Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dublin hop on

One day in dublin. Aka hop on day.

We slept in. It was nice. I ate peanut butter. Also nice.
We took the bus to the centre and bought hop on tickets. We had a hilarious driver with live commentary and we rode around the city. The first stop we hopped on was the Kilmainham Goal. We had a tour of the jail and heard stories of the Easter revolution and treatment and hanging of captives there. It was a really hard thing to hear. 
We hopped back on a toured the city until a late lunch before Kate's meeting. I went to the national gallery during it and explored ancient Dublin. They have a kingship and sacrifice exhibit which includes mummified bodies found in peat bogs as well as other artifacts like a book of psalms. I also got to explore a park.

We went to trinity college, which was build in the 1500. Our great great great grandfather attended school there before moving to Canada. Really cool to be there.

We hopped back on and went on the Guinness tour. It was self guided which was nice because it allowed us to skip parts we weren't crazy interested in. We got 8/10 on the how much do you know about alcohol test and then 2/10 on the Guinness beer test. I really enjoyed the marketing campaigns they features from a long time ago. At the end of the tour everyone gets a pint. The bar tender looked at me twice before she could see that I was over 18. Ouch. 
Im not sure if I have had it before. I enjoyed it but didnt think I could drunk the full one. Then we met a middle age English family with Irish roots and chatted with them for an hour so I did drink it all. Kate did not enjoy it.they told about their trip to the east coast to the abandoned home of their departed uncle. They found letters from their mother to her family about meeting her husband. What a precious find!

We hopped back on and finished the rest of the tour with ore recorded audio. It is such a nice way to do a city in one day. Even though we didn't go to a lot of places I still feel like I got a good history lesson. 

For dinner we went to the Temple Bar area and found an Irish ish pub with live music. I love a good banjo!

By the time we got back and ate ice cream it was bed time. 
I wish I could spend more time there!

Glasgow :
My journey to Glasgow:
6:00 wake up off Kate's floor. 
6:30 taxi to train station
7:00 coffee
7:10 the coffee starts tasting good
7:30 train to Belfast
9:30 taxi to port
11:30 ferry to cairnryan
12:00 massage on the ferry
The ferry backed into port!
2:15 bus to ayr
It was so hard to not fall asleep on the bus. As soon as I start moving my eyes start to close.
The bus passed another bus while a motorcycle was in the other lane. Ballsy.
3:36 train to Glasgow that I was the last person to get on
4:45 Glasgow with Leigh

Leigh's older brother's friend dropped her off and took my stuff to her house while we walked around Glasgow. We were lured in by a sushi place that has a rotating tray and you pick pieces off of it. Then we enjoyed some Scottish beer (assumingly because the name was mcewan). The three staff at the bar were red heads. Pants off!

We got picked up and went to their house about a ten minute drive outside the city and I met their adorable 2 week old (yes two weeks) and three year old daughter. Leigh has been acting as my translator. This morning the girl was talking about colours and saying red but I had no idea what she was saying. I need to practice my accent listening skills.

Leigh gave them some maple strop as a thank you and a bottle of Canadian whiskey from her brother. They had a glass to try it out and we had a glass of ------ from ismay island. I can see how Andrew had to force himself to drink scotch. I really enjoyed it but at the same time didn't.

Glasgow morning.
Leigh and I did a little shopping. I didn't realize that the plaid patterns are for the different clans. #tourist
We went up the lighthouse. It's mostly a museum/ information on a famous architect Mackintosh. They have pictures of buildings her designed in the late 1800, as well as some furniture he designed. It's oddly modern.  I would definitely have some of the pieces in my house today.
At the top of the lighthouse (some 130 stairs later) is a lookout of the city. It's gorgeous and odd. Very dense but a mixture of old architecture and new buildings that are doing their best to blend in.
We went grocery shopping. Probably one of my favourite things to do in another country. We bought snacks for our train trip. I had a Brie and grape sandwich. Delicious.
And chocolate... But carrots too!

Now we are on a train to Edinburg. The friend dropped off the bags, we walked to the station, bought tickets to Edinburgh then walked on a train and it left 5 minutes later. It was great. Try that in North America.

A Jolly Short Stint in London

English!! Brain switch back. Aught. Regular conversation has always been in English but it's been so hard to ask for something or say excuse me back in English.

We slept in to 9:30 in France and headed to the train station right away for our 12:13 train to London. We arrived at 11:00 am, well before the 30 minute check in deadline. We missed the train by one minute. Not even one minute. They close the doors 5 minutes early. We got to the gates at 12:09 with about 50-100 other people that were stuck in the crazy long security lines. We would have made it onetime if 1. The French border guards stopped chatting it up in their box and helped the next customer, or 2. If the extremely friendly, just doing his job, uk border guard didn't ask so many questions about Kate's internship and read her papers soooooooooo oooooooo slowly. "What do you get out of this?". Um....experience? A summer in Dublin? Good enough!

So us and the million other passengers pushed around trying to get tickets on the 1:13. They said they would take us in order of tickets received. Kate and I were number 22. We didn't push hard enough evidentially. But there were still a lot behind us. So miraculously they found some seats on the train...but failed to use their supper efficient numbering system. Kate and I were the last to board at 1:08. Stress city. 

Done. Except not. The miraculous empty seats turned out to not be empty. About 15 of us ended up standing in the bar for half an hour while the train manager looked for seats. We ended up in first class but didn't get any meals or drinks out of it. She said there was going to be a report written about this. My bet is the station manager wanted to get rid of everyone so just put us aboard so someone else would have had to deal with it.

Pressure popping ear tunnels.
Every tunnel!
I had a really good nap.

We found our hostel in good time. We found an eatery in good time. We found that they didn't serve food until 5:30. It was 4. We decided to sit and have a drink. I enjoyed a cider and Kate enjoyed a strawberry lime cider with was unbelievably good. Thank you Sweden. After not eating all day we were having a jolly good time. When our food came, it was beautiful. I could have cried. Portobello mushroom burger with goat cheese and onions. Mmmm.

We went to get our tickets for the next leg and tried to take the subway downtown to ride the London eye. Tube tickets would have cost us 7.5£!!!! So we walked. Explored the streets of London. All of the red phone booths are plastered in porn and sexy time phone numbers. When we found out the cost of the London eye (20£). I would be able to go later with Leigh and Kate has a month and a half to realize she wants to do it when she returns after her internship. 

We felt pretty lame going to bed at 10 but there were about 5 other people in our 15 room hostel that had the same idea. One guy was even studying for a test he was writing the next day.

This morning we got to eat at the hostel. Toast!!! It's bread and it's toasted and it's delicious when covered in peanut butter and jam. Man I haven't had toast in a month. 

Btw, it's exactly one month today/yesterday. Happy one month missiversary Andrew!

This time we made our train! Wales here we come!

Today will mark the 6th country I've been in in 6 days.

That means its nap time.

Love love.

July 4

Kate and I got up bright an early and found a Starbucks. We've determined that prices are infact the same here but in euros. Aka I had a really expensive latte. But it was bigger than yesterday's so it was heavenly!  Next we got in line at the Eiffel tower right at 9:30 when it opened. We didn't have to wait of long to get to the second floor but to get up to the top was a long wait. Mainly because we had a bunch of kids in a group that a family kept trying to but in front of so we kept letting them pass to stay together. They asked us where we were from...I think they expected us to be American like them so we could chat about American goodness on Murica Day. 
Up on the tower we took a bunch of selfies because that's what the cool kids are doing. We also planned out our route to the arc de triomphe following a street of trees. It was the only successful route planning and following we have done all trip. We spent about 3 hours up on top of the (French) world enjoying the scenery. 

One year ago, there is not a chance I would have ever gone on this trip (to Ukraine alone) or up the Eiffel tower heights. Anxiety under control and I couldn't be happier that I am doing this.

Next we took the subway too far to the louvre and had to walk to the Musée de l'Orangerie. This was my one spot I was dying to get too while here- I wanted to spend time sitting and admiring monet's work. We got there and it was closed for three days due to "technological difficulties". I think there is a secret plot undercover operation to steal some artwork. Conspiracy!

We walked to Notre Dam and enjoyed lunch in the park behind it. The park was surprisingly empty for such a magnificent view. We needed to ind something to do in place of the l'orangerie so we decided to go to the catacombs. I thought they we under the Notre Dam so we found a place that said archaeological crypts and down we went. I was wrong but we did get an awesome per Paris history lesson and saw ruins of Lutecia.

We then went home because it was too late for the catacombs which is ok because there may have been some light scaring for life. We enjoyed a nice home cooked meal at the hotel and some lazing about before making our way back to the centre. We spent more money on desserts than dinner. Kate and I had an ubber romantic night sitting in the gardens at the Eiffel tower, drinking wine, speaking Ukrainian to the illegal vendors, eating delicious tarts, people watching and chatting. We watched it sparkle in the sunlight and made our journey back to sketchville at 10:30.. While it was still light. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Paris Jour 1- July 3

Kate and i got up extreemly early bevause google told is our hotel was a 45 minute metro ride. It wasn't. We stopped for coffee and croisants before the Louvre. I paid 2€ for an espresso. Blagg!
We got in an intense line that moved extreemly efficiently. When we left the line had a sign saying it would be an hour and a half wait.

We spent 3 hours there. Saw the Mona Lisa and the Winged Victory. You could just feel the wind in it. I hate tour guides. 
It was enjoyable but most of the art isn't to my tastes. 

This picture reminds me of our farmer picture to the right of the blog:

After the Louvre we went to the Notre Dam. Kate stood in line while I bought sandwiches. She had to get out and wait for me because I was so slow. It is an absolutely goregous church.

We went to the Musée d'Orsay. This is more my taste. 

We sat on the Sienne and watched passers by. Kate's feet are dead. 
We went to the hotel and bought groceries. We went to Sacré Coeur at night. I liked this church better than Notre Dam. We paused fr some quite reflection and prayer. 
Vendors here were a bit more aggressive. One grabbed my arm and refused to let go. He asked if I spoke English and I only responded in Ukrainian. Then he asked where I was from and I kept talking in ukrainian. Language skills to confuse people! All this and he still wouldn't let go. Its mostly awkward. While leaving, we walked by a bar where two locals(?) asked us if we were from Japan..

We walked to the Moulin Rouge from there. Right through the red light district of Paris. We listened to bouncers sing "sex sex sex" and one asked us what we were doing tonight. I'm not sure if we were supposed to go in to watch a "live" show or if he was trying to recruit us. 

I'm not sure why Paris is the city of love. It's pretty but nothing about it is romantic to me. I guess with differ company the mood is different. It's a very beautiful city and lots of things to explore but nothing screams romance to me. 

I'll have top come back with Andrew to really test it out. Kate wanted to put a lock on the love bridge for her and Dan. I'm pretty sure the couple is supposed to put it on together but I didn't want to be left out so there is now a aircanada luggage lock with an H and an A inscribed on it somewhereon a bridge in Paris. I guess that is pretty romantic. (barf)

Brussels Round 2

Last time I was here I was 3 years old.

Yesterday Kate and I set off on a mission- to walk the 30 minutes to the Grand Place. 2 hours later we were lost...found a handy map at the bus stop and found out we were two blocks away from our hotel it he complete opposite direction. Thank you google directions! 

To be fair, we got off track pretty early on and thought we could figure it out on our own. Wrong.
We passed the dinosaur museum that scared me for life when I was three. No bad feelings though.

At that point we took a tram to the hotel then hopped on another tram and let it figured out how to get there. We  went to a beatific park that commemorated someone who was decapitated there.

Then we made our way to the Grand Place, which will now be called the centre because I spend the last three weeks calling something the city centre and it will now continue.  Finally we realized that we were in the right area when there was no homeless peeing men and no dog poo to dodge and signs that pointed out tourist attractions- a very different feel than the early morning.

The centre is absolutely beautiful. It was a good thing we went as soon as possible because they were in the midst of setting up for some sort of festival. I think something medieval based on the costumes being sold in the market later on. We got some good pictures with only a few trucks and stadium seating in view.

We saw mannequin pis. He is so little. We ate a Belgium waffle (OMG YUM). Also not a very good breakfast food but I though I would carry the Ukrainian breakfast eating tradition aside!

Side note: Kate: "I need to shave my arm pits tonight. I guess we are going to Paris. Maybe I'll just put mascara on them to make them look longer"

Back to the blog...

After this we hopped on the metro to the Atonium. Built in 1958, this thing is futuristic. It's such a tourist, why am I here thing?, almost as good as the shanghai tunnel of love or whatever it was called.  But at the same time it was built for a world expo.. Over 50 years ago so that makes it not a tourist thing. Believes confused! We accented to the seventh floor walked around and then back down to the various levels of tunnels and globes to see various exhibits. We debated going to mini Europe next door but it was stupidly expensive.. And we could see it from above in the Atonium... And we would be the only ones there over 6. And the guy working there put that I was from Australia. I have a French Ukrainian accent, but an Australian French accent?

We went back to the centre and had lunch.. At a very Belgium restaurant... :D....prices here are the same as they are in Canada.. But in Euros.. Good bye moola quickly!

After lunch we went for a walk around the square. We saw the Galleries Royales St. Hubert where they were filling a movie, the palaise, a very good walking guard, a beautiful park and tons of French gangsters which to me is an oxymoron. It just doesn't fit. 

After a brief siesta sans sleep, we set back out to the centre to find delirium. Kate doesn't understand that you can't get lost while exploring. She wanted to use a map. Pfft. We tried two beers- a pink grapefruit beer called Pink Killer and a fruity one that I don't remember the name. It's a place that I Sam glad I went to with Kate and not Andrew because we would have spent a good four-10 hours there.

We decided to get some Belgium fries and mayonnaise because that is their dish but the ONLY place we saw them was suddenly under renovations. We swear it wasn't. Like that 2 hours before. After giving up on fries wee went cholocate shopping. Not a bad thing to do on a Monday night!

This morning we woke up early to pack and donated our green room rewards to UNICEF. (cool idea-everyone would do it instead of getting a 5$ discount off the €15 CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST???)

We went and dropped off our luggage at the train station and high fives because we did something right first try! And then we proceeded to get lost...

But alas, we found the musée de la bande dessinées. Lots of school groups there- jealous. Really interesting TinTin and smurfs collections, and history of comic books, but I would say I haven't heard of 60% of the other comics there. There was a statue of asterix out from but none of his cartions. Disappointment. 

We went back to the centre for lunch. Delicious baguette sandwiches (with cream cheese as the dressing/spread)  and ... Waffles for dessert! We saw manequin pis again, this time dressed up for some festival- but nothing for Canada day yesterday. Oh btw, we rocked our Canada shirts yesterday and took sneaky cheeky Canada pictures. 

After this we went to the musee magritte. We weren't sure if we would go but it was amazing. I am in love with his work and his words. I've picked artwork I want for the bedroom Andrew- do you have a few million dollars to spare?

Back to the train station and bags in tote again, we waited, ate and are now on the 1.5 hour train to Paris. First things first tomorrow: cafė! I haven't had any since Ukraine and its the worst.

I do kind of wish I was back in Ukraine and doing something productive like studying and learning and figuring out how my ukrainianism fits into my life. 

Sunday, 30 June 2013


Thanks to a friend with much better Ukrainian taxi ordering skills than I, I made my very early flight to Kiev. I had to wake the guard up at the kolehium to unlock the door to get out at 4am. I think that may break some sort of fire code if they have those here. I thought I would be able to get some fine Lviv coffee at the airport. There are only two gates. I was wrong. I thought I would be able to get some on the next stop in a much larger place-Kiev. I was wrong again. Thus began a lovely tired day. They always tend to be the best days- living in mild and blissful ignorance of everything around. Cue later map story, church story, and backpack story.

First: Airplane etiquette! Second flight, three seat rows. I am in the window seat, young guy 19-21 ish beside me. Heavily tattooed elbows. No one beside him. He stays in the middle seat and uses the empty one to hold his bag. NO. I get to share that seat too! Jerk. You move over right?

Brussels. Ah French. A language I can understand. Thank you 12 years of French schooling. Switching from thinking in foreign language Ukrainian to foreign language French has prove quite difficult. I am using Ukrainian words and not realizing it. Success? Basic words are the worst- I forgot how to say "but" but (ha) non basic words I don't know in Ukrainian are easy in French because I don't have to scroll through a language list. 

After Kate and I found each other in the train station and went on a cat and mouse goose chase (yes) we bought tram tickets and squished into public transit with giant bags in tote. After Kate got us lost we used our French skills to ask someone who clearly did not speak much French how to get to the hotel. She and her husband rocked it and we made it. 

5 minute room trashing (as in two girls dumping their over packed suitcases out all over the floor) then set out on an adventure aka a walk. We walked 3 hours before realizing we were lost (read Kate got us lost) we found map and once we realized what maps are used for (read sleepy brains) we found we were semi near our hotel. We set on our way. Then we got lost again somehow (read literally 5 minutes later) but then found a church that we recognized. Then realized there are more than one church in the city and it was not it. A few more bus stop maps later we found a restaurant that served food and not just beer. Oh how I've missed beef. Ukraine is 90% pork. I ate my steak sandwich so hard.
I also miss Ukrainian prices though.

It's now bed time now (once we decide what to do with our day tomorrow).

Love love

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Па-Па україна

Well my ukrainian adventure had come to an end. I leave tomorrow morning at 5 am. 
I wish I was staying longer- so much to learn and see and do! I've been trying to switch my brain over to French mode but its not working. I honestly can't distinguish between a French word and a Ukrainian word right now.

Last night we went out to the centre and enjoyed drinks with one of the tutors ( she was my fill in while my tutor had her presentations). It's been so nice to learn and speak with locals- she is one of the nicest people I've ever met and had joined us in the city and on excurisons. I've even understood her Ukrainian jokes on occasion!

I spoke with a cabbie today while eating breakfast on a bench outside of the kollegium. I think we had a full conversation with no misunderstandings.. I think is the key word here.

Plan for my last day; coffee, lunch, bazaar, relaxing. 

A solid ukrainian adventure and I will be back for more. Hopefully with Andrew in tote - I think I can lure him here with promises of delicious coffee.