Friday, April 27, 2012

Lofoten Islands

Monday was an early rising kind of day, at 6:45am I hopped on a bus with 15 friends and we drove 3 hours south to Lofoten Islands.  These are island within the Arctic archipelago, which are quite unique because, although being above the Arctic Circle, they experience a surprisingly mild climate.  The region is stunningly beautiful!  One of my friend, Remi, is from there and prepared a wonderful 3 days for us, he was such a good tour guide!

The first day included a nice little hike that took us up to see an amazing view of the fjord, mountains and the small islands.  It was indescribably beautiful!   Remi had lent us all a flag from our respective countries so we got some epic pictures of us with them at the top.

After that we went to the small village of Henningsvaer (population 600).  It was such a nice little place and it is famous for its fishing.  We saw fields of stockfish drying on wooden frames... quite the (stinky) experience!  Then we headed back to our house for a yummy BBQ.

The next morning we were tired from the hike the day before so we instead drove around all the islands.  Every community has a unique piece of artwork dedicated to them by international artists.  We saw two of them; one was a large mirror pointed toward the beautiful mountains to display the gorgeous  nature and the other was a face that, depending on which way you looked at it, faced the mountains or the ocean.

We made it to a beautiful big white sand beach.  If I was just looking at the sand and the ocean I could have sworn I was in Mexico.  However, that feeling was ruined when I dipped my feet into the cold Arctic waters and saw the snow on the mountains.  Those of us who were brave enough waded out to our hips to sit on a big rock island.  The Bulgarian stripped down and went for an actual swim!  The water was SO cold and the view was SO amazing! We ended our time there with a bonfire on the beach to warm off our poor legs.

After the beach some of us who weren't to tired went to explore a cave.  It was thanks to Remi that we knew about this place because apparently it is just known by locals.  We had to crawl in through this tiny hole in a rock face and squeeze our way through a narrow passage.  If I was just an inch more around I would not have fit.  It was truly incredible and definitely the best part of the trip for me.  When we looked up, there were ginormous boulders just resting on almost nothing, it was a bit scary but we were assured that they had been there and not moved for years.

The next morning we slept in, cleaned up the house we had rented and piled into the bus again.  It was raining and no one really seemed motivated to do much so we drove home.  I felt like sleeping but the view was so gorgeous there was no way I could take my eyes off the nature and mountains.  On our way back to Harstad we stopped in a very interesting town.  I don't remember the name but the town had decided at one point to paint all the buildings bright blue.  Halfway through some people decided it was a silly idea so they kept their houses/buildings their original colour.  Now, the town looks ridiculous as alot of the buildings are bright blue and the rest are normal looking.  We stopped here for a walk around and to taste some burgers some of us had been craving, mmm.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Home, sweet Harstad

When I got back to Harstad, I was contacted by an international company, Cartus.  They are a cross-cultural training company based out of the USA.  There is a Norwegian family here in Harstad that is moving to Saint Johns, Canada for two years and they were desperately searching for a Canadian to do some presentations for the parents and their 2 children, 7 and 9.  They are paying me and I have to do 3 presentations for them.  I think it will be fun and will finally be a productive use for my Canadian pride that I have developed since traveling.
Saturday night the international students had a prom as a farewell thing.  We all got dressed up and had a nice dinner prepared for us.  It was really nice to see everyone looking their finest.  We surprised other guests with a random flash mob dance which was interesting, Im not really sure how it turned out but it was video taped so Im sure it will end up on Facebook at some point.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thank yous...

I am really so lucky to have such wonderful friends who have taken such good care of me on this trip.  Its quite possible that none of them even read this blog but here goes a little shout out spiel…

A big thank you to Jan-Philip who endured my craziness for the first part of this trip in Ireland and Scotland.  He is a wonderful travel partner and so easy to get along with.  Thanks for putting up with my feeble attempts at speaking German and being so good with the day-to-day planning.

Thanks to Nikki and her family for letting me into their home in Northumberland.  It was really refreshing to be away from hostels and eat some delicious home cooked meals.  The castles and the beaches were amazing, such a nice area.

I am so happy to have met and gotten to know my English relatives; biggest thanks to Eric, Frila and Gwen.   They took such good care of me and showed me some English customs.  I feel like my little family isn’t so little anymore, and that is great.

Thanks to Bryce, Devin and Cam who booked a room for me and came out to check out what kind of nightlife London has to offer. It was so nice to see some people from back home.

Allison was such a wonderful guide and really went out of her way to show me London.  I am so happy that we could meet again now that we are older; thanks for lunch, helping me figure out my train route and taking me to see everything we did.

Hakan and his family are wonderful to let me, some wayward traveller, into their home and shower me with kindness and yummy food.  I’m so glad he and I have kept in touch throughout the years.

Anybody is welcome to visit me in Canada and the favors will be returned!

Bye bye UK

I got back from the UK a week ago but have been swamped with work to have the time to write about my last few days in London.

Me in front of Canada gate near Buckingham palace
I had a wonderful time and was so lucky to have stayed with Hakan and his family. His mom is the most wonderful woman and made sure I was fed properly and felt at home.

Me in front of Buckingham palace
I tried to squeeze all the sights into the two days.  Using the "tube"/underground train, it is incredibly easy to get around anywhere.  I saw Buckingham palace, the parliament buildings, Big Ben, the London Museum, the London Eye, Saint Pauls cathedral, the London Tower, the London Tower Bridge, the London Bridge, Butlers warf, Sommerset house, the British Museum, Notting Hill area for some vintage shipping etc.

Big Ben
Hakan took me out for a drink and we ended up sneaking to the top floor of the pub which was empty, to watch the sunset over downtown London, so nice!  On our way back to his place we took the train instead of the underground but we ended up on the wrong train and instead ended up at the airport!
Me on the London Gate bridge

My last morning I took a bus to get to a tram to get to a train to get to the airport where I got on a plane to get to another airport to take a bus to get to a plane to get to Harstad where I took a last bus and then walked home.  It was quite the journey but the plane had wifi which was nice.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

a taste of London

I am finally in London, the end of my trip.  Walking from the train station to my hostel, I walked by great London landmarks like Westminster Abbey, London Bridge, Trafalgar square (where and awesome Sublime cover band was playing), saw where the Prime Minister lives etc... all things that I have seen in movies or only ever heard of.

I met up with Devin, Bryce and Cam who are friends from high school who are starting a Euro backpacking trip.  We went out for some drinks and checked out the Soho district.  It was so nice to be with people from back home and speak normal English the whole night.

Today I spent the day with a friend from elementary school, Allison; she is studying in London to become a ballet teacher.  I hadn’t really spent time with her since we were in grade 4 so it was nice to catch up.  She was such a great tour guide and host.  I stored my stuff at her place and then we walked around.  She lives right in central London so everything worth seeing was really close.  We walked through Hyde park, saw a really impressive looking statue of Prince Albert, natural history museum, Victoria and Albert art gallery, checked out this crazy chique department store (I forget the name) and ate some yummy Japanese food.  She was such a help figuring out the train systems (which I think I have finally mastered), I’m so glad we could get together.

The transportation system here is so amazing!  It is quick and easy to get anywhere around London and even in the entirety of England.  All you need is a day pass and you are good to go on the “Tube” (underground trains), busses (yep, those red double decker busses), trams and some regular rail.  I’ve seen a similar system in Montreal with their metro system and Toronto (and I can imagine Vancouver as well with their skytrain), but many other cities in Canada are severely lacking in accessible and efficient public transportation.

Tonight I am staying at my friend Hakan’s place just outside of London.  He is a friend I met when I was travelling in New Zealand in 2010.  He is currently in Spain but gets back in the morning but still offered to let me stay here with his parents.  They are wonderful; they are Turkish and the mom is currently cooking up a Turkish dinner for me : )

I have two full days left then I head back to Norway early Wednesday.  Before I go back Ill check out Buckingham palace, Big Ben etc… and I have to start taking pictures because I have none in London so far!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

English Family

So, to sum up the past week since I last wrote, I love England!  I am so lucky to have wonderful friends and family who have taken such good care of me while I am here, making my experience the best possible.

I arrived to my English relatives home Wednesday evening.  I stayed with a lovely old lady named Gwen, she is my grandpa’s cousin and therefore my third cousin.  I met her children, their children and heard all about my own family and its intense history of which I had very little knowledge about before arriving.  She had tons of photos and newspaper clippings that were all interesting for me.  She even somehow had pictures of my brother and I from when we were little.  I feel as though I have a new grandmother!

I was fed very well and had a hot cup of tea in my hand at all times.  I have never really been one for tea but when in England, do as the English do, eh?  For breakfast one morning I was given hard-boiled eggs in little egg cups… I was really confused as to how to eat it so I just peeled the whole things and ate it with a spoon.   Turns out I was only supposed to peel half of it and eat it out of the shell out of the little egg cup.  They found it so amusing that I had never used an egg cup before that they bought me some later as a souvenir.

Along with the tea and egg cups, something else English that I like and experienced at both Nikki’s place and now here, is having hot water bottles to heat up the bed.  You just fill up the water bottles with boiling water and put them under the sheets at the foot of the bed so that you have a cozy bed to get into and it lasts all night.  I’m sure we have these in Canada but I have never used them but used them at the two English houses I’ve stayed in so far.

Gwen’s son’s new Filipino wife, the latest addition to the family before me, was my tour guide.  She explained to me all the dynamics of the family that she had learned and took me to the nearest city, Rochester.  There, we checked out a castle, beautiful chapel, museum and did some shopping.

The town where the family is based out of is a small town in the region of Kent and is particularly proud of their influence on Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations.  We visited a small cute church where some of the original movie was filmed… there was a small room inside with walls completely plastered in seashells.  The man that ran the church was so dedicated to it and has spent the past 30-some year taking care of it with his wife that recently passed away.

I was originally only planning on spending a night or two there then head to finish up my trip in London but had such a nice time that I spent a third night.  I feel that I really experienced true England with this family.  Rather then just hostel hopping and interacting with other travellers; I was immersed in the authentic culture, which can be near impossible when travelling.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Northumberland and Harry Potter

I took the train an hour from Edinburgh to Alnmouth in the region of Northumberland in northern England to stay with Nikki, a girl I lived with when she was on exchange at UNBC.  I am staying with her and her family in their summer home, which is near the ocean.  I am getting lovely home cooked meals and have a room all to myself which is a wonderful change from sharing with several people in hostels.

I had been blessed with great weather for my entire trip but here it has been cold and rainy.  I don’t usually have a problem with rain, but it feels so dreary; although this is a wonderful place, I think the rain would scare me away from living here.  The countryside is filled with sheep, cute homes and villages, old walls and daffodils.

The first afternoon when I arrived, she and I went to a beach and walked through the sand with my shoes off, it felt so nice.  We walked until we came across an old castle then we turned back and headed for a little shore side pub to duck out of the rain.

There are several old castles in the region since it is so near Scotland.  One of which is Alnwick castle, which is the castle primarily used as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies.  We toured around inside, it is the largest inhabited castle in England, lived in by the Percy family which are the Dukes and Duchesses of Northumberland.  We saw the area where the first flying lesson scene in the first Harry Potter movie was filmed and saw some sort of Harry Potter remake play.  Amongst all the HP stuff was a war museum, a carriage, a haunted house, a royal library etc.  The castle was gorgeous, despite the cold and the rain; it inspired me to watch at least one of the Harry Potter movies over again.

After this castle we drove around and checked out some other castles and walked on the beach.  Everything is so cute and I am sure there is so much interesting history here.   Tonight we are going to the local watering hole where Nikki works in the summer.  Tomorrow we are driving down to Newcastle and Ill catch a train to London Kings Cross where Ill catch another train to the region of Kent where I will meet some distant relatives on my dad’s side.

I really don’t know much about these people but I’m sure it will be wonderful.  One of them is my grandpa’s cousin.  My grandpa’s mom moved to Canada from England when she was a little girl and left her three older sisters behind in England and never saw them again.  The people I am visiting are those sisters’ children and grand children.  My aunt visited them when she was my age and says that I should be prepared to drink a lot of tea, but I’ve already gotten lots of practice at that since I’ve been in the UK, so no problem.

Sunday, April 8, 2012



To be honest, the reason I came to Scotland was because it was the most efficient way to get between Ireland and England.  I chose to only see Edinburgh and stay for a short 2 days.  Turns out, this country is full of wonderful surprises, even the small part I did see.

At first I wasn’t to impressed with Edinburgh.  The buildings looked similar and were all the same depressing grey color and it looked similar to any big European city.  As I got closer to the downtown area I kept seeing some beautiful medieval type cathedrals, which truly were amazing to see.  Some new buildings were mixed in with the old and the people seemed abnormally happy everywhere.

We walked around downtown, heard some gospel music in the streets then checked out the National Gallery.  I liked it a lot more then the one in Dublin because the majority of the art was actually Scottish where as in Dublin, there were very few Irish work.  After some more walking around we ended up at the Museum of Childhood.  I thought it was some silly museum and only went in because it was free and about to rain.  It was really neat!  It is a 5 story building filled with awesome old toys and games (and creepy dolls).  We stayed for much longer then we were planning to and it was well worth it.
Some of the creepy dolls at the Museum of Childhood
A view of Edinburgh from Hollyrood park

Then we found a big hill right in the middle of the city and set out to climb it to see where it would take us.  Instead of walking around to find a path we just went straight up the steep part.  When we got to the top of that we realized that there is much more to the hill then we initially thought… it took about 2 hours to get to the top (granted we stopped for picture, snack and rest breaks).  The view from the top was phenomenal, there was a beautiful 360 degree view of the city.  It is so cool that this existed right smack dab in the middle of Edinburgh!  It is called Hollyrood park and the top is named Arthur’s seat.

For dinner we went to a small restaurant our host had suggested to try out the famous Haggis.  Haggis is a traditional Scottish meal that consists of sheep’s lung, liver and heart which spices and oatmeal… as if this doesn’t sound gross enough it is typically cooked inside of a sheep’s stomach lining!  I was weary at first but was pleasantly surprised at how scrumptious it was, the Scottish ale helped a bit too.
Haggis for dinner!
The people I ended up staying with were fantastic and really showed us a great Scottish time.  I woke up this morning because I smelled yummy bacon and when I got to the kitchen there was a delicious Scottish breakfast feast ready for me.  It consisted of more haggis, blood pudding, ‘tattie cakes, mushrooms, bacon (he was proud to call it Canadian bacon), sausage, tomato, eggs and OJ.  It was SO good and SO filling!  Mmmmm, I was so lucky to get some real Scottish food.

We spent the rest of the day digesting all that food by walking around.  I have walked so much since I started this trip.  My honest estimate would be that I walk an average of 8 hours a day straight (some days up to 10 hours) and don’t have the best of shoes so my feet hurt so much by the end of the day but it is well worth it.  We saw some nice parks, the famous Edinburgh church and the Royal Yacht Britannica.  The yacht belongs to Queen Elizabeth and is full of their families’ history; it is even where prince Charles and princess Diana had their honeymoon!  On our way home it was raining so we had a drink or food in the good pubs we could find on our long walk back.
Overlooking Edinburgh
Now I am getting ready for bed and packing up all my stuff.  Since Jan fixed our hosts’ computer, saving him having to buy a new one, we get to stay here for free which is fantastic because it is just a lovely place.  I will definitely return to Scotland someday and check out the highlands and search for the Lochness monster!  Tomorrow I leave Scotland, and Jan, and head to Northumberland to stay with Nikki, a friend that I lived with in PG last year : )

Saturday, April 7, 2012

From Ireland to Scotland

Most of the second day in Belfast was spent stressing out about where we were going to sleep when we got to Edinburgh.  Every single hostel is booked, no one on could host us and every hotel tripled in price since it is Easter weekend.  We were waiting on our last hope, a reply from
Northern Ireland Parliament house... and me
While we waited for the response, we went to an oyster bar for lunch to eat some of the famous Irish oysters.  They were deeeeelicious!  I cant remember ever having had oysters so I wasn’t to sure what to expect but I’m happy I tried them.  Then we wandered around the great city and made it to the brand new Titanic museum.

Belle of Belfast city :P
Since the museum is so new, we weren’t able to get tickets to get in but we wandered around the lobby and gift shop then stayed for their free wifi.  The majority of tourism in Belfast is based on the Titanic.  It was in this city that the ship was constructed, and it was from Belfast that is departed on its fateful journey.  Titanic has been redone in 3D and is in theatres now that Ive seen the birthplace of the Titanic, I am definitely going to see it soon.  Since it came out Friday and we were there Thursday we instead went to see the Hunger Games which was sooooo good!
Titanic Museum

Friday morning we went to the Saint George’s market.  It is a huge market where you can buy anything from bras and underwear from a sketchy lady to fresh fish and delicious curry dishes.  I bought some dulse (sea weed… really high in minerals) and it was tasty but I put the left overs in my bag which now reeks of fishiness :(  For lunch, I got steak and Guinness pie from a cute vendor; it was so tasty!  Then we met a nice old fisherman who offered us some fresh oysters, mmmm.  I realize that a lot of these posts and pictures have to do with food but its because its hard to eat any good food in Norway because of the ridiculous prices so I am taking full advantage of decent priced foods and beer while I’m traveling here.
Eating oysters at Saint George's market
After the market we grabbed our bags from the hostel and headed for the ferry to cross the Irish sea to get to Scotland.  The ferry may as well have been a cruise ship!  There were bars, a spa, restaurants etc…  When we got to Scotland we hopped on a bus that went through the countryside, through Glasgow and finally arrived in Edinburgh.  For you North Americans reading this, it is not pronounced “Ee-din-burg” as I though but rather it is “E-den-bour-ah”.  I learned this the hard way when I got laughed at by a Scotsman for my butchering of the city’s name. 

We finally heard back from a host on air Bnb which is where we stayed.  I was a little bit apprehensive at first to stay in some random person’s house but it couldn’t have worked out better!  We are staying in a beautiful apartment near the harbor with a guy names Tom.  It is very clean, has two beds … it is a nice break from hosteling!  We spent the night with him and his 2 friends, slowly getting used to the Scottish accent.  Although this is my first experience, I would definitely suggest to anyone who needs a place to stay in a new city.  It’s a great way to meet locals and cheaper then a regular hotel

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Giants Causeway

As you could imagine, sleeping in a dorm with 11 other people, although saving money, is not a recipe for a good nights sleep.  We moved into another hostel in Belfast that we share with only a Chinese couple so we will finally be getting decent sleep for our two final nights in Belfast.  So great in fact, that as I type this, Jan is still napping even though we were planning to rent some bikes this morning to check out the city but its all good because it gives me time to indulge in Starbucks and catch up on some stuff.  Late today we plan to go to the Titanic museum that only just opened last week.
 Yesterday, as tired as we were, hopped on a day tour bus to ride up along the gorgeous coast to the north of Northern Ireland.  We saw some old castles, the Bushmills wiskey distillery, more castles, and lots of sheep on the Irish glens; finally we got to our main destination, the Giants Causeway.
Chillin' at the Giants Causeway
A close up of the shapes that make up the Causeway
The Giants Causeway is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. It is an area right on the ocean made up of basalt columns backed together rightly in hexagonal shapes.  They were formed the shrinking and cooling of molten lava from a volcanic eruption some 60 million years ago.  Or, for the idealist in you, local legend says that a giant living in the region built the Causeway to challenge his Scottish rival (hence the name Giant’s Causeway).  Either way, the site was gorgeous and the weather made for some great pictures (although the wind made for extremely messy hair).   The columns can be up to 12 meters high!  Unfortunately, my camera battery ran out here so I didn’t get as many pictures as I would have liked but Jan got some.

It was so windy all day!
After this we went to the Carrick-a-Redge Bridge.  It is a bridge built to connect a small island to mainland to fish the then bountiful salmon hundreds of years ago.  I think its claim is that it is the worlds longest rope bridge. It was cool but packed with tourists and I soon regretted paying the additional 5-pounds to cross the bridge, it really wasn’t worth it.  Now I can say that I’ve crossed it I guess and I got some good pictures.

Me crossing the bridge
That evening, we found free internet and went to plan our hostels and plans for Edinburgh.  Since we will be there over Easter weekend it looks like we will have a difficult time finding a place to stay or book any kind of activity (I’m not sure why hostels are booked over Easter…don’t people stay home with their families over the holidays?!)  Anyway, we have looked into Air BnB, which is a site where people can charge you for a room in their home.  We contacted a few people and are hoping they get back to us because otherwise we won’t have anywhere to sleep!

Then we went to a few pubs.  The pubs here have such character, it is refreshing.  In one of them, we met an old man who introduced himself as the “King of the City”; he loved us.  He had had a few to many to drink but he offered to buy us drinks and kept us entertained.  We ended the night with dinner at KFC, which we weren’t allowed to eat in our rooms, the hostel lobby or the KFC so we sat in the hallway and shoved our faces full.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Welcome to Belfast

The train from Dublin to Belfast was gorgeous.  The weather finally turned “Irish”, meaning it was overcast and rainy so that added to the authenticity of the scenery.  We sat at a table facing a nice older Irish man who lives in Belfast and was fascinated with Canada so we chatted the whole way. It was interesting to have a conversation with someone who had a thick Irish accent; a few times I had to ask him to repeat himself.

When we got of the train, we realized we didn’t have the address for the hostel we had booked and there was no wifi in the train station or information desk so we just rode a bus downtown and started walking.  Jan went to ask someone for directions but since Jan is German and even though his English is very good, this guy had a thick Irish accent, which was difficult to understand.  I had to kind of translate English – English, it was strange.  I think this will only get worse in Scotland where the English is very different.

He gave us perfect directions to a hostel, unfortunately it was the wrong hostel and about a 30 min walk in the opposite direction of where were meant to be walking.  Did I mention it was raining, very windy and even hailing?!  We also had no Irish pounds to take the bus.  After this long walk we finally made it to the proper hostel where we were told that our reservations were lost and there are no rooms in Belfast because this week is a very touristy week due to the opening of the Titanic museum and other Titanic festivities.  So the guy at the front desk offered for us to sleep in his room and offered to put up 2 mattresses instead of the shared bed and not charge us, we agreed and went out to the nearby pub.  It was classically Irish, live music, people of all ages all having a good time.  AND the food was cheap so after a long day I treated myself to come yummy pub grub.

We just got back to the hostel and the front desk guy managed to get us into real bed and traded our room to some couples who didn’t mind sleeping together.  Tomorrow we are up bright and early for a day tour to the more northern part of Northern Ireland!

Leaving Dublin...well, trying to leave

Last night we had a good night out.  After bussing back from Galway we headed to the hostel to cook some food and I met some Quebecois girls there.  We later headed to Temple Bar, which is a famous bar in a downtown sector that shares its name.  We met 2 Irish guys there which I think is rare because the place is packed with tourists and they showed us a good Irish time.   It was a great last night out in Dublin.

I spent the morning shopping in Dublin and ended up getting a nice new pair of jeans (to replace my current pair that have a hole in them), a dress (I can wear it to HIH’s graduation prom April 21) and a scarf (so I can fit in here, Europeans love their scarves).

Now I am sitting and waiting frustrated at the train station.  I looked online and the train we need to take to Belfast cost 10 Euros and I was told I could just buy the ticket once I got here.  Turns out that was a special online price only and it was to late to purchase them.  Instead, I spent the past 30 mins trying to book tickets for the next train in 2 hours on the internet that keeps cutting out as soon as I go to purchase.  Turns out that we could have just gotten a student price when we got here, even through the clueless lady at the ticket counter said we couldn’t, so that is what we will do.  So we missed our train and are paying a bit more and have to go 2 hours later then we planned to because of a bunch of misunderstandings.

Luckily, among all the pigeons at the indoor train station, there is a Starbucks :)

Monday, April 2, 2012


Today was spent looking around the city of Galway; turns out there isn’t much to see here.  The downtown area is very cute and has gorgeous authentic buildings turned into quaint cafes, pubs and stores.  We spent some time walking down the river and saw two seals swimming around. For brunch we had an Irish breakfast which along with dry toast, bacon, sausage, eggs and hashbrowns included blood pudding and white pudding!  Blood pudding is sausage that is filled with blood and white pudding is oatmeal and pork in a sausage... both were satisfying.

At one point, we were geocaching but had given up because the coordinates were off so I put the GPS in my pocket to take some pictures of the 15+ gorgeous swans swimming around.  There were some old rickety brick stairs going into the river and I commented on how dumb/pointless they were because who would be walking into the gross river?!  Moments after that comment, my GPS falls to the bottom of the river, through a group of startled swans!  Luckily the GPS is bright yellow, the river wasn’t to deep and those stairs I had just made fun of were only about 10 metres away.  So I had to take off my shoes, roll up my pants and shamefully walk down the stairs into the freezing cold water.  I gathered a small crowd and was humiliated and cold AND Jan captured it all on film (so I’m sure it will get posted to Facebook for you all to see at some point).  I rescued the GPS and it was undamaged!

The rest of the day was really just walking and I found a cheap salon to finally get my hair cut.  Haircuts in Norway are ridiculously expensive and I meant to get my roommate to cut my hair but we never got around to it.  My hair was getting out of control and now it feels so nice because the dead ends are gone and it got blow dried and straightened.  I do not have a hair dryer here and my straightener only seldomly works so it is refreshing to have normal hair for once.

Now we are on the bus back to Dublin (yes there is wifi, free coffee and a toilet on this bus) where we will spend the night again.  Tomorrow we are planning to check out the famous prison then hop on the train to Belfast in Northern Ireland.  I didn’t really know much about Ireland before coming, but turns out Northern Ireland is a different country then Ireland.  N. Ireland uses the British Pound and is part of the UK where as Ireland is part of the EU and uses Euro as its currency.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cliffs of Moher

Sooooo, Ireland is awesome.  I spent another day walking all over Dublin; the highlight of the day was checking out the Guinness Brewery.  The building is 7 stories high and it is in the shape of a pint of beer.  It was really interesting to see the brewing processes and the free samples weren’t bad either ;)

Today bright and early (6am!) we hopped on a bus to take us to Galway, which is a city on the western coast of Ireland.  Once we got here we were taken to a family’s farm for a hike on their land and their privately owned mountain.  The walk was great and the scenery was gorgeous. After the hike we got some home made apple pie and tea and learned to play some game called "Hurling".  Then we got on a bus which took us to the Cliffs of Moher which were stunning.  They are ginormous cliffs that rise up to 214 meters out of the ocean and are one of Ireland's greatest attractions.  I met two really nice guys from Brazil and a girl from Trinidad whom I spent the rest day with.  We then went for lunch then drove around checking out some more scenery and castles.

The Irish scenery is just like out of a movie, and some of the houses look postcard perfect.  All the properties are separated by fences made by piled stones, nothing to hold them together aside from time.  Typical farms own about 40 cows and a few sheep (since its spring time, there are tons of super cute baby sheep everywhere). 
I keep hearing from locals that the weather right now is very rare and we should appreciate it.  Usually it is overcast and rainy but since I’ve been here it has been warm and sunny, people were even in shorts and sandals in March!  I even got a bit of a sunburn… in Ireland!

Right now, for dinner I am sharing a bag of chips… traveling is awesome, no rules!