Saturday, April 10, 2010

Barca, Rome, Galway, Dublin, York!

That's right, I'm back in home sweet York after two weeks of spring vacation in Barcelona, Rome, and Ireland. The Ireland part was actually a surprise...I didn't know until I was in Spain that I was going to meet up with my dad there after Rome. :)

For convenience's sake, instead of giving a huuuuge run-down of everything we did, I'll explain everything in dates and bullet points...

29 March 2010
-- Caught a taxi at 3:30 am to catch a 4:15 train to Manchester for my 8 am flight from Manchester to Barcelona. Sick.
-- Landed in Barcelona's main airport. As soon as the wheels of the plane touched the tarmac, I suddenly realised that a) I had never been to a country where at least one of the official languages is not English, and b) I did not speak the official language.
-- After lots of waiting and back-and-forth calling, met up with Brittany outside the hostel.
-- Ordered food in French, as that was the only language we had in common with the waitstaff.
-- Took naps, waited for Jeanine, and then slept some more.

30 March 2010
-- Slept til 11:30. Awesome.
-- Went to the same restaurant as yesterday, but francophone man was gone and replaced by Spanish-speaking-only man. Language frustrations ensued, but we were still able to eat (thankfully).
-- Wandered around the city looking for Las Ramblas (main road)...took us awhile. :P
-- Found Travel Bar, an international bar that sponsors lots of fun events for internationals visiting Barcelona.
-- Got told off by an older Spanish lady for not having my purse in front of me enough/too far around my side (which was probably lucky, as BCN has a HUGE pickpocketing problem).
-- Went to a Spanish cooking class, where we learned how to make tapas (appetizers), sangria (YUM), and paella (sp?)...a seafood dish with prawns, squid, etc. Yeah...I'm not a seafood person...I'm sure it was good to people who like seafood, though. :P

31 March 2010
-- Went on a walking tour of Barcelona...basically learned all the inside jokes of the city, as well as other interesting history.
-- Went shopping for breakable things (mine got home to momma in one piece! Hooraaaay! I got her a beautiful bowl from a pottery store.).
-- Got rear-ended while walking along the pier by a band of probably illegal immigrants selling definitely illegal ripoffs while they were running away from police.
-- Had Spanish quesadillas by the Mediterranean Sea.

1 April 2010
-- TOSSA DE MAR! We got up early and went to a small seaside town about an hour away by bus ( was more like an hour and a half).
-- Consumed Spanish pina coladas, as well as patatas bravas (fried chunks of potato with a spicy cheese sauce on top...SO GOOD!).
-- Wandered around a market that went down a good few blocks.
-- Splashed in the Mediterranean Sea.
-- Met an ADORABLE older English/Irish couple.
-- Wandered around the old castle/towers/village up on a hill.
-- Hiked around the trails we found up on the hill.
-- Found an old watchtower (for Moorish pirates!) pretty much by accident.
-- Had dinner and sangria by the sea.
-- Went back into town only to find we'd missed the "Magical Fountain" show in front of the Museum of Art by mere minutes. It was still a killer view, though.

2 April 2010
-- Did our own walking tour of everything in BCN we hadn't seen yet...started of at the Sagrada Familla cathedral designed by Gaudi, then went to the bullfighting ring (but not to a fight...eeww...), the Cascada fountain and park that Gaudi designed, and the Spanish Arc de Triomf (that doesn't celebrate's just copied from France's!).
-- We tried to go to our favourite markets (like the fruit market!), but they were closed due to it being Good Friday and all.
-- But we did see a cross procession through Las Ramblas.
-- Walked along the coastline up through Monjuic (a mountain area) through beautiful gardens and part of the 1992 Olympic Village up to a castle and around an old fort that we kind of found by accident.
-- Took a mini nap on a wall of the fort and got sunburned on my chest. Silly Irish skin. :(
-- Made our way back to the art museum to catch the "Magical Fountain" show.
-- Saw a flamenco show!

3 April 2010
-- Barcelona to Rome with Jeanine...our flight flew right over the coolest stuff in Rome (i.e. Colosseum, etc)!
-- Got groceries and made a delicious pasta/salad dinner...and made our own "sangria!" ;)
-- Saw the Colosseum and the Roman Forum at night...very cool indeed!

4 April 2010
-- Got up early to catch the bus to St. Peter's for Easter mass.
-- Spent 15 minutes in Mass...enough to snap some pictures and prove we were there! The rain was getting annoying at this point, too. :/
-- Got some authentic Italian pizza and gelato en route to Jeanine's church (OMG YUM).
-- Went to Jeanine's international church so we could say we actually were in church on Easter. ;)
-- Walked around all day in the rain seeing all the cool (free!) stuff in Rome, e.g. the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, Jeanine's favorite gelato place, etc.
-- Had dinner in Trestevere (OH MAN WAS THAT GOOD...I will never be able to have pasta again now that I've had the real stuff!).

5 April 2010
-- Flew to Dublin and met up with Dad!
-- Got on the Go Bus that took us straight to Galway.
-- Found our hostel in gale force winds and rain and nastiness.
-- Ensured that Dad got his first real Irish pub meal. :D

6 April 2010
-- SLEPT IN! Mostly for Dad's benefit...he was getting over the jet lag, dontcha know.
-- Checked on Hope classes that the Registrar was nice enough to sign me up for...let's just say it's an ongoing process.
-- Explored the town of Galway with Dad -- saw the Claddaugh ring "Museum" (tiny room in the back of a tiny shop!), St. Nicholas Church (where Christopher Columbus once worshipped), and Galway Cathedral (where I got a Connemara marble rosary!).
-- Wandered around the Salthill area -- right on the sea. :) We went into a little coffee shop/gift shop while it rained, and then saw the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately, we did not get to the end of it to claim our pot of gold. ;P
-- Went to the King's Head Pub for dinner...yes, it does have something to do with Charles I.
-- Watched the Arsenal v Barcelona game in the pub...the reactions of the football fans to the game were priceless!
-- Met people from Illinois in the pub with kids who go to Notre Dame and knew Kevin Healey...whoa. Small world.

7 April 2010
-- Bus tour today! Went through County Galway and County Clare to Corcomroe Abbey, Ballyvaghn, an ancient Druid Dolmen, the towns of Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna (home of the Matchmaking festival), had lunch in Doolin, and then stopped for awhile at the Cliffs of Moher. Holy epic.
-- Back to Galway for dinner at Monroe's, where we watched the Man U v Bayern Munich game.

8 April 2010
-- Headed back to Dublin. Dumped our stuff at the hostel and proceeded to make our own walking tour.
-- Saw Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells (DROOL) as well as the Long Room in the TCD library (totally geeked out. Oh man.).
-- Saw Christchurch and St. Patrick's cathedral (where Jonathan Swift was once a dean...yes. No lie.).
-- Went to two different bits of the National Museum (on two different ends of town!), but got to the second one with ten minutes to spare and then we got kicked out so they could close. Dumb.
-- Relaxed for awhile in St. Stephen's square...had a beautiful day for it, too!
-- Went back to Temple Bar and walked around deciding on a place to eat (it took awhile...we kept getting distracted by the really talented four-piece busker band). We eventually settled on Three Crown Alley, where we found out our waitress was from Chicago.
-- Went to bed early cuz my flight out was at 6 am, meaning I had to be up at four...blah. >_<

The end. :D I promise pics are coming...Flickr was just being really obnoxious yesterday, so I'm gonna see if I can't persuade it to work sometime today or tomorrow. I'll try to include stories in the captions, too (or as many as I can remember!).

Summary: Spring Break '10 = great success.

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