Saturday, February 11, 2012

Europe: Where the History Comes From

(Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland)
Hello my lovelies! The rest of my first day in Dublin was a bit "dodgy"...I wasn't aware how jet lag makes you a crazy hormonal lady. I took a bit of a tiger snooze at my hostel before I went to dinner for the night, and I awoke (as my grandmother says) "feeling like a new man." 

 I got the chance to pass the Bank of Ireland (above) multiple times since it was a block away from my hostel. Dublin is not short on beautiful buildings. I went to go meet a friend of a friend who lives in Dublin for dinner and drinks. She grew up south of Dublin and one day hopes to work for the EU in communications. We ate dinner at the Bank, which is a fabulous Victorian building with a giant inflatable rugby ball above the bar...(?) We dined on traditional sausage and mash, then headed to a bar to take salsa dancing lessons. The men of Ireland must have a strong desire to A) master latin dance styles, B) meet and get close to women, or C) BOTH! These men were taking things a lot more serious than I was. I kept trying to joke around with this one man, who was literally attacking the dance moves, and my hands, arms, and toes with fervor. He asked me not to say his name with the English pronounciation if I couldn't say it in Irish. These Irish, such kidders :) It makes me want to make jokes like: "Loosen up, it's not like the famine is back" or "Lighten up, it's not like there's a bomb in your car." Just to get under their skin a little. My brother advised me to tell them how much I hate the British in order to win their favor...and it works. They LOVE to trash the Brits.
 These two men played folk music at the bar under my hostel...they lovingly made up songs about a red head from Texas for me. Sweet, drunk men.

Doors are wicked cool. Such detailed entryways everywhere.

Christ Church Cathedral...if you didn't feel like you were in a holy place before...take a look at the sun beaming through this stained glass window ala Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark (this picture hardly does justice to the real thing.)
 This is the view out of my hostel window....yes, I had a window. I had lots 'o' sunlight on the first day, but I was not so lucky the second.
 My very cheesy looking Irish hostel. But it was clean, cheap, free breakfast, and you got a free pint of Guiness when you arrived. SOLD.
 This was the street my hostel was on. Very quaint, and extremely loud at night since it is located in the Temple Bar district (like Austin's 6th st. of Dublin).
 Rugby guys: loud, drunk, sans many teeth, and surprisingly experts in all Journey song lyrics...even at 3am...even after eleventy pints.
 Someone please pass this on to Nando, there is one all over Ireland and the UK.
I remember the first time I saw Waiting for Godot. It was at Lubbock High, starring Brian Bell, Phillip Vaden, and Andrew Stewart. LOVED it! Love those actors.
 St. Patrick's park behind St. Patrick's Cathedral. This is where I played with other people's dogs for a while. I require animals and nature to recharge.

(I heart trees and history)
Lord Chief Justice James Whiteside. My alleged Great Great (Great?) Grandfather on my father's side. My grandparents, Jimmy and Evelyn, went to visit Ireland in May of 1982 (my birth month for those of you that wouldn't put that together). They took their picture with the statue, and the resemblance was uncanny between the live and statue version of James Whiteside. I assumed that once I found the statue in person, that it might not look as similar to my grandfather. On the contrary, my breath was taken away. A huge grin grew on my face. I felt this great connection to my grandfather and my ancestors. Though this genealogical link is not proven as of yet, it seems undeniable to me. The day that I was born, Jimmy and Evelyn when to a nearby chapel and had a special prayer read for me. I became very sweetly emotional. Think rom-com teary-eyed, not Oprah ugly cry. I felt so proud to be standing where I was both in Ireland and in my own shoes.
They told me about his personality. They said he was witty almost to a fault where there were those that didn't respond to his humor (my family). He was intelligent, and let you know it (my family). A person who reached out to those who needed him (proudly my family). Finally, as seen above, a great orator (definitely my family).
Chillin' with my ancestor.
Creepy creepy similar to my grandfather. Family: I know you will chime in on this.

My small, weathered, leprechaun-of-a-tour guide adopted me while I was taking photos. He led me around each nook of the cathedral and told me all the "little known facts" about each plaque or monument. When I looked up and saw the flags, and commented on how they looked like seasoned soldiers...he said "flags do not die, they fade away."
Super awesome stone spiral staircase. Architecure is really fantastic when you think about the craftsmanship without modern tools and materials.
Each flag and helmet resembles the homage to fallen soldiers.
I could go to church here...and let Dean Jonathan Swift sermonize me.
There's that old wacky funster, Dean Swift. His manservant is the only one of the non-scholars that has his own plaque in the cathedral...that's how eccentric and needy this guy was. No one knows a lot about Swift's personal life because this guy was so good at his job. 
My tour guide informed me that Swift HATED when people fell asleep during his lectures. Even in his old age, they would wheel him over to the nappers and he would poke them with a long handmade stick.
Boyle's Law, anyone? My science geeks will love this one.
There he is, my leprechaun boyfriend. He was so dear to me, and so knowledgeable. He is in his early seventies and has just applied to 4 schools in Ireland to study history. Love him. Cute quirk: when he was pondering something, or gearing up to tell me something a bit off-color he would take his index finger and scratch the 2" black hairs on the end of his red nose.
I took a mini-trip to Killeyney which is about 30min by train south of Dublin. I get tired of big cities pretty easily, and how could I go to Ireland and see the coast. I walked about a mile down the beach, and studied the bright green and orange rocks in the sand. The dolphins were leaping in the distance, and several dog owners let me chase their muddy canine companions. This was more my style.

I walked up this ridiculous path (about 45 degrees in incline). Once I reached the top, my new hiking mission was clear: Operation Meet Bono. I was told he lived here on the coast, right next to Enya's house. I walked several miles towards the next town and I believe I found his backyard.
This is it, I think. I closed my eyes, held out my hands, and let the U2 spirit guide me ala Inigo Montoya finding his way by letting his sword direct him. Alas, I did not meet him. I was sure that we would become fast friends, save the world, and sing together while making Irish cookies.
That dot out there in a water was a surfer. This crazy bastard was covered head to toe in neoprene to battle the frigid waters. That's passion, people.
The Irish Cancer Society has these UHmazing ads all along the train. It's for their Shave or Dye campaign, check it out
It's true though, you never look stupid fighting cancer. Here's to all of the patients and survivors who never look stupid.
Once I returned from my failed Bono mission in Killeyney, I headed to the Guiness storehouse...duh!! This is there 9,000 year lease that Arthur Guiness signed for the brewery building. Not for the faint hearted commitment-phobes out there.
Hey, turn into beer faster, please!!
The pure waterfall that the Master brewer professes to be one of the key elements of a great pint. I'm underneath the waterfall here.
The entire center of the building is constructed to be the largest pint glass in the WORLD! You self-guide through all of the floors, and at the top you receive the freshest pint of that dark mistress Guiness.

My brother's old roommate in Prague, Gavin. He met me for dinner and drinks, and showed me around Stephen's Green and found Oscar Wilde's childhood house. He taught me so much about Irish history and politics. Super awesome! He knows so much more about America than most Americans.
The entrance into Stephen's Green, it's modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Oscar Wilde's house. Crazy cool.
I awoke at 5am to catch my 8am flight to Glasgow. Once I arrived, I meandered around this slightly angry city until I stumbled upon this random ferris wheel in the square near the City Chambers.
Here is said square.
War memorial with wreaths of red poppies.
Anytime I see a statue like this, I hope and wish that Sigourney Weaver or Rick Moranis pops out. I'm kind of obsessed with Ghostbusters.

I walked ALL over this city trying to find a place to volunteer for the day. Churches, museums, city offices, children's theatres, and finally the Glasgow city mission...NO one wanted a volunteer "just for one day." Insane. For those that have worked in non-profit or any philanthropy you NEVER turn down volunteers.
Overall, I found that Glasgow sucks and is in fact NOT a hootenanny. So I boarded an earlier bus to go visit two of my favorite people in the cosmos, David and Brigid in Edinburgh!
Ah, Edinburgh. It's beautifiul, people are nice, and it's not Glasgow.
This is where all of the market bosses gathered in the morning to discuss prices for their goods that particular day.

St. Giles Cathedral. Cathedral's are ridiculously beautiful. Thankfully, there are so many amazing buildings all over Europe. I hope that I never get jaded and think "ugh, another cathedral."
Statue guarding the outside of the Edinburgh reminded me again of the knight in Indiana Jones: The last crusade.

My fabulous, knowledgeable, and spectacularly red headed tour guide, Brigid. She knows so much about this entire city! She told me to stop her when it became too much learning...I did not stop her, I ate that ___ up! David and Brigid became members at the castle because they take so many visitors there. So awesome to live in a city with such amazing sites.
I loved this. This is the military dog cemetery. I believe in people that honor and respect their faithful companions.
I am amazed by stained glass windows. These buildings are beyond ancient, and they somehow construct a hole out of rock to place a beautiful glass masterpiece. Mind blowing.
Mary Queen of Scots' chapel.
"Look, Mel Gibson!" - Brigid

I love war history and the history of military strategy. I really want to battle and shoot this cannon.
Me and Sigourney are protecting the memorial.
The bust of Mary Queen of Scots. She was kept "prisoner" in her own castle due to her rivalry with Queen Elizabeth I. Ask Brigid about more details, she knows it all. She was finally beheaded to make sure she was not a threat to the throne. Google this story, it's awesome.
The view out of Mary's bedroom window looking out on the Grass Market.
Not only do I love military battle stuff, I. Love. Weapons. Not only that, decorating with ancient weapons. In the great hall, they has so many weapons I was overwhelmed with excitement.
Swords (pronounced: swords).
This made me think of the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks starring Angela Lansbury. It takes place during WWII and she uses her witchery to put a spell on the ancient armor and weaponry to battle the invading Germans. Watch it, you'll thank me.

As I looked at the armor, I was reminded how much of our fashion throughout the centuries mirrors the past. Alexander McQueen, true British designer, incorporated so much of Europe's history into his design. He brought a chic side to his patriotism in using tartans, Elizabethan style, and countless other homages to his country. What a loss of an amazing creative brain.
I heart castles.

This is the view from Grass Market looking up to Mary's bedroom window.
Greyfriar's Bobby. The faithful terrier that accompanied his master to his wife's grave each day. Once the master passed away, he was buried next to his wife. Bobby still visited the grave each day, and now has his own grave and monument.
J.K. Rowling imagined Harry Potter in this coffee shop. David and Brigid had me buy a copy of the first Harry Potter book to be my first novel of the trip. They even offered to act it out for me.
I was walking down the street and saw this Missoni print kilt. I asked him if it was Missoni and the doorman pointed up to the sign which read "Hotel Missoni." Apparently, a hotel company approached the Missoni family to create posh hotels. They have one in Edinburgh and one in Kuwait.
Missoni is one of my favorite fashion dynasties. Like Versace and a number of other fashion houses, the family is very involved in maintaining the family business and preserving it's place in the world of garments.
Street performer.
On Friday night, David and Brigid took me to the "Scottish Whole Foods" to select our dinner menu. This is a snapshot of signature David behavior. Grocery shopping and checkout is a game to be won. It is won by proper placement of items in sacks and weight distribution. He should not be bothered or helped in this flurry of neuroses. We all have our freak flags to wave, and his whipped wildly in the wind coming from the automatic sliding doors. Brigid and I had a good time as spectators.

On Sunday, I board a train to Bristol, UK. I'm going to visit Eudaemone, Pete, Nea, Elesion, and Epiphany Jervis Battilega. My other family. I used to babysit for Ondinea and Eleison when they were 8 and 1, respectively. I continued to nanny for them for years...and now they are 17, 10, and 3 (or something like that)! I cannot wait to spend quality giggle time with them.

After Bristol I visit London for a few days, and then I take the Chunnel to PARIS!! Thanks for tuning in to Euro Hobo 2012. I love reading your comments, they warm my heart that you are taking time to read this. I love sharing my journey with all of you and being a vessel for y'all to live vicariously through me!

Cheers, Claire


  1. I can't wait to follow your journey here, Claire! I've never see most of this so I'm thrilled to be living vicariously through you! GO, CLAIRE!

  2. Oh girl you got me teary. Zac recently did a family history report and he shared a picture of the James Whiteside statue. I think the resemblance is amazing! So glad you were there to say "hello" for all of us!

  3. I'm LOURVING this blog! Keep it up, ladypants! XO.

  4. Wahoo! Way to go, Claire. I'm hanging on your every word and even rereading what you've written. I also copied the pictures of James Whiteside and I have the one of Jimmy & Evelyn standing by him when they were there. You are a fantastic writer! You make me feel as though I am right there with you. Journey on!

  5. This is awesome!! Love the pics - looks like you are having a fabulous time!