Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Quick Jaunt to Nantes

:-) My title rhymes! Nantes is pronounced naunt ;-0

In Feb I took a train up to go visit my old friends Lison and Julien. I left Tuesday, Feb 14 after teaching all day about Valentine's Day (here V-Day is only for lovers, imagine that). The train was about two hours and was pretty cool. I got to work on some revisions of a book for the whole ride. When I got there, Julien came to grab me from the tram station and then we went to pick up Lison at work. She works at Lush, a store I had never before heard of but fell immediately in love with! They sell some amazing stuff, and Lison gave me a box of it free as a present. Part of her job is testing all of the new products... she's got it hard, that girl! :-) 
So we went out to dinner to a creperie because Nantes is famous for its crepes served with salted butter on top! MMMM. Sooo yummy. 

I had a generally amazing time. I stayed until Friday. Lison took me around the city and out to Machines de L'ile which was incredible. They've made all of these mechanical rides and little plants and awesome stuff and they have little demonstrations and let the kids ride on them. They have these two huge elephants that take people for rides around the park and there were all of these giant mechanical people that they made that they just set up around the city in the middle of the night and then they got up and walked around and had a little parade a few years ago. I think the idea is amazing and it was so cool to see in person.
 Here's the giant elephant full of people getting ready for a ride. The detail on this is incredible. The ears are made from leather and all the rest is carved wood and metal. 

 We also saw the cathedral and castle. And she took me to a coffee shop that served actual bagels! I was astonished. Bagels don't really exist in France, since they have baguette and such. We went to the LU factory that's been converted into a night club, restaurant and museum. It was pretty cool in there. And we watched a few movies and played some games, all in French, which was really good for me. It was so nice to see them and I was quite sad to leave. It was a great little jaunt and I hope I can see them again before I go back to the states. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Jo's not in France

So onward I went with my adventure in France, only it led me back to the US. 
But first... let me begin with my trip home! I did all of my Christmas shopping in one afternoon, two days before I was supposed to leave La Rochelle. It was brilliant! I shopped like my life depended on it. Four hours of insanity and I was DONE! So I packed all my stuff on Friday and was scheduled to leave on a train Saturday night to Paris, to stay at a hotel and then get up and go to the airport to fly back to NY (via Chicago because airlines are crazy!). So Saturday came and I washed all my bedding and laid it out to dry and took my suitcase and went into town to see some friends. 
Then I went to dinner with Catherine. My train left at 7:53 p.m. We got to the restaurant (literally a four minute walk from the train station) at 5:30. Two hours is plenty of time for a bottle of wine, two pizzas, dessert and the largest coffee I've ever seen, right? WRONG! When you add in a French restaurant owner who is so completely sweet and incredibly talkative. After three months of living in France, I've become slightly less neurotic and more relaxed, because that's how life is there - and it came back to bite me in the ass - hard. I ran into the station to see my train pulling away. It was the last train of the night. 
I then proceeded to have a melt down. For those of you who don't know, the last time I was in France and was ready to come home four days before Christmas, my airline had cancelled my flight and told me I was booked on another airline and then never paid for the tickets, so I therefore was not on a flight home! So there I was, stranded in La Rochelle - no other trains left that night or early enough Sunday morning to get me to Paris in time for my flight. The only train leaving from the area was due to leave at 6 a.m. Sunday morning from Poitiers, about an hour and a half away. It was going to cost 300 Euro for a taxi, or $300 to change my flight and leave a day later. After many hours of working on a solution, my friend's roommate said he would get up at 4:00 the following morning to bring me to Poitiers for the train. Which he did! 
I made my train, and the flight, and then spent the next nine and a half hours on a plane with parents who didn't know how to control their children. 
I came home for a wonderful two weeks with my family and friends for the holidays. And then got on another two planes to come down to PA for a week of school. My flight out of SYR was delayed 1.5 hours, and I BARELY (and I mean barely) made my flight from Newark to Pittsburg. They reopened the door to let me board the plane. My luggage, however, was not so lucky! Yes, this is just a continuation of how ridiculous my life is. 
So I got to Pittsburg airport with only my carry-on and met up with some people who were renting a car to bring us to the hotel. Then we drove in some ridiculous rush hour traffic and spent forever and a day on Rt 30, got turned around, rolled back on this ridiculous 40% angle hill, and finally made it to the hotel. The first time I called on my luggage they said it was there and would be on its way shortly, definitely arriving before 1 a.m. The second time I called (at 1:05 a.m.) she suggested I "turn in for the night, because it may night be coming until the wee hours of the morning"! UGH. So I came upstairs and went to bed. 
It was waiting behind the concierge desk when I woke up this morning! 
So that's what's new in the travel/life department. I'll be leaving here next week to go back to France, where I will proceed to find a second and perhaps third job to pay for the ridiculous amount of travelling still to be done! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Trip From Hell (complete with pictures)

Okay, so about five weeks ago, another assistant and I went on a 15-day vacation, because we could! And here’s everything that happened. Complete with pictures! And the way to make sure you have the best vacation possible. We went to Reims, pronounced reighnss in English (purple), Barcelona, Spain (blue), Perpignan, France (brown), Narbonne, France (orange), Carcasonne, France (green), Toulouse, France (pink), and Albi, France (yellow).

The Perfect Vacation Checklist:

  • ð        Get really sick
  • ð        Then get Really REALLY sick and feel like you’re dying
  • ð        Go to bed at 10 p.m. for three nights and miss all the fun
  • ð        Run to Luxembourg for the day – spend hours shopping
  • ð        Spend 25 hours on trains (not consecutively – but over a period of 12 days where you have to lug your suitcases up and down flights of stairs to get to the platforms…. (Hey France, ever heard of escalators?)
  • ð        Throw out things in the middle of the airport because your bags are too heavy (Fuckin Ryan Air)
  • ð        End up paying to check a bag anyway after you already threw things out
  • ð        Feel like your head is going to explode during landing and having to push on your ears so your brain doesn’t leak out
  • ð        Stay in a hostel where people wake you up every five seconds and they serve microwave pizza for dinner
  • ð        Go out and party and get lost on the way back to the hostel
  • ð        Get lost
  • ð        Eat lots
  • ð        Don’t speak the language, get shitty directions
  • ð        Get lost some more
  • ð        Stumble upon something really cool
  • ð        Take lots of pictures (see below) 
  • ð        Get lost
  • ð        Go to zoo
  • ð        Eat tapas (see right above) 
  • ð        Sleep 4 hours a night
  • ð        Continue to get sicker
  • ð        Don’t plan the trip ahead of time and realize two days before you’re supposed to move on to your next destination that it’s going to cost about $1,000 to do the rest of what you’d wanted.
  • ð        Feel like you’re stranded in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language
  • ð        Spend 15 hours trying to make your travel companion plan something
  • ð        Stay up all night – not partying  
  • ð        Make some food
  • ð        Eat
  • ð        Go to train station to leave country – OOPS, train tickets we bought online – invalid. Argue in a language you don’t speak, pay lots of money for new train tickets.
  • ð        Get on train and run away from Spain
  • ð        Get back to France – where you speak the language, and still get lost going to your hotel
  • ð        Barely avoid dog shit every three steps
  • ð        Rename the town you’re in from Perpignan to Poopignan
  • ð        Get to beautiful hotel, on the river, next to a castle – and get a room with a view of neither
  • ð         Walk to McDonalds and buy lots of deserts
  • ð        Pig out and stay in
  • ð        Get up, go exploring, eat
  • ð        Visit some random places
  • ð        Get bored
  • ð        Shop
  • ð        Hang out in hotel again
  • ð        Get up, get on yet another train to Narbonne
  • ð        Get really, really lost trying to find hotel – have directions to center of town, find out hotel is way the hell OUTSIDE of town – Rename Narbonne to Notbonne (bonne means good in French)
  • ð        Stumble across part of the original roman road that Hannibal the Conqueror used
  • ð        Go to tourist office, wait for it to open. Get directions to hotel.
  • ð        Get off the bus, in the wrong spot, because the intern at the tourist office was a moron
  • ð        Wait 40 minutes at the bus stop, get harassed repeatedly
  • ð        Laugh hysterically at the bullshit
  • ð        Get back on the bus
  • ð        Get off the bus at the right stop
  • ð        Climb a mountain to get to the hotel – no, this is not an exaggeration, we were in the Pyrenees Mountains  
  • ð        Stand in lobby unable to get into the locked doors of the hotel
  • ð        Call the emergency number
  • ð        Get into hotel, climb back down the mountain, go into town
  • ð        See some cool stuff – spend part of Halloween in underground Roman marketplace complete with soundtrack
  • ð        Buy Halloween costumes at GiFi
  • ð        Go back to hotel, sleep, get ready for the kickenist Halloween party in Notbonne

  • ð        Realize hotel for next night is way the hell out of town – make new reservations for hotel across the street from train station
  • ð        Get harassed by guys in car wearing mask on way to Club
  • ð        Get to club – only ones there – free cover charge
  • ð        Realize the place is all decked out and friken HUGE – decide maybe we’ll have a good time after all
  • ð        Get free drinks
  • ð        Dance in an empty club
  • ð        Dance in a full club
  • ð        Get more free drinks
  • ð        See same idiots from car – ignore them
  • ð        Get free drinks
  • ð        Injure yourself pole dancing
  • ð        Stumble back toward hotel
  • ð        Get lost
  • ð        Find beach ball
  • ð        Try to sit on said beach ball and fall on your ass
  • ð        Find hotel
  • ð        Can’t get into room
  • ð        Call emergency number
  • ð        Try again – success
  • ð        Sleep
  • ð        Get up, take CAB to train station, leave Not-too-bad-bonne for Carcasonne
  • ð        Feel really ill
  • ð        Feel worse – self-inflicted pole dancing injury causes muscle spasms in neck and shoulders
  • ð        Whine
  • ð        Realize you’re out of muscle relaxers
  • ð        Whine some more
  • ð        Go to a kickass old city fort/castle – and be unable to look upwards to take any pictures or see it

  • ð        Go back to hotel – sleep fitfully
  • ð        Wake up – still in pain – go across the street to train station – get later train
  • ð        Go back to sleep
  • ð        Get up, find pharmacy, buy muscle relaxers OTC, sans prescription, because France is AWESOME
  • ð        Less pain – kind of drunk and stumbly
  • ð        Get on train to Toulouse
  • ð        Take cab to hotel – CREPPY front desk man, weird hotel
  • ð        Don’t check bed for bedbugs
  • ð        Leave – go exploring, get lost, have ice cream
  • ð        Go on waste of life 2 hour boat tour that’s boring as all hell and horrible
  • ð         Go back to hotel
  • ð        Sleep
  • ð        Wake up covered in bedbug bites
  • ð        Freak out!
  • ð        Leave for Albi – start writing new book on train (National Novel Writing Month has already begun)
  • ð        Have lunch in hotel restaurant, go to Toulouse museum (not in Toulouse of course, but in Albi)
  • ð        Find some cool things, go back to hotel, write
  • ð        Eat, drink, sleep
  • ð        Wake up looking like you have the chicken pox because your face is covered in bites
  • ð        Get on another train
  • ð        Get off train, wait in train station restaurant
  • ð        Get on another train

ð        Get to La Rochelle
ð        Wait for bus
ð        Get home, strip naked in front yard, run into house.
ð        Take shower and de-bedbug all items before bringing them into the house – vacuum everything that can’t be washed, bag everything that can and leave it sitting in front lawn
Well, there you have it folks – my wonderful three week trip!
Despite everything you’ve read here, there was lots of good food, sangria, friends, laughter and an all around semi-descent time, though the week that followed of boiling and freezing my clothes and turning everything very interesting colors in 90 degree Celsius water was soo much FUN! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Month 1 in La Rochelle

Can't believe it's gone by so damn quickly. Super quick recap! 
Met all the assistants - they're awesome. There are 12 of us Primary Assistants - 5 Americans (including me), 4 Brits (one is technically from the Isle of Man), 1 Scot, 1 Irish, and 1 Kiwi. Here's a picture of most of us at a dinner party Justine (my roomie) & I had the first week we were here. 

OK Week 1 - chaos and pandemonium - stayed in hostel, met assistants, drank & was merry, went apartment hunting, found apartment, went back to Fitzpatrick's Irish Pub - I've been there before, many times, only it was three years ago, and the damn owner remembered me! Got settled in new apartment (see bedroom on left), bought some new things, got lost coming home, partied, made friends. Set up bank account, couldn't cash traveler's checks, had meetings, woohoo. Paid landlord exorbitant amount of money to move into apartment. 

Week 2 - more meetings, signed up for insurance, gave lots of people access to French bank account. Got internet, tried to navigate bus system, got lost trying to find my way home, got irritated with bus system, bought a crappy bike, spent money to buy cool things for crappy bike (ridden it a total of 2 times). Spent more money on food and stuff (sensing a theme yet), had dinner parties, went to visit schools, met lots of new kids, went to beach, enjoyed La Rochelle weather & sunshine. Stumbled upon old friends and an old flame. Resparked said flame. 

Week 3 - visited other schools, got told I would be working Mondays & Fridays, whether I like it or not. Sicced Muriel on school district to set them straight. (now working Mondays & Tuesdays only). Had another meeting. Started teaching. Fell in love with children. Had some fun. Went shopping. 

Week 4 - Started officially teaching - taught same Halloween lesson 8 times (shoot me now). Met teachers, started building relationships, got sick of La Rochelle. Said goodbye to old flame. Was sad, for about a minute. Got over it. Went on vacation. 

There, now you're almost caught up! 
Perfect vacation checklist & pictures to come soon! 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Days 3-9 - The Cliffnotes

So obviously, I'm entirely too far behind on my updates because I'm off living the fabulous life. Thus, I present to you, my gentile readers the Cliffnotes.

Day 3 - we almost died. Mom was driving up a street, with grass growing down the middle of it and she kept insisting it was a highway. Lola's English cousin (AKA the GPS) kept telling us it was a road and we were to take it. So we drove up it and after a while, another car came careening down the hill. There was nowhere for either of us to go. Both my mom and this other lady slammed on their brakes and the woman had to back her car up about 1000 feet and pull off to the side so there was enough room for us to pass. We also got quite lost, petted a horse and went to an amazing medieval banquet at Bunratty Castle.

Day 4 - Bunratty Castle Folk Park - mom and I walked the folk park and ate some food, we were kind of bored. Then we walked through the castle which was cool. So we left and drove out to the Cliffs of Moher. And OMG what a sight. Absolutely incredible. (See right ------) The picture doesn't even come close to doing it justice. It was so aweinspiring.
We stayed there for a while and then drove over to the B&B we were staying in for the night. And got lost again. We had our last dinner in Ireland at a cute little pub, repacked our bags and that was it!

Day 5 - Leaving on another jet plane - Mom and I got a plane for France! And bought some jewlery on the plane - I bought it and that bitch took it home with her... :-) Then we got to FRANCE!!!! Mom was terrified in the car with the Cabbie as we drove from the airport to the hotel & was very happy to know that I did not want her to drive in Paris. We got to our closet... er um, I mean hotel room. (Thank God there was an elevator!) And threw our stuff down and went out to see the sights. We didn't make it far before mom faceplanted off the curb! She insisted she was fine and then I made her walk a bunch of stairs. Up to Sacre Coeur, up to the top of Arc de Triomphe and all over the city of Paris. She insists it was worth it... and I agree, though I felt very bad. We took lots of pictures and had a great time. Then we got lost... (are you sensing a theme here, yet) while trying to find the way to get down to the boats to take a boat tour. Then we had to rope 8 other people into doing it because they only run the last one if there's 10 ppl. So we panicked a bit because we really wanted to go! But we found some people and we went and it was FREEZING. But absolutely fucking amazing! I would post a video, but I think I've lost it!!!!

Day 6 - Paris insanity - We spent all day running around and seeing the sights of Paris - Notre Dame, Tourist Shops, Hotel de Ville, Centre Pompidou....  then we got crepes at the base of the Eiffel tower and waited in line forever, because of course, this is us and the friken elevator broke! So we finally got up into the tower and saw the city of lights by night. It was beautiful. It was a great night! We walked around the city a bit after and then went back to the hotel.

Day 7 - I'm an idiot! So day 7 started with a bang when the front desk called to tell us our cab was downstairs waiting for us and we were still sound asleep! We leapt out of bed and tossed clothes on, grabbed our bags and ran out the door. Make up? Jewelry? Bathroom? Water? NOPE - clothes and bags and out the door! We took the cab to the tour place, ran next door and grabbed some food and then got on the bus to go Castle Hopping! We went to Amboise which was very pretty and then got in the bus to go to the next castle and the bust stopped in the middle of the road. The bus driver and guide got off the bus and then the guide came on the speakers and said "I need some young strong men to come out and help us move a car." and we all kind of looked at one another and smiled on the bus and then he said again, "no.. really. If we don't move this car we will have to wait for the police to come". So a bunch of guys got off the bus and picked up a car, put it partially on the curb and wheeled it down the street a full car's length so that we could get by on the bus... Guess that guy's always going to wonder wtf happened to his car. We then went to Cheverny and Chenonceau (see above), both of which were gorgeous!

Day 8 - Not going to be fooled again! - So for the following day, I scheduled a wake-up call. Except for the fact that I asked for an appel de reve (a call of dreams) instead of an appel de reveile (a wake-up call) at the desk and they laughed at me :-) We went on another bus tour. This time was to Monet's Gardens at Giverney and the Palace of Versaille. Versaille was a pain in the ass - too many people, too much to see and not enough time! But Monet's house... that was amazing! (See right----) It's no wonder that the man was so inspired living in a place like that! We got back to Paris and walked around a bit and got Kebabs and went back to our hotel and ate and packed and hung out for our last night together in Paris.

Day 9 - We got up and moving the next day and called for two taxis - one to take mom to the airport and one to take me to the train station. Then we said goodbye and went our separate ways - It was sad. But we did good! I wrestled my damn luggage through the train station and bought a ticket and found a lovely nice lady to help me drag the damn suit cases onto the train and then I went to La Rochelle! When I got to the train station, I had no idea if anyone was going to be there to greet me. But two lovely gentlemen helped me with my suitcases because I had to go down a flight of stairs, walk under the tracks and climb another set of stairs with my two giant suit cases and duffle bag. It was kind of strange getting off the train - it kind of felt like coming home.... So I was standing in line for the taxis - the next one in fact, when a jolly looking man with a large handle-bar mustache and a chic looking woman came up to me and said.. "Joann?" in these cute little French accents! Garrett had seen a message on facebook and told Thiery and Sandrine that I was arriving!!!!!! They took me to the hostel and I got settled and then went house hunting! :-) That night, all the assistants that had arrived spent a great night at the hostel bar getting to know one another and having a good time. It was a great first night back in La Rochelle.

Ok - kind of the LONG cliffnotes version, but that's okay.
Weeks 1-4 in France coming soon. :-)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Day 2 – You Kissed What?

The next day (Monday) we got up and went into town, puttered around a bit, and went to a local café for a real Irish breakfast. It was huge – eggs, rashers, sausage, toast juice, coffee, and a scone (for those of you ignorant Americans who don’t know what rashers are, they’re kind of like Canadian bacon thickness and taste but in wide sliced American bacon size). It was then that we realized we’d forgotten not one, but two cameras back at the B&B. We walked to the bus station and grabbed a cab. This second cab driver was not nearly as entertaining as the first, but he definitely had some issues – like maybe Parkinson’s or something – because all he did was twitch and shake and stutter, poor man. So he drove us to the B&B and I ran inside for the essentials (cameras and red bull, you know) and when I’d come back out the cabbie had convinced my mother that it would be faster and just a few Euro more to take the cab out to Blarney castle instead of going back into town and snagging the bus. So we had our very own personal taxi van out to the castle and grounds. We were scheduled to be at Blarney for two-three hours, but we spent more than 5 hours down there!

So we walked over to the castle and took lots of pictures and then we went down into the dungeon – OMG scary! Dark, dank, small, and terrifying. I couldn’t imagine anyone actually existing in one of those things. Then we went into the castle and I tried to climb the stairs without having a panic attack. They were so small you couldn’t fit your entire foot on them and there was no railing, just a thick rope running down the middle of the spiral and we kept stopping every stair. It was dark and enclosed and filled with people and I did NOT feel secure. We stopped off on a few floors of the castle to look around and after the second stop I had to force myself back onto the stairs. If there had been an exit from there, I might have just taken it and run off. But we finally made it to the top without incident and waited in line to kiss the germ-infested, pissed-on-by-the-locals Blarney Stone. Now why this particular stone, way the hell up at the top of the castle, is so important, I’m still not sure. It’s just one of the stones of the walls of the castle – dude I could’ve kissed any number of hundreds of other stones from the ground! But whatever. So to kiss the stone you have to sit with your back to the wall on this pad and lay back. Then you stick out your arms to hold on to two bars and the assistant grabs you round the waist and slides you up to the stone. Then it’s time to pucker up!

Mom went first, and she told me she was gonna kiss it. I got a great shot of her doing just that (or so I thought) and then it was my turn. I kissed the fucker, with full lip on stone contact. And then I got up and mom not only didn’t have a picture of me doing so, but she tells me she didn’t really kiss it! Her nose and part of her upper lip touched it and that was it – it was too quick for anything else. What a beotch! So it’s at this point I tell her why you’re really not supposed to kiss the Stone and why the lovely officer the night before had told us DO NOT kiss the Stone – because the locals go up and wee on it because they know it’s such a grand ol’ tourist attraction. Mom looks at me like I’m nuts at this point because I knew this from the start and I kissed the damn thing anyways (she’s not wrong, I tell you, I am a bit nuts). But we spent the next few hours looking at the grounds and the poison garden and witch’s kitchen. All good fun. Then it was Time To Shop! For those of you who know my mom and I, you’ll know that shopping for us is like an Olympic event and if it were to suddenly crop up at the summer Olympics, we’d be medalists instead of just mental. Blarney Woolen Mills is the SHITE. We got all kinds of awesome gifts there and spent over 100 Euro between us. (Now here I’d like to point out that they asked us if we wanted to pay by traveler’s cheques and we said no, let’s use the card and we can cash in the checks later when we’re running out of cash. We’ll come back to this fuckup later in our adventure.)

So we went back to Cork and missed some other stuff on our list – Blackrock Castle, St. Anne’s Church, the butter museum and City Hall where JFK gave a speech in 1963. But we’d had such a blast at Blarney we didn’t really care. We had to book it to the bus station to get out to the airport to rent the car. When we rented it, they told us it would be another 40 Euro a day to insure a driver under 25 in the car L so I didn’t get to drive. We got settled in the car and headed back to the B&B. Mom tried to make one right-hand turn into the right-hand (and thus WRONG) lane, but I shouted left lane, left lane! And we made it all right. We dropped the car off and walked into town because according to the lady at the B&B desk, parking was shite. So after walking around all the closed shops in town (because it wasn’t high tourist season and everything in Europe closes by 8) we went back to the hotel to repack our bags, preparing for our road trip the day after – and I assure you, nothing could have prepared us for what was in store the following day. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Day 1: You Fookin Stop, that’s what.

Okay so the first day of our journey – Mom and I left Syracuse at 1:25 p.m. on Saturday September 17. We took a two hour flight to Chicago, waited around for a few hours and then hopped a seven hour flight (complete with rude flight attendants, baggage that wouldn’t fit, and two babies) to Manchester, where we arrived at 8 a.m. Sunday. We waited in Manchester for a bit then hopped a third and final flight from Manchester to Cork Ireland. We’d been talking to an older lady in Manchester and when we got off the flight in Cork she had this huge bag coming down the carousel, so I offered to grab it and put it on her cart and then she kissed me! It was really funny. So one of my bags was ripped – we had a fun time sorting that out with Aer Lingus, who really did absolutely nothing for us. And then we went to the top of the line (not upstairs, just to the very front, you know) and grabbed a cab. Now as the cabby took us to our B&B (which you can find in Ireland every four feet) I started to ask him some stuff about the rules of the road because mom and I were going to be driving in friken Ireland (because we’re crazy bitches and that’s how we roll). So I started to ask him what to do at a red light because as you all know, we have right on red in the states after you’ve stopped for the red light, so I was just getting to that part, but I said “So when you come to a red light, do you…” and his immediate response was… “You fookin’ stop, that’s what!” As if I were insane (now here I must note that by this point we were both convinced that he was insane by the way he swerved in and out of traffic on the wrong side of the road). But we all thought this was hysterical.
We got to the B&B about 11:30 am and our room was not ready (check in had been moved from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. about a month after I booked our room and no one had told us. So the lovely ladies at the Gabriel Guest House helped us with our bags and set us loose in the city of Cork. We tried to shop – the stores were either extremely expensive or totally mobbed, and we were just too tired. So we walked a bit and we stopped at a pub for a late lunch which wasn’t too bad (it beat the hell out of airplane food). There we met some lovely Irishwomen (Tanya and her friend whose name I cannot remember). We talked for a bit and exchanged contact info so that we could facebook. Then we went back to the B&B and our room was almost ready. We got all five of our bags down the stairs into our room and freshened up (no sleeping though because that makes you all jet-lagy) and got ready to go on our walking tour. 

John (our lovely tour guide) met us right at the B&B and took us on a walkabout of the city. It was really cool. We walked around and heard about the history of the city and we saw a bunch of monuments and parts of the city most tourists never visit and then we went into an old fort which had been converted into police barracks and we met a very nice policeman who showed us his pepper spray and his night stick and we chatted for a bit. Then we went to get some fish & chips (which you cannot just get at a sit-down pub, but you have to buy out of a take-out window) and shared them with John on our way back to Gabriel House – all in all a terrific first day and night in Ireland.