Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Departure

The first half of this blog was written on April 28th 2010, the second half on May 28th. Sorry for the delay.

Hey all...so I understand the constant threat of terrorism, especially when there is nothing between Shannon Airport and Boston except sea, safety is an issue. But judging the security procedures I went through at Shannon, the worst terrorists of all go right through Ireland. Yeah, ok. Better safe than sorry I suppose. I just don't understand why I do NOT have to take my shoes off at the security checkpoint because they have 'new machines' yet I have to take them off when I get to the waiting room at my gate. My bags also got dissected twice and my body violated by the oldest man on this planet but like I said, better safe than sorry.

Really I could care less as I am extremely excited to be heading back to the USA shortly, and only lose out on about two hours of time (thank you time zones). With this comes a bit of sadness despite the weeks I have ahead of me, and along the way I have met some amazing people. I'll do my best to review just some of the Irish that have touched my heart (sorry, sort of corny).

Fin was one of the first Irishmen I actually sat down and had a conversation with, and I realized I would need to practice deciphering the Irish brogue very quickly. Fin was the bartender at the local pub I went to on my first night in Kenmare. After a lonnnnng day of traveling Fin was nice enough to talk to me about my travels and I ended up heading back on the weekend to shoot some pool. I wasn't ready to take on Guinness so every time I ordered a Budweiser, Fin was always asking me if I was home sick? Good guy.

Sheila was the first person to house me and even picked me up from the Killarney bus station after I didn't make it in time for the bus down to Kenmare. Not knowing the routes that well and figuring things out, Sheila made a long travel day worth it by giving me a sort of warm bed after a long day in the wind and rain. Although I left her house after a few weeks, her kindness at the time still was appreciated.

Joe who I would meet on the streets of Kenmare it seemed like clockwork, every night for the first couple weeks, turned out to be the husband of Mary, one of the very nice secretaries at the school I would call my work for over three months. Joe gets a special mention as he was someone I always enjoyed running into and he was the first to person to tell me there was another American in town. Which leads me to...

Kathryn, my American buddy (although from the University of Georgia. Don't worry, she's still cool). After weekends in Kenmare, nights in Dublin, and one kick ass road trip around the western part of Ireland, Kathryn and I were the new American friends that everyone got to know. I really am not sure if this is quite the reputation, needless to say every weekend usually started with a pint at Crowley's or PF's with Kathryn and ended with a dance session at the Square Pint. I knew I would have to get to know people in which I did, but having another American teacher in town sure made it a lot better. Who knows when we will see each other again Kathryn, but because you're living a couple hours away, I am sure it will be sooner rather than later. :)

Denis took me in after a couple weeks and was a great guy to live with. Laid back and nice, Denis was kind enough to house me and drive me anywhere when need be. Anyone going to Kenmare, live with Denis.

Michelle was one of many really nice ladies that worked at the Supervalu (the local grocery store) in which I walked by everyday from Denis' to work and back. The Supervalu was visited at least every other day and Michelle was always kind enough to ask 'how I was getting on' and about my experience in the school.

Lisa and the O'Shea Girls are probably the group of women that made me feel most like I had a home in Kenmare, without actually living there. After inviting me to dinner a few times in the first few weeks and Lisa introducing herself to me the very first day of school in her Irish/American accent (she's a teacher), I never felt so welcomed into a community. Lisa and her four daughters, Cailla, Caiohme, Siobhan, and Aoife (good luck with pronunciations), could have been the sweetest people I came across in Ireland. Humorous, kind, and wickedly intelligent, all five women alone are enough of a reason for me to come back to Ireland someday. For some reason, I think that will happen.

Liz and Sandra were two local girls around my age that I met and ended up staying with the last week I was there from the delay. Liz I met at the local gym and in all honesty, she may have been part of the reason I continued to make it to the gym everyday :). Sweet, sarcastic, and hilarious, both girls made me realize more and more everyday that sometimes no matter what is going on, make sure you take time for yourself and if you're lucky, enjoy that time with a good friend too.
Effe and Lucky are a Turkish man and his Chinese wife who own the local 'chipper.' Needless to say, many a nights after dancing off hundreds of calories at the Square Pint, I needed to make sure to put them back on with some Garlic Chips & Cheese (chips being fries). They both always greeted me with a smile before they sent me home with food that did nothing but clog my arteries some more. Well worth it.
Jason and other local guys Mike and Ronan to name just a few, are great musicians but more importantly, regulars at the pub that I got to know through a variety of common friends. The guys had stories and humor that made me laugh for sometimes hours on end.
Kim and Stephen are friends with Kathryn whom they met when studying at Georgia (don't worry, also cool). They were nice enough to let me stay with them two weekends in Dublin and also provided me with two puppies to play with while I was there.
Dermot and Maureen are Kenmare Community School's Principal and Vice Principal who seemingly with ease welcomed me in although I knew it was more trouble making my schedule then they would ever lead me to believe. Both were super kind and were truly just the heads representing a school of teachers, staff, and students that all welcomed me with the upmost respect and kindness that I hope any new teacher would receive.
Majella, Diane, Veronika, and Deklin and the rest of the Kenmare staff all had their vital role in making sure I felt at home every single day I was there. Majella acoompanied me and 50+ students to the All Ireland Boys Gaelic Football Final in which Kenmare came out victorious. Needless to say the three hour ride home on the bus and that night I will never forget. Diane was one of the many Geography, History, and Civics teachers that handed over her classroom with no gripes, complaints, or hesitation as they all had the respect and confidence I would go in and do my job. As a teacher, giving up your classroom to anyone is hard and they let me know from day one, I was welcome. Veronika the school's music teacher, let me sit in on her classes every week and even had me over for dinner. I had met her husband before playing soccer and her daughter at the pubs, so I felt comfortable when I was there. Deklin, the school's caretaker, was the one that got me involved playing soccer on Thursday nights with guys younger and older than me. Although I may have been a little rusty, getting out and running in the cool Irish weather made me miss soccer, and now that I think about it, makes me miss Ireland.
There are many many more individuals, teachers, and Kenmarians that I met that I immediately fell for. Kenmare is truly remarkable for a small Irish town and I think is the perfect balance of old and new. Everyone was so kind and after interviewing many teachers, almost all said they enjoyed the small town feel of Kenmare more than anything. The Irish country side is brilliant and I am extremely happy I made it there and to other places like London, Prague, and Amsterdam. I was and am incredibly lucky to be apart of a trip like this at all, let alone in a beautiful town like Kenmare where all three and a half months I felt like I was in a place I belonged. I was at home.
There is no doubt experiences like this will change you. Maybe it was the Irish air but I constantly thought about what I was supposed to do after this trip, this summer, and in the Fall. If there is one thing I know, it is just to enjoy yourself no matter what you are doing and no matter where you are. I would like to think I have always made a conscious effort to improve myself on all levels everyday, but being in Ireland has truly motivated me to do things I have never done before, and to improve on the things I have. Those are yet to be discussed although I have my own list I have started of what I need to be doing in the near future.
Although this is a month after my 'departure', my thoughts from when I left to now that I have been home for a month have not and will not change. For all the reasons listed above I will be back in Ireland someday although only one of them would be needed. As I am about to head into work in Auburn AL all I can say is thank you for anyone that made this trip possible, supported me, and enjoyed it with me. Even if it was the occasional reading of my discheveled works of my blog, thanks for being there. It is a wonderful feeling that whether I choose to stay in Auburn, or go back to CT, or even spend some time in places like Mobile or other parts of this country or other countries like Ireland, I will always feel I have a home. And for that, I am one lucky dude.
Cheers,
MG

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spring

Hey all...as I sit trying to finish up my ethnography I am writing on Ireland, I can't help my amazement for how fast time goes by. I have been like that this whole semester. Especially when I was teaching mainly in January, February, and March, I felt like the weeks bled into each other and one month teaching was nothing. So I can't believe just a week ago I was packing and getting ready to leave Kenmare, for the first time.

Tomorrow I will head up to Shannon Airport just past Limerick and probably copy my last Tuesday routine of a couple pints somewhere, a Dominos pizza (or three) with my friend Liz and a night at a very nice but still overly priced hotel room that if it is anything like last week, will not have any working internet connection and I will have to again, go the Airport itself to check to see the status of my flight. This time around I expect different results.

This weekend was another great weekend in Kenmare. I enjoyed seeing some of the people I have gotten to know one last time. You can tell with the nice Spring weather, this town is starting to get ready for its tourism boom and although I am sure will be great craic, I will be ready to leave it all behind in just a couple short days; although not with a little sadness.

Last night I had a great talk with some of my friends that were nice enough to let me crash with them for the week. I talked a lot about upcoming weddings I cannot wait to attend, possible career paths to take, as well as my fun-packed and exciting times ahead in CT and AL. It made me think about family members of past and present and how I love nothing more than to be reunited with family and friends of old and new despite what things have taken place in our lives. As I have tended to say a lot in the past couple years, things that happen usually have some sort of blessing in disguise and being reunited with all sides of my family is one of those blessings I continually cherish and look forward to. Maybe it is just the Spring weather but not only do I feel really lucky to have what I do, but it makes me more happy every day that I enjoy on this planet.

On Wednesday I hope to write my final blog from Irish soil as I wait for my flight to Boston. Until then, enjoy your week, I know I have.

Cheers,
MG

'Punch' by Lunasa. I couldn't leave Ireland without getting some good traditional Irish music. This band is one of my favorites so far.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Volcanic Ash

Hey all...if you are my friends on facebook, you may have noticed a similar status earlier today with the same title as this blog. This as you can guess or probably already know by now, is the reason why I am currently not on a flight across the Atlantic to Boston. Yes I am the latest victim of thousands to volcanic ash. Really there is no need to be dramatic because 1), I have always believed and lived by the idea that everything happens for a reason and B), me complaining about an extra week in Ireland would really just be unfair and I think it truly is going to be best this way.

Although the more I read about it I realize that Aer Lingus canceling my 12:30 flight because of a ban that was supposed to end at 1:00 is a little ridiculous, but that's okay. I understand having the staff and not the appropriate airplanes and what not is a lot of the problem now, but that is alright too.

Because of all the backups, I was not able to get a flight from Shannon to Boston till exactly a week from today. In a way, I see it as getting a free week of no school (although loads of graduate work) but in reality, is time I could use and need. Also Ireland's weather has been phenomenal so this will truly be my vacation in Ireland. Also when I finally do get home, although I have to be back in Auburn eventually, I will not be in a rush like I felt I may have been if I went home this week. A blessing in disguise.

It is what it is.
MG

'One Week' by the Barenaked Ladies: duh

Monday, April 19, 2010

Packing

Hey all...so I am not like many people and totally despise packing. In fact I kind of like it and often see it as a game to pack as much crap as I can possibly fit into a bag. However, this trip to Ireland like many of my trips, I have packed too much. You think with enough practice with my many travels I would have gotten better (actually I like to think I have). However, Ireland was a whole new thing for me obviously and being a different culture, I packed anything I could possibly need for all occasions when it comes to school dress, weather and seasons, other elements, etc. I actually did need a bunch of different things although because of my lack of ambition in ironing, ended up wearing the same 3-4 wrinkle free shirts and pair of jeans to work everyday. I even have mailed back a box of clothes no bigger than I would say a small TV and it cost me 60 Euro. And of course I also bought and acquired many things which add to the mess. However I tell you all of this because in my break of packing, I felt like I needed to blog about packing so I don't go nuts.

My flight for Wednesday I am almost kind of positive that I may be possibly flying out, hopefully; meaning and excuse my language, I have no f*ing idea. I continue to read articles about how Transatlantic flights will be okay from Ireland even though Shannon Airport and Aer Lingus continue to cancel all flights out of Ireland (right now only through today). Of course airlines are not going to cancel too far in advance although it seems it could be that way for the rest of the week. Apparently for once the British Isles, Scandinavia, and Northern Europe have no major weathering patterns or storms to push the volcanic ash out of the way and although Ireland remains sunny and beautiful, apparently volcanic ash just sits in a heap above much of Europe not moving anytime soon. Sometimes I think my flight will get out Wednesday but then I read other things and I lose a little hope. Really I won't know until the day of and I will not be sure until I am on a plane and somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean. Whatever happens happens, I just want to get home by the weekend.

Think happy thoughts and be a happy person,
MG

'You Can Call Me AL' by Paul Simon. I literally danced all around my house to this alone this morning. Enjoy. In other news, picked up some good traditional Irish music I can share with ye'all later.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8625813.stm
-Good website-

Friday, April 16, 2010

Final Weekend

Hey all...yesterday was a great day. Let me start by prefacing that this last week in Kenmare's Secondary School, I have been attending everyday, but I have been done teaching since before the Easter Holiday. This week I am focusing on finishing a little grading, my assignments for Auburn, and well, just getting other things done like posting pictures and such. Well since it wasn't absolutely necessary to attend every day, I blew off school yesterday for a day off with my friend Liz. Liz has become a good friend as she works at the local gym that I go to, and she has been a great addition to many, of good friends I have acquired in Kenmare. We went golfing yesterday morning with her Dad, traveled to Cork for some shopping, I then got back for two hours of getting soccer balls kicked extremely hard into my gut, and then finished with a nice home-cooked dinner before calling it a night.

Golf was good. Although it wasn't Scotland, golf in Ireland has something I had wanted to do and I finally got the opportunity. We ended up playing I think only 8 holes, but it was enough to scratch the itch that I had been having to golf. Ever since I moved to Auburn, I haven't been golfing more than a couple times a summer because of my busy schedule, despite being in close proximity to some of the nicest courses the United States has to offer. Golf can also be expensive too. So I am hoping to take advantage of no classes during this summer for the first time in years combined with working full-time and getting paid for the first time in about 9 months, will allow me to play at least once every week or two. That is the goal anyway.

Soccer was good although as I hinted above, I felt like every soccer ball that was kicked was aimed at some part of my body. It's okay, that also made me motivated to get fit soccer style to play indoor soccer once again when I get back into AL. Although my skills are far from decent, I love being active in that sense and look forward to it. I held my own despite again playing on the 'Old Guys' team as we competed against some fast high school kids.

Today me along with two other Irish student teachers in Kenmare, are having our last day in the school. I actually have to finish some last minute grading which I am about to start on, but we were all honored with some nice comments and a cake of course during the break in the morning. All the teachers here have been extremely welcoming from day one. I will have more on this at a later point. However, no matter what I end up doing in the future, just being able to have this experience I think has been worthwhile in anything I do.

Time to get focused, as I have a busy last weekend in Kenmare.

Cheers,
MG

Song of the day: 'I Will Follow You Into the Dark' by Death Cab For Cutie. A great song although a little sad, does not quite accurately reflect my someone cheerful attitude and overall mood in Ireland, is a good listen that makes me think a lot about people lost in the past and how at the same time, the future has a lot to offer.

Monday, April 12, 2010

European Travels, Part II

Hey all...my arrival in Kleinwasertal, Austria was early on Saturday evening. I wanted to get into the small ski town because it would be nice to have a place to stay for the Easter weekend. I was immediately brought to a tented, outdoor pub at the base of a giant mountain where I learned was the after-work hangout for ski instructors. My friend Ophi, is a ski instructor that I met while she was in Auburn last year and I was immediately welcomed into her small group of friends. Many spoke enough English combined with my little German so that conversation got easier as the night went on.

I was immediately given a great German beer and watched as people danced and sang to a DJ for the next hour. Obviously the party had been going on for a while and many of the instructors ended up on bar top and stools. Needless to say, my first couple hours in Austria might have been my favorite out of the entire trip. Both songs in German and English were played and it was sad that most of the Austrians/Germans knew English song lyrics much better than me when it came to songs like 'Nothing Else Matters' and 'Evacuate the Dance Floor.'

Sunday, April 4: Saturday night also allowed me to meet some really cool locals that were other ski instructors. Jonas (pronounced 'Yonus') who was Ophi's roommate, was a young 16-year-old German who was a really cool kid. He stayed out with us Saturday night (that's how they roll in Austria), and we ended up hanging out most of the night. Another guy about my age, Maurizio, has been living in Kleinwasertal most of his life and not only enjoys teaching people how to ski, but really just enjoys the simple things in life. Eccentric and happy, Maurizio is one of those guys you simply admire. He loves what he does, wouldn't change it for anything, and enjoys every single day with no exceptions. I think a lot of people could learn from Maurizio. Although I try to operate my life similarly, I feel meeting Maurizio really gave me an idea what kind of person I truly want to be. Although I just spent two nights getting to know him, I felt like whenever I go back there, he will be there still doing what he loves and happy to see a friendly face. He also had lots of good things to say about Amsterdam which would conclude my trip.

Easter Sunday (which really isn't even acknowledged by people as a holiday in this part of the world), was spent watching the snow fall and ended with a small gathering in the Iglu Bar. A small igloo-shaped bar of course, it did not take long for people to find out not only was there an American hanging around, but that I lived and went to school in Alabama. Almost any German or Austrian that found this out had the same first reaction; singing some lines from 'Sweet Home Alabama.' It didn't take long for the bartender to play that song of his laptop and the Iglu Bar was roudy after that. It was an early night for Monday was another travel day.

One thing Maurizio really made me realize is there are certain things I just need to do before I die. Backpacking Europe can be checked off. But he also inspired me to create my own list of things I must do or a bucket list if you will. I am sure everyone has these lists but writing them down is one thing, doing is the next. On the list, learning a foreign language....fluently. (Sidenote: DEFINITELY NOT Czech or Dutch).

Monday, April 5: I left the edge of the Alps around 7 in the morning to what was an amazing site. The morning after a little snow, the sun was rising and the 3000 meter high mountains seemed to get larger and larger as the fog and mist dispersed. However the goal for today was Prague. I took the train to Nuremberg, Germany, and then an express bus for a few hours to Prague in the Czech Republic. The weather the entire day was beautiful and sunny for the first time on my trip. I immediately hit up the tourist office in the train station where I immediately noticed that many people speak English. I walked into the tourist office and within five minutes, I had a map and a hostel booking and I was on my way. Sometimes things just are great when they are that easy.

After getting settled in the hostel and meeting a couple cool Belgians, I began seeing Prague as the sun settled. I set out to explore the different sites and many of my night pictures were from this night. I had heard that Prague was beautiful at night and it did not disappoint. I made my way through the brick streets and true to form, Prague could be the most historic, most well-preserved city in Europe. Especially in Eastern Europe with its history of war and violence, Prague is simply gorgeous. I eventually made my way into an open area where by daytime, is home to the local market with many food and souvenir vendors. However this night, people were out and about walking, talking, and just seeing the city. I walked by a gentleman that invited me to one of the local pub crawls. We all know what it means or we can figure out what is meant to go on a pub crawl. But here the pub crawl is an organized, touring of some of the local clubs and pubs with other travelers and more importantly, a way to meet the other travelers. Many of the organizers were American as well as many of the other travelers. For the first hour and a half we stayed at one place getting to know each other. Our little group consisted of almost complete strangers, all traveling by themselves. One guy was from Istanbul and one New Zealand. The rest of group were from different parts of the United States and Canada. We had a great time as the rest of the night we crawled through the city touring the pubs. Great times.

Tuesday, April 6: The next day I got out early, booked my overnight ticket to Amsterdam for that night, and began seeing the historic areas of the city. Mainly leading up to the Prague Castle, the north end of the city sits up overlooking the rest of the city and is actually kind of peaceful. Also, the views of the entire city from here are amazing. Again, graffiti accompanied some of these areas, but for the most part the day was gorgeous and so was the city. Evidence of the previous Soviet occupation and influence are still visible, although many icons such as the 300 foot statue of Stalin overlooking the city had been torn down or destroyed.

Wednesday, April 7: Night trains can be great, if you fall into the right situation. You do all your travel at night, get a bed, and end up in a new place in no time without wasting too much money and time traveling. Many of these compartments have 6 bunks in them and can get kind of crowded. I boarded the train just before sunset and enjoyed seeing Prague as we left the city. Michele was a Dutchman that was in my compartment with me and we talked for a while, heads and hands hanging out the window catching the breeze. I guess it's important to point out the reason we stood outside the compartments by the windows is we also shared a compartment with a Russian couple and their 3-month old baby. Obviously the situation wasn't ideal but although the kid had a hard time getting to sleep, once Michele and I got to bed it wasn't much of an issue.

Michele like my time with Maurizio, was amazing to talk to. Once a teacher of history, Michele has also done social work and now is involved in photography. We talked about how he liked all of those but if you don't do what you love, what is the point. I kind of related as I recently have been getting more into taking pictures (which will soon be up, I promise) not to mention questioning what exactly my next step should be in my career path.

Thursday, April 8: My arrival in Amsterdam like Prague, was to sunshine and high expectations. Besides my flight to Dublin the next day, this was really the end of my tour of Europe so I was excited to say the least. After a couple hours of getting myself oriented, I had yet another easy time finding a hostel to stay in. I went again, to a local tourist booth and in even less time then in Prague, I had a map, a hostel, and was walking to it with my now extremely heavy backpack. I came back a few hours later to check in and by that time, had gone and visited the Anne Frank museum. Really out of any of the sites, tours, or other features of the city, the Anne Frank house was one place as a history person, I really wanted to see. During World War II, Anne Frank and seven other Jews including her family hid in the back of a three story building masquerading as a business from the aggressive Nazis. The only entrance to their hidden abode was a bookcase covered hole in the wall and for months Anne and Co. had to live in silence and without sunlight in tight spaces. Eventually and it is still not sure by whom, the group was given up and all sent to concentration camps. Only Anne's father, Otto would survive Auschwitz. It was extremely disheartening and a reminder of the treatment of Jewish peoples in and around the rest of Europe.

Back at the hostel, after a shower I met another cool individual. As you can tell I have met a lot of cool people along the way but I finally met within the same hostel, another American traveler. Gordon from Denver, had been backpacking with his cousin and also by himself for over a month before getting to Amsterdam. He is a landscaper and I also learned, would someday like to run and own a restaurant (me too-bucket list) and make wood furniture. Extremely cool and slightly resembling my best friend in CT, Josh, Gordon and I immediately started our own Amsterdam pub crawl.

Amsterdam is completely night and day but some things are true all the time; you can smoke marijuana, prostitution is legal, and you canNOT drink beer in public places. We learned the latter that evening as we decided on sitting in the popular Dam Square, watching musicians singing their songs and decided on saving a few Euro and getting a couple drinks at the supermarket, and enjoying the sunset and the scenery in the square with our beers. We actually both were planning on a chill night and it was absolutely a great evening, just enjoying the weather and comfort of the new city; although the Polizei caught me with the beer (all I had to do was throw it away). Gordon and I shared a lot of stories and ideas and we hit it off immediately. We later made it back to the hostel, relaxing a while in the common area before going back out for one last pint. There was a little rain which allowed the clouds to drown out the reflection of the red neon lights projected into the sky.

Friday, April 9: The next morning I checked out of the hostel after a lovely breakfast, and Gordon and I made our way sort of aimlessly towards Vondelpark in the southern part of the city. The long park had many bike and walking paths as well as some other paths that were more 'off the beaten path.' Amsterdam is actually a city made for bikes and as Gordon kept saying, it's a lifestyle. Every time you cross a street not only do you need to watch for the cars and busses bearing down on you, but bikes are sometime even more of a danger. You can see the masses in some of the pictures. If time had allowed, I would have chosen to add a bike rental and a canal trip into my time in Amsterdam. The day started off pretty cool, but by the time we got to the park and took a seat, the sun came out to add to the string of gorgeous weather days I had been experiencing. After a lunchtime pint it was time to depart from Gordon as he was planning his next moves of his journey. I then made my way to the airport as I was going to spend a night in Dublin.

There is so much to see and do in these cities yet once you get there, you can't help but just enjoy the scene by just sitting and watching. Most of my joy in my time off (as it was a vacation) was sitting, relaxing, and observing. Sure there were trips to the museums and other sites lost, but just being there was enough for me at times. Of course solo backpacking trips are great and I would definitely do it again, but little moments shared with other friends you meet along the way make the trip even better.

In ten days I traveled through and to 6-7 different countries and spending quality time in 5 of them. Having the availability of the train system in Europe, as well as the cheap accommodations in hostels and other benefits for travelers, makes traveling Europe not only financially possible but fun. It was funny that during this time I read Stephen Fry's 'Stephen Fry in America.' A British comedian and actor, Stephen Fry brings his quirky comedic style in the form of a travel around the States; stopping and experiencing each one for a few days. Although his book (and also TV show) was not exactly reflecting my own experience, that combined with my tour of Europe not only made me more motivate to travel, but also to take more time to see what else my own country has to offer. I think I have a lot of experience when it come to the East Coast however, besides one short trip to San Francisco, I have only seen a fraction of what the United States has to offer, especially west of the Mississippi. Now I can add I have only seen a fraction of what Europe and the rest of the world has to offer. Was it an amazing experience and a fun time? Of course, but it was also far from complete.

Living in Ireland has also helped with this feelings towards traveling and in a way, I can see why it is harder to travel within our own American borders as it is often harder and more expensive to make it to other places. This is true for Europe too although you have cheaper options in hostels and public transportation there. Traveling does take money and I think you know how blessed I am for having this chance. However, if you get a chance to go somewhere, anywhere, in Europe or not, why not take it? I was surprised, challenged but most importantly, delighted by the unknown I came across in Europe.

I have one more week in Ireland, and I will surely make the most of it. This is not me saying goodbye, yet. I will be slightly saddened by leaving my friends in Ireland and in other parts of Europe behind when I head back to the United States. However, the places to see in America are waiting for me when I come back.

Look for photos and a few more updates in the next week. I actually have some work to do but I have some good things planned for the final week. Enjoy your week, I know I will.

Cheers,
MG

Song of the day: 'Black or White' by Michael Jackson

Sunday, April 11, 2010

European Travels, Part I

Hey all...so my tour of Europe though brief and just a scratch off the surface of what these countries have to offer, was a great chance to see other cultures in Europe. I recorded some observations and thoughts that came to mind when staying in a few places, and I am going to attempt to go through the lists of my scribbled notes and ideas to try to recreate my amazing trip. Here goes...

Tuesday, March 30: I left Kerry Airport for London on what could have been, my shortest plane flight ever. Some wind and light rain like most days in Ireland and the UK, accompanied my entire trip. London is a massive city with 5 local airports and miles and miles of small houses that make up the numerous neighborhoods that I gazed at while journeying by train from Luton Airport to the massive train station known as St. Pancras. This station on the north end of London, was only a couple of miles from Carolyn and Matt, my cousins of my cousins who were nice enough to house me for three nights. After arriving early evening, I took the train in, found Carolyn, went to a local pub, and got some Indian take away. As it was an early night and I needed rest for the day's adventures ahead.

Wednesday, March 31: Much of my London pictures (which I will soon post), came from my first full day in London in which I walked around much of central London-in wind and rain of course-to see the major cites and tourists attractions of the city. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St. James Park, and the British Museum were all seen on this day. I do have to say, although I have seen Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament building many times in photographs and on TV (and Harry Potter), seeing those buildings towering over the River Thames below truly was an amazing site. All the days I spent in London were cold and rainy which although normal for London, was a step back from the previous week's decent weather I guess... Anyway, many pictures will accompany my trip on this day.

Thursday, April 1: This day also meant more walking to see the remaining cites although I did not see everything in just two short days. I decided to have a third day in London to enjoy the city and hopefully get some decent weather (April Fools, it did not happen). Such features of this trip were the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and the Tate Modern. If there is anything to know about London is not only are there lots of things to see, but the ways in which you can explore the city are literally endless. Self-guided tours, bus tours, canal boats and even the London Eye which is essentially a giant Ferris wheel opposite Big Ben on the River Thames; all of which can give you a different perspective of the city. I made it to the Tower of London, but not in it that last evening as the clouds finally gave way and I took shelter in a local restaurant and enjoyed my fish and chips instead. The Tower, which is like an old fort, I was hoping to make back to the next day but that did not happen. However this night I joined Carolyn and Matt and we traveled further South and did a mini-pub crawl of different London pubs. At this one place (I forget the name), I think the waitress liked me despite me only wanting to eat french fries. This was a good day.

Friday, April 2: This was my final day in London but not quite a full day, as I left early afternoon for Brussels. The day before I had organized my travel methods-a(n?) Eurail Pass- which basically gave me unlimited train travel for any 5 days I chose to take the train through Europe. Easy enough. By getting this pass, I was able to take the Eurostar to Brussels (usually quite expensive, especially for the holiday weekend) instead of Paris. I was not going to arrive to Paris until Saturday night and I figured that for this trip, I would just have to forget Paris. Sorry Paris, I heard you were great. I met up with Kathryn and her sister who were also in London, and we hit up the much anticipated Borough Market. All I can say is, wow. The market was packed with booths of sweets, chorizos, burgers, fish, cheese, breads, etc. Food everywhere. I can't even remember the different things I ate, I just know I polished it off with the richest most delicious brownie I have ever had. My belly was happy.

A couple things that highlighted my days in London. First, public transportation especially with the busses and the Underground or subway system, are reliable but still takes time to get from place to place. However I did see a lady get hit by a bus and one try to get off a bus while moving. Really they were both highlights because it showed how people despite living in a very crowded and sprawled out city, continue to get upset when they cannot move a million miles a minute. Maybe it was just because I was on my holiday, but all I could do was laugh. The first lady just walked out in front of a double decker bus which thanks to a very careful bus driver, was able to stop and only bump the lady and her five shopping bags a few extra feet. The lady stayed on her feet but was so embarrassed, she ran across the rest of the street without even thanking the driver that possibly saved her life. The other bus incident, we were in traffic for a long time and did not have much distance covered to show for it. One lady with her baby in stroller and husband by her side, were starting to get aggravated when the bus driver would not let them off just feet from the official bus stop. The lady pulled the emergency exit, got off, and was in the process of pulling the stroller out when the bus started moving again. It wasn't that she needed to get off, it just was she was too impatient to wait the five extra minutes. Really, it is amazing what people will do when they get impatient, even risking the safety of their kids.

All in all London was grand, and it was sad to leave it behind but surely there were other things to see ahead of me. The early evening train ride to the mainland, on my way to Brussels provided me with the open, people-less, sunny countryside I had been longing for. Accompanied by my ipod, my short trip from London to Brussels was my favorite ever. We got in just before 9pm when the light from the sun was just disappearing.

Saturday, April 3: One thing about London and any major city, are the variety of cultures. People come from all over and speak so many different languages, you sometimes forget you are in a primarily english-speaking country. In Brussels, my previous research had informed me that a quarter of the population were minority from places like Turkey, Albania, and other Eastern European nations. My immediate reaction to Brussels was something was always happening. Granted it was a Friday night into an early Saturday morning, I got in so late and walked around so much that it took me forever to find a place to stay which ended up not being a hostel, but a somewhat decent hotel room looking over an open area that is home to a daytime flea market. Also there were men everywhere. Of course nothing wrong with this, but every pub, bar, or restaurant I walked by was filled with men. Also, all hostels were booked full for men and not for women. I am not sure I actually came across any native Belgians in my short time there but if I did, it was most certainly a man. After my hour or so trying to find a good hotel, I realized it was essential to get out early Saturday morning to get to my next location. I was out of Belgium by 8 or 9. Not for lack of ambition to be there, but Brussels like Paris, would have to be saved for another time.

Saturday was a day of travel by train. My goal, was to arrive at a small ski town in northern Austria where my friend Ophi, from whom I met in Auburn last year, lives and works. To get there I needed to take a complicated network of trains to the southern tip of Germany and then finally a bus to Kleinwasertal, Austria. I must say Germans have the train thing down. No matter where I was going, although I had to change trains in a number of stations, my wait for the next train was never too long. My trip led me through German towns and cities such as Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Mannheim, Ulm, and finally Oberstdorf. I never really got to enjoy any major German city such as Munich or Berlin which I heard loads of good things about. However, next time I make it to Europe, that will surely be on the agenda.

Another thing about Europe, is people sure do like their graffiti. It does not matter what European city you are in, from Frankfurt to Prague to Amsterdam, it is amazing the amounts of graffiti that can be found and although colorful, also represent maybe some of the internal problems European countries have at maintaining their own natural beauty. I saw a couple at the train station in Mannheim, Germany, who looked eerily familiar. I then realized this was the same touchy couple that were groping each other on the Underground in London a couple days before. It just made me realize, we truly live in a small world.

I think at one station where I actually had a small break at, I was given some wrong information. One gentleman who spoke English (although I felt like I can hold my own with my German speaking), gave me a print out on how to get to Oberstdorf. Well a couple hours later, I cannot figure where I am in relation to Kleinwasertal, Austria which is supposed to be right over the border. Well in case you are wondering, Oberstdorf is NOT the same as Oberstaufen. I asked one German for help on how to get there and realized I needed to make one more train switch at the Ulm station. She actually asked if I was Austrian. Although I feel I may have butchered anything German that came out of my mouth, it was good to not totally resembled a tourist. By early evening I made it to the small ski town of Kleinwasertal which in just a few short weeks, will be ending their ski season. Located in northern Austria at the edge of the Alps, I would soon realize that my adventures were only just beginning, and things were going to get super fun very quickly...

More tomorrow,
MG

Song of the day: 'Beautiful Day' by U2. I am sure you can guess why.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Praha

Hey all...so I am just writing to tell you all that I am alive. Got to Prague this afternoon and after a little exploring and some dinner, will be heading back out shortly. So far this Easter holiday has been truly amazing and I will have detailed blogs of my trip through London, Brussels, the Alps in Austria, and finally with Prague and Amsterdam this week. I get back Thursday into Dublin and probably will end up back in Kenmare sometime Friday. The weather has been great after leaving windy, rainy and cold London. However the people and places I have come across in the last week really has truly motivated me to accomplish different things on a number of levels. More on that later as for now, things are great and the more and more I live this journey, the more I realize how truly blessed I am and always have been. I also realize that when my time is up in Europe, I will be extremely excited to be back in the States. As for Europe, it will not be 'goodbye' but rather, 'see you later.'

I currently have some internet access at Miss Sophie's Hostel in Prague. Very simply, people here are nice so far and because of a few extremely helpful individuals, I was able to make a hostel reservation and have my own bed within an hour upon arrival. Time to go explore as I feel Prague and Amsterdam on Wednesday will have some great stories for me to tell by the weekend.

Ciao,
MG

Song of the day: My ipod is just about dead and I have not found an adaptor yet that works with the countries I have been in. Oh well..

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane..

Hey all...so the weather in southwest Ireland has roughly resembled the wind and rain of coastal Connecticut combined with the inconsistency of a sun/rain/sleet combo and anything else unpredictable of Alabama. This morning my friend Liz drove me up to Kerry Airport (just past Killarney) where although it was sunny and sort of hot, you could see the stratus rain clouds (woohoo teaching geography!) in the background and the leftover snow-covered mountains from the night before. Sure it was cold last night, but the point is combined with the on and off rain/sun/rain/overcast/rain/sun of the past couple weeks, I feel even more at home now.

I currently sit in Kerry Airport, hours early on purpose of course, before my 4:30pm flight to Luton Airport in London. There I will take a train to St. Pancras Station where my cousin of my cousin Carolyn, and her husband Matt whom live nearby, agreed to pick me up and let me crash with them for a few nights. (First of all I looked up rules of kinship and their names and I still have no idea what to call a cousin of a cousin). I am sure we'll do drinks and dinner tonight but it is of course good to have a friend in London as I would surely be lost and only wanting to find a bed to sleep in tonight. All my other exploring will be saved for tomorrow. Get ready, who knows what Goula and 10 days throughout Europe can have in store.

I will try and update as much as possible throughout the next week or two but for those of you that aren't sure, I should be alive and well and have posted again at the latest by next Saturday, April 10th.

A quick update on this past weekend. Friday night Kathryn's sister came into town and we all went out and did the usual. Fridays are increasingly becoming my favorite night in Kenmare as Saturdays tend to be overcrowded and usually more annoying than anything. Saturday I went with a group of 50 students (of all ages) and two other teachers up to see the Gaelic Football (GAA) All-Ireland Final in Ennis, Co. Clare. It was the older class of boys that played and Kenmare was celebrating Saturday night as the boys won their match. It was my first ever Gaelic Football match and it was just a great day. Gaelic Football is an Irish creation and is best described as a combination of soccer and rugby. From what I remember, it is very similar to the game Speedball we used to play in gym at Waterford High. Needless to say, the bus ride home and the bonfire and celebrations by the town for the win was amazing. I had a great time on the bus bonding with the kids, playing charades (and failing miserably) and basically just having a great time. Although I was their teacher, I definitely like just part of the Kenmare gang for the day and it was great.

Also, on Sunday the music teacher from the school, Veronica Whitehead had me over for dinner. I play soccer with her husband and have met her daughter out on the weekends (we had a long discussion on how awesome Six Flags is once), so I was familiar with the family. I sat there for a few hours and and we just talked, about everything. Veronica just went to Amsterdam with a group of students so she gave me all the good info from that country, in which I will end my journey.

Ok, so ten days and one backpack means from strategic planning. I did decide to bring my laptop for research and updating purposes as well as my ipod and camera. So obviously being very careful, the rest of the bag had to be packed as light as possible.

Roughly 5-7 black t-shirts, pairs of boxers and socks (each)
1 Towel
Toiletries
Some maps of Amsterdam
1 book
Passport and Flight info
1 thermal, 1 button down, 1 cardigan (jumper)
Jacket, jeans and sneakers all on my body at the moment

That's about it. On to the first part of the journey and as Joey from Friends would say when he went there, "it's London baby!"

MG

'Our Love' by Rhett Miller-another Scrubs soundtrack favorite. The song rocks, nuff said.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

London Calling

Hey all...so Easter Holiday trip is finally booked, well, sorta...I booked my there and back flights. Next Tuesday (March 30th) I will be leaving Kerry Airport outside of Killarney (about 45 minutes away) and flying into Luton Airport in London. Not exactly sure on how long I will stay but since I will know a few people in London, probably two nights there at least. My coming home flight is on Thursday, April 8th from Amsterdam to Dublin. That night I will spend a night in Dublin and will drive home with Lisa O'Shea who will be flying into Dublin from her holiday as well on Friday. Everything in between will be determined as I go although I have a rough plan. London, to Paris, then most likely to the Austrian-German border as I have a friend that lives in Kleinwalsertal, Austria and is a ski instructor. After the Easter weekend, I plan on hitting up either Prague or Brussels or both, and then finally Amsterdam (all by train). If you aren't familiar with Europe, my travel path will represent almost like a squished loop, ending back near the English Channel. We'll see what I have time for but my goal is to get around as cheaply as possible. So far for two flights, 150 Euro. The other goal is to see Europe and wherever I go, take pictures, don't get beat up, and have fun.

As far as school is concerned, I wrap up tomorrow teaching. This is always terribly sad times but I will be back for the first week after the break, just not teaching. So I haven't officially said goodbye to the teachers and students yet. Lots of young hearts will be broken...

Tomorrow I have a loaded schedule of classes and observations (as I have been sitting in on other teacher's history classes as part of my research. But hopefully this will allow for a quick day before a nice weekend resting up in Kenmare.

That is all for now,
MG

Song of the day: 'The Galway Girl' by Steve Earle. An Irish favorite at the local pub on a Saturday night, I am sure you can hear this at least once a night at any dancing spot in Ireland on the weekends. The song is kind of addicting and now I am learning all the words so I can sing it when it comes on and not just be limited to singing 'Love Shack.'


Sunday, March 21, 2010

One Month Countdown

Hey all...so this weekend was one of the best in the last few weeks in Kenmare. It was highlighted by Lisa's birthday dinner/celebration yesterday. All of Lisa's daughters, the three other Americans and other friends were all in attendance. Pizza, cupcakes, cookies, and a few (or more) bottles of Proseco made it a lively evening of chatting and just hanging out. We all eventually made it into town as well and it was a happening Saturday night.

For some reason, if I am out late on a given night two things the next day will always happen: 1) I wake up extremely early for no reason whatsoever and 2), I end up having a great workout. So this morning after waking up first at a little after 7, I then only made it to a little after 8, I watched a movie then went to the gym. I had pretty much rested on Saturday so today I was well rested and it felt great. I actually ran for the longest I had ever have on the treadmill. I did 5k in under 30 minutes if you believe those machines. Now this may not seem like a lot to runners out there but I usually am good for 20 minutes max. End of story, it was one of those good work out days.

Tomorrow I don't have that much of a busy day, or week for that matter. But my COST director in Ireland, his Deputy Assistant or whatever the title is, will be coming in to observe me for one lesson. I'm not too worried about it but it will begin my last week as a full time teacher in Ireland. Today is actually one month until I fly back to the States, and after this week, I have two weeks off for Easter Holiday. More on that to come soon.

A couple observations on life in Ireland. First of all, there are dogs everywhere. This may sound like a dumb statement, but I mean most of them just walk around randomly by themselves. You may have seen one particular dog in my pictures that I almost always see sitting in front of a butcher shop. Today just on a walk to and from the supermarket I counted 5 dogs. Dogs here just seemed to be trained to be more independent. The first place I lived in, there were two dogs and they both lived outside; even when it was freezing temperatures in January.

Also I have written a lot on differences in food in the country. There are actually more options than I thought there might be, even in Kenmare which is a small town. However, as someone that occasionally likes a delicious salad, I think I am most disappointed in the lack of ranch dressing. I have found ranch dressing ONCE in Kenmare and it was at a small Petrol Station (and it wasn't that great). What is going on here?! The local Supervalu doesn't carry it and it was most missed last night with our pizza meal. I tried to describe to the Irish the benefits of the ranch dressing and pizza combination but it just did not work. I often find people in New England do not get this duo either however, it is hard to explain when people do not even have ranch dressing in their country to refer too. Ridiculous. I miss Hidden Valley.

I love how Glee is on here like four days a week. Glee, lesson plan, bed. Talk to y'all tomorrow. Happy Spring by the way...

Best,
MG

Song of the day: 'Question' by Old 97s. This song which is on my newly purchased Scrubs Soundtrack Vol. 2, has been one of my favorites lately. Well I watched the episode yesterday that it came from, and it is when Turk proposes to Carla (for those Scrub nerds). Anyway, in the spirit of the weddings I am attending this summer, I felt it was appropriate. It's a good listen!


Friday, March 19, 2010

Working Hard to Get MY Thrill

Hey all...so I usually come up with lots of random thoughts during the day that I always say, 'hey, that would be nice for my blog.' However when it comes down to putting finger to keyboard I usually go blank. I think this is similar how you always know what you need to get from the grocery store but when you get there, unless you have written down a list you always forget ONE thing and it always is the most important thing (today it was water). Anyway, the end of the week is here and I have to say, I am excited.

Last night was soccer night. I did pretty well, although I played goalie for the first time and I gave up a few goals. I don't think they were all entirely my fault but that's okay. Other than that I have sensed I have been getting better every week after a long hiatus from futbol; which is what I can only hope for. Ended up extremely sore today but it felt gooood.

Today I had one class and it was only a cover for another teacher so it wasn't even my class. All my students had workshops or other activities today. The talent show was today and featured a number of songs, sketches, and other musical numbers. Initially Lisa and I were supposed to be the 'halftime entertainment' while the judges picked a winner but that fell through which was fine with me. A group of sixth years (or seniors) put on a sketch which poked fun at some of the teachers. Basically I was represented in the sketch and I was being introduced to many of the other teachers in the school. It was tasteful and very funny. Today was a good day.

It's Friday night and Kathryn and I are about to hit up....well you know, I'm in Ireland. Hopefully this weekend will be fun, relaxing, and I can think of lots of things I want to write on here and then forget all about them.

Cheers and good weekend,
MG

Song of the day: 'Don't Stop Believin' by Journey (covered by the cast of Glee). (This is going to be a new addition to my blog as every day music runs my life and well, keeps me going sometimes. This song although a classic, just lately has been making be feel like I can fly and do anything. Great song, just like all of the Glee soundtrack).


P.S. Just saw Ireland is getting Jersey Shore on Sunday....great...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Goula's Travels

Hey all...so yes, St. Patrick's Day in Ireland was fun but although it was technically on a Wednesday, kind of resembled any other weekend night out in Kenmare. I had a couple options to get out of town for the day but at the end of the day Ashley ('New American') and I walked around the town some more. It started off as a wonderful day and then clouds and rain came in and are still here a day later. It was actually kind of sad the weather turned out that way. However it did not stop me from catching some live music and hitting up the pubs. It was a nice day off from school and the divided week was 'savage.' The next couple weekends will be exciting as this there are birthdays, visitors, and Easter holiday trips. I also have been assured by many that Americans take the holiday way more seriously than the Irish actually do, so I hope y'all's was a nice day too.

I think I have finally decided on my Easter Holiday trip. I have two weeks off and being in Europe, how could I not take advantage of cheap fares for planes and trains (I didn't mean to rhyme). Initially my grandmother Joan hooked me onto this idea about a Eurail pass which is a set fee, and you can hop on just about any train and go to a number of European countries. This seems fit for exactly what I would do. Originally I just planned on London for a few days, and although I know a few people that will be there (including American friends Kathryn and Ashley from here), I feel as a sole traveler I can do whatever I want and that includes seeing as many places as possible. After talking to Justin and Bob on Tuesday night (local Irishmen), I am motivated to see many places. My plan is to travel to a number of European cities and spend a day (or less) in each one. I think I will fly to London and begin from there. As most of the major cities are close together, train travel times or no more than a couple hours a piece. Right now I am thinking, London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. However things could change and cities added on my European tour. Nothing is finalized yet but that is the plan.

Today is an easy day as it is Arts Week and all my classes are attending films, or workshops, or concerts in school. I really have no need to be here but there is supposed to be a local musician putting a concert on in school that is supposed to be pretty good. Google 'Mick Hanly' if interested.

Less than five weeks left and teaching responsibilities are winding down, time to enjoy Europe.

Happy recovery day,
MG

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Matthew in Ireland

Hey all...so sorry for the delay since the last blog. I will be sure to update more frequently with my time left, which now is just about 5 weeks left. This past week as well as the next two leading up to the Easter Holiday have been.will be busy but fun.

This week I remained pretty busy despite having a few less classes then the previous weeks. Tomorrow starts the school's Arts Week which I helped out with setting up this past week; like I mentioned handling the brochure design for the week's events. This coming week should be pretty fun with many events scheduled such as film showings, Irish dancing as well as a talent show on Friday. Being Ireland, we have Wednesday off for Patty's day and I am not sure on plans yet for that day.

Yesterday a few of us went to Cork for the day, which was nice. Cork for a 'bigger' city, is pretty convenient to get around. However the weather was kind of cloudy and we pretty much saw everything we wanted to see, so Kathryn and I saw Alice in Wonderland. I have to say, as someone who isn't a huge fan of Tim Burton, I was extremely impressed and into it. Not really having a good idea of what the entire story line was about, it was great to just not expect anything. Of course a matinee showing of a children's movie on a Saturday was probably not the smartest thing. I swear people were opening candy packages the entire time. Also although there was no crying, some parents are just completely fine with their children screaming and laughing and talking extremely loud like. I guess as long as they aren't crying it's all good. That combined with the teen girls behind us talking a little too much, made it kind of obnoxious. However I was so deeply concentrated on the movie to get rid of all the distractions I just got lost in Wonderland and it was really great. The scenery, costumes, music, and quirky characters were all really spectacular. A must see!

I didn't do much last night. I ended up napping at 7pm and decided to forget the alarm and ignore calls to go out and slept till 3am. Watched Mighty Ducks and went back to bed for a few hours. The Mighty Duck movies are amazing. Probably watching the second one tonight.

Anyway, nothing too exciting to talk about. This week should have more events happening as last week I was mainly busy with schoolwork for my students and for AU. However life is good...I'm in Ireland.

Best,
MG

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Chino

Hey all...since my last post I have been staying busy. First with school, I have been getting involved and helping out with our school's 'Arts Week' which during the week of St. Patty's Day, many paintings, sculptures, films, photography and music among other things will be showcased. There are some guest artists but the whole point of the week, is to get students involved in the arts and showcase some of the young student talent. I talked to Joe the Arts teacher who is organizer/power to delegate tasks to others and he hooked me up with being responsible for the Arts Week Brochure. This I would say is extremely important as it needs to be somewhat finalized a week ahead of time (this Monday) and will have all the weeks events and artists featured on it. Two of the Transition Years I teach have been getting most of the information but if there is anything I have done, it has been to annoy the other teachers organizing the events of arts week to get me the information for the brochure. It is kind of fun and I am the one that other teachers have come to to find out information about the Arts Week. Yeah, I'm pretty important.

Friday evening Kathryn, Lisa and her daughter and friend went to what is known as a Table Quiz. Being my second in the last two weeks, teams of four get together usually go to raise money for some sort of event. This week was for an upcoming Horse Show. How it works is there are 8-10 rounds of ten questions each, ranging from everything from current events, geography, sports and of course, equestrian questions, etc. It is fun because I think everybody does not realize what kinds of weird trivia you actually know until you are actually asked the question. We had 8 rounds this week and our team of five (we cheated) came in 4th out of 25, not bad. We were one position short of placing for a prize but Lisa won a raffle and got a bottle of SoCo that I think will be saved for a later date. Half our team was young and almost all under 30 years old, so I was proud.

Later Friday night we went over a friends house and I am proud to say between the two nights this weekend, I was only in a pub once and for only about an hour. Oh, the table quiz doesn't count (because it was in a restaurant) although it is a necessity to have a pint or three to help remember your prior knowledge.

Some of the local Irish friends I have met and seem to end up hanging out with on the weekends, were out Friday as well. However I only mention them as I met a couple new guys this weekend that have had the same first reaction as a couple of the other guys I know; I look like Chino Moreno. Who is Chino Moreno? Well he is the lead singer of this punk band The Deftones that have been around for a while. I have never really been a huge fan but I of course knew who they were. Now I have gotten a few celebrity look-a-like comments before: Vin Diesel (when I used to shave my head-still don't see it), the lead singer of 311, Dane Cook (thanks but I feel very inaccurate) and now Chino Moreno. All of the guys, who are friends and I am sure have said things to each other, have said I look like this guy, before he got fat. This can only be a compliment I think.





Now that I have been uploading pictures, I will be posting more on here too (although facebook still has all of them). Saturday I walked into town and had a nice lunch at the Truffle Pig; a nice soup, sandwich, and salad place. On the way to and from the gym, I walked around for about an hour and took more pictures of Kenmare which I will soon post up. It was a beautiful weekend and perfect weather to just walk around and enjoy Ireland. Since I have not uploaded them yet I will leave you with some next blog. Today is a busy day with school work for Auburn among other things. But I am focused and need to get back to work. More to come soon :)

Cheers,
MG


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Clumsy

Hey all...so it is becoming more and more obvious to me how clumsy I can be. The scary thing is it is not consistent. Over the past few years I have been in charge of taking thousands of hot Italian dishes to tables and drinks with minimal incidents. Sure everyone spills a drink or two when serving (and maybe once a dessert on a young girl in my first week that she ended up buying), but I have actually had dreams about dropping people's food on them which thank god, has never happened. Now I have dropped plates after the fact but that is a different story.

My point is, if I am not paying attention to little things now, I feel like a bull in a china closet. Just last night I partially walked into my bathroom door and stubbed my toe on a bag on the floor, all while brushing my teeth. Just now in school I was walking in the teacher break room and hit my funny bone on the refrigerator. And these are daily events most days.

Another thing that may not be classified as clumsy but is just plain dumb, is whenever I have a new bottle of beverage (usually water) I usually spill a little on my chin. This is like a 90% guarantee. I do not know, for someone that is halfway decent at pool, can hit a small golf ball hundreds of yards away as well stay on a moving treadmill for 20 minutes, you would think my coordination is up to par. These small things do not bother me, but do conclude that I am a little off-balance.

As for Irish news, I am helping some students organize the school's Arts Week in two weeks. Should be fun, more on that later.

Best,
MG

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cultural Differences

Hey all...isn't it amazing how fast time flies? My ex-complicated relationship Jeff Zito started his last blog with a rhetorical question, so I figured I would do the same. I mean really, I knew time here in Ireland would fly and go by faster than every other semester in my life but it just never fails to jump out and grab you. I know February is short, but March 1st already makes me wonder where it really goes. If my calculations are correct, tomorrow marks the 50th day I have been in Ireland. Tomorrow will also mark the day I have 50 days left here in Kenmare. It is exciting, scary, and surprising all at once when you think about it this way. In 7 weeks I will be flying back to the wonderful state of Connecticut for a weekend and then back down to Alabama where I am almost positive I will be located for a while. Of course I miss these places more and more everyday however, I have always been pretty patient when it came to getting back to the places I love. Obviously being in a miraculous place such as Ireland makes it easier, but although I miss my homes in the States, when the time comes to be back, the time will come. Until then, more fun Irish times are to be had.

I did some reflecting on my blog and although I think blogs are more fun when they are about what you think as opposed to what you have done, I realized I haven't really talked a lot about Ireland itself and what I have observed. That is why I have chosen to write some short statements about my observations about some cultural similarities but mainly differences that I have seen between here and the United States. Here goes...

EDUCATION: I have already told you a lot about the education system here, and the major differences of class structure and subjects within the school. However, there are a few additions. First, teacher camaraderie at the school is just, different. Obviously my experiences of what I have to compare it to are slim, but every chance teachers get, they are either working or hanging out in the break room. At Opelika High, teachers were very nice and pleasant, but lunch was a quick 26 minutes and teachers ate in the cafeteria with the students, split among four different lunch waves. In Ireland, most schools have twenty minute breaks around 11 and then 45 minutes for lunch at 1:15. Students are allowed to walk into town which could only be possible in a small town. However this allows for teacher breaks and lunches to be filled with teachers chatting away about things usually other than school. It is really nice to have this time and get to know the teachers. Another thing, since the population is smaller and the towns spread out, some students have to travel up to 30 kilometers to get to school. School districts often encompass many towns bringing a variety of Irish personalities, but no minorities.

TRANSPORTATION: Students take public bus transportation that live in the towns in the outskirts of Kenmare. Bus Eireann runs all over the country and it may take time, with a combination of busses, trains, and planes, you can get anywhere in the country for a decent price. Public transportation is not a new idea however, the country has only a few highways leading into major cities. Unlike the interstate system if America, most of the roads are small, windy roads that lead to long travel times even for short distances. However this also results in Irish drivers of small cars driving extremely fast when they shouldn't be. Getting around is not terrible or even hard, it is just different.

WEATHER: True to reputation, weather is usually pretty consistent with temperatures around freezing overnight and usually low to mid forties during the day. Southern Ireland is usually pretty wet although weather in the last couple weeks has been bright and sunny most days. Unlike the inconsistent temperatures of the Deep South and the blizzards and ice of the Northeast, Irish weather though wet at times, very rarely deviates from the norm. It is nice although I do miss weekends with rain, snow, and a tornado all in one.

RESTAURANTS & PUBS: I know I have mentioned the pubs and restaurants here. Although I have not been to many, I probably have actually eaten at the two local Chinese restaurants the most. What I want to mention here is the service industry employees at these places. Soon upon arriving, I realized and was informed that you do not tip bartenders and not really servers as well. Every time I tipped a bartender (most recently this weekend) they are always kind enough to inform me that "you do not do that here." After getting a tip of mine picked up by a friend off the bar because they thought someone had left it, I realized that it was not normal to do so. It is just weird for me being a server in a restaurant, NOT to tip others that work in restaurants and pubs. Oh well....I'll get over it.

POLITICS & SOCIETY: I combine these two very important aspects of any culture just because, I really do not know much about either. Politics are talked about at a national level sometimes, but rarely locally do I hear or see anything about politics in Kenmare. I am learning a lot about society but I am referring to people in this case. I have met many Americans, English, some French and even Slovakians. However, the majority are white Irish people. This is obviously what you would expect in this part of the country during the non-tourist season. There are many different types of people, it is just not the melting pot I am used to from the States. This leads me too:

TOURISM: Irish towns are clearly set-up for tourism, especially in Kerry and the towns of Kenmare, Killarney, and Dingle that are located in this wonderful county. The restaurants, hotels, B&Bs and other sites in these towns are huge tourist destinations during the Spring and Summer. Places like Galway and the other cities and towns, offer travelers hostel accommodations like the rest of Europe. During my road trip I spent four nights around Europe and spent only 67 Euro for the four nights combined. I think my pub tabs were higher. We have thousands of hotels in the States, obviously, especially in our major cities which tend to be Irish destinations of interest. Almost anyone I have talked to that has been to the States has either been to Boston, New York, or Florida (and still some do not know Connecticut). However, hotels are usually pricey and although the B&Bs are present, I do not think America supports cheap sleeping arrangements for the foreign travelers. Part of this may be because the United States is not as close to other nations as Ireland is to the rest of Europe.

TELEVISION: My final two topics are nothing new as far as subjects of my blogging. Television here, if you have Sky cable or whatever it is called, you will have all the channels you need. I am delighted to have the option of watching Scrubs like 5 hours a day as it is on even more than it is in the States which is great. But TV shows and movies usually come much later here. For instance, I am happily watching the first season of Glee all over again as it started in January although it aired in the States during the fall. Movies are the same way in that they arrive a little late but I guess that is what happens when you do not have Hollywood.

FOOD: Finally...my favorite topic. Although I have talked about restaurants and pubs I have had many fun experiences in the local Supervalu. This is the cheapest and largest grocery store in the area and often are found more than the giant Tescos which are the Irish equivalent of Wal-Mart. Supervalus are not huge but you can get everything you need. Immediately I noticed a huge difference in some foods when I bought a bag of Doritos my first week here. They just were not the same. The Pringles taste good but things like ketchup, bread, and even yogurt all taste just a little different, even if it is a brand that is also made in the U.S. For instance, Yoplait yogurt is not even close to what we have in the States but things like Cadbury Creme Eggs are totally different. Admittedly I was addicted there for a few weeks but Cadbury is an Irish brand. However, things like yogurt and ice cream vary in quality and price. They do have Ben & Jerry's here but usually a pint is 4-7 Euro (around $6-10). Obviously being imported has made Ben & Jerry's almost as valuable as diamonds, but this is one thing that does taste the same. However many groceries are different, especially when it comes to Gatorade and Powerade, cheese and bread. It just tastes so different that although these differences have allowed for changes in my diet, food here is more normal than I thought it was. I mean, I can always get good quality Chinese...

I am sorry this blog was long but I just felt like sharing a few observations I've had about the culture itself. More to come soon. Need to get back to work, we'll talk soon.

Cheers,
MG

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pictures

Hey all...as some have noticed, I have put many pictures up on my facebook account. Here is the link:

http://www.facebook.com/mattgoula?ref=profile

I still have some more to put up, but you can see the beginnings of our February break road trip from the Ring of Kerry, Dingle, and so on.

This weekend, again spent in Kenmare. Last night we went to a few new pubs we had not been to for a few pints. I learned there were 17 pubs in Kenmare, so I think now I have been maybe to half of them (not all in the same night).

Friday I bit my lip biting an apple. But this wasn't a normal lip/cheek or other biting. It was normal in that it bled like crazy and I could not stop it for a while. However it wasn't like my teeth chopped down on it but more like it got pinched (probably because I took too big of a bite). It is okay now but I just wanted to share.

This week marks past the halfway point in my teaching, and I switch a few classes after the end of this coming week. There are three groups or classes of first years, and I teach them all. Right now every first year I teach in their given History class one out of three classes of the week. I will continue to have those classes but I a will be giving up two Geography classes that I teach full time and get the the third first-year Geography class next week. There are a few other changes but my point is the next month I will have a schedule that is not as busy. This is good in that I will have lots of time to do my other work and maybe some traveling and other things. However it will be sad giving classes back so soon. Only one more month of teaching as i will be completely done before the Easter break at the end of March. It has gone by fast!

Not much else planned for this week as far as extracurricular activities. Thursday will be busy with soccer and afterwords we will be having Mexican with cervezas as we play Apples to Apples. Lisa bought it on her trip to the US earlier this month so it will be fun to play that game with the Irish. Good times.

That is all for now,
MG

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Football

Hey all...so today I played football-somewhat successfully-for the second time since I have been here. The first time was a couple weeks ago and I was proud to say I did not embarrass myself too much. Football, being soccer of course. Tonight there was a light rain part of the night but the sky was clear and it did not take long to warm up. It felt good getting some exercise other than what a gym has to offer. It doesn't matter what kind of shape anyone is in, soccer is tough.
The group I play with is a mixture of students younger than me, as well older dudes too. One of the kids asked me yesterday if I was playing again, and I told him I would most likely. I also said I hadn't played in a while so I may be a little rusty still. He assured me I wasn't that bad, for an American...

Tomorrow starts another weekend in Kenmare. Pretty soon I will be planning an Easter Holiday trip and I have been thinking London, among other things. All of Europe is so close it would be a waste to not take advantage of being so close to the variety of cultures around here.

I haven't been watching the Olympics too much...I usually like to although I am more of a Summer Olympic fan. But I switched it on and the only thing that I have watched like three nights this week is Cross-Country Skying. Really?! I got spoiled one of the first nights I turned it on because my boy Apolo Ohno was on and snuck away with a silver-I love short track-but since then it has been many things I have not been into. Oh well....maybe I can catch the end of Women's Figure Skating, if I'm lucky.

One more annoyance: as I sit here and get some work done and catch up on schoolwork, like normal I usually have the TV on although I do not always pay attention to it. But what is the deal with Lost? I know I have missed the last couple seasons but it just isn't the same anymore. You think I would learn the fact that I get excited and then let down every Thursday night but nope, I am just too hopeful and like clockwork, sit down with dinner right @ 9pm. Man I just realized I have been talking a lot about TV. Time to move on.

Despite my criticisms, life is good. A lot of exciting things to look forward to in 2010 and it only gets better everyday. If you are in or around Southeastern Connecticut tomorrow (2/26), please wish my beautiful Momma happy birthday. She popped all ten pounds of me out no sweat so she deserves it, love you! (Maybe a little sweat).

Have a good weekend,
MG

P.S. Probably no more texts and calls to the States while I am away, unless it is an emergency or you are extremely good looking.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday

Hey all...this was just told to me...

"So I couldn't tell you this yesterday because I just found out but in your Humanities class with your Transitions Years last two classes today there will be a guest speaker. You are more than welcome to come in but you do not have to"-that last part had an added smile on Ms. Kelliher's face. I guess I will just have to go home early now, ohhhhhh well.

I actually am not too excited about this, so don't judge. My Humanities class is definitely my most fun and interesting class; however, it is my most unpredictable. Transition Year students do a lot of different projects for the school and are very often, out of class last minute. I only meet with them once a week but they are working on an exciting project for me at the moment so I am sure they can use more time. I guess this is okay.

So today we finally got some rain after pretty much two weeks straight of sunshine...I almost thought this wasn't Ireland.

I have been annoying some of my friends here with my uncanny ability to relate everything in life to one of a few things, mainly a scene from a Scrubs episode (however this might also include Friend's, The Office, Arrested Development and Dane Cook references). I take pride in my strong Scrubs knowledge acquired during hundreds of hours of repeats of episodes. So it was only necessary to buy Scrub's Music, Vol. 2 yesterday. This is a must have, Scrubs has great music and this CD rocks. Ok I am done with that, let me know if you want a copy.

I need to mail out some goodies and get some work done today and tomorrow. However, the first two seasons of Prison Break do not help this. I am almost done watching the first season (again). You know when you watch a show over that you saw years ago? It's great because you enjoy it again but do not remember everything at the same time so part of it is a mystery...it's the best.

Anyway, lots to do and I am motivated. I kind of feel I bounced around a lot during this post and I apologize, just been thinking about a lot too. The more I think about my inattention to just one topic of focus further solidifies my self-diagnosis that I am ADHD. I am sort of kidding and sort of not.

Thanks for bearing with me on this one, cheers.

MG

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Midterm

Hey all....so as you probably know, we had this week off from school for a break and I took advantage of the time by doing some traveling around Ireland. Courtney came to visit Friday and Kathryn joined us for a little road trip.

After picking Courtney up Friday, we spent the weekend in Kenmare but traveled the Ring of Kerry on Saturday. For a few hours, we did a big loop around the coast of County Kerry. County Kerry is a beautiful drive and like the rest of the week, the weather was pretty much outstanding for it. Pictures will be soon to follow on facebook.

Sunday we left early afternoon for Dingle, a couple hours up the west coast. We arrived just before sunset and a few kilometers before reaching Dingle, we saw our first real beach. Although in some cool weather, the sun was enough for people to be out on the beach playing with their dogs or just walking near the water. Dingle itself, was just a few minutes up the road. Right on the water, Dingle is a very popular tourist destination in the summer but the rest of the year is a small port town marked with fishing boats and Fungie the Dolphin (who we did not see). Fungie is a dolphin that does not migrate to warmer waters during the winter and the town has marketed Fungie to be its sort of local mascot. Anyway, that night in Dingle we listened to some traditional Irish music at the Marina Inn. Got a nice dinner, and then went back and grabbed a few more pints. A couple local dogs, Rex and his little pup whose name I forgot at the moment, hung out with us and the locals in the pub. Dogs here I noticed, are rarely leashed and kind of wander on their own. These two were the greatest. We stayed at a hostel that night which like most of the week, worked out to be relatively cheap and comfortable sleeping arrangements. Out of the four nights we stayed out in Ireland, we spent less than 70 Euro a piece for lodging. The next day we walked around for a little bit, got the 'best' milkshake from this place for lunch (as we were all craving them) and headed out for the day.

Monday around noon, we left for Galway. Further up the west coast, Galway like most of Ireland's major cities, is somewhat on the water. I have heard good things about Galway from many and after a few laps around the city, we parked and found a hostel right in the the city centre near Eyre Square. The Galway City Hostel we stayed at for two nights, was probably the greatest place we stayed at. The people there were cool, there was a common room with people from all places, and the best part, bunk beds! I slept on the top bunk, of course, and our first night in we hung out in the community area and played cards. After a long weekend we needed a chill night however, we got up early the next day, toured the city for a while and started the day off with a crepe (Zatsuma.ie). Galway has a lot of walking streets with shops and well, food and more shops. After a day of shopping we went back to the hostel before going out for the night. Our Americaness tuned in because I had a craving for Papa John's Pizza, so it was good to have a delicious American pizza pie. That night we went to the pub underneath our hostel (yes literally underneath), and hit up a club later. It was a Tuesday night so many were out, but it wasn't a crazy night. However, we got back to the hostel and prepared to get up early and grab another crepe before leaving.

Wednesday was Cliffs of Moher day. Out of any other place of interest in Ireland, you ask any Irish person what you should see and almost always the Cliffs of Moher is mentioned first. The Cliffs are on the west coast of County Clare and are hundreds of feet high. No picture can really do them justice, however at the same time, only pictures can explain the site. It was a little windy, but a sunny day led for a couple hour drive to the coast and then back. After getting a little lost, we drove through Ennis and then Limerick on our quest for one meal of delicious Fish & Chips. We got that after doing a few loops in Limerick. After getting our fish we sort of last minute, found a B&B owned by this really nice lady and got a deal to stay the night. We didn't have much time to check out Limerick but had driven through there on the way up, so it was a little familiar.

Thursday morning we dropped Courtney off at Shannon Airport which is just a few minutes past Limerick. Then it was a direct shot to Cork for a little shopping but also yes, to get my laptop back. Finally the day has come. It isn't good as new, but it should get me by until I am back in the states. For instance, it doesn't run on battery power. The lady that worked on it was very cool and only wanted to replace what she absolutely had to. Soooo it's working right now and I have internet at the place, so skype and facebook chatting will be more frequent, I hope.

After driving home from Cork to Kenmare, we drove up to Killarney yesterday to drop the car off and Kathryn accompanied me. We took the bus back which pretty much leads to where I am at right now. It was a good week off but this weekend I am getting focused and getting ready to get back into the swing of things. Lots of work, laundry, and cleaning to do. I am sure there is more to say but this blog is taking me forever to write so I am done for now. The week off was good, but it's back to school soon...

Cheers,
MG

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Tripping

Hey all...this week and upcoming weekend starts a little time where I will actually be able to tour some parts of Ireland. Monday night I was able to get a ride back down to Cork again (sort of last minute) to spend the day and night there Tuesday all day. Tuesday was a parent-teacher day at school and I really did not have to be there so I got a ride with Vince to Cork. Vince teaches in Kenmare everyday but Tuesday so it worked out with the rides and sleeping accomodations. Tuesday I was finally able to get my laptop to the only place that can officially work and fix Macs. That did not take long to drop it off and I spent the rest of the day biking and exploring Cork. Wednesday morning we drove back as it was back to school...because I am not a fool...

The issues with the computer are as follows. After bringing it to two people and a couple phone calls, repairs could end up being costly enough where I may have to just get a new one. Today I found out that a couple parts are needed to have the Mac charge itself as that was not happening, but they also got the main board working. After a few hundred Euro, I should have the machine sometime this weekend or next week I hope. However, it is possible the board will not last forever or even for that long which will result in hundreds more needed to be spent. I think I will have an operating laptop within a few days. Moral of the story, Macs are very sensitive so pleeeease buy your's some flowers and the warmest, most water-proof case you can find.

The last few days have been gorgeous with sun although a little cold. I think I may attempt soccer tonight for the first time in a while which could be dangerous.......for whoever gets in my way! Heyyyooo...that combined with a Friday of fun classes I am planning for will lead right into a good week off from school.

Last night Kathryn and I roughly planned our trip next week. Tomorrow Courtney comes into Ireland and after picking her up with a car I am about to rent, we'll be spending a couple nights in Kenmare then touring the western part of Ireland....Kenmare, Killarney, Dingle, Galway and possibly back down to Cork before returning the car on Friday. Hopefully lots of pictures and stories for that trip will follow. I will update the next week or so as much as I can.

Time to go book the car and get incredibly sore. Miss you. War eagle!

MG (From Ireland)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Cork

Hey all...this weekend was pretty much a typical weekend in Kenmare. Relax during the day, pubs at night with good Irish/American friends and good music. Saturday morning I went with Lisa and her daughter Siobhan to Cork, which was about an hour and a half drive there. The day was gorgeous. Cork is mainly a small city of shopping and food-good combo. Siobhan showed me around and although it was a little quiet at first, Saturday was a great day to see people of all ages walk through the streets of Cork.

Like I said, good shopping and every kind of store you can imagine. There is this one place called English Market which has booths of every different type of food you could imagine; sandwich booths, chicken booths, vegetable and fruit booths, seafood, pastries, etc. For instance, the Chicken booth had every cut of chicken breasts, wings, or patties that you can buy uncooked that might offer a fresher selection that a store. It was like a little market (hence the name) and if I was living in Cork, I would probably find a way to go and get some things for dinner everyday. Cork is definitely a town of smells and this place was amazing. Me being hungry did not help either.

After a couple hours of strolling around, we got some sandwiches to go (take away) from one of the booths in the market and drove back home where I took a longer nap then anticipated. This week coming up will be not too bad before we get a week off from school. Friday Courtney Cushing is flying in and some exploring around Ireland is the plan.

It doesn't look like good news for my laptop...but I am optimistic. So yet another week with limited internet time and no skype. I am working on it, trust me. Time to go the gym and then get ready for the Superbowl....except it starts like after midnight here. We will see if I make it for that one.

Cheers,
MG

Thursday, February 4, 2010

February Showers

School this week was not too bad as I finally got to get in front of most of my classes and run the show as well as get to know the kids. Most of my classes are with first years who although a little talkative, are really an entertaining and intelligent group. I have the luxury of teaching about Haiti, the Renaissance, the Sea and Maps which gives me a variety. However, it gives me a lot of material I have to read about to keep ahead of the students.

The past few nights I have gotten to explore the town a little, but nothing too exciting. Tonight I may play soccer but it is the first rainy day of the week so that might cancel it. However, I meet more and more people everyday which really has been a great experience. This weekend may involve a trip to Cork on Saturday (hopefully laptop in hand) but will most likely result with just a relaxing weekend in Kenmare.

That is all for now really. Wednesday and Thursday are my easier days but tomorrow will be a full schedule before the weekend. Looking forward to it...how are you?

Cheers,
MG

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dublin Weekend

Hey all...this weekend I made it up to Dublin, late Friday night. Kathryn and I took a train from Killarney to Dublin and got there around 9:30. By the time we got to the Kathryn's friend's house it was enough time to stop at Eddie Rockets and grab a pint at the local pub. Yes, Eddie Rockets is the Irish clone of Johnny Rockets and is pretty much the same from the logo to the food; just Eddie is the Rocketman in this case. Stephen and Kim (whom we stayed with) were very nice and accommodating and had two setter/golden retriever puppy mixes who were fun to play with of course..

Saturday was our day to tour Dublin and although a little cooler, was a nice day with sun all weekend. We got into the city center midday and pretty much hung around Grafton St. which had a lot going on for a saturday. Musicians, mimes and other beings lined the streets. Of course as soon as I got off the Luas (tram), I immediately found the nearest H&M but refrained from buying everything until my next trip; I know, I was impressed too. In the nearby shopping centre, going to the toilet cost 20 cents. Other things that amazed me about the mall area were the similarities but not exactly the same stores and restaurants like Eddie Rockets. For instance, Tk Maxx as well as Supermacs were very close connections to the American ones. However, pictures (I know they are coming!), will show you the subtle differences that make me laugh. There were plenty of McDonald's and Burger Kings in Dublin as well.

Bonnie and Megan from Auburn were traveling Europe this past week and we met up Saturday and hit up the Guinness Storehouse later on. The museum-like building was 7 floors that ascended into the final floor known as the Gravity Bar. Up there you get your ticket for your free pint and can see most of Dublin. With the sun setting the sight was amazing. The displays and going through the process of the Guinness creation was interesting as well....the Irish certainly take their Guinness seriously.

Later on that night after dinner, i met some more Irish folks that came over to the house we were staying and hung around until going to Club 92 later on that night. I was a little rusty, but I managed to dance the night away until the wee hours of the morning. Definitely was a busy and great saturday.

Sunday Kathryn and I made it to the O2 concert hall where we saw 'We Will Rock You.' The three-hour musical is based on Queen's music and the music itself was amazing. The story line was a little out there but I think in a way, it just proved how unique, creative and absolutely insane Queen's music really is. Also, I think the show in a way, embraced and made fun of it while continuing to reference pop and rock stars and songs of old and new. One of the male 'Bohemians' was named Britney Spears (just to give an example). I had heard on Sunday that Brian May (original member of Queen) would be playing...he came out during the finale, and played the guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody while the rest of the members sang and danced. It was truly amazing. I wish Freddie was still around. Queen has always been my favorite and after that, always will be.

After some dinner and a late train getting us back into Kenmare around 11:30, it was a goodnight sleep to conclude the weekend. Today I officially started with my two geography classes along with a few others beginning this week, will be a fun week. I also managed to get asked if a) I had a girlfriend and 2), could a few girls be my girlfriend. I was flattered....but did I mention they were first years (13-14 years old)? Haha ummm....but all the kids are sweet and funny so it made it a good Monday.

Irish Translations:

'Lift'-Ride (in a car)
'Petrol'-Gas(for a car)
'Half 7'-7:30(time)
'School'-School
More to come...

Just ate, so I am full enough to go grocery shopping. Cheers and have a good week.

MG