Posted by: Audrey Thorstad | December 17, 2010

Luck of the Irish

I realize that I have been lacking in posts lately and I am terribly sorry about that I have been busy with classes and travelling! I am now officially done with classes for this term although I still have a large paper due in January and a dreadful Latin test before I start classes for next term. So my Christmas vacation will consist of me in the library slaving away at work until my family arrives on December 23rd up in Edinburgh, Scotland! I have been trying (in my spare time) to plan all the sites the take the Thorstads to which is very exciting as it will be their first time in Europe.

Since last I wrote I have been all over the place. The Monday of November 29th the Medieval History students had a paper due and it just so happened to be Kelsey (the only other American girl in the program)’s birthday the weekend before, so we decided to do an Otley Run. This is a famous pub crawl in Leeds where you must have a theme and everyone involved must dress according to the theme. You must order a drink at every pub along the way which equals out to be twelve pubs. The theme was zombie/pirate/princess/leprechaun and you must dress up as at least two of those characters. I decided to be a pirate/leprechaun which was a lot of fun shopping for. Since pubs close early during the week (around midnight) we had to start around 3:30pm on Monday to make sure we had time to hit all the pubs. To say the least we looked fantastic walking around Leeds in our costumes.

The first weekend in December I went up to Edinburgh, Scotland to visit a friend who was interning at the Scottish Parliament. We had gotten loads of snow the week before so a lot of trains were either cancelled or running extremely slow, luckily my train was only running slow. Although a 3 hour journey took me about 4 which was ridiculous. Scotland was beautiful (as it always is), the buildings and set up of the city is just gorgeous. I decided not to go to the castle (gasp, I know) because I had already been there and will be going again with my family soon. But I did go to Holyrood Palace which is where the Queen stays when she travels to Scotland. That was beautiful! The Scottish landscape is drastically different than that of England’s countryside. Scotland is very hilly/mountainous while England is relatively flat. It amazes me that anywhere in downtown Edinburgh you can always hear bagpipes. I also tried Haggis for the second time while in Scotland. I am a firm believer in emerging myself in the whole culture and the best way to do that is to try their local food. For those of you who don’t know what haggis is, it is a mixture of sheep’s heart, lungs and liver. If you are cringing right now, fair enough, but don’t trash it until you try it. I enjoyed it very much. Sadly, I did not have as much time in Scotland as I would have liked seeing as my train on the way up was late and then Sunday it said my train was cancelled online so I rushed to the train station to see if I could catch a different train. Well, my train was not cancelled as of yet, but it was running extremely slow which was problematic since I had to make a connection in York. I ended up missing my train in York by several hours and ran around the station with a conductor to find me another train to Leeds. It was quite the nightmare, but I am glad I got to see Thomas before he left to go back to the States.

My next adventure was definitely spur of the moment. Kelsey and I wanted to take a long weekend trip somewhere after classes ended on Thursday (December, 9). Our first plan was to go to Isle of Man, but we looked about a week before we wanted to leave and ferry tickets were pretty expensive. We proceeded to look at airfare to various locations around Europe, we found an extremely cheap flight to Dublin and booked it! So we left at 4am on Saturday morning for Dublin and came back to Leeds on Tuesday night. Ireland was incredible; words cannot really describe such a beautiful place. The people, food, beer and sights were amazing. We decided to see all the tourist sites because we are hopping back over for St. Patrick’s Day in March. Luckily Kelsey knew a girl who was studying at Trinity College and we were able to stay with her. The first thing I bought when we landed was a pint of Guinness which is actually delicious over there. I am usually not a big fan, but WOW! I was able to tour the Guinness and Jameson Factories each providing us with free pints and whiskey. We went to the National History Museum of Ireland which had several bog bodies. I won’t put any pictures up since they are pretty disgusting looking, but it was very interesting. The bogs preserve everything so a lot of artefacts in Ireland are from bogs, including Viking and Medieval people (they still even have their hair!). We wanted to see the Book of Kells, but there was only a replica available to see and it was not worth the price just to see a copy. One of the nights we went down to the famous Temple Bar. It was crazy mixture of people from all ends of the world. The different languages, cultures and people made for wonderful chaos. The one thing that got me very emotional was the General Post Office where Irish nationalists occupied it in 1916 against the British. There are still bullet holes in the pillars where the men stood. Nothing has changed about the Post Office except there is a statue that has the Irish Declaration of Independence written on it. To think a few men stood up for their country against a vast British army. I am hoping to take a trip down South to visit the Heaslips as well!

I am currently working at getting all my Christmas break work done since my family arrives in less than a week. I am so excited to show them the wonders of Europe and all the reasons why I fell in love with the United Kingdom. My job at the Museum is going really good, I am done for the holidays, but will be back at it in January. I have also found another job as an undergraduate dissertation mentor (long title I know!), but I get paid a good amount of money to help undergraduates with their research and writing skills! I will be starting that once the break is over as well! So I definitely will have a lot on my plate next term.

I will not update until after the New Year, so I hope everyone has an amazing Christmas and New Years. Stay safe and enjoy yourself!

P.S. Thanks Grandma Claire for the delicious peanut brittle! It is perfect study food! 🙂

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