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First Few Days In Dublin November 12, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Dublin , 2comments
Wandering Dublin
Image by chris181m via Flickr

The last leg of our six month journey is nine days in Ireland. In Dublin, where we are staying, we have met with my mother, Alice, and her friend, Cindi, for what resembles more of a vacation with tours scheduled in advance and the purchasing of trinkets. Its really nice to see familiar faces in the flesh.

We have been treated to tours of the city, including a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour of Dublin (I recommend this for the first official day in any city since it allows you to get a feel for the area).  Then there were other tours that went into the history of the people who inhabited this area. Mostly Vikings, although there have been many others over the centuries.

Today we went on a tour that brought us into a crypt beneath a church where we saw Mummies (Apparently the right combination of dryness, cool temperature, and Methane really preserves a corpse).  They even let us touch one of the Mummified corpses, saying that if one shakes hands with the mummified bodies, then it brings good luck (Then again they say that about Blarney Stone and the stone is used every where around here).

A Day At The Beach July 10, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Normandy , add a comment

So yesterday we went to the coast in Normandy and walked along the never ending beach (it’s a depositional beach, so it is forever growing). It was nice to take our shoes off and feel the sand between our toes. The water was beautiful but a bit chilly. We joked about the invasion and how it must’ve been (considering it’s such an ideal beach). Our host has said that if we were to get out the beach early enough that there is a chance that debris from the invasion can be found.

There was a lively crab that we stumbled upon in the shallow parts as we walked. With a bit of trouble (evasive maneuvering on it’s part) and a lot of fumbling, our host finally was holding the crab. Also, there were tons of Hermit crabs that scuttled about as the waves receded.

As we walked we saw the high tide line of shells and bits of other debris. It all seemed fairly the same as what you’d find on any beach, except there were Cuttlefish bones randomly along the beach in the high tide line. I knew they came from the fish and the fish lives in the ocean, but I never thought I’d see the actual bone that you’d find in a bird cage just out in the wild! Wild might be an over statement, but you catch my drift. There was also a unique part to the beach which was that the beach is so long there are various places where water seeps out of the ground from about 100 feet away from the actual water’s edge and it makes a shallow river that flows into the ocean. It’s pretty neat in a sense that it also fills any depressions in the sand, so there are various places where it  dips down slightly so there is a foot of water where children were splashing around like it was an overgrown puddle.  So after having a lovely walk along the beach, we went to a small village on the coast and had a soda at a local cafe.

We people watched and joked around with our hosts for a while. It was a beautiful, clear day so many people were in the town with their dogs and sun block covered children with long sleeves on (the French are a bit over protective in reguards to their children and the sun). Normandy really is a wonderful place (although the best part about Normandy is still the cheeses). I am not a huge fan of sandy beaches and the whole ocean theme, but I must say that this beach is my new favorite.

Today it was not as hot and so Chris and Carl burned the branches that they removed from the trees along the back of their property. It was amazing how tall the flames were and the heat that came off of it was quite impressive.

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Back In Normandy July 8, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Normandy , add a comment

It’s been very difficult to find affordable or even cheap lodging and experiences as the summer progresses. We had a Workaway scheduled in Ireland for the time before we meet with my mother but the couple began hosting a person already, so they canceled on us. We continued looking and emailing other prospective hosts, but with no success. So being optimistic, we looked to the hosts we had in Normandy. But they were full too. However they had friends that need some extra help.

We arrived in Caen, France and received a friendly welcome by our new hosts, Carl and Kris. Their home dates back to the 16th Century and are lovely! There are a couple of cherry trees and a ton of wild cherry trees here that are perfectly ripe and ready to be eaten (needless to say, taking a break here is very nice!).

The work is pretty easy, I have been weeding the grounds with the lady of the house while Chris has been trimming the hedges with Carl.

Tomorrow We’re going to the beach with our hosts since it’s been such nice weather. Exciting!

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Rotterdam and the Tour de France July 4, 2010

Posted by Chris in : holland , add a comment

Yesterday, we headed to Rotterdam by train, a fairly short ride where we switched to the metro in an attempt to go to Kinderdike, a place where there are a lot of windmills and a lot of Dutch cheese to be tasted and/or bought as souvenirs.  To figure out how to get there, we asked the guys in uniform but they were patently unhelpful, probably mostly because we don’t understand the Dutch names though.

We finally did determine that we could get on any train from the central station in Rotterdam and we’d get to a place to hop on a bus; however, while riding the metro, initially underground but then popping up above ground, we discovered that we were going right above the opening festival for the Tour de France.  We decided to postpone Kinderdike in favor of seeing the opening parade.

Down the elevator we went to a median in between two streets that were blocked for the parade and race itself.  We managed to get places one person away from the barricades to the street, allowing us to initially collect a lot of individual bags of Haribo candy that was tossed out into the crowd by the Haribo team.

A few cars later, one of the cars tossing hats came by and I (Chris) caught one. Shortly thereafter, the official water sponsor for the Tour came by spraying people with water, pushing everybody back from the fence and giving us great places!  I was very glad to have just gotten a hat to keep me a bit dry.

After these cars, the parade began to be interspersed with actual racers.  We’d see a big gap forming between show cars and the announcers would get very excited and we’d see a couple of bikers go past, and the parade would continue.  We stayed around here until the parade seemed to truly finish and there was only the periodic bike racers so we decided to get a bite of lunch and head back to Leiden.

At the station when we were about to pick up lunch, we managed to get the nicer hats that we had missed at the parade from somebody handing them out at the station!  After getting back to Leiden, we got a nice tour of Leiden by car from Minas, showing us the places we had walked the night before and a slightly larger area then we had decided to walk.

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Holland: Amsterday And Leiden July 2, 2010

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Wandering Amsterdam
Image by chris181m via Flickr

On Wednesday we said our goodbyes to our hosts and got on an over night bus to Amsterdam via London. That was a poor decision. I figured I could sleep on the bus since I have no trouble sleeping in cars, but I now stand corrected. There was no sleeping until the final hour before we arrived, which made us even more groggy than before.

So after we got to the hotel and realized that our room was not ready for us since check-in time starts at 2PM and it was currently 7 AM, we left our bags at the hotel and went to the city center for some breakfast (small selection of places are open at that hour in Amsterdam) and anything to kill some time (I think we both really wanted a nap more than anything).  Amsterdam collectively is not a morning person, if you catch my drift.  Needless to say time crept by that morning.

So after getting checked in and having possibly the best nap of our lives, we went back to the city center for some people watching. Amsterdam seems to lack benches in most of the city, but there are many planters that work just as well and with lovely views of the canals. The entire city was decorated with orange banners and balloons for the World Cup (soccer), which the Netherlands won today, in case you were wondering. At one place that we went to there was a group of street performers that were break dancing. It was amazing!

Break Dancing
Image by chris181m via Flickr

Yesterday there was a heat wave of some sort that has continued on today as well. I suppose we should be used to much hotter (considering it’s about 90F around noon) but there are very few places that have air conditioning. So we sit and sweat where ever we go.

So today we packed up and headed to Leiden where Minas picked us up and introduced us to his family and to the duck that choose to turn their garden into her nursery. The eggs hatched some time yesterday, so the baby chicks were so tiny and fluffy. So we had to catch them so his children could hold them. Then the mother duck decided that it was time to go to the canal right behind Minas’ garden, so then the chicks got all confused and stuck on the wrong side of the fence (so we helped them get out to the water).

Then he took us for the Greek food that was delicious for dinner. After eating way too much we went for a walk around Leiden’s city center. This city is lovely! There were tons of people celebrating their soccer victory in the streets with loud music and a lot of drinking. Many people in their cars (or even the city buses) honked repeatedly and people in their gardens set off fire works and blew horns.  I suppose we shall see what Leiden really looks like tomorrow after the clean up crew does their job.

As for the Work away thing any the remaining time we have before we meet with my mother in Ireland, we have a plane in Normandy to work at that is owned by a friends of one our previous hosts. We shall see!

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Work And Play The Time Away June 28, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Bath , 1 comment so far

The time has seemed to fly by here in Bath. The other day we spent all day “working” (answering the phone/ looking after guests). You know, watching movies, eating Ice Cream, and playing cards with their youngest daughter. Claudia, their youngest, is such a joy to play cards with since whenever she is bluffing or cheating she bursts into uncontrollable laughter(which is contagious by the way). We have learned some new card games such as 3 Card Brag.  Who would have known work could be this not workie.

One of their cats, Pepper, is expecting and is very round and whiny (maybe she’ll produce little Peppers before we leave). Also, the cat that was hit by the car is doing much better and is constantly meowing for attention.

Skyline of the city of Oxford (University of O...
Image via Wikipedia

We accompanied the family to Oxford, where their oldest daughter attended college. They went there for her graduation; we tagged along to see the really old city. It was quite interesting considering that a lot of the buildings look like churches, but they are actually all schools. It looks as though academics has taken over this Georgian city! We wandered around and found a nice grassy area in the gardens of Christ Church.

The church actually looks more like a college than most of the colleges do. It is really old and very well kept. This church is famous for having employed both the author of Alice In Wonderland, Charles Dodgson, and Alice Lyndell’s father (although it is a bit ironic that a famous Pedophile would be employed by a church and they would advertise it with a sign in their garden).

We’ve had a great time in Bath with our host family and have learned many things “British”. Unfortunately we’re moving on to the Netherlands on Wednesday where we’ll stay with Minas, a friend of Chris’ father after making a stop in Amsterdam. We’re going to miss our new friends, but moving on is good since it means new places and new people! Exciting!

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Street Festival In Bath June 14, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Bath , add a comment

So on Sunday we went to a small street festival about five blocks from Bloomfield House. It was great for people watching and there were many things that were pretty odd. This festival is brought on by a production company, so it has a different theme each year.

Actors move among the crowd in costume (this year the theme was pirates) and interact with random people. There were many live bands  and even a band in pirate costumes! It was pretty cheesy actually. They probably went down to a costume shoppe and bought the cheapest disguise they could find that might resemble a pirate (five points for making me smile).

Then there were the grannies that were doing some sort of dance with funny costumes and what looked like half a Hoola-Hoop. They, of course, had their own band in pirate costumes.

On a  sad side note: there have been some kitty-casualties at Bloomfield House. Last week two of their cat were run over. One, named Tickley survived with just a broken Femur. Tickley came home on Saturday, so we’ve been paying extra attention to him since he has to stay in a cage for the next 3 months and he gets pretty vocal about his loneliness. He’s on a lot of pain killers so when we take him out of the cage he immediately wants to cuddle. He is so adorable.

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Day Trip To Wells June 6, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Bath , add a comment

Yesterday we went with our host, Rob, to Wells, a town south of Bath. We also accompanied him to some reclamation stores in that area. We also drove through Glastonbury which is an interesting town to say the least.

Well’s cathedral was lovely. There’s a cathedral that is the biggest one I have ever seen! You could probably fit Notre Dom in the entrance hall. Next to the cathedral there is the Bishop’s Palace. It was beautiful but it makes me wonder why the Bishop would need a mote and huge walls with slits in them for firing a weapon. Inside the Palace walls there is a green space that two men were playing Crochet.

We tried Tiffin yesterday for the first time (I don’t remember ever having it before). It was delicious! We bought it right outside the Cathedral where there were many stalls selling locally made goods.

Rob was looking for six somethings  that are interesting to make the legs to the island unit that is going into their kitchen, so we all basically went through tons of reclaimed items, imagining what they could become. At one reclamation shop there was an old CCCP (Soviet) Army tank that we had to take pictures with using chris’ phone (we’d forgotten our cameras ). There were also many other decommissioned Army effects such as the shells of missiles and funny little armored cars. A different place had nearly enough parts of different churches to make a whole new one. Pews and all. It was very interesting to see!

Driving through Glastonbury is a lot funner than most places. The residents there have used the fact that their town is thought to have once been Avalon, home of King Author, so they dress the part and set up shops  with funny names (such as Lancelot’s Windows and Doors). They dress like they were extras in the Harry Potter movies with the cone-shaped hats with stars on them and robes. They have really found their niche!

Stonehenge May 30, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Bath , add a comment

Today was a perfect day for being outside so we took a tour to Stonehenge. The guide pointed out things along the route (50 minutes by bus). We were told that there is a crop circle in the lot next to Stonehenge but we didn’t see it at all.

We got to see the White Horse which is pretty cool but not the only one of its kind. There are many others similar to it. It is a huge carving of a horse on the side of a hill. It was done by removing the topsoil to reveal the rock beneath. The Celtics would do this to warn others that that hill was theirs and the stay away.

So at Stonehenge we got the free Audio guide that, for me, talked my ear off. But all the same, it was very interesting even though I had been there once before. I suppose it is one of those places you can visit a couple of times and enjoy it every time.

In the area around Stonehenge there are a considerable amount of mounds where important people were buried. These people would be buried with some of their belongings (jewelry, weapons, etc). Some times people were buries with their dog or horse too! And then they would put a huge pile of dirt, and sometimes, they would add ash from a cremation later on.

Stonehenge was built the first time by digging out a sort of trench and using wood instead of stone. They excavated the trench and found primitive tools that were carbon dated to reveal that the trench was dug over 5,000 years ago.  It was rebuilt twice after that using stones.Each time it was remade, the area inside the structure became smaller and smaller.

Bath’s Music Festival May 28, 2010

Posted by tiffany in : Bath , 2comments

This evening was quite  amazing. We went into town for the annual  music festival. It was apparently much larger but they have toned it down over the years. It was still great to see and be apart of.

There was a stage set up in the park situated between the river and the Abby. There was a guy playing his guitar when we first arrived. he was very talented but wasn’t that entertaining as a performer. Then a band of Indians started to set up and we weren’t that hopeful. But we were wrong! They were excellent performers that interacted with the crowd and made music that makes you want to dance.

They instructed the crowd in the beginning dance steps to Indian music (such as “changing the light bulb” or “brushing away the clouds”). It was so catchy that there were elderly people were up there “starting the scooter”.

When they finished playing the fireworks began and so we headed up to the Abby. The fireworks display was beautiful! It was very short (only ten minutes) but it was a good end to the evening.