Saturday, April 14, 2012

The US should annex Ireland

It's economic problems aside, Ireland is awesome. Good food, good people, and beautiful countryside. I was in Dublin for a few hours yesterday, but I came to Galway last night. Galway is really pretty, I walked along the shore this morning. There's not much in the way of sightseeing in the town, but there is plenty of life. Pubs and shops are all over the place.

I'll post a full post when I get back, in addition to posting about Easter week.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Holy week

Being in Rome for Holy Week was pretty amazing.

The city was definitely more crowded during the week, even in our neighborhood.

It was a busy week with classes and such, but we had Good Friday and Easter Monday off from school. On Friday a couple friends and I went around and saw some of the important churches and religious sites that we hadn't visited yet: St. Peter in Chains, St. John Lateran, and the Holy Stairs. Even having been there before, it was a good experience to go back on Good Friday. Afterwards, I made myself seafood risotto for dinner, since I haven't had much seafood while I've been here. That night we went to the stations of the cross at the Colosseum. It was presided over by the Pope. Other ND people from all over Europe were there, as well as someone from Campus Ministry.

Saturday I made a pot of sauce, just like my wonderful parents taught me to. It came out pretty good, even if I didn't have a food processor.

Sunday we had to get up early to go stand in line at the Vatican for mass. ND got us all tickets, so we were able to have a chair instead of standing in the square the entire time. It was different because there were so many people, and the altar was kind of far away, but overall it was an awesome experience. The Pope gave an Easter message afterwards from the window above the liturgical door.

I made Easter dinner with three of my friends from the group: roast beef, porchetta, roast potatoes, carrots, and broccoli. I got a cassata cake from a Sicilian pastry shop and we had that for dessert. Overall it was a pretty cool day, and weekend.

Friday, April 6, 2012

London: royal stuff and funny accents

We got into London really late Thursday night; it took forever to get to our hostel from the airport.

Friday we went on a free walking tour around the royal part of London. It was cool because we got to see many of the big sights, but we didn't get to go into any of them. We walked on the Queen's grass in Green Park, stood outside Buckingham Palace, and took pictures of some statuesque Coldstream guarding Prince Charles's house. We ate lunch at a pub at the end of the tour where we got fish and chips and some cider. Then we met up with some of the other Rome kids for high tea at the Orangery at Kensington Palace. We went on a pub crawl that night, which was cool seeing different places in the center of the city.

Saturday we went to the Cabinet War Rooms. It is the bunker underneath the Prime Minister's office where Churchill spent most of the war strategizing and monitoring things with his staff. They sealed the rooms when the war ended, and now they've been restored to how they looked during it. It was a really interesting experience. After that we went to see Phantom of the Opera at Her Majesty's Theatre. It was really good, and the singers were all amazing.

Saturday night we all went on the cruise on Thames river with all the other Notre Dame people from Europe. It was good seeing them again, especially the guys from my dorm.

Sunday we got up and went to the Tower of London. It was interesting to see all the different parts of the fortress. It's not just a tower where they imprisoned and tortured people: there's a lot more than that. There were armories and different historical exhibits. It's also where the Crown Jewels are kept. Everything is either gold, or otherwise covered in diamonds and gems. Then we got lunch in a pub, where I tried steak & ale pie and chicken, ham, and leek pie.

Then we had to catch a train to the airport, where we were late for our flight, until it was delayed.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Spring Break, part three: Prague

We took a bus from Munich to Prague and got in just after noon. We put our stuff down and went out to walk around.

We met up with one of the girl's friends from home who is studying in Prague and he showed us around. We walked across the St. Charles bridge, up the mountain to the Castle, where the president lives. Then we walked around that side of the river for a while before we found our way to a monastery that has been brewing its own beer for centuries. It overlooked the city so it had a great view, and good food. We also went to the Lennon Wall, which is just a wall with a bunch of graffiti on it. Someone before us had written an ND on the wall and signed it, so we all signed around it. Got KFC for dinner, which was awesome. There are so many American chains in Prague, it was crazy. That night we went to a story club along the river, one of the biggest in Europe. It was pretty cool, each floor had different music and theme.

Saturday we walked around the city center. We saw the two main squares, Old and New (they're really original). We walked into a church just off the Old square, and it was really beautiful, but we couldn't take pictures. There was a bunch of things going on in the old square because of a festival and Easter approaching. We saw the Astronomical Clock, which is on the side of a building in Old Square. We had some street food for lunch: fried cheese sandwich and an old Prague kielbasa. Both were really good. Then that night we went to an 80s/90s that people from our program recommended. Unfortunately it was a bust.

Spring Break was a lot of fun, but I was really happy to be back in Rome.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Break, Part Two: Munich

Wednesday(of Spring Break) we flew to Manchester, England and then connected to Munich because it was cheaper than a direct flight. Unfortunately we almost missed our flight to Munich because we had to go out through passport control and customs, and then run to the next terminal and back through security. But we made it, albeit slightly out of breath.

Munich was awesome. Leo and I stayed in the same hostel as a group of girls from our program, so we got to see them and hang out while we were in town.

We saw the couple churches near the city center, which were really pretty. We also saw the Glockenspiel, the cuckoo clock in the main square. It goes off every hour on the hour, and it plays a ten minute display.

The rest of the day we walked around the city and saw the English garden. We walked around to each of the three main breweries/beer gardens in the city and tried each of their fares. The food was excellent: we had weissewurst, bratwurst, gulash, sauerkraut, potato salad, pretzels, apple strudel, Dutch blueberry pancake, and apple donut rings. We also tried their different beers. They have many different varieties: light lagers, sweet lagers, ambers, dark Dunkels, and stouts. My favorite was the amber colored Weissbier, although all the ones I tried were good.

Then we went out that night for a bit, and Leo and I left early the next morning for Prague to meet up with the group from Paris and some others.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Break, Part One: Paris

Extremely sorry for the break in blogging, I've really busy the last couple weeks with work.  I'm going to pick up from where I left off, which was just before Spring Break after I had been in Rome for a couple weeks.
Two disclaimers: I'm breaking my posts about Spring Break into three parts, one for each city.  Also, it might take a while for pictures to be posted.

Here it goes:

First we went to Paris for a couple days.  Arriving Monday morning, we saw the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  We climbed to the top of the cathedral and got a great view of the city.  Then we walked around and saw more of the city.  For dinner we ate at a restaurant, the only one time we did while we were there. I had onion soup and beef bourgignon, both of which were excellent.  Tuesday we climbed the Eiffel Tower in the morning.  Afterwards, we had a baguette fight on the grass in front of it and hung out for a bit.  Then we crossed the river and walked up the Champs d'Elysses to the Arc di Triomphe.  We got some macaroons from a famous place there, and they were amazing.  Then we tried to go to the Louvre museum, but it was closed on Tuesdays.  So instead we went to the Musee d'Orsay.  It was pretty cool, it had art from after the 1800s.  So we saw some Monet and Van Gogh.  After that we decided to go check out the Paris opera house.  It was really beautiful, and it was the opera house where the Phantom of the Opera was based on I believe.  Wednesday Leo and I took in the Louvre in less than two hours.  We decided to only do one wing, and see all the Italian and Northern European art, along with ancient pieces from the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.  It was mind blowing how much stuff was in just that one wing.  After that we had to leave to catch our flight to Manchester, England, and then connect to Munich.