“Booze and Grooves”

My friend Ben came up with it.

When I left for Ireland last month, he told me he expected my adventures to be titled “booze and grooves” and to disregard liver health. I’m only listening to his first suggestion.

This weekend we had a class trip to Northern Ireland! The history of division between the British/Protestants vs. Irish/Catholics is jarring yet fascinating. One of the first things our tour guide in Belfast said was, “This is the most dangerous part of Belfast… If a taxi honks at you, sprint back to the bus as fast you can. That’s the most important.”

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Illegal murals are a big part of the culture. They are all political statements rooted in the violent divisions that manifested only two decades ago.

I was that student who asked, “Are you being serious?” He answered with a straight face, “Does it look like I’m kidding?”

“No, sir.”

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But later he told us that he was kidding, and we all laughed (*nervous relief laughs for me*). We still couldn’t really open our mouths about religion or politics though.

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I must admit that I felt uncomfortable in Belfast for the first half of the day, but after visiting the peace wall, going downtown, and learning about the government at the Parliament building reassured me that peace is being pursued.

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They even served us afternoon coffee, tea, and biscuits during our break, which was the cutest. I am officially a fan of digestive biscuits dipped in tea.

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Witnessing and experiencing the city made for one excellent history lesson!

For dinner that night, a bunch of us went to Robinson’s and ate inside a “snug”, which we learned was the ladies’ corner back in the day, where we might have been served alcohol if the men of institution were feelin’ nice enough. Coincidentally, we were a bunch of ladies gathered in a snug on Thursday night. But we bought our own drinks 🙂

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I ordered the shepherd’s pie, which was more like sloppy joe with a lot of mashed potatoes on top, but I was fine with that.

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Pretty much demolished the whole thing. Then it was time to get wild and cuh-razy at the Crown Liquor Saloon, ooo la la.

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Megan and I had not bought an alcoholic drink in Ireland until that night, so we both bought Jameson Gingers and celebrated! Everyone else was probably more excited for us than we were for ourselves, but I appreciated the energy.

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Jameson Ginger is probably one of my favorite drinks that I’ve tasted in my short and limited experience with alcohol consumption, but it still doesn’t compare to the taste of ice cream.

So Megan and I enjoyed our drinks, but we’re more willing to put our money towards a happier cause— dessert. It was still super fun to actually go out with people (I’m such a square usually).

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We still went to bed before 1 am, only after watching an Irish dating show on TV.

On Friday morning, Megan and I grabbed breakfast at cafe approximately 20 paces from our hotel lobby. I ordered porridge with banana, honey, and peanut butter, and it ROCKED. The oats were cooked to a texture that was doughy and satisfying, and the addition of whole milk was life-changing.

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At first, I wasn’t sure if there was peanut butter in there because it was hidden by the banana slices, but after asking, the waiter said, “It’s in there! A surprise underneath. There’s enough for two in there.”

“Enough for two people.” I laughed when I finished the bowl, because that’s how much peanut butter I always put in my oats.

Megan and I went on a brisk walk around the city (brisk because we almost got lost) before our class headed to Giant’s Causeway!

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It was just as beautiful as the Cliffs of Moher!

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The unique part of Giant’s Causeway is the rocks. There are tens of thousands of rocks shaped like hexagons due to how the volcanic lava solidified and cracked over the period of hundreds of thousands of years.

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But you could also choose to believe that giants did it. 😉

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photo from my friend Cassandra!

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PC: Cassandra

Yet another beautiful experience in Ireland.

Not a beautiful experience? Rushing to buy Irish stew with brown bread for lunch and having the butter packets melt from the heat of the stew all over your paper bag on the bus.

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Megan: “Butter disaster 2016.”

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The stew was delicious though!!

One pit stop on the way to Derry for the Games of Thrones fans:

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I don’t watch the show, but if you do, does this look familiar?? (p.s. my friends spotted the whole cast inside a bar on Thursday night!)

Next stop was Derry/Londonderry (depending on whether you’re a Nationalist or a Unionist). We toured some more murals and the big wall in the middle of the city. It was so nice to move the legs and witness some stunning views of the whole city.

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Our hotel was a 15 minute drive out of the city, so we settled into our rooms before taking a taxi back in for dinner. HOWEVER, everything on a Friday night was closed! Megan, Cristen and I wanted to go to a restaurant called Blackbird for a wagyu beef burger (per my mom’s recommendation), but they told us that they stop serving food at 5pm.

Wut.

Disappointed, we walked around to find another restaurant, but everything except the bars and some random fast food places had their gates down. So strange. We decided to go a chain chicken restaurant called Nando’s, which was still a good dinner!

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medium spice chicken on a super grain salad bowl

I was satisfied, and I had missed green vegetables. AND AVOCADO.

Then we wanted ice cream, so the waitress at Nando’s suggested Joe Jackson’s inside a mall down the street. I got the honeycomb and strawberry cheesecake flavors, which hit the spot!

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The night wasn’t what we were expecting, but it was still a delicious and fun adventure. We also successfully hailed a taxi back to our hotel, which was a win.

Also, we had to put key card into this slot by the door of our hotel room in order for the electricity to work. Different!

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Saturday morning, I ate a whole grain roll with peanut butter that we bought the night before for breakfast.

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There was a big gym in the hotel, so I took full advantage during our free morning. I was STOKED to be using gym equipment for the first time in a month!

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I warmed up and did three sets each of:

  • 10 Bulgarian split squats each leg + 20 jump lunges
  • squats (varying weights) + 20 squat jumps
  • 12 deadlifts (105#) + 30 side jump lunges

Then I did EMOM 10:

  • 5 squat cleans (65#)
  • 8 burpees over the bar

That EMOM absolutely crushed my entire being. I don’t often think “I’m dying” after a workout, but this one made me feel that way.

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I stretched my legs and did some lat pull downs, military presses, and tricep pull downs to finish.

Naturally, two days later, I still can’t move anything in my body.

A bunch of us ordered lunch at the hotel restaurant before hitting the road back to Dublin. It was a bizarre experience in that the service took so long and no one really knew what was going on, but we learned that the restaurant isn’t usually open and prepared to serve 15 hungry kids at that time, so everyone was just discombobulated.

The servers were very kind though, and the food was great! These fries…

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I ordered a toasted beef, brie, and tomato sandwich, which I ate on the bus.

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The rest of the day back on campus involved unpacking, roasting brussels sprouts, and jamming out to Disney music with my friends.

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Sunday morning was some play, but mostly work. We have essays due this week!! First, Megan and I went to Mass in city centre, which was a lovely 2.5-mile walk. Then we met up with Cristen at Brother Hubbard for lunch. This is one of my favorite restaurants that I’ve been to Ireland so far!

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I ordered the Turkish eggs menemem, which included herbs and roasted peppers on toasted sourdough. Best scrambled eggs ever.

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Megan shared some of her pulled pork with me too, which was so tasty.

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We walked back to campus, where worked hard for the rest of the day. There was a break for grocery shopping and dinner in there somewhere. And dessert! Megan and I picked up desserts from Bread and Butter on our way back from lunch earlier, so we used them as incentives to get work done.

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I’m always down for carrot cake.

I also got to FaceTime Rachel at night!

“Work hard, play hard” is a fun motto to live by, but then it reverses to “play hard, work hard,” and I’m really feeling that vibe right now. Time to go finish this essay! And hopefully some yoga to streeeeetch.

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overnight oats in a jar that I just ate 🙂

Hope you all have a kick-butt week!!

(p.s. apparently there have been some issues with the commenting system on my blog, so I apologize!! I’ll try to get the problem fixed ASAP!)

So tell me:

Have you ever been to Northern Ireland?

What is the coolest geologic phenomenon you’ve ever seen?

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage? I need ideas for next time!

Two things you did this weekend!

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Food Over Booze

My professor asked us to journal or blog for homework!!!

So now I won’t feel bad “productive procrastinating” when I blog. It is purely schoolwork 🙂

Friday

I started the morning with Lori and Michelle’s 18 minute plank workout. It is always killer.

Breakfast was my first overnight oats in Ireland! I hope I freaked people out with this.

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lots of peanut butter, banana, and raspberry preserves

This + a KIND bar on the bus fueled me well for our class field trip to Glendalough. Of course, it was the rainiest day of the entire week.

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I think I fell in love with Ireland on this trip. So much green and so many sheeeeeep!

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We made it through a couple of landmarks and a short hike before our tour guide gave us the option to either continue for another 1.5 hours or chicken out. I’m proud of our resilient group, because we were all down to keep hiking. Our tour guide saying, “It’s a Harry Potter-esque trail,” may have instigated the enthusiasm.

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I would have been miserable in the rain if the walk wasn’t so gorgeous. In fact, I have never used the word “gorgeous” so many times in a one hour period before.

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“This trail is gorgeous.”

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“These trees are gorgeous.”

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“This house is gorgeous.”

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“This waterfall is gorgeous.”

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“We are gorgeous.” (lol)

The word has lost all meaning.

But…this was GORGEOUS, guys.

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Totally worth the soaking discomfort and soggy chicken sandwich that I downed in the rain at the top of the mountain.

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bus snack feat. soaked wallet

Breakfast for dinner was the quick and lazy menu option of the night.

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I did manage to caramelize some onions and roast broccoli though.

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I went out to a bar that night with the rest of my classmates, and I was fully planning on buying a Ginger Jameson…but I was 100% NOT in the mood for a drink, so I didn’t get it. *sad trombone*

Instead, Megan and I got our share of booze by having sips of everyone else’s drinks. I discovered that I like mojitos!

I’ll buy my own drink one day, I promise.

Saturday

Money that I could have spent on booze was spent on food on Saturday. Food >>> booze. 

8 minute abs followed by a leisurely breakfast of hot banana oats cooked on the stovetop.

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A few of my friends and I walked to city centre since it was a gorgeous beautiful day. It was my ideal kinda day— lots of walking, exploring a new city, and eating good food with good people.

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handsome Irish men in a street fashion show

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“Hapenny” Bridge (Halfpenny Bridge)

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Temple Bar, which is an area and not an actual bar…

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I found a bakery called Queen of Tarts on Yelp when I was researching good bakeries back in the States, so I was stoked to visit while we were in city centre.

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I bought a huge blueberry scone and a slice of carrot cake, both to go. But look at this thing!!

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The kind lady asked, “Would you like that with butter and jam?” My heart.

Then for real food (sort of).

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The fries were subpar, but the fish with salt and vinegar and some tartar sauce was fabulous. We ate our lunch with this view.

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Then it was time to walk through Dublin Castle…

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…and Trinity University. I plan on going back to Trinity to see the Book of Kells!

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After almost getting lost on the way home, Megan and I finally made it back to the dorms. I played outside for a bit on the lush grass. I tried doing a workout, but my body was like, “Nay to that.” So I practiced handstands, pistol squats, and one-handed cartwheels (aerials one day maybe!).

I wanted green in my dinner:

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Then Megan and I warmed up our blueberry scones and added Kerrygold butter…

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…and raspberry preserves.

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The Irish do scones so right.

Then Megan and I spent over two hours making travel plans. Someone please be our travel agent and plan everything for us. We’re both indecisive and inexperienced, so planning anything is a game of, “Which airline? What’s cheaper? Is that safe? How does an Airbnb work?”

Sunday

Sleep in, work out for 20 minutes, eat yogurt, head to Mass.

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Then we brunched! I looked up the church and brunch place, choosing The Lovely Food Co.

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clipboard menus, much aesthetic

There was no question about what I wanted after skimming the menu. I went for the oak-smoked salmon and crab sandwich on their housemade soda bread.

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The soda bread was pretty dry, but it went perfectly with the flavorful crab and salty smoked salmon. UGH, so good. And it was less than 8€!

Madre was in town, since she’s taking a grand two week tour around Ireland, just ’cause {I’m here}. Megan and I visited her hotel for the afternoon and spent several more hours travel planning. So far, we have planned two weekend trips and three cities for our mid-semester Europe tour. Not too shabby, but it probably took way longer than necessary.

We had our second round of sweets from Queen of Tarts to fuel our travel planning 😉

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Someone teach us how to adult.

We decompressed with dinner at Sophie’s Bar and Restaurant. It was an early birthday celebration for Madre, but Madre also treated us. ♥︎ ♥︎ ♥︎ Thank you, Ma!!

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we loved how they labeled the source of the butter

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smoked haddock risotto with teardrop peppers (so sweet and good!) and smoked cream to share for appetizer

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my corn-fed chicken (so tender and flavorful) with broccoli puree, broccolini, purple sprouts, and merlot vinaigrette

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Madre’s 8 oz. filet (melt-in-your-mouth) with black pudding mash (← black pudding bits in mashed potatoes, we think. it was good!)

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Megans’ fettuccine dish that she enjoyed!

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Madre’s choice for dessert: coconut parfait (more like a semifreddo) with pistachio ice cream and lime dressing

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they had swings by the elevators!

We also locked ourselves in the fire exit stairwell after dinner, but that’s a long story. It was so wonderful getting to see Madre all the way over here in Ireland. I’ll see her again when she gets back to Dublin after her two week tour!

Monday

First day of classes! I did a 30 minute HIIT workout in my room using resistance bands (that Madre brought me from home ♥︎) before eating breakfast and going to 2.5 hours of Contemporary Irish Society. We had a one hour lunch break, and then I had another 2.5 hours of Ethics in Healthcare. I think I’ll enjoy both classes and be especially challenged in the ethics class.

As much as I love eggs, buttered toast, and salad, I need to mix things up and go grocery shopping. One of the girls was making fajitas last night!

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But look at how golden the yolks are here.

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We also had our first fire drill as I was eating this dinner, but that’s okay. Safety and stuff, I guess.

Hope you all have a great week! Eat something with really good butter on it.

So tell me: 

Three gorgeous things you’ve seen recently.

Have you ever eaten scones with butter and jam? If you haven’t, you must. Kerrygold butter, preferably.

Are you good at making travel plans? Any tips for the rookies?

Ireland: Where the Grass Is Greener

They don’t kid when they say Ireland is green.

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this is my friend, Kevin, loving life

I’m here in Dublin!! My red eye flight on Aer Lingus was pleasant and a lot quicker than I imagined it would be. Sitting for 6+ hours still made my legs want to shrivel up and fall off, but at least I got to sleep and eat the good airplane food (← never thought I’d say that!).

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fresh veggies AND fresh fruit!? AND KERRYGOLD BUTTER?

I listened to the inflight music selection, which included Adele, Ben Howard, and “Irish Pulse”. I did not actually listen to Irish Pulse, but I wish I did in retrospect. Like, electro-Celtic perhaps?

‘Twas especially sunny in Dublin when we arrived on Tuesday morning, which helped us to feel more alive after traveling overnight.

We also got a mini sweat session just by hauling our 50+lb. luggages around the airport, on and off the bus, and up a couple flights of stairs.
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Our campus is gorgeous!

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We had our information and orientation sessions, with a much-needed lunch in between at their dining hall.

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smoked colley (?), mashed carrots and parsnips, peas, potatoes, veggies, and an apple cobbler thing drowned in custard sauce

There really are lots of potatoes here. The dining halls serve them both mashed and roasted/fried. I can deal with that.

But since we have a nice kitchen in our dorm, we’ll all be cooking throughout the semester (yay!). We went to the grocery store in the afternoon, and I got two huge bags of groceries. Most people only bought one bag, and one girl told me, “You went HAM in there.”

Listen, I am good to go with what I have, and I only spent 60 euros for a lot of food + staples that will last a while. I’ll take “HAM” as a compliment.

I have yet to drink any booze here yet. My friends at home are probably screaming at me right now, but I just haven’t yet! I’m definitely planning on going out for some drinks and having some Irish whiskey, don’t worry. I just…napped through the first night when people went out to a pub for dinner. Whoops.

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Post nap: “I don’t know where the heck everyone is but I got dressed up anyway.”

I conked out at 5pm and slept through my 5:35 alarm until 7:40. I wasn’t mad about it, but dinner was a little weird, since I was lazy and not too hungry.

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spinach and (fantastic!) tomatoes with hummus

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a roll and kerrygold butter that I got off the plane haha

Our wifi doesn’t work in the dorms yet, so I went outside in front of another building to FaceTime Madre and do some other internet things before heading to bed at around midnight.

I wanted to move and groove yesterday morning, so I put on my gear and went outside to find a potential spot to work out, but there were too many people walking outside, and I didn’t want to be weird, so I just did an indoor HIIT workout.

{side note: I’m typing this in a sketchy dark corner outside to get wifi, and there’s a friendly man who keeps walking by, and I don’t know if he wants me to leave or not, but I’ll just stay until he kicks me off this bench}

Pre-workout breakfast (since I was a little hungry when I woke up) was a banana and more toast with another knob of kerrygold butter from the airplane packet.

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I am a big fan of this.

Post-workout breakfast was Greek-style Irish yogurt, which was a little thinner than what I’m used to, but still very good! I had it with raspberry preserves and peanut butter that my new friend lent me, since Madre is actually visiting this weekend and bringing me all my peanut butter then 😀 #spoiled.

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We had more touring and orientation things until 1 pm, when I was READY for lunch.

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We ate at a dining hall again since we weren’t anywhere close to our dorms. This whole plate was only 5.50 euros, and it was everything I needed. Simple, tasty, and filling.

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Then we had a scavenger hunt around the city centre (what they call downtown) of Dublin. Rachel told me that the Dublin transit system is horrendous, and she was right. I’m already terrible with public transit on the subways back in Boston and NY, but the Dublin Bus system makes me want to weep inside just a little bit.

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Maybe by the end of October I’ll be able to understand it. They’re double decker buses though, which is cool.

My scavenger hunt group found a guy on the sidewalk selling these beautiful-looking strawberries for 3 euros, so we bought them to share. Our reactions: “HOLY **** THESE ARE THE BEST STRAWBERRIES I’VE EVER EATEN.”

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So tender, sweet, flavorful, and fresh. I even ate the leaves because a) they were so small that I could barely hold onto the leaves, b) I didn’t feel like holding juicy leaves in my fingers, c) they can’t hurt, right?

Of course, we also chatted with handsome Irish musicians on the street. And they actually have angelic voices.

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Also, many people drop the f-bomb here very frequently.

At the end of the scavenger hunt, a few of us ventured to get some new SIM cards for our time here in Ireland (data usage, huzzah!). And then I was again starving for dinner, which I made back at the dorm.

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I snacked on a KIND bar while cooking up some chicken breasts, which I had on top of toast with white cheddar. Plus a salad and an unpictured peanut butter chocolate chip cookie that I brought from NY  (thanks, Aunt Tina!).

Confession: A lot of people are out at a club right now because our tour guide could get us all in for free this one night, but I didn’t want to pay for transportation for the fourth time in one day and I know I will have plenty of time to go out when I truly want to (not just because it’s free to get in. still need those dollas for booze ya know). PLUS, it was good to stay in with a couple of friends and help one of them out with room lockout issues.

I really want to do a wine and cheese night. Mostly for the cheese, but wine is good too.

Thank you to those who made suggestions for places to visit! I am very grateful for this experience. Dublin is seriously stunning and charming, and the people are so kind. I’m also meeting lots of new friends! I’m excited for what’s ahead.

So tell me:

When do you say “no” to going out?

Where are the best hidden gems in Europe? I’m trying to make travel plans and would love some input!