Paris Day 3: We see Notre Dame and I become a zombie

The next day began bright and early. They kept us on a pretty grueling schedule while we were there. And I totally understand. We only had a few days to pack in as much of Paris as possible! And since there is soooooo much to see it only makes sense to have us running.

So, I woke up that morning and felt a little off. Turns out, I think I had the flu. It lasted for about 24 hours but I was so unbelievable miserable it wasn’t even funny!

So I go down to breakfast, and luckily one of the chaperones had some cold medicine which helped for the early part of the day.

After breakfast, we hopped the train to Notre Dame! Notre Dame is just as gorgeous as I imagined it would be (and I only sang songs from The Hunchback of Notre Dame for like half the time we were in ther!)!

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As amazing as the outside of Notre Dame was, it was absolutely nothing compared to the inside! I have seen plenty of amazing cathedrals over the course of my travels and I can honestly say I think this was on of the more amazing ones! The sheer amount of stained glass in the cathedral was just incredible (I know, mom, you’re super jealous!)!

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A friend of mine texted me a few days before this, saying she had a sick family member. She asked if the next time I was in a church if I could light a candle for that family member. I figured what better place to light a candle than Notre Dame.

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The two main windows in Notre Dame are two of the most beautiful examples of stained glass I think I’ve ever seen!

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After exploring the inside of Notre Dame, we were given the opportunity to climb the outside and go up on the roof to see the views of Paris from the top of Notre Dame. We hiked around to the outside of the building only to realize that the line was so long we probably wouldn’t be able to get to the top anyway!

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Lucky for us, we heard there were crypts beneath Notre Dame that you could tour. We headed over to the entrance, since it wasn’t actually in the cathedral itself, and prepared ourselves to explore the crypts. Luckily, they weren’t real crypts. It was the old Roman city that used to be Paris (or at least what remains of it).

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They had a painting of The Hunchback of Notre Dame down there and I thought it was a really interesting adaption of the story.

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There were a lot of really cool interactive things to play with down there. They had one where you could deconstruct Notre Dame and look inside it. There was another where you could watch the progression of Notre Dame being built. There were a couple about the old city Lutetia that showed its original construction and layout.

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In many of the areas, they had screen with projectors that showed what the area would have looked like back in its glory. They also had speakers hidden that played sounds that would be accurate. It really helped to paint a picture of what these ruins used to be.

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Here in the wharf, they had bird sounds and the sounds of boxes being moved. It really helped to show how these places used to look.

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Once we were done exploring down below Notre Dame, we had some free time to get lunch before meeting the rest of the group. We decided to look across the bridge from Notre Dame for food…

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and stumbled across the English major motherland: the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore!

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I was clearly very excited!

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Now, you aren’t supposed to take pictures inside (but we know I never listen to that rule) so enjoy my sneakily taken pictures!

The inside smelled like books! It was wonderful! There were so many little rooms just filled with books. There were two floors, all filled to the brim with books, with little nooks and chairs and desks for sitting and reading! It was like being called home! It was one of the cooler bookstores I’ve been to (and yes, I bought a book! It was by Agatha Christie and actually has a Shakespeare and Company Bookstore stamp inside it!)

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It was incredible! They had a little cafe attached to the bookstore so we popped in there and got some pastries before meeting back at Notre Dame.

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We than began another “Bataan Death March” (again, not my words) from Notre Dame, up across the Pont Neuf to the Musee D’Orsay.

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The D’Orsay was built in an old train station (hence the big clock), and once you’re inside you can really tell that it was a train station.

Now, this was probably one of my favorite museums ever! I loved every minute inside this museum! There was so much to see (as in every museum) that I can’t wait to go back and see the things I missed!

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It was while we were sitting by these statues that I started to get panicked texts from my family and friends. Turns out, the terrorist attack in Brussels had just happened and naturally, many parents were worried about there kids. Luckily, we were all safe in Paris, but it was still very saddening that something like that happened and keeps happening around the world.

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There were soooo many Degas pieces in the D’Orsay! It was wonderful! He’s a favorite of mine so it was amazing to see his pieces in real life!
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I really loved this painting! It reminded me of my older sister and myself, since I’m blonde and she’s brunette. I think I was feeling a little homesick. Anyway, I bought us both the postcard version of this painting so we both have a copy!

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We then wandered into the most beautiful ballroom I think I’ve ever seen! It was stunning! If I ever get married in Paris, the reception is gonna be in this room!

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Here you can really see the old train station the D’Orsay used to be.

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We also had a good time goofing off in this museum, and being “those” people!

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They had a whole area dedicated to different styles of furniture! I thought the next couple rooms where the best!

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Like, that’s how I want to style my future house (and I’m only slightly kidding!)

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The next room we went into housed paintings based on myths and fairy tales. This room was cool because it showed how myths change and how they stay the same based on the different areas the paintings are from.

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This was really cool! It was a miniature of Paris, put into the floor, so you could walk over it! The detail was incredible, and I appreciate the chance to feel like a real giant!

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This was a scale model of the opera house!

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A miniature of one of the sets used in an opera.

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Another opera set miniature.

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And one more opera set mini. This one was my favorite; the detailing was incredible.

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Romeo and Juliet!

After we wrapped up at the Musee D’Orsay, we decided to go back to the Eiffel Tower and actually go up it this time since we had free time that night.

We hopped the train, and it was getting dark by the time we got there.

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The had the Eiffel Tower light up with the colors of Brussels to represent what had happened there that day.

So, we got tickets to go all the way to the top. The elevators to get up and down the tower are super scary! I don’t like elevators to begin with, but these ones were awful! They back a lot of people in them and they go super fast!

But, we made it to the top safely!

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The lights of the city were incredible! It was an amazing sight!

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It was absolutely freezing up there! And by this point, I was so miserably sick! I think you can tell in this picture. I look a little haggard!

So, what did we decide to do?

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Drink some champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower! I don’t think anything else I do will be as cool as that!

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You can really tell I felt like crap in this picture! I look like a zombie!

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After we finished our drinks, and got back to ground level, we headed back to the hotel, where I fell right into bed and slept like the dead.

 

Paris Day 2: I meet a very famous Lisa

Our second day in Paris started very early with a trip to the most famous museum in all of Paris: The Louvre! I can honestly say I was beyond excited to see the Mona Lisa and all the other famous works of art that are in the Louvre.img_1037

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Once we got inside, it was amazing to see the iconic Pyramid that the Louvre is so famous for! After getting over our initial awe, we headed off to the sculptures portion before trying to find our way to the Mona Lisa!

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I obviously had a really great time photographing this room! It was on this trip that I discovered my new found love of photography. Statues provide so much potential for photos!  There was so much to capture in this room that these pictures are only a small portion of my favorites.

After this room, we moved on to the next. Little did we know we accidentally left poor Kelsey behind. Luckily, we found her a little bit later on, but for a while there it was a little bit scary because the Louvre is gigantic and you can get really lost in there!

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By this point, Kelsey had caught back up with us. Turns out she had gotten distracted taking pictures in that first sculpture room and didn’t notice that we had left. Luck for us, she did end up finding us again! After that, we made a point of always making sure we had Kelsey with us before we moved on to the next room.

The next room was this beautiful courtyard that housed some very old looking pieces.

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At this point we realized we had better start trooping to find the Mona Lisa. It ended up taking a few tries to actually find her, but more on that later.

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We ended up in this hall full of beautiful glass and pottery vases, instead of finding the Mona Lisa.

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Since I’m a Gemini!

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Eventually we found the Grand Gallery! The Mona Lisa is housed in a room just off the main hallway.

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We finally found her! Not that you can get this close to her without taking out a few small Chinese tourists on your way.

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This one is more accurate. I think I went into it expecting the painting to be bigger. She’s actually tiny and just up there all alone.

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At this point we met back in the lobby with the rest of our group and headed out through the gift shop to the front of the Louvre so we could get some pictures out in front.

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Just ignore the fact that my eyes are closed…

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Once we were finished at the Louvre, we began a “Bataan Death March” (not by words, but the words put on itinerary by the wonderful Heidi Hosey) to the Arc de Triomphe! We hiked down the Champs-Elysees (known as Paris’ Fifth Avenue). It was a beautiful (if slightly long) walk. It crosses into an area full of little shops and restaurants, and then into the area with the crazy high-end designers. I was afraid to even breath in this area that I might accidentally break something!

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When you leave the Louvre and head towards the Arc de Triomphe, you pass through a large park. You pass the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel (pictured below) that is like a mini version of the Arc de Triomphe.

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Hence the Carrousel in Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

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We also got to see the Luxor Obelisk. I love finding obelisks in cities I visit! I love the mixing of histories and cultures when you find an obelisk where you don’t expect it.

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We found the French Disney store! I think I was the only one who was really excited about this! I ,fortunately for everyone else, didn’t drag anyone in there to look around.

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By now we were in the high end area of the Champs-Elysees. I was afraid to touch, read as look, at anything.

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Seeing the Arc de Triomphe in real life was another very surreal moment. I think it’s another very iconic Paris site and being there, seeing it in real life, was so amazing!

At this point, we were given free time to explore the area, and climb the Arc de Triomphe if we wanted (we wanted!). But first, we stopped for macaroons!

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I branched out and tried two: a chocolate one and a rose flavored one. The rose was surprisingly delicious! I was really glad I tried it!

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Before attempting our climb, I pulled out the selfie stick and did some damage!

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We explored around the outside a bit before making our way to the top. The Arc, for those that don’t know, is to honor fallen French soldiers in the Napoleonic Wars.

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The climb up was rather harrowing as it was a very narrow spiral staircase that was really rusted looking…

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and then you were met by this guy at the top. But the views were totally worth it!

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You weren’t supposed to use selfie sticks up there, but you know, when in Rome (or Paris in this case)!

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What was really cool about the top of the Arc was that they had viewing platforms with the skylines pictured on them telling you what they were. So, you could look off into the distance and figure out the buildings you were looking at!

After we were done up top, they had an exhibition inside showing soldiers uniforms over the years.

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Once we got back on ground level, we checked out the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

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And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take at least one goofy picture…

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Luckily, Kelsey joined in too! (#tacky americans and proud)

At this point, we went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. We were being taken to a really fancy restaurant for dinner so we needed some time to get gussied up! It was a long train ride, and an even longer walk, but the food was amazing!The restaurant, called L Escarmouche, was amazing!

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The inside was gorgeous, and they created a menu just for us!

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We clean up well!

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The night started off with a champagne toast, followed by unlimited red and white wine! I figured since I was in France, I needed to try the escargot for my appetizer.

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The snails, and the little snail pinchers and fork, were super intimidating! I was very apprehensive!

So, I had Kelsey snap pics of me as I was trying my first one. They’re entertaining. Enjoy!

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trying to get the snail out

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still trying, but with more concentration

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finally got the snail out

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eating it

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contemplating if I like it

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debating if I want to spit it out

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still can’t decide

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deciding it wasn’t awful

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and going back for another

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They were actually quite good. I think I psyched myself out before trying it by thinking it’s snail! As long as I made a conscious effort to not think about it being snail, they were really good! They had the consistency of mushroom covered in garlic!

I had veal for my main course, followed by the creme caramel for desert!

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The night ended on a good, and slightly drunk, note. We hopped the train back to the Avalon, and all fell into bed. We would be headed to Notre Dame in the morning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris Day 1: We find the Eiffel Tower

Hi again! So, as many of you are aware, while traveling, and some times studying, in Ireland we got to spend our Spring Break in no where other than the City of Love itself, otherwise known as Paris!

Looking back objectively, I can honestly say Paris is one of my favorite cities ever! There was so much culture in Paris, and so much to see and do! We were kept very busy for the couple of days we got to stay there! It was an absolutely wonderful experience and I really cannot wait before I can go back and explore once again! There was just soooo much to do in Paris that it was next to impossible to do all the things we wanted to in the short time we were there!

To start, we left Dungarvan very early in the morning and hauled ourselves to the airport. We had some time to grab food while we waited for our flight. We eventually board the plane and I, of course, fall fast asleep. (That really is a gift of mine!)

We land, and get to take the train to the Gare de Nord. This was super exciting! You always hear about the Gare de Nord and I actually got to take a train to and from there! It felt very French!

Now, we trooped with all of our luggage from the train station to our hotel! It wasn’t a very long walk but when you’re trying to coordinate 30 really excited students it took us a while to get there.

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We stayed at the Avalon! We really loved this hotel! The staff was wonderful and the hotel itself did a really good breakfast. We stuffed ourselves full of pastries for days! So, we all troop into the lobby and get sent off to ours rooms. We only had a little time to drop off our bags and freshen up a little before we headed back out to go to the Eiffel Tower!

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The view from our room! It had these big windows that swung out and bug billowy curtains! It was very romantic and French!

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At this point in time, I shamelessly whipped out the selfie stick that my mom smuggled into my bag before I left!

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We were really excited to be in Paris!

After getting some practice in with the selfie stick, we headed downstairs to meet the rest of our group. We hopped on the Paris Metro (which is surprisingly uncomplicated. Looking at you, NYC!)

We got off and there was the Eiffel Tower creeping up in the distance!

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The selfie stick made a reappearance!

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We walked down towards the Eiffel Tower, and were told we had the night to ourselves to explore the surrounding area before heading back up to the Avalon.

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There’s a beautiful carousel near the Eiffel Tower. We never got a chance to ride it but at night it lights up and it is stunning to look at!

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Instead of going to the top that night, we decided to explore the area around. There are a bunch of little restaurants and gift shops around the base of the Tower and then down closer to the river. Later we would take a river boat cruise from this spot! (Yes, they got me back on a boat!)

Since it was freezing cold and windy, we opted to find somewhere to eat that would be warm. We ended up just eating pizza from a vendor and huddling under a heater.

Lucky for us, I still had my selfie stick!

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Yea, I don’t know either…

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By this point, it was late enough that the Tower started to light up! It sparkles! Literally! The Eiffel Tower twinkles every hour, and it is something incredible to see!

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See, twinkling!

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After watching the Eiffel Tower twinkling for quite a few hours, we decided we needed a snack so we got crepes from a street vendor that were delicious!

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We met back up with our group and headed back to the hotel for a shower and bed! We had a very early, and busy, day planned for the following day!

But, on our way back to the hotel, we saw a poster for Season 5 of Game of Thrones (my literal favorite show!), so I snapped a picture of it for posterity!

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The posters were in French which was the coolest thing to me!

Anyway, that wraps up our first day in Paris! Stay tuned for more!

 

I’M BAA-AAACK!!!

Hello, world! This blog is being brought back to life! I know you’re all thrilled to be hearing my dulcet tones once again, and look forward to hearing more about my adventures!

For those of you just joining this adventure, you can start over reading about the start of my travels here! For those of you who have been following this blog from the beginning, welcome back!

The reason this blog is getting a face-lift is two-fold. 1) I slacked epically in finishing it before I left Ireland and came back to the States, and 2) I’m taking a Social Media class at school and part of the class is working on a blog. Luckily for me, I was allowed to bring this blog back to life and finish telling you all about my world-wide trip!

A quick catch-up of my life since I got home. I survived getting home, sat around on the couch for three months, then started my Senior year of college. I traveled some over the summer (which will be blogged about later) and had a great time getting to do nothing and recovering from all my traveling.

So, I’ll do a quick little catch-up for those who have been following along since the start. In the spring semester of my Junior year of college, I was given the opportunity to travel to Ireland and spend three months traveling and learning in the Emerald Isle!

This in of itself was an amazing experience. I met so many wonderful people and been to so many incredible places! There are some places that actually hurt my chest when I think about them because I miss them so much!

Let’s do a little run-down of all the places I’ve been and some of the cool things I’ve done:

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This was my first day exploring the town that I would soon come to call home, Dungarvan! To read about my first day exploring, click here and here!

 

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We explored Dublin for quite a few days! I got a tattoo while we were there, learned how to properly pour a Guinness, got involved in a rally, and saw the Joyce Tower!

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We spent some time exploring Blarney Castle, and I was brave enough to kiss the Blarney Stone while we were there. I was only slightly worried I was going to die!

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We got quite rowdy on Saint Patrick’s Day! We even got to lead the parade through town!

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We explored the cities of Lismore, Ardmore, and Youghal! They were beautiful despite the freezing rain and torrential winds!

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My lovely roommates and I explored Amsterdam! We saw the Anne Frank House, and I conquered my fears and took a ferry ride up the canals!

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I was lucky enough to have my big sis come visit me while I was in Ireland! We explored the Viking Museum!

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My roommate Naomi and I took a tour of the UCC campus as a prospective grad school. We both loved it! Maybe that’s where I’l be headed next fall?!?

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We got to go on a horse-back tour of the area, and I learned to ride European style. My knees and inner thighs were killin’ when we got done but now I can say I rode on a horse on the beach in Ireland!

So, that about catches us up to where I left off! I’m so glad to be working on this blog again, and getting to show you the rest of my crazy adventure!

Stay tuned! There will be more this time, I promise!