Saturday, December 15, 2012

London, I Love You.

So I'm driving away from school with maybe a few too many tears streaming down my face as I say goodbye to the amazing city of London the amazing, countless memories and some of the best friends that I've met recently. This past week has been stressful, fun, sad and happy all in between. I started off the week with studying for my finals, which I can't even begin to describe how happy I am that they are finally over.   In between the studying, however I spent as much time as possible with everyone I've met here. This week we all took into consideration that this is something that were not going to get back anytime soon.  

Looking back on my time here in London I can't help but get nostalgic on everything that I've done and smile because it happened. Before I went abroad so many people told me that it would be such an amazing life changing experience, and yeah to some extent I believed them, I mean moving to a different country for about four months has got to be changing your life some way! What I definitely didn't know was that this was going to change almost everything in my life and not one of those changes were negative. I could go into the many details about what changed while I was abroad, but the most important was that I learned about myself. That was the most rewarding part of this experience was to test my own limits and see who I was. I'm sure it sounds so cheesey and cliche but there really isn't any other way to explain it. I can see it in myself that I've grown up and become a different person than I was when I left America 3 and a half months ago. It's crazy to think about August 27th and the feelings I had leaving and now thinking its December 15th and I'm nowhere near that person I was. Sure my life didn't do a complete 360 but there's something and I'm not quite sure I can put my exact finger on it. I like what London and this experience has done for me.  

I think I probably said in every single blog post that I was eternally grateful for all the experiences that I was receiving and now that it's all over I can't say it enough. It's hard saying goodbye to everything that London has given me but these memories will stay with me forever and that is the best souvenir of all the shot glasses anyone could collect from the countries that they traveled to. I obviously couldn't have done any of this without my parents and for that I will owe them for the rest of my life. Nothing I did in London and any of the countries I traveled to could have happened with out them. I cannot thank them enough for everything that they did, especially coming to visit me!

If my parents didn't help make the experience amazing it was the friends that I met here. The people I've met here have been incredible. I created a great circle of friends from all over the US and we had the best of times in everything we did. The best part of that is that I've made life long friends that have shared this experience with me. I love how close we have all gotten, but it doesn't make saying goodbye any harder.  This morning saying goodbye to the people who have become my family here was by far the hardest thing I've had to do. I laughed and told everyone I wasn't going to cry but one look at my friends and the water works started flowing. Even typing this now is getting me choked up a bit.  I feel so lucky that I have gotten to know such amazing people, making this goodbye even sadder.  

I'm going to miss London and everything that came along with it. This experience was the time of my life and I will never in a million years ever forget it. Although this is a bittersweet goodbye I am looking forward to heading home to my friends and family and even school and cheerleading in January. Thank you for staying posted on my blog and I hope you enjoyed reading about all my adventures Across The Pond.... 

Until my next European adventure,
Alyssa, x

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Last of My European Adventures: Germany!

It's a bittersweet feeling knowing that I just spent my last weekend in Europe.  Last Friday at the chipper hour of 3:30 am I left with seven of my friends for a flight to Nuremberg, Germany.  Before I even left for London I knew that I wanted to go to Germany and even more wanted to go to Nuremberg for this weekend.  The world famous Christkindlmarkt, a German style Christmas market, was opening that weekend and of course the Nuremberg Nazi Trials were there as well.  I was so excited when the weekend finally rolled around.  After a quick flight to Germany we arrived and it was snowing! Usually I'm not much of a winter or a snow person, but seeing the snowflakes fall as we walked off the plane made a great start to the trip!  We traveled from the airport to our hostel and got to rest for a while before heading back out into the cold.

That night we took a short walk from our hostel to the market and got some authentic Bratwurst for dinner.  Surprisingly, I enjoyed it and even had maybe too many to count that entire weekend.  After we walked around a bit and found a place to get ready and watch the opening ceremony.  We were standing in front of this gorgeous church, where an angel was propped up on the balcony.  She came out and gave a speech at the top of the church, in German of course so I have absolutely no idea what she had said, but it was still cool nonetheless.  After the opening ceremony we all decided it was way too cold and we were way too tired to do anything else so we headed back to the hostel for the night to get some sleep.

The Opening Ceremony

The next morning after having resting up we went back to the market to actually do some adventuring around.  The market was huge and there were little markets all around the main one.  The different souvenirs at each station were unique and beautiful.  It was a great place for all of us to get souvenirs and Christmas gifts for people back home. After a couple hours of walking around and shopping we went back to the hostel for a bit to warm up.  The weather in Germany was freezing!! We all had at least two pairs of pants and two shirts as well as a jacket on and we were still ice cold.  After some resting time we headed back out to the market.  Everything was beautiful at night.  There were Christmas lights everywhere and the decorations really just put us in the "Christmas mood."  That night we went to the children's side of the market where we got to meet Santa.  One of our good friends is Jewish, so this was her first Christmas and she was ecstatic to meet Santa.  It was really fun getting to act like a child for a little with everyone.

The next morning when we woke up it was snowing again, but this time, much harder than the first and it was actually sticking to the ground!! It's been a while since I've seen this, it was so pretty and cool to see, especially since we were in Germany!  After everyone got ready, we started making our way to where the Nazi Trials were held.  After getting lost a few times we finally made it there.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but I've always been interested in the Holocaust, so I was pretty excited to go there.  We were able to go into the actual court room and got to walk around and hear about how the trials went.  Although it was pretty boring, I'm glad I can say that I've been.  Later, we traveled back tot hostel, got our bags and made our way back to the airport.

The Court Room

Germany was a really relaxing weekend, and I'm glad that it was my last weekend trip away from London.  Coming back to London was again, very bittersweet.  It really marked the end of our entire stay in London and I'm so sad to say goodbye to all of this.  I'm just about finished with classes for the semester and then have exams to get through next week.  I can't believe how fast this semester has gone by.  It seems like just yesterday it was summertime and I was being asked when I was leaving for London.  Now my friends and family (and sometimes me) are counting the days until I arrive back in America.  I'm going to miss London and everything that it has brought me so much when I come home, but I think I'm ready to be back in the place I call home.  

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Lajoies Take on London!

I remember the day I logged into my email and saw the confirmation for the flight for my family to come and visit me in London!    I've been counting down ever since then until I could see them.  Last Sunday marked 12 weeks since I had seen my mom, and I was beyond happy that when I woke up that morning that I would be seeing her!  I woke up bright and early and headed to the airport to pick up her, my dad, and my brothers.  It was by far the happiest moment to see them walk through the arrivals gate.  After traveling back tot heir hotel and freshening up a bit we got some lunch and saw a little bit of London.  At night we got to go on the Eye and see Big Ben from a distance all lit up.  We ended our night with dinner at a pub and headed to bed.

The next day I met up with them at Trafalgar Square.  We got tickets for a "hop on hop off" bus and got to see the best of London.  Our first stop was at Buckingham Palace.  Unfortunately, the palace is closed for the time being because the Queen is in, so we were only able to see it from the outside.  After we got back on the bus we decided to stop at the Tower Bridge, another one of London's big sites to see.  We got a late lunch around the area and then headed back to the hotel.  After my night class, I met back up with my family and had dinner at the hotel.

Taylor and me on the tour bus

The next morning I met up with the family at Abbey Road.  This was something we were all looking forward to.  Me and the boys got to walk across the road and hopefully mom and dad got some good shots of us.  The road is still a functioning road, so it was really difficult for us to get across without people honking their horns at us or getting aggravated.  Once we got our quick picture we decided to head out of there and go to Madame Tussauds, the wax museum.  Since I've already been there, I was really excited for my family to see all the "famous" people there!  They all had a really good time, which I was happy about.  After that we headed to Picadilly Circus, which was something that I was really looking forward to showing them.  It really reminds me of New York City, and because we're so close to there at home, I knew they would like it.  We ended up getting a late lunch/early dinner there and did a little souvenir shopping and headed back to the hotel for the night.

The next morning we woke up and headed out for a nice breakfast.  It was definitely a good change of pace for me to eat somewhere other than the cafeteria, which I hate.  But, I was so grateful for my family being there besides the good meals!  We headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum after breakfast to check out the Hollywood Costume exhibit.  This was something that I've wanted to see for a while now, and I thought it would be a great thing to do with my family.  It was really cool to see the costumes from all sorts of different movies aging all the way back to Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch dress.  I got to see some of the more recent film costumes too like Robert Pattinson's outfit in Twilight as well as Natalie Portman's in The Black Swan.  I was really impressed by the exhibit and I'm glad I was able to go.  After that we headed over to the London Zoo.  This was another thing that I've wanted to do for a while.  When we got there we headed in and went straight for the giraffes, mom's favorite.  We got to see the three giraffes that they have there, although they didn't cooperate that much for photos.  After that we saw some rainforest animals and then, my favorite, the otters!! I'm slightly obsessed with otters so when we saw the ones that they had I was so excited! They were adorable and even meowed like cats.  They chased the people on the outside of their cage wherever they walked, and I absolutely fell in love!  I was like a little kid in a candy store! Sometimes I think I can be such an adult and with the snap of a finger, I can turn into a child just like that.  After that we headed back towards the hotel, grabbed a quick dinner and went to the room for a quiet night.


The next day was Thanksgiving back in America.  It's safe to say that that was the day I missed home the most, although I was incredibly happy and thankful that my family was in London to celebrate with me.  Although, we decided not to stay in London for the day.  We woke up super early on Thursday and headed into Paris for the day.  I was really excited to be able to see this city again, and with my family this time!  When we got there we got picked up by our tour guide and he brought us all around the city of Paris.  We got to go to the highest point in Paris and look down on the city, we got to see the Eiffel Tower as well as the Arc de Triomphe.  We saw the Lourve from a distance, and the Notre Dame Cathedral.  It was a very fun and jam packed day to see everything, but we did it!  I definitely think if we were ever to go back, we could all agree we would need more than just one day.  After our ride back to London we headed straight back for the hotel and went to bed.

The next morning we took our time getting up since we were so tired from the rest of the week.  We headed out to have a late breakfast/early lunch and then made our way to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. This week was definitely fun for me because I got to knock so many things off my bucket list of things that I've wanted to do while I was in London and this was yet another one.  Taylor and I were so excited to go here because we love Harry Potter so much.  It took a while to get there but it was absolutely worth the wait.  I could go into complete detail and name every single thing that we saw there, but I'll save your eyes the torture and just say that it was amazing.  We got to see everything from the great hall to the Gryffindor boy's common room to the green screen that they used for so many of the visual effects.  The most amazing thing we saw there was Hogwarts of course.  It was obviously scaled down, but it was unreal and magical to actually see it all.  I was most definitely in my glory.  After getting myself some butterbeer and seeing everything that we could, we headed back towards the hotel and got a great last dinner.

Taylor and me in front of Hogwarts!
The next morning I woke up bright and early yet again, but this time I had to bring my family back to the airport to head home to Connecticut.  :(  Although the goodbye wasn't nearly as sad as our first one, it was still upsetting to see them leave.  I had an amazing week with my family and I was incredibly grateful for them to take time off of work and school to come and see me and the amazing city of London.  It made the goodbye a little easier knowing that I will see them again in just three weeks, although that meant the realization of me only having three weeks with the people that I've met here.  I'm definitely starting to get sad about leaving and I'm getting to that point where I don't want to leave.  I wish that I could pick up all the friends that I've made here and take them back with me so that I could have them, and my family and friends back home all in the same place.  These next three weeks are going to fly by with all the things we have planned and I can't decide if that's a good or a bad thing, but I'm just taking each day as it comes and having as much fun as possible.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Manchester & Liverpool

After a crazy week of traveling over fall break and what seemed like such a long week back in London, I left for Manchester and Liverpool on Friday morning!  I wasn't sure what to expect from this trip, since I had jumped on the chance to go over the summer.  I knew that we were going to be touring the Manchester United stadium as well as going on a Beatles tour, but that's about it.  I'm not familiar with the Manchester or Liverpool area so this was all new to me.

We got to Liverpool Friday afternoon and headed to the hotel.  This might have been my favorite part of the trip.  I was staying in an actual hotel, with nice beds, an even nicer shower and the best part... A TV!! We had the rest of the day for free time so after we settled into our hotel we went out to the center of Liverpool and did a little shopping to pass the time.  After a few hours we decided to head back to the hotel and make the most of our digs and spend some time laying in bed watching TV.  I couldn't tell you the last time that I did that and it felt amazing!! I actually started to feel a little anxious because I felt like I needed to do something else, but I just took a deep breath and enjoyed my relaxation.  We even e ended up getting room service for dinner and didn't move from our beds all night long!

The next morning we all got to sleep in, yet another plus to the weekend!  We met around 10 and headed to the dock area and walked around for a bit until our tour.  After about 45 minutes, we hopped onto the Beatles Mystery Bus for our tour around Liverpool.  This was a really cool tour because we got to see where all the Beatles grew up!  We saw all of their houses, places that they hung out, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields!  It was really cool for me to be able to see all these things.  It made me keep thinking of my brother, Kevin because I know that he really would have enjoyed the tour.  At the end of the tour we got to go to the Cavern Club where the Beatles first performed before they were famous.  After our tour we grabbed a quick lunch, got our things from the hotel and took a train to Manchester.

Strawberry Fields!

When we arrived in Manchester we all decided to head out for a drink and dinner.  After dinner we went to a bar to listen to some live music.  We were all pretty excited to hear the bands up until they started to warm up.  The music wasn't all that great and my ears may still be a little damaged from it.  After a few songs we decided to head back to the hostel because we had an early morning the next day.

On Sunday we all woke up and headed over to Old Trafford Stadium, the Manchester United Stadium.  Again, the entire day I couldn't stop thinking about my other brother, Taylor.  He's a soccer player himself and a United fan, so I knew he also, would have loved to be on the tour.  It was really cool to see everything in the museum that they had and even get to go down to the field and see it from a players perspective.  We were able to go into the locker room and the "hang out" spot that the players go to before every game.  My favorite part of the tour might have been when I got to see where David Beckham and Posh Spice met the first time. :) I tried not to drool and steal the seat that he sat in. After the tour we got a lot of free time to explore Manchester which may or may not have been a good thing. By the time our free time was over we were exhausted and oh so ready to head back to London.

Overall my weekend was really nice, I kept thinking about both of my brothers because I know they would have loved to see and do the things that I did this weekend.  It's making me get so excited to see them in a couple of weeks! I've been counting down the days!  Until then I'll be staying in London and resting up from all of my activities lately and trying my hardest not to get sick!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Break: Greece, the country that stole my heart!

After spending some time in Barcelona, me and my four girl friends headed over to Athens.  When I decided that I wanted to study abroad last year I said over and over again that I wanted to go to Greece while I was abroad.  I wasn't even going to let the state of their economy keep me from going there.  I don't really know what it was about Greece that always made me want to go, but it was something, and I'm so glad I went.  We woke up early again and left Barcelona.  The flight wasn't bad at all and I was beyond happy when we landed.  Although it was pouring when we got there I wasn't letting the rain bring me down at all.  We took the metro and got to our hostel and immediately went back out to get some Greek food.  I've never had Greek food before, so I was completely new to everything.  My first meal, I fell in love.  I had a Gyro, which is obviously well known as being Greek.  It was amazing.  I can't even explain it!  My mouth waters just thinking about it.  I also tried tzasiki, which is a cucumber yogurt dipping sauce.  It sounds disgusting but it was amazing.  The restaurant had an amazing feel and we had a great time.  We also go Greek desserts, baklava and kantafi, which were both really good!!  The wait staff were so nice to us and we all had a great time laughing and eating amazing Greek food.  After dinner we headed back to the hostel to sit at the rooftop bar where we overlooked the Acropolis and the Parthenon!  I couldn't believe the view when we got up there, it made everything hit me all over again that I was finally in Greece!  It was an amazing first half of a day in Athens and I was totally looking forward to the rest of our trip.





The next day we woke up and went to adventure around the area that our hostel was in.  There was a really cool market that we had passed when we first got there so we decided to go back and check that out.  It was such a cool market with so many souvenir stores and authentic Greek things.  I got a really pretty Greek ring and a leather wallet which were both really great purchases for me! Around lunch time we went and got some more amazing Greek food.  I was literally a kid in a candy store when it came to meals, because I just loved the gyros and tzasiki!  After that we went back to our hostel so we could meet up with the rest of our friends that were coming that day!  When everyone got there we were all so excited to see each other.  We went back out to adventure a bit and got a big family dinner!  That night we went back to the rooftop bar and hung out with everyone.  The bar ended up being a great place for us throughout the trip.

Our view of the Acropolis!

The next day we all got up and made our way to the top of the acropolis.  That was such an amazing sight.  It didn't take long to get to the top which was good and when we finally got to the top we saw an amazing view of Athens.  After spending some time at the top of the Acropolis and taking our fair share of pictures, we headed back down the mountain, got some lunch and headed to the first Olympic Stadium!  That was really cool as well!  There weren't that many people there so we were able to fool around and have fun while we were in the stadium.  Me and two of my friends even had our own mini olympic games! After the stadium we hung around in Athens a bit then went and got dinner and headed back to the hostel.

The whole group!

Olympic Stadium!

Friday was our last day in Athens and our entire break too, and thank god, it was the best day by far.  Our hostel offered day cruises to a Greek island, which we had known about before we left, so we decided to book it.  We woke up Friday morning and headed to the boat.  When we got there it was so cool.  We knew we were going to have a great day.  The day was amazing we all laid out on the top of the boat, talked to the people who owned the boat and just hung out in the sun.  I don't think we could've asked for anything more.  When we got closer to the island the people running the boat put the anchor down and let everyone jump into the sea.  I stayed on the boat but it was so much fun to watch all my friends jump in and have such a good time.  After a while we went to the island for some lunch and got to walk around and sit on the beach a bit.  We got back on the boat after about an hour and headed back to Athens.  On our way back everyone was relaxing and we got to see the sun set over the water.  It was gorgeous.  It made me fall in love with Greece even more than I already was.  When we got back to land we made our way back to the center of Athens and got some dinner and went back to the hostel to pack up and get ready to head back to London the next day.


I'm forever grateful that I got to go to Greece when I had the chance, but I'm definitely making a promise to myself that I will go back.  Everything about it was amazing to me.  The food, the people, the atmosphere, everything!  I know that there is a lot of negative things going on behind the scenes in Greece, and unfortunately I did see a little bit of it, but I don't think that that will ever take away from the amazing time that I had!

When we got back to London it was absolutely freezing and it made me miss Greece immediately.  I've got about six more weeks here with two more trips and a visit from my family to look forward to! It's starting to get really bittersweet knowing that my semester abroad is going to start winding down.  I can definitely say that I'm finally at the stage where I don't want to go home!  Luckily, I still have more time! :)

Fall Break: Barcelona!!

Well, it's been quite a while since I've written anything on my blog.  Since my last trip to Ireland, I've stayed put in London for a bit.  Two weeks ago we had midterms at school which was a little tough for me since my home school doesn't really do midterm exams.  Hopefully I did pretty well on them though! Thankfully my long week of work was ended with a reward of a full ten day vacation!! Very early Friday morning me and four other girls got up and headed to the airport for a flight to Barcelona, our first stop on our fall break!  When we got to Barcelona and finally made it to our hostel, we went out for lunch and got our first pitcher of sangria! After, we wandered around Barcelona for a bit, seeing the little shops and even the beach! I can't even explain how excited I was to see a beach, it's been forever!! Later that night we decided to go out for a nice quiet dinner and then headed back to the hostel to get a good night's sleep.

Our Sangria!

The next morning we woke up and went sight seeing around Barcelona.  Our first stop was to the Sagrada Familia, a church designed by Gaudi, which is still unfinished to this day.  This church was incredible.  The outside reminded me of a really crazy sand castle.  The carving into the outside was beyond anything that I have ever seen!  There were a bunch of towers that were apart of the church, so we decided to go to the top of one of the towers and look over Barcelona.  It was an incredible view, although it was kind of cloudy out so we couldn't see everything.  Once we got back to the bottom of the towers we were able to see the rest of the church.  Just like the outside, the inside looked incredible. I tried to take as many pictures as I could, but afterward looking at them, I realized there was no way I could capture exactly what the church really looked like.  After spending some time in the church we made our way to Park Guell with many buildings and structures also designed by Gaudi.  This place was really cool as well.  The buildings reminded me of something that should be in a Dr. Suess book!  From the top of this park, again we got to see a really cool view of Barcelona!  After a full day of sight seeing we went back to the hostel to get ready and go out to dinner.

The Sagrada Familia

Park Guell

The next day we decided to do a little shopping.  Within walking distance there was a road called La Rambla.  On the weekends there is a huge art market there which we were dying to go to.  It was so pretty to see everything at each station and to see what people make.  Everything was unique and nothing was ever a repeat of something that I had already seen.  I was excited we were able to go to this because I was able to pick up some good souvenirs! :) There were many restaurants on this street so, we just decided to pop into one.  We ordered some authentic tapas, which to be honest, I was completely worried about.  I'm a pretty picky eater in general, so being in Spain made eating kind of hard.  But, to my surprise the tapas were amazing!  After lunch we ventured to go to the top of Castell de Montjuic.  To get there we had to take the metro, then a funnicular and then a cable car to get all the way to the top!  When we got there though the wait was worth while.  The castle was beautiful and the scenery was just as great.  The sky was clear so we had an incredible view of Barcelona from the top of the world! On the other side, we got to see the beach and the beautiful water! Seeing the water and how beautiful it was out, we were dying to go to the beach so we headed back to the hostel, grabbed some dinner and intended on going to the beach, until it started pouring, thunder & lightning.
Our yummy tapas!

At the top of the Castle!

The next day we did even more sight seeing.  We went to the cathedral, Basilica de Barcelona.  Since I went to Italy in the summer, I've definitely seen my fair share of cathedrals and churches, but this one was like nothing I have ever seen.  It was incredible!! Everything that I had seen in Barcelona whether it was a church or a building the detail that was taken to make each of these things was incredible! After looking around the cathedral a bit, we decided to go to a flea market that we had heard about a few days before.  Once we got there, though we realized it was not what we were expecting.  Our next stop was going to be at the top of Mount Tibidabo.  Unfortunately after an incredibly long time of trying to get there we realized it was way out of our reach and instead, decided to take pictures from a far.  After that, because the sun was finally shining we decided to go to the beach! We picked up a few bottles of wine, got a blanket and headed to the sand and waves!  After some time on the beach we had a quick dinner, went back to the hostel and packed up for Athens the next day!

The Cathedral!

Mount Tibidabo


Barcelona was a beautiful city and a really fun time.  I'm not sure it's top on my list of places I've ever been, but it's a really cool feeling saying that I've been to Spain and I've seen so much there!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Luck of the Irish?

Ireland was quite the experience.  Maybe I should start off with telling you how this trip even came about and the troubles we've had with Ireland since then! About a month ago my friends and I decided that we wanted to go to Dublin for a weekend.  We all looked around at different flights and such and all decided on a flight that would work for all of us.  As we were all sitting with credit cards in hand each of us on separate computers we all picked the flight, put our information in pressed the "book" button.  While waiting for the next page to load, some of us were prompted to a screen that told us the flight was sold out, while I was brought to a page that said my session timed out.  At that point we were all way too frustrated and decided to give up on Ireland all together.  Within two hours myself and my friend Jenna got confirmation tickets in our email saying that we had airline tickets.  Confused, we all decided to sit back down together and look at other flights for our friends to take so they could still come with us.  Unfortunately everything that we had found was too expensive and wasn't going to work out.  That left me and Jenna with plane tickets by ourselves to Ireland.

Our first problem with booking through this company was more than likely the fact that we used a third party website to book through.  It was similar to something of or something along those lines.  After we had found out that our friends weren't going to be able to go we decided that maybe we should try calling the company and canceling our flight, it was actually the websites fault in general.  After being put on hold for over an hour we finally got to talk to someone only to be told that we could not cancel our flights.  We decided we were going to make the best of it and just stick it out and go to Dublin anyway.  As the weeks went by we made a joke about the trip and how awkward it was going to be that it would just be the two of us walking around Dublin by ourselves.  My credit card never even got charged for the flight so we also joked that they probably wouldn't even let me on the plane.  I probably said that maybe a few too many times, because I jinxed myself.

On Thursday we left school straight from my last class.  We took the tube to the train station and took an express train straight to the airport.  Thank god we got there early because all hell was about to break lose.  We got up to the check in spot, I gave them my passport, only to find out that I literally didn't have a ticket.  What ended up happening, bizarrely enough, is that cheapoair, the third party company we used managed to combine my ticket information with my friend Jenna's information (even though we booked on two separate computers with two separate credit cards.)  After about another hour on the phone with the company they finally scrambled around and got me a ticket.  We were incredibly close to turning around and going back to school and screwing the whole Dublin trip in general.  I've decided now that I'm home, maybe it was a sign from the Gods.

After a very quick plane ride over to Dublin, we were in for quite another treat.  We had no idea, but the day we decided to fly over there was Arthur Guinness day, so when we got there, everyone was drunk.  On our walk to our hostel we saw people brawling in the streets and drunk people stumbling around everywhere.  We were definitely not in the mood.  We finally got to our hostel, our first hostel experience by the way, and it was weird!  Because we had spent a decent amount of money on our plane ride we tried to find a cheap hostel and the cheapest one we found was in a 12 bed female "dorm" so we were rooming with 10 other females, some of which didn't even speak english! This was just adding onto our experience, but we just kept telling each other, "it's all part of it!" What good vacation doesn't have some fun stories to go along with it!  Who would have thought it could get better, or worse...

We went to bed, woke up the next morning, had a quick breakfast and decided to head out for the day. They have double decker "hop on hop off" tour of Dublin buses everywhere.  We decided since there was nothing really that we wanted to do that we would buy a ticket for one of those buses.  It was actually quite a good deal because you could get off at the stop that you wanted to get off at, tour whatever you wanted to tour and wait for the next bus to come around and hop right back on.  We decided that our first stop would be at the Jameson factory.  This was a pretty cool place! We got to learn how Jameson is made and what makes it different from scotch and Jack Daniels.  At the end of the tour we had a complementary drink with Jameson in it, which was actually my first time having Jameson.  To my surprise it wasn't that bad!  After that we hopped back on the bus and decided to finish up the rest of the tour that they gave.  We got off at one stop to do a little souvenir shopping which was fun and successful.  I got a really cute bracelet with clovers on it, a shot glass, a long sleeve Irish rugby shirt and some post cards! After that we went and got a really good dinner and then met up with our friend Megan who was there with another group of girls.

Jenna and me outside the Jameson factory

The next day we woke up, met back up with Megan and decided to do some more souvenir shopping.  After we stopped at the store and bought a few more things we decided to walk a little ways down the street to get some breakfast at a restaurant that we thought would be nice.  Unfortunately, what was a really good breakfast ended up being a really bad time.  At the end of our meal I went to pick up my purse and realized it was a lot lighter than it was when we walked in.  I had been carrying around my iPad because of the International plan that I have on it and was using it not only as a map but to look things up, where they were, etc.  That might have been bad idea number one.  I opened my purse and immediately saw that my iPad was no longer there.  I started searching through my bag and realized my wallet was gone as well.  I started panicking.  We quickly paid and went right back to the souvenir store, the last place I had had my wallet.  The owners were extremely friendly and helpful and went back and looked at the security films where they saw me put my wallet back in my bag, zip my bag and leave.  From there we went to the police station to report my things stolen.  Again, they were very helpful and told me that they would go back to the restaurant, where we all decided we thought it happened and they would look at the cameras there.  While we waited for the criminal report to be written up we decided to go have some Irish coffee.  Thank god for Jenna and Megan this weekend because I don't know what I would have done without them.  While we were at the cafe we then realized that my American phone was missing as well and that it was stolen with my other things.  Things just kept turning for the worse and I was not a happy camper.

After going back and forth to the police station and calming down a bit we finally got our day started.  We walked around a little bit and then decided it was only right to do the Guinness tour.  Surprisingly it was really fun and interesting.  It was also very similar to the Jameson tour, just different alcohol obviously.  We got to have a little sample and then when we finally made it up to the fourth floor we were taught how to properly pour a Guinness and got to do it ourselves! We of course got to drink the beer afterwards.  To my surprise, since I'm not much of a beer girl in the first place, I actually enjoyed the Guinness.  Whether it was because I had had quite the horrible day and was just valuing any type of liquid to calm me down or that I actually just have the right taste buds for it I drank almost all of it!

Megan, Jenna and me outside the Guinness tour!


Its official!

At the end of the tour we went to a small little restaurant for some authentic Irish food and walked around a bit.  We got to see some street performers singing Irish music and watched some people in the streets dance.  That was by far a really cool thing for me to see and really made me think this is what Ireland really is all about.  Afterwards we went back to the hostel to get a good nights sleep.

This morning we woke up early, got to the airport and headed "home" to London. After Paris last weekend I was happy to be home in London, but after this weekend in Dublin I was ecstatic! It's really unfortunate that this had to happen and I don't want to have bad memories about Ireland at all, but nothing worked out in my favor at all this weekend.  I kept saying "it's all apart of the experience" and in my head I kept reminding myself to appreciate all my opportunities and experiences, but maybe I shouldn't value them all.  I've definitely learned a lot from this trip though!  If you're not fully charged for a flight, you don't have one.  Do NOT bring your iPad around with you anywhere, and if you do, don't let it leave your lap, EVER! And always, always, always keep your money and credit cards in separate places, it is not a fun feeling, feeling actually and literally broke.