You’re pretty great, Ireland.

I haven’t posted in ages. I know.
I have been doing things… I just have been crazy busy. But! I am finally finished at work and am preparing for my mom to come over (next week! Eek!) and then to travel Europe with Sean (double eek!).

A few months ago Sean and I drove around Ireland. It was so beautiful!
We went west to Galway and then went down south to do the Ring of Kerry and spent some time in Cork before heading home. We also had a weekend away in Donegal when the weather was perfect!

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

We climbed up into this castle -- no one was there and it was amazing!

We climbed up into this castle — no one was there and it was amazing!

Just kissing the Blarney Stone... Gift of the gab and all that.

Just kissing the Blarney Stone… Gift of the gab and all that.

On our way to Downings in Donegal.  The drive was beautiful (and we nearly hit a few sheep!)

On our way to Downings in Donegal. The drive was beautiful (and we nearly hit a few sheep!)

Slieve League. It seemed like we were hiking for ages, but the view was well worth it!

Slieve League.
It seemed like we were hiking for ages, but the view was well worth it!

I cannot wait to show my mom how beautiful Ireland is.  I know she is going to fall in love just like I did!

And so you know where I will be headed in September…
September 4th – Oslo, Norway
September 5th – Copenhagen, Denmark
September 9th – Berlin, Germany
September 11th – Prague, Czech Republic
September 14th – Budapest, Hungary
September 17th – Vienna, Austria
September 18th – Venice, Italy
September 19th – Paris, France
September 23rd – Amsterdam, Netherlands
September 25th – Brussels, Belgium
September 27th – Bruges, Belgium
September 28th – London, England
October 1st – Back to Dublin!
And don’t worry, family, I will in Portland October 13th and back in the Valley the next day. Miss you all!

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I fell in love with Ísland.

And all I can think is about how I didn’t have enough time; how I could never see enough of it.

Iceland is one of those places where you stop and think “I am moving here. I will never leave.”
It’s a place where you can revel in all of the beauty and magnificence forever.  It’s a place that pictures don’t do it justice.

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If you are thinking of going there (and get that thought in your head), five days isn’t enough.  Two weeks won’t be enough.  No time is enough.  We rented a car, which saved us money and allowed us to make our own itinerary.  That being said, you really need a four wheel drive car to go anywhere other than the outer ring of the country.  The cost will be high, but any amount to see Iceland again would be worth it in my book.

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I cannot wait to go back.

Take me back to Edinburgh.

Sean and I took a quick getaway to Edinburgh recently.  Three full days and two short nights.
The city seemed to be multi-layered.  I was constantly looking up and realizing that I somehow got below the bridge I had just been on.
Through the confusion I was able to stumble upon amazing views of the architecture and the wonderful bits that made Edinburgh so magical.  Don’t even get me started on the accents… fortunately Sean did most of the talking.

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The castle was breathtaking. Huge. Amazing.  Definitely my favorite caste that I have seen thus far.

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Even the cemeteries here were beautiful.  (Just down the road is the Elephant House, J.K. Rowling’s writing spot)

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The National Museum of Scotland (which is FREE. Bonus), is absolutely amazing.  Not to hate on Dublin, but come on guys, get your act together.  Perhaps it’s the child in  me, but there were ways to interact and learn in every section. And I LOVE hitting buttons. And turning knobs. And look at the T-Rex!

We also explored the Museum of Childhood (Also, free), which has an entire floor dedicated to the creepiest dolls you will ever hope to see.  Very Tommy Knocker’s.  (Un)fortunately, no photography.
The Surgeon’s Hall Museum (5 pound), was lovely!  And by lovely I mean if you are into seeing notebook’s made from human skin, human skull’s eaten away by syphilis, and body parts in formaldehyde, this is your spot.  It was definitely my spot.

The food here was also divine. And so inexpensive!
Oink had some bomb pulled pork while Milk had the best black bean and butternut squash (all local product!) I had ever had.

Take me back to Edinburgh.

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Travels thus far.

So, I am really terrible at blogging (sorry, family).

I have been able to do some small travels lately.  Having a job is great for that.

A few days before Christmas we went to Northern Ireland to see Giant’s Causeway.  It snowed on the drive up and it was sort of magical.

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There are something like 40,000 of these pillars.  Unreal.

New Years Eve we went to see the Malahide Castle (just up the road from me).  The tour was your typical, cheesy tour, but the gardens (even though most things are dead in winter) were lovely and we were the only two in the place.

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Just last week we drove to County Wicklow to see the Glendalough Mountains.  I am in love with this place.
Growing up in the Valley meant that I was constantly surrounded by mountains (I mean, I pretty much lived on one).  I didn’t realize how much I missed that until we were driving through them and walking up them.  It made me appreciate my hometown so much more than I ever had.

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Next week Seán and I are heading to Edinburgh.  I am looking forward to taking my first steps into uncharted territory.
I am also planning a trip for my birthday next month (heading to Oslo, fingers crossed!).  I am ready to soak up all the adventure!

Let it snow.

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I have been vacant.
So here, happy holidays!

I have been working like a mad woman, Christmas shopping, and trying to find time to do normal, adult things (like laundry… the bane of my existence).

This is my pathetic, 18 inch Christmas tree with battery operated lights.  I love it.
You never realize how much you really love your family and the traditions that make them yours until you spend a Christmas away from home.  I miss frosting sugar cookies (and eating the dough when mom isn’t looking); I miss snow dates with my dog; I miss hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps and pounds of fudge.  I miss these things.  I miss my family.  I feel like I am missing out on my sister and seeing my niece grow in her belly.  I miss these things, but receiving packages that have the family favorite chocolate that we only get at Christmas time reminds me that I am still there in spirit, as they are with me.

I love you guys!

Language.

Language is a funny thing.

Growing up in America I learned to speak English… American English.  Since moving to Ireland I have found that sometimes I sound like an idiot.  I say something that I have grown up saying and that everyone back home would think was completely normal, but here I get strange looks and eye rolls.  I am out of my element.

Example one:

Me: Do you have a bandaid I could use?
Starbucks lady:  (blank stare) What?
Me:  A bandaid?
SL:  I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Me: …a thing… to put on cuts? I hurt myself?
SL:  Oh, a plaster.  No, we don’t.

Example two:

Me (calling down to the kitchen at work):  Do you have any clean silverware you could send me?
Guy:  Wait, what?
Me:  Silverware?
Guy:  Huh?
Me:  Forks… spoons…
Guy: Cutlery.  Yes.

Example three:

Me:  So, how often do we take the trash out?
Girl at work:  What?
Me:  The trash… do we take it out twice?
Girl:  The what?
Me:  Garbage?
Girl:  What are you talking about?
Me:  *points to trash*
Girl:  The rubbish! What did you call it?

Language is strange.

Missed buses.

I found a job a few weeks ago.  I am working in a retirement home (I will never escape them) not so close to my house.  It’s either an hour and a half walk or a fifteen minute bus ride and a fifteen minute walk — I obviously opted for the option that includes a bus, this is Ireland and it rains frequently.  This bus and I have been having issues, however.  From the very first day at work (a bank holiday) I stood at the bus stop for a good fifteen minutes before I realized something.  Buses don’t run on normal times on bank holidays.  Lesson number one.  Cab was called.  Buses also don’t run on normal times on Sunday’s… cabs are called then.

My best (worst) experience had to have been this past Thursday.  I get up at the usual time, do my usual routine, leave the house at the usual time.  I was very usual that morning.  The bus, however, decided to be about three minutes early, making me miss it by about ten seconds (I like to get to the stops early in case this happens.  Apparently not early enough).  I curse the bus in my head and then wait, because why should I remain upset when another bus will be here in fifteen minutes! I won’t be late to work, I will just miss my morning coffee — no bother.  So, after waiting these fifteen minutes my bus arrives, only for the driver to tell me he doesn’t go where I need.  This is the one 27B out of all 27B’s that, for no apparent reason, goes a different route.  Now, as I curse out loud, I realize I will be late to work if I wait for the next bus.  I call a cab.
This next incident is not even twelve hours later:  I work my nine-and-a-half hour shift.  My feet hurt.  I am tired.  A wonderful co-worker drives me to my bus stop.  My bus isn’t listed on the electronic sign listing when the next four buses will arrive (which usually means it is a good twenty plus minutes away).  Disheartened I turn around to check the listed times to see if perhaps this is a mistake.  As I again face the street I see a 27B fly by.  BUT! My mind has melted.  It wasn’t on the sign!  I am protesting in my head so as not to alarm the other people patiently waiting for buses that don’t hate them.  I sit there — FOR AN HOUR — before my bus comes by.  By this time I am a popsicle and have made friends with another person who is probably cursing the 27B.

That being said I am incredibly thankful to have found this job (I am still looking.  Something closer would make me jump and shout with joy).  I love working with the elderly.  They are full of history and amusements that I will never truly understand.  They are blessings.  And occasionally they sword fight with cutlery and call each other dirty old bitches.  I love them.

The heater in my house has turned on (the hours are limited per my lease agreement.  It’s a frustrating and frigid experience) and I am now sitting wrapped in warmth listening to Christmas music.  I don’t know if my mother has started playing it back home, but it’s never too early and it makes me miss home a little less to have it playing.