Sunday, 23 November 2014

Harry Potter land

I've been stumbling across some really cool Harry Potter related places lately!

Edinburgh: Elephant Cafe- Where Rowling wrote part of the first couple books, wayyy back before she famous. Apparently she liked the view of Edinburgh Castle.

University of Glasgow- This doesn't technically count, but the arches remind me soooo much of Hogwarts.

Glencoe- The Forbidden Forest shots were filmed in the Scottish Highlands, in Glencoe.

Cliffs of Moher- At the bottom of the cliffs, there's a cave they used in the scene in the Half Blood Prince when Harry and Dumbledore Apparate to find the locket Horcrux. You could definitely see how the cliffs tied in here.

Oxford, Divinity Hall- This was where they filmed the infirmary scenes! We didn't go in, but you could see the arched windows that immediately made you remember the infirmary.

Oxford, Duke Humphries Library- Harry was wandering around this library when he went in the middle of the night under the Invisibility Cloak to find a book that was chained to the shelf.

This half counts- I've seen the steam train that goes on the bridge that is the iconic Hogwarts Express scene. I'm also going to try to hit Platform 9 3/4 when I stopover in London on the way to Paris next week!

Monday, 17 November 2014

The Second Stamp in My Passport

November 13-17, Ireland

Carlene, Kat, Kaitlyn, Kerry and I took a longgg weekend trip to Ireland this weekend! We flew in Thursday night and left really really early Monday morning. And it was Kerry and my birthdays! Celebrating in style.

Thursday night

Ryanair, the budget airline, has us walk on the tarmac to get on the airplane. Not bad, except when it's pouring like it was when we arrived in Dublin. Also poured as we got off the airport shuttle and tried to find the hostel. We eventually found it and patted ourselves on the back for finding such a cool hostel.

Smithfield Sqaure, across the street from the hostel

Jameson chandelier


Today was our Cork and Blarney tour. We started early- too early for it to even be bright. Our first stop was Rock of Cashel, which we thought was just going to be a rock. Nope a cool ruined cathedral thingie. I also discovered my love of Celtic crosses there too.
Some renovation was being done, but I love this

Kat, Kerry, Kaitlyn & Carlene

One of the four rainbows of the day

Next was Blarney Castle, home of the Blarney Stone. It rained as we climbed this tiny, steep, winding staircase up to the Blarney Stone. I can't believe our friend's grandparents got up on their trip, it was pretty rough!

 Blarney Castle and Gardens

Those stairs though

We headed up to the top to kiss the Blarney Stone. We thought it would give us luck; it's actually supposed to give you eloquence. I'll take it! It was pretty funny, to kiss the stone you have to get on your back, lean back, and kiss the stone backwards, while being held by the employee. We didn't quite know what was going on, because the employee guy was rushing us so much, for no reason. It went by so quickly. (If I get my kissing picture from my friend I'll post it!)
Someone else preparing to go down

The stone is in that gap you see at the top

We wandered around their poison garden, let Kat scramble her way up a tree, and explored some caves right next to the castle! We had no idea there would be all that interesting stuff there.

Kat was very very determinded

It was two trees that were connected by a root/branch on the left

Badger cave

Another full rainbow! We did have to tough out the rain though

The town of Blarney was also right next to it, complete with the Blarney Woolen Mills, with 3 floors of Irish goods. One whole floor was women's clothing; lots of warm woolen sweaters, and a couple of my friends got something! I just stuck with postcards.

Cork was our last stop, a town in the south of Ireland. It was really cute and had a lot of character. We went to their English market (when the Queen visited, she loved it), and had little chocolates, and some had shots of hot chocolate!

Classic antique- Kerry wanted it 


I miss produce, as Jon would call it

We also went in this Christmas decorated bar- so cute!

We got back pretty exhausted.  A couple of us went to a pub later on- and as it turned 12 as we walked there, Kat and Kaitlyn whipped out candles in the middle of the street and I got to blow out candles for my birthday :)

3 story pub with this stage in the middle


Today was our Cliffs of Moher tour. We stopped at Corcomroe Abbey, more ruins, which I personally find beautiful. I also love how there's ruins overgrown with plants regularly on the side of the road.

We also got the quintessential Irish experience: a rural traffic jam caused by cows

Then there was the mini cliffs, which are stunning in their own right.

I promise I was super careful Dad

Hi Kat

And no Dad, I didn't go over there

Then there are the Cliffs of Moher, which are absolutely amazing. I can't describe it. I'll just let the pictures do the talking.

You can see the cool layers on the rocks
Keeps on going...

They're 700 feet high

Breath-taking, literally. I don't have words for it
Finished off the night with some exploring Dublin and its pubs. The Christmas lights are so so pretty.


Our day of rest- kinda. We all wanted to do different things this day so we ended up splitting up. I woke up at 9:30 and had to go down to reception in my pj's because I had locked everything, including my key, into our hostel lockers the night before. Thank god they had a lock cutter.

I went on an 11 am free tour of the city with Sandeman's. I would definitely recommend it, and the guide was the most entertaining one of the trip. We walked around for 2 and half hours- this is what I saw:

Dublin Castle and the non-blindfolded Lady of Justice. hmmm

Christ Church Cathedral

The famous Temple Bar- way overpriced 

Trinity College is gorgeous

I also wandered around more, and went to the Christmas market at St. Stephen's Green. Super cute and I can't wait to go to another one! Then I tried to get to St. Patrick's Cathedral, the patron saint of Ireland, who brought Christianity to the island. Fun fact: he was actually Scottish. But they were having service so I couldn't go in.

But it did bring me closer to the Chester Beaty Library, which is actually a museum of stuff he collected. I loved it. They had illustrated manuscripts- European ones like ones in a favorite children's book, and Islamic ones, as well as Eastern books and scrolls. So intricate and OLD and gorgeous.

By this time I was exhausted from walking the entire city, so I headed back for a quick nap before dinner at the oldest pub in Ireland! Supposedly. We all had stew concoctions- there was Irish stew and beef and Guinness stew. I'm not a fan of Guinness, but I did enjoy the stew! We were stuffed and headed back for our last night at the hostel.

Then Carlene, Kat and Kaitlyn surprised Kerry and I with a cake! It was a delicious toffee one. I truly had a birthday weekend, thanks guys. :) Shout out to friends back home too, I felt the love from across the pond.
Nothing but smiles and full stomachs