Thursday, May 20, 2010

The cliffs and midevil banquets: Words will never explain.

Today consisted of sitting on a bus 90% of the day. But it was worth it, because I was able to see the most remarkable and terrifying cliffs in the world. It was a more enjoyable bus ride than the one 2 days ago, which didn’t but a damper on the fact that it was our last day in Ireland. The jokes and conversations with everyone was different than the other days. I felt like everyone knew it was the last day and we were going to make it a great one (not that the others weren’t).

We first stopped in Adare, which is a small area with a church, a row of thatched roof houses and a visitor’s center. I really didn’t see a lot because I was just waking up, and didn’t really take it in as much as I should have. I was able to find some gifts for my family, which was a plus.

The Cliffs of Mohr were next. There is not a lot I can say about them. They were phenomenal. I was in awe of their beauty. It was a moment where everyone didn’t talk and just stared and took photos. It was another of those times were everyone seemed to think the same thing. The best part of the cliffs was experiencing it with everyone, which is the one thing I will remember more than anything from this trip. All the times that we just got each other, danced, sang, were silent of the amazing Ireland views, fell asleep in weird positions, said something that didn’t come out the right way, and just being in each others presences. Those are the times I will remember about the end of my college career.

After checking into the hotel and an hour of free time, we were off to a medieval banquet where I had a sip of awful mead, with a four-course meal. The history of the Bunratty castle and how it was going to be leveled when it was saved and furnished with authentic furniture from that time was amazing.

I then went back to the room, where I rearranged all my stuff so that it all fits and doesn’t go over the weight limit.

All of the images and memories will stick with me forever. There is not a lot other than that I can say.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Horseback Riding and lectures where you fall asleep with your mouth open.

Today we had the morning to do as we please. So, we headed out to the outskirts of Killarney to go horseback riding. It was amazing to first of all be on a horse for the first time in a few years. It was added plus to be on one in Ireland.

After sleeping in a bit, I edited some photos, ate a full Irish breakfast, and then headed out to the outskirts of town for horseback riding. It wasn’t what I had expected, with all the mountains and by a river, lake or two. No matter what I had been expecting, it was great. My mind cleared, and opening for free thought. All I could think of was how many different plants and things that were different looking, and how it looked like there was a stream flowing once beside the path we were riding along. Other than the fact that I lost my $7 sunglasses I was more than pleased with my 25 Euro ride.

Declan Malone, group editor of the Kerryman newspaper came to talk with the group next. It was very interesting to listen to him talk about all the things that he has done within journalism with a degree in psychology. I have to admit I was really tired during the visit and was not as involved in the talk, but did seem to point out how his newspaper is owned by the same company that the Belfast Telegraph is. I thought that the conflicting views in the republic and Northern Ireland would make it difficult to run both at the same time.

The end of the day consisted of editing some more photographs, pizza, pear Bulmers, packing, and going out to the dance the night away until sleep occurred at about 3:30 in the morning. All in all I got a lot out of the day even though I didn’t do as much as we had been doing during the day. I was able to get some photos edited to show my family and hang out leisurely with everyone and just do what I wanted. It was a good day, and great last night that I could go out and have fun.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rainy days aren't so bad.

Again new things happened that I will never forget, and old things came to the surface. I realized that music and group singing really does bring everyone together and that I still do not like being in cars for an extended period time. Also that no matter how I feel, great landscapes and ibuprofen make up for it.

The day began with checking out of the best hotel in the world. I wish we could have stayed there for a longer time. I loved the atmosphere and the area much better than Dublin, but don’t get me wrong I loved Dublin for what it was, a city. Dublin was great for going out, meeting others and having the accessibility to our media visits, but I was waiting for this week for the small towns and quiet air.

Our first stop of the TEN-hour bus ride to Killarney was the Kerry Bog Museum. The different houses set up for the exhibit were interesting because everything to the plates and wood in the fireplace were all there. I also got a real life demonstration of how they mated their livestock by two horny teenage ponies. Other than that I got a lot of interesting photos because of the way the minimal sunlight was hitting the beds and different household things in the little huts.

Next stops: around the Ring of Kerry. I don’t remember how many times we stopped, all I remember is starting at a statue of Charlie Chapman, taking a bunch of photographs right down by the beach area and getting soaked myself, but my camera not at all. All of the views, that were visible through the fog/clouds, which we stopped at, were enhanced by the typical weather conditions. I was bummed that we were not able to see as much, but what I did see was phenomenal. One of the memories that I will always look back and remember is singing to the Beatles during the ride. They brought us all together during the rainy day to smile at the things we had in common, the love for music.

The last part of the night consisted of an amazing dinner at Danny Mann’s pub. I had the best potato and leek soup, beef lasagna, salad and Bailey’s cheesecake. I don’t thing that I have had a bad experience with food yet. It just keeps getting better! After dinner the Irish Weavers played music and traditional instruments. My standout moment of the evening is when the one played the tin flute to “My heart will go on” from the Titanic movie, and a bunch of us sang to it. It was one of those moments that just come to you in the blink of an eye that you will never ever forget. It was the best way to end the night, and put me to a much-needed sleep.

Side note: I slept about 85% of the time in between the stops, except for the occasional stop for a photo opportunity in the Ring of Kerry. It was also spitting rain all day, so it was also not ideal for the day’s activities, or being in a bus for them. I will say it again; I did love the day besides those factors. The amazing views and clouds made it a uniquely amazing experience.

Monday, May 17, 2010

By the sea, and giant cathedrals.

Today started out in a different way, I had a decent breakfast. We stayed in Cobh last night, and had the opportunity to have served breakfast by the hotel. I decided to have the traditional Irish breakfast. It consisted of about 10 different things including eggs, bacon, potatoes, baked beans, and black pudding-which I did not eat. Black pudding is made out of blood; therefore I did not eat it. I was good and tried everything else this whole trip that was handed to me.

Breakfast came and went fast. Before I knew it we were on out way to Red FM to visit with a producer, Gaelic specialist, and some of the talent. It was different to see into our same age group here in Ireland. All of the other visits had to do with media in general and what its like to be in the industry after graduation. I also thought it was interesting to hear the differences in the radio here than in the US, like the age groups are set off differently and the station only has the license to play music in that age group. It was also my first time to be in a radio station, so now I have to make an effort to go to my local station to get a better feel of the differences.

Oh Blarney, I kissed the stone. Blarney Castle was just another castle to most, but for me I look at what if was in its prime. I always think the same things when I go to any castle or house that was part of history, what it really was like to be there, and how nice it would be to not have anyone expect you to be around technology 24/7. Once I was able to maneuver my hips up the spiraling staircase, I was confronted with the in to kiss the Blarney Stone. It was not what I had expected it to be. It was a stone at the top of a window. You had to lie back on the ground and pull yourself up to the window and bend your head back. It was very awkward, but in turn I received the gift of eloquence. After the bending and shaking, I went shopping for others of course. I was able to find things for all my people back home that fit them perfectly.

Next came the group meeting where we made out thank you cards to all those that went out of their way to talk to us so far on the trip and talked about the last few visits. We were then set out for a dinner on our own. I went with a bunch to a posh place along the water called Eleven West, where I had a gourmet burger and fries. Next was of course a glass of Bulmer’s to follow, photo shoots on the pier and then the trek up a 60-degree hill to the hotel to burn off all those yummy calories.

As an endnote to the night, I still cannot believe that I am here with the amazing views of water and giant cathedrals outside of my elaborately decorated suite, and it’s all really happening. At that, it’s all about to end in a few short days.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cheers to THE most gorgeous town in Ireland

After leaving Dublin at a reasonable time this morning we travelled down through the Wicklow Mountain National Park. It was amazing. The ride there and away from the park was field after field, with every second getting better than the last.

We stopped at the Glendalough visitor’s center and saw what was left of the entrance of a cathedral and archway from 1,000 years age. It was the best opportunity for photos so far on this trip. It was amazing to see the original buildings and their foundations. I took about 300 pictures just at that stop.

Next was lunch at the visitor’s center, where I ate the best sandwich of my life. It was ham and chicken, on a wheat bread with a tomato relish. I loved every bite and it also filled me up.

After filling me up with food, the plan was to put me onto a bus for 3 hours to Cobh. The plan worked and I slept in the most uncomfortable position, just like the others. After I woke up the fact that my neck was hurting went out of my mind the minute that I stepped of the bus. I was blown away at he beauty of the scene. It was like I was in a movie. I want to stay here the rest of my life. Cobh is my kind of town. It hast he small town feel, but with liveliness in the people like city folk.

The hotel is like a palace. I tile floors; leather couches a flat-screen TV half the size of the wall and Greek goddess holding bowls above their heads, who are serving as lamps in the living area. And that is not best part; I have a view of one of the biggest bays in the world. I see glistening water and luscious islands over the town below, which is also accented by a gorgeous cathedral.

As soon as we got situated in the room, we met for a Titanic tour where we learned about the town history leading into the day the ship sailed and sunk in 1912. We walked by the area the people were boarding waited to get aboard, and also say images of the youngest survivor of the wreck and the last survivor to die. I love everything about Titanic, which is why I found the movie just now on my computer and will be watching it before I go to bed.

After the tour we had a split second in our rooms to freshen up before we had to meet for dinner in the hotel restaurant. We had Chinese food, which is the last kind of food I would expect in a hotel in Ireland.

And now I will go to bed with the ringing of bells from the cathedral next door, while watching Titanic. Life is great right now.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My day off. Lazy=learning

Today was a day off. I had the chance to get some needed sleep and start to pack up my things for the big move through the coast to southern Ireland tomorrow, more specifically Cork.

After waking up from a good nights sleep, I stayed inside and uploaded/editing all the photos that I took this week. I was amazed how many I took. It was a great reminder of what I did throughout the week, because as bad as this sounds, I have forgotten some of the transitional things that have been between the media visits and food.

Today I was able to see the people of Dublin in a different way. I walked around and shopped, took pictures, and ate, all while being able to see the people for who they are. All other days I had the time factor in the back of my head and how I was going to get to the next event, and when, or what time it was. I relaxed and enjoyed the day.

While shopping, two others from the group and me went to St. Stephen’s Green, laid in the grass and listened to a steel drum group. It was an incredible experience to be in the middle of the people and be still for a second and not walking right next to them. They were still in the same spot like me for once.

After leaving the nice park with its wonderful flowers, we pumped into protesters who lit fire to some objects in the middle of the street. I was able to get some incredible photos of it, but did not stick around very long because of the high number of officers around us.

We then shopped, ate burgers and milkshakes, then came back and got more laundry and schoolwork done. After a failed attempt to go see a comedy show, I came back to the room and packed up for the trip tomorrow morning. I then met up with about half of the others on the trip for one last beer in Dublin. It was a great end to the week, even though I left then early to come and talk with my parents, which would have been a great way to end the night if they would be by any of their phones. I called and left 6 messages to friends and family. At least I heard their voices on their voicemail.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Oh Belfast, you are more and quite less what I thought you were

Belfast you were beautiful, but a tad scary and the people did not seem very inviting like Dubliners. Belfast was a completely different place than Dublin. It was modern, but in a different way, and they were also very proud of where they are now in society and were they were 8 years ago. They showed their struggles through these amazing murals that are all over the buildings and homes.

We started the day early at 6:30 at the train station, and then arrived in Belfast at around 10:30. We immediately boarded the coach and met Michael, our tour guide. He was very very nice, and pointed out a lot of interesting things in the city including all the McDonald’s, KFC, beautiful murals/churches, and the walls that separated the Protestant from Catholic side of the city.

During the trip we got the chance to stop by the place that the Titanic was built. It was in a huge shipyard that at one time employed over thousands upon thousands, but only now has about 300 employees. I am in love with the movie with Leo Dicaprio and Cate Winslet, but being in the place were it was built is completely different playing field. It was amazing just how massive it was.

At the end of our tour we visited the Belfast Telegraph, and heard from the Director of Digital Development, Gerry Patterson. He really opened my eyes to the many differences in Northern Ireland than the republic. Everyone in Northern Ireland has broadband Internet, unlike the south where many still have dial-up. He also said that they don’t use the Internet like we do. They use it, but are not attached at the hip to their iPhones and laptops like many Americans.

I liked Belfast, it was an experience, but it’s just not the kind of place. All the murals of men with ski masks intimidated me, and the atmosphere was just not what it is here in Dublin. I love the people here, and will dearly miss it when we leave in Sunday. Tomorrow, I have a full day to go do whatever I please, which will be everything I have wanted to but never got the chance. On a side note, I will miss our tour guide Rachel. She will be leaving to go back to the states because of a family emergency. I will really miss her!