07/10/2010 - 07/18/2010 60 °F
I just lived through the best 48 hours of my life thus far.
Please take a moment to let the gravity of the previous statement sink in.
I know I haven't written in awhile... This is mostly due to the fact that I have been ridiculously busy, and I have lacked Internet access for the past week. So, now I'll quickly bring you up to speed, and then explain why my life has been so blessed for the past two days.
I am attempting to remember all the way back to my last week in London, although I'm having difficulty remembering what I even ate for breakfast this morning. If anything exciting happened in London, I'll just have to tell you about it later, because right not I haven't got a clue! All I know is that this past week has been spent traveling (mostly by bus) through the countryside of England, Wales, and, most recently, Ireland. Right now I am writing to you from Galway (look it up on a map), but by the time I finish this entry, I'll probably be in Dublin (which I'm looking forward to immensely).
Aside: I'm in Dublin. Ha ha.
Let's see.. Ah yes, the best days of my life. We left London early last Saturday morning and boarded a bus that would drive us out to see Stonehenge. It was pretty amazing seeing a structure so old, but it was a little underwhelming because they give you an audio tour and everything while you're on the site, but archaeologists, scientists, and other experts still don't really know why Stonhenge is where it is, or what it was used for, or even exactly when it was built, so I still don't know a whole lot about it. All I know is that I was amazed that ancient people were able to drag those stones so far and then raise them up over each other. We spent our first night in a castle called St. Briavel's. It was kind of cool, but, as I said after staying in that castle in Germany, it's much cooler in theory than it is in real life. The bathroom was across the castle from us, which meant to had to tramp across the grounds looking a fright just to take a shower.
The next morning, we woke up disgustingly early and in foul moods. There were nine of us girls staying in one room in that castle, so, needless to say, we didn't exactly get our full amount of needed beauty sleep. From St. Briavel's, we took a 15 minute ride to Tinturn Abbey, which was erected some 800 years ago and is now missing it's roof and other walls, but it was so beautiful. There is something mystical about standing in a forgotten, crumbling abbey and thinking about how many people worshipped there over the hundreds of years. That was really amazing.. Plus I got some sweet pics that I'll post... umm.. eventually (sorry I haven't been keeping up to date on my photos.. I tend to post them on Facebook before this blog). We spent that day driving toward Bristol, which was a neat little city on the western border of England. We got to tour a replica of an Irish potato famine ship that took Irish citizens overseas to America and Canada, and we spent the night in a hostel along a channel off of the river that ran through the center of the city.
The next stop is where the most incredible 48 hours of my life occurred. We arrived in Broadhaven, Wales and scuttled into our little hostel by the sea. After dumping our luggage, we sprinted down the path and over to the Irish Sea. The beach we stood on was covered in rocks, as the tide was at it's peak, but it made for a beautiful sunset and fabulous picutures. After the sun disappeared behind the horizon, we walked down to the local pub and had a pint in celebration of.. ourselves. On our way home, we passed by the beach again, and the tide had receded over 100 yards.. and that was normal! We played around on the freezing cold, pitch black beach for at least an hour, and took pictures of ourselves jumping up and down like idiots. Overall, it was a successful night.
The next day, we awoke early so we could eat breakfast and board the bus. We had planned a trip to St. David's, which is a small, adorable town about a half hour north of Broadhaven, to go on a speed boat ride around Ramsey Island, which is just off the coast of Wales in the Irish Sea. After waiting for what seemed like a lifetime, we finally got down to the seaside and boarded the brightly colored orange boats. Squishing three into benches made for two, we donned our outrageous lifejackets and held tightly to each other and our cameras as the Irish seaman led us off shore and towards the open sea. When we sat down, I was in the middle of two other friends, but I complained to the one on my left that he was a guy and the TA, so I should get the end seat so I could see better. (Plus that's what a chivalrous gentleman would do, right?). I immediately regretted this decision. In fact, I'm fairly sure I chose THE worst seat on the boat. We went around the left side of the island in a clockwise direction, so I was on the far side of the boat the whole time. In addition, my seat seemed to be the prime spot for getting doused with freezing cold Irish seawater. Even though I was soaked and not able to see much, I still had the time of my life speeding around on that little boat looking at little seals and oystercatchers (birds). (Mom, Dad--we are planning a trip to Wales.)
After that super fun, incredible boat ride, we hopped back on the bus and rode over to a corral and paid good money to ride HORSES on the BEACH! Now, this is a HUGE deal to me because I've wanted to go horseback riding my ENTIRE life, but I had never been before (well, technically I rode one in a circle once while it was attached to a metal turning thing). I even joined girlscouts just because they were going horseback riding the next month, but then I got sick the day before the trip. (In case you're curious, I quit right after that and joined again when they were going to CoSi.. and then quit again after I got sick again and couldn't go on that trip. Guess it serves me right for not sticking with it.) Anywho, we paid our pounds and picked out helmets (Dad, my head it smaller than you think it is), and were told to stand in a line tallest to shortest. When the trainer went down the line, he asked if we had ever ridden before and then assigned us each a horse. I was assigned a mare named Mary. Now, Mary was a little moody when we first started off. I was like a 3 year old that had received a new teddy bear and just wanted to have fun and squeeze and pet her to death. I was afraid to yank on the reins for fear of hurting her, so I was overly gentle and she took advantage of it straight away. The one instruction the trainer gave me was to not let her eat. What she didn't tell me was that we were going to be walking down one lane streets with grassy green hills on both sides for a few miles. My horse was the ass that stopped the ENTIRE line to munch. After about 5 occurrances of this nonsense, a trainer rode up to my side and instructed me to tighten her reins. So I did. And then Mary and I had a mutual understanding that if she doesn't eat, I'll give her more slack on the reins. As we clopped along, we came around the bend and the gleaming Welsh beach came into view. The next half an hour was out of a fairytale. We learned how to trot on our horses and I was experiencing complete bliss as I trotted around the Welsh beach, watching the sun linger over the horizon. The surrounding cliff faces began to glow orange as we made our final turns on the beach and urged our horses homeward.
The next day we awoke at an unholy hour to eat a quick breakfast and hop on our bus that would take us to the ferry that would then float us to IRELAND! Unfortunately, it was one of the roughest days on the sea, and if the waves would have been .4 meters higher, we would not have sailed for safety reason. When we left, the waves were only (psht. only.) 3.1 meters, so we set sail on time. Now, I am extremely fortunate because I don't suffer from motion sickness; however, the rest of our crew wasn’t so lucky. We made our way to the upper deck and the front of the boat (which, as we came to find out, was THE roughest part of the ship to be), and I plopped down on a swivel chair and giggled while the tossing of the boat spun me in circles without me having to do anything. I'm pretty sure I was just pissing everyone around me off, however, because as their faces began to turn green, one by one, my spinning was making the dizzier. To give them a break, I decided to head carefully downstairs and outside to the back of the boat and watch the water. It was so incredible standing in the sun feeling the salty air twist my hair into my face. I watched, mesmerized, as the waves we left in our wake crashed against each other, spraying me with a light layer of brackish seawater. As time wore on, more and more people were crowding the bathrooms trying to get to a toilet in time, and almost all of our group members were sick, save for myself and two others. As I was enjoying my time on the deck, one of my friends comes up beside me and hands me a two-pence coin. I shot him a quizzical glance and he explained, "Make a wish!" I smiled, squeezed my eyes shut, and threw the coin as far as I could into the Irish Sea. I hope that one comes true. As I’m doing this, my friend is chucking coin after coin into the sea. “You’re racking up an awful lot of wishes, there,” I observed. “These aren’t for me,” he explained. “These are for all the people stuck in that bathroom that need wishes a whole lot more than I do right now.” I laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. Kid cracks me up.
Our boat docked 2 hours later, and the passengers wobbled off one by one, practically kissing the land. I skipped off looking like something the cat drug in because of the salt water that crusted my hair and washed away my makeup, another girl was bawling because she was so excited to be in Ireland, and the rest of our group had their heads stuck in a toilet bowl for the last 2 hours, so you can imagine what they looked like, and one guy yells “group photo!” I laughed. Everyone else groaned and flipped him off. I love these people.
Ireland is beautiful, and I still have so many stories to share with you all, but I feel as if this blog is entirely too long. I’m so excited to see you all soon. 12 weeks is a long time to be away from home, and, while I’ve had the time of my life in Europe, I’m really looking forward to being back home.
I miss you all and love you lots!