29 February 2012

I am missing: 5 senses addition.

I am having one of those moments when all you want is to see a guy on a bike (the motor-less kind) cutting you off, on his way to a farmers' market to pick up some free-trade, organic coffee. Oh you don't have those people in your town? Well the Northwest does. And I never thought I would miss that. But I do.

I also miss the color of the sunset on the west coast, the noise of ambulances out my window, the smell after it rains, and the taste of burnt Starbucks coffee.

I am anxious to start my summer spent with friends and family and days in the sun. Random days spent at the beach, endless fries at Red Robins, laying on the hardwood floors to stay cool, listening to Madonna, sipping Diet Cokes.

I can't wait.

26 February 2012


Annecy was beautiful. From it's winding cannals to it's charming pink and orange buildings. It felt like a dream. We ate a bowl of mushrooms at a fancy restaurant where they had cloth napkins and we danced to Frankie Vallie in the courtyard of a Château, and made a wish in an old well. The sun was out to warm our faces as we ate through cones of ice cream and browsed stalls of paintings at the little market. We purchased vintage post cards and walked along the lake. And only when the sun started to set did we come back to reality. 

23 February 2012

Random musings:

It is sunny here in Grenoble today. I went running and even took off my sweatshirt. I love the sun. It  makes me so excited for summer. All I can think about it what I want to do when I get home this summer.

As soon as I get home I plan on eating all the Mexican food in my town.

Then I will drown in buckets of iced coffee.

Then I will go to the beach. I miss my lazy days sitting in the sun, eating good food, and laughing with friends. 

Tonight I am going to Le Subway to drink fancy cocktails for cheap.

Tomorrow night I will be doing some Salsa dancing.

Saturday I am going to spend the day in Annecy.

21 February 2012

Dublin. Part two.

Monday, 13 February 2012: We went to the Cliffs of Moher. The Cliffs of Moher. Imagine the greatest view of the ocean you have ever seen, then times it by 12 and you have how stunning the Cliffs were.
     We left our hostel at 6am, walked to the Tourism Office and got on our tour bus by 6:50am. Our tour guide was a funny woman named Patricia (not Pat). We all slept for like an hour on the bus, and then I was so blown away by the countryside that I couldn't sleep. We drove through Moneygall, Ireland, which is famous for being the ancestral home of President Obama, stopped for donuts and coffee in a small town where Braveheart was filmed. Then we continued on to the Cliffs.
    I realized that this would be my first time seeing the Atlantic Ocean. I have seen the Pacific from Washington, Oregon, California, and Mexico, but never seen the Atlantic. It made me feel closer and farther away from home. The land was green and the weather was nice, with just a little mist blowing up from the water. It felt like the Oregon Coast. We took some silly photos and some nice photos and every few minutes we just stood there in silence marveling at the Cliff's majesty. Okay so the wind almost make it unpleasant but we were having such a silly and perfect time, that when the wind took me down a hill and I scrapped up my bad knee I still had a good time. The wind may also have blown Taylor down five stairs and me up another hill. Still, it was beautiful.
    After the Cliffs we had lunch at this tiny restaurant in a tiny town called Doolin. I ordered the Fish and Chips, which I am sure would make my mom jealous. I think they killed a entire shark and fried it up for me. Red Robin's got nothing on Ireland.
    We saw so much of the countryside that I fell hard for Ireland. Two wild miniature ponies actually blocked the road for a few minutes, like in every movie ever filmed about Ireland. There were boats in every harbor and small cars along the roads. It was exactly as I had envisioned in my dreams with it's rolling hills of green and stone walls, and fields littered with White houses. The greens of Ireland are almost sickeningly beautiful. It reminded me some of the greens of the Northwest, but Ireland's lack of trees seemed almost strange. It was beautiful none-the-less. It could take your breath away and never give it back. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012: The last full day in Dublin was grand. Everyone slept in, and then we wandered over to a small diner called the Cinnamon Café. It had a crowd of regulars and we stuck out like sore thumbs but it had really good food so no one minded. Some of us wandered to the shopping district where we browsed through shops and ate gelato.
    Around four I went for a walk alone, simply tired of being around people. I found a tiny café with big couches and curled up with my new book and a cup of Chai Tea. It was a perfect way to unwind and just get away. Then I wandered along the Liffey River, in the direction of my hostel, taking photos.
    We all met back up at the hostel and decided to go to the Temple Bar area for dinner and music. The music started at 7:30 and we all just sat back in our booth, listening and drinking and laughing and eating our burgers and fries. I finished off the trip with a pint of Guinness and then a pint of Bulmer's. When the young kids showed up around 9:45 we decided it was time to leave. Some of us headed back to the hostel and some of us went to another pub for more music and drinking. I called it a night around 11pm and it was a perfect end to a perfect trip.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012: I left my hostel at 10:30 am. I arrived to my home in Grenoble at 11pm. It was a long day of traveling. I drank a caramel latte at Starbucks, like a true Seattlelite (I actually miss the taste of burnt coffee). There were lots of boring little travel dramas but I eventually collapsed on my bed and slept like a baby, my head still filled with thoughts and memories of Ireland. 

I now understand why my parents loved it so much, why my dad is obsessed with their music, and why everyone who goes to Ireland comes back in love. The Irish parts of you get bigger when you go to Ireland, and you start to feel like anyone there could be your family. It is a welcoming like you've never experience. It grabs you by the heart with it's kindness and old Irish charm and makes you wonder why anyone would live anywhere else. 

      I don't think I will ever be able to forget that trip, and I know I never want to. 

20 February 2012

Dublin. Part One.

Today is a beautiful day. The weather is perfect. Really I can only remember a handful of days that were this beautiful. The sun is filling the entire city with a white light, and the snow melted days ago so the only moisture is left on the plants and the temperature is warmer. It seems like Portland, with everyone removing their scarves and unbuttoning their peacoats, out to enjoy the sunshine. I walked across the city instead of taking the tram, because I just wanted to soak up the sun a little while longer. Now I am sitting in my favorite café sipping thé citron, feeling a tad homesick, trying to figure out how to explain my trip to Ireland and I have no idea where to start.

The trip was so perfect that I simply cannot fully describe it to anyone. It was a perfect mix of every dream I have ever had about Ireland. The countryside was was breathtaking, the people were some of the kindest folks I have ever met, and the things I saw were unforgettable. Not to mention the great Guinness and days full of laughter. All the pieces alone were amazing, but together they made for the best five days of my life.



Friday, 10 February 2012: I left for Dublin at 6am, Grenoble time and ate a pain au chocolate on my way. The flight was relatively short, but I still napped. I got another stamp in my passport (!) and when the plane landed I almost cried. The weather was perfect. It was 5ºc, bordering on warm with mist. I felt like I could breath again, without my lungs burning from the cold.
    A double-decker bus took us into the city from the airport and I stared out the window the whole way, like a child. Dublin seemed familiar and strange all at the same time. It was a perfect mix of modern places inside old building on cobblestone streets. It seemed to be the Seattle of Europe but with nicer people. Way nicer people. We found our hostel, met the nice staff, dropped off our stuff and tried to find some food. We got lost, and this woman actually came up to us and asked us if we needed directions. She actually asked us. Then she sent us "just up the hill, to the grocery which has tea and biscuits" and we ate like kings at this Safeway-like grocery store.
    After lunch we wandered around the city, simply taking pictures and getting our bearings. We walked for hours. In the evening we ate burritos, fulfilling our lusting for Mexican food. We wandered off to a pub for a pint. A pint in a real Irish pub. The night was spent chatting with Bradley and Annie and Taylor, getting to know each other a little more and just commenting on how grateful we all are to have the experiences we are having both in Dublin and in France.
    When we finished our pints we went back to our hostel and met some of our roommates. A nice guy from Missouri named Danny, who lives in Lyon (!) and we invited to join us on our explorations. There was also a nice Australian guy who was in Dublin to watch an Irish Jig competition. We fell asleep while talking. 

Saturday, 11 February 2012: We ate our free breakfast that the hostel provides, and then started our exploring. We found a tiny castle/church near our hostel, where an old man was trying to get in through a tiny, leprechaun-sized-door. He fell and I ran to help him, then he almost took me down so Bradley came to the rescue. We got our karma points for the day.
    We saw the Temple Bar area of Dublin, which reminds me of the Hawthorne area of Portland with tourists. Saw a Starbucks. Finally. Wandered into Trinity College, which was breathtaking and slightly dangerous, with it's cobblestone streets and lush green lawns. Queen Elizabeth I put down all the cobblestones and we all agree that the woman knew what she was doing. Drunk college girl in heels ruining her cobblestone streets? Bitch please.
    Bradley, Annie, and Taylor all went into see the Book of Kells, but I didn't have a student ID with me and I wasn't down for paying 10euros. Especially when you only get to see two pages a day and I could read the whole book in the bookstore. Taylor later told us she had a dream about it where she broke into the Library and started flipping all the pages, screaming "two pages my ass!" Which had us in stitches for a good five minutes.
    We ate lunch at this Irish dinner which had good stew. It was nowhere near as good as my Grandma's stew (which she is making me as soon as I get back) but it was good. After lunch we stood out on the street, lost. The owner of the diner came out and asked us if we were lost and she told us how to get to the Oscar Wilde statue. She told us to cross the park, turn at two specific pubs and then continue blah, blah, blah. Well we crossed the park (which was beautiful) and then realized that we didn't need to go in the park at all. She just had us go there because she thought it was beautiful. Her directions were so completely Irish that I just started laughing. I love the Irish.
    We found Oscar Wilde, after we found a random statue that we thought was him, covered with Irish delinquents smoking weed, and we asked them to move so we could take a photo. When we walked away we discovered the real Oscar Wilde statue. They probably thought we were the stupidest Americans they had ever met.
    After Oscar Wilde, we crossed the city of Dublin in one long walk to get to the Guinness Factory. It would be like walking from Alberta Street to Pioneer Square at the end of a long day of walking. It was torture. But then we got to Guinness. The actual building is beautiful and we learned how they make their famous brew, making us appreciate it that much more. We climbed to the top of the building, which has a stunning peripheral view of Dublin, to drink our free pint. It is strong, but really good after you learn how to appreciate it. I now like the stuff Dad!   


Sunday, 12 February 2012: The hostel we stayed at has a free walking tour everyday and we decided to go on Sunday. It was really fun. Our tour guide was a nice girl that knew a lot about the city. We saw Dublin Castle, Johnathon Swift's house, learned some Irish fables, Bradley drank an Irish coffee, and I met new people. The tour was great, and I was in awe how everyone in Europe seems to be so patriotic and basically in love with their country. I wish that I felt that way about America. We are still a young country and there is a lot that I am not proud of (slavery, prohibition, Bush Administration, etc.) but I hope that someday I have loyalty for a place like most Europeans have for their country.
    After the tour we were exhausted so we went back to the hostel and made some Poor Man's Pasta for dinner. I thought it was awful, but I like cooking so dumping a jar on some overcooked noodles grossed me out a little. We had signed up for a literary pub crawl at 7pm so we ate early and then left.
    The pub crawl kicked off at Duke's Pub, were two older men led us in poetry and sonnets by some of the greatest Irish writers including Wilde, Joyce, Swift, etc. We all drank. I think there were like 4 pubs we went too. I think I drank like three beers, and a shot, and I vaguely remember drinking someone else's Guinness and yelling that the answer was Frank Sinatra to a question. I was a little drunk. But I had a great time, surrounded by friends and poetry and history and beer. It was the best pub crawl I've ever done. Okay it was is the only one I've ever done, but it was still good.

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