Assisi, You Have My Heart

I was woken up by church bells and roosters crowing in Assisi, and I had never been so happy to be woken up an hour early.

We arrived to Assisi at around 8:30 pm on Tuesday night. Megan and I had planned on taking the bus and walking to the hospitality house where we were staying, but we decided to split a taxi with two American men who were on our train. It was a smart decision, because Assisi’s streets are quite the maze. Plus it was dark and we were not in the mood to get lost after a long day of traveling.

We stayed at La Casa d’Ospitalità Maria Immacolata, which was the perfect place. Central location, super kind religious sisters, and beautiful rooms.

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We tried to find a bite to eat, and the best we could do at 9pm in our tired state was a €5 salad. I had this plus half of Megan’s, since she wasn’t feelin’ hers anymore.

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Our room had a balcony with a panorama of Assisi, which looked like this in the morning:

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GLORY.

I ate some breakfast biscuits and mixed nuts before we explored Assisi. Just like Padua, it involved a lot of church visits, wandering semi-aimlessly, and waiting for restaurants to open. 

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We loved it so much though. Assisi is a movie set. None of it seems real, but the best part is that it IS REAL. The buildings are rustic, and the signs look like Disney World tried to make a European Epcot exhibition. 

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Obviously, we had to visit the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi. Pictures weren’t allowed (there were two Italian guards with big guns outside, so I wasn’t gonna try to pull a fast one), but again, it was exquisite. St. Francis’ tomb was in the basement!! (Getting excited over dead people, I know.)

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We spent a good chunk of time there before going to a random (yet impressively high-tech) museum of a Franciscan mission to the Amazon, followed by the Basilica of St. Rufino. 

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Poor Megan was getting hangry, but we had 20 minutes to spare before lunch opened, so I tried to walk us to Rocca Maggiore (the fortress at the very top of Assisi) for a nice view. Too bad Assisi is really hilly and steep — great if you have energy to exercise, horrible if you’re hangry.

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The views were worth it (IMO. But I ate more than she did for breakfast too, so..). 

Working up an appetite for lunch at Osteria Piazzetta dell’Erba was also worth it. My friend Joe recommended it to me, and the menu looked fantastic, so we went for it.

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Al fresco!

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They gave us a bread basket PLUS this onion focaccia, which was divine.

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Megan and I shared the beef tartare to start. We called them “raw meatballs”, but they were seriously amazing. There were black truffle shavings and some sort of yogurt sauce. 

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Then we both ordered the gnocchi for our main. It came with a lamb ragu sauce, pecorino cream, and CHOCOLATE! The chocolate definitely elevated the dish to a new and unique level. 

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Dead. This was definitely the best meal of my entire trip.

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We popped into a gelateria for lunch dessert, because…we were in Italy. 

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Each cup came with three flavors, so I went with caramel, mint chocolate chip, and pistachio. Weird combo, but I enjoyed it a lot. 

I was so full of good Italian food at that point, so we slowly made our way to the Basilica of St. Clare, where her tomb was located as well. Her body is partially incorrupt, which means it is decaying more slowly than usual and no one can explain it scientifically. Creepy crazy cool.

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We headed back to our room to change into something other than jeans, since it was actually pretty warm that day. I also needed to lay down on a bed and digest from lunch still.

Then it was time for a hike! We walked about 1.5 hours to St. Francis’ old hermitage, called Eremo delle Carceri, which I think means hermitage of the prisons? It was a great walk, but it was also a great workout. It was all uphill, so my hamstrings and butt were feeling it as I huffed and puffed up the double backs of the mountain.

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We were the only valiant walkers as many cars passed us by. #fituniversity?

Once we arrived, we walked around the beautiful and serene hermitage. We checked out the grottos and prayer spaces of St. Francis and his companions.

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We spent a good couple of hours here, marveling in the beauty and meditating ourselves. It was another good workout going down this trail…and then back up.

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STORY TIME.

We stayed so long at the hermitage because we wanted to go to adoration and vespers (both are special forms of prayer) at the chapel at 6pm. We knew it would get dark, but we figured we could get a cab or just walk with our phone flashlights back down the mountain, no big deal.

Adoration and vespers were lovely. I was exhausted, but it was so cool to be praying with priests and religious brothers and sisters at the top of a mountain in Assisi, where St. Francis once prayed.

Once the prayers were over though, we realized that it was pitch black outside and thunder storming… Not really great conditions for walking 1.5 hours down a mountain, eh? At first, I assured the priest that we would be able to get a taxi by the entrance of the hermitage, but when we got outside, there was not a soul in sight, and we knew there would be no taxis passing by until the morning. So we scurried back to the hermitage to ask the priest, Fr. Marco and the religious sister, Sr. Violet, there to call a cab for us.

God is good. Another religious sister, Sr. Elisabetta, and her friend were heading back down the mountain with their car, so the priest asked them if they would be willing to give us a lift, and they agreed! It all sounds very nice and perfect as I type this, but in reality, Megan and I were so frazzled and helpless.

“Guess we’re staying at the hermitage tonight.” -Megan

We are beyond grateful for such kind people though. We got to talk to Fr. Marco and Sr. Violet while we waited for our ride to be ready. All of a sudden though, the room started shaking.

Megan and I were just looking around like, “Hm, the room is moving. Must be some strong thunder or something.” But Sister Violet took my arm and calmly but firmly led me out of the room we were standing in to stand under a small archway.

We must have looked confused at that point, because all she said was, “Earthquake. Terremoto.” WHAT!? Megan and I are clueless. Thankfully, it was not a big or long earthquake.

Anyway, Sr. Elisabetta and her friend very kindly drove us back to town, where it started raining torrentially.

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If we tried to walk back down a mountain in the dark with thunderstorms, pouring rain, and earthquakes, I think we would have died. We are forever grateful for the compassionate and joyful people of Eremo delle Cercari.

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We ran into the closest open restaurant once we got out of the car. It was a random hotel restaurant, but we were hungry and it was pouring outside. I ordered the veal steak and side of grilled vegetables.

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I got the biggest stomachache after this, probably because I ate too fast and the meal was just very oily overall. Too many fats in a very short period of time after a long hike and a little stress was not a good combo.

By the time we finished dinner, it had stopped raining (thank God), so we walked back to our rooms to just be done with the day. But it wasn’t quite over.

I had just showered and Megan was sitting on the ground using her phone. The room started shaking again, and we looked at each other. We didn’t say anything but we weren’t taking this earthquake seriously, since the other one was so short and mild. But then the shaking kept going, and it was getting harder. Our eyes widened and we realized, “Oh, earthquakes are natural disasters and we should be concerned. !!!!”

All I learned in school was to go under a doorframe, so that’s what we did. We were totally fine, but the epicenter must have felt it big time. 😦

We felt one more shake while in our beds a little later, but nothing woke us up while we were actually sleeping.

The next morning, the sun was out and the view from our balcony got even prettier.

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I could cry.

We checked out of our hospitality house and moseyed our way down to St. Damian, which was a church rebuilt by St. Francis and used by the Poor Clares.

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Look at how touristy we are. Backpack/frontpack for me + hiking boots hanging off of Megan’s hiking backpack.

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Besides Megan mildly twisting her ankle, the walk to lunch was lovely, and these views from the bottom of Assisi were stunning. I could not take my eyes off this place.

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We ate lunch at Casa Norcia, which gave us some delicious pasta (naturally). I had the mixed salad + tagliatelle with prosciutto and hazelnuts. YUM.

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There were about 45 minutes to kill before the Mary of the Angels Basilica reopened for the day, so I blogged on my phone for a bit outside. The wifi was THE BEST in that area.

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Then it was time to catch our train to Rome. We both finished Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone that evening, and we are officially HP fans now. It happened.

So we shed a tear because we left Assisi and because we finished the first HP book. Assisi is my new favorite place in the world, and my heart longs to return.

A few more adventures to share coming up!

Operation “Say Yes”

…”to the dress.” I’m getting married!

Just kidding. This is about how I am the flakiest, most indecisive person ever.

“Hey, Alison, do you wanna go out tonight?”

“Oh!…maybe. I’ll let you know. I want to, but I need to do ‘stuff’ tonight.”

“Okay let me know!”

(Two hours later) “I think I’ll come!”

“Yay!”

(20 minutes later) “Actually…I think I should stay in….”

“Aw. Okay.”

(5 minutes later) “But should I just go out?”

“Yeah if you can!”

(2 minutes later) “Maybe not…”

“Alison… Do whatever you want.”

I’m indecisive because I spend too much time thinking about whether I should go somewhere or not, and then I end up procrastinating anyway, when I could have gone out, come back, and done what I needed to do.

So this past week was Operation: “Say Yes”

Yes to going out on Thursday night.

Because Thursdays are the new Friday, right? We actually don’t have classes on Friday, so Thursday really is the start of our weekends for the first half of our semester.

97% of the time, I’m not one to say, “I wanna go out tonight!” I’m usually more like, “let’s go get dessert and be in our PJs early tonight!” But I felt like celebrating the submission of our first big paper on Thursday, so I went out to a pub with some friends that night. It was my first night really “going out” in regards to drinking and such.

I drank more than I ever have that night, but I was still totally sober throughout, haha.

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“Baby Guinness” (Kahlua and a touch of Bailey’s— looks like a Guinness but tastes like chocolate!)

I only had one of these. I’m not that tolerant (or wealthy).

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arguably the most pointless €5 purchase of my life

Not even tipsy, but not mad about it. Watching all the other wild kids around me was fun enough.

My favorite part was coming back past midnight and sharing a big bowl of popcorn with my friend.

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Yes to napping.

Because I went to bed at 2:30 am after a night out and woke up naturally at 8:50-ish on Friday morning.

I was thinking of doing a longer workout later that day rather than napping, but napping gave me energy to PR my 100 burpee time! 6:16!
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I was on the ground panting two minutes before this photo was taken

Yes to walking somewhere solely for dessert.

My friend Brenna and I went to Bread & Butter to pick up dessert on Friday night, which was a freaking fantastic decision. I bought bread and butter pudding for €2.95, and the portion was HUGE. Megan was kind enough to have half, and she shared her vanilla ice cream with me to go with it 🙂

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this is only one half of the whole portion they gave me

10x better than alcohol. 100x happier. (Half the price too, holla.)

Yes to the Bray Cliff Walk with three friends.

I could have spent the whole day working on my ethics essay, but I decided to go to another cliff walk for the first half of the day. So worth the fresh air, exercise, and company!

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selfie with a banana, because I am a banana

The walk took approximately 2 hours, since we stopped for a bunch of photo sessions.

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thank you to Brigid and Caroline for this photo!

For lunch, we chose The Happy Pear, a super cute vegetarian market/cafe/restaurant.

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I got this bomb Buddha bowl, which had brown rice, pickled cabbage, “kimchi” (wasn’t actually kimchi, but that’s what they called it), lentil dahl, garlic kale, avocado, and sweet potato fries!

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Hiking and buddha bowls, are we in LA!?

Yes to FaceTiming four people over the weekend.

I miss my friends a lot, and although it can take a couple hours to FaceTime a couple people, it is always worth it to talk with such beautiful souls. I laughed and cried.

Yes to Sunday brunch.

After Mass on Sunday, I met up with my friend Cassandra for brunch at a fabulous little place called Herbstreet.

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This was one of those restaurants where you think, “I could honestly order any of this.” Cassandra and I both went for savory + sweet.

Cassandra got the “Eggos Mexicalos” for her main, which was spicy and satisfying (and GUACAMOLE). I got a strange combo— smoked salmon with capers and dill creme fraiche + small stack of blueberry pancakes with orange butter. I ate them separately, don’t worry.

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I was totally craving pancakes, and MAN did these deliver. I love blueberry pancakes, but the zesty orange butter really put it over the top.

The best of the meal was Cassandra’s sweet pick: the French toast with caramelized bananas, pecans, and clotted. cream.

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Be still my heart (but not literally, please, I know this is a lot of cholesterol, sry). We already decided that we have to go back.

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Yes to working out outside. 

I usually work out in my room these days, because a) that’s all I have time for; b) it’s dewy and cold outside in the morning. But on Sunday, I took a nap and just went outside with my jump rope. It was glorious to move and groove outside!!!

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5 rounds:

  • 50 double unders
  • 2 laps (~1/3 of a mile)
  • 5 pistol squats each leg

Yes to walking.

It can be time-consuming to walk to city centre from our campus, and sometimes I feel like I should save time and take the bus, but it’s [almost] always a good idea to walk.

I say [almost], because yesterday we walked to Parliament for a field trip, and it was down pouring. I was soaked and freezing throughout the rest of the field trip, but Megan reminded me to be grateful that I can go home and be warm, whereas some people cannot.

#HUMBLED.

Yes to cooking for real. 

I bit the bullet and bought a tikka masala simmer sauce for some chicken, plus bell peppers and real rice (I refuse to buy microwave or “boil in a bag” rice).

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Prior to this, I had just been seasoning things with salt and pepper because I wanted to be cheap and minimalist, but variety is the spice of life. Or spice is the variety of life?

This delicious lunch salad also happened a couple days ago:

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beets, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, two fried eggs, salt and pepper

Yes to saying no to blogging.

It’s been a busy week with essay writing and such, so the blog has been on the back burner. I wanted to type this post for Monday…then Tuesday…then Wednesday…then Thursday…and now it’s finally typed. Life happens, and I’m always learning how to prioritize.

Yes to a free online yoga inversions class on the CodyApp.

It was on Tuesday night right after my healthcare policy class ended, plus it was free, so I just signed up and did it! I highly recommend CodyApp, guys. I mean, I’ve only tried the free classes so far, but even those are great. This inversions class really did help me learn more about handstand alignment!

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not in the inversions class, but wanted to see how titibasana was coming along

I hope you guys have an awesome weekend! I’m organizing a wine and cheese night for the group tonight, and I AM PUMPED. Finals are next week already, LOL (we start internships in November!).

So tell me:

Are you indecisive?

Is it hard for you to say yes to things?

Two beautiful things that you did/happened to you this week!

Living Life on the Edge of a Cliff

Ireland keeps one-upping itself.

Just when I think, “THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE PLACE EVER,” I go to another place, and I have to say the phrase again.

This weekend, I went to two of {seriously} my two new favorite places ever— Howth Cliffs and Cliffs of Moher. You could say that I was living life on the edge.

Thursday— Irish Sports

Before I get into the cliffs, I need to tell you about how we played Gaelic sports on Thursday morning. Instead of 2.5 hours of sitting in class, our contemporary Irish society class headed to the “pitches” for some traditional Irish sports (praaaaaise).

Sport #1: Gaelic football. I would describe this as a cross between soccer, American football, and rugby, played with a volleyball. I was pretty bad, but it was fun to try.

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[source]

Sport #2: Handball. The drills for this were a pain in the ass, but playing the actual game was fun! I liked this one the most. It’s basically squash without a racquet and with a softer, smaller ball.

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[source]

Sport #3: Hurling. Sounds horrendous already, doesn’t it? Well I played horrendously too. It’s like lacrosse + field hockey + baseball + do whatever the feck (← apparently an acceptable curse substitution here, even on daytime TV) you want. Just kidding, there are rules, but there are too many rules to remember for a rookie.

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I learned afterwards that our young instructor for the day was one of the best Irish sport athletes in the country, so… good. He saw me miss the ball about 10 times.

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that chin sweat.

Despite my skill deficiency, I had such a blast learning about the history of the sports and how to play them! Irish moves and grooves, I dig it 🙂

Friday— Howth

Howth is pronounced with a long ‘o’ sound. So like “oath” with an ‘h’ in front. Just FYI, because I wouldn’t have known.

My mom got back from her two-week tour around Ireland, and her sister was also in town! I met up with them on Friday morning for breakfast at Restaurant 104. I opted for a big, late breakfast including a goat cheese, spinach, and red pepper omelette. Then mom and I split a scone with butter, jam, and CREAM (← game changer).

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We had no plans for the day, but my aunt asked us, “Have you ever been to Howth?” I had not been, but Rachel told me I had to go, so Friday was the day! We took a fairly short rail ride out to the beautiful fishing village, and just did our tourist thing. Lots of looking around and photographing!

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The highlight of Howth is the cliff walk, so I took off on one of the paths while my mom and aunt stayed back at the beach. I wish they came along to see the beauty of the cliffs, but it was a blessing in disguise to do a solo hike.

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As I walked up the initial road, I saw some gorgeous properties along the coast. I told myself about 100 times during the whole cliff walk, “I want to live here.”

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wild blackberries!

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help, no one here to take photos with me

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I cannot explain how at peace and in awe I felt throughout the 1.5-hour walk around the cliffs. The wind was strong, the ocean was mystifying, and the solitude was rejuvenating. God exists, man.

On the walk down, I passed by some more cute houses and an abbey.

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I would have done the longer hike path, but I didn’t want to keep Madre and my aunt waiting too long. Plus, I was so parched. I ran out of water early on in my walk, so I needed hydration ASAP.

I met up with the ladies at Starbucks for some water and snacks, and then we popped into a lovely tea house for afternoon tea and cake. My aunt and I shared a pot of wonderful spearmint tea, and then we all shared a scrumptious slice of carrot cake.

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some of the best carrot cake we’ve ever tasted!! SO moist, and I’m not sorry for using that word.

Our eating schedule was weird with our late breakfast and dessert-lunch, so we ate dinner about an hour later at a restaurant called Deep. All the seafood restaurants looked fantastic, since we were in a fishing village after all.

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literally right from the boat to the market to the restaurant

We share calamari to start, and then I ate a decadent “open fish pie” for my entree.

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It looks like it’s just mashed potatoes in a dish, but there was so much fish underneath! Cod, salmon, and some others that I could not identify. Comfort food at best. Mom also shared a big piece of her fish + chips with me. The crust was perfect!

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My meal also came with a dessert (“my preciousss”), so I ordered the apple crumble. It was hot and the perfect sweet ending to a pretty sweet day.

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Thank you so much, Madre and Auntie Xay for an incredible day in Howth! And happy birthday to Auntie Xay as well 🙂

Saturday— Dublin

I had some work to do, so I laid low with Madre in my dorm room. She basically filmed a documentary of my life to show Pop, which I thought was hilarious. I did some homework, laundry, and a nice dorm workout in the morning/early afternoon. For my workout, I did a slowish 12 minute workout, followed by the first day workout in the free CodyApp KaisaFit challenge! I ♥︎ Kaisa.

After a shower and finishing up laundry (mom spoiled me and folded it all for me while I worked!), we walked to a late lunch at the Lovely Food Co.

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I ordered the superfood salad for some veggie power in my life. It was everything I could have wanted and more. I think it had roasted veggies, broccoli, seeds, homemade croutons, and halloumi cheese, among other things.

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Mom had the smoked salmon and crab sandwich per my recommendation. She shared a quarter of it with me + some of her tomato soup.

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And since Lovely Food Co. has some of the best desserts, we had to order one to share. She chose the spiced pear cake, which was another score. Moist, perfectly spiced, and just sweet enough.

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We went grocery shopping for my week ahead, and then an hour or two later, we walked to Mass with my friends Megan and Cristen. Then it was already dinner time at Dall’Italiano! My aunt also met up with us after her day of touring Dublin city centre.

We all craved pasta, and we left satisfied.

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I got the fettuccine with beef fillet, onions, and mushrooms in a red wine sauce. Molto bene! I have 1/3 of it in my fridge for leftovers 🙂

Then it was time to say farewell to my mother for three months (and my aunt for even longer probably!). So sad, but it was great to spend so much time with her in my first month in Ireland! She had a lot of fun on her tour too.

That night I FaceTimed with two of my favorite people too— Rachel and Joe! I’m not that homesick, but I do miss my friends dearly.

Sunday— Cliffs of Moher

FaceTiming Rachel until late at night made the 5:50 wakeup call a little rough. But a nice 45 minute walk to the bus stop was enough to wake me up! Plus overnight oats.

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ugliest breakfast ever, but one of the most delicious

Megan, Cristen and I took a Paddywagon Tour, which was informative, entertaining, and eventful. One person needed to pee really badly (not me this time! although I very much empathized with her), one person got bus sick on the side of the road, a couple people almost got left behind, and the tour guide was great but also passive aggressive.

I’d recommend the tour though!

We brought our lunches, which we ate at 10:30am on the bus due to our early breakfast.

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red pesto, cheddar, hummus, basil, and rocket sandwich (threw whatever I had in the fridge into this thing and it was so tasty!!)

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Our first stop was a revisit of Dunguaire Castle, where Megan and I experienced a medieval banquet last weekend. It was just a quick photo stop this time, but it was extra pretty with this cool cloud effect going on.

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Our second major pit stop was the Burrens and the Mini Cliffs. The views were stellar even there.

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The wind was straight-up concerning though. Cristen is a very petite lady, and we all agreed that she should not come close to the edges of the mini cliffs, because there was a legitimate possibility of her blowing off.

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can you see what I mean?

Our bus driver then rushed us over to lunch in Doolin, where we all had dessert, since we had already eaten our lunches. I bought this huge slice of sweet and rich berry bakewell gateaux.

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holy moly way too much sugar for one person

Then it was time for the CLIFFS. OF. MOHER.

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They really are as phenomenal as people say they are. It was too magnificent to be true, especially since we lucked out with the weather!

So Rachel came to the Cliffs over the summer and took a jumping photo with them, so I obviously had to take one as well. Take one: too narrow of a pathway and way too windy for comfort.

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Megan: “Alison I don’t think you should jump.”

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Me: “Yeah you’re right. Safety first.”

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Compromise.

But then later, we found a less windy and broader spot for the photo.

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Then Rachel posted this photo to her social media:

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mirror image, I say 😉

It was a nice steep climb to the highest point of the cliffs, but man was it worth going up there [twice].

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Megan: “Gets to the peak. Drops on knees in prayer.”

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As always, photos can never do these kinds of places justice. If you ever get the opportunity to go to Ireland, go experience the Cliffs of Moher for yourself.

We stopped by Bunratty Castle before our 2.5-hour trip back to Dublin.

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Manmade things are just “meh” now and forevermore.

I wanted all the movement and all the veggies and protein for dinner at around 9pm. Before I ate, I did a quick 10 minute HIIT in my room to get the blood flowing and to spend some extra pent-up energy.

I finished up my big bag of rocket (arugula) with a can of salmon + hummus, tomatoes, and some unpictured carrots.

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I ended the night with blogging and FaceTiming two more friends from Boston— PJ and Louis. YAY!

Monday— WorkWorkWorkWorkWorkWork

So many things to do now, so little time!!

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But this weekend was more than worth it.

Hope you all have a marvelous week!! Go outside and feel the wind in your hair if ya can.

So tell me:

Have you ever played a foreign sport before?

Have you ever taken a solo hike?

Have you ever been to the Cliffs of Moher?

What is the most beautiful natural phenomenon you’ve ever witnessed?

Two things you did this weekend!

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?

48 Hours Unplugged

I’ve never experienced the feeling of time slowing down until last week.

I had the privilege of spending a few days in (relatively) upstate New York with two of my best friends, Fiona and Rachel. Fiona was so generous as to let us stay at her 106-year-old (!!) summer house, located in a secluded yet beautiful town.

Monday

On Monday, Fiona and Rachel drove down from Boston to my house. I cooked us a little rather large din din of caprese chicken + spicy pork chops + roasted broccoli (which was epic, not gonna lie) + avocado toast. Lots of leftovers for the ‘rents!

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plus avocado toast!

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beautiful food, even more beautiful people

I also made them one of my favorite recipes of all time— Amanda’s banana bread mug cake. Alongside some of Emily’s delicious peanut butter chocolate chip cookies + glasses o’ milk!

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Tuesday

After spending a night at Fiona’s house, we ate breakfast and then drove up to her summer house on Tuesday afternoon.

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made some banana oatmeal for the ladies

Rachel DJ’d in the car, and it was a classic grooves-mobile fest with backseat dancing and off-pitch sing-alongs.

And in no time, we arrived at the summer house!

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Fiona calls it her “heaven on earth”, and I can 100% see why she does. There may not have been any cell service or wifi, but there were crystal clear waters, breathtaking views, and foliage for dayzzzz.

We were only at her summer house for 2.5 days, but it felt like we were there for a week. Fiona did warn us that time slows down at this place, but I didn’t believe her until I experienced it.

Look at how cute it is!

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When we arrived, Fiona gave us a tour of the grounds, and then we went into town to buy groceries for the next few days.

The ONE stressor I had during the trip was when I got a call from my job (which I start today) about a form that I never received via email but that I needed to fill out, sign, and send by the next morning. It was actually a miracle that we were in town getting groceries when I got that call, because if we were back at the summer house, I never would have known because there’s no service there. Thank God for smart phones, because I was able to access my email, fill out the form, sign it digitally, and send it back in time.

Anyway.

Chips, salsa, PB&J’s and salads for lunch!

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Followed by a lovely little hike to the waterfall.

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self-timing it on a waterfall

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UGH so cool.

The rest of the night involved reading, playing Clue, eating chili (that Fiona’s mom made and sent up with us!) and s’mores!

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Chili and fires in the summer? Ya. ‘Twas pretty chilly up there actually (plus no heat). Rachel saved our cold butts with her fire-making skills. So Midwestern.

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*ding*

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I made “fluffernutter” s’mores with peanut butter instead of chocolate — 10/10 recommend

We snuggled into our beds by 10:30 pm (!!!). After some girl chat, we fell asleep to the sound of a legit babbling brook that flows by her house. People pay good money for that sound!

Rachel and I could not stop saying, “This is a dream. This is out of a novel.”

Wednesday

In an effort to gain feeling in my frozen feet in the morning, I went outside for some moves by the babbling brook. I did Jess’ lean legs workout (with some modifications).

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I still couldn’t feel my feet after I finished the workout. They were ice cubes.

Nothing a good breakfast can’t fix though! Pancakes for breakfast!

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We made buttermilk pancakes from a mix (added chocolate chips and/or banana) and ate them with a slew of toppings (peanut butter with the richest full fat vanilla Greek yogurt for me) and glasses o’ milk in cute mason jars. Eaten out on the porch. DREAMZ I TELL YOU.

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After breakfast, we spotted beavers, played Sequence, did each others’ hair, tanned on the deck, and plunged ourselves into the freezing cold river as per Fiona’s tradition.

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so cold, so exhilarating

We had a late lunch of tacos with all the works.

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Followed by more reading, relaxing, and probably some napping. We decided on movie night with s’mores for dinner.

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“You look like a frog.” – Rachel

We did a double feature of The Notebook and Hairspray. It was my first time watching both! (I know, I know. I’m only an eon behind on watching The Notebook.)

Thursday

Our last day at the summer house started with leftover pancakes…

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…cleaning, packing, reading (I finished The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis— also 10/10 recommend!), hiking…

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photos cannot do this view justice

…and a farewell to the summer house (for now!).

Back at Fiona’s house (and back to 432872 notifications on our phones), we ate a light dinner. Then Fiona took us to Bellvale Farms Creamery, aka the most incredible ice cream place of all time.

First of all, the drive to this place was beautiful. Secondly, we passed by the actual Bellvale Farm (like, we basically said hi to the cows that made the milk in our ice cream).

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Thirdly, their ice cream flavors were excellent. I had “Calf Trax” (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter swirl and mini peanut butter cups) + cookies ‘n’ cream in a waffle cone. No words. Fourthly, this is the view right outside their doors:

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I won’t stop thinking about it for the rest of the summer.

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Rachel and I are gonna make sure Fiona gets engaged at this spot.

Our night ended with watching The Intern (such a sweet movie!) and deep chats.

Friday

I think I’m allergic to Fiona’s cat (whose meows sound like a whining human) because I scratched my eye so hard in my sleep that I woke up with my eye half shut and swollen. Whoops.

I made us some more oatmeal and then we headed out for some tennis! Fiona is actually good at tennis, Rachel can hold a good volley, and I spent most of my time fetching the tennis balls that I hit out of the court.

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For our last meal together, we went to Fiona’s favorite local Mexican restaurant. We shared guac to start, and I ordered a chicken and a vegetable taco.

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fabulous

I am beyond grateful to have spent such a rejuvenating and beautiful week with two of my best friends. Thank you so much again, Fiona. ♥︎ I miss you both already!

Something valuable I learned from those 48 hours unplugged is that, truly, you have so much time when you’re not always on your phone/playing music/checking emails. I was able to focus on one task at a time, reflect, and do a lot without the distraction of technology. I’ll keep all this in mind as I start work today (I’ll talk more about that later!) and continue on with my life.

So tell me:

Have you ever spent an extended amount of time in a place with no service?

What was the best thing you did last week?

Do you have a special place where you like can retreat?