd-4th Harry Potter books! It was surprisingly cheap, and the food was very tasty! The bathroom in this place was amazing! There were notes to JK all over the place, thanking her for changing their lives! We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the city. This has been by far my favorite city to get lost in! The entire place is beautiful, with a castle on a cliff over looking it all. Perfection. We made it back to the hostel around 4:00 and crashed. I guess waking up at 3 a.m. had finally taken its toll. We woke up at 11:00 to eat and hydrate. The hostel had a kitchen stocked with free pasta and tea. (Now you know what we are all weekend!!) White we were eating we met a few friendly people. The most interesting being Yalchin, from Turkey, who were ending up spending a lot of the weekend with.

Saturday:
This was definitely a relaxing trip. We weren’t in any rush to get up, so we slept in then had free breakfast. It was nice and sunny today so we started to wander around. We passed the school the JK used as inspiration for Hogwarts and decided to explore. It looked identical, especially on the inside. Every but was mesmerizing. We walked up and down the Royal Mile, the architecture here is truly amazing. We saw our fair share of Scotsman playing the bagpipes. Then we joined a free walking tour around the city. It took about 3 hours, and I now feel like I know every detail of Scotland! The type ended at the castle, but we didn’t go in. It cost 15 Euro that I did not have! On the tour we also learned the story of Bobby. He was the dog of a watchman over the cemetery. When the man died Bobby stayed by his grave for 12 years. He stayed there right up until the day he died himself! It was a fascinating story, and is Edinburgh ‘s claim to fame. We went for supper at a place called the Fiddlers Arm in the grassmarket. I had my first taste of haggis! The taste isn’t bad, it’s the texture I can’t get past!

Sunday:
Today we climbed Arthur’s Seat, and we picked the worst day to do it! It was overcast, windy, and rainy.  We all had a blast anyways! Yalchin went with us and practically had to push me to the top, then hold on to me one we got there. I have never felt wind this string. I genuinely thought I may blow away! The view from the top was worth it though! On one side you saw the sea, and the other the city! Definitely worth the hike in the wind!! The highlight of my day was the Harry Potter your we took next. JK got some much inspiration from her surroundings the I practically felt like I was in the books! I even for to see Voldemort’s grave, aka Thomas Riddle! The best part of the tour was carrying around wands as we walked through the streets! For dinner Yalchin cooked us a traditional Turkish meal at the hostel. I could not tell you what it was besides good! We shared with the entire hostel, Yalchin took plates door to door! We wrapped up the night and the trip by watching a movie in the common room together. We thought it was only appropriate to watch a Scotish movie, so we chose Rob Roy.

Monday:
Up at 4:00 a.m. for the flight back to Dublin! Learning the hard way to stop planning early morning flights!!

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Giant’s Causeway: April 1

This was just a rough start.
Our tour began at 6AM! I was not okay with this….
Then we took a bus into the city center to catch another bus to Belfast.
When we got to the bus we were told they had over booked and were flipping a coin to see who got to get on the bus. Our bus driver should have been scared for his life if I did not get on that bus. I don’t get up that early for no reason! We made it on to the bus and I immediately fell asleep. 1. I was tired from London 2. I didn’t want to listen to our driver rant for hours!

Our first stop was Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. It is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede. It spans 20 metres and is 30 metres above the rocks below. It was extremely windy and my choice of sweatpants was staring to become a regret. (Not only because i got made fun of the entire day, but I was scared they may turn into parachute pants & I would blow away!) After freezing up in the center & being coaxed off, I thought about staying on the tiny island just to not have to walk across it again! Even though it was over cast and windy the place was beautiful! The water was clear blue, I could see to the bottom for miles. You could also see Scotland from the island. It was all breathtaking!

We got back on the bus and made out way to Giant’s Causeway. On the way we heard the great story of Finn MacCool, a giant in Ireland, trying to reach a giant in Scotland. So, they made a path to connect the two countries. The story ended with the pathway being torn up by the Scottish giant when he was running in fear form Finn.
I wasn’t expecting much when I saw the Causeway, but it was magnificent. Pictures definitely do not do it justice! We spent our time hiking all the way around it to get a good look, but it wasn’t until we were right at it that I saw how great it was. The rocks were circular and fit perfectly together.

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After the Cause we spent an hour or so in Belfast eating hot fudge sundays & brownies before the longgg bus ride home to Dublin. Our bus driver was growing on me at this point. He kept the entire bus entertained buy singing Irish tunes & Shakira. Any man who is willing to sing Shakira is fine by me!

Galway Weekend (Feb 22-24)

This weekend started at 2:00 on Friday afternoon. We loaded a bus to Galway, a long 4 hour bus ride. We mad a stop in Athenry along the way & got to try on some medieval suits of armor. This town is also well know for the song “Field of Athenry”, so if you get a chance look it up! When we made it to Galway we were put up in a nice hotel that was basically the Ritz compared to out dorm room beds. We were on our own for the night & got to experience the city. Galway is on the Atlantic coast and was absolutely gorgeous. If you have ever hear of the song Galway Girl (it’s in P.S. I Love You) it was all I could think about. It’s funny how my trips revolve around music here!

On Saturday our trip started at 9:00 after a quick breakfast, and by quick I mean I overslept and ate a croissant on the way out the door. We were on the bus most of the day on our way to Doolin. We made plenty of stops along the way to be entertained. We saw Kylemore Abbey & Kilary Sheep Farm. At the sheep farm we got to put on our rubber boots and experience real Irish farm life. There was the herding dog named Sweep who went to work right away. This was the most well trained dog I have ever seen. His master could have whispered a command from the top of a mountain and he would have obeyed! Maybe I should send him my dog Simba for a while! The farm was right on the Atlantic so we got to see the mountains meet the ocean. Besides the overcast skies it was beautiful! Of course while we were on the farm we got to see sheep and dig turf. We also stopped at a place call The Burren on our way. The Burren is one of the largest karst landscapes in Europe. I was speechless at the sight, especially when one of the girls  was almost swept off the rocks by the ocean. Luckily she’s fine, she was just drenched from head to toe by the freezing Atlantic water on a cold Irish day! Thankfully our next stop was our hotel in Doolin where we got to get supper and experience an Irish music festival!

Sunday was my favorite day of the trip. We  saw the beach, but most importantly we saw the cliffs. The Cliffs Of Moher. I was speechless at the sight. Pictures definitely cannot do it justice, and when I say it was breathtaking I mean it literally. Being on the edge of the cliffs looking down at the crashing water will definitely take your breath away. I think we stayed there for 2 hours taking in all in and I highly doubt we saw it all. The cliffs are HUGH! If you have ever seen Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, The Princess Pride, or Leap Year you have seen the cliffs. (Three of my favorite movies I might add). At the end of the movie Leap Year a proposal happens on the cliffs. I made Mama and Daddy watch the movie with me before I left & Mama’s exact words were “Oh KK don’t go there, I know you too well. You’ll probably fall off!” So naturally the first thing I do is climb over the barrier to get to the edge and take a jumping pic! Sorry Mama! 🙂

By the time we got home last night I was exhausted! I guess traveling cross country on a bus can do that to a person! I was happy to get to skype most of my family though. I think the more I talk to them & tell them stories the more worried they become about me though! Bless their hearts, I’m still here for three months!

CHRIS YOUNG (Feb 21)

This was a long day since I have class 9:00-5:30, but it was all worth it at the end of the day when I got to see Chris Young!

My sister told me a few days earlier that he was coming to Dublin so I looked up tickets and found out they were only 20 euro. Naturally, my roommate & I bought them immediately! It was at a pub called Whelan’s, that is only a 20 minute walk from our dorm room.

I was counting down the minutes to see him, and when 8:30 finally rolled around and he walked on stage I almost fell out of my seat. There were four men, Bob DiPiero, Chris Young, Kristian Bush & Brett James. DePiero and James are 2 well known song writers who have written for King George Straight, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw. Kristian is part of Sugarland, and of course Chris Young is CHRIS YOUNG!

They were here for the CMA Songwriters Series, which is touring the UK for 2 weeks. The set was the four of them on stage with a guitar singing and cutting up. It was by far the best 4 hours I’ve had in Dublin. Did I mention I was an inch from the stage and made direct eye contact with Chris at least 17 times? Ahhhhhh.

After the set ended they came off stage and stayed in the pub for a while. I got to meet each one of them & get a picture. I even carried on a conversation with Chris about being from Tennessee, then got a HUG. He loves me…..

I left the pub feeling a little homesick. All the country music, southern accents, and hearing “yall” almost broke my heart. It was a good way to celebrate being here for one month.

I also need to mention the Chris sounds even better & looks even better in person which I didn’t think was possible.

Bob, Chris, Kristian & Brett

Bob, Chris, Kristian & Brett

Chris Young slowly melting my heart

Chris Young slowly melting my heart

With Kathleen & Kristian from Sugarland

With Kathleen & Kristian from Sugarland

Hanging out with Chris

Hanging out with Chris

Visa

Today I spent my day at the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Office getting my visa. 3 hours & $300 later I officially say I’m Irish for the next 4 months! Well sort of…

Care Packages

One of the best parts of being abroad is knowing you are loved and missed at home. Through pictures, cards, packages & flowers I have been blessed with great family & friends who have made me feel so loved. I could not have asked for better people in my life. It seems as though every time I begin to feel homesick I receive a package or card. I like to believe it’s God’s timing. Thank yall so much for the smile on my face!
I’m not sure which is better; knowing I’m being thought about & missed, or that you are willing to pay $60 to get a package over here! Trust me when I say it doesn’t go unappreciated! I tear up every time I get mail!

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Doors! February 18, 2013

I’ve been here less than a month and I’ve already decided that one of my favorite things is the doors. That’s right, doors. They are all so colorful and have their own special characteristics! Today I took a short walk to the park and this is just a short glimpse of what I saw!IMG_0625 IMG_0626 IMG_0624 IMG_0614 IMG_0613 IMG_0612

One of the best pieces of advice I was given before I came was to write in my journal everyday. Honestly, it has become my favorite part of the day. Today I took a walk to St. Stephen’s Green and just enjoyed the beauty of it all as I took time to reflect & write. Today the sun was shining, there were even flower buds! I’m chalking this one up to a good day! 🙂

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Spring is SO close!!

Spring is SO close!!

Guinness again. February 17, 2013

Since Lauren was here of course she had to go to the Guinness Storehouse. What else is Dublin famous for? We spent the morning trying to map our way around an unfamiliar part of the city on the trek to Guinness. Luckily we made it & Lauren loved the tour! I have to admit it is quite entertaining, even the second time around!

After Guinness I brought her into the city to St. Stephen’s Green Park, one of my personal favorite parts of the city centre. We could have walked & caught up for hours! Unfortunately, she had a 5 am flight to catch so bed was calling our names early!

One of the best parts of the day was the souvenir shopping. We bought each other Claddagh rings. A traditional Irish ring which represents love, loyalty and friendship (hands represent friendship, heart represents love, crown represents loyalty). The ring dates all the way back to the 17th century. What better souvenir to get with your best friend, right? (Plus we got a good deal!) 🙂

The entry to the Guinness Storehouse

The entry to the Guinness Storehouse

 

Ireland to London. So close, yet so far away!

Ireland to London. So close, yet so far away!

Our new Claddagh rings

Our new Claddagh rings

February 16, 2013 Howth

Lauren’s one request was to see the country side or coast of Ireland, so off to Howth we went! It is a beautiful fishing village about 30 minutes outside of Dublin. We took the bus out of Dublin at noon and spent all day hiking and trying to stay warm. We even got to enjoy some fresh fish and chips on the coast. It was the perfect day with my best friend!

Seeing the coast definitely took my breath away, pictures do not do it justice!

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Best Friend Arrival!

There is no better cure for homesickness than seeing your best friend. The road was tough, and I thought she may have gotten on the wrong bus but she finally made it at 9:00 this morning! I can’t wait to spend the rest of the weekend showing my best friend off in my favorite city!

Reunited & it feels so good!

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