Monday, 29 April 2013

Quick Stop in die Schweiz

I left Dublin on the early flight this morning, and I don't think that it has hit me yet.  In fact, I think I'm too tired to fully comprehend that my life has been completely uprooted...I haven't slept more than 4 hours a night in the past week, mainly because I didn't want to go home to my ever-emptying apartment.  I had a fantastic leaving party on Saturday night, but of course I couldn't say goodbye to everyone then (too sad). A couple people came out to The Ginger Man pub for my final pint of the black stuff last night.

I just got back to Arisdorf about an hour ago after plane-ing/training/bussing so I'm going to hit the hay until mom and dad get back from work. Tomorrow night Jess, Leann and Jasper are coming over for dinner (very excited about that!) and I'm training to Berlin early Wednesday morning. I have had no time to breathe, let alone sleep! 

Tschüss xxxx

Saturday, 27 April 2013


I got back from my Shamrocker tour of southern Ireland yesterday; what an amazing 5 days! I was really looking forward to it, but I had no idea that the tour would be as much fun as it was. There were about 25 of us on the tour (mostly Aussies, Americans and Canadians) and everyone was a lot of fun to travel with. We were really lucky with the weather (never truly got rained on, so un-Irish), saw heaps of beautiful sights and drank plenty of Guinness.

Day 1: Met in Temple Bar, drove to the Rock of Cashel (disappointing), then to the Blarney Castle. We had phenomenal weather at the Blarney Castle and were more than happy to roam around the plentiful gardens.  We then went to Killarney (our stop for the night) and explored the Killarney Provincial Park while the weather was still warm. We had a good night at a pub watching the storytelling theatrics of Pa (a man who yelled a lot) and then headed over to The Grand for dancing, music and drinks.

About to kiss the Blarney Stone 

The crazy Pa and I

Day 2: The weather of the second day was disappointing at all the wrong times. We drove the Slea Head drive, which was named the most scenic drive in the universe, but unfortunately we could hardly see in front of the bus it was so misty.  We did stop at a beach where we dipped our feet in the water. Legend has it that when you get your feet wet at this beach, a piece of your soul goes with it and you have 20 years to come back and retrieve it. The drive is on the Dingle Peninsula, and once we got back to the town of Dingle the weather was, once again, glorious.  For the rest of the day we had beautiful weather for the sights of Co. Kerry as we made our way to Ennis. In Ennis we had a lovely family dinner and then some of us went to watch some Irish music. It was a fairly tame night for me, but I heard that people were out until 3AM again that morning - those Irish know how to party!

Leaving some of our souls in Ireland
Beautiful Dingle 
Admiring the scenery in Kerry
Day 3: We didn't have far to drive on this day, but we made plenty of pit stops and saw the sights as we drove to Galway. My favourite was the Fairy Ring that we saw. Belief of fairies is well and alive in Ireland (especially in Co. Clare, the most superstitious county) and we were warned plenty of times by our guide, Dave, that we were not to mess with the fairies and enter the ring. There was a stump where the fairy tree used to be, and we heard a couple of stories about the misfortune of people that had messed with it. One man on a tour thought it would be funny to pee on the fairy tree stump, and when the group got back to the bus the bus refused to start. They had to wait for a couple of hours for another bus to arrive. Once they had loaded the new bus, that one wouldn't start either. Apparently the group went through 5 buses that trip, all unable to start! Another story was about a person that entered the ring and kicked the fairy tree, and when walking about he fell and broke his leg. Lucky for us, everyone on our trip was well behaved and nothing bad happened.

We then went to the Cliffs of Moher, which was realllllly cool. I was sort of nervous because we were warned that every once in a while an unfortunate tourist falls off the edge, so I went nowhere near the edge (I'm not that stupid) but we got some good photos. It was more of a photo op than anything else, but it was still cool to see. While it was misty, we were lucky that we could see the cliffs. That night was spent in Galway listening to Irish music and talking to the locals - probably my favourite night of the trip! The craic was ninety-one!

At the magical fairy ring - doesn't look like much! 
Staying far from the edge at the Cliffs of Moher
Trad music in Galway

Day 4: Another beautiful day! We woke up early to catch the bus and boat to Inis Mór (the largest of the Aren Islands). Most of us rented some bikes and biked up a path until it got too rocky, then we got off and walked to the scenic cliffs of the island. It was incredibly gorgeous! We explored about the cliffs and the old fort there, then all went to have lunch at one of the three pubs. If the weather were bad that day, I would say that we wouldn't have even made the effort to go out to the island and would've stayed at a pub in Galway. I was so happy that we got warmth and sunshine! It was a relaxing day and nice to not be on a bus all day. We spent the night at the same pub as the night before (The Front Door) and had another great night - our last night all together.  

The boys on the boat 
Beautiful day in the Aren Islands! 
Enjoying the scenery. Don't worry, it was safe to go to the edge here!

Day 5: The people on the 7 day tour left in the morning, so I woke up to say goodbye to them. The day was our own, as we had to catch the bus back to Dublin at 2PM, so I wandered about by myself. I had been to Galway before, so I knew my way around. I went to the free Galway museum, which was interesting, but I went just to find a way to kill an hour.  Then I wrote some postcards in the cutest little teahouse I have ever seen; I want to go back to Galway just to try everything on the menu! 

At the Galway Museum
How cute is this?!
I'm having my leaving party tonight (sniff sniff) and it'll be sad to say goodbye to everyone. I cannot believe that my year in Ireland has come to an end! It went by much too quickly, but I know I will be back to visit some day. It's a beautiful country full of beautiful people, and I am lucky to have lived here for a year of my life.  

Next stop: Berlin!


Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Greece and Final Days of Work

Sorry it's been so long since I last blogged - can't exactly say I've been busy, but anyways...

This past March I was lucky enough to go to my #1 travel destination - Greece! I met mom and dad in Athens (after what seemed like a very long flight). Their hotel was literally across from the airport so we went and dropped all my stuff off then went to central Athens in search of a Greek meal. We ended up eating in a covered terrace where a man was playing guitar and later on a typical Greek string instrument. Everyone in the restaurant was getting a little more drunk and singing along with the songs, and eventually one of the men doing traditional dances. The night ended with our waiter doing a shot with us. Very fun night!

First sightings of the island
We flew the 35 minutes to Santorini the next day. Very rough landing - I don't usually get nervous on flights because I've flown so much, but my palms were extremely sweaty for that one. I think it was also a combination of not being able to see any land (felt like we were just headed straight into the Aegean Sea). Our hotel was nice, but unfortunately since it wasn't quite tourist season yet the pool wasn't open. It was actually nice being there off-season; I can't imagine what the little, winding streets of Santorini would be like on a hot, busy day! Shoulder-to-shoulder, no doubt. 

During our time on the island we did a hike from Fira (where we were staying) to Oia. The hike was fairly tame and paved for the first half, but I'm certain that we got extremely lost for the second half. We ended up hiking to the very top of one of the hills so that we could look down to find the easiest path. And believe me, at the very top of these hills it was very windy! Once we got to Oia we had a well-deserved Mythos. It was a fun day; no matter how lost we got we were never actually lost because you could usually see both sides of the island. 

The easy part of the hike (the city in the background is Oia)

Finally in Oia

Oia was absolutely beautiful. It is supposed to have the best sunsets on Santorini, and we were there for two of them but unfortunately the two we saw were disappointing. Still a quaint town - pretty much exactly what I pictured when I pictured Santorini.

We also went on a tour of a volcanic island and the "hot springs". Wasn't exactly a tour, but it was still pretty fun. We boated to the volcanic island and hiked for a couple of hours looking at the sights and the boulders - very different from any landscape I'd seen before.  Then we were boated to the hot springs, which were...a tad different to what we had expected. I guess we had expected it to be a full-blown tourist trap hot springs. What happened was that they boated us near enough to the "hot springs" so that people were having to jump off the pirate ship into the freezing water to swim to the hot springs. We didn't end up doing it (the water was absolutely freezing) and I think it was a good idea that we didn't - the people that came back said it was really muddy and not very warm at all; and having to swim back to the boat in the freezing water was the icing on the cake...

Other than that, Greece was relaxing. We did some more sightseeing and a lot of Greek eating. 

Now it's April 17th, I have been finished work for three days. I wasn't expecting last Saturday to be my last day in The Merrion, but turns out it was. It felt like I didn't have time to mentally prepare myself, and I don't think it's fully hit me yet anyways. I have my exit interview tomorrow, and I think when I leave then it'll finally hit home.  I hope to still hang out with work friends for the next couple of weeks - unfortunately I've been pretty sick with some sort of throat infection for the past couple of days which has bedridden me. I'm feeling a lot better today though, so I'm going to go for a walk in the sunshine and get some errands done. 

Only 12 more days in Ireland! Less than two weeks...don't know how I feel about that...
xoxox Jennalyn

(Here are some more photos to tide you over)

That's our town, Fira, in the background
Dad and I having little fishies eat dead skin off of our feet
Enjoying my first Greek salad in Greece
A wicked sunburn, the result from the lunch in the picture above 
Dad being brave! Riding a donkey up to the town 
Dad and I in front of the Parthenon
Red Beach with the famjam