Sunday, March 31, 2013

Travel fever, part 2: Ireland, part 2

Alright, it's time for Ireland part 2. It's been a while since I've last been here but do not fear - I have not left you. I have just been crazy busy with my work and everything. So this part 2 of Ireland actually includes my friend's visit in Ireland, our night in Dublin and our trip back to home for Christmas via London. Let's start then....

I was in Germany in 2008 visiting my friend and returned the "favor" in December 2010. Kirsi flew to keep me some company before Christmas and I basically planned a good trip for her. Unfortunately it didn't start so well. Kirsi flew to Dublin airport via Heathrow and her luggage was missing when she came to Ireland. Apparently it was left at Heathrow Airport. Fortunately she was able to buy some clothes and stuff from Penneys and Dunnes and her luggage arrived a couple of days later, bringing me some Finnish stuff like rye bread, fazer chocolate and such.

So, in nutshell, we visited in Dingle, Cork and Killarney while we were in Ireland and of course we stayed in Tralee. So those were just a day trips. We also attended a couple of parties during the week arranged by my friends.



 We visited the lovely [MAD HATTERS] in Dingle and I found myself a new bag from there on sale. I paid 50€ for it but still. It was a nice pink bag and I really needed a new one since all my previous bags were quite awful and cheap quality and looked horrible after a few weeks. I honestly loved the outlook - the pink and green stripes. Honestly it looked much like Wonderland. We stopped by at Murphy's for have an ice cream and ate fast food. It was a bit cold weather though and I had only my hoodie on. I kinda freezes while waiting for the bus.

The next day we headed to Cork. Once again, my favorite city. I fell in love with this shop called [CLAIRE'S] where they sell some awesome and very very cute jewelry. I bought tons of earrings, necklaces and such. There were little jar necklaces with "poison", "wish dust", "sunlight" or such with matching earrings. If you ever visit somewhere and find Claire's there. Be sure to visit!

And the day after that we headed to Killarney. The weather had been awful and there were slush and the buses couldn't run because they had no winter tires so we had to take the train. I would've actually wanted to take a walk in the [NATIONAL PARK] but as I said, the streets were all slushy and whatnot.

So then came a day when we started our journey back to Finland. We took a train to [DUBLIN] where we stayed for one night. And if you are planning a stay in Dublin, I strongly recommend booking a room in the [FOUR COURTS HOSTEL]. It's near to everything and it's not a long walk from the train station. The staff was awesome and our private room was the best I've ever had until now. It's sort of sad that we only got to spend one night in Dublin and didn't quite think it through. But I will return there someday.

We had a nice walk around the city, visited Trinity College and St. Stephen's Green Park, ate at Subway (yup... I still miss the Hearty Italian bread and the corn as a vegetable... bring them to Finland too :D!). We also went on a little shopping spree - nothing too much though since we had to save room for souvenirs from London. We went for a coffee in Starbucks - there was special coffees for Christmas: Toffee Nut Latte, Gingerbread Latte and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. YUM!


(This was in our hostel door, haha! Made us laugh at least.)

So after spending the night in Dublin, we headed to airport in order to head to London for two nights. It was really short time and we noticed it too. There was all the fuss about the snow and our flight was a bit late too. Okay - not even a bit, it was late by two hours. So that kind of mixed our schedule and therefore we needed to reschedule our visit. So first we searched our hostel, which was this time very smelly and the private room was the size of a closet. Yup, not the best hostel I've been at indeed.

Anywho, we spent the first night searching for food and visiting the [WHITELEYS] shopping mall. I bought an overpriced Minnie Mouse t-shirt there but it was a cute one. It was already dark so we headed back to our hostel.

The next day we started our quick tour of London's sights (and we still didn't get  to see everything!). The tour started in [MADAME TUSSAUDS] which I enjoyed very much. It was really fun to take photos with the dolls. We also went through the Chamber of Horrors which was fun and not really scary at all (says a person who doesn't watch horror movies cause they're boring... and that's the truth,  I haven't yet watched one that would get me screaming and all). The best part was when we sat to these little taxis and went on a rollercoaster ride through the history of London. It was very lovely. After that we took the Marvel 3-D experience and then got out. All in all we spent at least two hours there.

After visiting at Madame Tussauds, we went to Paddington Station to search for the Paddington Bear statue. It wasn't an easy one to find though. Kirsi asked a police officer for directions and accidentally pronounced bear like beer. I so would've wanted to see the officer's face. It was kinda funny. Then we continued to Piccadilly Circus and traveled around in search for a place to eat lunch. We ended up in [ANGUS STEAK HOUSE] where we ate some seriously good food! Then we continued to see the Buckingham Palace and after taking a few photos, we were off to Westmister to see the famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. We wrapped the evening by visiting Kings Cross and trying to find Platform 9¾. It began with me and Kirsi lost in the tube - unfortunately we got separated but after about an half an hour we met in St. Pancreas station and continued to King's Cross. The station was under construction though and the wall had been moved - much to my disappointment it wasn't a real wall at all - there was just a brick wall-like wallpaper glued into a wall. I think they have fixed that now though.

We did a bit of shopping before going back to our hostel. The next day we went on and did some more shopping but then we had to hurry to the airport. I caught a flu on the journey so the flight back wasn't so nice at all... But finally we were back in Finland. And honestly, it was so damn cold I wanted to make a u-turn and go back to Ireland.

The nice thing was that I heard from my roommate in Ireland that a pipe in our apartment complex had broken and there was water in our apartment too. Luckily my room was quite alright. Only my toilet had a bit of water on the floor. There was no water for showering though. Luckily it was also fixed a day or two after I got back to Ireland.

That was the end of part 2. Next post will be the last of Ireland: Sligo, Galway, Limerick and a glimpse of Edinburgh!

Miss K

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Travel fever, part 2: Ireland, part 1

So this post was due like days ago but I've been so busy with work and there has been soo much things to do. So I apologize for this post being so late. I have divided this post in three parts because otherwise I'm going to spam these post with loads of photos and therefore I would just slow down your computers. So part 1 includes the arrival in Ireland, Dingle Roadtrip, Blarney Castle and the Ring of Kerry Tour. 

6.9.2010. It was 4AM when we left home towards Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. It's actually quite surprising that they don't have straight flights to Ireland. Or well, they did with Aer Lingus and only on specific days. Which, of course, did not fit in my schedule. Anyhow, it was quite sad to leave everyone I knew behind and head to another country for five months. I was heading to [TRALEE], co. Kerry which is probably most known of it's annual Rose of Tralee -festival.


I was going to study in IT Tralee. It is the only third degree school in Tralee. They had created a group for us new exchange students so we could get in touch and whatnot. There I met Helena, who was from Sweden, and was traveling the same day I was. We agreed to meet in Copenhagen Airport where we went to Dublin and to Kerry together. So all in all it took 3 different flights (and it would've been easier to take the train to Tralee, but little did we know then...): Helsinki - Copenhagen - Dublin - Kerry. I was going to stay in An Seann Mhuileann ("The Old Mill") an apartment complex, situated near the town centre, about 3km from the North campus where I studied. Helena was going to live in Oakpark, about half way from An Seann to North Campus. 

Tralee was quite little and all the necessary shops were basically just around the corner - Dunnes Stores was actually right next to my apartment so it took only 5mins to get there. Which was quite convenient. I met a lot of people from different countries - a few from my own. The closest to me were Helena, another Finnish girl Hanna and Tanja from Germany. I was in an apartment with two other girls too - Lina from Germany resided in one room and Melike from Turkey in the other. I had ridiculously good luck with my room since I got a double room with the price of a single room. More space for me. Which actually turned out to be handy since I lodged a couple of friends there if we got home late or for some other reasons.

Well, hop to the future. At the start of the semester, me, Lina, Helena and two guys rented a car for a weekend and went to a little road trip. First day we went to see the [DINGLE PENINSULA].  It was quite a nice trip and the landscapes were really breathtaking! First we stopped at Brandon's point (3rd row, 1st photo). I only saw Atlantic Ocean to... well no point at all. It was something you need to experience. Standing on a cliff and just... thinking how lucky you are being in a place like this. Anyhow, we continued our journey to Dingle, which is a little coastal town, famous for it's dolphin, [FUNGI]. We didn't go to the boat tour though, something I felt a bit sad about cause I love dolphins!

From Dingle we continued our journey around the Peninsula and stopped by Coumeenoole Beach. What really surprised me was that they actually surfed there! Not that I don't know that it can be done but since it's not exactly the most ideal temperatures and all. It was kind of chilly there in autumn-winter. So I could only imagine how cold the water was. It was really fun to walk in the soft sand (though I had tons of it in my shoes) and just stare at the tidal waves and goof around. When we finished the amazing landscape-tour in Dingle Peninsula, we drove to Killarney - a town near Tralee. There was lots of places to shop and places to eat. One of my favorite place's in Ireland was Murphy's Ice Cream Shop. There was ice creams in all flavors (even Guinness!) and coffees to die for.

The second day started with us driving towards Cork and stopping by at [BLARNEY CASTLE]. That was actually something I had suggested because I wanted to see it so bad. I'm a sucker for old castles and history and well - snapping one thousand photos in those kind of places. Blarney Castle is quite famous for the [BLARNEY STONE]. The story tells that if you kiss the stone located on the top of Blarney castle, you will be given the gift of eloquence. So yes, I did it too (and later I just hoped that no one had any diseases...). It was kind of scary (even more if you have fear of heights... what a good plan...) lying on your back, no nets or any safety procedures at all, only a person holding your waist while you hold two metal pipes and bent down to kiss the cold stone. But it was definitely worth it! I just didn't look down... (3rd row, 1st photo). There was also a lovely poison garden (1st row, 2nd photo) with lovely but very poisonous plants such as wolfsbane, hemlock, kannabis etc.  (nope I didn't take a souvenir).


After Blarney, we continued to Cork. It was a city I fell in love immediately. Lot of shopping opportunities, pretty buildings and... [BUTLER'S CHOCOLATE CAFE] (1st row, 1st photo). Honestly it was the second best place after Murphy's and the best chocolate in Ireland. It definitely beats Belgian and Swiss chocolate, both of which I thought were the best before tasting Butler's. After Cork we ended up in a place called Bandon. And we ended up at the gates of a golf course where there was another beautiful view, amazing cliffs and the ocean continued to the infinity. After the day was done, we went to eat in this nice restaurant in Kinsale called Dino's Family Restaurant. While other four ordered seafood - fish and chips and other stuff, I ordered chicken (I don't eat fish. At all). And it was fantastic! A good way to end the trip, definitely.


The next trip was when our school organized a Ring of Kerry Bus Tour in October (I think... not sure though). Basically we sat on a bus for a few hours while it drove around the small roads and we took photos. We stopped in several occasions eg. in a small town of Sneem (what a cute name!) and some landscape spots to take pictures. I loved it even though we didn't get to do so much of exploring ourselves but watch the landscapes change from the window of the bus. It was also very cheap way to see the county I was living in for the five months.

Part 2: Dublin, London, Sligo & Galway. Coming soon...

Miss K