Saturday, April 30, 2011

God Bless the USA

So, I'm back in the US! It is very surreal, I almost feel like I'm just visiting. Today has been extremely, extremely long and tiring. Seven hours on a plane is a lot! At least there were four of us on the flight back to Boston today so we had company. We were all so excited to get back to the US I really was half expecting us to break out into patriotic song or a USA chant.

Right now, it's 8:06 PM EST but past 1 AM in Dublin which is the time I'm still on so I am feeling the jet lag already. The kitchen is full of my suitcases and half unpacked things are strewn everywhere. I think this week is going to be insane with cleaning up and going through the clothes that I left at home to decide what I need/want to keep. I am going to write a longer post about yesterday and today but right now I am absolutely exhausted!

I still cannot believe that this semester is completely over. When I was at the airport this morning I felt like I had just arrived in Dublin. I think I'm already missing it, too. In Dublin I was constantly on the go and surrounded by 40 familiar faces so I got really use to the busyness of it all. They told us that when we go home we will experience "reverse culture shock" and they were right! At dinner tonight I was kind of taken aback at the number of times the waitress came over. Also driving is still a tiny bit funny being back on the right side of the street. AND this weirded me out, I saw a nice car and I wondered when it was made so I looked at the license plate! (In Ireland the first two digits on a license plate is the year it was made!)

Anyway to all of you who were wondering I am going to continue this blog! I can't promise that it will be as exciting as Ireland has been, but I'll try! I've got a few blog posts lined up like my top 10 favorite places in Ireland, important things to do if you're studying abroad and a few others!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thought of Today

Packing four months of clothes, accessories and other acquired things is hard.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yummy Scones!

Since Monday was Easter Monday we all had the day off of work. A week or so ago Evan and I bought scone mix at the grocery store because we wanted scones. So this Monday we decided to make them!

Unfortunately, I was too busy eating to remember to take a picture of the finished product so you'll just have to take my word that they were delicious!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kinsale, Co. Cork! Part One!

*Part one of a two part post! I have way too many pictures that I want to put up so this will have to be in two parts! Also if you click on a picture you can view it larger!

Right now, I'm wearing very stretchy yoga pants. And here's why: I spent the weekend in Kinsale, Co. Cork. Kinsale, or Cionn tSaile in Irish, is a beautiful seaside town in the Southwest of Ireland. It is also the "Culinary Capital" of Ireland, and boy, does it live up to that name!

This weekend I ate more food than I probably had the entire week leading up to it. Since Kinsale is on the ocean it is chock full of AMAZING seafood. I ate haddock, mussels, oysters and seafood chowder with massive chunks of salmon and cod. I also had some of the best ravioli I've had in a while.

And the desserts.. I can't even describe how good they were. We had chocolate macadamia nut brownies, apple crumble with creme anglais that was out of this world, and the lightest and fluffiest black raspberry and vanilla cheesecake. We also discovered how good "Nutty Irishmen's" (a combination of Bailey's and Frangelico) are after dinner.

We stayed in the Carlton Kinsale, which was only built about five years ago. The land that it is built on has a very typical Irish history attached, too. It used to be the site of a "Big House," an English-owned plantation/manor, but after the Irish won their independence in 1922 many of these manors were targeted by the IRA and other nationalist groups. (In Cork especially nationalist groups were very strong and Cork was more or less the headquarters of the nationalist movement.)

The manor itself was burned down by the IRA in the years following and the land was left empty for a long time until a developer bought it during the "Celtic Tiger" years and turned it into a hotel. They did a wonderful job incorporating the hotel into the landscape and they limited the environmental impact by making it a one-way entrance and planting all native plants and trees.

Anyway I left super early on Friday morning and Evan and I met at the bus station that is right in city center, which is basically the mid-point between our two schools. I was surprised how light it was so early! In the beginning of the year it was dark until about 8 AM but when I woke up at 6:30 it was pretty sunny. Kinsale is about a five hour drive from Dublin, plus a hour layover in Cork City before we could get the bus right to Kinsale, so most of Friday was dedicated to travel.

We did, however, get into town to see the harbor and the marina. Since it was Good Friday all of the shops were closed but we did get to eat dinner in town and it was great!

Wish I got this one second before I did..

Dessert Friday night...

We had breakfasts at the hotel and they blew away my idea of a typical hotel breakfast. Not only did they have a normal "Full Irish" breakfast of boiled eggs, black and white puddings, hash-browns, fried eggs, toast, beans. But also they had several different cereals, fruit salad, tons of scones, croissants, apple and cheese danishes and hands down the best "croissant au chocolat" that I've ever had. AND they were all homemade and still warm!

The weather on Saturday was some of the nicest I've experienced in Ireland! It was probably 65 degrees, sunny and there were nothing but white fluffy clouds in the sky! After our wonderful breakfast at the hotel we made our way to Charles Fort, Dun Chathail in Irish, which is a "star fort" located near the mouth of Kinsale Harbor. It was designed by Sir William Robinson who also designed Kilmainham Goal and built in the 1670's and 1680's.

It has an incredible history and played a prominent role in the Battle of Kinsale and also the Civil War in the early 1900's. It fell into disrepair after the Civil War, mostly because it was badly burnt by the IRA because they believed it was a symbol of English control. A massive reconstruction effort was made in the later 1900's after it came into protection by the Office of Public Works and today it remains a huge tourist attraction.

On to part two! Click here for part two!