A Travellerspoint blog

Some Things I've Learned...

(Karlsruhe, Germany)

sunny 70 °F
View a beginning stint in Ireland on globestrol's travel map.

So here's some things I've learned along the way through the last few weeks:

Check the tags and if the heat is different on the iron in another country before ironing
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How much 100G really is and reading the fine print: the 20 Euro mistake
As you may have already read in the photo gallery, Kristy and I decided to try out a new vegetarian cafe. Now this cafe is set-up kind of in a buffet station style. For salads, pay 1.65 per plate...100g plate that is. For hot meals, 1.65. Kristy and I only noticed the price and that it said plate, so I was assuming they were talking about the plate size itself. Well, after piling up our plates in joy when seeing all the fresh food, we learned that we were able to fit about 1000 grams on our plates!
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and how to feel better about it by spreading the food out over three meals
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Programs are AWESOME! thank you Anita Binder for saving study abroad students lives and making the visa process easier.
The visa process is a runaround. ( I don't really have pictures for this. It's been too frustrating to even want to capture this moment on film!)
EVERYTHING is closed on Sundays and holidays
thus...
Airline blankets can save your life and 5EUR Pillows can turn out to be the best investment ever!
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don't put chinese food sideways in a backpack or let airline security do it either:
Poor Kristy somehow ended up being the holder of our food and after forgetting snacks in her bag, it began to smell like salami, rotting zucchini, cheese...and then she had carefully put her chinese food leftovers upright in her bag and airline security tipped it sideways to put it through the x-ray machine. Let's just say we're happy everything still works but we're going to have to wash that pack of smells before sending her off on safari!

döner kebab is a great late night option for food...actually a great option at any time of day!
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Yufka Döner is now my new favorite late night meal

Coffee is everywhere and my bank makes cappuccinos for you while you wait

the park is a great place to practice tight rope walking
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people have "kartoffeln!" in the Schloss park:
for some reason when I tried to take a picture of the castle, a group of teenagers thought I was trying to take a picture of them and decided to yell "Wir haben Kartoffeln" (we have potatoes) and proceeded to throw a few at us.
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thus the rushed picture of the castle and the giant tree in front

Kristy learned her colors and how to count in German

The Irish make awesome winter hats--good thinking to line wool with fleece!

Posted by globestrol 04:31 Archived in Germany Tagged women Comments (0)

Tour Bus Tangents and Clinging on for Dear Life

sunny 65 °F
View a beginning stint in Ireland on globestrol's travel map.

On day two in Galway, Kristy and I went through the tour bus brochures for the tenth time, trying to find a way to see some of the coastal sights without a guided tour...one of my biggest pet peeves. This tour, however, kept us on our toes! The fact that the roads were sometimes only big enough for two small cars didn't seem to slow our driver down through the curves, over the bumps and around the cliff sides. Plus, to our disadvantage, Kristy and I would let out a yelp every now and again when we forgot that people drive on the left side of the road. It was also quite unnerving to watch other cars trying to pass with only a sliver of road!
Our tour took us through some of the coastal terrain south of Galway including some villages known for an oyster festival, and a matchmaking ceremony that is now reduced to giant singles weekend. Along the way we saw some traditional examples of Irish Castles, that consist more of one giant tower or one square than multiple shaped buildings. Afterwards we turned away from the coast into the burren, which is made up of limestone rock that covers the fields and mountainside. It is still quite green and beautiful in this area as well.DSC_0098.jpgDSC_0093.jpg
In the midst of the burren landscape, the bus stopped for our "coffee break" at the Ailwee Caves which "surprise!" cost an additional 7EUR to go into. The best part about the caves is that the tour started in the gift shop...how convenient. Kristy and I decided to skip out on the tourist attraction and explore some of the mountainside. Both of us welcomed the hour to do nothing but sit amongst the beautiful landscape and catch up on how the last few months have been in our respective towns. We managed to take a few silly pictures:
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Next stop: Poulnabrone Dolmen (Poll na mBrón in Irish means "hole of sorrows") a remarkable megalithic monument tomb dating from 2500BC and also the ancient burial site for burying the local deceased up until the Celtic period. DSC_0131.jpg This type of tomb is called a portal tomb which refers to three or more upright stones supporting a capstone. Other names for Portal Tombs are Dolmens and Cromlechs. Most portal tombs would have originally had a door on one side at about half the height, but are often removed for access purposes.
The limestone area surrounding the Dolmen were also quite amazing. I do not remember if the number was 100 or 1000 dead who were once buried around this area. But be careful! It is easy to slip and end up with your foot stuck between two giant rocks!DSC_0142.jpgDSC_0141.jpg
After the tomb, the bus wound of the steep cliffside to the Cliffs of Moher (Irish: Aillte an Mhothair, lit. cliffs of the ruin). The cliffs rise 120 meters (394 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and reach their maximum height of 214 meters (702 ft) just north of O'Brien's Tower, eight kilometres away. The cliffs boast one of Ireland's most spectacular views. On a clear day the Aran Islands are visible in Galway Bay, as are the valleys and hills of Connemara.
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O'Brien's Tower is a round stone tower at the approximate midpoint of the cliffs. It was built by Sir Cornelius O'Brien, a descendant of Ireland's High King Brian Boru, in 1835, as an observation tower for the hundreds of tourists that frequented the cliffs even at that date (Thank you Wikipedia for your great volumes of knowledge!)DSC_0176.jpg Also make sure to check out my photo gallery to see more picture of the cliffs. Unfortunately the sun wasn't at a great angle to get prime pictures and it wasn't worth hanging over the edge for!
Apparently the day we were at the cliffs were quite mild, but from the pictures you cans see that we were still getting pretty blown around. Another interesting thing that we noticed were green placards all over saying: "need someone to talk to?" with a phone number. It turned out to be a suicide hotline since this spot is frequented as a jumping point. Unfortunately in the past, people have also been accidentally blown over the edge...thus the signs:
DSC_0213.jpgDSC_0191.jpg To top off the cliffside experience, the cafe and souvenier shop looked more like a hidden teletubby commune for those who survived the falling out of the oddball kids showDSC_0224.jpg
I must say that it did inspire me--as Lord of the Rings does every time I watch it--to someday take up residence in a hobbit hole with some nice windows. I'm short enough, right? Sorry Anthony, looks like you'll have to duck a lot!
After our windy hours at the cliffs and a threat to be left behind if not on time, the bus began its way back to Galway. On our trip back we hugged the cliffs at high speeds--at least for a bus on a tiny road--and stopped at Dunguaire Castle to our joy. I wanted to kiss the ground when I got out of the bus and rub my knuckles to get some of the color to return. The castle was similarly shaped as the other castle ruins we had seen but this one still threw medieval banquets by appointment. Unfortunately Kristy and I just forgot to pack our medieval clothes and shoes so we didn't book this time :)
Once again with a threat of being left behind and the bus driver pretending to take off, the group bolted back to the bus, sleepy and ready to get back to Galway.
At the end of our tour we said farewell to our bus buddies with promises to add each other on facebook and headed back for the hostel. We spent our final night in Galway attempting to understand ambiguous fliers and enjoying some more tasty food at the ocean race. The town was packed beyond belief though since we also happened to be in Galway on a holiday. At one point a trash truck came up with the brilliant idea to head down a main street and caused people to become so packed in we couldn't move. It was like being stuck in LA traffic without the cars! So sorry family if all of you don't end up with souvenirs from Ireland but Kristy and I spent our last day in a "traffic jam." Despite the crowds of people that showed up in the end, Galway was a great respit from the busy city and offered a variety of great and silly memories. It also introduced Kristy and I to Bulmers cider which we now look for anywhere we go!
Well, back to Dublin the next day for our flight and more ridiculous surprises to pay for but the best Chines food I have had in a long time!
Next stop...Germany!

p.s. some irony from our tour bus trip: were were limited on time, but stopped to look for rabbits in a field, pigs that our guide lovingly called "Irish breakfast" and mating cows. Visit my photo gallery for the full view of our silly tangents.

Posted by globestrol 13:02 Archived in Ireland Tagged women Comments (1)

Getaway to Galway

semi-overcast 63 °F
View a beginning stint in Ireland on globestrol's travel map.

After experiencing the hustle and bustle of Dublin, Kristy and I decided it would be best to see some of this beautiful green countryside that we keep hearing about. Somehow we managed to make it through the misinformation of brochures and find our bus to Galway. The one thing I will credit Barnacles Hostel on is the honest information they gave us and real directions! We even found our bus stop no problem! And green countryside we did see as soon as making it out of the city limits. It was difficult at first with what appeared to be a row of trees to hide the highway/freeway (still don't fully understand the difference) from those who wish to not see it from the countryside. After the row of trees subsided, we began to pass through small villages which even here the grasping hands of westernization had reached and placed a Papa Murphey's right next to an old Irish Pub. Apparently there's no escaping it!

After about three hours we arrived in the west coast "city" of Galway. I believe it is the third largest city, right after Cork, in the Republic of Ireland but still felt like a nice middle-sized beach town with some element of hustle and bustle. The two packs that each of us carried, weighed down on our backs as we trudged uphill and down, making an unnecessary full-circle in search of our hostel. Thank you once again Ireland for your splendid directions! Or then again maybe it's my lack of being able to interpret the directions appropriately. And family, don't laugh! I promise you this time it isn't due to my poor sense of direction. I was following the directions exactly to how they were written!

Fortunately enough, some local construction workers were able to guide us in the right direction--it felt odd asking for directions, however, because the reference point for the hostel was a pub and it was about 10:30 in the morning! So I'm sure we seemed more like lush Americans instead of lost backpackers.

The hostel was a great little family-owned place with nicely sized rooms for Kristy and I to spread out a bit. Later we found out how lucky we were as well to have such good roommates! Upon arrival, one girl had her bag exploded all over the floor and another had left and iphone to charge so we figured it was a safe place to leave our bags without locking them up.

After claiming the top corner bunk by a window that looked over Woodquay Square (pronounced /wood-key/ ), Kristy and I meandered along the streets of Galway which curved and twisted labrynthesque towards the docks. Along the way we passed by a variety of pubs, an awesome cheesemonger shop, quite a bit of Chinese food and cafes.

So what brought us down to the docks this fine day is the Volvo Ocean Race that we had just found out about upon arrival.
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Apparently it's one of the most extreme sailing races out there. It lasts about 9 months and from what you can see on the map course travels across the most difficult stretches of ocean. This year there's 8 boats sponsored in the race and they stop I believe anywhere from one to two week stints at the end of each race. They were in Galway from May 23-June 6. The harbor in Galway was full of people from all over, gift stands, yummy food, drinks and live music at night. There was also this igloo-shaped theatre that showed the history of the race since the 60's and some of the footage from the race thus far. It was really interesting to hear about what each stint across the ocean entails and some of the wild storms they've encountered. You can check out more information about the race at: http://www.volvooceanrace.org
It will be finishing in Russia on June 26 I believe...

Posted by globestrol 10:51 Archived in Ireland Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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