Unlocking the J.Lo Challenge: Morocco (pictures to come soon)

I can honestly say that when I first decided to study abroad in Europe I never thought I would visit another continent in those 4 months. But with Morocco so temptingly close to Spain, how could I not just randomly visit Africa? Thanks to another European Vibe weekend trip, I was able to visit the country in a much safer atmosphere than if we planned the trip on our own.

Our first introduction to the weekend trip was a jank-tastic flight with Ryanair, full of obnoxious in-flight sales pitches, a rattling perfume cart going up and down the aisle every 20 minutes or so, and let’s just say the landing wasn’t the smoothest I’ve ever experienced. We arrived at an airport slightly bigger than my living room, went through passport control, and jumped on our bus. Our Moroccan guide jumped on board soon after. To our excitement he looked pretty much exactly like Jafar disguised as an old man in Aladdin, though with a slightly less impressive beard. He was hilarious, and ended every sentence with “Okay, please, yes, thank you.” I can’t remember what his real name was, but he quickly earned the name “Rafiki” with his weird jokes and hysterical cackle. Rafiki first took us to Grotte d’Hercule, essentially a cave with an awesome view of the Atlantic and some random underground markets. Afterwards we did something I literally never ever ever thought would happen in my life: we rode camels. But we didn’t just simply ride camels. We rode them on the beach at sunset. SO COOL. Of course I happened to get the pissed off camel both times I went, which was terrifying. He attempted to throw me off his back a few different times, and bleated loudly the entire time. Normal.

For dinner we went to a traditional Moroccan restaurant. Our first course was some sort of soup that tasted like minestrone soup with cinnamon sprinkled in it. Next we had unidentifiable meat pressed around a kebab stick. Third course brought us cous cous with chicken, vegetables, and even more cinnamon. For dessert we had sweet mint tea with some amazing pastry similar to baklava. I don’t know what I expected the food to be like in Morocco, but I was definitely pleasantly with surprised with what we had.

That night my friend Katharine introduced all of our friends to a game my family has been obsessed with for years: mafia. This is a game of deceit, bluffing, alliances, and manipulation. For those who don’t know how to play but have a lot of time on their hands, here’s an extensive explanation of the game. We typically played with one mafia, a detective, and an angel (but sometimes we got a lil crazy and had two mafiosi). We played mafia so much during the weekend that suspicions and accusations started carrying over from one game to the next. That’s when you know it’s time to move on. Not that we did.

The next day Rafiki took us on a walking tour of the Casbah, the old section of Tangier. We rocked it (hehe). We were first taken to a “snake charmer,” which in reality ended up being a guy slapping a snake around on the ground. Underwhelming, but it actually got pretty cool when he let people put the snake around their neck to take a picture. After getting our bearings a bit more, we headed into a rug shop where they gave us a demonstration of the different kinds of rugs made in Morocco. Definitely a weird experience, but also really cool! Aaaand yeah, I did end up buying a tiny throw rug. Judge me. Next we went to a “pharmacy,” a little shop where they explained and encouraged us to buy their random cures for any and every ailment. He insisted you could destress, lose weight, avoid baldness, and probably end world hunger just by using his special rose lotion. Too bad it seemed like a cheaper version of the 2 dollar lotions I bought from Bath and Body Works when I was 10. My favorite part of the experience was when he encouraged us to smell eucalyptus seeds from inside his handkerchief in order to clear our sinuses. He very adamantly stated over and over again “I AM NOT MAKING YOU HIGH. I AM NOT MAKING YOU HIGH.” Thanks for the info, whackjob.

Later in the afternoon we took a bus ride to another town called Asilah where we wandered around the markets. It was so beautiful and right on the water, but there wasn’t a whole lot to do. We pretty much only walked around, ate lunch, drank sweet mint tea, and watched my friend Rob purchase a fez. A day well spent, I’d say.

Back in Tangier that night (after many many many rounds of mafia) we went on what was supposed to be a bar crawl with our tour. We were all kind of nervous about going out in Morocco because we heard some awful stories, but we figured we’d be alright in the group. Nothing super sketchball happened, thank god. We were so exhausted from all the walking around that we barely even made it to the first place, a really intense hookah bar. Next we were supposed to head to a club, but only 3 out of the 80 or so people in our tour actually made it. Whoops. We took the logical next step: everyone came to my hotel room, we pushed the four twin beds together to make one mega bed, and we played mafia until people (read: Kathleen) started falling asleep.

The next morning we headed on an early flight back to Madrid. I think it’s pretty safe to say that Morocco was one of the weirdest weekends I’ve ever experienced. It was so fun, but more bizarre than anything. It definitely made me excited to go on our annual Yosemite trip with the cousins for more intense games of mafia. I’m prepared to dominate.

Know it! Write it down!!: London

Halloween weekend in London was a panic, a rush, a trip, amazing. There was a fair amount of flying by the seats of our pants, but mostly things worked out fine. Even if they hadn’t, though, it still would have been incredible and a major dream realized. Prepare yourself for a long blog post.

Kathleen and I arrive at approximately 2:30 in the morning. Groggy and ready to sleep, we zombie our way to the bus stop and buy tickets… only to find out the bus had stopped running about a half hour earlier. Great. Cab time. Kath and I hop in, relish the fact that we use English to talk to the cabbie, and enjoy the views as we wind around the city. Well, at least I enjoy the views. Kathleen probably fell asleep, as she’s prone to do whenever taking a cab/sitting at bars/in class/living her daily life as a narcoleptic. As we get closer and closer to our hostel, the driver starts to get confused. The GPS says we are at our destination, but there is no Palmer’s Lodge in sight. We drive around, call the hostel, drive around a little more, and eventually figure out that we had originally been across the street from it. Naturally.

[I need to obsess over our hostel for a minute. Palmer’s Lodge was unbelievable. We honestly could have spent the entire weekend there without leaving and still would have had a great time. The building is an old mansion that was converted to house tons of people. There was a restaurant with amazing food (and free breakfast); a fully stocked bar; a sweet loungy-bar area; an enclosed back deck to eat, drink, and hang out; a great living room with comfy love seats and a tv; and, most importantly, every bunk had curtains. CURTAINS. It was great. Upon arriving we didn’t immediately realize that our bunks were also equipped with their own little lamps, so Kitty decides to throw on the intense overhead light. Feud immediately instigated between us and our 11 roommates.]

The next day Kath and I walk through Regent’s Park, one of the royal parks of London. We have a beautiful view of the city that only makes us more eager to start adventuring. On our walk we come across a little sandwich shop in a gazebo. Two words: tea time. Two more words: cheese crisps. One more word for good measure: meringues. We definitely spend more time there than intended, but it is 100% worth it. [I taught Kitty K the art of adding milk to tea, and I think I can safely say her life hasn’t been the same since.]

After a significant amount of lounge time, it’s time to go intercept our third traveler, Mary Kate. She studies abroad in Cork, Ireland, so she’s arriving separate from us SLUsers. We have no idea the troubles that await us…

  • Obstacle #1: MK didn’t receive our message that we would meet her at Victoria Train Station instead of at baggage claim.
  • Obstacle #2: We had no idea where (or specifically when) she was arriving.
  • Obstacle #3: Mid-phone call my phone ran out of minutes.
  • Obstacle #4: None of the phones we borrowed nor the payphones would call the phone number of hers that we had.
  • Obstacle #5: The station refused to let us make an intercom announcement.

However, miraculously, we end up figuring out that Mary Kate was using her American phone, so Kathleen was able to call her on her American phone. Such a process. It is a godsend that we finally contact MK, too, because rather than taking a train to Victoria station she ended up taking a bus to a different nearby station. Ultimately we scoop her up and head back to the Lodge.

That night we have our first magical experience with Palmer’s Lodge restaurant, as well as our first awkward experience with the Palmer’s Lodge bar. We eventually decide it’s time to hit the streets, so after consulting the front desk we end up taking a double decker bus to Camden Town. We see a group of people dressed up in Halloween costumes, so we follow them to a bar called The End of the World. Accurate name. The bar is fun and crowded, but with a strange mix of people. Death core music is playing. More men in kilts than anticipated. Inexplicably, quite a few top hats boasting the Southern Comfort logo (naturally we decide to steal one… more on that later).

We accidentally befriend a group of Irish boys (not surprising… can’t get over how friendly Irish people are). I bond with Karl, teaching him a card trick while he convinces me that he works in a factory where he folds paper clips for a living. Kathleen chats with Karl’s friend who is wearing a lacy white thong on the outside of his jeans. Mary Kate talks with the one British guy in the group. After a really weird introduction to part of the London social scene, the three of us head back to the hostel, once again pissing off our roommates by being loud and coming in late. Whoops.

The next morning we make our way to the Wellington Arch to start our three hour free walking tour. For anyone traveling through Europe, I really can’t stress enough how awesome these tours are. The company, Sandeman’s New Europe, has tours in pretty much every major city. The tour guides are working for tips, so they put a lot of effort into being funny, interesting, and informative. Our guide for London was, once again, an Irish guy. (I honestly can’t get away from them… not that I want to.) The tour takes us to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Parliament and Big Ben, and so much more. Afterwards we decide to swing by Harrods, which we leave after approximately 2 minutes because we’re completely overwhelmed.

We head back to the hostel for another dinner at the restaurant, and then frantically pull ourselves together to go out. We throw on some black and white clothes and our newly-purchased penguin masks, ready to go on the Sandeman’s New Europe “One Big Night Out” Halloween pub crawl. The night is… crazy, to say the least. Everyone is so intensely dressed up and so intensely drunk that there’s no way it can be a normal night, even if we want it to be. The company handed out t-shirts and markers to everyone, encouraging us to write on each other’s shirts. Here are a few gems:

  • “Someone kiss Aimee”
  • “Baby on board”
  • “9:20 pm, I still love you”
  • “Penis”

…and oh so many more.

The next day we decide to do some adventuring on our own, starting with Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Both are fascinating and gorgeous. We have a great tour guide for the Tower of London who teaches us about London’s history of royalty, death, and torture. We come across some seriously awesome “graffiti” carved into the walls of the tower, some things dated from the 1600s. One of my favorite parts about London is how tangible the history is. No matter how “touristy” things are, they still feel authentic.

At a certain point, Kathleen and MK realize they have to appease me before we can call the trip a success. They know they have to take me to Platform 9 3/4s at Kings Cross Station. I can fully and proudly admit how much I geeked out when we came across the trolley half-embedded in the brick wall, on its way to the Hogwarts Express. An absolute dream come true.

Later that night the three of us go to a service at Westminster Abbey. First of all, the church itself is gorgeous. Halfway through the service, though, I realize that I can stand exactly where Kate Middleton stood on her wedding day to Prince William. WHAT. I’m not as obsessed with the royal couple as some people I know (*ahem* Hannah), but it was still awesome to be in the exact spot I saw on TV when I watched the royal wedding months earlier. Definitely never thought that was going to happen.

The next day Mary Kate heads back to Ireland, leaving me and Kathleen to explore London by ourselves for another day and a half. Indulging me once again, Kath agrees to venture with me to Abbey Road. After all, I don’t think I can consider myself a true Radsliff if I fail to visit Abbey Road Studios when in London. Outside the walls of the Studio fans left graffiti of Beatles lyrics, paying homage to the famous Abbey Road album whose cover photo was taken there (obviously… just spelling it out for those who are pop culturally illiterate). I also, of course, add my own little note to the wall.

Kath and I spend the rest of the day exploring a river walk that our guidebook suggests. We stumble upon an awesome outdoor book market on the South Bank… Pretty much my heaven. Tables and tables and tables of books. Incredible. I then convince Kathleen to accompany me into the Tate Modern art museum. She isn’t quite the art lover I am, but we both love seeing the Picasso, Lichtenstein, and Warhol pieces. Next up: The Globe Theatre. Quick transition from my studio art minor mindset to English major mode. I hadn’t realized that the original Globe actually burned down (twice), but this recent recreation is still incredible. It is still sort of hard for me to picture the actual William Shakespeare working in a theater exactly like this one (though slightly bigger), but it definitely gives some more dimension to the plays that I have read. After such an exhausting day of exploration, Kathleen and I decide to officially succumb to “Treat Yourself 2011” with bestie date night at a nice restaurant. A few glasses of wine, a bread sampler, lemon chicken, eggplant parmesan, tiramisu, and gelato. Perfect. Not to mention, we also have a beautiful view of the River Thames and some twinkly Christmas lights. Truly a perfect evening.

Though it’s Monday night, Kathleen and I decide we need to go out… because it’s freakin’ Halloween. Kathleen finds inspiration from the SoCo tophat we stole on our first night out in London. I purchase a full-body banana suit. Two costumes are born: Abraham Lincoln and his banana. We decide to do exactly what we did on that first night and take a bus to Camden Town… but the streets are fairly empty. Confusing. It’s Halloween… People should be out and going crazy, right? Wrong. We follow a promoter to the one bar that’s actually celebrating, and end up being the only people really dressed up. Highlights of the evening: moshing in the middle of the bar, seriously confusing our fellow celebrators, and honestly convincing multiple people (accidentally) that Kathleen is a man. I guess the eyeliner beard is pretty convincing.

On our last day in London, Kitty and I decide to have very few main goals: go explore the National Gallery and find some Banksy graffiti. We get to the National Gallery no problem, immediately choosing the priorities of which pieces to see. In honor of Kathleen’s one-off painting class with her mom, we check out van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” first. As expected, it is seriously impressive. We make some quick rounds and eventually head out to lunch at the Sherlock Holmes restaurant. Delicious and awesome. On to goal two: Banksy. My art history class this semester includes a project and a paper on a topic of our choice, so I obviously choose my favorite street artist. I thought it would be cool to have some first hand experience of his work before doing the class work, but Kathleen and I can’t find his stuff anywhere. Such a fail. After a little bit of searching we call it quits, hit up Starbucks, and have another tea time.

We have nothing else to do, but it’s only 4pm. We heard about some markets around London, so we figure we might as well check one out. Best. Decision. Ever. Essentially it is a huge open air market with clothes, bags, jewelry, vintage stuff, etc. We each end up buying a flannel shirt and scarf, and I add a super cozy sweater to the list. [The sweater can be seen in pretty much every weekend trip from London onward. So obsessed.] Successful shopping trip. On a whim we decide to go be sophisticated and see The Lion King play at the Lyceum Theater. We buy cheap-ish tickets online and run to the theater. I saw the show in San Francisco years ago, but that doesn’t make this time around any less impressive. The costumes, actors, sets, and pretty much everything else are so exactly perfect. Incredible.

Finally, after the show ends, so does the weekend. Kathleen and I go back to the hostel to grab our bags, hop on a train, and arrive at the airport ready for a sleepover. Unfortunately, the Gatwick airport is nowhere near as prepared for airport sleepovers as the Dublin airport. Chairs are sparse. It is freezing. No wee-fee gratis. Essentially I end up shivering on the floor next to the bathroom while Kathleen sits up all night, studying and watching our stuff. However, even this less than ideal experience doesn’t put a pall over the rest of our amazing weekend. I love London, and I honestly can’t wait to go back.

Portugal: A Post in Pictures (Mostly)

Here's our awesome apartment in Lagos. We had a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen with a stove, fridge, microwave, and sink. So spoiled.

Here I am on our booze cruise. I'm still amazed I didn't vomit along with almost everyone else on the boat. Those waves were seriously rough.

Before jumping in the Atlantic...

...and after!

That night we all went out to an awesome bar called Joe's Garage. Apparently they set the bar on fire and chase people around with a chainsaw. Thankfully we missed that whole deal.

The next day we took a bus to Lisbon and immediately started exploring the city.

We even got to explore an old castle! This is the birthplace of the now-popular phrase "I hate when castles ruin my boots."

In the background you can see a bridge built to model the Bay Bridge in the San Francisco Bay. It is also painted the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge. Gotta love sister cities!

Ellen, Kathleen and I had such a fun weekend together! It was great getting to know new people from all around the world, but nothing beats hanging out in a foreign country with your bests.

The place to party in Lisbon is an area called Barrio Alto. We went out with some German, Finnish, and American friends and had a blast jumping from one bar to the next.

I'd say this pretty much sums up the night.

Unlocking the J.Lo Challenge: Ibiza

I hate when bloggers say this, but I have to. I have failed you as a blogmaster. It has been almost a month since my last post. So much has happened, but I don’t want to be lazy about my updates. I’ll do a few different blog posts about the past month instead of condensing into one mediocre update. So, here we go. Ibiza.

Ibiza is a Spanish island in the Mediterranean Sea. It’s the club capital of the world. And it’s where I spent the weekend of October 14th with my friends Kathleen, Ellen, and Lily. Never before had I gotten a sunburn on the beach in the middle of October, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.

We started out the weekend by exploring our amazing hotel. We had four twin beds, free breakfast and dinner buffets with tons of amazing food, an awesome pool… Oh, and the beach in our backyard. No biggie. Later in the day we went to the beach to obsess over the water, sand, sunset, and our lives in general. A solid 15 minutes were spent writing our names or other things in the sand. Kathleen and I decided to show our Zeta pride with our letters and symbol (the five pointed crown) in an exceedingly beautiful sand drawing. We eventually headed back to the hotel to prepare ourselves for a night out in what we heard was the most insane party city in the world.

Hooooowwwwever, we failed to take into account the fact that the club season had ended a few weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, we still had an awesome night, but not with the insanity we were expecting. We sat on the beach for a while, having a few drinks and marveling at our awesome lives. Lily and I mixed drinks with peach Schnapps, Sprite, and a coconut rum appropriately called “Ibiza Beach.” I taught Kathleen the life-changing skill of being able to open a beer bottle by anchoring it against a corner and hitting the top. After a while we decided to barhop near our hotel. The “bars,” though, were more like outdoor seating areas with plastic walls. Janky. But fun.

The next day we spent eight glorious hours alternately facedown in the sand and frolicking in the waves. It was so great to have a weekend that was a vacation more than a trip. We didn’t feel like we had to see anything specific or do anything in particular, so we could do whatever we felt like doing whenever we felt like doing it. This, naturally, included a multiple hour long search for obnoxious neon tank tops sporting slogans like “I ❤ IBIZA.”

That night we tried exploring the bars in the downtown area. The night included a seriously cute cab driver (who spoke English!), Kathleen making friends with a 60-year-old Spanish man with a ponytail, three piping hot pizzas (even though we only ordered two), and a dog whom we loved even though he refused to return our affection. Ellen finally got her coveted piña colada. Kathleen did something unspeakable outside of a Santander bank. Too bad security cameras exist, Kitty.

The next day, we decided to spend a few hours on the beach before we headed to the airport. Is this real life? Barely. Amazingly, Lily stayed a third night by herself because she didn’t have any Monday classes. So Kath, Ellen and I ran to the aeropuerto, leaving Lily behind to make Ibiza her bitch.

A Day in the Life of my Stomach

In applying to study in Spain I had two meal options: kitchen privileges and family meal plan. The former is a cheaper plan, but the student has to cook for themselves. The latter is slightly more expensive, but you get to experience what families actually eat. Naturally I chose the family meal plan. I have been extremely lucky with the amazing food my host mom, Sol, cooks every night. I have heard that some other students on the same plan as me are given chicken nuggets, microwave pizza, and bagged salad for dinner almost every night. So, in an effort to rub salt in the wounds of my less-fortunate classmates, I will take you on a trip through my culinary experience in Spain…

Breakfast

Breakfast: cereal, toast, tea, Special K bar

Every morning we have a choice between 3 or 4 different types of cereal. I generally have Frutos Fibres, which has cereal flakes and tonnnns of dried fruit. Apples, papaya, coconut, grapes, and more. We also have toast with peanut butter, Nocilla (basically Nutella), orange marmalade, or strawberry jam. To drink we can choose between milk, chocolate milk, orange juice, water, tea, and coffee. Finalmente we have the option of grabbing one or two breakfast bars (either strawberry or chocolate) or some fruit from the fruit bowl. Needless to say, breakfast is never disappointing. My favorite part of preparing my morning meal is the insane toaster. Rather than a machine with two slots for bread, we have a freestanding tower of open coils covered by wire mesh with two metal bars to strap your bread onto the contraption. Keeps life exciting.

Lunch

The cafeteria at school serves amazingly good food! Only 3 euro for a completely filled plate. The buffet changes every day, but you can also get salads, pizza, burgers, and some other things on a daily basis. Every meal comes with a bread roll and a discount on ice cream. It doesn’t get much better than that. Are you jealous yet?

Dinner

 Okay, guys. Real talk. Sol is the most amazing cook. She cooks something different almost every night (she has only repeated dishes like… twice), and it’s always fantastic. In the picture you can see a dinner we had with soup, chopped caprese salad, tortilla Española, meat/cheese/veggie filled pastries, and flan. She said the pastries are her version of pizza. Tortilla Española is like a big omelette, kind of, but with eggs, potatoes, and onions. Words, and this picture, don’t do it justice. Most times we have fruit for dessert, but every once in a while she gives us some flan or some other light, sweet deliciousness.

YUM I HAVE TO GO EAT BREAKFAST NOW

Shoutouts

Multiple people have asked for shoutouts… Okay, you win.

To The Radsliff Family – You’d think that, coming from such a technologically advanced family, I would be in constant contact with you. Nope. Love me.

To The Anderson Cousins – I know the time difference makes it really hard for us to Facebook chat or Skype, but I want to hear from you guys more! Make it happen. Life’s not the same without a crier, a rockstar, a sorority sister, a pop culture buff, a total bro, a New Yorker, a hand-talker, a judger, a marathoner, a Parisian, a soccer stud, and a not-so-baby brother.

To Continuum Crew, and Michelle Villarreal specifically – I worked with the most amazing people this summer. I miss you guys so much! I promised to photoshop you all into some of my pictures, so that is forthcoming. Thanks so much for an amazing internship experience, everyone! Michelle (cookie run buddy and general sass-master) requested a shoutout in particular a few months ago… Hi, Michelle. I forgot my AIM password so if you still want to be friends you’re going to have to Skype me into status. Great, thank you.

To SLUsers and Snick Snack – It’s so weird to see all your pictures from SLU and not be around to experience the beginning of junior year with you! I hope you guys are having an awesome time, and I can’t wait to see you in January. Sneha, you better visit again when I’m there.

To David Michael and his Sandwich – That sandwich your señora made you looked delicious. I am highly jealous. Here’s the shoutout you requested… *cough self-centered cough*

We Don’t Deserve To Be Here (Dublin and Galway)

Family, friends, random people who stalk my blog, I have some news. I will not be returning home. I have chosen to spend the rest of my life in Ireland. See you never. … Really though, this past weekend was probably the best weekend of my life. This post is going to be suuuuper long. Let’s start from the beginning…

[Open scene. Lights come up on a 20-year-old-girl, brown hair in a bun as frazzled as her mind in the current situation. It is 5:17 pm and she’s running home from school. Is someone chasing her? Is she running away from a crime she has committed? No. She is running home to pack for a weekend trip to Ireland. She is meeting her friends at the metro stop and has 10 minutes to fit everything she needs into her Vera Bradley weekender. The clock is ticking.]

I arrived home in a sweaty blur, completely terrifying my host mom, Sol. Panicking, I ripped my packing list out of my backpack and sat down on the floor. Approximately 8 minutes later I had fully packed my bag with everything I would need for 3 days of adventuring, 3 nights of going out, and one night in the airport. Time for challenge number two: run to the metro and hope to reunite with Laura and Kathleen, my fellow travelers. Amazingly I arrived only 5 minutes later than we had originally planned. As I ascended the escalator, Laura’s face came into my line of view as a beacon of hope. My relief, however, was soon swallowed by an overwhelming wave of anxiety: Kathleen wasn’t there. We waited, checking the clock every 15 seconds, grinding our teeth and glancing nervously at each other. Finally Laura and I decided to take a leap of faith, get on a train to the airport, and hope that we’d see Kathleen on the other side.

[Cut to one hour later. Annie and Laura run around the entirety of the Madrid Barajas airport, but finally make their way through security. The bittersweetness of arriving at the gate coupled with the longing for Kathleen’s presence renders the girls speechless. Suddenly, from the distance, Annie hears a voice calling her name from the distance. Kathleen runs toward her, bags dripping off of her arms as sweat drips off of her forehead. Amid shouts of joy, the two embrace. Laura looks on from the gate, arms raised in the “touchdown” position. They each breathed a sigh of relief.]

Zeta sisters, reunited!

We arrived in Dublin around 10 at night and practically ran to the taxi, desperate to experience Ireland. We met up with our friend Allie (who is studying abroad in Galway and met us in Dublin for the night) and headed into the hostel. After a confusing check in process we made our way up to the all-female 14-person room, in which we discovered the lights turned off and a single sleeping girl with an eye mask. Ooookay. We didn’t bother dressing up, just set down our things and ran out the door. We started out the night at Temple Bar, which is a famous old bar in Dublin. There were people from ages 18 to 80, live music, and, of course, lots and lots of Guinness. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would! We bar hopped for the rest of the night, making friends everywhere we went. It’s amazing how friendly everyone in Ireland is. They truly want to get to know you, which is something I haven’t really experienced much in Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Spaniards, but Ireland just felt like home.

The next day we woke up, said “bye” to Allie, and started walking around Dublin. In walking around we ran into an old man named Connor McGuire, who explained the story of the Molly Malone statue and gave us directions as to what we should see in the city. I’m convinced is really a leprechaun. We went to Trinity College to pretend we were “freshers” and see the Book of Kells. We then went to O’Neill’s for lunch, our first real meal in Ireland. It was delicious, and it felt so good to just sit and relax for a little while. After lunch, fueled by the Irish-ness we had soaked up in sitting at O’Neills, we got ambitious with our sight-seeing. We decided to walk across town to see the Brazen Head, the Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Brazen Head is the oldest pub in Ireland, found in 1198. Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were gorgeous too, but we were starting to lose steam. Upon arriving at the Guinness brewery, after taking a few pictures of the outside, we started to walk in. Someone came up to us as we were lingering on the steps, saying, “Excuse me, we need to sweep the steps, would you mind moving aside?” For some reason in our travel-weary minds, we interpreted this to mean “You need to leave now,” which we promptly did. We walked all the way there… and turned right back around. This process of walking to things but not actually experiencing them happened many more times than I’d like to admit, but we were okay with it.

[The girls return to their hostel to siesta. Fade to black as they fall asleep. Two hours later they wake up. Epic music swells as they regain consciousness. Backpacker’s Ball is tonight… It’s time to rally.]

Confident that we had a firm grasp on the city’s layout, we headed off into the night to find the Backpacker’s Ball. After getting lost and being pointed in literally every single direction, we finally made it… and it was awesome. We met people from all over the world. Three British guys we met managed to convince us that they joust (two of them on horses and the third on foot). We also met our new best friend, Adam from Alaska. He hung out with us for the rest of the night as we went back to barhop in the Temple Bar area. All in all it was a great night.

[The next morning brings rushed packing, untoasted bread, and full-out sprinting down O’Connell street to jump on the bus to Galway. Panting, tired, and relieved, the travelers begin their 3 hour ride across the country. Finally they arrive, but, as usual, realize they don’t know where to go.]

Galway was beautiful and a lot of fun, but it was definitely a lot of walking to places, looking at the outside, and moving on. The best parts about our trip to Galway were the food and the nightlife. The hostel desk worker recommended a hole in the wall restaurant for lunch that serves literally anything you could ever want. The chef is Moroccan, so they also have a lot of cool Moroccan food on the menu. I ordered curried chicken kebabs, Laura got a ratatouille pizza, and Kathleen ate a salmon sandwich with a side of salad. Sooo good. The nightlife was easy to maneuver because all the places you would actually want to go are within a 3 block radius. We had such a fun time meeting people and going from one place to the next.

The next day we ventured to the beautiful Cliffs of Moher. It was awesome (in the traditional sense of the word), but none of our pictures really do it justice. The wind was so strong that we could barely walk up some of the pathways… that was definitely terrifying. Eventually we decided to turn around, head back to the safer area, and climb partway up a seriously tiny castle. About an hour later we hopped back on the bus, drove back to Galway, took another bus from Galway to the Dublin airport, and proceeded to enjoy our sleepover party in the airport food court. It doesn’t get much classier than that. When 6 am rolled around we hopped on our flight back to Madrid, crying the whole way about the imminent lack of Irish brogues. I guess we’ll just have to find some more Irish friends in Madrid’s Irish pubs.