Thursday, July 16, 2015


Last weekend, we took a trip to Galway on the west coast of Ireland. It was our first overnight trip, and we were all so excited!

Friday, after work, we went to Heuston station with all of our bags. The trains in Ireland are really efficient, clean, and quick. Two hours later, we arrived in the quaint town of Galway. Classically, it was raining. 

First things first, we went and bought alcohol from a little window that opened into the street. I bought two bottles of wine. Very authentic.

After dancing to BeyoncĂ© and Kanye West in our room, we headed out to a bar called the Quays (pronounced "key" and it means an area next to the river). There was an excellent band that played "Sex On Fire" by Kings of Leon and a bunch of American music. We met some guys from Galway who told us all about the farms they lived on. 

Afterwards, we ate pizza in the street!

After getting a solid 4 hours of sleep, we woke up and ate the hotel's free breakfast, which was one of the best I've ever had. All-you-can-eat yogurt, homemade granola, and fruit, as well as anything you wanted off the menu. Yum. 

To get to the Aran Islands, we took a bus (1 hr) to a ferry (1 hr) which was so rough that people were throwing up everywhere. I was lucky that I don't get motion sickness, so I was able to go outside and look out over the freezing Atlantic sea. I was being blown around like a doll. After an hour, we finally got to the Aran Islands. It was pouring and freezing. We were very underdressed and miserable, and some people didn't have rain jackets, so we went to get soup. 

We ended up getting really good bread and soup, and we got to dry our hair under the dryers. We were happy and we dried off a bit. Then, we got in a big white van driven by an old man. Haha. It was a bus tour all over the island and we trekked up this huge mountain in the rain to a fort that was so beautiful. I was so delirious from my physical discomfort that I didn't care about how wet and cold I was so I started running around and having a great time. 

That night, we went to the Quays again, followed by a bar called Busker Brownes. There, we danced and crashed a 30 year olds birthday party, ate his chocolate cake, and danced for like an hour downstairs. After, we went and got a slice of the same pizza, then walked back to our hotel. We were going to go back, but there was a huge party there! We danced for another hour, and it was so fun! We danced to ABBA, Taylor Swift, and old bands, and there were older people dancing who were so fun!

The next morning, we walked around Galway and shopped at the markets and listened to street performers. It was such a beautiful little city, and I wish we had more time there. Instead, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which was beautiful but a tourist trap.

So far, Galway has been my favorite part of Ireland!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015


On Sunday, we traveled to Glendalough for a little bit of hiking.

We've had absolutely amazing weather, with temperatures in the 70s and clear sunshine. So I wasn't too upset when it started to rain.

Glendalough is known for it's lush, green landscape, hiking, and it's ancient monastic village. In the 6th century, St. Kevin, a monk, lived here. He was renowned for his sanctity and his solemness, living in complete isolation here. Today, a few structures from that time still remain. To us Americans, something from the 6th century was absolutely mind-boggling.

We had a nice lunch and then started hiking. Everything was green, green, green, and I couldn't walk more than 5 steps without taking a picture. At one point, we even saw a family of deer, including two little baby deer who jumped and ran around in circles. I may have squealed a little.

When we got to the Upper Lake, it started to pour, which was appropriate for the mood. We all zipped up our rain jackets, stood on the lip of the lake, and looked out into the mountains. We skipped rocks over the calm, gray water, and listened to the pounding of the raindrops on our backs.

It was beautiful.

Nature is just so much more here. There is something ancient, something wise, in it.

Fourth of July in Ireland

We had a great fourth of July weekend.

It started off with a fantastic, fantastic brunch at the Shelbourne hotel on Saturday. The Shelbourne is one of the most historic (and fanciest) hotels in Ireland. During the Easter Rising in 1916, when the Irish were fighting for a Republic, British soldiers stood on top of the hotel and shot at the Irish revolutionaries in St. Stephen's Green. Then, the Irish Constitution was signed in the hotel, of which a copy still resides. It's also been host to John F. Kennedy and Jackie O when JFK gave his famous speech in Ireland, as well as Grace Kelly and the Prince of Monaco. It is a beautiful place.

We wanted to go to the Jazz Brunch, which started at 12 and was in the fanciest dining room. We were absolutely starving, and after walking around the hotel and stealing fancy cookies and water, we finally sat down in giant, comfy chairs underneath a chandelier. 

We got fresh juices from their homemade juice bar (!!!!) and I ordered vegetarian Eggs Benedict for the first time. It was me, JP, Reed, and Ethan. 

The jazz band was amazing, complete with a Harry Connick Jr. mimic in a purple suit, along with a bassist and a piano player. We listened in awe as they played "Valerie", "Sway With Me" and "Fly Me to the Moon". 

Our food arrived and it was the best meal I've had to date. In my life.

The boys were making fun of me because I actually started crying once or twice during our meal. It may be because I was exhausted and... recovering, but I was just so happy and I felt so lucky to be in that moment. The boys are so fun and sweet, and I love the group that we are with. I feel like I can be my absolute best self around all of them. 

This program is changing me. I don't care how cliché or silly or naive that sounds, because it is true. I have already gained so much confidence that I didn't have before, either from forced social situations, being in a foreign country and having to figure things out by myself, or even from operating within an 8 person group (not an easy thing!) I find myself so much calmer, happier, kinder, wiser. I am excited to see how my personality and mind changes in these next few months.

After brunch, we went to Phoenix Park for a picnic. We brought food, a blanket, and music. I did cartwheels and walked around and smiled at every single person and object that came near me. It was an amazing day.

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Hi! I blog at Brunch and Bijoux. Celebrating les belles petites choses in life.
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