Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Knock, knock?

Who's there?  Bad chicken jokes!
I am my father's daughter when it comes to jokes; I love them.  The cornier they are, the better!  So here are two that I heard in the past few weeks that really made me chuckle.  Apparently the Irish joke about chickens a lot.
What's the difference between a Cornish hen and a Welsh hen?
--Nothing, they're both fowl!

Why does a chicken coupe only have two doors?
--Because if had four doors it would be a chicken sedan!

Pretty bad, right?
That's my kind of joke!
Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Price check, please!

Alright folks, I need someone to help me out with this one.  So, I'm walking through the beer and wine section of a little market today to see if they had anything different than the grocery store and I see Sam Adams Octoberfest.  I was excited because I haven't seen Sam Adams at all since I've been here, and this one said it was one sale!  But upon further inspection it was far more expensive than I expected it to be: 2.15 EURO per bottle.  Most of the beer sold here is by the bottle, not in a six-pack.  If I were to buy 6 Octoberfests here it would run me 12.90 Euro, which is about $17.65 USD.  Am I the only person who thinks that's insanely expensive, even if it is an import here?  So your homework is to see how much a six-pack of Sam Adams Octoberfest is the next time you're in a grocery store and let me know! I'm curious to see what the difference is. because I knew alcohol was expensive here but I haven't taken the time to figure out just how much more it is.  Thanks!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Some things I'm still not used to

By this time, I have been in Ireland for over six weeks, and while I have adjusted to a lot of new cultural differences, there are still quite a few things that leave me baffled, bamboozled, and dumbstruck on a regular basis.  Here are a few:
1)  At least once a day a car passes me that has a dog or a small child in the front seat and my mind begins to panic for a second.  "What is that dog doing in the driver's seat?!"  Then, I do a double take and remember that the dog is in the passenger's side because everything is backwards here (read: wrong).  It doesn't just happen with dogs and kids, though.  I see people reading books, eating with two hands, and even sleeping, in what I think is the driver's seat.  I thought I would get used to seeing this and I would eventually think that the backwards way is normal, but it still gets me.

2)  I get an email telling me to drop off a form on the first floor of such-and-such a building.  So I walk over to the building and search--no, SCOUR the first floor of the building only to realize that I am a nincompoop.  I have been walking around on Level 0, the ground floor.  If I needed to find the first floor, Level 1, I should have walked my American-self up the stairs instead of wandering in desperation on what I thought, logically, was the first floor.  This one I actually have grown to catch on to faster than I used to, but I do still have to think "do they mean the first level or first floor? Or are they trying to confuse me?"

3) Lastly, there is no sidewalk etiquette here!  This one drives me crazy more than anything else I've encountered here.  At home, "stay to the right" is understood and widely accepted as the normal sidewalk or stairs walking practice.  But here in Ireland walking anywhere is a free for all.  Trying to get somewhere fast?  Be prepared to have to awkwardly sidestep at least four people en route to your destination.  At first I thought, "hey, if they drive on the left side, walking on the left would make sense, so I'll do that." Nope.  There is no standard for where to walk, and it is frustrating beyond belief to attempt to get through the grocery store without bumping into trolleys, aisles, and other humans.  And cyclists think they are pedestrians, which is just not okay, because they ride their bikes fast and without regard to people like me who are distracted by the six-year old I just saw driving a car. 

Nutella hot cocoa...wow

Woke up to a windy, rainy, and chilly day here in Galway. So I decided to crawl back in bed with some hot chocolate and read the funnies online and do the crossword puzzle--my usual morning routine at HWS.  But all I have in the kitchen is tea, so I looked up a recipe to make hot chocolate out of milk and Nutella and it did not disappoint! Yum!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Mary had some little lamb...slippers

My feet have been freezing on the tile floors in my apartment lately so I broke down and bought some slippers.  And they are my new favorite thing! Thanks, Penney's! 

First Exam Jitters

I'm about to take my first exam here in a few minutes and my nerves are running high!  It is on mythology, so I really shouldn't be worried since I'm a junior classics major and this is a first-year level course.  Nevertheless, I'm wishing I could just get it over with and under my belt so the next one won't feel so daunting.  Wish me luck!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dingle Archaeological Tour

Saturday was spent driving on the Wild Atlantic Way along the coast of the Dingle Peninsula.  A local archaeologist took us on a bus tour and pointed out many sights along the drive and explained some of the history of the area.  We stopped at three monastic sites in the afternoon, after seeing a beach and the Blasket Island Interpretive Center.  While we didn't get to visit the Blaskets themselves we got great views of the Islands.  The Blasket Islands were home to many important Irish literary works about island life.  In class we have read excerpts of Peig, a biography of Peig Sayers as told to her son.  The monastic sites later in the afternoon were very interesting since they were tucked away in the villages and had unknown histories.  Dingle was absolutely beautiful and I hope to come back here in the future when summer is in full swing and passage to the Skellig and Blasket Islands is possible!
The morning view of the harbor from our hotel--luckily the clouds all burned off quickly
A megalithic standing stone-- one of several that are scattered throughout the area in places you wouldn't expect, as none are well-marked or advertised
Some of the Blasket Islands
Driving VERY close to the edge
Slea Head outlook above Coomenoole Beach
Coomenoole Beach
Instead of getting sand in our socks we decided to climb rocks with our professor's son
Morgan and me
The sky was BLUE...
...and the water was too!
The Great Blasket Island was evacuated in 1953 after emigration depleted the population and the way of life on the island was no longer viable.  Many of the islanders emigrated specifically to Springfield, Mass., since women could get factory work and men could find work on the new railroad being built.  Of the 5 islanders still alive today, 2 still reside in Springfield.  (side note: part of this exhibit quoted a woman from "Agawan" Massachusetts and I had to resist the urge to tell the docent that they had a typo since the town is really AgawaM.)
A carved cross stone as Riask
Monastic site of Riask
Gallarus Oratory-- this was the church on the grounds of a monastic settlement, and one of the only examples of this kind of building (dry corbelling) that still has an intact roof.
Some *ahem* well-endowed rams with very curly horns
An alphabet stone at Kilmalkeder
Kerry was probably my favorite excursion thus far, simply because of the breathtaking views.  Also we were fed real (free!) breakfast, so that always helps.  Along the same lines of my calamari post, I tried something new this weekend: blood pudding.  NEVER AGAIN. Nope, nope, nope.  At least I tried it, and now I am justified in hating it. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Coole Park and Bunratty Castle

I spent this weekend in County Kerry, in the southwest region of Ireland.  On the drive down to the Dingle Peninsula (see next post) we stopped at Coole Park and Bunratty Castle.  Coole Park is the old estate of Lady Gregory, a friend to W.B.Yeats, and a founding member of the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's national theatre.  She is famous for her patronage to the arts and she invited many of the authors and playwrights to Coole Park to carve their initials into her "Autograph Tree".  Yeats wrote poems about Coole and summered there frequently.  His initials are the most famous on the tree.  Lady Gregory also had autograph fans to bring with her on trips abroad, since the tree was unable to travel with her.  For anyone from the Mass. area, Coole reminded me a lot of Elm Bank with its manicured gardens and trails in the woods.  Coole is much bigger than Elm Bank, but you get the idea.

Hanging out with our professor's kids

There was a sundial on the grounds that you act as the hand by standing at a certain point and cast a shadow
Loving the sun
The Autograph Tree

Ta tu anseo! Words that I was actually able to read and understand and proof that I'm learning something in my Irish class
Red deer on the grounds of Coole that are related closely to elk
Bunratty Castle was set up like Plimoth Plantation or Sturbridge Village, with people in period-attire and nightly "medieval banquets."  The castle had rooms set up as they might have been at the time, with tapestries everywhere and old furniture.  The folk village surrounding the castle had thatched roof houses and farmyard animals.  I wish we had more time to spend exploring all the shops, so I am excited to go back when my family is visiting at the end of this month!
Canons outside the castle.  Mike was upset I didn't find out the specific ranges, sizes, etc. so sorry to any other artillery fans out there!
The hall where the banquets are held nightly.  600 years ago this would have been where the soldiers and officers ate, slept, and lived.
The antlers on the walls were recovered from peat bogs where they had been preserved since the last ice age.  They belonged to a now-extinct type of very large elk/deer.
The throne of the head of the castle
One of the restored tapestries
The Irish fertility stone-- sit underneath and touch the carving as you make a wish for fertility
View from atop the castle

This is the view through a secret "spy hole" in the wall.  Quite literally, at Bunratty the walls have eyes and ears.

A couple of massive Irish wolfhounds
A sad donkey that could easily have been A.A. Milne's inspiration for Eeyore.

At the "Piggery" two pigs were squealing and fighting but I got it to look like a sweet piggy kiss instead.
We arrived at Dingle around sunset and were greeted with an amazing view of the sun setting behind Mount Eagle beyond the harbor.