Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Ring of Rainbows and Happy Days

I'm writing a week earlier than I expected because I was simply blown away by my trip this past weekend! All of last week and the weekend following were just a blast! Valentine's Day was celebrated with some homemade savory crepes and the purchase of a beautiful bouquet of flowers by Katie, my roommate. We had fun trying out different crepe combinations and getting creative in the kitchen. I turned 22 the day after Valentine's Day and was pleasantly surprised by cards in the mail from my family as well as a new sleeping bag and travel book from Mom and Luke! Getting stuff in the mail is my FAVVVORITE, not to mention getting gifts! Katie lined the hallway with balloons, Missy and Shelby made me a card and gave me some cupcakes from the market- the day was off to a great start! I treated myself to a FREE facial at The Body Shop around the corner and then spent the rest of the day shopping with my roomies, walking around the city, and then going out for a delicious dinner where I was sang to and surprised with a piece of chocolate cake and balloon (The waiter reused a Valentine's Day balloon and used a sharpie to make it a Happy Birthday one. Works for me!) !  We then went to The Corner House where more friends joined for drinks and traditional music. One of the greatest combinations, I think. THEN before I knew it the weekend was here! I was signed up to go on "The Ring of Kerry Heritage Weekend" with the university and was excited for what I'd heard was a fun-filled weekend. That it was. At the top of my highlights list was the incredible weather!! God was shining down on us that whole weekend cause we had not seen the sun for that long since leaving our homes in the US! It was out all weekend giving us the most jaw-dropping view of Irish coastlines, cliffs, and hill sides. We spent the entirety of Saturday and Sunday riding the coach bus all around the western county of Kerry, hopping off and on, snapping pictures, running around beaches, and just soaking up the sun!! Being on the bus was great for meeting new friends from Germany, Italy, and Sweden (and of course more from America). My friend Giovanna from Italy invited me to come down to her home in southern Italy and spend Easter with her family! People studying abroad from the rest of Europe are so inviting! If they are going to be in their country, they want you to visit and they are excited to offer a place to stay. I hope to take her up on that offer, but it would certainly be a costly detour so we'll see. ANYWAY- the evening's were spent at the hotel learning Irish dances, Gaelic football, crashing birthday parties in the hotel pub, playing trivia, and walking down the street to the local pubs. All in all, it was a million things I can't even begin to describe, but I came home absolutely refreshed and more than pleased to be in Ireland. Going away on short excursions makes Cork feel even more like home and I enjoy that feeling. This next adventure, however, I may not want to return. Tomorrow morning I head to Switzerland for three nights in a mountain hostel, ski-in/ski-out onto the slopes, a midnight hike and sled, and soaking my sore muscles in the community hot tub. I couldn't BE more excited for it! I didn't expect to take as many pictures as I did this past weekend and so was going to wait til after Gimmelwald to update the blog, but seeing as I took 700!! (yikes!), I decided to share some with you now and spread out the love.
This one's random, but I found MANHATTAN popcorn in the store! My favorite place AND my favorite snack!

My new sleeping bag! I'm in it right now writing this blog actually! 
Valentine's Day crepes. Stuffed with fresh veggies! 


Birthday festivities! Balloons, chocolate cake, and Jake, Katie, Me, and Alex having a drink at The  Corner House. Such a fun day to distract from the fact that I'm getting OLD!

First stop on the Ring of Kerry- Kerry Bog Village.  Famous for their Irish coffee and reconstruction of an old Irish settlement.

Saturday morning, the beauty begins!
Visit to a local Dairy Farm. Yes the cow is sucking my hand...

Julian, Me, and Giovanna leaning into the wind! SOOO windy at the top of the hill!

Hello from IRELAND! (That's what I wrote in the sand)

Nina, Lisa, Me, and Giovanna on the bay overlooking the Dingle Peninsula

Ruins of a Medieval Ring Fort

The sunrise Sunday morning. I happened to catch the orange tint on the shade one morning and followed the glow outside my window and behind the hotel to watch it come up over the hill. GORGEOUS!

John is the man in charge at the hotel. He ran the triva night and I took score. Over two Irish coffees and in between rounds, we became great friends.

A local farmer brought two of his lamb to the hotel before we left to let us hold them!

We found the end of the rainbow!

Lunch overlooking Killarney National Park. A delicious chicken sandwich from the hotel and Twirl chocolate finger for dessert. Nothing better than chocolate in the mountains. No matter WHAT mountains they are!

Me, Marian (the trip leader), Kelsey, and Lisa after lunch at Killarney

The waterfall at Killarney National Park. 

And that was the end of the Ring of Kerry Trip. There are SO many more scenic pictures but those will have to be saved for my return. As always, the summary of how I'm doing so far is well. I'm extremely excited for the trip I embark on tomorrow and I'm constantly thankful for what has already come to pass. I still hit those days of longing for home, for easy communication with those that I love, for something familiar...but I think those days of nostalgia hit you wherever you are. They are part of life and to feel them as deeply as I do when I'm away, I KNOW is making me stronger, teaching me more than I would ever learn from the aching at home, and is growing me perhaps even beyond the old age of 22. : )

Say prayers that the slopes don't get the best of me! I can't wait to share what Switzerland is about to dish out to me. 

Miss and love you all,


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