If there is one thing that I’m forever doing in Spain, it is accepting things and moving on. I’ve always considered myself to be a pretty go with the flow type of person – that’s one of those benefits of being the baby in your family or something like that, right? or maybe it’s the effect of my dad constantly using the expression “life is what happens when your making plans” : ) – but I’d say that if you take that normal amount of Emily go with the flow-ness and multiply it by about 10, what you’ll end up with is my new level of acceptance and, quite appropriately I guess, basically the mentality of a spaniard – no pasa nada! This isn’t to say that I’m happy-go-lucky with any possible thing. I’ll admit it, at times I certainly do my fair share of complaining and my friends here can certainly vouch for that but for the most part I feel that I’ve learned to take what happens, process it in some manner, and then move on. Whether it’s the fact that dinner consists of deep fried mashed potatoes or my lunch has eyes, or moving away from food to the fact that I always seem to miss the metro at night by about 2 minutes and then have to wait 28 more for the next one or that the study abroad program is maybe not exactly what I thought it was going to be, the phrase “and we are accepting it” gets tossed around a lot amongst my friends and I.
This past weekend, the fact that we were no longer in Spain had no effect on our love with that phrase and, consequently, way of life. At least it’s a semi-positive way to view things, right? Because really what else is there to say when you find out that the light in your bathroom at the hostel flickers like its having a seizure and the water changes temperature every two seconds then “Christie, is this seriously happening right now?” “yupp, it’s like we’re at a rave, and… we’re accepting it?” “okay, great. No pasa nada… Just checking”. And I wish I could say that we were more cultured or something for having gone through that, cause that’s what all experiences from studying abroad are supposed to result in, right ??, but who I am kidding, we were just cleaner, a little dizzy and ready to start our Irish adventures – which are probably what I should be focusing on anyway. I’m guessing you’d like to hear about more than the hostel we were in? Good, cause there is so much more!!
Ever since I can remember I’ve always dreamed of going to Ireland. I, unfortunately, can’t remember what about Ireland made it so appealing to me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m 25% Irish or that for some reason I was completely convinced that Ireland was nothing but a fantasy land filled with green rolling hills, rainbows, and castles. Yeah, okay, let’s go with the latter – naive much?? Yes, extremely, but give me some credit, at least I wasn’t expecting leprechauns!! And I guess, since I’m laying it all out here anyways, I should clarify that when I say “was convinced” that stood as my current opinion until the airport shuttle dropped us off in the middle of a busy street surrounded by normal looking buildings with no castles or green hills to be found anywhere nearby and announced that we had arrived in Dublin. I was shocked. Disappointed. A little sad. But luckily Dublin had so much small city charm that within a few hours I was willing to forgive eastern Ireland for not being the land of my dreams and accept it for the great place it was.
We spent two full days in Ireland and decided to just get down and touristy by using the Hop-on Hop-off bus. That double-deckered green beauty took us everywhere and the old Irish drivers always had a great sense of humor. The highlights of our visit begin with an authentic Irish dinner of fish and chips in a local pub where I embarrassingly showcased the fact that I’d seen the Busch Gardens Celtic Fyre show a few too many times by knowing most of the words and even when to clap during Wild Rover. Friday, the good times continued with a stroll down Nassau street and into St. Stephen’s Green where Elana, Kelsey, Christie, and I rediscovered fall and some goosts (apparently the name for geese in that country), a trip to the Guinness factory (when in Dublin…) where we learned that Guinness is not up our alley and quickly opted for more Starbucks, some stops here and there at bakeries such as the Queen of Tarts – with a name like that how could we resist – for local goodies, and a trip through the rural streets of Dublin in the rain that led us to the Kilmainham Gaol – a history lesson at its best! Here our Irish tour guide didn’t spare any details in his retelling of Ireland’s struggle for independence from Great Britain. Most interesting fact from my point of view – today only 7% of the Irish citizens are fluent in Gaelic, a percentage that was greatly influenced by the plague of 1845 when thousands of people committed crimes to gain a place in prison because life there was significantly better than living on the streets. While in this confined space, the British prison guards banned them from using Gaelic and, consequently, a huge knowledge base of the language was lost and never regained. Oh, and I should probably include walking across the Half-penny bridge simply because I must have begged Christie, Elana, and Kelsey to walk over it with me 12 times, and posing for a picture at the closest thing we could find to a real looking castle – Christ Church. Thanks girlies!!
After fully exhausting ourselves in Dublin there was no rest for the weary! Our flight to London took off at 6 Sunday morning. Pro – we arrived in London around 8, got the bus into the city at 8:30, dropped our stuff off at the apartment we would later sleep like sardines in at 10, and were on the streets ready to go by 11. First stop: Big Ben. We giddily marched our way into the tube and quickly gained a new respect for Elana’s Chicago background. Claiming that it was very similar to the “El” back home, she navigated us through the, oh I don’t know, 7 different lines each going 2 different directions like a pro and we were standing staring at Parliament in no time. After the obligatory touristy picture with Mr. Ben (which is actually the name of the bell not the clock itself!), we marched our way past Westminster Abbey, slightly saddened that it was closed for service but glad at the same time to see that it had an actual religious purpose, and into St. James park. Cue more fall happiness before arriving at obligatory tourist stop numero dos: Buckingham Palace. We stood admiring/laughing at the palace guards for quite some time before continuing our journey past the Wellington arch, more beautiful fall trees, some frisbee players that made me cry just a little from the happiness of proof that ultimate exists in Europe and home sickness, and into Hyde Park. Here we had two missions 1) find the Peter Pan statue and 2) find Kensington Palace. Unfortunately we hadn’t really done our research on either so during our over 2 mile walk we failed to even find number 1 and were slightly disappointed with number 2. Why? Well, the palace was “being transformed” which confused us immensely but was simply meant to signify that the exhibits had been changed… into a ridiculous and creepy princess search that initially looked like every 20 year old girl who still believes she is 5 years old’s dream but turned out to be a kind of depressing portrayal of the struggle of 7 princesses and how they weren’t loved by their parents or allowed to act like children and eventually died – complete with floating, glowing dresses that we still can’t quite grasp the importance of.
Our completion of the palace tour brings me to the Con of our flight having been at the wee hours of the morning – the mini melt down that ensued outside of Kensington Palace around 4pm. Fortunately we are all pretty easily pleased and after a stop for an afternoon snack and some complaining, we’d accepted our crabbiness and were back on our feet, ready to go visit the London Bridge, touristy stop number… well, I lost track. But it certainly looked beautiful at night!!
Day two in London included a stop at the replication of Shakespeare’s globe theater, platform 9 and 3/4s – that’s right all you Harry Potter fans, I’ve been there – Camden Market, and the Millennium bridge. Before we knew it, we’d exhausted our time in the land of porridge and tea – I had both Monday morning actually !! – and it was time to say good-bye to the big city life of london. We were, as I’ve said a few times before, Bilbao bound again. Back in Spain, the high from our trip was quickly converted into readjusting to speaking spanish, eating fish, and doing homework. Over the past few days my friends and I have conversed about the possibility of a two month blues. We’ve now been gone from our families, our normal lives, our country for over 60 days and we may be missing it all, just a little. But heres to 42 more days of adventures and growth in this country that we’ll one day be missing instead! It’s raining. I’m tired. I just spent three hours writing a blog when I should have been studying for the two tests I have tomorrow…pues, no pasa nada! Cheers ♥