goodness, manfolk

Scotland, I am in love

Boyfriend and I arrived in Edinburgh today, and fell in love instantly.  Everything looks old, the accents are hilarious and fun, and we haven’t even been to the city center yet.  It’s been a drizzly evening, the cobblestones are jet black and shining under the streetlights.  The buildings are a grayish brown brick or stone, and everything else is green.  It’s just gorgeous.

kitty dreams of the outside world

But I’m ahead of myself.  Breakfast this morning at the Harrington Hotel in Dublin ended with the waitress calling over her shoulder to us, “Be happy!”  So that was adorable.

We booked it out of there, and made the bus and the plane to Edinburgh in plenty of time.  I looked out the window while we took off, and nudged Boyfriend to wave and say with me, “Goodbye, Ireland!  Bye, Dublin!”  I asked him if he ever did that when his planes took off.  He said, “Yeah, in my head,” and managed to leave out “like a normal person, you hilarious weirdo.”  What a sweetheart.

We took a bus and walked about a mile to our bed and breakfast, St. Bernard’s Guesthouse.  We decided against paying for a cold breakfast and bought some croissants, honey, tea, and cranberry juice.

We wandered a couple of blocks over to find some pre-dinner food (we hadn’t had anything since breakfast except for Worcestershire sauce flavored chips, and some bacon flavored… crispy things.  We couldn’t decide if they were tasty or gross).

Quick side note on airports in Ireland and Scotland:
I’ve never seen so few people, nor so many easy to understand signs and well-organized layouts in airports, at home or abroad.  Kids go running around, playing while the parents read and chat.  The people were so friendly, unlike the TSA people at LAX who are in a constant state of fuck-off.  When I commented on this to a teller, he said, “Well no one’s after us.  They’re just passin’ through to get to someone else!”  Well said, sir.

Anyway, pre-dinner food.  We wandered around and couldn’t find any place that served dinner before 6 except a place called Pizza Express, that sounds like shit but turned out to be a pretty upscale place, and served delicious pizza.  Mine had a fried egg on it, and we split a cider.  Amazing.

We headed back to the B&B to plan out our day tomorrow, and work up an appetite for second-dinner, which we decided had to have meat pie.  We found a delicious steak pie with blue cheese in it at The Stockbrige Tap just down the block from us, coupled with a Black Isle Stout (dark but brighter than Guinness).  We got to listen to the locals chatting in surprisingly comprehensible local accents, and had a nice walk home in the chill air.

There’s a small park just outside the B&B where someone was hosting a large party today until late into the evening.  It says light so late here (the lights come on around 10) that it’s easy to stay out later than you ordinarily would.

I’m super excited about tomorrow!  We’re taking a bus to the city center to save time and energy to visit the Undergound, a statue of a dog, a famous pub, and a museum.  I’ve been too excited to sleep for a few nights because of the cool stuff we’ve had planned for this trip.

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goodness, manfolk

Ireland: Day 3

I cannot believe an illustration for Mr. Trout already exitst

We had another traditional Irish breakfast today, along with a dish of scrambled eggs with smoked trout, which Boyfriend immediately took to calling “Mr. Trout,” and continued with a little song, and, as the day wore on, full character description (he’s a detective who wears a fedora, has a family, and travels all over the world).  According to Boyfriend, “He’s on the case.”

After breakfast I went back to bed for a nap (my clock is still on Los Angeles time).  Boyfriend woke me up with stories of Mr. Trout.

We wandered around the city looking for Dublin Castle for a bit, and heard some enormous noise coming from the city center.  A formula 1 race was going on, so we went to check it out.  So loud!  We didn’t get to see any formula 1 cars, but we did see two very fast cars pull donuts right next to each other.

We got some fish and chips from a chain called Leo Burdock, super delicious, best fish and chips I’ve ever had.  And it looked like I got a whole fish!  Way too much food.  It was takeout only, so we popped into a hotel lobby and pretended to be guests while we ate and made use of their facilities.

We finally found Dublin Castle, bought tickets for the 4:40 tour, and visited Dublinia, the viking museum!  There were all kinds of dioramas with far too realistic-looking people (one of which is looking right at you as you turn a corner, super creepy), and a place to try on Viking clothes and helmets (which we did, with a fearsome pose).

Dublin Castle’s front door knobs were shiny lions, raaargh!

We rushed back to catch our tour of Dublin Castle, which I pictured in varying degrees of ruin, but it’s actually a fully functioning government building in most parts, and it’s just beautiful.  It lacks the gaudy, gold-plated look of older palaces of Europe, and instead has a quiet sense of cohesion and historical class that other, more ostentatious European buildings seem to be dripping with. We got to see what’s left of the Powder Tower (where the kept the gunpowder until it all blew up and burned the castle for two straight days), which was super cool.  The tour went too quickly.

We were signed up for a traditional music pub crawl at 7ish that starts at Gogarty’s Pub, so we found the place, then relaxed at an inn by the river to get tea and recharge before the crawl.  At Gogarty’s we had a cup of Guiness and a half-dozen oysters (delicious!) before we started out on the crawl.  There was a guitarist with a lovely voice, and an Uilleann piper (what he described as similar to Scottish bagpipes, “The only difference is Uilleann pipes sound good”), both of whom were very friendly and funny.  The Uilleann pipes really do produce a gorgeous sound, a deeper and more broadly ranging tone that, once it gets going, is impossible to resist stomping your foot on the floor to keep the beat.  The crawl was my favorite part of the trip so far for sure.  Afterward we grabbed more fish and chips (from the same chain, different location, since it was the only place open at 11pm on a Sunday) and wandered over to The Duke, where the piper recommended that we go to hear more live music (on our way in a woman almost ran us over on her way out.  The guy following her said to us, with a laugh, “Quick one, in’t she?  FOKKIN’ ‘ell!”).  The bar tender filled us in on the intricacies of Guiness, which tastes totally different and delicious here.  Apparently there’s a bar in Spain where the owner meticulously cleans the pipes once per week, which makes the Guiness taste “gorgeous.”  He said that Guiness is “like a baby” (very sensitive) and on a cold day the head will be smaller.

Anyway, the piper pointed out that good traditional music is played not for an audience, but in more of a jam session among the musicians, and that if you approach them to ask them to sing your favorite song, “the most polite answer you’ll get is something along the lines of ‘Well sing it yourself, then.'”

A few things I learned at the pub crawl:
-When an Irish person says ‘Irish’ it sounds like ‘Arsh’
-The Irish are “very hard to pin down” and are “notorious for never quite giving a straight answer.”  A man once asked for directions in Cork, and was told, “Well I wouldn’t start from here.”
-When drinking the two phrases commonly used are “Just the one,” and “Never again.”
-When playing that hollow drum they hold with the left arm and play with a short stick with the right, a good way to keep the beat is to say one of a few phrases in your head, like ‘Black and Decker, Black and Decker, Black and Decker,’ or for a different beat, ‘rachers and sausages, rachers and sausages.’  The piper said, “You can’t tell a child learning to play this instrument to play in four-four time with an upbeat every other measure.  The response you’ll get is, “I’m bored,” and my response is of course, “Me too, let’s go to a pub,” at which point they’ll say, “We can’t go to a pub, I’m just a child.”  So to avoid saying things that will get me fired from teaching positions, we stick with things like ‘Black and Decker’ instead.  I don’t know what we did before power tools.”
-A singalong is called a sing-song.
-The guitarist said, “If you were to kill someone with an Irish flute, you’d never get away with it because everyone plays it differently so you’d be recognized instantly.”
-One hilarious song they sang was about an Irishman who went to California during the gold rush, and was hoodwinked by a man dressed as a woman.  “She” got him drunk, took him to bed where he fell asleep, and when he awoke, he found a woman’s clothes, wig, and a shaving kit. So he puts it on, and goes outside and a man gives him a wink.  He sees how much money this man has, and offers him a drink in turn.  The chorus was something like “Her lips were red, here eyes were blue, her hair was as yellow as the gold she stole from me.”

nicer than our room by a lot

We crashed in bed and played Draw Something for a little while.  I’m actually writing this in the lobby the following morning (day 4), with some Italian tourists in the couch nearby since we have trouble getting a wireless connection in our room on the lower level.  Yesterday started with rain so we went out to look for ponchos.  I asked a couple of guys who were wearing some cheap ones where they got them, and they took them off and gave them to us.  So nice, such generosity.

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goodness, life, martial arts, school, work

A quit and a launch

i'm flying!!

I had a big day.

I bought my ticket to Dublin, Ireland!  So exciting!  I’m leaving May 31st, coming back June 13th.  I’ll have to head straight to work the next day (no recuperation time), but it doesn’t matter!  I’m going to spend some time in Ireland, see Edinburgh, visit a friend in Scotland who I met in Romania, and maybe visit another friend I made in Romania (who is a native of Arad, Romania, and lives in London now, and works as a freelance translator).  Who knows, maybe I’ll take the chunnel to France, and visit anyplace at all, because I have two weeks to bum around Europe.  It kinda depends on whether Diminutive Roommate and come along or not.  Either way, I’m going abroad for two weeks!  It’ll be my first vacation since London with my family, more than three years ago.

thanks fer sneezin' on meh!

After I bought the ticket, I put in my letter of resignation to Karate Job.  My last day there will be May 18th, giving me time to go to Sister’s law school graduation and cover for my coworker at Office Job who could definitely use a day off.  I’ll miss the kids, that’s for sure.  They’re so funny.  I’ll miss getting their drawings, and hearing all the weird nonsense that goes on in their heads.

The other day one of the kids wouldn’t stop clearing his throat.  When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “There’s a frog in my throat!”  I said, “What’s his name?”  The boy thought for a second, then said, “Coffee.”  I asked him why, and he said, “Because he makes me cough!”  Naturally.  That’s the stuff I’ll miss.  My bosses were nice enough, and pretty straight forward kinda people.  I mean, they all have their own eccentricities (anal-retentiveness, hyper-controlling, obliviousness to the plight of the sensei’s, etc.), but I’m beyond complaining about it today.  I’m leaving soon, and after that I’m going to spend two weeks in Europe, and after that I start grad school.  I have nothing to complain about today.

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