Monday, November 23, 2009

The Bonny Green Land of Leprechauns and Guinness!

For the weekend, I flew to Dublin with seven other friends, for a bargain price of 20 pounds (around $35)!!!!!! I flew out on Friday, the morning after another whisky tasting, so I was a little rough around the edges. But Sam and I didn't fly out until 1 in the afternoon, so we were able to have a nice, slow morning. We walked to the train station and then took a bus to the airport. We met our friends at the airport and then flew to Dublin!! It was the shortest flight, only 45 minutes and we were in the bonny green land of shamrocks, leprechauns and, of course, Guinness!!

Here's a picture of Amanda and I in the taxi to our hostel:

We stayed in a great hostel right in the heart of the Temple Bar district. It was clean (very important when you are sleeping and sharing restrooms with 30 other people). The people were nice and there was great banter in the common rooms.

Pictures of the outside of the hostel:

When we arrived, we were starved so we went to a pub for dinner. I had the best fish and chips ever!! And a Guinness to drink!! After, we walked around the temple bar district looking for pubs to drink and banter. While walking we saw the Molly Malone Statue!! And walked down the most charming street, Grafton Street, decorated with Christmas lights and street performers!

We ended the night at what we call an old-man's pub! My favourite type of pub with great drinks and folk singers!! We sang some of my favourite Irish song such as "Whiskey in the Jar" and "The Wild Rover"!!!! It was a blast!

After a good nights rest, or at least as good as a hostel gets, we started the day in pouring rain. Before Scotland, I would have been put out by the rain, but now rain doesn't even phase me anymore!! Besides, nothing was going to stop me from seeing the Book of Kells!! Thus, our first stop: Trinity College and the Book of Kells!

Trinity College was charming and beautiful! Almost as much as Edinburgh Uni…

Here are some pictures of Trinity:

Inside the library of Trinity College in the famous Book of Kells! The Book of Kells is a historical manuscript, probably created by the monks of Iona during the spread of Christianity in the British Isles and Ireland. It is just so amazing to see how much effort was put into making the book and the details and artistry… I am such a history geek! I loved it!!

After seeing the Book of Kells, we visited the Long Library of Trinity and wow! My dream come true! I love books, especially old books, and this library hall was packed full! The library was incredible! A taste of heaven on earth!!

Then, we ventured back outside into the rain to tour Dublin. We stopped by the river Liffey, which separates the city of Dublin.

Then we walked over to the Dublin Castle. Not quite as grand as Edinburgh Castle ( I may be bias), but still a classic medieval and gothic castle with modern additions. Here are some pictures of the castle (Sam told me to act like a princess)

Next stop was the Christ Church Cathedral, which like every cathedral was outstanding and gorgeous!!

Then, I made Sam walk over to the St. Patrick Cathedral with me! You can't go to Dublin without seeing it!! Unfortunately, due to a graduation ceremony, we were unable to go inside, but the architecture outside was stellar and the courtyard was beautiful.

After, and to truly experience Irish culture, we went to the Guinness Factory!!! The queue was very long, but we managed to get inside and tour the seven floors of the tourist factory! We toured through the process of brewing the draft and even had a gigantic Guinness chocolate cupcake!! Here are some pictures including a map of the factory:

Then, at the top, is the Gravity Bar, where we received our complementary pint of Guinness (complete with a clover on top) and could see a 360 degree view of the city of Dublin!!! :)

After, we walked back to the hostel, and met back up with everyone else for dinner. I had Irish stew and Guinness! Yum!

After bantering for awhile, we walked over to another pub called the Porterhouse. A great pub with four floors, each with their own bars and live Celtic music!! It was so much fun, and a great note to end this fabulous trip!!

I really loved Ireland, but I am Scottish through and through. It was a great trip, but I was happy to come home to Edinburgh!


Monday, November 16, 2009

St Giles' Cathedral

I know it has been a while... I apologizes, but as you can imagine, as my first semester here in Edinburgh is wrapping up, things have been hectic.

One of the highlights of the last week was visiting St Giles' Cathedral! I have walked passed it many times, as it is placed in the heart of the Royal Mile, and admired its beauty from the outside. But only decided to go inside recently... and wow! The inside is magnificent! Tall Gothic ceilings with intricate stone-carvings, gigantic windows filled with stain-glassed narrations, and a overall connection with the ancient past. I was speechless, and my friend Sam, who has been studying Architecture History, gave my a grand tour of the history of the building. :)

No photography was allowed inside, so I bummed some pictures off the net so you all can see for yourselves!!

In one corridor, the walls were lined with family crests of families who have either contributed to the cathedral or to Scotland. One of the crests, and all you Outlander fans will love this, was from the Frasers of Lovat, complete with their motto, "Je Suis Prest"!! And as I recall, one of Jamie's favourite places in Edinburgh was St Giles' Cathedral and I can clearly see why (even though it would have looked entirely different in the eighteenth century :))


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Goodbye Warm Weather :(

It seems the glorious heatwave here in Edinburgh is over. It has been cold, raining (and I don't mean the little drizzle we've had here lately, but pouring buckets! Water leaking into my room through the windows. Just wonderful) and windy as all get-out!!

Thank god (or Mama rather) for my wonderful supply of Vitamin D! And for my heavy-duty ski jacket, and surplus supply of gloves, hats and scarfs! Winter in finally here! I hope it snows at least once here!!

Hope everyone's enjoy the change of seasons as well! ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Halloween was a blast! The weather was terrific -- bright blue skies, no wind and it was warm! This was by far the warmest Halloween I think I have ever had! And in Scotland too! Go figure.

But it was wonderful because we could all wear our costumes without having to hide them under big coats to keep warm!

Sam went as a pirate, Steph as a builder and I went as a cat (trying to keep it low budget ;)) But we got all dolled-up, then when to a pub called Leslie's Bar for a pint for pre-drink. Here's a picture of Steph and I at the pub:

Then we walked over to Teviot (the Student Union) for a big Halloween bash called the House of Terrors! It was fun! There were dj's, bands, chocolate fondue, tons of people in great costumes, and place was totally decked-out with cobwebs and dry ice! It was really cool!

Then, when Sam and I went to leave for home around 2, there was outside in our little plaza, another band playing African drums and everyone was dancing!! So of course Sam and I joined in and danced into the wee hours of the night under the stars to bongo drums! An amazing Halloween! I can't remember the last time I had this much fun!

Hope everyone's Halloween was great!

Slainte Mhath!