16 December 2012

I'm in America!

Hey all!  I'm in America!  Land of the free, home of the people who believe in customer service.

The trip, of course, was not without drama.  Which started in Hannover, when the ladies behind the counter let it slip that neither of them had any idea how to check our bags.  Reassuring, but we got through it.  Then the guy in front of me in the security line put his computer through the scanner and it, or some part of it, came out looking like a bomb.  This resulted in the security guys shutting down the entire gate and locking everyone behind bullet-proof glass until a sufficient number of people in uniform were called over to emphatically point at things.  After about fifteen minutes, they finally decided said computer was a computer, and let it go through.  In the meantime, I got ragged on by Jolly Customs Officer for not speaking Portuguese.

Drama Number 2 occurred in Heathrow, where, once again, the guy in front of appeared to be carrying a bomb in his bag.  Security went crazy-pants, but at that point my stuff was already through the scanner.  In the end, because there would probably be Inquiries with a capital I at Heathrow if they ever shut down an entire terminal's worth of security over a Danish guy with a plug adapter, they just diverted our scanned stuff to another line.

Above all though, the most entertaining part of the flight was listening to the Swedish teenagers behind me on the plane practicing their responses to hypothetical questions about their motherland as posed to them by Americans.  Answered included "We eat cold rocks for breakfast, " "Cars freeze in Sweden so we get to school via polar bear," and "Saturday is a special day, that's when we eat our rocks warm for breakfast."

Upon arriving home, I discovered that my father had more or less turned my room into a guest room, and there were several important changes I had to make before I could sleep in the bed.  These included: 1) re-inflating the blow-up dinosaur; 2) removing the bedside table on crime of hideousness and suspicion of being haunted by a poltergeist; 3) trading the ugly lamp on the haunted table out for my attractive college one, d) switching out the comforter for one that didn't look like people died under it during the Spanish flu epidemic, and e) hunting down my remote-controlled helicopter.  The latter is a requirement to my life--how else do you expect me to deliver notes to people in the next room?

10 December 2012

I am alive!

Hey all!  Guess what, I'm not dead.  It's just that this presentation has been eating my soul with extra ketchup and mustard and I've spent the last week alternately working myself into a frenzy or sitting in bed with my nerves fried.  On the plus side, presentation is done and over with--it wound up being over an hour long, and half of that was television clips I had edited together to make my point.  I think it went well--I had everyone's attention for the entire over-and-hour, and no one fell asleep or drew pictures or wrote letters to people, which is what I do when I'm bored.  Then again, it can be difficult to fall asleep when the videos on screen mainly consist of ghosts running around alternatively drowning children and shooting people in the head.  My professor liked it, and I even went toe to toe with a classmate who questioned whether the term "whitewashing" was racial and why hasn't America developed enough yet that we still believe in races?  I was like listen dude, I'm the anthropological queen of the history of race in America, and just because you guys refuse to talk about race doesn't mean it's any less of a social construct.  Yes, I won that particular battle.

And now, here is my collection of short stories I should have been blogging about, but haven't:

--Al and I checked out the Christmas market in Nuremberg, and it was both really cool and really packed.  We wound up going to the Atlanta (USA!) stand they had set up, because they were the only booth serving hot chocolate in Christmas market mugs.  Said hot chocolate turned out to be Swiss Miss with marshmallows, WIN.

Also, there was a camel and a llama and I touched them BOTH.  Not at the same time, but still.



--At the Christmas market in Coburg, I found a hat that appeared to be made out of a dead animal, so I put it on my head.  As you do.



--It snowed, so Al, Roommate. Roommate's boyfriend, and I went down to the river being chased most of the way by small gypsy children armed with snowballs.  There, we made SNOWMEN!  Or at least, they made snowmen and I helped until I got bored and started just rolling giant balls of snow and dying them with food coloring.  


--AL AND I WILL BE IN AMERICA ON SATURDAY!!!

That will be all!


02 December 2012

Ridiculous German Taxes, Highlighted

You know what's lame?  The German tax system.

Here's how it works.  There are tax "classes" that you fall into based on how much you earn, and taxes across that class are the same regardless of whether you're on the high or low end of said class.  I don't know how these classes were first established, but it was probably back in 1870 when Otto von Bismark took a lunch break from colonizing Africa, wrote some numbers in the dirt, threw some corn on them, and then let his chickens peck out the specifics.  And voila.  The German tax system was born.

This is the story of how the German tax class system came back around to chicken peck me in the ass.

Once upon a time there was a person, and that person was me.  This me-person got a job and was superbly excited about earning 400 euros a month, for that is how much students in Germany can earned without being taxed.  Technically, this me-person was actually earning 409 euros a month because me-person already had a B.A., which meant me-person earned more than students without one.  Upon finding this out, me-person asked me-person's boss if she would be taxed for those extra 9 euros. Me-person's boss assured her that said 9 euros were still in the tax "grey zone," also known as the hazy borderland between piles of chicken shit where tax people have better things to do than come after  you.  What a relief.  What a disappointment, then, when me-person got her first paycheck only to discover that 21 euros were missing.

What happened was this: chicken shit tax people decided they were feeling particularly productive.  My 409 euro paycheck put me 9 euros into a higher tax class, which meant I got 21 euros in tax taken out.  Let's do this again:

9 euros (11.6 dollars) over limit = 21 euros (27.3 dollars) tax.

Let's break it down further:

Having a degree = Earning more money per hour, less money after taxes.

Not having a degree= Earning less money per hour, but not getting taxed.

Which boils down to: if I didn't have a degree, I would have earned less money per hour but had a higher paycheck at the end of the month.  And if that's not absolutely fucked, I don't know what is.

Apparently, this was actually a really big deal in Germany at one point.  The conservative party thought this concept was bullshit, and pushed for a reform.  The super liberal party flipped shit, and the German people, who are apparently fond of their chickens, flipped shit as well.  This resulted in the conservative party getting absolutely crucified and the topic is more or less taboo.

I know it's not the end of the world.  Starting in January, the chickens have re-pecked the upper limit students can earn to 450 euros a month, which means that I only have to deal with this crap for another month before I start getting my full paycheck.  And my student status means that I will get back the money that was taken out in taxes, as long as I'm willing to jump through flaming German tax hoops for it and fill out a mountain of paperwork.  On principle, however, it is irritating and disappointing.  And even though I made the story up, I really hate Otto von Bismark right now.  If he were alive, I would turn his chickens into sandwiches.

STUPID CHICKENS.

27 November 2012

Portuguese People and Ed Sheeran!

Oh hey!

Yesterday Al and I spent an absolutely fabulous day in Hamburg.  We got up super early because it was a three-hour drive (or sleep, if you were me), and we had PLANS!

Plan 1: The Portuguese Consulate

Sigh.  Yes, I was way-overdue for a trip to the motherland's far-flung German outpost, namely because I moved nine months ago and never went to them to get my address officially changed.  I came prepared with every document I've ever gotten from Portugal (birth certificate, parent's marriage certificate, receipts for the hundreds of dollars said certificates cost), and of course neglected to bring any documentation proving I had changed residences.  Damn.  I was like, hey, from one porkchop to another, please? And Consulate Man was like, nope, need something with your address on it.  So I searched around in my wallet and found my organ donor card, which incidentally I had received two days before.  And filled out, by scribbling my address on there in the off-chance the doctors feel the need to notify Roommate that they're borrowing my liver in the event of my untimely death.  Somehow, this was accepted by Consulate Guy without comment.  And that is how I changed my address at the consulate.  With the hand-written information on my organ donor card.  Portugal win.

Although Portugal is apparently entirely uncaring about the official-ness of your supporting documents, they are exceptionally obnoxious about changing things.  I have to wait for a letter in the mail, which I then have to bring in person to the consulate in order for the change to be official.  Normally this wouldn't be a big deal, but that's a ten-hour round trip train ride, in the middle of paper season.  Thank everything we ride the train for free, or else I'd suffer the loss of the 3 euros I paid to get the damn piece of paper anyway.

At any rate, Al and I got to enjoy forty-five minutes of Portuguese cooking shows.

Plan 2:  The Christmas Market

Hamburg's Christmas market opened yesterday, HOORAY!  I love love love Christmas markets.  Even though I had a God-awful Christmas in Germany last year, the Christmas markets were the one redeeming aspect of my life, and my love for them has not waned.  They are fabulous.  They are fabulous because you look at shit and eat things.  Al and I split a  a 3 foot piece of licorice, a bag of roasted almonds covered in Nutella, a thing of fried dough covered in powdered sugar (Schmalzkuchen), and then caved and got our own individual fish sandwiches.  I got the children's version because it came with a lollipop.  Which I didn't share.  And everything about everything was amazing.  And I love Christmas markets.

Plan 3:  Ed Sheeran concert!

Al and I had tickets to the Ed Sheeran concert!  Actually, Al surprised me with those tickets a couple months ago and I was SUPER pumped because I really really really like Ed Sheeran because I'm a girl like that.  And it was brilliant--the things that boy can do with a loop pedal are pretty spectacular.  I was a little nervous when hearing that the venue holds ten thousand people, only because I pinned Ed Sheeran for super coffee house and reserved practically to the point of standoffishness.  Nope.  It was fabulous fabulous fabulous he was so good and so cool.  Epic points to him.  And the guy that opened for his was pretty awesome too, although it took me about a minute of listening to decide if I liked it, at which point I decided I did, very much.  Here, have a song:


What I'm trying to say is.  Go see both of these people in concert.  And I think it's very tragic that Ed Sheeran is opening for Taylor Swift on her next tour.  He's fabulous, she can't carry a tune in a bucket, but don't tell my sister I said that.

Adios!

25 November 2012

5 Things I (Still) Do Not Understand About Germany (And Probably Never Will)

At this point, I have lived in Germany for a little over a year and a half, and let me be clear, I love it.  And even though there have been a lot of things over the past eighteen months that have struck me as weird, stupid, ridiculous, or just plain offensive, I've managed to get myself more or less squared with most of them in the name of open-mindedness.  However, my year-and-a-half anniversary has caused me to reflect on a couple things about German culture that still baffle me, and at this point I've accepted that they will, in all likelihood, be beyond my comprehension for the rest of time.

Here we go.  In no particular order:

1) Living in two cities

From what I understand, this isn't horribly uncommon, especially in academic circles. I know plenty of people who do it, and I cannot for the life of me fathom it.  The game is this.  You live in Berlin, which you rather enjoy.  But then you get a job in Hamburg, which is a 6+ hour round trip away.  In my brain, you have two options: a) move, b) make lots of mixed CDs because you've got a bitch of a commute.  In Germany, however, there exists option c: get a second house in Hamburg, live/work there from Monday-Thursday, then go live at your other house in Berlin for Friday-Sunday.

I don't get it.  I know people with children who do this, and it blows my mind even more, that instead of moving, they'd rather only see their families three days a week.  I think to me personally, that would feel like a divorce more than anything.  Plus, there is no place on the PLANET that I love enough to spend my life floating in limbo between it and a city that's not as hoppin.  Sorry Germany, I will not ever get this one.

2) Washing dishes in dirty water

In all fairness, I don't think this is specific to Germany--I know Claire and I had a conversation once about how her English relatives do it.  You plug the drain, fill the sink with water and dish soap, and then do your dishes.  But after like two dishes the water turns brown and bits of things start floating in it and the entire  dance really, really grosses me out.  For whatever reason, it doesn't bother me when other people do it, and I'm never refuse to eat off your plate because you wash your dishes like this, but I personally cannot make myself do it.  I know it's saving water and I'm being American and wasteful by only doing my dishes under a running tap, but I can't help it. I can't make myself put dishes in brown water, and I don't understand why this is culturally acceptable.

3) Refusing to form lines

Really, Germany?  Really?  Would it be so hard to form an orderly line instead of fighting over counter space at the bakery like hyenas over an elephant carcass?  Aren't you guys the masters of order and efficiency?  Why have you not figured this out yet?

4) Putting my change next to my outstretched hand

Jean asked about this one when she came to visit me, and I had no answer for her, but it irritates the CRAP out of me.  You're a cashier.  I have just paid you, and am holding out my hand for the change.  Why, in the name of all that is holy, would you put that change on the counter, next to my hand?  Seriously, how antisocial do you have to be that you would rather place my change next to my hand rather than take the risk that your fingernail might come into contact with my palm for less than a tenth of a second?  It almost makes me want to start slipping cashiers a note with my money assuring them that my outstretched hand is not a bear trap and has not been dipped in poison.  You can in fact put money in it without dying.

5) Being really health-conscious and then smoking like a chimney

But by far, the winner of the Things That I Still Do Not Understand list is how Germans can, on the one hand, be super duper health conscious and eat organic and wear tribal jewelry with their hand-woven garments of natural fibers, and yet turn around and smoke more than a fire made of rubber, wet leaves, and animal fat.  I just don't understand how the turnabout happens.  And I don't understand how and why everyone starts smoking when they're like, fifteen.

The End.

18 November 2012

Spanish lessons and Thanksgiving

As I've mentioned a few times, I'm learning Spanish.  Because I need it very very badly for Mexico, and I need it competent and communicative by August.  This means that as much as I'm getting from my roommate's Spanish book slash whatever online resources I can find, I'm not getting it quickly enough.  So yesterday I rethought my strategy, and decided to start watching Spanish-language television.  Also known as Telemundo.  Yes, that is correct, I am currently watching Spanish soap operas with names like Corazon Valiente and Rosa Diamante in the effort to speed up the learning process.  And while I have no idea what's going on 95% of the time, I am pleased to at least be able to say that I am rapidly accumulating the vocabulary necessary to discuss pregnancy, affairs, and medical emergencies.  Just today I've learned the words for "aggression," "compassion," "bastard," and "tramp," all of which are very useful in the right circumstances.  Plus, I'm becoming very familiar with the wide spectrum of the "shocked" face that accompanies personal tragedy and scandal. Which, from what I understand, happens on average every twenty-two seconds.  For crying out loud, one guy just found out his maid is his mom.  Awkward.  On the plus side, there's a shocked face for that.

In other news, Thanksgiving is around the corner and I have to work until six, which means I'm taking Estonian friend up on her offer to come over and make pretzels.  This is the second year in a row that I'm missing out on anything resembling Thanksgiving, and I'm kind of sad.  I really, really miss Thanksgiving.  More than that, I miss Portuguese Thanksgiving, also known as that weird blend of Luso-American tradition that we've got going on every year.  Too many people crammed into a room too small to fit them.  Lots and lots of wine.  My mom's cheesy mashed potatoes.  Gross Portuguese green soup that is gross.  Fighting with my sister for the remnant's of my mom's pie dough so we can make mini-pies.  Tia's cod cakes.  Not eating the aletria. When I was a child, all of these things used to make me insane, but I guess the older I get and the longer I'm away from our weird awkward culture, the more I miss it.

But at least this year I know I'll be in the States for Portuguese Christmas, and that's exciting.  Too many people crammed into a room that's too small to fit them.  Lots and lots of wine.  My mom's cheesy mashed potatoes.  Delicious Portuguese chicken soup that is delicious.  Making vomiting sounds every time someone suggests I eat the octopus.  Tia's cod cakes.  The baby pig in av√≥'s oven with the apple in it's mouth that is still terrifying.  My mother addressing all the presents from Santa and insisting that he is real.  Still not eating the aletria.  Being terrified by my mother's over-sized Annalee doll collection and installing signs in front of them saying things like "I want to eat your soul."  Exchanging gifts with my sister on Christmas Eve, a tradition we started back when we were too impatient to wait until Christmas morning.  Jesus jokes.

I can't wait!

15 November 2012

Balls in the air

You know how I feel right now?  Like this guy:

Except minus the resemblance to Carrot Top.  And with pants that fit.  And I don't give the people around me the impression that I love little children inappropriate amounts. But other than that, I feel exactly like that guy.  

Because I've got a lot of balls up in the air, and I can't actually say that without giggling.  Balls.  HA.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is, I got an internship at a tiny little institution on the Danish border that's working to preserve a dying German dialect.  This is how I got the internship:

Me:  Hello, do you guys offer internships?
Them:  You want to intern?  With us?
Me:  Well, yes, if you take interns.
Them:  When did you want to come?
Me:  I was thinking early February after classes end, for a month.  
Them:  Awesome!  Just show up.  Can't wait to have you!

In fact, the process was so easy--they didn't ask for any documents or contracts--that I considered finding another internship, one that would give me the proper amount of hassle and irritation and make me fill out a stack of forms and dredge up documents more irrelevant to my life than the Dead Sea scrolls.  It was Al who pointed out that it's a solid institution, and their complete laid-back-ness about me interning was probably due to the fact that I was the first person in the history of the all things white and European that had ever called them up and asked for an unpaid internship in the Middle of Nowhere, Practically-Denmark.  I'm going to go with his reasoning.  Mine was longer and more complicated and involved words like "science experiment," "zombies," and "copious amounts of hallucinogenics."

What this means, though, is that I've successfully launched one more ball in the air. "Internship" is now up there with "Work," "Organizing Mexico," "School," "Grant Proposals," "Papers," "Presentations," and "Occasionally Sleeping."  Somehow, I've got to get Mexico organized, funded, vaccinated, and booked by August.  I've got to turn in five papers by early February.  I've got to produce two presentations by mid-January.  I've got to write between three and seven grant proposals with due dates ranging from mid-January to mid-March.  I've got to learn two languages.  I've got to find someplace to live (and someone to take my apartment) for the month of my internship. I've got a lot to do, and not a lot of time to do it.

What I'm trying to say is, I've got a lot of balls up in the air.  Also, I love little children appropriate amounts.  

The End.

12 November 2012

All the good newses

Hey all!  I've got good news by the barrel and I'm really excited about it.

First, I've finally got a thesis!  It involves oral storytelling traditions in indigenous...Mexico!  My mother is pretty sure I'm going to get kidnapped by a drug cartel, but I'm really really excited (about the thesis, not the theoretical kidnapping) and have already started hitting the Spanish book I borrowed from Roommate.  Hitting that book rather hard, if truth be told.  I've also started doing background research, planning my project, and looking for avenues of funding--so if you or anyone you know has approximately 4,000 euros that needs disappearing, please talk to me before you start folding it into koi fish or spit-balling homeless people with it.  Or whatever it is rich people do with money they don't need.

Second, I got a scholarship!  It's not a crazy one that pays per month, but it basically takes care of my tuition next semester, which is thrilling.  I say "basically" because I do plan on spending approximately 30 dollars of said scholarship on a sweater, because I am seriously hurting for warm clothes right now.  Tank tops don't really cut it in German autumn, regardless of how many layers of fleece I pile on over top.

Third, I started my job!  I'm a student assistant, which is a fancy way of saying I scan books for a really kickass research institution.  It's still early in the game, but thus far, I'm a fan.  Everyone is super nice, all the things I have to scan are interesting and I get to skim through them, and it's just generally fabulous all around. I'm so happy to finally be doing something with myself.  And because it's a distinct possibility that I might one day work for this institution (or one like it), I'm really enjoying being able to check out how it works.  Plus, it's nice to finally have some direction.

All in all, this semester is starting out about a thousand times better than the last one. I finally feel like I am in control of the ball, as opposed to standing in the net and getting continually hit in the face with it.

In other news, Al and I went to a Poetry Slam last night, and it slammed almost as hard as my psychotic neighbors with their doors.  Most importantly, I learned that while my German is fluent enough to write papers in and take classes in and fight with institutions in, it is apparently not fluent enough for poetry slams.  German humor doesn't frequently go over my head--chances are, if the Germans are laughing, I am too.  But there was one kid in particular last night whose poem had everyone on the floor howling, and I sat there with my eyebrow raised trying to figure out what was so goddamn hilarious about a trip to Romania in verse.  Apparently, it was all one giant euphemism for having sex with a transvestite.  Yeah.  Missed that bus.

Fun things that happened today!  I got yelled at not once, but twice, by people who disapproved of the way I was riding my bike.  The second lady actually stopped me in the middle of the road to inform me that I was riding my bike on the wrong side.  I pointed out that it was a one-way street, and since she was going against traffic, technically she was the one messing up.  She sat there for thirty seconds watching the cars (going one way), before informing me that I was incorrect.  At which point my anger bubbled over (second random yelling stranger that day, don't get on my case if you're the one in the wrong), and I very politely suggested that she go fuck herself.  In English.  And then felt much better.  This should probably be taken as a sign that the eighteen months of living in Germany have not succeeded in making me any more German, they've just made me aggressive.  My mother was right, I'm way too sensitive to live in this country.  Maybe I should move to England, where people are polite to the point of being annoying.  

At any rate, the universe balanced itself out five minutes later when I asked a nice old man for help finding the building I had to drop my scholarship form off in, and he walked me to it.  All the while congratulating me for getting said scholarship and complimenting me on my lovely French accent.  Which I have, apparently.

Good times, Germany, good times.

07 November 2012

The German Election Party

Oh hey!

So yesterday was election day, as I'm pretty sure every breathing creature on the planet has already figured out unless they are deaf/stupid/make their seaweed homes somewhere off the Great Barrier Reef.  I was entirely unenthusiastic about this election--apathy plus distance times sheer disgust with the American political machine squared equaled "Fuck voting, I don't feel like paying the postage."  But then my boyfriend pulled the "I want to grow up to be the chancellor of Germany" card, which was nice, but it meant I had to vote.  Apparently, future politicians find such things important.  Go figure.

So I voted (read: filled out the paper and then let it sit in my purse until Al got tired of my hem-hawing and paid for the postage), and, having done that, decided to ignore the rest of the election--except; of course, for those times when it resulted in particularly hilarious SNL sketches that I could watch in the 17 minutes between their upload to the web and their violent death at the hands of German Youtube's distinctly Hitler-esque copyright team.  And that was it for me.

But then yesterday rolled around, and I was suddenly faced with the unpleasant choice of either watching the election or doing bullshit Swedish homework.  Writing John a postcard about Stockholm's Nobel Prize Museum vs. mudslinging.  Trying to remember what the past perfect does vs. the opportunity to be a cynical bitch at the TV screen, and let's be honest Tina, you probably won't get another chance like this until the next time ABC airs Twilight.  Fine.  Let's go to the election party.

Yes, there was an election party.  No, I do not understand why anybody three thousand miles away who is not American and has no connection to America feels obligated to stay up until 5 AM watching various experts discuss about how unlikely a tie is shortly before they freak out about all the horrible things that would happen if there was one (Fox News field day, Sarah Palin interviews, more hurricanes). However, there were a surprising amount of people who cared, surprisingly few of which were American.  But I did meet a seventy-year-old dude who works for Democrats Abroad. He was very nice, and if he ever runs for the position of Santa Clause, I'll be perfectly happy to vote for him.  I'll even pay the postage.

Anyway.  Back to the election party.  So there were little American flags everywhere and weird muffins and free waffles, which was a win.  There was even a camera crew--I'm not sure from where, or why, but they were there and filming.  The best part was when they came in to film the crowd's reaction to the first few Obama states. Everyone flipped shit and carried on like donkey kong, with the exception of me and Michigan friend, because we have far too much experience watching the electoral college votes roll in to stand up and pump our fists over Delaware.  This may come as a shock, Germany, but Delaware is not a game-changer.

Things I learned from the German election party:

--I can't be bothered to stay up until dawn watching my own election, let alone one for a different country.
--Santa Clause is a really nice guy who refers to everything below Massachusetts as "West of America."
--10 AM the next morning is a really inconvenient time to realize that by being the only two people not cheering on camera over Delaware, you made yourself look like a Romney fan.

The End.

01 November 2012

November! And, what happened to our pumpkins.

Well, classes are in full swing and I'm is back to being productive.  I wound up doing a last minute change of my life and switching up half the classes I was in, but I've got it all worked out and everything is good.  Aztec is interesting, Swedish takes place at an ungodly early hour, and for my Africa class, I have to do a presentation on, wait for it--Kony 2012.  The fact that I wrote a really long paper on this last semester makes my life that much easier; the fact that I have to do this presentation in tandem with a random girl I do not know does not.  Meh.  Back to life.  I also decided to be kind to myself and take a single class in English (I deserve it, dammit), and it's really nice to not lose the thread of the discussion if I tune out for more than a minute.  I'm also the only person in another one of my classes.  Under normal circumstances, the class would probably get canned, but since the professor is my advisor, it'll all work out anyway.

Other things that are fun!  I finally started riding regularly at the barn, and had a lesson yesterday--it was great!  I also started my job today, which I am retardedly excited about and thankful for.  From what I can tell, I have to do a lot of copying things, but all the things I have to copy are pretty interesting.  So I read with one hand and copy with the other.  Living on the edge, you know.

In the world of entertainment, the Gypsy kids in the building across from me are proving to be the continual winners.  The other night as I went to light up the pumpkins out front, I noticed that one had been stolen.


Farewell, bicycle-face.  You served us well.

A little sad, I went about lighting the survivors--and you know the adage "like moths to a flame?"  Incorrect.  It should be "like small Gypsy children to a flame," because I was surrounded the second I pulled the lighter out of my pocket.  Five different children each insisted on lighting  a candle (or "accidentally" blowing one out so they could re-light it, as the situation required), while others yelled at me that they knew who had taken the bicycle-face and could they have the ones that were left?  No, I explained, if you take them then nobody can enjoy them.

"But what will you do with them tomorrow?"
"Light them up."
"And the day after?"
"Probably throw them out, they'll have started to go rotten by then."
"PLEASE DON'T THROW IT OUT, WE WILL TAKE YOUR PUMPKINS."
"You can't take the pumpkins, they'll be moldy and soft and make gassy noises when you poke them."
"OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE."
"No.  I am throwing the pumpkins out."
"Can we have them now then?"
"Please do not steal my pumpkins."
"WE CAN TAKE THEM!"
"THAT IS NOT WHAT I SAID."

This somehow resulted in a very long discussion about pumpkin ethics, namely, whether the passing of that special day made the pumpkins on your stoop fair game. When was Halloween, they wanted to know? Wednesday, I said.  This was Saturday.

Tuesday evening the doorbell rang.  Thinking it was a friend, I buzzed him in and went downstairs to meet him.  Not friend.  Actually a horde of small children holding bags.

"Hello Tina!  Halloween is today!"
"It's tomorrow, dears."
"IT IS NOT, IT'S TODAY."
"Voices down, my neighbors eat children."
"It is not, it's today"
"Today is Tuesday.  Halloween is tomorrow, the 31st.  Remember, we had this conversation?  And then I asked you not to steal the pumpkins?"
"But someone stole one!  And it's not even past Halloween THAT IS NOT FAIR!"
"What?  I haven't thrown those things out yet?"


I went down to see, and sure enough, creepy Estonian pumpkin was gone.  But I looked around anyway, checking in the bushes and behind the trashcan.  You know, just in case creepy Estonian pumpkin was hiding.  He wasn't.

At that point I got a good long look at the surviving pumpkins, witch pumpkin and raven pumpkin-- neither of which were doing particularly well, both of which had been left out long past their last vestiges of autumnal dignity had shriveled up and been chewed on by stray cats.  The weird back-and-forth weather had taken it's toll: witch pumpkin needed Botox, and raven pumpkin looked like a heap of dead.  If I hadn't known better, I would have put rough 50/50 odds on the fact that it had ever been a pumpkin.

"Oh man," said I, poking the pumpkins with my shoe.  "Look at this mess.  This shit is sucking at my soles.  I think these pumpkins have got to go."

The Gypsy children panicked.

"NO NO NO DON'T DO THAT, WE WILL TAKE YOUR PUMPKINS."
"They're starting to smell like dead people."
"OH PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE WE WILL TAKE THE PUMPKINS."
"Your mother will have me arrested for assault with a stinky vegetable.  On principle."
"PUUUMMMMPPKINPUUUMMMMPKINPUUUMMMPKINPLEEEEEASE."
"You mean you show up looking for candy, and you're content to take rotten vegetables with you instead?"
"PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE."
"Oh for the love of God, take the moldy pumpkins.  It'll save me a trip up the stairs to get a trash bag."


And that is the story of how half our pumpkins were stolen and half were given away to small children while in advanced stages of decomposition.

The End.

27 October 2012

Halloween Success!

Oh SNAPS, not only was our Halloween party a success, it was kickass!

We had orange and green marble cupcakes with ghosts and amazingly delicious Pillsbury cancer-icing,

spider truffles whose legs kept breaking off, so they were more like amputee spider truffles in physical therapy,

and HOLY SHIT MUMMY PIGS IN A BLANKET.

Michigan Friend and I taught the Germans, the Estonian, and the Indian how to carve pumpkins, because all of their respective countries are lacking in this most entertaining tradition.  The pumpkins came out fabulous, and we wound up putting them all on my front steps--with the notable exception of Roommate's boyfriend's Osama bin Laden pumpkin, mostly because the building across from us contains several Pakistani refugee families and that seemed like poor judgement.  


Yes, that is a bicycle face.

Today, it's roast pumpkin seeds, wash clothes, and try to get as much reading done as possible for Monday. Hooray!

23 October 2012

Here we go again!

The new semester is here!  Despite the fact that I wince every time I look at my schedule because I've got a crapton of work to do, I'm really pumped.  This semester is going to be fabulous.  I've got fun, interesting classes, I'm starting my awesomely kickass job on Thursday, and I'm applying for all sorts of fun internships in all sorts of fun places--Namibia, Switzerland, England...it's going to be brilliant!

Other things that are fun:

--Jean was out at the beginning of the month to visit, and it was amazing seeing her again and getting to run around, do ridiculous things, and explore eight million different castles.

--Indian food party--delicious and highly entertaining.

--Chilling on a friend's roof talking about politics, which eventually devolved into writing insane notes.  I was particularly proud of the one that said:

PROPERTY OF FELIX BAUMGARTNER

To Do List:

Drink red bull
Grow wings
Jump from space, motherfucker.

This note-writing further devolved into turning said notes into paper airplanes and unleashing them on the passerby below.  Only two guys actually picked up any of our planes, and then only because we were harassing them from the rooftop.

--Enjoying the random week of sunshine by sitting outside with cookies and reading Good Omens.


This week is really easy because most of my classes don't start until next week.  Seeing as I have so much time on my hands, I've decided to plan and execute a HALLOWEEN PARTY, which I am fiendishly excited about.  Personal opinion, Halloween is the best random holiday of the year and the Germans don't know what they're missing.  I've got a crazy long shopping list, I invented the ghetto version of apple cider, I had Jean bring me pumpkin carving kits, just so we could do this properly.  I'm even making my mom's pigs in a blanket, a requirement for any party worth it's salt--but I'm going to wrap the sausages to look like mummies instead.  So pumped.

That's about all I've got for now!  Got to get started on my first reading of the semester.

Adios!

19 October 2012

Ireland Part the Last: What We Learned

At 4 AM in Dublin airport, Claire and I made a list of the things we'd learned.  They were:

--Never trust an Irish bike seller if they're female.

--Wed really won't die if left alone in the middle of nowhere, we will find somewhere to stay, contrary to popular belief.

--No one can drink like the Irish.

--No one wants to drink like the Irish.

--If you can't pay your loan, it's the bank's fault for giving you one.

--If you don't want to pay your overdraft fees, it's okay--they shouldn't have let you take the money out in the first place.

--Sean Quinn is a douchebag.

--Guinness tastes like sludge no matter where in the world you drink it.

--Claire looks Irish.

--Daniel is the smooth 18 year old we've ever met.

--Letting seagulls pass you is NOT GOOD.
(This is from Claire's interpretation of a sign at Moher to say "Do Not Let The Seagulls Pass You.")

--Also, stepping on the grass and destroying their habitat is equally frowned upon.

--Strap your stuff down to avoid getting it stuck in your bike.

--But if you do, Barry is the nicest guy and will help you.

--Theft makes everything taste better.

--Except After-Eight hot chocolate.

--Tralee or Tra Li so as not to confuse anyone is not nearly as cool as the guidebook describes.

--Cork is totally not worth it either.

--Cheetos big bag tastes like regular Cheetos without all the chemicals.  Also, it does not dye your hands/pants orange.

--Clean clothes really do make you feel like a human.

--We can officially sleep ANYWHERE.

--When in doubt/when everyone around you regales you with scary stories about Limerick...skip it.

--Dublin is way cooler the second time around.  Best 2 euros were spent on the gaol.  Pronounced gay-ol.

--When old ladies offer to let you follow them to your destination...don't do it.

--Tina and I will never actually be friends.  Amy is just that popular it's like I'm overflow.

--We totally look homeless right now.

--Scones are awesome.


And that officially wraps up the Ireland recap week (or two).  Yay!

15 October 2012

Ireland Part VI: The Diaries

Excerpts from The Ireland Diaries
Sept 3-Oct 2, 2012

Sept 5!

It's midnight and Claire and I are writing in the hallway because we didn't want to wake up the Italian who's sharing our hostel room, he's nice and has hipster glasses.

We bought bikes!  Mine is bright purple--also, the helmet is purple.  This was unintentional.

Other fun things: Irish people are really, really nice.  We snuck onto tours at Trinity College and we walked a LOT.  Surprisingly, my fat deposit is a-okay with this.

Off to Greystones tomorrow!  18 miles and my bike seat is a piece of plastic.

Yay!

P.S.  leprechaun museum.

Tina

P.P.S  Why did I put a P.S before my signature?


Sept. 6

OK so

A#1.  Everything in me wants to die
B#2.  I love Almonds

So the day started well--tea scones some fear in the guy at the hostels eyes over hearing of our intended plan as he fixed the bike bags to Tina's bike.  Little did he know that at that point we still had nowhere to stay. Well then we went to get Tina a new seat and me a new basket and that took some time, so we had coffee and took advantage of the cafe's free wifi and found our couchsurf.  Then after getting a little lost, we finally made it to the coast. And went on forever!!!!! LOTS of HILLS like really high ones and it was not fun I felt like death.  Eventually we made it here alive but that was after we asked some lady for directions to make sure we were going the right way and she offered to drive in front of us because she didn't want us to get hurt and we had come a long way and she wouldn't want to tell us to do something that she wouldn't tell her daughters to do.  But the thing was that she kinda took us the long way and I nearly died.  So I got lost for a little while but then I was found some time later.  Then we went too far down 1 road, that was an issue, so we had to go back a little and resmell the food in the pub.  A cruel joke.  Then we found our way here---Finally, this house is huge and gorgeous.  And she gave us a sandwich best thing I ever ate-  Now I'm done.

Claire


Sept 8

So, Monarch of the glen!
just a few thoughts

SO last night we stayed with Clement and Brian, 2 very nice lads, in fact, I would say they were grand.  Well to be factual we stayed w/ Clement. Brian is his neighbor on this massive estate that used to belong to Clement's father.  Well they took us out for a night on the town.  Well by town it had 4 shops and a gas station.  The Mormons we stayed with the other night were nice but the kicked us out so that was kinda lame.  Well for some reason they thought we were only staying 1 night.  Well had that not happened we would have never met our new besties.  Today's ride was long through the valley, mostly there were quite a few good hills that were totally made worth it when you see the views coming down the hills. Gorgeous, or Grand as one might say.  They also may ask "from where do you hail?" or use the word tink and not in reference to tinkerbell because, as we learned on Tuesday at the leprechaun museum, Tinkerbell is not an Irish kind of fairy.  But then again they threw crying babies down wells to make them stop so you know they come back as a "good" baby by the time they get back from the wells.

Claire


Sept 15

Oh haaay,

So the last couple days have been pretty fun.  In Dungarvan we got chased out of the BnB by an angry Irish lady who turned our hot water off because she had to go to a funeral for some guy that did ecstasy.  Also, there was a giant hill on the way out that made we want to cut off my arms and feed them to a cow.

Okay, Cork!  Our couchsurfing hosts were really weird but the Poles staying with them were amazing and hilarious and we just hung out with them.  Cork itself was pretty lame, not a whole lot to do, but Cashel was AMAZING!  Our tour guide was ginger and starred at us because we were wearing hot red and pink and clearly had not started with the tour.  But we learned lots of fun things and then went and played on the abbey ruins across the street, which was even more fun than Cashel. 

Then in Cork we tried to go on a free boat ride, but no one knew what we were talking about and there were no signs.  So we gave up.  Also, no live music on a Saturday night!  Weird.

On the way to Macroom, I wanted to punch this town in the face because the first sign said it was 6 1/2 km away, the second 7 km, and the third 8.  Very disappointing. Macroom itself is cute, there appears to be a shopping center built into a castle.  Oh! And on the way we went to Blarney, which was cool.

Off to Killarney today!  Taking a bus, because the road goes up a mountain.

Tina


Sept 20

Betch don't read this shit.

So we are in tralee which in Irish is spelled tra li which is kinda cool.  And that's probs the coolest thing about this place.  Killarney was cool.  The park was really pretty and the ring was fun.  We got to climb things.  The this guy from Marlton befriended us...he was running from something, he's too old to be traveling that aimlessly.  The ride here was easy I wish every day was like that.  And there were LOTS of Germans in Killarney, like we were practically in Germany.  And the accents here are weird they are not so much fun.  And it's pronounced row like cow.

Claire


Sept 22

Oh snaps bitches we biked like crazy people on cocaine and somehow managed to beast it to Tarbert before 12.30, and we hadn't planned on making it there until tomorrow.  Took a ferry to Killimer so we could skip Limerick, and just decided to see how far we could get.  That turned out to be Kilkee, putting us a day ahead of schedule.

Claire's bike broke, so some nice guys helped us and a hysterical lady freaked out every time we got too close to the road.  Victoria Beckham has spina bifida.

Tina

Sooo here it goes.

Victoria Beckham really has skeletal issues, I mean, do you see how she stands?  Now I'm not a dr. but ya know it could be spina bifida or I don't know skuliosis or astiolparosis (Claire, it's osteoporosis) but she really needs to get it checked out.  Because she has 4 kids to worry about.

Also we watched Dakota Fanning in the world's saddest movie.  Like seriously, there is nothing in the whole world sadder than watching some girl die so although it was quite good I would not recommend it.

And then!!!
We went to Dingle and looked for dolphins but didn't see any.

And then!!!
Because we are amazing we biked 67 km today making 1. it the longest bike ride so far and 2. a whole day ahead of where we intended to be!! Peace Bitch!

Claire


Sept 24

Dearest Vampire Diaries

Being as that is the temp name.

So STILL no dragons also there have not been any druids.  This has come to be a huge disappointment :( .  I mean, really who do thy think they are kidding, hiding them away, is it because they use magic?  Well that being said, yesterday we did the cliffs, they were gorge but no puffins so that's a bit of a disappointment.  Also we got eaten alive by bugs.  Then we went to the B&B and spilled musli ALL over the floor.  oops.  And there were a lot of hills. But loved the cliffs, then we were going to the aran islands.  And the guy took us on the cliff boat ride out of pity.  He said it was the best way to see the cliffs.  He was right coolest most beautiful sight ever but still NO PUFFINS.  Then we were really wet so we ate soup and wore sweaters that had been left at the bar.    

Then we cycled all over the island, saw people speaking irish, ignored a no trespassing sign and did not die.  On the way back it rained AGAIN then the boat guy who was Polish (love dem poles) took us to the grocery store.  Then we went to watch the flute guy at the bar and met Daniel (smoothest 18 yr old we know) and now we are stalking him.

Claire

We are stalking him because we want to know if his dad's office to make us breakfast stands.

Other things we did: made friends with a Swiss guy (who claims there are no druids or dragons).  Had the same conversation about our trip 8 times today.  Got kissed on the cheek and welcomes to Ireland.  Decided Poland is awesome.  Dried our clothes in front of a fire.  Burnt the cookies.  Danced in the kitchen.  Didn't see druids.  Attracted other New Jerseyans with my Rutgers jacket.  Biked in the rain. Saw nobody on Inisheer for like an hour and a half.  That's all I can think of right this second.
We are also recognized quite often as "the girls with the bikes"
"Who were freezing when they got off the boat."

Tina


October 1

So we're sitting in Dublin airport eating cheetohs.  Here are some things we've done since Doolin.

--cheated and took a bus to Galway.  Made the driver let us out 11 km away so we could bike.
--ran around Galway and did a free walking tour.
--made friends with Simon, the Awesome German and Fierce Canadian Lesbian
--Arthur Guiness day, and hated it
--made it back to Dublin
--YAY!

Tina

But we did go to the big island and Connemara.  And that was so pretty and so nice.  We were there for Arthur Guinness night that was really cool and unexpected.  It's a great holiday dating all the way back to 2009 and the 500th anniversary of the gross sledge they pull off boats.  I tried it because everyone said OMG it's so good here it's like nothing you have ever tried.  Well what is true is the are wrong!!  


a little while later...

We are in the airport at 3 AM and we want to die this is so sad.  And the cheetos don't even taste right!

3.48.  Have tea.  No cheetos, they are gone.  Not as miserable but let's be honest it's almost 4 and we're awake.

4.  Tinas checking her mail.  Tea is almost gone.  I will be really sad in a moment until then we continue the list.

4.20.  The time not the date.  Tina is brushing her teeth.  I just forgot how to spell teeth, I mean it might as well be the date when I can't remember that.  tea is gone.  It was good.  Trips almost done, so sad.  Will miss the scones, not the Guinness.


And those are the highlights of our Ireland diaries!

13 October 2012

Ireland Part V: Ireland By Numbers

Okay, so I may not be the greatest at posting every day as promised.  Whatevs.  Part the fifth, also known as Ireland By Numbers!

452   -- Kilometers we biked
280.86   -- Miles we biked
3   -- Dogs we were chased by
1   -- Cows we were chased by
7   --Weird men who tried to pick me up
1   -- Weird men who tried to pick up Claire
2   -- Inadequate hostels (Tralee and Dublin)
1   -- Rat in our Dublin hostel
4   -- Pounds that I lost
2   -- Times we were groped by strangers
2   -- Times we ordered something in a bar and everyone stared at us
5   -- Times someone saw the R on my jacket and asked if I went to Rutgers
8 million   --Sheep in Ireland (or, one for every person who lives in New York)
120   --Euros the guy at the bike store in Galway offered to give us for both bikes
250   --Euros we sold our bikes for in Dublin
1   --Times we caught someone trying to steal one of our bikes
 50   --Germans we caught off-guard by speaking German  at them
4   --Times we cheated
Lots and Lots   --amount of fun we had

08 October 2012

Ireland Part IV: Our Favorite Moments

Of the entire month, here are our favorite moments from Ireland:

--hanging out with Clement and Brian
--Eating a Irish breakfast cooked by Sheila and Pat.  It was the first time we'd felt really full since we'd arrived.
--Daniel.
--exploring Inishsheer by bike.
--Claire getting snotted on by the giant cow at Hore Abbey.
--Trying to bake in Doolin hostel, and just having a dance-off instead.  And making hot chocolate and eating the entire bag of marshmallows.
--having off-season B and Bs all to ourselves.
--stealing cereal.
--seeing the Cliffs from Doney's boat.

--watching Ghosthunters in Macroom (with stolen cereal).
--making Claire kiss the Blarney stone.

--all of Dingle.
--hunting (unsuccessfully) for dragons and druids.
--Elephant and Castle--the ridiculously delicious restaurant in Dublin Claire's parents sent us to.
--Cookie fails in Doolin.
--confusing the eight million Germans we met everyone by unleashing their own language upon them.
--Geraldine's pink and sparkly room.
--Barry the Nice Cyclists stopping to help us pull Claire's backpack out, and then sending us a nice text message in response to our "We made it to Galway alive" text.
--eating dinner as a real meal the last night in Dublin.
--1 euro giant mint aero bars.

Least Favorite Moments

--crossing the 4 lane highway into Cork, which was terrifying.
--The very first hill we ever pushed our bike up, on the coastal road into Greystones.
--seeing the rat at the crappy hostel in Dublin, and then making the decision not to tell Claire about it until the next morning.
--biking into Galway in the rain.


--Christian and girlfriend's super awkward hug in the kitchen while we tried not to look.
--our first host in Greystones kicking us out.
--Cork.  All of Cork.
--getting kicked out of the B and B in Dungarvan.
--sitting on a boat to Inishsheer trying not to freeze to death/die of seasickness.  Everything got better once we landed and ate soup.
--Arthurt Guinness day.  Made-up holiday, also, no fun.
--Holding up the bus on our Ring of Kerry tour.

--Being stalked.
--Being told it "used to be cool" to be American.
--People saying we would never make it to Galway/getting mad at us for trying.
--The worst piece of cake in the world, apple with rainbow sprinkles.
--The guy behind the counter and the crappy hostel in Dublin yelling at the guy who spoke no English about who wasn't paying for the room.

Hooray!

06 October 2012

Ireland Part III: The People We Met

I'm a firm believer in "It's not the things you do, it's the people you meet," mostly because I find the people I meet tend to make my best stories.  Then again, I also have an amazing ability to attract the weidest people on the planet.

In the course of our trip, Claire and I met a metric crapton of entertaining people, which I have divided up below into our favorite, least-favorite, and weirdest.  Let's go from negative to positive.

Super Not-Cool People

Kilkenny Crafts Guy:  As is evident from the name, this guy worked in the craft store in Kilkenny that we quickly ducked into to buy postcards.  He was super condescending about our trip, and got legitimately angry with us for what he perceived as our flippant attitude towards the danger were were apparently putting ourselves in by undertaking a cross-country cycling trip with zero cycling experience.  We did not like him.

Lying Bike Bitches:  These ladies, the owners of a bike shop in Dublin, sold Claire what was, according to the bike store in Greystones, the completely wrong bike for what we were doing.  In short, they took advantage of the fact that we didn't know what we were doing.  Also, the bike was broken.  We made it as far as Greystones before Claire had to trade it in and spend more money on the sleek sexy roadbike that would eventually get her to Galway.

Condescending Belgian:  So named because he was condescending and Belgian.  We mostly disliked him because he walked around in his underwear while telling us how we were wasting our time by going to Dingle--which turned out to be one of our favorite places.  Moral of the story is, don't listen to naked Belgians.

The Israelis:  When we first met the Israelis, we liked them.  The second time, we were less sure.  By the third meet-up, we actively disliked how superbly condescending they were to women, and how they only liked us as long as they thought they could sleep with us.  And they got mad at us when they walked into the room and caught us hanging out with Simon, The Cool German.  

Crazy Rose:  So as to not repeat my last blog post, Rose was the psychotic Irishwoman who turned our hot water off at the B and B in Dungarvan, tried to make us shower in the sink, and then chased us out.  Did not like.

Stephen and Christian:  We stayed with these guys in Cork, and while they didn't outright dislike them, we disliked how the clearly didn't want us there.  Also, one of their friends went into our room and left the door open, and Christian's cat got out.  He blamed us for it, which we didn't like much either.

Post Office Douche:  For whatever reason, when we bought international stamps from the post office in Dublin they were giant and rectangular and not very stamp-like.  When we asked the guy for smaller ones because we had already written the postcards, he told us that was our "fatal flaw" and to go suck it.  Not a fan of that dude.

Matt from Marlton:  We met Matt from Marlton on our Ring of Kerry bus tour, where despite the age difference, he instantly fell in love with Claire.  And asked her out.  And she turned him down by saying she couldn't go out for drinks with him because I wouldn't be in the country.  Amazing?  Yes.


Super Favorite People!

Clement and Brian!:  We met them on our way out of Dublin and loved them so much, we spent the rest of the trip sending them postcards.

Daniel!:  Our favorite Englishman, who we met in Doolin where he was vacationing with his family.  We love him and miss him.

Steven!:  Sold us tea and scones every morning we were in Dublin.  Looks like a leprechaun.  So amazing.

Simon, The Cool German!:  I don't know why we loved him so much, but he was adorable and funny and made jokes about Germany.  Win.  Plus one for Galway friends.

Fierce Canadian Lesbian!:  As the name implies, she was fierce.  And Canadian.  And a lesbian.  We love ALL of those things, and had a brilliant time sitting in our hostel room with her and Simon and talking about everything.

Doney!:  I don't know if that's how you spell his name, but he was the owner of the boat company in Doolin we went to the Aran Islands with.  Also, he gave us a free boat ride to the Cliffs of Moher because we were wet and cold and exhausted and he clearly felt sorry for us.  He was right, the best way to see the cliffs is from the water.

Doolin Pole!:  We never caught his name, but he worked for Doney.  After arriving back in Doolin, we asked him for directions to the nearest supermarket.  We ran into him again on our way back to the hostel, and he offered to pick us up later and take us food shopping because it was raining buckets.  Also, he was awesome.

Birdwatching Poles!:  The Birdwatching Poles (Hubert and Anthony) were also couchsurfing at the same place as us in Cork, and they were our favorite thing about the city.  They were hilarious and thought Claire's impression of speaking French was really funny.  And they were great sports about how we never stopped making fun of them for watching birds.

David!:  Was our host in Kilkenny, and is just an all-around fabulous and funny guy.

Geraldine!:  She of the hot-pink B and B room.  Amazeballs.

Phyllis!:  Also owned a B and B, and was incapable of wearing blouses that weren't see-through.  Her dog's name was Jack, and when she was angry with him, she put him in the shed.

Sheila and Pat!:  The husband-and-wife team at the first B and B we stayed in of our trip, in Aughrim.  Sheila and Pat were adorable and hilarious and gave us giant hugs when we left.  Also fun was that we had the entire place to ourselves.

Barry the Nice Cyclist!:  On our second day of biking, Claire managed to get one of her backpack straps seriously wound up in her gears, to the point where her bike couldn't move.  It was so stuck in there, we couldn't pull it out.  Barry the Nice Cyclist was the nice cyclist who pulled over to have a nice chat with us while beating Claire's backpack into submission.

Swiss Guy!:  Hung out with us at the hostel in Doolin, and was just generally cool.  

Weirdest

Does-Not-Wash-His-Hands Mike:  It wasn't so much that we disliked Mike--we didn't.  Mostly it was that the hostel he was running was SO FUCKING WEIRD.  And he really needed to learn to wash his hands.

Scared-of-Roads Lady:  Was hilariously terrified of the roads and convinced we were going to die on them. It was a country road that I would have felt safe walking across blindfolded.

Cesare:  On our last night in Dublin, Cesare walked up to me and handed me a note...about how I seemed so nice and would I like add him on Facebook?  Kisses, Unforgettable CeCe.

The Kilkenny Quartet:  On a (Monday) night at the bar in Kilkenny, Claire and I got hit full force with the psycho quartet.  First was Dancing Nipple Guy, who kept licking his fingers and rubbing his nipples at us, sending us fleeing to the other side of the bar.  Second was Tony, who bought me a drink--or rather, bought himself a drink and then gave me his old pone.  Next up was Random Boy, who took my drink and dumped it on his head--we're still not entirely sure why.  And finally, winner of the night, was a boy who sat down next to me, and before I knew what was happening, unzipped my jacket, grabbed my boobs, and then told me they were lovely and I should show them off more.  Then he tried to get me to kiss him, for a good ten minutes, before throwing out a "Just kidding, I just wanted to see if you would do it."  The best part was that at the end of the night, the bartender told us he's one of the best Irish boys we could ever hope to find.

05 October 2012

Ireland Part II: Our Favorite Places

Day two of the itinerary, it's favorite places time!  With pictures!

In the order that we reached them, here are our favorite places:

County Wicklow



It wasn't just that Wicklow is drop-dead beautiful/we had good weather/there are sheep.  We also met some of our most favorite people on the trip in Wicklow, including Clement, Brian, and Barry the Nice Cyclist, who stopped for a half hour to help us untangle Claire's backpack strap from her gears. 

Kilkenny

Kilkenny was brilliant in spite of the touristy-ness because it was adorable.  The town was really cute, the castle was fun, and we entertained ourselves by imitating statues, finding Diagon Alley, and taking ridiculous pictures with the pirate duck.  Also, we ate lunch in a shop called Bla Bla Bla Sandwiches.  What more could anyone require?








Ardmore

Best little coastal town ever!  With a beach made of real sand!  Really pretty cliffs as well and a sweet shipwreck.







Also, we bought Jedward popping chocolate bars.  Mine were defective and did not pop.  So basically, mine was the more accurate depiction of Jedward.  


Cashel/Hore Abbey

Cashel itself was pretty cool, but even more amazing were the ruins of Hore Abbey, right across the street.  We climbed over walks and around cows to play there.  Claire probably described it best when she referred to it as a "giant adult-sized playground."  No, the irony of the place being called "Hore Abbey" was not lost on us.

Cashel:


SUPER AWESOMENESS NEXT DOOR:






Also, Claire got snotted on by a cow:
                                     

Killarney

Is another one that's really, really nice.  The national park in particular is beautiful to wander around in.



Dingle

Despite having the most awkward name ever, Dingle is hands-down one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to in my life.  There aren't enough words, so have some pictures.















pronounced "crack house."  Heeheehee.

County Clare

Really, really hilly and a pain in the ass to bike through, but the views made it worth it.



The Aran Islands

We did two trips to the Islands, once to Inisheer and once to Inishmore.  Both are gorgeous.  Here, have some pictures.

Inisheer:



Inishmore:






And now, a few words on our least favorite places:

Cork:  Blows.  There's nothing to do, nothing to see, and the only redeeming part of our three days there was that we spent one in Cashel, the other hanging with Poles, and the other being entertained by a really drunk guy.  

Tralee:  Also blows.  Likewise nothing to do/see.  When we asked for tourist attractions, they sent us to a windmill.  Not a cool windmill, in any sense of the word--it wasn't old, made of wood, or inhabited by Dutch people.  It was just...a windmill.  Also, the hostel was really, really, REALLY weird. 

Dungarvan:  The town itself was very pretty, but we got chased out of the B and B the next morning by the crazed Rose, who shut off our water and told us it was our fault we couldn't take showers and didn't we know she didn't have time to deal with us because she had to go to the funeral of some kid of OD'ed on bad ecstasy?  After much argument, she offered to boil us water so we could take showers in the sink, which confused us greatly...mainly because we hadn't meant to check into Ye Olde Taverne Inne circa 1760.  After even more argument, she finally let us take showers in a different room.  The thing is, had she just let us do that the first time around, we would have been out in 15 minutes.  As it was, the entire process took almost an hour, and was exceptionally irritating.  So there you go.  The Old Rectory, Dungarvan, County Waterford.  Don't stay there, ever.  Unless you enjoy washing your hair in the sink, in which case...nah, forget it.  Wash your hair in a sink owned by nicer people.

The first hostel we stayed in the second time we were in Dublin:  Right underneath the train tracks.  Super dirty.  When we were first given beds, we discovered that someone was sleeping in one of them and not paying for it, at which point we were moved to the back house.  There were rats.  No, just...no.

Ring of Kerry:  It's not so much that the Ring itself sucks (it doesn't).  Mostly it was just that we did a bus tour, and did not enjoy it.  The bus never stopped where we wanted to stop, and always stopped where we didn't want to be...at which point we promptly abandoned the bus and found our own cool things, and then wound up holding the bus up for forever.  Every.  Single.  Stop.  So Ring of Kerry is cool, just don't do a bus tour.

Clifden:  Same deal.  Clifden is great, it's just that Irish public transportation blows lameballz and we only had two hours to run around.  When I gaped at the driver upon hearing this news, he told me, "It's up to God to please you now, because I can't."  Extra minus points for Irish busses for religious references.

And that's about it!  See you guys back here tomorrow for a detailed account of all our favorite people!