Archive for November, 2009

Paris, France – Bro & Sis Vaca

Posted on November 25, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last week Cody and I took our trip to Paris, France. We went with the ISA, international student association, which was nice because we didn’t have to plan anything. We started off by leaving Thursday night at around 7 and took a bus to Dover where we caught a ferry. Our ferry was delayed so we had to wait an extra hour or so and then when we got on the ferry we were delayed again. We finally got off the ferry at about 6am and go back on the bus.  Our last leg on the bus was about 4 hours long. I finally got some sleep on the last part of the bus ride, it wasn’t the best sleep I’ve ever had but it was better than nothing. We finally arrived in Paris at about 11, we got to our hostel but we couldn’t get into our rooms until 3 because they were cleaning. Cody and I decided to leave and walk around.

We got our map and figured out the places that we wanted to visit. Cody had decided that he wanted to stop and get a bagette and just walk around and eat it…so we did…we walked around with a huge loaf of bread. After we got the bread we kept walking and we first stopped to see Notre Dame. It was very beautiful, the best cathedral we have seen so far. We didn’t go inside but we looked around the outside. It was nice when we were walking by later one other time and we heard the bells going off. After we got done taking our pictures we kept walking and found the park called, Place de la Concorde. It is the biggest square in Paris. It was beautiful with its fountains and statues. We kept walking and found a street that had a lot of little boothes with food and all different kinds of things. We decided to get some strawberry crepes at one of them, they were pretty good. After we ate we kept walking down the park and decided to go and see the Eiffel Tower. We got there at about 3 o’clock. We were going to go back up to the top but it said that it was temporarily closed. We decided that we would try back later, and I had to get back to the hostel to register for classes anyway. We started walking back and made it a good distance…and then got a little lost. We had trouble finding the right streets to turn on and it ended up taking us 3 hours to get back to our hostel. By the time we got back we didn’t want to do anything. So we decided to eat there and just relax the rest of the night.

On Saturday we decided that we were going to get metro tickets (like taking the subway) instead of  walking everywhere. We had found out that on Friday we had walked about 15 miles and we really didn’t want to do that again. We figured we would start off the day by going to The Lourve. That was the only thing we really had planned for the day because we had been told that it would take a whole day or more to see everything. We got there and took some picutres of the pyramids outside and then went it and started our journey. We had gotten a map and saw that the museum had 4 floors. There were also highlighted items on each floor so we figured those would be easiest to go and find and then we could see all the other stuff along the way. It took us about 4 hours to get through all we wanted to see. The best parts were seeing the Mona Lisa, Aphrodite, and of course seeing the things we had seen in the movie The DaVinci Code. After walking around we went to see the Arc de Triumph. We were going to go to the top, but we didnt want to spend money to do it 🙂 . For lunch that day we went to eat at McDonalds and it was delicious and super bad for you as always. We then went back to our hostel for  a few hours and then got back on the metro and headed to see the Eiffel tower light up. At 8 pm every night, for 10 mins, it does a light show. It was pretty great. It was my favorite part or the trip.

On Sunday we were set to leave at 5pm. We really didn’t have a lot do to. We went and saw Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde’s graves first and then on the walk back to the hostel we got some fruit tarts. They were delicious, they tasted just like fruit pizza. Yumm. We also walked around looking for some wine for Cody, and it’s actually harder to find than you would think but we eventually found some. We didn’t do much of anything else that day, just sat around waiting to leave. It came to be 5 o’clock and found out that the ferries had been cancelled because of the weather so we would be going under the water instead. I was pretty excited. When we finally got to Calias – where we would get on the ferry- we found out that they had started running again. In my mind, this was a terrible mistake. It was the rockiest ride ever, I got sea sick…twice. Soooooo bad. I was very happy when the ride was over. Then we got back on a bus and made our way back to Hull. We arrived back at around 4:30am. It was a very successful trip. 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Rome and Naples, Italy

Posted on November 18, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Overall, our trip to Italy has been my favorite so far. It had it’s ups and downs but that happens with every trip. We started off by taking a train from Hull to London Stansted airport for our overnight wait for our plane. We got there are about 10:45 pm and got some supper and then went to scout out for our place to sleep.Of course by this time of the night all the benches are taken so we have to sleep on the cold, hard floor. Mouse passed out right away, but Cody and I stayed awake reading. We ended up not even sleeping. We went to check in for our plane at 4:30 am and then had two hours to wait for our plane to take off. By the time we actually got on the plane I had a nice hour and a half nap and by the time I woke up we were almost to Rome. It was a nice smooth flight, unlike our flight back.

We arrived in Rome and got a taxi to take us to our bed and breakfast. The traffic was terrible and it ended up costing us 70 euro for a 12 km taxi ride. This right off put all of us in a terrible mood. Of course then we got to the B&B and all the lady wanted to do was talk..talk talk talk talk talk. And it wasn’t about anything important. At one point she started talking about how her friend likes to drink and smoke pot. After we finally got her to go away we started off to tour Rome. First we stopped at this parked and took pictures and looked around. It was quite beautiful. It was also right across from the Colosseum so we could get some pictures of that. We then went to the Colosseum and all around were people saying that there were english guided tours so we decided to pay 22 eruos and get a tour of the Colosseum, the Palantine, and the Forum. It was well worth the money. The tours went very well, we learned a lot and got some great pictures. We spent our day looking around at the ruins and looking in shops. We also passed a sidewalk artist who was in the process of drawing an amazing picture, if you go to my shutterfly you can see it. For supper we decided that we needed to get some pizza. We found a place where you could get a pizza, salad, and a drink for 8.50 euros so we figured that was a good deal. The pizza was delicious. It was different from any other pizza I have ever had, but it was very good. Then of course we had to get gelato. I had cherry, it was also delicious. That night cody and I were exhausted. Both of us had only slept for about an hour the night before and had passed out by 7:30. It was the best night of sleep I have had in a long time. This pretty much ended our first day in Rome.

Our second day we ended up going to Vatican City and looking around. It is a beautiful place but I  think that it would have meant more if we had a guided tour or if we were Catholic. We then went to the Vatican Museum and saw the Cistine Chapel. It was a long walk, but it was worth seeing. It was surprising that the main painting was the same size as all the others, it didn’t really stand out. I wish I could have taken pictures but you weren’t allowed. After again walking around and going in shops we went to find some pasta. We found a little place and ordered tortalinni, it was surprising that the noodles were filled with ham because whenever I  have had it they are filled wtih cheese. It was still good food. We didn’t do much else this day.

On Friday our plan was to go to Naples. The whole day in Naples wasn’t great so I will just tell you about the good parts. 1) we had a very nice hostel. The people were nice and it was just a comfortable place to stay. 2) the pizza was amazing. I had gotten margherita con funghi….so cheese, ham, and mushrooms. 🙂 Pizza was invented in Naples and it was probably the best pizza I’ve ever had. We then, of course, had to go and get gelato. Apparently there aren’t many gelato places in Naples…we walked for a very long time. And that concludes our trip to Naples 😀

The next day, Saturday, we were set to fly back to London. We took our train back to Rome and met up wtih Emily, her parents, and her grandma for lunch. It was nice seeing familiar faces. Emily, her mom, her grandma, and I all went to a purse store by the train station because I had been looking for an Italian leather purse and there was one mroe store I wanted to stop in before we left. So we went and I finally found one, and I love it 🙂 (again you can see it in my pictures). After chatting and eating we caught our bus to the airport and flew back to London. Again, we had to sleep in the airport because the trains weren’t running when we were getting back. To say the landing was scary would be an understatement. It was so windy in London that day that I thought the plane was going to be flipped over. When we finally landed some of the passengers decided to applaud…it was a well deserved. I was very nervous and sick feeling after that. So we finally made it back to England. I actually got some sleep that night. It wasn’t great and I woke up at 4:45 am because I could no longer sleep and had to wait until 9 to leave. It was kind of a boring wait but we finally left and made it back to Hull.

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Dublin, Ireland

Posted on November 7, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Well….we set out for Ireland on Wednesday evening. We had to take a train to Leeds and then a bus to the Leeds Bradford airport. We arrived at the airport at about 7. Right away we went to the information desk and asked them what we needed to do and they said you can go right to security. So we walked, got our boarding pass scanned, and then Cody, Emily, and I got through security with no problems. Mouse on the other hand, did not. The metal detector went off, so the security gaurds dealt with that, but then they noticed that his boarding pass did not have a visa stamp on it. With us being from the US, when we go places we have to get a visa stamp. We found it astonishing that we had gotten past the information table, the person who scanned the boarding pass, and security and none of them said anything about our passports not being checked. It was a BIG mess. So one of the guards was nice enough to take us back to information, but the Ryanair check in wasn’t open. So we had to wait about 2 hours before they opened. We decided to go and get some supper at one of the restaurants. I had Macaronni Cheese and it was delicious. 🙂 Well after we finally got done eating we went back to check in and we were first in line. We talked to the attendent and she told us to wait while she called her supervisor, so we had to step aside well she dealt with the rest of the people in line. Finally she got to us and all we had to do was walk to the other side to the services desk and get a new boarding pass and get it stamped. We then had to go through security again. And again, Cody, Emily, and I got through with no problem…but Mouse did not. So he had to go trough the process of getting wanded down again. Poor Mouse. He also had to get his bag looked through, but after a while he finally got through and we were on our way. Even though this all took quite a while, we still had quite a bit of time to kill. So we sat and chatted and watched some soccer (or football to the people here) and finally at 10 pm we found our gate and got to board the plane. We left Leeds a few minutes early and started on our flight. I had started listening to my ipod after we took off and got through about 5 songs, and before I knew it, we were landing. The flight took a total of 25 mins. We had landed in Dublin 30 mins ahead of schedule. Always a great thing. Once we got our passports stamped, and in the airport we exchanged our pounds of euros and waited for our taxi driver, Gerald, to get there. We sat there for a while and then he showed up. I  must say, he is…eccentric. He was very nice and funny. She showed us some places that we should go while we were driving to our hostel and told us stories. We finally got to our hostel I would say between 12-1. I have noticed taht we always seem to get hostels that are on the upper floors, but thank God that this one had a lift…even though we were only on the third floor, there were a lot of stairs. We didnt do much when we got there, just got settled in, got a  map and found places to go the next day, and finally went to sleep.

On Thursday we got up and went and got our breakfast. We filled up on cereal and toast and then went to get ready to leave for our day of adventure. Our first place to visit on Thursday was Temple Bar St., it is pretty much just several blocks off the main roads filled with different bars. We walked around, went in and out of shops, and then decided to head to the Guinness Storehouse/Brewery. We went in and looked around the store, and then looked around the storehouse. It was a self-guided tour. After looking through 5 floors of information on how they make Guinness, the advertising, and the origin of the brewery; we made our way up to the gravity bar.With our ticket we could get a complimentary drink from the Gravity Bar. Of course the boys wanted to have a Guinness, but Em and I opted for the pop. 🙂 In the gravity bar, you get a 360 degree view of Dublin, and it’s quite beautiful. It is a great view. The guys seemed to both like the Guinness, but they came to the conclusion that it is better straight from the brewery than it would be in the states.

After we went to the brewery, we decided to walk around and find a nice Irish place to eat. We settled on a place, and went in to order. I hadn’t had a nice meal in a while, so I decided to have the 10 oz lamb steak with mashed potatoes. It was quite good. I figured that it was the closest thing to beef steak I was going to get, and they taste rather similar. I wasn’t going to take the chance on getting another steak again (after the Scotland incident). Emily also got the lamb steak, and Cody  got the grilled pork chop with new potatoes and potato and leek soup, and Mouse got a chicken boxty (a potato pancake with a bacon and leek cream with cheese on the inside). All of us were rather pleased with our meals, which was nice. After we ate, we headed back to the hostel and just relaxed for a few hours and finally went to sleep.

Friday was a day set to just wandering around, going in shops, and looking around. We also had to move to our second hostel, the Mount Eccels hostel. It was also nice and it had the biggest room we have had so far, so we could actually walk between the beds.  Before we went to the hostel we went and looked around St Patrick’s Park/Cathedral, walked to O’Connell St to look in shops. I found a celtic ring that I liked, so I purchased it. Going in that was really the only souvenier that I was looking for. After we looked around we went to our hostel and put our bags in our room. Then we decided to walk and possibly find a castle, we went to the Dublin castle earlier that day but it was kind of disappointing. Instead of finding  a castle, we got downpoured on. It was sunny out….but raining cats and dogs. It was ridiculous. Once it finally let up we walked back to O’Connell St  (it’s basically a st with tons of shops and restaurants) and went to find a light lunch. We ended up just choosing McDonalds becuase I was cheap. I thought I was funny that they had curly fries at their McDonalds, they called them Twisty Fries, because that’s a Hardees thing in the states. But I got them anyway, and they were delicious. After we ate we walked around some more and a few hours later we decided to find a nicer place to eat supper. We picked The Celt pub. We all had been looking to get a traditional Irish Stew and that place had it. And Cody was happy that he also got his Crubeans, boiled pigs feet. Now when I think pigs feet the image that comes to mind it pickled pigs feet. That was the complete wrong image. It was a huge hunk of ham. And that is exactly what it tasted like…just plain ham. This was supposed to be a started but could have easily been someone’s meal. So Cody had to eat that AND his stew. I just went with the stew and I thought it was quite good. It had lamb, carrots, celery, potatos, and onions in it. I definitely got full of off my bowl….I have no idea how Cody suffered through his and the pigs feet and he also had a pint of Guinness. What a champ. We got done eating around 6 but decided to head back because we had a really early morning on Saturday. So we went back and I decided to shower Friday night. I have learned taht I had the showers in Ireland, there is no temperature control and you have to push a button to keep it on. I would push the button and the water would stay on for about 10 seconds. So I would have to continually push this button, a big pain in the butt. I have come to the conclusion that that is their attempt at saving water, it’s just so annoying that people won’t take long showers. We all went to sleep at about 8 because we had to get up at 3:45 am Saturday to get to the airport.

We got up this morning at 3:45 and our taxi driver picked us up around 4:10 to take us to the airport. We got there at about 4:30 and got through check in and security with no problems at all. (So much better than on the way there). Our flight didn’t leave until 6:30 so we had a few hours to kill. We finally took off at about 6:45 and finally got to see Dublin at night from up above, that was a great part of the trip. It was beautiful all lit up. We arrived back in Leeds at 7:30am and proceeded to take a bus, train, bus, and another bus to finally make it back to Hull. 🙂

That concludes our trip to Ireland. It was a good time in a beautiful city. This coming weekend we will be going to Italy (Rome and Napples). 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