Long Weekend in Dublin

Okay, so I haven’t written a post about my last travel break to Prague, Bratislava and Budapest. To be honest, it has a lot to do with the fact that I have over 200 pictures from that trip and it would be so hard to pick and choose the ones that sum up my time there. I really loved all of those places, and each city had its own character and vibe. In Prague, I said, “I want to live here.” In Bratislava, I said, “I could live here.” In Budapest, I said, “Oh. I really want to live here.” And at the time, those statements were absolutely true, and when I came back to Copenhagen, I was pondering how I could manage to live all of these places without becoming a wandering beggar.

And then I went to Dublin.

My friend Jordan and I had planned this trip to Dublin at the end of September on a whim, and I’m so glad that we did. Ireland was on my list of places to go, and I would have been so mad at myself if I left Europe without going. We left on Thanksgiving night, and had a comedic episode in the airport when we bought a six-pack of Christmas beer at duty-free, and proceeded to drink them secretly because we thought it might be illegal to drink in an airport. We started the weekend the Irish way, and it seemed like everyone else on our Aer Lingus flight had, too.

We arrived at our hostel, The Liffey on Litton Lane, which used to be a recording studio where the likes of U2, The Cranberries, David Bowie and Van Morrison have recorded. There, we met up with Jordan’s friend from her home university, Ellie. and got ourselves situated. That night started our weekend-long pub crawl, which was particularly special because that Friday was Jordan’s 21st birthday! We went to so many different types of bars and pubs that weekend, and had a great time at every one. While the live music and cozy atmosphere played a part, it was definitely the Irish people that we met at each place that made our time memorable; I’ll never forget the interesting characters I met that weekend.

Aside from drinking lots of Guinness and chatting with some of the friendliest people in the world, we did some sightseeing, too. (Of course, among the touristy things we did were tours of the Guinness and Jameson factories, so I’m not quite sure if those count as enlightening cultural experiences.)

Ellie, me, and Jordan bringing a Guinness poster to life!

Ellie, me, and Jordan bringing a Guinness poster to life!

The Millenium Spire, actually built in 2003, stands in the middle of O'Connell Street in Dublin. This was taken from the top of a Hop-On Hop-Off bus, which is how we did most of our sightseeing.

The Millenium Spire, actually built in 2003, stands in the middle of O’Connell Street in Dublin. This was taken from the top of a Hop-On Hop-Off bus, which is how we did most of our sightseeing.

Another view from the bus of an interesting building in the Docklands, and proof that the sun does shine in Dublin (sometimes).

Another view from the bus of an interesting building in the Docklands, and proof that the sun does shine in Dublin (sometimes).

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Wandering around Trinity College, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to study there.

A beautiful spiral staircase in the Long Room, part of the Old Library that houses the Book of Kells at Trinity College.

Men playing field hockey. That’s not something you see every day in the U.S!

The Oscar Wilde memorial in Merrion Park. This is my favorite statue that I’ve seen in Europe by far.

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The backside of Dublin Castle. I loved the contrast of the old grey buildings and the (presumably) more modern brightly colored buildings.

The famously busty statue of Molly Malone on Grafton Street.

The famously busty statue of Molly Malone on Grafton Street.

Ireland is still on the top of my list of places to visit. Dublin was only a small glimpse of the country, but out of all the places I’ve traveled, it was definitely my favorite..I really wish I had the opportunity to see the countryside and all of the famous landmarks throughout Ireland, but that will just have to be a trip for another time. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to Ireland at all, and one thing is for sure: the people of Ireland could draw me back over and over again.

“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.” -James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet

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Oslo in 24

This past weekend, I took a trip with Julie, Jordan, and Cedar to the lovely city of Oslo, Norway. We left at almost 10 PM on Friday and endured an 8 hour bus ride that consisted of very little sleep. We arrived in Oslo at 6 AM, and after a bit of confused wandering to find our hostel, we began our 24 hour tour of the city. Yes, it was insane, but we’re college students-aren’t we supposed to do crazy things?

We bought a 24 hour transportation pass, which helped us visit all the places we wanted to go by getting us all over the city much faster than we might have if we were walking. So, our first destination was Vigelandsparken, which is a park a bit outside of the city that contains sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. Having a pretty good handle on Copenhagen public transportation, we thought navigating Oslo would be a breeze, and it should have been. Despite our experience, however, we managed to get on a tram going the opposite direction, so at that point we decided to head into the city center.

Cedar, Julie and Jordan, blissfully unaware that they were about to get on the wrong tram.

Cedar, Julie and Jordan, blissfully unaware that they were about to get on the wrong tram.

Our first stop in the city was Oslo Opera House, which first opened its doors in 2008. It is a very modern building, and its angled roofs allow you to walk to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the fjord. This opportunity was enhanced by the fact that it was a beautiful sunny day! Great weather seems to follow us wherever we go.

One of the many views from the roof, overlooking the fjord.

One of the many views from the roof, overlooking the fjord.

Another view, this time showing part of the city.

Another view, this time showing part of the city.

Next, we took a quick walk down the street and a quick trip back in time to Akershus Fortress, which was originally built in the 13th century and restored as a castle in the 18th century. The grounds were stunning and once again, provided wonderful views of the fjord.

Part fortress, part castle. Entirely beautiful.

Part fortress, part castle. Entirely beautiful.

Old met new with the inclusion of a sculpture trail throughout the grounds.

Old met new with the inclusion of a sculpture trail throughout the grounds.

Next, we set our sights on the National Gallery, where an Edvard Munch exhibit was being featured. Munch’s most famous painting is The Scream, which was the only painting of his that I knew before entering the exhibit. Even though I wasn’t familiar with his artwork, I was really glad that we went and had the chance to see his collections almost in their entirety, which is a rare opportunity. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed in the exhibit. I did, however, take pictures of some of the permanent pieces in the gallery.

My favorite painting from the trip: "Winter's Night in Rondane" by Harald Sohlberg

My favorite painting from the trip: “Winter’s Night in Rondane” by Harald Sohlberg

Our last stop, and my favorite stop, was the place we had intended for our first stop: Vigelandsparken. The park itself is massive and pristine, and had a sense of grandeur that only a park containing a world-famous sculpture arrangement could evoke. The arrangement consists of four parts: The Main Gate/Bridge, The Fountain, The Monolith, and The Wheel of Life. The theme is simple: humanity and the circle of life.

The Main Gate/Bridge consists of a bridge lined with statues of people, adults and children alike, progressing through life.

The sculptures capture human emotions and relationships, both simple and complex.

The sculptures capture human emotions and relationships, both simple and complex.

This statue was one of my favorites; I was stunned by the way Vigeland was able to show movement, and this is a perfect example.

This statue was one of my favorites; I was stunned by the way Vigeland was able to show movement, and this is a perfect example.

Next was the fountain, which did not have plumbing due to renovations. This was a blessing in disguise though, because we were able to appreciate the details of the sculpture that would have normally been hidden beneath flowing water.

The inner part of the fountain, which is usually covered in water, shows six men of various ages hoisting a large basin.

The inner part of the fountain, which is usually covered in water, shows six men of various ages hoisting a large basin.

At each corner of the fountain are sculptures of humans at various stages of life, intertwined with trees.

At each corner of the fountain are sculptures of humans at various stages of life, intertwined with trees.

The wrought iron gate at the entrance to the monolith.

The wrought iron gate at the entrance to the monolith.

The monolith in the background, and one of the 36 sculptures circling its base.

The monolith in the background, and one of the 36 sculptures circling its base.

The statues surrounding the base of the monolith in rings coincides with the "circle of life" theme that is evident in the entire arrangement.

The statues surrounding the base of the monolith in rings coincides with the “circle of life” theme that is evident in the entire arrangement.

The monolith is comprised of 121 human figures and took 14 years to complete. Apparently, it represents the human desire to reach the divine.

The monolith is comprised of 121 human figures and took 14 years to complete. Apparently, it represents the human desire to reach the divine.

The sculptures are a celebration of life's ups and downs, shown through human interactions.

The sculptures are a celebration of life’s ups and downs, shown through human interactions.

After the park, we were all beat and ready to head back to the hostel for some food, which proved more difficult than we thought (do I sense a recurring motif?). First, the Oslo Marathon meant that public transportation was not running as usual, so we tried the tram, metro, and train to get back. Then, we were struggling to find anything to eat that did not cost over 20 dollars until a friendly man directed us towards Noodle Pie, a Thai restaurant. The food was great, but the 10 kroner charge to eat inside the restaurant was not; we ate our food on a park bench, shamelessly. By the time we got back to the hostel, we were completely drained, and I think I fell asleep by 9 o’clock.

Surprisingly, the bus ride home turned out to be another highlight of the trip. While the sunny weather on Saturday was perfect for wandering the city, the foggy weather that rolled in on Sunday morning shrouded the fjords in mystery, while the first autumn leaves blazed red and gold through the grey mist. Something about that view captured all of us, I think, because I caught my friends staring out the window, just as I was, as though entranced by the sight. Oslo was a great city, but if I ever get to return to Norway, it will definitely be to take in all the natural beauty of the striking landscape. I’ll always be a nature girl at heart.

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Destination: Anywhere

In my attempt to make the time I spend in Copenhagen completely spontaneous, my fellow classmates are making it very difficult for me to stay away from planning for the time being. The facebook page for Fall 2013 students is filled with people discussing travel plans for study tour weeks and weekends and purchasing tickets for concerts they’d like to attend. It’s been very tempting for me to start thinking about where I think I’d like to travel, and I figure there’s no harm in that. So this is my list of places that are at the top of my list for potential getaway destinations while I’m abroad.

1. Eastern Europe (Budapest, Prague, Krakow)

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I have to admit that I am a sucker for the charm and romance of old European cities, and Prague, Budapest, and Krakow seem like the perfect ones to get lost in. The combination of beautiful architecture, ancient culture and friendly people pulls on something in my heart that makes me believe I would feel right at home in these cities. It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve heard that the food is amazing, so perhaps it’s my stomach pulling me rather than my heart.

2. Italy

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My reasons for wanting to visit Italy are very similar to my reasons for visiting Eastern Europe: beautiful cities, wonderful people, and fantastic food. I also imagine that after a few months in chilly Copenhagen and a study tour in Greenland, a quick trip to Italy will be a perfect sunny escape.

3. Ireland

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For all my talk of loving beautiful old cities, I am a country girl at heart (and an Irish one at that). The rolling hills and rocky shores of Ireland are a definite “do not miss” in my book. I’d love to visit the ancient castles and the Aran Islands, drive through small towns in the countryside and stop to chat with locals, and of course, check out Dublin.

These are my top three travel destinations at the moment, but to be honest, I’m open to anything. There is not a single place in Europe that I’m not interested in visiting; all I can hope for is that I come home with no regrets about where I did or didn’t travel. But in the meantime, it’s nice to know that I can put off all this planning…for now.

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