Sunday, September 21, 2008

Irrrrreland... A Soggy Experience

Please forgive me if there are typos in this posting. The keyboards in France are tres strange. :)

So, I traveled through Ireland and made two stops. One in Dublin, and another in Cork. My experience in these little Gaelic sitties was a good one, but a wet one. It rained almost the entire time! Really Seattle, we have been outdone. :)

Brend Ban (one of the Aussies I met the first night in London) and I left London by train, traveling through the English countryside, which is really beautiful. I wish I had enough time to spend in one of the little villages which we had passed. The countryside is covered in green rolling hills, speckled with castles, and suspended half between a tranquil past and a roaring present. The journey ended at the little dingy port of Holyhead, where we boarded a massive 5-story ferry, complete with arcade, store, lounge, restaurants, and even a small casino where passengers tested their luck at a game of 21. We made it to Dublin early in the day and met back with the two Aussies ladies who were also traveling with us.

Dublin was a very good experience. That night we went to a fun, but very American knock-off of Johnny Rockets, called (not surprisingly) Eddie Rockets. :) It was good and after a week away it was nice to be at a place that felt like home.

The next day, we spent the morning doing laundry. While I waited, I spoke with the portly and perpetually irritated attendant. We had a good chat where she told me of some of the best bars and also convinced me of the restaurants to avoid by showing me their towels stained to a colour not quite brown and smeared with what looked like auto grease. Later that day, we headed to the Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. This building was the former premier Irish prison, housing several notorious political prisoners, among others. The gaol has a brilliant history, more a part of Ireland`s revolution than perhaps any other building. The tour there was incredible. The most interesting story told was that of Robert Emmett and his former house-keeper Ann. Robert, a prominent member of Irish society, had been involved in a plot to break from the British rule. He was captured, tortured, and put before the firing squad where he made a speech that has been mentioned by several important men, including Lincoln. Even more interestingly is the story of Ann who, implicated in the same plot as Robert, was sent to the Gaol where she spent years tortured, starved, and crammed into a cell filled with excrement and filth because she would not release a list of names of those involved in the same plot. Eventually, a political leader had her released, only to be hounded by the police for another 40 years, imprisoned and starved in a poor slum in Dublin, before she died never releasing the list. If Ann would have crumbled those important revolutionaries would have been imprisoned and likely executed; and Ireland`s revolution would have likely failed.

I apologise about the long story, the Gaol was so cool!

After seeing a bit more of Dublin, we headed south to the port city of Cork...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A brief apology

I apologise to everyone who checks this blog for updating it so infrequently. I plan to write a long comment tomorrow, or maybe a couple, about my experiences in Dublin, Cork, and so far in Paris. But for now, I must say that it has been amazing!!!! Unfortunately, my internet cafe wont allow me to upload photos, but those will come later. I have a ton!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pics of London

I couldn't post all the pics I wanted in the other post, so here are some more!

Garden by Buckingham

The Albert Memorial - if you ever have a chance go here!!

Kensington Palace

3 images - Tower Bridge

Nelson's Column in the distance

Nelson's Column

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Europe... how long has it been?

Have I been gone for a week already?! In one way it feels like only a matter of hours, in others it feels as though it has been months. Europe is amazing! There is so much to see and so much to experience, and just a little too much to take in...

Well, as most of you know, I flew into London HR last Thursday morning London time. I drug myself off of the plane and made my way through airport corridors to the Tube station down below. Exhaustion and a bit of confusion set in, the result of a 20 hour day and excitement from years of anticipation. Even so, the Tube was a breeze! It just makes sense (Seattle could learn from the Brits :) ). I found my hostel, the Globetrotter Inn fairly easily (except for not realizing that there is no free-standing street signs, street names are marked on the buildings), and checked in. That night I met who would become my travel companions for the first week, and likely the first month of my travel. I was put up with 3 Aussies and a German. The Aussies -- Jess, Lauren, and Brendan. The German -- Jess. They have been amazing!!

So, London... a little too much to tell, but I'll impart a taste. First off, I was amazed by the Tube, which had a big impact on the traffic. One of the biggest cities in the world, but the majority of traffic is foot traffic! The Tube is so very efficient and so very accessible that London's streets are largely clear of the personal automobile. Secondly, what an electric city! This city is alive. People are everywhere. I have never been in a city with so many different cultures, ethnicities, and people groups. Everywhere you walk you hear different languages, different colors, different accents. It's really cool. Not too hard to get lost in the mass.

So, more specifically, where have I been? All over! We wandered all throughout the central part of London. Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Green Park, St James Park, London Bridge, Tower Bridge... There are monuments and sculptures everywhere! Buckingham was really cool, we saw the changing of the guard on horseback and took some great pics around the fountain that sits in front. Some great monuments tower over the city, as though watching and protecting its inhabitants. Nelson's Column in the middle of Trafalgar, Big Ben part of the palace of Westminster, Lord it over the city.

Although all of it has been great, I really don't think that anything can compare to Les Miserables at the Queen's theatre in London's west-end. First off, the art on the walls and ceiling are incredible! There are some really cool sculptures extending down from the vaulted ceiling and on the circular walls above the stage. Then, the show began. The sets were the best that I have seen. The entire show takes place on a revolving stage, and atop of that for most of the show is a show that rotates between a city building with elevated boardwalk and a barracade. On top of it all, the acting and singing was magnificent. I can only say so much, you'll just have to go!!

Anyways, the Aussies and I are now in Dublin, and I will have to fill you in on that in a bit...

Photos below -- Top - momument and gate in front of Buckingham. Second - gate and me! Third - Buckingham. Bottom - Westminster Abbey.