Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Days 7-8: Cork & Travel home

Tuesday, December 18, 2012. Sitting at home. 12:31 a.m. local time PST.

I am now home from my travels! There really isn't much to tell about the last couple of days. We explored Cork on our last day there.

Literally, we wandered around town & went to the English Market & bought our lunch. We ate our lunch on the side of the road on a little bench & then headed back to the house earlier than we planned because it started raining a little on us.

We watched Thor with Sarah and then during dinner (we had pizza), we started watching the Avengers with the boys and Sarah before heading out to the airport around 6pm. Our flight left at 8 from Cork & we landed in London around 10:30pm. We caught a bus to a nearby tube station (45 minutes away) & then caught the last tube to Morden, where the girls live.

We got into their place around midnight & re-packed & re-distributed everything. I went to bed around 1:30 & slept for 3 hours before getting up to get ready for the day. Our taxi was due at 6 to pick us up. We suddenly realised the time at 5:45.

We dragged our bags downstair & loaded up the taxi. We were so thankful for the taxi & not having to lug D's two huge suitcases all over London. We got the airport in timely fashion only to discover that D had to go to a different terminal. So we checked in & said goodbye.

I got some breakfast (I was approximately 3 hours early for my flight) before heading to my gate. The gate didn't open until an hour before the flight was scheduled to leave so I piled my bags on the seat next to me & fell asleep against them for about an hour and a half.

I slept almost the whole way to Chicago & then it took me almost 2 hours to get through security & customs & everything before I found my new gate. When I arrived in Denver, I met up with D. We both had about an hour layover in Denver at the same time! We ate goodies that we bought in Ireland to save for our layover in Denver & talked about the hell that is customs & security.

We had to say goodbye again, this time for good. My last flight home was short & my boyfriend picked me up from the airport. We drove home from Spokane in a snowstorm so the two hour drive took us almost four hours.

However, I am now arrived safe & sound and back to semi-normality.
For the last time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Days 3-6: Dublin & Cork, Ireland

Friday, December 14, 2012. 22:41 local time (aka 10:41 p.m.). Cork, Ireland.

I apologise for my lack of posting in the past few days, I haven't had access to a computer. I am now sitting in the upstairs room of the family we are staying with in Cork, Ireland & they have graciously let both D & I use their computers. So I will attempt to summarise the last few days:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Day 3: Dublin

Very early on the morning of the 11th, we headed off to the Stansted airport in England to catch our flight to Dublin, Ireland. We both took a nap on the flight & landed in Dublin airport around 11 a.m. local time.

(as a side note, if you are PST, Ireland & the UK are 8 hours ahead of you.)

We then caught a bus to our hotel, the lovely Roxford Lodge Hotel on N. Umberland Rd. We were amazed by the friendliness of the staff & after checking in, we were brought tea in our room. We had afternoon tea & figured out what we wanted to do & when. We developed a pattern of planning until noon & then cramming everything into about 3 hours in the afternoon before dinner.

After tea, we left the hotel & headed downtown to the Guinness Factory. We toured the old place & were rewarded with a beautiful view at the top of the place. It was getting dark by then, so we caught a taxi to a pub called the Brazen Head. (I highly recommend it for anyone wanting a small Irish pub atmosphere.) We had dinner there then walked back to the hotel & got in the sauna in our room. We then curled up in bed & watched a couple movies until late.

It was a pretty uneventful day as we were both tired from traveling & we didn't start our adventures until about 2 p.m. I also very highly recommend the Roxford. It's an adorable hotel.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Day 4: Dublin

We thought we would start early on the 12th, so we began our exploration at noon. 12/12/12--it happened to be Danielle's birthday & she wanted to visit a cathedral so we caught a bus to St. Patrick's cathedral. We headed in with the view of looking around for a few minutes, but were pleasantly surprised by one of the staff who offered to give us a tour.

He was a brilliant tour guide & gave us a good hour and a half tour of the cathedral, telling us all sorts of stories etc. Of course, we did some shopping at the little gift shop there (D calls me the queen of souvenirs) and then headed off to Dublin Castle.

There, we took a tour of the castle & got to listen to yet another fantastic Irish accent. After the castle, we went to downtown to find a few pubs to go to for Danielle's birthday. We found all the authentic old Irish ones & had dinner & lots of fun. We headed back to the hotel early (around 8:30 p.m.) and watched another movie & went to bed rather early.

Thursday, December 13, 2012
Day 5: Cork, Ireland

Yesterday, we got up in time for breakfast at the hotel & enjoyed a lovely continental breakfast (with babybel cheese!!!) before checking out & taking the LUAS to our bus station.

We caught the noon bus to Cork & basically slept all the way there. We arrived at 4:30 p.m. local time & after a bit of wandering, found the house where the family who is hosting us lives. We ate dinner with them & then went off to see the Hobbit. I shan't spoil it for any of you who haven't seen it yet, except I recommend seeing it in 3D (& I hate 3D). It's such an epic movie.

After that, we headed back to the house & went to bed. It was pretty uneventful yesterday because we spent most of our day on the bus.

& that brings me to today.

Friday, December 14, 2012
Day 6: Cork, Ireland

Today we got up early & headed down to Killarney with Jo, our host. She had some shopping to do & we tagged along.

We went to Muckross House & priory & walked around the park. It rained a bit but not too hard, so it was still an enjoyable walk. The grounds were simply gorgeous...it was hard to not take a picture of EVERYTHING.

We had lunch at the cafe there at the house before going back into town to do some shopping. We walked around downtown Killarney & got some more souvenirs (!) before heading back into Cork around 3:30 p.m. local time.

We had some tea to warm up before heading back out into the chill to walk around the outdoor market in Cork. We also found Christmas decorations in the park & walked around. It was very lovely & Christmasey.

Around 6 p.m. we had dinner with the family & then sat & chatted over some tea with Sarah, one of the girls in the family here. She's such a sweetheart. The whole family decided to watch the Amazing Spiderman & D & I joined them. We just finished that a few minutes ago (well more than a few, now) & we headed off to the computer room to check our flights.

We discovered that although we are leaving at different times from Heathrow on Sunday (we're on two different flights), we are going to be in Denver at the same time! We both have a two hour layover in Denver that overlaps by about an hour and a half, so we're planning to meet up in Denver on our way home.

Well, it is now 23:06 & D & I have plans to hit Blarney Castle tomorrow before we fly back to London tomorrow night. So, all that to say, I'm off to bed.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 2: London

Monday, December 10, 2012. 10:01 p.m. local time.

I am now sitting in a warm bed in Morden as we are staying with a couple of girls who graciously let us into their home! (There's even a heating pad!!!!)

Today was rather hectic and crazy. D & I left Oxford around 11:30 a.m. and caught the bus to London...arriving at Morden Ct. around 2 p.m. We dropped our bags off and headed straight back out into the wintery chill to go back into London. We had been dragging around D's two humongous rolling suitcases so it was quite a relief to not have any bags with us whatsoever.

We first went to Westminster Abbey--unfortunately they closed at 3:30 and we arrived too late. However, we did get a few pictures and we went inside the Abbey gift shop. Then, we went back outside & I snapped a few pictures of Big Ben, & heard it chime the time: 4:00 p.m. (or 1600). We wandered around taking pictures for a while & then headed up to King's Cross (HP!) for a picture with Platform 9 3/4.

After King's Cross, we were starving & so we headed back into the downtown for some food. We stopped at the Tower of London & watched the beginnings of a fashion show on an ice rink that was being held down in the old moat. I pity those poor models on that ice.

By this time, it was quite chilly & we were quite hungry so we headed into the theatre district and found a cozy little pub called Garrick's Arms or something like that for dinner. It was very yummy food and it was nice and warm inside. We finally realised that we had to go back out in the cold to go home & so we headed home around 8:30 p.m.

The girls were up & helped us make travel arrangements for tomorrow. We're flying into Dublin tomorrow morning & we needed to figure out how to get to Stansted Airport. I left Danielle to figure that out while I took a nice long hot shower & I am now officially ready for bed.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

British Isles Excursion Day 1: Travel & Oxford

I'll be keeping a daily journal of my travels while I'm gone & when I can I'll post them on here to keep you at home updated. They will be written in first person present tense because I'm too lazy to go back & change it. They'll also be in the form of journal entries. See y'all when I get back!

Saturday, December 8, 2012. United Airlines Flight 766 Service to Chicago O'Hare. 10:01 a.m.

I'm now on my second flight this morning on my way to England. (The first left at 5:45 a.m. so I wasn't awake enough to journal.) On the first flight from Spokane to Denver, I sat next to a guy in the Air Force and fell asleep leaning on his shoulder (oops). He was asleep too thankfully and didn't care. We got into Chicago about half an hour early which was good because our Chicago flight started boarding almost as soon as I got to the gate.

So far, I've discovered that my backpack is heavy and some lady liked my owl sweater.

Last flight, I had the window seat and now I have the aisle seat. It was nice to have the window seat on the early flight because it was easier to curl up. I'm now sitting next to this lady and her daughter who were skiing in Colorado for the week and are now heading home to Chicago.

Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012. Chicago O'Hare Airport Gate C15. 1:57 p.m. local time.

I arrived safely in Chicago, around 1 p.m. After wandering a little bit, I found my gate, then decided to get lunch. I chose American Dog--"#1 Dog in Chicago"--and ordered a Boston dog with curly fries. A boston dog was smothered in cheese and carmelized onions. For those of you wondering if I'm staying gluten free, I didn't eat the bun.

So, as I'm getting my things together after lunch to go back to my gate, a man sitting at the next table asks me where I got my sweater. I tell him, Kohl's and he explains that his wife really loves owls. Unsure of what to say, I tell him I got it on sale and he congratulates me then mumbles something under his breath about how they probably don't have anymore. I nod indifferently and start to move away. He throws a "have a nice day" at me and I respond in kind. It was a very odd encounter. I've got two hours to kill now. Maybe I'll find a book.

United Airlines Flight 958 service to Heathrow Airport, London. Somewhere over the Atlantic. 6:06 p.m. PST. Somewhere in between Dec. 8th and Dec. 9th.

Well, I'm now on my last leg of the journey to England. I ended up buying a book in Chicago--Hunger Games--and just finished it a few minutes ago. I think I might have to find the second book in the series for my return trip.

My flight out of O'Hare was delayed about an hour and a half because of plane maintenance or something like that--I wasn't really paying attention. The plane isn't full, so I'm sharing the middle row with another person and the middle seat is holding our things. I'm going to try to get some sleep because my lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me.

Sunday, December 9th, 2012. The Vines, Oxford, England. 8:36 p.m. local time.

I arrived in Heathrow and got through customs etc, finally meeting up with my dear friend Danielle around 7:45 this morning. After a few minutes of discussion we decided that we would go back to Oxford & she could show me around. So we took a confusing succession of tubes to get to the bus stop and then caught a bus to Oxford. It's about an hour drive so I took a nap.

We walked all around Oxford and visited some of the colleges and I bought some gifts for people back home & an Oxford shot glass to add to my collection! We sort of bummed around Oxford for the day (you can see pictures of our exploring on Facebook). We finally headed back to The Vines, her house here, around 2 p.m. We made tea & decided to watch Pride and Prejudice. I made it until the scene just after the first ball that Bingley attends. Lizzie was talking to Jane about Bingley and Darcy. & then I fell asleep and slept til almost 6. There were other people in the room at this point and they were watching Firefly.

Around 7:30 (yes, an hour ago), Danielle & I decided that we are hungry and that maybe she should start packing a little bit. So, as she packs a little bit, I'm putting this update up & then we're going to head into town for dinner! In fact, she's just about ready, so I'm off. Cheers.