Thursday, February 26, 2009

Pancake Thursday

I woke up at 7:00am on Tuesday to make pancakes before work. Our roommates brother was staying here and sleeping on the couch, which is right beside the kitchen. Once I started clinking pots and pans around, I decided I was making too much noise and might wake up our guest, so Pancake Tuesday had to be moved to Thursday.

Well, Pancake Thursday wasn't that successful either. This morning I tried making banana pancakes in a non-stick pan that had all of the non-sticky stuff scratched off. Let's just say things got messy when it was time to flip. Next I tried a small little pot that would make a perfectly round pancake every time. That didn't work either - the edges burnt and the middle wouldn't cook. Lastly, I tried a larger pot which seemed to do the trick. The banana, however, did make for soggy - but still good tasting - pancakes!

Pancakes in a pot

Yesterday - Ash Wednesday - marked the beginning of Lent. You could tell it was a significant day for many Dubliners. I was amazed at how many people on the streets and in the stores and restaurants wore ashes on their foreheads all day long. Even talkshow hosts on TV kept it on! Matt and I have both given up something for Lent. I can't eat junk food (chocolate, candy, ice cream, chips - basically everything I love but feel bad eating) and Matt has given up Pepsi. Sundays are my new favourite day because that's when we can cheat!

Only 13 more days until my family comes to visit! Aaaaah, I'm so excited! We're renting a car for the 11 days that they're here and we have a packed itinerary full of sites to see and pubs to visit. Nicole's best friend Jennie is also coming along and arrives 2 days after my family does. Matt isn't traveling with us, but he will join us when we return to Dublin for St. Paddy's Day celebrations. Yesterday I let work know that I'll be traveling with my family. That idea didn't really fly. I have to go in tomorrow to talk with the other manager, but by the sounds of things, they can't give me the time off and I'm going to have to quit. I had a feeling this was going to happen. I decided to post some pictures of where I work, since it might be the last I see of it!

The Chester Beatty Library, the museum that the Silk Road Cafe is located in

The courtyard outside of the Library with Dublin Castle in the background

Inside the Library lobby. The entrance to the cafe is on the right, and there are a bunch of tables in the lobby on the right side as well

When I'm not working, I like to look up new recipes and spend the day cooking. I tried baking an upside down apple cake the other week and it didn't turn out so well. I blame it on the fact that we have no baking utensils or measuring devices, so it's all guesswork, which we all know is not how you're supposed to bake. I also really enjoy grocery shopping...probably all that time spent grocery shopping with my Dad (awww, I miss that) and the fact that I don't have much else to do with my spare time! We have group dinners with our friends at least once a week and we go to the cinema or rent movies pretty regularly. Oh, Matt's friend, Jeff, is coming to visit in April for 11 days. Matt is really excited - he really misses his boy friends from home. Well, that's as newsy as it gets around here these days. I'll write again soon when something interesting happens!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When in Ireland... as the Irish! Now that we're hitting the three month mark in Dublin, I'm really getting used to the day-to-day words and phrases used by the Irish, especially now that I work with them on a daily basis. I even catch myself saying them from time to time. I thought it might be cool to list some of these words and phrases for you to learn too!

Aubergine = eggplant
= bread bun
Beet root = beets
To "bin it" = to throw it out
Brilliant = great. They say it ALL the time! Everything is brilliant or gorgeous or lovely here
Childminder = babysitter
Chips = french fries but bigger and not as crispy (which also equals not as good!)
Cinema = movie theatre
Courgette = zucchini
Craic = fun, enjoyment, laughs, having a good time
Creche = daycare
Crisps = potato chips
Deadly/savage = brilliant, awesome, really good, cool
Feck = the "F" word. They do say it a lot, even old ladies
Film = movie, but the Irish pronounce it "fill-um"
Fire brigade = fire truck, firefighters
Fiver = five Euro bill
Flat = apartment
Flatmate = roommate. When I say roommate, they think I mean the person who shares an actual bedroom with me. Really, I mean the person who shares an apartment with me
Fortnight = every other week or every 14 days
Garda = police
Ginger = redheaded person
Grand = good, fine, okay. It doesn't mean great or amazing or large-scale like we would think. If you ask someone how they are, they will respond with "grand, thanks"
To say "half 10:00" = means 10:30. Half 12:00 would be 12:30, etc.
Hire = rent (i.e. to hire a car = to rent a car)
Howya = "how are you?" - typical greeting. When we would normally say "hi" they would say "howya"
Knackered = tired
Locked = very drunk, wasted
Lock in = when a pub locks people in after hours so the pub looks closed from the outside. I
'm pretty certain the pub below us does this. Well, they did until the Garda came banging on their door one night!
Mad = wild, innovative, over the top, whacky. People I work with say all the time "it was mad" or "you're mad"
Milton = bleach
Mince = ground beef
Mind yourself = watch out, be careful
Notes = bills, when referring to money
Prawns = shrimp
Queue = a line up
Rashers = pieces of bacon
Sultanas = raisins
Tenner = ten Euro bill
"Thanks a million" or "thanks a mill"
= thank you. They also say "thanks very much" rather than just thank you or thanks
Thyme = thyme. But what I don't understand is why they say it "thigh-m." They never pronouce their th's any other time (i.e. three = "tree"), but they do when they're talking about the herb thyme! Strange...
Toilet = bathroom
Veg = vegetables. They don't say the whole word - ever
To do the "wash" = to do the laundry
To do the "washing up" = to do the dishes. Dish soap is called "washing up liquid"

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Which Way? Galway!

I've decided I'll save you from reading another novel and explain our trip to Galway using mostly pictures. After a 3.5 hour bus ride, we arrived in Galway late Friday night. We headed straight to a pub where we listened to a really great DJ. It was an early night though, as we wanted to get up and enjoy the city the next day. Here's what we did on Saturday...

The Galway Gang - Matt, Megann, Vaughan, and Claire

The very fast moving River Corrib

Galway Cathedral

Galway Bay boats

I pet one. It attacked. I ran.

Playing in the park

It looks like it could have been a nice, hot sandy beach. But it wasn't...

One lone tree

The Spanish Arch. I don't know it's significance and it wasn't very interesting to see, but our book told us to go to it and - ta da - here it is!

A fun Saturday night was spent at The King's Head

That fun Saturday night started off with some Bubbly! Drinking champagne in style from pint glasses and mugs at the hostel.

After our big night out on Saturday, we were all pretty slow to get up Sunday morning. We were planning on doing a day trip to see the Cliffs of Moher, but slept through that. Megann and Vaughan headed back to Dublin, while Matt, Claire and I decided to extend our stay one more night. We went to a pub to listen to some traditional Irish music, then found our way to another pub to see a live band called "No Banjo." They were a mix of bluegrass, jazz, swing, rock - everything - and they put on a great show!

A traditional Irish band. There were about eight of them sitting in the pub booths, whistling and drumming away and loving life. I was too!

No Banjo. They lied, they really did have a banjo.

Monday was awesome. Matt and I did a 7 hour bus tour of The Burren and the Cliffs of Moher (which are in County Clare, not Galway). The Burren is basically a big limestone mountain that we traveled through to get to the Cliffs, and it has one of the strangest landscapes I've ever seen. It's very desert-like and bare, and sheep, horses and cows freely graze on the rocks (our bus nearly hit a sheep along the way).

I'm the king of the castle...

...and Matt's the dirty rascal! Matt's first time seeing the ocean (look beyond the rocks!)

On our way to the Cliffs. This picture looks black and white, but it's not!

Finally, what I've been waiting for all this time - rolling hills, green pastures, and sheep! It's true people, Ireland really does look like this!

A-mazing! The Cliffs of Moher stretch for 8km and rise up to 214 metres above the Atlantic Ocean. You used to be able to walk right to the edge (see the foreground) but that has since been blocked off. There have been many deaths at the Cliffs, mostly accidental (loose ground, strong winds, etc.), so I'm grateful for the barriers!

A long way down

We saw surfer dudes catching some waves down below. How they survived that freezing cold water, I don't know.

The Poulnabrone Portal Tomb. 22 bodies were excavated from this tomb, which are said to be nearly 5000 years old.

Aillwee Caves. Our bus driver said the cave tour was "SPECTACULAR!" and worth the 8 Euro each, so we decided to do it. It was probably the worst tour I've ever been on and the biggest waste of money. Our tour guide was brutal, and what was advertised as a "thunderous waterfall" was really a trickling sprinkle of water.

I immediately got a good vibe from Galway, and Matt and I are considering moving there at some point. It's a lot smaller and has less to do than Dublin, but the people seem friendlier, there are actual Irish people (imagine that!), it's a student city so it's youthful and fun, and it's pretty artsy. Our main concern is finding work there because it is so small, and with the recession and all, that makes it more difficult. We'll see. Who knows where we'll be in a few months?!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Welcome back to Dublin!
The 120 metre Spire on O'Connell Street.

I have a job! I've worked four shifts now at the Silk Road Cafe, which is in the Dublin Castle and a very convenient five minute walk from our apartment. So far it's been pretty good. I work behind the counter serving food and making fancy coffees (Nicole, you're right - making coffee
is fun!) It's a very busy Middle Eastern Cafe with great food, and time flies while I'm there because there's always a line up out the door. The cafe does a lot of special events and catering. I worked an event on Friday where I served wine and food to a room full of doctors and I actually enjoyed it. Hopefully thing continue to go well. It's such a relief to have a little bit of money coming in.

Speaking of relief and money, Matt's bank draft has come back. After over a month of waiting, we can finally pay the landlord last months rent and deposit. And now that February has snuck up on us, we'll have to pay this months rent too. Man, that's a lot of money out the door all at once!

We're getting used to things in our apartment now. Our roomies get us in "trouble" for forgetting to leave the hot water turned on and for turning it on too often - we're always turning it on and they're always turning it off. But I think we've come to an agreement that we'll turn the water on during the night and all take quick, hot showers in the mornings.
Our one roommate, Marie, had her family visiting for a weekend and we ate dinner with them. They have a tradition in France, when, after Christmas (normally on January 6th for Epiphany) they eat this almond pie with a hidden toy inside. The youngest person at the table has to sit underneath the table while the pie slices get served. Not able to see the pie, the person under the table decides which slice goes to who. Whoever gets the toy in their piece of pie becomes either a King or a Queen and wears a crown, and gets to choose his/her Queen or King. It was really cool to participate in someone else's family tradition. They gave me the toy from the pie, and I definitely plan on bringing this tradition back home and doing it next year with my family. That's the cool thing about travelling and meeting people from all over the world - you experience and learn so many new things!

It's nice to have a comfortable place of our own to invite friends over too. We've had people over for dinner once and drinks a few times. After hanging out here one night, we all headed down to the pub for some karaoke. I somehow got dragged up by my friends and
pretended to sing Spice Girls with them (really, I was just lip syncing). Poor Matt ended up there too singing "Summer of '69." His microphone was conveniently placed at his chest the whole time, so you couldn't hear him either. As you can tell, we're not big on the whole karaoke thing. You can hear the live music perfectly from our room. One night we heard some great sounding Irish tunes, so we got up out of bed and headed down for a drink. There's one regular guy that sounds like a really bad wedding singer, always singing "Pretty Woman" and "Brown Eyed Girl." When we hear that, we know not to go down for a drink!

Our old home, Kinlay House Hostel

Our new home. Outside of the doors is a balcony overlooking Francis Street.

Cleanest bathroom in town!

In January we decided that even if we're broke, we're going to start going out to see and do more things. We did two day trips to small coastal towns just outside of Dublin - Howth and Bray. They're really easy and cheap places to get to by train, and a nice retreat from the city.

When we left for Howth, it was mild, calm, and not raining. When we arrived in Howth, we experienced the stormiest weather since we've been here. There isn't much to do in this little town. The coolest part was the marina full of real, operating fishing boats. I wanted so bad to pay one of the fishermen to take me out on his boat - it'd be such a cool thing to see in action! The marina was also full of hundreds of the world's biggest seagulls and ugly but cool-to-watch seals. Despite the torrential rains and blistering cold wind, I decided it would be a good idea to take a stroll down the pier. We were lucky we weren't blown right off! We bypassed the cliff walk, grabbed some fish and chips, and headed straight home to dry off.

Take me on any boat but that one!


The Abbey Ruins and a cemetery

Howth homes

A lovely walk along the pier...

Our trip to Bray was way better and it was a beautiful, sunny day - the
best weather since we've been here! We went with our friends Vaughan (Kiwi) and Megann (American) from the hostel. This town seemed like it would be a lot of fun in the summer. It had a pretty big beach where we skipped rocks and ate fried food. Then we got this grand idea to climb Bray Head (i.e. the mountain). It started out with a few feet of nice paved road for walkers, but then turned into a muddy, rocky, and steep climb up. None of us came prepared to climb - I was wearing my peacoat and purse and Vaughan had his nice shiny white running shoes on. But we had started, and there was no turning back! There were lots of falls along the way. Matt fell out of a tree (but that's his fault for climbing it) and while heading back down (which is way harder than going up), I gained a lot of speed and there were a lot of wet leaves and the only way for me to stop myself without dying was to jump to the side into a bush. All in all, it was worth the scrapes and bruises for the great view at the top!

Vaughan and I took pictures of the Custom House before we left for Bray. It's not too often you see a reflection like that in the Liffey - look at that blue sky!

Beach bums

"Hey, lets climb to the top!"

See the furthest mountain to the right? The closest we'll get to snow this winter!

Matt - first to the top!

Rock art

We overheard some kids call this the "Forest of Hell." It's really steep and you gain a lot of speed going down. In order to stop ourselves from losing control, we'd just grab or run into the next tree ahead of us. I have the funniest video of Matt dodging the trees.

I went out and bought the cheapest paints (just primary colours!), brushes and canvas I could find. I wanted to start painting again, not with the intent to sell but just for fun. I did one quick circle painting the other day that I haven't yet decided if it's finished or not. Our roommates like it though and want me to hang it up, so I might just do that. The "Euro" store sells cheap canvas for 2 Euro each (12"x16" and no staples on the sides!) so it's a fairly cheap pastime for me here.

Other than that, not much else is new around here. My family and Jennie are coming to visit in 38 days and I couldn't be more excited! Next weekend Matt, Vaughan, Megann and I are taking a trip to Galway, which is about a four hour bus ride away on the west coast of Ireland. It should be fun!

I've added more pictures to my Berlin post, so check them out if you get a chance. I will leave you with a few pictures from our walk through Phoenix Park, the largest enclosed urban public park in Europe...

A circle of trees. This picture reminds me of Waterloo artist Melissa Doherty's work - the colours and everything!