It has been a whirlwind of a past couple of days. My head is exploding with information and beautiful sights. On top of all the tours and sight seeing that we have been doing I have been getting to know more people in the program-lots of names and details to remember! I almost don’t know where to start…
On Thursday evening, dinner at Traxi’s was delicious. After we ate, she had her handy-man Simon come over to have some of the leftover dinner, and he was more of a country man so his accent was much stronger and more difficult to understand. It was fun listening to him and Traxi chat though, I think they spent 20 minutes talking about old people dying and hiding their money in odd places in their houses so no one could find it (in the mattress, under floors, in the curtain seams…). Also, Traxi had a spare phone that she is letting me borrow for my duration with the program at Trinity, which is great. I had to spend 10 euro for the SIM card, but it went directly towards my texts and calling (11 cents a text, 50 cents a minute). However, incoming calls and texts are free for me (the person who makes the call or texts pays here). I don’t know my number by heart, I’ll have to add it to my phone. Let me know if you want it for some reason.
On to the tours…. Friday we started out with orientation, then we did a Dublin bus tour, stopping for a tour of Dublin Castle and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The castle was interesting, it had a separate seal made for each past president of Ireland (the figure head) at the top of the entry staircase. We also got to see the oldest walls in Dublin built by the Vikings (they made their walls with organic mortar [horse hair, eggs, etc] so they didn’t last as long) and what’s left of one of the old towers and the mote and underground river of the castle and Dublin. At St. Patrick’s Cathedral I learned a few things, like the fact that St. Patrick used the clover to represent the holy trinity, and the the Irish flag represents the Irish Catholics (green) and the Protestants (orange) and the peace between them (white). I took an obnoxious amount of pictures and will post them all when I get home.
Today we did a tour further outside the city at Powerscourt House and Garden, Glendalough (Glen-da- lock), and the Avondale House. Powerscourt Gardens were beautiful, complete with the largest pet cemetery and a Japanese garden. Glendalough is an old monastic settlement started around the 10th century. It has an unbelievable amount of gravestones. It also has a cathedral, a round tower, St. Kevin’s Church, and what was thought to be a relicry of St. Kevin that people thought cured dental problems and would come to and put their mouths on its walls. We had the special treat of actually going into St. Kevin’s Church (it is usually locked, our tour guide was the one to get the key). The valleys, mountains, and sugar loafs along the way were all very beautiful. We saw lots and lots of sheep. Our last stop was Avondale House, Charles Parnell’s estate. It was an interesting historic building, but by this point in the day we were all a bit worn out and were beginning to hear repeated information.
On the busride home I sat next to someone I hadn’t met yet and we ended up having a great conversation on the over hour long ride back to Trinity. It’s good to be getting to know all the other students so we have people to meet up with when we come into the city. The three of us homestayers are planning on heading to the City Centre this evening for a night out at the pubs, and Nick (the guy I met on the bus) said he’d let me know what’s going on so we can meet up. (It really is handy having a cell phone for this reason.) Tessa, the other girl staying in my house, is having second thoughts about doing the homestay, and has decided that she is going to contact the heads of the program to see if she can switch to doing a dorm stay. It’s too bad, I’m enjoying the homestay. The only minor setback is figuring out transportation back to Terenure after being out at the pubs because public buses stop running at 11:30 (how ridiculously early!). Well, I have plenty more to talk about (little things I’ve noticed, like to turn on switches here you push them down, not up, and wearing shoes in the house).
Hope all’s well!