Sunday, February 22, 2015

Ireland Advenshaaah - Part 2

Stefan on a cliff.
Hi, you! :) Here's the actual Ireland post. It's long. I contemplated splitting it into two parts, but then I remembered that I'm senile and will probably forget to post the second part, so here it is, one Very Long Post about Ireland.

If you follow me on twitter you may have seen some of these pictures already. Also, you'll notice this post is very monochromatic. Ireland in winter boasts a lovely palette of gray, gray, and gray.

Just kidding, there was green, too. And black. And brown. And what am I even saying, it was perfect and I adored it. Ok, shut up, Stefan, pictures.

I like to imagine these trees house giant birds that only come out at night and feed on annoying tourists.
Muckross House

This is an estate near the town of Killarney. We stayed at a hilarious hotel where everyone was very snobby. I mean, so maybe I had taken to wearing sweatpants 24/7 on this trip, but I felt like I was being polite. I was like, "D'you have space for three people?" and the desk-guy was like:

"Call a rat-catcher, the plague has arrived."
They let me play the piano in the lobby, though, so I liked them after that. I was in piano-withdrawal at this point in the trip.

I lovvvvvve this picture. The carriage looks like a hearse. A hearse for live people. Which I suppose could be called a carriage.

There's Muckross House in the background.
I would not be opposed to having this as my backyard.

Trees, but reminds me of brocade wallpaper.

Muckross House! According to our guide, it was built for the 3-day-visit of Queen Victoria, then bequeathed to the builder's daughter who died on the voyage over to claim it. Such is life, I suppose.

This tree is my FAVORITE TREE OF ALL THE TREES. And I had a lot off favorite trees.  Ireland is quite full of marvelously-shaped trees.
The Ring of Kerry

This is a driving route in southern Ireland, where everywhere is pretty.We would do random stops to stare at a rock formation, or a mirror-pond, or a particularly eccentric-looking tree.
Called so because Queen Victoria's Ladies-in-Waiting were pretty thrilled with. . .
. . . this view. I don't know if the men were like, "Psh, whatever" but if so, they're dumb.
There were also sheep!

This sheep was chilling next to the road. Becca was like: "STAHP. WE MUST PET IT."
But the sheep was not interested in being petted.

So it left.
On the road up to Dublin. . .

We saw the Holy Well sign by the road, and obviously we were like, "Ooh, spontaneous adventure, let's go!" and we did a dramatic spin-around and went to the holy well.
It was very creepy. It was a clump of trees with hairbands and clips and little shoes, and old rain-stained pictures of children in hospitals or elderly couples.

I once wrote a short story about trees that ate people unless you left a tribute. It got published, and I was terribly proud, and I won't link up to it because it would probably burn my eyes. Anyway, we didn't leave a tribute so perhaps the trees are still coming for us.

Back on the road

Cliffs of Moherrrr!
So pretty you really don't even have to know how to take picture to get good onessss! This was a random abandoned castle along the coast. . .

. . .that we climbed in.
What was interesting about that castle was that it was cut off by the tide usually, but right then it wasn't completely, so Brother actually waded barefoot through the freezing water, like a tough cookie. I found rocks and skipped sure-footedly across (HAHAHAHA, I almost fell and died), but we made it.

This grasssssss! You can't tell, but it was incredibly soft and springy, and it moved and slid around under your feet, so it felt like walking on the back of a huge furry animal. Like in a Dr. Suess book.

Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle is kind of an imperative when going on an Ireland trip, I feel. We did early it on, and it saves a lot of time, because Ireland is full of castles and this one has all the the things one would imagine an Irish castle should have (a poison garden, tiny passages in the foundations that tourists are allowed to crawl around in, wishing steps, THE BLARNEY STONE), so you don't actually have to visit any other ones afterwards if you're in a hurry.

I don't have a picture of me kissing the Blarney Stone, ALAS. But I did it. Also, The castle is still very castle-like inside, and not nearly as tourist-i-fied as one would maybe expect. Meaning, it's low and narrow and slippery, and the spiral staircases up to the stone are super tiny and steep. People who are claustrophobic or afraid of heights will not be happy campers.

The Blarney Stone is on the inside of that battlement. Someone holds your waist and dangles you backwards through the hole, you kiss the stone, you feel instantly more eloquent, and you go on your merry way.
Murder Holes and how to protect yourself from them.
I want this garden. I would wander about it by moonlight and collect herbs to use against my enemies. Who I don't have. But I hear they're easy to come by.

Wishing Steps! Ok, here's how they work: if you can walk down and up them with your eyes closed, without stopping thinking of your wish once, it's bound to come true. Certain members of our party COULD NOT TAKE THE PRESSURE, but I was pretty determined. I figured walking up and down stairs with eyes closed was way easier than a life of toil and heartache, so I did it. I'm still waiting for that WISH, Wishing Steps, whenever you're ready.

We thought the animal was a Llamaaaa at first, but it's actually a gryphon who has lost his wings. Poor gryphon.
This was my second favorite tree in Ireland. It's on the grounds of the Blarney Castle and we all climbed all over it and took all the pictures, and I want to go back with a book someday and lie in it and read in the summer sunshine.

Glendalough Graveyard

I like graveyards. I especially like looking at the names and the birth-dates on the gravestones and imagining who these people where and what their lives might have been like. As far as graveyards go, there is no better graveyard anywhere EVER than this one. It's like Graveyard Disneyland.

This picture looks weirdly summery to me, but it was bitterly cold that day.

Those tall stone towers are apparently fire watch-towers. I prefer to think it's Rapunzel's tower presiding over the graves of her victims.

Old gravestones.
Ivy hats.

Other places whose names I can't remember

A pre-historic tomb.
Who lives in that house way out there, whoooo?
Random castle. Definitely haunted.

This shop feels necessary, actually, because it definitely died sometime in the last decade.

Temple Bar in Dublinnnn!! The entire Temple Bar district is named after this pub.


Derry is one of the hubs of Irish-English relations. Relations = fighting, FYI. They have massive murals up, and signs explaining the conflict, and pictures of the victims, and it was very sad and annoyed-at-humanity-making.

The hole in the walled-up door is a real-bullet hole.
The Giant's Causeway

Top 3 favorite stop on the trip along with Blarney Castle and Glendalough. It's a massive collection of hexagonal rock columns on a really pretty seaside, possibly built by giants, possibly built by volcanoes, but obviously I prefer the giant theory.

I wanna go baaaack!
This next picture doesn't actually capture anything at all, so I will have to explain: my travel-mates went running off to climb a mountain next to the Giant's Causeway. (Literally they were like, "Hey, a MOUNTAIN. Let's climb it." And so I wandered off the road and came to a little path that wound around through the hills. I came to the sea, and the sun was just peaking through the clouds, on its way down, and there was no one else around, so it felt like I was the only one seeing it.

And then we went home! It was a great trip. We laughed a lot. We ate a lot of candy. Nothing else is actually necessary for a good trip.

*happy sigh* Every time I travel somewhere I feel a little bit more relaxed about everything in general. While we were road-tripping and I was playing all of my pop-playlists to satiate my companions' need for driving beats, there's this one lyric that goes, "Life's too short to even care at all" and I love it, and we'll ignore the fact that the song is actually about the hallucinogenic properties of cough syrup. Obviously life's not quite that short that you shouldn't care about anything, but I worry about everything, and it's good to remember that most things one worries about don't actually matter in the scheme of things. Travel puts these things in perspective.


- I'm doing a Thing! In Köln, Germany on Thursday, February 26th, 21:30

From what I've gathered it's a radio interview with WDR, but it's held in a bar and is public and entry is free, and I'll be reading some passages from Die Wedernoch in German. It's super late, and I have to fly back to Zürich at 6AM the next morning for class (Arghhhh, I will perish) but if you're in the area, come say hey!

Longest post ever. Bye. :)

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ireland Advenshaaah - Part 1

We did not feel welcome at this establishment for obvious reasons. Let that be a warning to you, fellow Horse Thieves and Especially Bursars*.

*I don't know what a Bursar is, but probably someone who likes to EAT FOOD. AT RESTAURANTS. WITHOUT BEING TURNED AWAY AT THE DOOR. Someone should protest.

That title of this post was my Twitter hashtag for the Ireland trip, but I got so, so many pictures that the first post ended up being mostly about England. False advertising, I know, but England is basically Ireland, RIGH- *is executed by Irish people*

It was a great trip. I loved Ireland a lot. I love England as much as ever. I got to see parts of the countries I hadn't seen before, like Canterbury of Chaucer fame, and pre-historic grave-sites, and Galway, and a leprechaun museum.

Also, this post is divided into handy and enthusiastic sub-headers so you will never be confused about where we are. :)


I had never been to Canterbury before, but it's gorgeous. There are lots of medieval buildings and streets and pretty shops, and old people sitting in front of cafés who will tell you stories and inform you about how to find a hospital based on the markings on the street-signs.*

*Old Person was incredibly nice and probably felt he was doing a public service because we were all American, and you know, Americans get into trouble and need hospitals.

My parents had been to Canterbury long before I ever went, and so before I left I got instructions from them: Mom needed a new saucer from a potter whose work she likes, and Dad wanted anis cough-drop-things from a specific candy shop, and so we went on MISSIONS. We got the saucer, but the candy shop was closed.

The closed Candy Shop. We got the anis candy in Ireland, though, so yayyyy, successful missions, we're basically secret agents.

The entrance to the cathedral grounds.
Who would even go here, ew.
An English breakfast. Lots of beans and fried tomatoes. Also, that brown half-circle is a giant mushroom, soooo. . . make of that what you will.
A door for tiny people.
I loooove the shop-fronts in English towns. I got so many shop-front pictures.
Then we drove up to London.


I've blogged about London several times already, and it's basically my favorite place ever, and so I will keep the pictures to a minimum, but seriously, London is the best.

I met up with Emma Trevayne! :D And we had ramen! And talked about books!  It was grand.

This car was covered in thousands of tiny rhinestones. Classy as ever, Knightsbridge.
Harrods Food Court is honestly the only reason to actually go to Harrods. It's marvelous.
Not just any drinks. Not like those regular non-refreshing drinks for PLEBEIANS.

You can't quite tell because of my non-existent photography skills, but these pralines were shaped like cupcakes.  CUPCAKE PRALINES.

What a bargain.
Then we went to Cambridge.


I had not been here before. I like Oxford more, but Cambridge was very pretty, and sort of like a gloomy Venice, and absolutely packed with bicyclists and students in high-water trousers and funky socks and bowler hats, so it felt very pleasant and familiar.

Becca got a laugh out of the fact that the boats there were called punts.

That *might* be King's College, but I'm not completely sure, so don't take my word for it. :)

We found these at a gas station. We were like, "Wow, these are disgusting!" and then we ate all of them in five minutes. 

After Cambridge we went to a little town on the coast of Wales, stayed in a vast, creepy old hotel where there were no other guests, and the water was not super exact on whether it wanted to be hot water or cold water, and where we were convinced we were going to be murdered. (I mean, maybe it was a normal-sized hotel, with an old boiler, and off-season, but let's not get too logical.)

I don't have a picture of the hotel, but I did get a picture of  this light tower which was at the end of a kilometer-long jetty. So that's cool.
We had breakfast all by our lonesomes in a big empty dining hall, drank coffee out of a wine-glass because there were no mugs, joked nervously that the bacon was made out of the previous guests, and then high-tailed it out of there for Ireland.


I'll post more soon-ish. School starts on Monday, and organizing my life, and I'm also getting a new professor in composing, which is A SCARY THING.

In the meantime, here's a short story about Ireland. I wrote it in Dublin the day after seeing a very cool and mysterious-looking forest, and you can read if you are inclined to do so, and I hope you like it! :)