Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Fake Postmen and Phantoms

“Do you think we’re going to make it?”

“I don’t know…” my sister replied, looking around desperately for a sign that might lead us to Phantom of the Opera.

We had a harebrained scheme: Catch a 15:00 bus to London from Oxford, find Phantom’s playhouse, and after taking a few touristy pictures, grab the late bus back home.

On the way to London.

“The play will be between 7 and 8,” I say.

Kathryn and her friend Lauren glance nervously at watches and cell phone clocks.

“Well…it’s 6:30 now.”

Our plans had already met a slight hitch when our bus had broken down on the highway. And searching for a theater was more difficult than expected. Unlike New York’s Broadway, London stages are scattered throughout the city. So we began asking the question I have become so accustomed to asking: “Excuse me, hi yes sorry. Do you know where (insert every destination ever here)."

Really? Oh yes...

One bus driver pointed us down a street. The next bus driver pointed us back towards the way we came. The man working at a theater could only tell us to ask a bus driver. Finally I saw a postman. Yes a postman! That was who helped me when I was lost on my first day of work! Postmen are awesome – I love you postmen.

So I quickly walked over to him before he could take his lovely postman self down another street.

“Sir, excuse me! Yes…sorry to bother you but…”

Oh wait. You’re not a postman. Dang you and your fake postman outfit…you postman poser! I blindly trusted you because of your uniform and hat and letters in your hand. And the more I talk to you the more I realize you don’t speak English…but you say I should ask a taxi driver? Ok! Yes this one right here? Well, thank you fake postman! Yes have a nice night.

Literally running around London.

So Kathryn, Lauren and I asked a taxi driver if he knew where Her Majesty’s Theater was located.

“You wanna get in?”

“Ha. No sir. Could you just simply tell me…”

“You want in?” he asked again, smashing a turkey sandwich into his face.

“No. I do not. We do not “want in,” I said beginning to get frustrated.

“You gonna pay?”

Ok. I have a feeling we’re not in Ireland anymore.

“Can you tell me or no,” I said. The clock was ticking and I didn’t have time for little taxi man games. Luckily my favorite fake postman came up behind us.

“Coo you jost tell ‘deem where dis is, yes?” he asked.

“Ok," the driver consented. "You’re gonna go down this street here, you see? Go take a left, and then you’re gonna start looking for Haymarket, see? It’s on the left there. On Haymarket.”

I gave him a quick “thanks” but saved my genuine gratitude for the fake postman. “No problem,” he said and went back up the street with his random letters that obviously were not today’s mail.

So the adventure continued. We ran through the streets on London, skipped over obstacles, darted through traffic, and frantically searched for Haymarket. Lauren had to remove her shoes and prance around the city barefoot to keep up. But we were going to see that show, even if our feet were bleeding by the time we arrived. I had already learned in Ireland that blisters will fade...right?

Nice...who needs shoes.

Finally we found the theater. Between Kathryn’s knowledge of London, the fake postman, and the annoying taxi driver, we arrived at 7:15 for the 7:30 show.

Love love love.

“25 pounds for obstructed view,” the man in the booth told us. Last minute tickets are always cheaper, but unless we sat near a column, they would still cost over 70 pounds – which is over $130 American dollars.

So behind a column we sat. And it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter at all. At first we thought it would be horrible, but once the play started I think it’s safe to say we were all captivated by the magic of the London theater and swept away by the actors voices that led us to a world a mystery and intrigue in a 1800s opera house.

And for 25 pounds? Heck ya!

Harebrained scheme: Check

London play: Check

Touristy pictures by Big Bed and red payphones: Check

Classic holiday with Kathryn: Check, Check, Check!

You better believe I was talking in a British accent...

Being a tourist.

Me and P on "holiday."


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Weekend Update

I was doing so well keeping the blog updated! But now I’m a bit behind…too much is happening. Then again that’s not a bad thing.

In short, last weekend I saw Cork, the Ring of Kerry, Galway, and Howth. I loved the city of Galway - it reminded me a lot of a college town. Howth, which is right above Dublin, was also pretty and had a very cozy pub where we relaxed before the work week started again.

Because I’m behind on post, and slightly short on time…I’ll give you some favorite moments:

1) Sleeping in a “cinema room” – Yes, I have mentioned this in a few pictures, but it’s just such a “European travel moment” kind of story that it deserves repeating. About nine of us had made reservations at a hostel in Cork. Somehow the dates had been reserved wrong, and our group was booked for a different time. There were not a lot of options for housing because it’s the height of the travel months here, so the hostel offered the cinema room for us to crash in. And we literally just crashed it in – there were some random mattresses, and a few beanbags, scattered pillows, and heaps of sheets and blankets.

But honestly…it was great. Best sleep of the weekend, right there on the floor of a cinema room curled up in a beanbag.

We were gouped with luggage...

Classy room

2) French food in Galway – YUM. So everyone I’m with knows Italian, French, and English (I feel so uncultured!) and are mostly from Italy. For part of the dinner, I had no idea what people were saying. But it really didn’t matter because for the first time in several days, I was not eating a gas station sandwich or a convenience store coffee with a cheap banana. It was REAL food. Of course there was a real price tag, ha-ha… (nervous laughter here because parents are reading the blog) …but you know 15 Euros for a three course meal was the cheapest item on the menu and well worth it!

As they say over here, "Brilliant!"

3) Random rain – Ok so this was not a favorite moment at the time, but looking back it was actually very humorous. It was a beautiful day, and after all the rain we had endured while traveling through the Ring of Kerry, everyone was soaking up the sun. Our group walked to the furthest point on a pier and relaxed happily surrounded by blue skies and water. I felt a slight chill in the air and grabbed my rain jacket. The instant I put it on, three or four fat rain drops splashed me. Within 30 seconds it was raining hard, and pounding us at a horizontal slant. We began to run back towards land, but by the time we reached shelter, the storm was over and it was beautiful again. All of us were completely soaked on the front and dry on the back…lovely!

Calm before the storm in Galway

4) Town and Seal hunting – On our way home to Dublin, we wanted to stop at some town near a lake. I don’t really know where because everyone was yelling directions in Italian. But even though we found two lakes, we never found the town we were originally searching for.

Finally we wound up in Howth for some dinner and a drink at the local pub. I had my first real European “fish and chips” experience (couldn’t tell you which was worse...but then again maybe I was just being a food snob after my delicious French dinner and from being tired of cheap chips). We also strolled along the docks searching for these seals that Alex swore he had seen before.

Let me tell you – there were no seals in Howth that night. We looked everywhere, and even began to make seal noises, which was extremely humorous because they are very hard to impersonate with a straight face. At one point we thought we had found them and Alex said in an Italian accent “Look Britney…follow my finger! You can see the seals!”

No Alex. Those are birds.

Still, the weekend was great. I will just have to go back to Howth and find the seals on my own!

Howth minus the seals...


Friday, July 17, 2009

You Think I'm Whaaa...?

This weekend was so packed it could be broken up into lots of little posts. But, let’s start at the very beginning…

I had just gotten back from the Village of the Dead (for those of you who do not understand this reference, scroll down to the last entry). I was going to meet up with Alex, the other intern at the newspaper, and his friends for a trip through the west side of Ireland. Having only been in Dublin (oh yah…and Slane), I was quite excited to experience the countryside.

We decided the best place to meet up would be in the parking lot of our old office, near an apartment complex. It was accessible and I knew the bus route to get there. So I arrived a bit early and sat on the sidewalk, happy to relax after a long Friday of run, run, run.

I’ll admit; I sat there a long time. Maybe forty minutes? My green back pack was crammed full of everything I would need for the weekend, and I was wearing my rain jacket just in case a sporadic storm made an appearance. Sitting on the sidewalk, I watched mothers with strollers walk by, fathers and daughters running out of their apartments for last minute errands, couples getting wine or going on dates. I smiled at them all because it was Friday and everyone was happy!

Well, not everyone apparently. Now just imagine: Me…sitting on a sidewalk with a back pack, smiling or playing with my phone. Is this a threatening image? Do I intimidate people? I think not.

“Excuse me miss…’er you doing okay tere?” An older gentleman was standing near me, on the other side of the apartment complex gate.

“Uh, yes thanks.”

“Whatcha doin’ here for?” he persisted.

“Just sitting.” I said and grabbed my bag, half rolling my eyes. If he was going to talk, I was going to move. There is a general rule with people I see in the city: you can look, but you can’t talk. Smile, nod, or even say hi to me. That’s okay! But if you strike up a conversation and you are under 55, I’m going to have to be careful. At that moment I was enjoying people watching, and didn’t really want to bother with

small talk.

“Well…’er..yah see, I had gotten some calls bout a girl sitting on da sidewalk…”

Wait me? I stopped fidgeting and looked back in his direction. “Oh?”

“Yah…are you..are you waitin’ fer someting?”

“Yes! Oh yes, sorry. I’m waiting for a friend to pick me up. And we both worked around here so it was just easiest…”

“Oh good good! Fine then…no don’t worry ‘bout movin’ ten miss. I work at the apartment complex, and yah know when I get a call I just got ta check. But cha won’t be causin’ no trouble. People, yah know? Callin’ over anting, usually homeless people…but most tha time, nobody’d do yah any harm.” And with that the man vanished back to his office.

Um. Wait a minute.

Did something just think I was homeless? Excuse me, this rain jacket is nice! And this book bag is only full because I’m leaving for a weekend holiday! Homeless?! Please…I even showered today! And then I silently cursed all of those people I had been smiling at. “Bet it was the mother with the stroller who called,” I thought to myself. “She was in such a rush! Hardly smiled back…”

But I felt a twinge of guilt for being so appalled at the idea of being mistaken for homeless. I know people that live on the streets in the States; I’ve had conversations and dinners with them. They are more than just an emotionless face, or a nuisance to society, ready to be swept under the carpet of urban neighborhoods. At that moment I told myself I would not walk briskly by the homeless people lining the Liffey River without giving them a smile…they at least deserve this small gesture. It would be unsafe to do much more than this when alone, but my mentality needed tweaking.

None the less, the situation was quite humorous. I quickly texted Alex and told him to “HURRY UP” because people think I’m freaking homeless. Then I giggled for a good five minutes, probably scarring more people now because I looked like a laughing lunatic.

And secretly…I hoped that women with the stroller would walk by again and see me laughing by myself

and think “She’s crazy AND homeless!”

Ha! So what if I was!

Here are a few pics from the weekend...they are all on Facebook, but I feel weird writing a blog with no pictures:

In the car...

On the beach...

The Ring of Kerry - this is a circle you drive through County Kerry for scenic moutains and beachs

The town of Galway - One of my favorite places in Ireland I think.

More Galway. See that beautiful sky? This was right before it lashed (POURED) on us. And maybe within 7 minutes...the sun changed its mind and came back out.

Oh thank you Ireland ;)

More from last weekend to come...