Dear Alison… {A Look Back at 2016}

Dear 2016 Alison,

It’s been one heck of a year. A lot of people are hating on 2016, but bad things happen every year. There has also been a lot of good that 2016 brought to the world, such as the canonization of Mother Teresa, the summer Olympics, and a whole lot of other things that you didn’t even realize happened until you Googled it just now.

But look at what God has blessed YOU with in 2016…

January

You tried the highly acclaimed BodyPump for the first time, and it was fine. You also bonded with fellow bloggers and good friends in NYC — with Colby over Lloyd’s incredible carrot cake and with Christine over Asian food (lol). I forgot that you contemplated Whole 30 for a while! But you know dairy and grains aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. On the college front, you learned a little more about how to deal with stress, and you started your little “Five Minute Friday” series! *squishes your cheeks*

February

HAHA remember when your exercise physiology professor pointed her laser at you in front of the whole class!? Of course you do. Your second sophomore semester would not have been complete without an embarrassing story. Bucket listing with Rachel is going strong. You learned in nutrition class that you need more carbs and less protein (about 3x less protein). You gave up makeup (among other things) for Lent, which was hard, but thank God for your friends pushing you to be better. Retreat was this month!! Don’t forget that it is improbable that you are where you are now. Also, you have some dang good looking friends #winemoms.

March

Looking good in that VO2Max test in exercise physiology… But eyyyy, SPRING BREAK! A couple fun road trips with Joe and Louis, good food at home, and a heck of a lot of sriracha. You also snuck into a bar, you rebel! *low key fist bump* But you ordered a Shirley Temple anyway, haha. Sarah, founder of Fit University, invited you to take one of her first Cyc classes, and she kicked your butt. Lastly, Easter was the perfect ending to a pretty spectacular month ♥︎

April

I’m proud of you for finally pulling off a decent April Fools’ joke. Annual swing dancing is always fun, and you should keep it up. This month included the first annual St. Sebastian Cup with the Catholic Center, and it was a BLAST, although you did get beat up pretty badly. Make sure you win in 2017. You convinced some friends to work out with you, which was so fun! Do more of that. Never stop supporting Jordan in her fashion shows. And always make pancakes with Rachel for Marathon Monday like you did this year.

May

Sophomore year — check! And Ben graduated college, go him! You and the fam took a celebratory trip to Stowe, VT, which is a pretty rad place. Hiking, Ben & Jerry’s, special peanut butter, what more could you want? You also stayed at BU for commencement weekend, where you saw a lot of your close friends graduate *tear*. OMG I think my heart breaks/melts/explodes all at the same time when I think about your time with Fiona and Rachel at Fiona’s summer house. 48 hours unplugged never felt so amazing. You started your summer job (that you almost ruined) at a rehabilitation hospital. You also turned TWO DECADES old! Lastly, we can never forget the beautiful Katie Anne, who passed away this month. She was a light and a joy to us all.

June

Poop therapy“, huh? You mean pool therapy, silly. In addition to enjoying work, you realized a few important lessons: you need to simplify your lifeyou cannot let the mirror steal your joyinternet addictions are real, and fitness is more than just skills and numbers. You also learned that the stress of starting something new can cause tummy troubles (you’re not lactose intolerant, hallelujah! but Lactaid was a tasty discovery). Lots of emotions were churning this month with the nation’s tragedies. You got a “Dora the Explorer” haircut according to some people (-_-) You always get mixed reviews on your short haircuts. Go be a tourist in your own backyard more often with some friends!! Really, just go back to get a Levain Bakery cookie again.

July

You started taking initiative with learning more current events. What happened?? Get back on that train! Then came the best vacation ever — a Caribbean cruise with the family and your family friends for your parents’ 25th anniversary! So much food. Monkeys on your head. So many beautiful places. AND YOU MET US THE DUO AND BASICALLY BECAME FRIENDS WITH THEM!!! Another great part of the vacation? Not feeling the need to compensate afterward. You shared everything about your current fitness situation. I’m glad you are, above all, having fun with fitness. I’m also glad that you don’t get as stressed if you’re not hungry before a big planned meal.

August

Can you make this artichoke chicken pasta dish again?? I forgot you made that. Also, make that Brazilian cheese bread soon. Working at the rehab hospital definitely helped you become more of a grown up, I’d say. This year’s Olympics were pretty stellar (especially on the US women’s gymnastics front!). You had zero emotions regarding leaving for study abroad in Ireland… If only you knew what was in store. Your grandparents celebrated their 50th Golden Anniversary!! How inspiring. And you celebrated three short years of blogging. It’s been a great adventure though. You also got your first stethoscope from the physical therapists at work, oooooo!

September

You flew to Ireland to study there for 3.5 months! But first your family + family friends did some serious foodie work in NYC. Wowza. In Ireland, you faced some comparison trap struggles, but you powered through. Ugh, I miss the scones, greenery, and mayyyybe even the ability to drink alcohol in Ireland. Also all those desserts. You had your first Aibnb experience in Galway (still the best Airbnb ever)! Howth and the Cliffs of Moher were two of the most beautiful sights you’d ever seen. You finally learned that education should be about a desire to learn, not a desire to “just do well.” You were also challenged in your beliefs, which was scary but actually very fortifying for your faith at the end of the day.

October

“Booze and Grooves” (coined by your friend Ben) commenced during your class field trip to Northern Ireland. You really started settling into your routine in Ireland at this point. I know that saying “yes” isn’t always easy for you, but you really learned how to do that more while abroad. You even went out on a whim and planned a last minute wine and cheese night for everyone in the program! Then came the European trip of a lifetime, which started with Zurich, Switzerland (so expensive). Then to Padua (where you got to practice your Italian right away), Assisi (BEST PLACE ON EARTH), and finally, Rome (thank God for priest and seminarian friends/family and Pope Francis!). I’m proud of you and Megan for traveling on your own through foreign countries. ALSO proud of you for starting Harry Potter together!!!

November

Brunch game in Dublin was so strong. You did some more exploring in the gorgeous country of Ireland. This was also your first Thanksgiving away from home, but Friendsgiving with the people in your program was so heartwarming (and yummy). You also started your internship at a physiotherapy clinic in Dublin this month! You learned all about dry needling, myofascial trigger points, and massage therapy. And now you give great massages 🙂

December

Congrats! You know how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. More importantly, you know that 100% recovery is possible. Now that you’re a Harry Potter fan, Scotland was one of the most magical places you’ve ever visited. And just like that — your semester in Ireland flew by in the blink of an eye. You grew and learned more than you could have ever imagined in those 3.5 months. Coming home was so sweet though. And now you’re finishing up a food-tastic vacation with the fam in Florida!

Keep working on being a good listener to other people.

Keep an open mind.

Keep pursuing a deep relationship with God.

Here’s to a new year,

2017 Alison

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The Great and Small Things I Learned This Semester {Study Abroad}

It’s hard to put into words how I feel about my experiences in Ireland, but I will do what I’ve done every semester before this — write up a list of…

the great and small

[freshman 1 ~ freshman 2 ~ sophomore 1 ~ sophomore 2]

…study abroad edition 🙂

  1. Ireland is underrated for its beauty.img_3103
  2. The grass really is greener in Ireland and there really are sheep everywhere.img_5538
  3. Aer Lingus has delicious food.img_2858
  4. How to use the Dublin Bus, aka one of the least user-friendly public transportation systems in the world.
  5. A little bit more about booze and how to drink it. I despise Rosé and red wine; I can tolerate light beers, hard liquors, and white wine; I can only tolerate Guinness at the Guinness Storehouse; I like “baby Guinness” shots; I am not willing to pay for the amount of alcohol it takes to make me even tipsy. (#BoozeAndGrooves)
  6. “Slagging” is when Irish people tease you and give you a hard time, but it’s supposedly a way to break the ice when you first meet someone.
  7. How to share a kitchen with over ten people.
  8. No matter how many times you might politely ask people to wash their own dishes, there will always be those who just. don’t. get it.
  9. How to take charge with travel plans, directions, and public transportation.img_4695
  10. How to not panic when I get lost in a foreign country
  11. It is indeed cloudy and rainy most of the time in Ireland (although we had mild weather this year!).img_5556
  12. Tea breaks are a real thing in the Irish workplace.
  13. I love the said tea, scone, and biscuit culture.14462810_1188492134507275_7641167688898127242_n
  14. But Megan and I also make some great scones that we like even more than the ones at the bakery…img_5595
  15. What dry needling entails and what it feels like.
  16. How to give bomb massages.
  17. I LOVE HARRY POTTER. I am a Hufflepuff with Slytherin undertones.img_6308
  18. I don’t get that homesick, but FaceTiming friends every week also helps.
  19. What black pudding and haggis are and how they taste (not bad!).img_6196
  20. How Airbnb works.img_3493
  21. I can just make it through Italy with my minimal high school Italian language “skills”.
  22. Assisi is the best place on earth.
  23. Heck, all of Italy is the best place on earth.
  24. How to better identify when my funky mood is due to lack of sleep.
  25. I can get fitter in four months without a gym.img_4291
  26. People feel most loved when you listen to them. Truly listen. This is something that I need to work on.
  27. What retrocalcaneal bursitis is and how it forces you to just RELAX and stop walking so much.img_5634
  28. 100% recovery is possible.
  29. Dublin is a fantastic brunch city.
  30. Megan loves brunch, loves dessert, and questions the purpose of coffee and alcohol as much as I do. And she’s an awesome travel buddy 🙂img_4765
  31. Irish dairy and beef are superb.
  32. Potatoes really are served with everything in Ireland.img_4214
  33. How to ask more questions.
  34. Irish sociology, culture, healthcare ethics, and insurance.
  35. How to play Gaelic sports (and that I royally suck at 2/3 of them).
  36. Names like Colm, Caolon, and Niamh exist, and they are not phonetical whatsoever.
  37. I don’t get sick of overnight oats.img_5698
  38. I don’t know how to do bars and pubs.
  39. Brown bread/soda bread is one of those “this-is-like-cardboard-but-somehow-delicious” foods. It’s all in the generous spread of butter.img_5533
  40. How to challenge my faith and to not be afraid of doubt.
  41. How to live with, get along with, and love a vastly diverse group of peers.
  42. How to have good craic (pronounced “crack”; means “fun”).
  43. I can’t believe I ever disliked the idea of studying abroad.
  44. How to fall in love with God (whomp whomp, so Christian-girl-mushy, sue me).
  45. God will truly lead you to where He wills you to go. Just ask Him.img_4935

I want to thank my parents, brother, friends/family at home and abroad, and all the staff and faculty at Boston University and Dublin City University who made my study abroad one of the best experiences ever. It is you who make my experiences full.

So tell me:

If you are college student, three things you learned this semester!

If you are not in college, three things you learned this fall! 

Cheers, Dublin

HELLO, AMERICA!

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could not wipe the smile off my face when I saw this

I can hear Frank Sinatra singing, “New York, New York”.

It’s like I never even left this side of the pond. I’ve gone right back to eating sushi, driving, and using toilet paper that comes in roll form.

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I swear I did not ask for this to be taken, but Madre takes as many random photos as I do

No, but seriously, my brain is still processing the fact that I studied abroad in Ireland for the past 3.5 months. It was a whirlwind, a challenge, and a blast. I’ll save the reflections for another post and just focus on the transition from Europe back to America in this post.

My peers and I celebrated what felt like the end of an era during our last days in Dublin. Megan and I were basically obligated to go to one last brunch:

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The Lovely Food Co.1 was the first brunch place we ate at in Dublin, so we chose it as our last brunch destination to bring it full circle. ‘Twas a fabulous decision because this was the best brunch we had in Ireland. She ordered the eggs benedict, and I ordered the eggs royale (same thing except with smoked salmon instead of ham).

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The crusty bread was unconventional, but it totally worked. For brunch dessert, we split an order of their brioche French toast, since that’s what Megan ordered her first time there, and she could not stop thinking about since.

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For good reason!! This little guy was perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Served with cream, berry compote, and classic maple syrup. #dead.

We may or may not have bought two desserts from the bakery to take away.

After walking around city centre to look for books for our plane ride (I ended up buying the fourth HP book because I needed to return the one I had to the library, but I still had 200+ pages left), we had a late farewell lunch with all the students and program directors at Il Corvo Italian restaurant.

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I had the lasagna with a side of veggies and happily finished it all. I also almost cried after one of the program director’s farewell speeches. All good things here!

Later that night, a few of us walked back to city centre for some gelato and store-perusing.

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“Florence cream” flavor from Gelato di Natura (it tasted like saffron!)

Megan and I also watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them while eating our sneaked-in dinners in the back of the theatre.

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sandwiches and salads — your typical theatre fare 

p.s. the movie was great! a little confusing, but fantastic nevertheless. Eddie Redmayne *swoon*

And then, of course, we had to join the rest of our friends for one last night out on the town!

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baby Guinness shots (the first and last shot I will have ever had in Ireland…until next time!)

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I wish I could say I was cool and went pub-hopping that night, but I went home after the first bar and called it a night.

Saturday morning called for a quick workout and the last scramble to pack our whole lives into our suitcases (“It’s TWO POUNDS over 50!!!”). Eventually, we made it through the airport and onto the plane. My last meal in Ireland was this sandwich with veggies, relish, and an absurdly thick slice of cheese.

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Followed by a pretty tasty airplane dinner a few hours later. They served us turkey and stuffing meals with pasta and veggies, soda bread and Kerrygold butter (♥︎), and raspberry white chocolate mousse. What luxury!

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“milk in a stick”

Purchasing Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire for the plane ride was one of the wiser decisions I’ve made in my life. It occupied me for the almost the whole 7 hours! (It also blew my MIND.) I was also very surprised that I never napped or even got up to pee during the entire flight.

When we arrived in New York, my family greeted me at the airport, and I almost cried again. I was so happy to see them. Also, one of the first things my brother told me after I hugged him was that they bought me Lloyd’s carrot cake. I appreciate how well they know me.

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Even though it was past midnight Dublin time, it was only 7:30 pm when I met up with them and they hadn’t eaten dinner yet. By then, I was pretty hungry for a midnight snack/dinner too, so they took me to eat some delicious sushi, since I had not eaten any in Europe (I had trust issues).

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Also, Madre bought me a portable massage table for Christmas (upon my request, since I’ve been learning how to give good massages in Dublin), so Pop broke it in for me as I gave him a massage that night. The gift that keeps on giving, I say!

Regarding jetlag, I’m actually pretty adjusted already! I persevered and stayed up until 11:30pm NY time (4:30am Dublin time) and woke up at 9 am yesterday.

I was feeling ready to move and groove in the morning, but I had limited time before Mass, so I did 100 burpees for time. I tied my previous PR (6:12), but not without my heart feeling like it would explode. Holy smokes, I had not done a “sprint” like that in a while.

This dinner last night was nothing out of the ordinary except that I cooked the eggs on a gas stove (instead of electric like in our Dublin dorms, which I didn’t realize until now takes 10x longer to heat up) and that I topped it with SRIRACHA. Oh, how I missed thee.

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Followed by cake for dayyyyyyz.

Today I’m headed up to a very special city for a couple days 🙂 More to come!

I have so much to say and reflect upon in regards to my study abroad experience in Ireland, but for now, I’ll say:

Sláinte, Baile Átha Cliath (Cheers, Dublin)!

So tell me:

What did you do this weekend?

What is the best airport/airline food you’ve ever eaten?

Are there any things about coming home that you didn’t even realize you missed during an extended vacation/trip?

The Real Harry Potter World {Edinburgh, Scotland}

You guys rock.

Thank you so much for all your support and input on last week’s post ♥︎ Having a loving community is a gift that fights half the battle.

But it’s been a good while since we’ve caught up! The highlights of this past week include:

1) Celebrating two birthdays of people in my study abroad program. Last week was one with an ice cream sundae party. I brought the peanut butter (and original) Oreos, naturally.

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On that note, I’ve been eating a lot more chocolates than usual here in Ireland. I say I’m not a huge fan of chocolate, but Cadbury has a way of making me [literally] eat my words.

Last night, a few of us went out to dinner for another birthday at an Italian restaurant. I got the linguine with meatballs in a tomato basil sauce. Mm.

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Happy birthday to the awesome ladies!

2) Finishing our last final on Friday. Oyyy that was a cram exam, but I think we all did well. Our professor went pretty easy on us, thankfully.

3) Visiting Edinburgh, Scotland!

Megan, Cristen and I packed our knapsacks and set off for Scotland on Friday evening. We started with a 20-piece chicken nugget order from Burger King to share at Dublin Airport for “dinner” first. Twenty pieces for only 5 quid! This is why fast food is a problem.

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But I had not eaten meat this processed and non-filling in so long, and I LOVED IT.

We had just an hour-long flight before we landed in Glasgow. Flights were oodles cheaper into Glasgow than into Edinburgh, but we still had to pay a little over £16 and 2 hours to get to Edinburgh from Glasgow. You could argue that “time is money,” but even the return flight times from Edinburgh weren’t great on Sunday, so I think we ultimately made the right decision.

(Plus, I had more time to read Harry Potter.)

A trip isn’t a trip for Megan and me until we run into some public transportation issue the night we arrive at our destination city. This time wasn’t so bad, but we took the last local bus in the wrong direction, so it took us probably 45 minutes more than it should have as we had to wait for the bus to turn back around.

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adventures with the front pack return

At least Cristen was still smiling. Megan on the other hand was crying and drying her tears with [clean] cat socks.

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she’s actually only crying because something was in her eye

The bus driver was very kind though, and he let us camp out on the bus for the whole round trip.

We finally arrived at our Airbnb pretty late at night, but all things cheered up (for Megan at least) when we discovered that the hosts had a nice cat.

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She was living her BEST. LIFE. I’ve never seen Megan come alive like this.

Sleep was short that night because we had to be up early for our day tour of the Highlands! The days are so short here too. The sun rises at 8:30 am and sets at 3:30 pm, so we entered and returned to Edinburgh city centre in the dark on Saturday.

This awesome breakfast spread from our Airbnb host put a little pep into our morning though.

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We took the Highland Experience Tour, which took us to Glen Coe, Ben Nevis, Loch Ness, Inverness, and the Cairngorm Mountains. It usually does the route the other way around, but since daylight was limited, they started with Glen Coe and and ended with Cairngorm Mountains, which we thought was wise.

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allllll the haggis at one of our short pit stops

After a couple hours of snoozing and listening to our Scottish tour guide, we arrived at Glen Coe.

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“Three Sisters – Faith, Hope, and Charity”

The history of these places is fascinating (even though I was a sleep/daydreaming for half of it, the parts I caught were cool)!

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our tour guide, Stuart, with everything Scottish you could ever imagine

Ben Nevis as the sun went down:

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Commando Memorial

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I’m gonna miss all the sheep in Ireland 😦

We had our longest stop at Loch Ness, so we grabbed some lunch.

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chicken, mozzarella, pesto sandwich

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very sub-par carrot cake, but it was still carrot cake!

Then we went in search for the Loch Ness monster (aka Nessie).

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idk why I made myself so vulnerable to Nessie here

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There were some trails we hiked up that may have led to lookout points of the lake. We started on them but didn’t have time to finish them, but it was still SO nice to move the legs after sitting on the bus all day.

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Thereafter, the sky darkened quite quickly, so here was my last photo of the trip — Inverness, the capital of the Highlands.

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the RIVER Ness

It was kind of humorous coming back to Edinburgh, because although it was pitch black outside by 5 pm, Stuart kept saying things like, “If you look out to your right, you’ll see ___. It’s a little hard to find it in the dark.”

Poor guy was probably just obligated to say those things, because there was no chance we could see anything at that point.

We arrived back to Edinburgh at around 7:30 pm, so we searched around for a restaurant (NOT a pub) for a while before choosing Mum’s, a cozy British comfort food restaurant.

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We needed to go to a British/Scottish restaurant because Cristen and I were dead set on trying haggis. If you don’t know what haggis is, read here (unless you’re extremely queasy with weird foods).

Mum’s fortunately had an appetizer portion of “haggis, neeps, and tatties” (aka haggis, parsnips, and potatoes), so we all shared that.

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it also came with gravy on the side

It’s not bad at all! I like it, but I don’t love it. I would eat it, but I wouldn’t order it. It tastes like pate + shepherd’s pie. That doesn’t sound like the worst thing, right?

My main course blew the haggis out of Loch Ness the water though. I got the venison and redcurrant pie with veggies and chips, and it was everything I had been wanting in my 3.5 months in Ireland/the UK.

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I didn’t think I would be able to finish the pie, but I totally did. The puffy crust was absolutely perfect, and the stew underneath was savory and seasoned just right.

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Mmmm the wannabe-British-speaking part of me was comforted for sure (p.s. I have no idea how to speak in a Scottish or Irish accent still).

Cristen also ordered a glass of rosé for us all to share at the end. I had one sip. Not my jam.

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We finished our night with a short stroll around city centre and the Christmas market right before it closed.

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We knew we had to come back to see it in full the next day!

Sunday morning, we got up fairly early again to go to Mass in city centre at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Then we met up with my friend Mayu and her roommate, who are both studying abroad in Edinburgh. Mayu and I know each other from high school and haven’t seen each other since graduation!

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We met up at a cute French cafe called La Barantine Victoria, where I had vegetable quiche and peppermint hot chocolate.

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It was so good catching up with her for a bit and meeting her friend!

After we parted, Megan, Cristen and I meandered our way through town via the Royal Mile.  There were a couple guys who were playing the bagpipes on the street, so our Scottish experience was complete.

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Edinburgh is such a cool city. The buildings are all old, gothic, and kinda dark, but it works. It’s not depressing; it’s mystical. (Fun fact: J.K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh, and you can definitely see the HP inspiration in this city. Maybe that’s why I love it so much?)

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We made our way back to the Christmas Market eventually, which was teeming with people of all ages, craft stands, and food stands.

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Megan and Cristen got some treats for themselves (including fudge and sugar roasted almonds), and I got these mini pancakes (of Dutch origin apparently) with Biscoff cookie butter drizzled overtop.

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These were so delicious!!! Freshly made, doughy, and satisfying.

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They’re ebelskivers, I think!

We ventured into SantaLand at the Christmas market too, but it was really just toddler land with overpriced rides.

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It was such a fun experience though! We definitely felt the warmth and excitement of the holidays 🙂

Other stops of the day:

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Edinburgh Castle

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we didn’t have time to go inside, unfortunately, but the view from the top was still magnificent!

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we didn’t have time to hike up Arthur’s Seat, but you can see it in the background!

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I also purchased a Scottish wool stole (large scarf) at one point during the day

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how thrilled do you think this new HP fan was to be petting a tawny owl in Edinburgh!?!?

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the moon hangin’ out at 3:30 pm

Before we departed Edinburgh for Glasgow airport again, we stopped by Oink for some pulled pork sandwiches to take away per our friends’ recommendations. Megan and I bought one each to eat at the bus station.

Warning: Vegans/Vegetarians/Animal Lovers, shield your eyes.

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I got my pulled pork with BBQ sauce and onion sage stuffing on a wheat bun. This was delicious!! Super cheap too!

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We said goodbye to the wonderful city that is Edinburgh and then headed “home” for Dublin. Real home is coming in just four days though, and I can’t wait 🙂

So tell me: 

Have you ever been to Scotland?

What is the weirdest animal-based dish you’ve ever eaten?

Have you ever been to a Christmas Market?

Two things you did this weekend!

I Don’t Know How to Exist in a Pub, But I Do Know How to Pour a Guinness

This is the most beer that has ever surrounded me in my life.

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You can tell I’m cut out for the Irish lifestyle.

This past week was fun! Since my long day of work last Monday, work has involved massaging a couple butts (honestly though, I’m loving the massage experience) and Christmas dinner at a teppanyaki place! It was a lot of fun going out with the staff members after hours. They even made me take home the bottle of white wine, which is currently sitting on my desk, since we’re not allowed to keep alcohol in the dorm kitchens. *shrugs*

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my tiny eyebrows are still on my face

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‘Twas a super savory selection of meats and fried rice. It was just a lot of oil and soy sauce, but I still appreciated the Asian flavors. I hadn’t eaten Asian food since New York!

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The music was very international as well. They played “La Bamba” and “Brown Eyed Girl”, which were random but also two of my favorites, so I can’t complain!

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On Friday night, a few of my friends here invited me to join them for the Etihad Skyline tour at Croke Park, which was a tour of the Dublin skyline at dusk from the top of the biggest stadium in Ireland. It was such a unique experience!

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The tour guide took us to the top of the stadium, which has a walkway all along its border, and then she pointed out all the landmarks around Dublin from there as the sun was setting.

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We lucked out with relatively warm weather and no wind!

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She gave us harnesses for one point on the tour when we were standing on a slightly precarious balcony that looked straight down to the stadium.

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As long as you’re a competent walker, you don’t need the harness, but it adds an element of danger and fun 17 stories up, ya know?

The tour ended with a complimentary tea/coffee/hot chocolate, and we of course all chose the hot chocolate.

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I hadn’t had hot chocolate in forever, and this Cadbury one was the bomb. The marshmallows were the best part.

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Highly recommend the Etihad Skyline tour for something different in Dublin! We loved the view, the experience, our tour guide, and the hot chocolate 🙂

Saturday was pretty productive (WHOA!). I studied a bit, worked out, did some homework, did laundry, FaceTimed Madre, and went grocery shopping. In the evening, Megan and I did a mini mobile soup kitchen inspired by our friends back in Boston, who give out sandwiches, socks, blankets, and other goods to people who are homeless every. single. week. They are so full of love; we had to bring the love to Dublin too, even if on a smaller scale!

Then we headed to Mass at our favorite church and dinner. We had a pub called P.Mac’s in mind, but when we arrived, our plans slowly changed.

We got to P.Mac’s at around 7, and they were serving food until 7:45. Not a problem, except the atmosphere was definitely more bar than restaurant at that point. No one was eating food, and when we tried to find a table, people gave us weird looks. I asked a waitress if we could eat…then how we should go about eating…and where we should get a table. Basically, HELP US DO PUBS.

After probably only two minutes of walking around cluelessly, we decided that we weren’t cool enough for P.Mac’s after dark and left for a different restaurant. *sad trombone*

It’s okay though, we found American BBQ.

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Pitt Bro’s BBQ was bustling (and had good reviews on Yelp, to be honest), so we waited for a table and dug into some satisfying pulled pork!

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Megan got the pulled pork bun meal with mac and cheese, and I got the pulled pork meat meal with salad and mac and cheese.

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The pulled pork was awesome, but the sides were just meh. The mac and cheese wasn’t cheesy enough, but nothing some pulled pork can’t fix up.

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What a hero.

We ate prettttty quickly because we were hungry hippos by the time our food arrived, but we had room for the complimentary, swirl-your-own vanilla soft serve!!

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CLASSIC. It was so good. What a way to increase my itch for America.

We actually went back to church after dinner, because they had a prayer service with Adoration, confessions, and music going on. Better yet, it was hosted by young people our age! There have not been many people under the age of 60 at Mass in Ireland. It was a beautiful and unexpected night.

On Sunday, we brunched per usual 🙂

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My friend Cassandra invited a few of us to White Moose Cafe, which was so cute and HILARIOUS. They had a “breastfeeding corking fee” (because they allow breastfeeding there, and they are known for their satire).

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My food was delicious too! I had their spinoff of huevos rancheros, which was two baked eggs in a spicy sauce with chorizo, peppers, and kidney beans, served with homemade tortilla crisps.

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Megan and I also split an order of silver dollar pancakes with berry compote and mascarpone cream. They were denser pancakes, but I enjoyed them.

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Afterwards, Cassandra and I headed to the famous Guinness Storehouse! I don’t even like Guinness, but it’s an Ireland staple, so why not?

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The museum itself was amazing. It’s self-guided, but the layout is seamless as you ascend the museum’s seven stories.

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peep the bottom right quote: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” -graffiti

I didn’t see what that had to do with anything, but Guinness has a giant fish riding a bike.

Of course, the tour includes Guinness itself. We first learned HOW to taste Guinness. I had been doing it wrong (the two times I ever sipped Guinness).

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At the end, we learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness and left as certified pourers. BOOM. Someone sign me up to be a bartender.

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#unimpressed

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Lastly, we drank our perfectly-poured pints up at the Gravity Bar, which overlooks all of Dublin.

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Like I said, I don’t love Guinness, but this Guinness was a lot better than the previous ones I’ve tasted. Something to do with the freshness (and my pouring skills), I’m sure! I could still only drink 1/4 of my pint. It’s a lot.

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I’m glad I went though, because if there’s anything I learned in Ireland, it’s how to pour a Guinness. And that hops are plants.

Have a wonderful week, everyone! I have a more serious post coming for you on Wednesday… ooooooooooo.

So tell me:

Do you like Guinness? What is your favorite beer?

The best thing you ate this weekend!

Have you ever stepped into a place that felt too cool for you?