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!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The lazy day.

We started the day late, or I as I say it was time for me to sleep in until noon. We first went back to DCU and met with Professor Doyle again. This time the lecture was about the impact of the Internet on Irish mass media. Again, he was very engaging and kept my attention. I have to admit I did get a tad sleepy during our previous visit, but this time I was a-ok. He told us that people just got broadband Internet and because of the slow dial-up its just easier to pick up a paper. And with this too, they have twitter and facebook accounts, buts there are not as attached and up to date with all news outlets as we are in the US.

It was really nice to have a photo day today. We first met with photo agency and PR group Photocall. All three of the guys that spoke gave us some really great advice. One said to not let anything get in out way, and go for every opportunity that comes our way, the other said that the book is your best friend and read all you can to be ahead everyone else.

We also were able to met with Paul Kelly, a photographer tat shots commercial assignments as well portraits with both film and digital. It was great to see all of his work and be on a more one-on-one basis with him. It was easy to get more information out of him than it would have been with 25 people. I really like his images, and hope to be in his position some day. He was really gracious to make up a contest between us, the photo kids, where we win a limited edition copy of one of his images. It’s a really great opportunity to show him my work and to see how I measure up to the rest of the photo group.

The day ended great with karaoke at the Legal Eagle, and then a nice walk home in the misty air walking across the bridge.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day four in the best CITY ever.

Once again I had an amazing day in Dublin. I am really excited for next week because of the locals telling me the towns are better than the city and I’m already having an amazing time.

In the morning we met with reporter for the Irish Times for breakfast before we went on our way to the US Embassy. She had a lot of great information about the differences between the US and Irish reporting styles. She also explained a lot about how much the digital media has changed from when she started. She said that when she started she had to call down her articles to be printed and now she has five emails and a twitter account.

My time to shine came next. I got the opportunity to be the photographer for the embassy visit. We were only allowed to take in one camera, and I was chosen for the job. I was really nervous because the photos that I took are the only ones that we will have to remember the visit. It was really intimidating because they pushed me through security ahead of everyone, and then gave me specific instructions on what not to do… and then I had to show my passport again to a Marine guard once we were in the building. I was very honored to photograph the visit and have the opportunity to build my portfolio which such great content.

We met with Professor Helena Sheehan at Dublin City College for a lecture about Irish TV drama. It was really funny to hear her talk about how bad the reality shows are and that the dramas/soap operas do not represent Irish culture at all. She was really engaging even though she may have been nervous about the lecture.

After the DCU visit we came back and had a group meeting, which was followed by photo uploading and editing to send off to the school, Post Gazette and Trib. It was really exciting to work collectively in a timely manner. It truly felt like I was in the newsroom working on breaking news.

AND then the fun times commenced. Our group, the bandits and I, went out to O’Shays again to get some food, and a pint, then it was off to the only sports bar that would let us watch the Pens game. It was a great night with great people, and amazing drinks. It was a long day followed by the best night so far, and I do know I said it before, but they just keep getting better.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dancing with the locals

I first have to say that tonight was THE best day of my life. After a great nap that followed the morning activities, I went along with 10 others to dinner in the rain (and yes, I now understand the “regular” weather in Ireland because all that I have been subjected to so far is pretty clouds and sun/ semi-overcast), then we went to the bar, O’Shea’s Pub, that we went to for dinner yesterday for a pint or two.

We stayed for a bit, had fun but then as the night went on people left in twos. By 11 or so there were 6 of us. During our festive time a house band of a guitar, banjo and an accordion. We attempted to dance and goof off, but when the local’s found out that we were from Pittsburgh, PA they were more than kind to introduce us to Irish dance and talk about the steel city. They even let a few of us sing a few American songs at the mic with them.

I was more than excited when an older man came up and invited me to learn the Irish jig, and them for him to come up later with a bunch of his fellow bar-mates and taught us set dancing. So, us Point Park students set danced our lives out with six of Dublin’s nicest folk.

The beginning of the day had a advertising and public relations focus. We first met with Gerry Davis who is the Chief Executive at the Public Relations Institute of Ireland. He had a lot of very interesting things to say about the ways that Irish PR is slowly coming up to what the US practice, like the use of digital media.

We then headed over Ogilvy & Mather with account planner, Jo Wood. She showed us a great video of the different things they worked on in 2009 and also gave us an interesting insight into the projects they are working on now, like the one for teen depression.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My pants are locked in the dryer with a side Irish politics

After starting off the day late… and I mean 15 minutes exactly. Not having a cell phone or iPod to keep with me is bad news bears (and yes it did cross my mind just now that I could just be simple and get a watch for my wrist.)

Our first activity of the day was meeting with Dr. Roderick Flynn at Dublin City University. He delivered a very engaging speech about the media in Dublin. I was very interested to find out that 1/3 of all newspapers in Ireland are from Britain on Sunday and that home delivery of papers is nonexistent. I was also shocked to learn that 55-60% of the population read papers on a daily basis and 90% on a weekly basis, which is a big difference to the percentage of those who do in the US.

Next was the big time business, a photo in the courtyard of us all in our green snazzy sweatshirts for the marketing department of our school and I was the paparazzo for the job.

The hop-on hop-off double-decker bus tour was AMAZING today. I was on the top of the bus the entire time and tried to take photos when my hands were furiously shaking from the crazy driving. Halfway through a bunch of us got off at a stop – St. Patrick’s Cathedral. It was amazing except for the fact that I saw a guy get sick all over the floor in one of the wings, and then it was the end of sight seeing for me. We got back on the bus, froze to death, saw where Ambassador Rooney lives, froze even more but never got off the top because it would have taken away from the experience and we were too cold to even move, then we got a preview of the Guinness factory which we will be going to THIS Saturday! We also learned that the Dublin zoo is the second oldest in the world, and the biggest exporter of Lions to Africa, and the home of the MGM lion in the opening credits, and then froze even more.

I then had the experience of locking my pants in the dryer after putting them in it to get the wrinkles out. I went to the front desk like an idiot to ask how to free my pants from the dryer and get some needed toilet paper.

My night consisted of going to RTE studios to be in the audience of The Frontline, live political show. I met a nice man from Dublin that has a restaurant chain of 60-some in all of Europe, Asia and Australia called Abrakebabra and is currently working on the business of selling ethanol conversion kits. I have to say it was very interesting to have a European ask me about Obama instead of the much-hated George Bush (but don’t worry, we got to him not soon after he asked my political standing.) The night went out with a bang when all of the panelists came out and sat in my row… and then I was awkwardly sitting between two guys that were going at it because the disagreed about how to fix the mortgage crisis.

At this point (end of show), I have almost fallen asleep 7 times throughout the day, was on a live TV show in the middle of a mortgage fight, looked AWWkward on live television and froze like it was a blizzard in the steel city. Now its off for a few hours of sleep before off to another meeting... this time at an AD agency.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ireland: The beginning

Ireland – oh how I love thee. Other than the few Irish folk who have rush by and push me without any “sorry”, I have greatly enjoyed the trip so far. I now have a secure Internet connection, so I am all set other than not being able to call my mom to say Happy Mothers Day.

We started the day out in Dublin after a connecting flight to Philadelphia before setting off for the 7-hour flight to Ireland. Right out of the gate we went to Grafton Street, which is a major shopping district. I think I might have found my go-to area for breaks and scope out what I will my mom for mothers day – her request.

Next was a visit to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. It was interesting, but the fact that a huge haze of sleepies was following me crowded my interest in the exhibit.

But on the other hand, on the way to Dublin Castle I awakened from the space-out coma and was amazed with the castle’s buildings and rooms. I love going to castles/estates that have been around for hundreds of years. In a past life I was around during the renaissance. I have to accept it and embrace my love for the wire skirts and uncomfortable corsets that make you pass out.

No just as a shower is approaching, I have received my cash dole from the amazing Rachel The Most Amazing Tour Guide to go by some breakfast groceries.

Then it’s off to my first true Ireland pub experience and a Guinness or two tonight at 7. I hope the sleepy haze does not follow me out of the shower!