where I go, who I meet, and what I think in Europe

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I want to say thank you to a handful of people that have made this summer so wonderful.

My parents-you supported me financially for a large portion of this trip and for that I am so thankful. I really couldn't have paid for this trip all on my own. Also, thank you for raising me to be a person who is open minded and ready to try new things. You've taught me to be a respectful person and how to say thank you. This definitely helped me as a traveled around to different areas of the world. Also, thank you for your love, I felt in Europe.

Aunt Tamara and Uncle Yohannes- Thank you for your financial support. You allowed me to see things I may have skipped out on if i was on a money crunch. Thank you for your blog comments. It made my writing seem worthwhile, and I appreciate that a lot. You gave me a lot of encouragement. Thank you!

Aunt Maryann and Uncle Robert- Thank you for your financial support. I hope I spent it in a way you would approve. I bought great things that will help me remember this trip forever. I think you would be very proud of all the animals I took care of. They truly became some of my best friends this summer. I will mis them a lot. Thanks for allowing me to meet them.

The Anders Family-Thank you for numerable things! You housed and fed me for over two weeks. You treated me to meals and museums that you shouldn't have. You were overly generous and I thank you so much. I enjoyed all my time in Germany. I saw so much, and I loved hearing the language. You've inspired me to study a language and soon!

Justin-thank YOU for sharing your last days in your Paris apartment with me. I am so glad we reconnected this summer. It was wonderful to see you again, and I laughed so much with you. You are wonderful, and I will always remember my time with you. I hope to see you soon.

My Roommates-I enjoyed your package so much on the farm. It was an absolute treat; I never expected such a gift! I can't wait to see you.

Tom-thank you for giving me someone to write postcards to as I traveled the world. Also, thank you for entertaining me during the wee hours of the night on skype. I enjoyed our conversations more than I can express.

Jill-thank you for being such a wonderful travel partner. I had the greatest time with you. It was relaxing, wild, and just filled with memories. My weeks with you were different to every other aspect of my trip. I wouldn't trade them for anything. thanks for come halfway around the world to see me!

Thank you all the others that I may have forgotten. this was a perfect summer; I will never forget your generosities!


Here it is...My last blog of the summer. I can't believe I am home safely. It feels weird, but I have adapted quickly. I drove today which felt really good. There was one moment that I turned into the left lane of a road, and my mom was like RIGHT LANE!!! haha I never thought I would make that mistake.

The last few days in Ireland were grand. We had good weather. On Friday we went to Dublinia a museum about Viking life in Ireland. It also had a section on archeology which was very interesting. We went for our last pint at the oldest pub in Ireland. I thought that seemed appropriate. I finished first with a Smithwicks followed by a Guinness. Delicious!

I was so nervous to fly home. I just wanted to get home safely. I cried a bit when we touched down in NYC. I couldn't believe I was back in America. The trip was over. Bittersweet to say the least. We spent some time in JFK and then got our second flight to pittsburgh. We took a bus downtown and waited for Michael to pick us up at PPG square. It was great to see Michael. He made us a "Welcome Home" sign at the house which was so sweet. Thanks michael!

I really can say this has been a perfect summer. I never met any major obstacles or had an emergencies. I am so thankful.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Bubblin in Dublin

One day down in Dublin. It was a nice day and relaxing because we got rid of our rental car which caused a significant amount of stress. My dad was truly a hero for driving so well on the left side of the rode and with a manuel which he hasn't driven in a long time. We got to Dublin without any accidents. However, there was a small dent in our door that we think happened in a parking lot. Of course, the rental company found it as an opportunity to charge us one hundred euros which was th maximum they were allowed with the insurance we got. Cha Ching! o well.

With that burden behind us, we skipped to the Guinness factory after a nice chinese lunch. My dad was in his glory. He was really enjoying learning about the beer and tasting. We loved our "free" pint at the top of the storehouse in the Gravity Bar. Did you know over 7 million pints of Guinness are enjoyed all around the world everyday!? I was surprised. This summer I have definitely learned my love for Guinness.

We relaxed for the remainder of the day in our very nice apartment. We stopped a got a few groceries. We bought the Quiet Man, an american classic, which we weren't all that impressed with but nevertheless glad we saw it.

Thursday, the big even today was seeing Riverdance! It's a show involving hard shoe and soft shoe irish dance, music, and singing. Only my mom and I saw it. The show was absolutely fierce! I felt so lucky to see it. We finished the evening with a pint at the temple bar area. Now the family is sitting at home watching television. We have only one more day in Ireland!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Karas time in Ireland

We have been a very busy family in Ireland. As I already mentioned my family came in a day late to the farm, but we've enjoyed each other's company since. Saturday morning, I showed them around the farm and said my farewells to the animals. It was especially sad to say goodbye to my goats. Then we got in the car around 11:30 and headed to Cork. We parked and walked to the market where I spent many of my afternoons selling food. Unfortunately, Leades House did not have much to sell for this market so they had already left by the time we got there. O well. We still enjoyed the market and i got to buy my Kinder Surprise.

Then we went to Blarney Castle. This was one tourist attraction I saved to enjoy with my family. We all kissed the Blarney stone, of course. It was pretty difficult to do and the man that instructed you was very rude, but with the gift of eloquence, I couldn't really cuss him out. hehe. We walked around the grounds, and I bought a Blarney Castle t-shirt.

Sunday, I had to say goodbye to Leades House. I didn't expect it to be so emotional. I cried saying goodbye to Anne, Sally, and Colin. It hit me how much I have experience at the farm and how much I will miss it. It's truly been amazing. I am so greatful for the experience. the rest of the day was a long day of driving, and my dad did such a great job. It's very nerve wrecking not only driving on the left side of th rode but driving on skinny Irish country rodes that often are shared with tractors and sheep. I played tour guide and took us to Mizen Head peninsula. It's a very scenic drive that ends at the coast. My dad had a hard time enjoying some of the scenery due to the stressful driving, but the rest of us loved it. We also made a stop in Killarney where my dad bought and authentic Aran sweater...it was on his list of souvenirs to get himself. We ended up in Galway by 9:30 and enjoyed a Guinness at a pub. It was well deserved.

Monday, we woke up and had a great breakfast next door to our hotel. I ate lots of fresh fruit and a scone. Yum! We spent the day walking around Galway and taking in the local color. I took the family on a similiar walking tour that Jill and I took earlier this summer. Galway is definitely more crowded now. We had a big Irish dinner and ended up at a pub. This is a pretty typical way to end the day. This pub was great because they had Irish step dancers. It was the first time I got to see some traditional dance. It's simply amazing. The movement vocabulary is completely different to what I am used to. I would love to learn some one day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

My Family

For all those who were worried, my family and i had a wonderful reunion today in Ireland. They made it just in time for a big Irish feast courtesy of Leades House. It was so great to see them. They saw only a fraction of the farm, and I can't wait to show them the rest tomorrow. We spent the evening catching up, finding their bed and breakfast, and ofcourse drinking a pint in a pub in Macroom. A great reunion indeed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

French Scouts

Wednesday Night was a lot of fun. There are currently French scouts camping in a field on Colin's property. They invited us to their evening campfire, so last night we went. Everything was in French, but the scout next to me did a pretty decent job translating for me. They sang songs and performed skits. I felt like I was back in Calvary Camp for a night. The campfire ended with a very extended prayer. We all kneeled in the circle. It was a little awkard because none of the farmers are very religious and these scouts were the extreme opposite. After the fire which never got very big, the leaders invited us back to their VIP area for beer and tea. Not too shabby. Their setup was very nice and all handmade from wood.

Bad news, my family didnt come today. Their flight got changed to a later time, and it didn't make sense for them to drive from Dublin to Cork at night and on the opposite side of the road on streets with no lamps. Fortunately, they got their flight changed again for free. They will be coming tomorrow now around 5 pm. We are all looking forward to seeing and meeting them.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What's up chicken butt?

So today I did something I never thought I would do. I killed a chicken. Now I can't say I took great joy in this act, but I had to do it. When on an Irish Farm do what the farmers do...

I was too afraid to kill it on my own because I didn't want to do it wrong and then leave the chicken in pain. It's supposed to be quick and painless. Basically, you hold the chicken by its feet and let it hang upside down. You hold its head at the nape of the neck. Then pull down and out. It should happen fast. Then the chicken flaps a lot!!!! and then its done. I have pictures of the end but I can't put them up because I can't find my camera cord. ugh

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Only one week left!

I can't believe my time on the farm is coming to a close! However, I am just ecstatic to be seeing my family on thursday. Mom, Dad, and Samuel please arrive safely to me.

Some Updates:
1. I put ankle tags on 118 chickens on Friday. This was quite the challenge and I smelled absolutely horrid even after my shower. Chickens are hard to catch, but that was my designated job. I seemed to be the best and the least afraid at catching the chickens. It's amazing how fast the can runaway and change directions. I wish I had a video of it. I look crazy chasing them around. haha
2. Francy took Anne, Lauren, and I on one last outing. He took us to see his ponies. They are absolutely gorgeous and all purebreads. You can tell he's very proud of them. They are left to live a wild life, but a few of them came up to me andlet me pet them.
3. The fox got in the hen house again and killed off about 30 more hens. Wish that had happened before I had to catch them all on Friday.
4. This weekend has been pretty lazy. Saturday was a pajama day. It rained all day, so I borrowed some movies from the neighbor. We watched Stardust and today (sunday) I watched Singing in the Rain. What a classic. I can never get enough of Gene Kelly.
5. I know these are out of chronological order, but I'm writing them down as I remember them. Colin was very nice this past week and took the lot of us on a bit of a Coachford tour. However, because of the rain it sort of turned into a pub crawl. The only educational stop we made was to see a windmill. The electricity was down all over coachford, so even the windmill was running. Odd, I know. It was a fun time at the two pubs we stopped at. I drank Heineken and Guinness.
6. I'm looking forward to becoming a tourist again. When my family gets here, I hope we can go kiss the Blarney Stone as cliche as it is. Then maybe we can go to the Butter Museum in Cork City. It's something I have been meaning to do, but I guess it's good that I haven't because now they can join me. It'll be nice to share the jewels of Ireland with them.
7. Finally, Friday night we had a barbeque. We thought because of the rain it wouldn't happen, but luckily the rain let up just in time and the skies turned blue. The French scouts that have been camping nearby came over. It was just the 5-6 leaders. They made us our fire. They were great fun. They sang for us which was amazing. Their voices were beautiful and they did 4 part harmony. Very unexpected. Another surprise was the drunk Irish man, Tony, who decided to show up. He came fully prepared for a BBQ. He had a bag of wood, ribs, and a bottle of wine. How he knew about the bbfq no one knows. He was a bit rude and annoying, but fortunately he left on his own when the night was coming to a close. I was afraid he would try to stick around.

That's all for now. It's rainy over here. I hear it's been raining in Pennsylvania too. I'm looking forward to some sunny days when I get home.

p.s. my dad made it safely in Duisburg. yay!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pathway Progress

It is exactly one week until I see my parents and younger brother! I really cannot wait. They seem to be having a fabulous time in Germany. They did a high ropes course yesterday, and my mother went to see the most recent Harry Potter in German with Kirsten. She seemed to really enjoy it. My dad heads off to Germany in two days, so keep you fingers crossed that he makes it there safely.
In the meantime, we are very busy at the farm making paths in the forest. Jobs include shoveling dirt, leveling dirt, moving dirt, and probably other things that involve dirt. I was so excited when Juan told me I was going to be driving the Terex dumper. I posted a picture of one. It's very fun to drive, but also very difficult. The pathways are not smooth and the Earth is moist so i make deep tracks when I drive on the paths. Then after I dump the soil for the others to level out, I have to reverse all the way back up the path to get more dirt. IT's not easy. The first day I drove it I almost tipped over because of a pothole. I quickly jumped off and got help. We fixed the problem quickly and since then I haven't had any major issues. I'm the only girl who has been allowed to use the equipment, so I'm pretty proud that they deem me responsible enough. It's definitely a thrill driving a three ton machine.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

24 hrs in Killarney

Saturday morning I did not have to go to the market in Cork because the new German guys wanted to go. I had no problem with this because I got to sleep in! We also hosted a bit of a party Friday night, so it was nice not to wake up at 6 am. I slept until 12 pm which is probably the latest I ever have in my entire life. It felt very good. Saturday was slow morning. A new French girl showed up the night before, so Lauren and I took her around the farm and explained some things. When Colin, Anne, Thomas, and Boho got back from Cork they had two more American girls with them. They seem very nice. I haven't had a chance to get to know them very well yet, but they are very eager like most people who first come to the farm.

Saturday night, Lauren and I decided to spontaneously go into Killarney. Denis our neighbor drove us into Macroom, and from there, we caught a hour long bus into Killarney. Once in the city, we set out to find a hostel. This is when I got nervous. All the hostels were booked! I was preparing myself to be homeless for the night, but fortune was on our side. We stopped into a few hotels, but they were asking for seventy five euros per person! hell no. Through out our search we purposely avoided this sketchy bed and breakfast on the main street. It was called sebastians and we didn't trust it from the outside. However, we were desperate so we rang the doorbell. A very nice looking woman opened the door. She said she had a vacancy and it would cost thirty euros per person for the night. It was more than a hostel, but we took it. The room was very nice, and since it wasn't a hostel, we could leave our belongings in the room.

The night was rainy, but that didn't hold us back. We got dinner at a Chinese restaurant. It was sooo good compared to the bland food we've been having on the farm. Meat and potatoes get pretty boring after 1.5 months. The Chinese food had so much flavor. The service was slow at the restaurant and the soundtrack playing inside was worse. I swear they were playing the 1990's best wedding songs cd. haha it was funny.

After dinner, we went souvenir shopping a bit. The night ended in a pub with a pint of Smithwicks and live music. It was also different falling asleep to the sounds of a city not a farm.

Sunday morning, Lauren and I walked into the Killarney National Park. We both had been there before a few weeks earlier, so we just took a short trail through the woods. We also stopped at a cafe for coffee and a scone. We did a bit more shopping. I splurged on an authentic Aran Woolen sweater. I'd been oogling it the last time I was in Killarney and decided to pay the fee. Now the really exciting part of the store.....

Around 1:30 we got a bus back to Macroom. We weren't sure how we would get back to Leades House. Our options were two: walk or hitch hike. If you remember, my list includes hitchhiking, so I wanted to try it out. It was pouring rain, so I hoped the Irish would be sympathetic. They weren't. After about 45 minutes of walking a man stopped, and he told us we were heading the wrong direction. GREAT! so we head back. WE walk and walk and about another hour later we see a green car come around the corner. We figured she would pass like all the others but she stopped. We said we were going to Leades House. She said she figured that, and would drive us the rest of the way. In the car, we found out she was the mother of one of the renters on the Leades House property. At this point, I realized I had seen her before. We were so greatful for her ride. I also was ecstatic that I successfully hitchhiked. I think the only thing I have left to do is Irish Step dance. I don't think it will happen, but who knows. I didn't think half of my list would get checked off.

P.s. My mother and brother have safetly arrived in Germany. Thanks for your crossed fingers.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Some Pictures and Videos

Typical Irish Stones

Driving on the Kubota around the farm.
Adorable chicks and mother

My favorite goats in the world!

Francy catching a fish!

Friday, July 24, 2009

4 countries on a farm

I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile. The internet is harder to get to now that there are 9 volunteers here at the farm. Tomorrow this will increase by four more! Currently there are two Americans, three Germans, and three Spaniards. Tomorrow there will be three more Americans and a French girl coming. I truthfully don’t know where we will fit them all or what work will be done. We seem pretty well stocked.

For the most part we are all getting along well. There is some tension due to power struggles. Everyone has their own way of cleaning etc and a few speak up more than others. I try to stay out of this. I want to like everyone and have everyone respect me. They don’t have to be my friend necessarily, but I would like their respect so I respect them too. However, I don’t think I am the cause of tension, thankfully.

I’ve been taking a lot of pictures of the farm because I realize I only have about two more weeks left. This is really hard to believe. Leades House has been my home for the past month and a half, and I will miss it. I’ve met some really great people and animals. I will miss my favorite goat, Tabitha. We play every day, and we have gotten to the point where she runs to greet me at the gate. I know I should treat these animals as if they were domesticated pets because I know they have a different future, but I am who I am.

Today, I’ve been a little nervous because I know my mother and brother, Samuel, are flying to Europe. They are headed to Germany. My father will meet them there in a week. I have my fingers crossed that they will make it there safely. Please keep yours crossed too or say a pray, whatever you prefer.

As I mentioned before, with more people on the farm there is a bit less work for each person to do. We began the major walkway project that will stretch for 1.5 miles, but it’s slow and tedious, and right now, the digger machine does most of the work. I did help build 4 stone walls. It’s quite an art. Tonight, I think we will put our feet up and relax. Our fridge is stocked with some adult beverages, so it should be a good time. Buenos noches!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sunday Drive with Francy

Good news but I don't want to jinx it. I spent an entire day with Francy and the girls, and he and I did not argue once. This is major. I guess my new approach towards him is working. He came by the farm around 10 this morning. We weren't expecting him. I suppose he was going to take the Spanish boys fishing, but they had stayed in Kinsale overnight and were not back at the farm yet. Francy decided he would take us out instead.

We spent the day near Bantry. We went to another peninsula called the sheep's head. I think this was my favorite place so far in Ireland. I got to see so much of the sea, and the lanscapes were breathtaking. The pictures I take just don't do the views justice. I also got to go fishing again. This time Francy caught two fish. I helped gather perriwinkles off the rocks. This time I ate both of them. The perriwinkles don't have much flavor but look pretty gross when they are outside of their shell. The Mackrel Francy caught was delicious, but he didn't cook it very well. He mashed it all up in the pan head and all. I was really afraid I might get an eyeball. Francy thinks they are yummy! yuck

All in all it was a really great day. Lauren said it was a little bittersweet and I agree with her. Who knows if I'll ever be back in this part of Ireland again. I gave a moment of thanks as I sat by the sea. I am just so happy to be here. Sometimes I have to remind myself where I am. I've been away from home for so long that I think i've begun to take my new environment for granted. I have to continue to live each day to the fullest. I'm so glad I have done this.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Bon Qui Qui

I realized today that some of you may be curious about the title of my blog, "Bon Qui Qui goes Abroad." Who is bon qui qui. To put it simply; she's my alter ego. She was a character once on Madtv and I realized my inner self had finally be portrayed accurately. If you want to watch, please take a look at the youtube clip. Some people find it funny others think it's dumb. For me, well, it's just part of my everyday life.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Work Hard

Two weeks ago I bought a deck of cards to keep me entertained during slow afternoons. The cards say, “Work Less Play More,” and I joke that this is my personal motto. However, Francy claims the only option is to Work Hard. That’s a random story for you.

Updates! Three Spanish men are now here at Leades House. Their names are Louis, Juan, and Ruma. They are 20, 20, and 18. Juan and Ruma are brothers. They are very nice guys. Their English skills come in a range, but we don’t have too much difficulty communicating. I’ve sort of been designated as their translator because Francy and Colin speak entirely too fast for them. They always look to me to slow explanations down and use lots of gestures. I don’t mind at all.

Today, I helped build a stone wall behind Colin’s mother’s house. I also fixed a fence with Lauren because the young calves kept squeezing through into the wrong field. Other chores remain the same. The three girls milk the cows, but that’s become a bit of problem because the one cow has begun to rebel. She kicks the machine off and kicks at you. She took a bit of skin off my finger the other day. We used to feel very competent milking the cows but now we always get Colin to do the rebellious cow which slows us down. It’s a bit of a shame. The cows have also been milking less which makes the market harder to prepare for.

I had a bit of an unfortunate task come to my attention two days ago. I received an email from the elementary education dept. at West Chester University reminding me to get my clearances in for student teaching. They are due on August 1st. I thought they were due September 1st. My plan was to take care of it when I got back to America. Well I have been calling home a lot lately trying to get everything organized. I had to have my brothers and mom search through my room for important papers. It really sucks, and it’s really irresponsible for me to make this date mistake. I hope everything works its way out. Wish me luck.

In one month I’ll be back in America! See ya’ll soon.

p.s. Colin found a "skin egg" the other afternoon and it was really cool. I was going to make a video of it until Lauren showed me the video she made. I realized it was impossible to top it, so I post her video on my blog. Enjoy the fantastical production by Lauren McKenna.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Yesterday was just the day off that I needed. I told the girls Saturday night that no matter what the weather was like on Sunday I was going for a hike! Sunday morning the weather look very promising. The sun was shining, and I was not woken up by rain pounding on the roof. Very good sign! I ate my breakfast in peace, and when Lauren came down, she thought it would be a good idea to go find the waterfall Colin has been telling us about. I thought it was a great idea. We asked Anne to join, but she wanted to sleep in more. Around 11:30, Lauren and I headed out. As soon as we stepped outside it started to rain!!! Luckily, this lasted only 5 minutes and the remainder of our adventure took place on a sunny day. :-)

It took about 1.5 hrs to walk to the entrance of the waterfall path. I was so excited when we made it, and I could hear the water! We headed into the woods, and it reminded me of a forest you might find in Pennsylvania. I really felt at peace. I loved it! We were worried that we should have worn our wellies, but our feet didn't get too wet. When we made it to the waterfall, I am pretty sure I did a victory dance. We clocked now two hrs of walking. This is where I checked yet another thing to do off my list. I went swimming! I waded in the water mostly, but I had to get my whole body wet in order for it to count. I doggie paddled around because I couldn't see the bottom of the stream. Lauren took a video, and when I get it from her, I will post it. I swear it looks like I never swam a day in my life, but the water was shockingly cold and I was scared of the possible monster dwelling deep in the water. It was such a glorious experience and very refreshing after such a long walk. We ate our lunch by the waterfall, and began out trek out of the woods. Before we made it out, we came across a rope swing which proved pretty unsuccessful, but we tried.

The long walk back was much harder. First, we were already tired, and second, we were walking against the wind which slows you down considerably. We rationed out our water..haha.

I am just so happy I got to swim in Irish water. I don't know why it was a goal of mine, but it happened so the origin of my goal doesn't really matter. I ended the great day with phone calls back to America to some very special people. I was so excited to share my day.

My mom and Samuel leave for Germany in 11 days! I am so thrilled to be on the same continent as a family member. Today is the 13th which means only 24 days until i see my family. Yay!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

When in Europe!

So Yesterday was a much much better day. I exhaled all of my negative energy and went about my daily chores. I also got to go to Ballincollig for the market with Lauren. I enjoy going to market because you get to walk around town, window shop, and see people who are not farmers as well as people who farmers but are not from Leades House. My next mission is to buy a ladybug bag from this one supermarket. I see people walking aroudn with them, but i went to buy one and the market was all out, so I will have to keep checking back. They are the cutest shopping canvas bags.

In the evening, the three girls got to enjoy the relaxing pleasures of a sauna! There happens to randomly be one at Leades House. Someone built it years ago. Anne and I have been meaning to clean it out, so yesterday, the three of us did just that. Afterwards Lauren says, "I forgot to bring a bathing suit; I guess i'll just wear my bra and underwear." Anne goes, "for what?!" "For the sauna ofcourse, " says lauren. Anne was amused, "You don't wear anything." Well that was a culture shock for Lauren and I. We explained that people just don't strip down in America. Anne was surprised. When it came time to head to the sauna, I exclaimed.... "When in Europe!" and bared all. It was very relaxing and the three of us had a great time chatting it up for the 15 min we were in the sauna. We hope to make it a weekly thing.

Today marks exactly 4 weeks until i see my family. I miss them very much, and I really look forward to traveling up the West coast of Ireland with them. Should be a good time, if anyone has any final suggestions of places for me to go please comment them now!!!

Miss you all and see you in a little over a month!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

I cannot tell a lie..I was in a bit of a mood today. It was just an off day for me. I think it was a combination of things. First, I am beginning to miss home. My family is preparing to come to Europe, so I am really anticipating and looking forward to seeing them. It's become a bit of a countdown because I'm over the hump. I hurt myself a lot today. My wrist has been sore from god knows what. I was throwing rocks over a fence as part of a chore and one was a bit too heavy and i took it the fence in order to tip it over and my finger got caught on the barbed wire. OUch! it took a chunk of skin off. I was moving things with Francy and a gate landed on my food. Today was a market day in Macroom and I was the one who stayed on the farm, so I didn't have female companionship. Finally, Francy insisted on telling me my lifeplans are all wrong. I shouldn't be a teacher and that i'm only going into the job because it's secure. Francy has known me for only 4 weeks so how could he possibly know what I enjoy doing and why I chose what I study. ugh. i guess it all just piled up and put me in a sour mood. I still worked hard, but I was a little more defensive and now quite and cheerful.

I did my evening stretches with my ipod on and it gave me some time to refocus and cleanse my negative energy. I feel a lot better now. I plan to go to bed early tonight to also re-energize. Tomorrow I'll be the one who gets to go to market, so I also look forward to that. I think everyone permitted to have an off day now and again.

Quick recap of yesterday:
We had men come to buy cattle from us. It was very intersting to watch them sort through over 100 cattle. I wasn't sure what they were looking for. All cattle have a passport with their information such as vaccinations, birthday, previous owners. It was my job to find the passport of the numbers they shouted out. The saddest part of it all was watching some of the calves get separated from their mother. I am doing a piece of choreography this fall about mothers and daughters, so this was really upsetting for me to watch. Apparently these calves should have been wiened from their mother many months ago. I don't know why they weren't. Nevertheless, I definitely going back to not eating red meat when I get back to America.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Another day off equals another day trip with Francy and the girls. Today we went to Killarney, but before we made it to the city, we stopped at a poultry sale/show. I got to see lots of different types of chickens, ducks, and hamsters! Francy was disappointed becaus apparently there were not pure breeds. He was sure there would be, and he wanted to buy some for his collection. o well..

We got back in the car and started on our drive to the Killarney National Park. We visited Ross Castle but opted out of the guided tour. It's more a tower and there was a really great visitors center that showed you a detailed diagram. We didn't think it was worth the price. However, we did take a tour of Muckross House. It was a beautiful victorian house that has gone through three masters. One of the men was a member of the Guinness family. Queen Victoria visited the house in august 1861 i believe. She gave the lord 6 yrs notice of her visit! and guess what...she only stayed for 2 nights. The family ended up going bankrupt because of all the money they put into making her visit special. No one on the tour could believe it!

After the house tour we walked along the gardens. Then we got in the car and Francy took us on one of his really long car rides with beautiful landscapes to watch. We stopped for about a 45 minute hike to a bridge and stream. I wanted to jump right in, but I knew I would be miserable for the rest of the day, so I restrained myself.

The final landmark I got to see today was Ireland highest pub! It is very small, and you really have to drive a long ways to see it, but we stopped and i had half a pint of Guinness. I deemed that an appropriate choice for such a bar. If I had food in my stomach, I might have done a whole pint. Francy treated us to the beers because he and were arguing politics on the car ride there and he felt bad. I didn't complain. However, I think I might open my own pub up the hill from this one. hehe

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A short update

A short update from today...

We have a new girl. Her name is Lauren and she is also from America. She's from New York state. She doesn't have much farming experience, but she owns a few horses and works at the stables occasionally. She has a fear of birds which is a bit of an issue, but she's handling herself very well, and I can tell she's going outside of her comfort zone which is great!

Two piglets escaped today, and I had a lot of trouble getting them back in the pen. I tried grabbing them but they are really fast and squirmy. When you do get a hold on them, they make the most terrifying noise like you are trying to kill them. The shrieking is so high pitched combined with the squirming I always lost a hold on them. Eventually with the help of Natalie, I got them back in with their mother.

It's been raining a lot, and it's having an affect on peoples' moods. I am trying to be as cheery as possible. Rain doesn't kill you. I just keep going about my usual tasks just a little bit muddier than usual. Showers never felt so good!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day Trip

I realize I haven't written for a few days, but for the most part everything has been pretty routine lately. However, I was fortunate enough to have a day trip off the farm this past Sunday. Francy took Anne and I to the Beara Peninsula. We passed through several towns (if you can really call them that) on the way there. One of them was considered the most colorful town in Co. Cork. Every building was painted a rich blue, purple, yellow, or green. We aren't sure why Ireland's towns are so colorful, but it really is a staple of this country.

Everywhere you drive in Ireland the views are just spectacular. Everything is so green. Francy would beg to differ. He's very upset right now with the farms in Ireland. He says they aren't thriving like they used to because the EU sends checks to farmers because of surplus money or something. I can't always understand what he's telling me, and truthfully, I don't know if Francy knows all the facts either. However, I did have to agree that there were not many animals grazing the grass. I guess with these checks the farmers don't have to rely on crops and animals to make their money. Nevertheless, I was still impressed with all the unadulterated land.

The Beara Peninsula was also grand! It rained for most of the day, so the fog settled in a few times making it harder to see. Francy fished a little on a cliff, and I watched close behind. This checks off one of the things I most wanted to do in Ireland: fish with a local. I thought it was going to be a tough one to check off. Francy didn't catch any fish but he found Perriwinkles on the rocks. He said we would cook them for dinner. I wasn't too sure about them, and I ended up not having any. The day turned out so long, and I was so cold when I got home. I really didn't feel adventurous enough to try a new type of seafood. oh well...

There were two places that really took my breath away. The first was my purple beach. It was a rocky beach and with all the rain everything was very wet. The rocks were absolutely beautiful shades of purple, turquoise, and green. The majority were purple making the beach glow with the hue. Purple is one of my favorite colors, so it was a very special place. The pictures don't really do the rocks justice.

The other place I really enjoyed was this valley we drove through. It was so foggy, and Francy kept saying how it was a shame we couldn't see anything. However, I thought the drive was magical. If you looked up you only saw a heavy white from the fog. The air felt like velvet as I drove with the window open. I'm sure the place is really beautiful on a sunny clear day, but i got a different experience, and I liked it all the same.

One final site I saw the was the "Hag of Beara." The myth goes that a woman waited and waited for her lover to return from sea. She waited for so long eventually she turned herself to stone. It looked like a big rock to me, but apparently, this type of rock can't be found anywhere else in Co. Cork so maybe there is some magic behind the story. Who knows...

I really appreciated Francy taking Anne and I out. We were out for over 7 hrs. It was very generous of him to give us his time. It felt good to get off the farm though. I needed a change of scenery.
Tomorrow, we go to Macroom for the Country Market. Wednesday there is another American girl named Lauren joining Anne and me. Hopefully the three of us get along. I've been very lucky to have Anne here. We make good conversation, play cards, and eat great meals together. She's just another check on the positive part of my trip!

Friday, June 26, 2009


So the past two days I have been in a constant state of exhaustion! I yawn a lot, my legs tingle, and I just don't seem to have that ooomph of motivation to get me from place to place. I'm getting enough sleep. On average, I get about 7 hrs of sleep each night. Last night, I got 10 because I went to bed super early in an attempt to remedy myself. Technically I have every right to be tired. I carry about 10 buckets of water a day for the pigs. The milking equipment isn't light. I walk everywhere. I sledge hammered about logs in the ground today. But I'm not complaining at all! I really enjoy this work, and it's definitely eye opening. I've never really had a labor intensive job before, and I truly think it's something everyone should experience atleast once during their life. It's very humbling. Mind power is important and requires a lot of training but so does labor!

Today, I worked out in the field for the majorite of the day. Francy, Anne, and I build fences and fixed gates so the sheep can be more manageable. I also got to shorn a sheep. I used a pair of old shears. It was very difficult. I will put a video up next time I get my camera hooked to my computer. Francy made it look so easy, but it all depends on the angle of the shears and pressure in order to be a success.

Another thing I am working on is driving the small tractor. It's a stick shift, and I don't know how to drive one. Francy takes me out into the field to give me some pointers. Hopefully by the end of these two months I will have gotten a handle on it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Not for the weak!

Two things happened today that were just not on my list of things I neither hoped or thought I would experience this summer.

1. I experienced three cows get castrated this afternoon. It's done a little differently nowadays; they aren't actually cut off just squeezed so they shrivel up down the road.

2. There was a murder last night on the farm. Not just one, not just two, and not even three. Over 60 hens were violently brought to their death beds during the course of the night. We are unsure what brought this catastrophe. It might be a fox or a muskrat. Those are our predictions. When you have 60 dead hens, you have to clean them up. I bucked up and picked those damn hens off the ground two by two by the feet. I threw them onto the tractor and watched them drive away to their grave in the woods. No no, I never thought I would have to do such a thing in my lifetime. It was not pleasant. It did not smell good. I hope to never do it again. I have pictures, but I choose not to exploit these poor hens online, and I figure you don't all wish to see this violence. However, you may e-mail if you are brave, and I will gladly send you documentation.

RIP my dear hens.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Simple Life

Since days are starting to become a bit similiar, I am deciding to share a few interesting things that have happened these past few days.

On sunday, the leades house had an open day. The Rusheen School came with about a thousand people and there were sports, games, face painting, animal watching, and of course food. I roamed around because it was technically my day off. I spread a blanket out in the orchard and took in some sun. I also relaxed by listening to music and reading magazines. Laying in the orchard is becoming my favorite thing to do. It is just so peaceful there.

Monday night, I taught Anne what a Smore is. We make a fire just about every night because it gives us hot water. I decided why not put this fire to a better use and roast some marshmallows! I couldn't find a hershey chocolate bar so I bought cookies with a chocolate coating. It worked perfectly. Anne was a bit skeptical but I think she really enjoyed them. She made two! Me, I love smores and really can't get enough of them. Too bad they are so bad for you...

Tuesday morning, we went to the market place in Macroom. This market is a little different because every farmer has labels and the people pay for the items at a register not to the farmer directly. This means Anne and I were able to walk around the city until the market was through. I went to a toy store and bought watercolors and paper, so I can paint the beautiful landscapes of the farm. I have already put them to good use. I also bought a skirt at a thrift shop. Macroom is a very cute city, and I look forward to visiting it every week.

Ok I'm very hungy for some supper. Tootles!

Monday, June 22, 2009

A look at the farm

So here are some videos as I have been promising! The first is a short tour of where I live. The last three are a few steps that go into the daily milking of the cows.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Day at the Market

Saturday June 20, 2009
I had to get up early on Saturday, around 6 am, to get everything ready for market. Saturday's market is in Cork City. We sell eggs, milk, yogurt, produce, meat, and sometimes hens and cheese. Anne and I were in charge of the stall. It was a slow day; we didn't even sell all the eggs which is very unusual. If you are curious prices were as such:
6 free range eggs for 2.20 euros and 12 for 4.00
Liter of fresh milk 2.20
yogurt 1.50
cabbage for 1.00
rubbarb for 1.50
turnips for 1.00
and meats at various prices

I used my Borders retail sales skills to my advantage haha. I also walked around the market. There were stalls similiar to ours but also stalls with cakes, crafts, and fish. I bought a delicious apricot bar and muffin for future breakfasts.

After the market, Anne and I relaxed for the rest of the day. I took a blanket out to the gardens and listened to music and read magazines for about 3 hrs. It was such a beautiful day; I don't see how someone could not have spent every minute of it outdoors. Then Anne and I took the 30 minute walk to the nearest pub for a couple beers. I tried Murphy's and Beamish. They are both stouts.

The 30 min walk home was not nearly as enjoyable because it was getting cold outside. Back at home, we started a fire and went to bed but not until we started a fire to keep our new home warm!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sheep and Cows and Pigs...O MY

Day 2 at the farm and I already know my way around. I woke up before Anne this morning, and I checked on the chickens to make sure they had food and mixed food for the pigs. I began to feed the pigs, but when I got to the pen with the two "lover pigs," I got very scared. The two pigs are half my height and very very loud. They clearly knew why I was there and started jumping on the gate which I was having trouble opening. I knew I wasn't ready to feed them on my own, so I took my bucket of food and waited for Anne to get up.

After feeding the pigs, Anne and I milked the cows. Out of the three cows, we get about a bucket and a half of milk. Buckets are big...about 10 liters of milk. Francy, a worker on the farm, got us to help with the sheep. We moved them from the field to the barn, so we could give them medication. It is quite the task. There are over 100 sheep and they cram into a small pen. There are three sections to the pen. They start on the left then we move about 20 into the middle. In the middle section we medicate them and then move those sheep to the right. Then the whole cycle starts over until all the sheep are in the right pen. My job was two hold the one gate shut because it didn't have a latch. Sheep are very nervous animals and tried to get out of the pen with the medicine. I was putting my whole body into keeping this gate shut.

After the sheep, I raked a little more until "dinner" We always have dinner with Collin and his wife, Sally, in their house. Sally is a very good cook. Dinner of course consists mainly of potatoes, meat, and vegetables. It is a farmer's dinner.

Then I weeded the driveway. You see, there is an open farm day on Sunday that a school hosts. Almost 1000 people come and go through out the day, so we are currently tidying up the farm so it looks good for the day.

When the came to a close, I finished reading "Marley and Me" by the fireplace. I cried so hard at the end. This was the first book that every made me cry...ugh. Luckily, I was enjoying myself so much in the stone cottage where the fire was Collin told me Anne and I could move into it unti August 5th when the renters move in. We are so happy because we were currently in the basement of Collin's house. It's a nice basement and we each had our own bedroom, but it got very cold at night, and we didn't have a decent bathroom. This cottage is much better. The kitchen is no longer down the hallway but we are willing to make that sacrafice. Now the two of us literally have a house to our own. Day 2 had been great and full of surprises. I know I smell bad, and my boots are already covered in mud and poop, but hey that's the life of a farmer.

I promise to take pictures and video soon!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God Bless Farmers!

All I have to say is God Bless Farmers and what they do day after day after day. Obviously, I have some muscles to build. I expect to be very sore tomorrow. I did a lot of different tasks today. I milked three cows, collected eggs, and raked dead grass and pathways for about 5 hrs. Everyone is very friendly here. The farm doesn't seem super organized, but I am not going to make an judgements yet. All I DO know is that I will be sleeping very well tonight.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

day 1 on the farm

o goodness! so I really think this farm is absolutely beautiful! there is so much land and I can't wait to explore it all. My first big job on the farm was to collect eggs and prepare them for market. It wasn't bad at all. After doing this chore once, I feel I am competely competent to do it on my own. From what I hear, this farm isn't the most organized place in the world. Collin's, the owner, main mission is education not making profit at the market. I assume then I will learn a lot about farm work, but I won't neccessarily experience everything a farm has to offer. There are pigs, cows, and a lot of chickens on the farm. I will take pictures very soon.

Tonight, there was a group of 9 french boys on the farm. They come here every summer to complete some type of project for school. This summer they finished the watch tower. They decided to get very drunk tonight, and I felt like the mom. I took care of two of them while the puked in the toilets. This wasn't the ideal greeting, but I got to hear the language, and I definitely helped out...ugh. Atleast these boys were taken care of. This is very different from the American school system. I would rather be caught dead before I was so drunk in front of my teachers. Very very different.

I am very happy with the living quarters. I actually have my own room! I can't complain at all. Currently, it is just me and Anne, a german girl volunteer who is 20. We seem to be getting along well. In about a month there will be some spanish and german men who come as well. It's very late now and I am very tired. I will write again soon!


There are approximately 45 minutes until I face the reality of this farming program. I just spent the night in the city of Cork. It seems like a very pleasant city, and hopefully, I get more chances to visit during the coming two months. I've got my steel toed boots on and a tie dye shirt; I think i'm set for the farm. I am very excited, but I have nervous butterflies at the same time. I've created pictures in my mind of what the worst could be and what the best could be when I get to this farm. I can only wish for a happy medium. Please keep cross your fingers, say a prayer, wish on a star, or do whatever it is that you do to help make sure this experience is positive for me. I will give you an update as soon as I can!

With love from the farmer in training,

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ich bin ein Berliner!

After restless attempts at sleep in the Dublin Airport Wednesday night through early Thursday morning, I flew to Berlin, Germany on RyanAirs. I thought I was going to need to waste more time at the Berlin airport, but it worked out great that Kirsten and Birgit were very close when I landed. I got in the car and struggled to keep conversation the whole drive to Birgit’s cousin’s house. I was just so exhausted from not really sleeping. Fortunately, they were tired too because Birgit and Kirsten had to get up early to drive to Berlin. When we got to Angelica’s house, the three of us took a nap. This nap felt very very good. I woke up and continued to relax with a glass of wine and a box of chocolates. J

Friday was a much more event filled day compared to Thursday. We started with some very delicious brotchen for breakfast. Then Birgit, Kirsten, and I went to the SanSouci Park to see the castles. These castles are very different from the Ireland Castles I saw. The San Souci is more like a gigantic mansion. It was built for Frederick the Great. I took a tour of both of his castles; it’s hard to believe that people actually lived in such luxurious houses. I am going to begin saving up. Kirsten and I also visited the tea house in the park where Alexander or his wife would go away to have secret meetings with secret visitors. It rained a little during our time in the park, but I had my awesome green rain jacket on, so I was covered.

After the park, we went into the city of Berlin. First Kirsten and I were on a quest to find the juggling catacombs. It was a mission that Michael, my brother, sent me on. The catacombs were very cool. You can see my videos below. The jugglers who were practicing knew my brother which was pretty cool. It’s weird having a “famous” person in the family even if it just within the juggling world. Go on Michael…Brush your shoulder off.

After the catacombs, Kirsten and I went to catch the 100 bus which takes you around Berlin to a lot of the sites. The bus was really late; we waited for about 30 minutes, but that was ok because the bus also took the two of us where we were going to meet Birgit and her cousin for dinner. We ate a Brewery that had very good beer. I had a hearty dinner of ½ a duck, dumplings, and red cabbage. Wonderful! You can imagine by the time we got home around 11 pm I was so tired! I went straight to bed.

More brotchen for breakfast! I missed them while in Ireland. Kirsten and I caught a train into Berlin, and then caught the 100 bus again to the Dom. We decided not to go into the big cathedral because it cost 3 euros and we both had seen so many cathedrals. Then we went see a exhibit of the antica era. There were lots of pots and sculptures. It was cool. We ate our packed lunches on the stairs of the museum. After the museum, Kirsten and I went to the Postbahnhof to see the bodyworlds exhibit. I had seen a very similar exhibit in Pittsburgh at the science center a year ago, but this was before I took anatomy for dance conditioning. It was interesting to see the muscles and bones again now that I knew the names. Kirsten really enjoyed the exhibit too.

We finished the exhibit around 5 pm and really wanted some coffee. We were planning on going to a specific cafĂ© Kirsten knew about, but we couldn’t find the bus stop, so we decided to stay where we were. We went to starbucks at a nearby mall. Then of course we had to do a little shopping. I bought a pair of shorts at H&M for 9 euros. Not bad at all! After shopping, we came back to Angelica’s house for some dinner that Birgit cooked for us.

Berlin has been a lot of fun. I head by to Duisburg tomorrow and then back to Ireland on Monday. My farming program begins on Tuesday. I am getting very excited to start this program, but I hope it turns out to be a very positive experience. My month of backpacking has been so memorable, and I want good memories to continue during the next 2 months. Keep your fingers crossed for me please!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Here are some extra videos I haven't posted of Paris, Amsterdam, and Ireland. Enjoy!


I can't believe I haven't blogged about Dublin yet! Well, I have plenty of free time right now to do just that.

Day 1 (Sunday)
Jill and I spent most of the day traveling by train to Dublin from Galway. We got to the hostel which was absolutely perfect. The Abbey hostel is a mix between our five star corporate hostel in Amsterdam and the intimate Claddagh Hostel in Galway. We were very happy. After freshening up from our travels we took a stroll around the temple bar area. Our two main goals were to find dinner and live music. This was our night to splurge on a fancier dinner since we hadn't done that yet and we didn't want to go grocery shopping. We had dinner at the Quay Restaurant, a two course meal for 19 euros, and then we walked around in the search for live music. In Dublin, live music is very easy to find. What is hard to find is space in the bar. We moved around from bar to bar taking it all in. There was also street music and dancing. We didn't stay out too late because we were tired from traveling and wanted to be well rested for the next full day.

Day 2 (Monday)
Our big plan monday was the Guinness Brewery. It was not nearly as exciting as the Heineken Experience, but we enjoyed ourselves nevertheless. Our free pint at the gravity bar on the top floor of the factory was well worth it. They really know how to pull a pint...obviously.

After the factory, I took Jill on a walking tour of the area. We found some older churches to go into and visted Trinity College. The campus is absolutely breathtaking. The buildings are so old and detailed. We wanted to see the Book of Kells, but it cost 8 euros, and we just weren't willing to pay the fee considering 8 euros equals two beers. The evening took us back to our favorite bar The Quay where we helped ourselves to some pints and made friends with the bartender. We also met two Scottish men, Stephen and Andrew. They caught our eyes by their kilts they wore. Let's just say they definitely wore their kilts the authentic way. Stephen and Andrew were great fun, and we showed them Gogarty another great bar with traditional irish music all night.

Day 3 (Tuesday)
Ouch! It was tough getting up Tuesday morning due to Monday night. We had a few too many pints, so our solution was to sleep in a little. After we showered and ate, Jill and I walked along the Liffey. We saw the Custom House and stopped for coffee. It was a relaxing day with great conversation between us. We discussed our plans for the coming year and repeatedly exclaimed how happy we were at that very moment in Ireland. At 5pm we went to the DanceHouse. It is a building with many studios and open classes. We took an hour long contempory dance class. Dancing always feels so good when it has been awhile since your last class. After class we went to the grocery store to get food for dinner. I cooked up some stir fry for us; it was bangin! Then we went back to the Quay to enjoy jills last irish pint of Guinness.

Day 4 (Wednesday)
Jill left early this morning to catch her plane home. I am still in the hostel, but I'll probably head out for a walk soon. I have to leave for the airport around 9 pm, but my flight isn't until 6 am. I have to store my luggage at the airport and the storage facility isn't 24 hrs, so I have to get there before they close. It's not going to be very funy sitting in an airport all night, but I have to do what I have to do. I head to Berlin for the weekend with the Anders again. I'm excited to be back in that city.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

If it's not free it's not for me

Spending time in Europe has made me realize there are a lot of free things in America I take for granted because here in Europe you have to pay for them. Some of these things include:

Toilets (50 cents)
Water fountains (non existent)
Theatre programs (3 euros)
Water at restaurants (not free because it's always bottled)

When I think of more I'll add on, but all you people in America everytime you use a public toilet or drink from a water fountain please think of me and the money I had to spend to get those everyday amenities.


Galway is a magnificent city! If you ever find yourself headed to Ireland, please take atleast a day to explore this quaint city. On Friday, we started with a trip to the laundrette. The owner was absolutely fabulous, and we met a man name Gerry who was a famous Vietnam Reporter in the U.S. He's interviewed people like Bob Hope and Marilyn Monroe. It was pretty cool.

Then, I played tour guide and brough Jill around on a walking tour of the city. We visited St. Nicholas Cathedral, Lynch's Window, Eyre Square, Lynch's Castle, the original Claddagh jewelry store (where i bought a clauddagh ring), the Spanish Arch's, and the Cathedral of St. Mary assumed into heaven and st. nicholas. You can imagine this took quite some time, but I appreciate jill putting up with all my touristy sight seeing!

We thought it was appropriate at this time to take a break for our feet and have a beer. I tried a new beer called Kilkenny. It's not quite as dark as a Guiness but served similiarly. It's very good! Dad I really think you'll like it!

Friday ended really well because JIll and I went to see the play The Playboy of the Western World by Druid Theatre Company. The show's a very dark comedy/drama, and the company did a great job.

Our last day in Galway, but Jill and I spent most of the day outside in County Clare. We took an organized bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. We stopped and many places along the way including Dunguaire Castle, Burren hills, town of Doolin for lunch, Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, and a cave on the way back. The cliffs are breathtaking! They stretch for miles and give you a great view of the Aran Islands. We were so lucky with the weather too, it began to rain for time on the cliffs but quickly turned back to a cool sunny day. Like I said, Galway is really a great place, and I have definately fallen in love with Ireland here. I am really looking forward to spending two months on the landscapes I observed today!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Long time no see

I feel like it's been a long time since I last updated this blog. I suppose it's really only been a little over two days, but since I am not in a different country, I've lost my bearings a bit. First, I am safe in Galway, Ireland with Jill. Our hostel here is not nearly as nice as our 5 star hotel (aka stayok hostel) in Amsterdam. Amsterdam ended with quite a bang. Our big event on Wednesday was th Heineken Experience.We went with Mark who we met at the hostel. He's from New Jersey. The company turned the old brewery into a walking tour, and it was awesome! The staff was very entertaining, and the tour had activities like karaoke and rides that took you through the brewing experience from the perspective of a beer bottle. Through out the tour you go three free beers, but we become so friendly with the staff they let us hang out a bit and just kept pouring us free drafts. They loved us in Amsterdam.

We also visited the I AM AMSTERDAM sign in Museum park. It's a great picture opportunity.

Thursday was really a travel day. Jill and I woke up early to catch a bus to the train station. We took a train to the airport. We flew to Dublin and then trained it to Galway. It was a long day, but luckily we met no glitches in our plan. As our said, our hostel here is not nearly as nice as Amsterdam. It's hippied out and has a slight scent of mildew everywhere you walk, but we are lucky enough to have found it for such a cheap price. There are many long termers here that volunteer as staff for the hostel. Jill and I feel a big like outsiders, but no worries because we have each other!

It's kind of exciting that we are here in Galway right now because there is a big boat race that just docked here. There is a huge stage setup outside by our hostel and there are free concerts every night. Jill and I went there last night and then walked around town.

This morning we are going to do laundrey and tour Galway.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I AMsterdam

Hey everyone,

day 2 is coming to a close for amsterdam. Jill and I got a lot done. We walked around to view what we considered some pretty cool sights in town. We started out at Anne Frank's Annex. I've been to the hideaway ten years ago, but it was much different visiting it as an adult. In 5th grade, I thought the Annex was "so cool." Of course, I understood the severity of why Anne's family was in hiding, but it didn't hit me emotionally. Today, I was really affected by the writings of Anne's father. He spoke about how surprised he was by Anne's maturity and insight within her journal. His love for Anne was so apparent, and I teared up a few times through out the museum, but as most of you know, it doesn't usually take much to make me get emotional..haha.

The other major activity Jill and I did was paddle boating down the Amsterdam canals. this was a lot of fun and a little nerve wrecking. (video will come soon)!

Then in the evening, Jill and I went to Karaoke in the hostel. We got the party started, no joke. The bar was mostly filled with 16 yr old Germans, and they were not doing Karaoke the "right" way, so Jill and I set the bar higher. We sang "The Lion Sleeps tonight" "I've got you babe" and "Big Spender" throughout the course of the evening. The owner of the hostel loved us so much he gave us each a free beer. We also met Mark who's from New Jersey, so that was pretty great.

Well my internet time is ticking down... I hope America's weather is treating you as well as Europe weather is treating me (knock on wood).

2 days w/ no pictures

Allow me update you with my past two days of travel. First of all, I have made it safely to Amsteram, and I am enjoying Jill's company very very much! Unfortunately, I am using the hostel's computers for internet so there won't be many pictures until I get to a hostel with free wifi which I think will be in 3 days.

I finished my glorious 5 days in Paris by visiting the Musee D'orsay. It was all worthwhile just to see the Degas paintings. It was amazing to see his dance paintings up close; photographs just do not do them justice! I also got to see his dance sculptures. It was really a treat. Another amazing sculptures I saw while at the museum was Rodin's "The Old Courtesan" sculpture. I used this sculpture as inspiration for my Liz Staruch's sight specific work during the fall 2008 concert. Again, this looked much better when it was 6 inches from my face. I concluded Paris with a boat ride down the Siene River with Justin. We got lost trying to find it but that only made the trip more of an adventure. Luckily, we made the last boat ride, and I finally understood why Paris is called the "city of lights."

Yesterday, I arrived in Amsterdam with Jill. The hostel where we are staying is very nice. It's a little out of town which can be a problem late in the night getting back, but the breakfast is very good and the sheets clean. What more can you really ask for? During our first day, we took in the local color for most of the afternoon. It was definately a day of splurging, but I haven't done that yet, so I didn't feel too bad. We ate a sit down dinner and then visited an Irish Pub called Mulligan's. We talked to the owner Shawn about Ireland and Amsterdam. He was very friendly and helpful. The evening took us to the Red Light District where we enjoyed the various entertainment it had to offer. If you really want details, you can email me at Karancer701@msn.com. I'll just say it was a lifetime experience haha.

Today, Jill and I plan to visit Anne Frank's hideaway. I am about to go glance at a map for awhile so we know where to go. Tootles for now.

with love,

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What a small world!

Thursday evening I was completing my routine facebook and e-mail checks and I received a message from Billy Crean, a old friend from middle school. What a coincidence he was in Paris too! He's been studying abroad since January, and after traveling around other parts of Europe, he was back in Paris for one more weekend. So we made plans to meet up on Friday.

Friday morning I met up with Billy near where he was staying in the 5th arronssement. We began our day together by visiting a Colosseum near his apartment. It was alittle anticlimatic, but I never would have found it on my own. Through out the day, Billy and I visited several churches including the church of St. Sulpice where the famous Rose Line is and the Madeleine. Around 1:30, Billy and I met up with three of his friends, and we all went to a park near the Chateau de Vincennes and ate lunch. We had so much food! The menu included lots of bread, cheese, meat, and wine. The essentials really. With our stomachs filled, we walked inside the chateau to take pictures. Billy and I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Paris. I swear we walked the entire length of Paris. I saw sights like Place Vendome, the Opera House, and Galeries Lafayette. Spending time with Billy was really great; we got to catch up and reminisce about our middle school days.

I went back to the apartment to eat and split a bottle of wine with Justin. Then we headed over to Justin's friends Chris' apartment. This was around 11 pm. Friday ended with a long night at the club. We didn't get back and into bed utnil 6 am. I was very tired!

Because of our late night out, Justin and slept in very late on today (saturday). We bummed around most of the early afternoon until we decided to go visit the musee d'orsay. Unfortunately, the museum was closing when we finally got there. We decided to walk around and window shop. One of our stops was at a huge grocery store. It was a high end grocery store where items like "Bling" water could be bought for 30 euros a liter. Very pricey. After our long walk, we were famished, so we headed home and bought Doner.

After dinner, Justin got ready to meet some friends, and I made a plan to head out to see Sacre-Coeur and the Eiffel Tower at night. This was very worthwhile. The city does a great job lighting up these sights. Every 30 min for 5 min span of time the Eiffel Tower sparkles with flashing lights. It's very cool to watch. As I drooled over it's beauty, I enjoyed a nutella crepe. Now i'm home, and very tired. Tomorrow, Justin and I are going to try again to visit the museum. Then on monday I will be meeting Jill in Amsterdam! I am really looking forward to spending time with her in Europe. Goodnight!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Paris makes me sore

I can't believe today was only my second full day in Paris. I feel like I've done it all! Justin doesn't work for the remainder of my stay, so I think we may take a day trip outside of Paris. First, I'll tell you about today...

Since just lives in arronssement 18, I decided to visit the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur first today. I was able to walk to it within 15 minutes. The basilica was beautiful like everything in Paris. It was a real treat to visit because there was a service happening inside. A woman sang some very lovely hymns while I walked around. It made the touring much more magical.

I continued outside and walked the streets of Montmatre. I visited a few souvenir shops to see what they offered...not much. Then I went to the the artists' square where many painters and sketchers sold their work. If I wasn't going to be traveling to several more countries, I may have bought a piece because many of the painters were very talented. However, I am a poor college student, so I kept my money. Down the hill I found the Lapin Agile, a small bar-cabaret that has showed up in Picasso's work. It wasn't open when I walked by. This walking tour of Montmatre also took me to Cimetiere St. Vicent where I saw French painter Maurice Utrillo's grave. This wasn't very significant to me since I don't know his work, but I went nonetheless.

My day took me next to the catacombs. If you every come to Paris, I definately recommend visiting these. It was creepy to walk underground Paris and be among so many bones, but I've never seen anything like it! Originally built to quarry stones, the catacombs are now the gravesight for milions of skeletons.

I came out of the catacombs in a different place from where I entered, and it took me awhile to locate myself on the map. After meandering around, I eventually found out where I was, and continued on another walking tour from my borrow Fodor's guide. I stopped at the Foundation Cartier, a museum for modern art setup by the famous jeweler himself. There were two installations there each very different from each other. It cost 4.5 euros to get in, but it gave me a chance to use the restroom and eat my packed lunch in the museum's garden. I'm glad I stopped.

I finished my tour of Montparnasse by walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg. I saw the Fountaine de l'Observatoire and tree, tree, trees! It was about 5 pm when I finished in Montparnasse. I was very tired because I began around 10 am, but I had one more stop to make before I could call it a day.

Notre Dame!
The cathedral lives up to its reputation. It's beautifully designed, and I really enjoyed the stained glass windows. Again, there was a service happening which made the visit more exciting. I couldn't figure out how to get high up amoung the gargoyles, but I enjoyed looking at them from below. As I thought my visit was over, I became the target of a weird middle aged French man. He began talking to me in French, and I told him "I'm sorry I do not understand," but unfortunaely he also spoke English. He just rambled on about the beautiful cathedral. Then he asked me where I was from and was surprised I was American. blah blah blah very weird guy; he offered to take me to a cafe, but I told him I had to meet my friend because I had his apartment key (this really wasn't a lie). It was hard to get away from him; he gave me his e-mail address, and I made up a fake one for him because it was the only way he was going to let me go. Why he thinks I would contact him is beyond me...

I took the metro back to Justin's place after Notre Dame and had a little dinner. it's now 11 pm, and I'm editing my pictures from the past two days. If I don't stay on top of this stuff, I'll be overwhelmed at the end of my trip. On a side note, I found out this morning that it looks like there will be 4 other volunteers with me at the farm in Ireland. Three spanish guys and a girl from Germany. I hope we get along well!

I have no clue what i'll be doing tomorrow! I hope since I'll have Justin available to me, I can go to a French restaurant because I've been to scared to order anything. All I know is that I am very sore from walking the past two days. I'm sure I've walked many miles and climbled thousands of steps. That's no exaggeration either.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Karas in Paris

Ok I figure I have to get this all out before I forget. Today is very fresh in my mind, and I did sooo many things; I have to write it out now even though it's very late.

I woke up at 9 am and drank coffee with Justin in his cute apartment. I did the usual showering and such, and packed my bag with the necessities: sweaters, maps, camera, money, and snacks. Justin wrote out an itinerary for me last night, so I had step by step directions on where to go and how to get there. I began at the Louvre. I spent about 2.5 hours at the museum; I don't think i could have spent much longer...I stopped taking in details. It was information overload. I really enjoyed the paintings (Italian more than French). The Italian Frescos had more expression to them. Of course, I saw the Mona Lisa. Everyone down-talked the size but it was just about as big as I originally thought, so I was pleased.

After the Louvre, I walked through the Jarden des Tuileries (Gardens) and to the Place de la Concorde. I walked along Champs Elysees amongst all the fancy shops like Louis Vuitton and Cartier. A long walk later, I made it to the ARc de Triomphe. At first, I had no idea how to get it. The Arc is surrounded by a circle of MAD traffic. I was prepared to risk my life to get to the beautiful piece of architecture until I realized there was an underground entrance on my side of the circle. I went up to the top of the Arc where I got my first real view of Paris, France. What a beautiful city! You know how colleges are often labeled as red or white campuses depending on the material used to creat the buildings? Well maybe that's just something my mom says, but Paris is definately a white city. All the buildings are very light, and the white buildings create a gorgeous landscape even on an overcast day.

I spent a decent amount of time on top of the Arc planning out the rest of my day and eating a few snacks. I had to get my money's worth! Then it was time for the Eiffel Tower! I took a metro closer to the famous structure, and when I turned the corner my breath was really taken away. I couldn't erase the smile from my face. It wasn't the size or the design that impressed me (not that those aren't amazing!) but one of my life's goals was instantly completed. I always dreamed of coming to Paris, France and climbing the Eiffel Tower, and there I was today doing just that! It felt really good. Before I went all the way to the tower, I stopped and bought a Nutella Crepe and stared at the tower and took it all in.

I didn't go all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but I took the stair tour which got me most of the way up (it was cheaper). I counted 673 steps. I definately gave my legs a workout, but it was definately worth it. The view was yet again very beautiful from the tower.

By this point, I had been walking around for 7 hours. I decided to make one more stop before I called it a day. I went to the Moulin Rouge! I didn't spend too much time there because I wasn't about to go in. The show costs about 120 euros at the cheapest rate! I did walk around the area and found the cafe that Amelie was filmed in. I also found the Australian bar "Cafe Oz" Tom told me about. While I was walking around, Justin called me and I had to go meet him at Pigalle because I had the keys to the apartment. I may head by to that area again tomorrow since I left a little earlier than planned.

Justin and I returned to the apartment and had a few snacks. He had to turn in grades for the presentations he spent all afternoon watching, so I read the paris travel book to plan for tomorrow. I think I will visit the Catacombs for sure. Justin and I shared a bottle of wine and listened to music and watched youtube videos for the remainder of the evening. It really was a great day. While all the sightseeing was done alone, I didn't mind because I was able to go at my own pace. If I wanted to stop and people watch, I did. If I wanted to count every step I walked up in the Eiffel Tower, I could because no one was there to make me loose count. Don't get me wrong, I love people and company and it's weird to be in such a magnificent city and have no one there to oooo and aaaah with you, but I felt like i was in the final scene of the movie "Paris je t'aime." It is the scene directed by Alexander Payne and you follow a woman around who has finally made it to Paris, France after dreaming about it her whole life. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2EbK0NEl5Av=S2EbK0NEl5A )It's a very sweet scene, and I definately felt like that woman except I am fortunate enough to have made it to Paris, France at the young age of 21.

ok it's late and those are all my thoughts. I apologize for all my grammatical mistakes. I do not go back and proof read these posts. I get my ideas out as fast I can before they disappear. I think you understand.