:: eye of the storm ::

About Me

A 27-year-old PA student who wants to visit all seven continents, write a book, work at a pediatric clinic in Africa, and basically meet as many of the world's challenges as possible.

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current mood:
current mood

Life List

(already accomplished)

Become a PA

Visit all 7 continents

Take a SwimTrek trip

Bike through Western Europe

Raft the Grand Canyon

Improve my Spanish proficiency

Go on safari in Africa

Trace my roots at Ellis Island

Vacation in Hawaii

Work on a hospital ship in a Third World country

Celebrate New Year's in Times Square

Visit all 50 states (29 to go: AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NM, ND, OK, OR, RI, SD, TX, UT, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY)

See the ruins at Pompeii

Swim in Capri's Blue Grotto

Tour Mt. Vesuvius

Throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain

Tour the Colosseum

Visit the D-Day beaches

See the Mona Lisa

Visit the palace at Versailles

See the Acropolis and Parthenon

See the Egyptian pyramids

Hike the Inca Trail

Walk El Camino Santiago

Take an Alaskan cruise

View the Taj Mahal at sunrise

Hike Table Mountain in South Africa

Climb through the Amazon canopy

Walk at least part of the Great Wall of China

Get laser hair removal

Learn to surf, ski, and snowboard

Learn to drive a stick-shift

Learn to play the piano

Go on a tropical cruise

Ride horseback on the beach

Ride in a hot air balloon

Get tickets to the Olympics

Go to adult Space Camp

Witness a shuttle launch from up close

Build a full-sized snowman

Sew a quilt out of my old race T-shirts

Update and continue my Life Scrapbook

Become the oldest person to ever do the River Run

Live to be a happy, healthy 100 years old - at least!

(unlikely dreams)

woensdag 19 oktober 2005

So here I sit in Cork, getting cold and wet, sleeping in a mildew-scented room, and paying obscene amounts of money for food and Internet access.

No, really, it's not that bad. Chilly, yes, but my clothes are adequate (my North Face rain poncho is getting another workout) and I admit that I like everything I've eaten so far (with the exception of a smoothie which, judging from the taste, was made with none-too-ripe strawberries). I'm a bit bitter about the bed, which has a sunken Grand Canyon-sized hole in the middle and caused me to walk around with a sore back all day today, but I have to admit that it's warm.

Overall, I like Cork better than I liked Ireland last time I was here (in Belfast and Kilkenny), probably because I get to do things myself rather than having Tara shepherd me around. On the other hand, I'm three years older now, and the difference between 18 and 21 is never so apparent as when traveling internationally. Ah, well.

I got here yesterday and will be leaving tomorrow - short trip, yes - but here are the high spots:

- I stepped off the tarmac into the Cork airport, and was greeted by a fireplace with an open-flame fire. Next to it lay a bellows, yes, an honest-to-god bellows. In what other public place would you find a merry fire than in an Irish airport?

- The grocery store has a large ready-made area where one can get, among other things, pasta salad, fried potatoes, and cucumber-tomato-feta salad. Needless to say, I have taken advantage of this. Multiple times.

- I talked with a shy Irish teenager with long red hair, wearing a green school uniform and looking exactly like how I'd imagine a female leprechaun to be.

- Immediately afterwards, I talked with a NOT shy Australian girl with long red hair who, like me, was heading to Blarney Castle, so we spent the morning together. Kissing the Blarney Stone, it turns out, means lying down on the floor of the roof of the castle, holding onto a bar, and hanging your head into 82 feet of open space and feeling the pull of gravity while a strange man holds your waist. LOL.

- I finally saw Pride and Prejudice, which many of you will no doubt think is a terrible way to 'waste' two of my 48 hours in this country. I disagree. First, the film was made in the UK and won't even be released in America for another month. Second, you can tell a lot about a country by the way they run their movies. For instance, I've learned that the Irish do not need a nicotine break in the middle like the Dutch (though that's not to say that they smoke any less!), and that they are relatively tolerant of amateur projectionists who can't get the focus right. Educational. (Okay, really, I was just walking past and saw that it would be playing in 20 minutes and couldn't think of a good reason not to go... happy?)

- I spent a couple of hours in a bookstore called Waterstone's (I think?) and managed to find my Belle de Jour book, which isn't available in the US. I'd been planning to buy it for months, and just finished it a few minutes before getting online. Funny, it's more like the blog than I thought - there are certain passages I remember word for word, from when she was still blogging. (Her link is over in my right-hand column somewhere, but I can't add it again here because I can't figure out how to make the double-quotation mark on this godforsaken international keyboard, and that's rather essential for link HTML.)

- Rain, rain, and more rain. Oddly enough, it seems to go on all day and then stop around dinnertime... never met a climate quite like that one.

- The hostel, quite conveniently, is next to a Quality Hotel (for the USAers, that's Quality Suites), and for 10 euro we can use the pool, sauna, gym, everything, as much as we want. I'm planning to take advantage of that tomorrow, since I don't really have enough time to make a full day of things (got to catch a bus to the airport at 3pm) and this weather simply invites being inside with soup and a magazine. Did I mention it's cold and wet?

- Gaelic is everywhere. Apparently there's been a big attempt to revive it as a first language in this country. Busanna = buses, labhair = please... and that's all I know so far.

- Who would have thought that orange juice, banana, and peanut butter - nothing else - would make a great smoothie?

- The accents. I love the accents. But it makes people surprisingly hard to understand if they're not speaking directly to me, especially if the background is a crowded street. It could almost pass for a foreign language in the sense that I find it to be possible to let it simply 'glide' over my ears without comprehension or picking out specific words, even though it's technically my native language.

- Those earrings Tara sent me? The triangular shape with the swirls? That shape is everywhere. I went in a jewelry shop in Blarney today and every other piece had something to do with that shape. Sadly enough, none of them were earrings, or I would have bought another pair - mine are almost dead, possibly due to the six months one of them spent lying on David's bedroom floor (in the Netherlands. While I was in America. And still I got it back.)

- The driving-on-the-left-side-of-the-road thing is driving me (no pun intended) nuts. I never know which way to look while jaywalking. :)

- The chocolate? Is wonderful. Why don't we have Malteasers or Aero in the US?

- The houses, at least around the hostel, are really colorful. I have a great picture of the uphill-slanting street with a rainbow of houses on the side. If only those parked cars hadn't been there.

- Speaking of hills, they make for great scenery. (NL and FL are both flat, so this is a nice change.) Especially when the leaves are changing, like they are now. I swear I filled up half my Sony card with pictures from the top of Blarney Castle.

I swear I had so many more details to write about, about how I might not have done much in the way of 'history' or 'culture' but how I still felt like I'd learned a lot about the country and people, etc... but it's just not coming to mind right now. And the timer says I have only 7 minutes left, so I guess I'd better go cross 'Kiss the Blarney Stone' off that right-hand-column Life List. :)

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