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Hey there, all. It's been a couple days since I wrote last - must be having fun, right? Well absolutely! It's been a very busy week so far - an absolute gas. To cover in this post: food shopping, sight seeing, and horse racing. Hopefully this will be a good read and you'll enjoy it. Remember, you can subscribe to the bi-weekly newsletter to the right and find out how to get in touch with me at the contact page.
Food shopping is one of those things that everyone takes for granted in the United States, isn't it? I mean, how many times do you really consider where, when, for how long or plan extensively your shopping trips? Yes, you may have shopping lists, a general time when you want to go but here in Ireland we do it a little different. First, there's a caste system of food shopping locations. For quick or urgent needs, one would walk to the Centra or Spar for their needs. If it's time to find a specific or hard to find item, one might get on a bus to the Tesco for higher quality and moderate prices. Finally, for general shopping and the purchase of staples, one would plan a trip to the city center to find and Aldi or Lidl. These are foreign owned, discount markets with stocking habits of Walmart super center and the cramped confines of Johnny's Fresh Market.
Here's another one for you - you need your own bags! This is such a twist. I mean, stroke of genius for sure, but sooo inconvenient when compared to shopping in the US. I had over a week's worth of groceries on the first weekend but I was hugely confused, embarrassed, and upset when I realized I had no way to get the food home, no one to help bad, and the people behind me were getting rather heated with me. Needless to say I figured something out but the 6km trip home was not gentle to my hands with the overstuffed bags etc. This gets me thinking about things - what are they trying to teach? One, don't be lazy, you can bag yourself. Two, don't waste, buy reusable bags combined with the financial disincentive of having to pay for your bags. Finally, buy what you need for the week. I had done a big shopping run for a week plus some staples. This earned me three large fabric bags to tote everything back to campus. That walk home taught me that it's best to just buy what you need for the week and leave the rest for later.
Over this weekend, we took a walking tour with a representative from the Erasmus Student Network (international student union type thing). We saw many of the staple locations around the city centre. We got to see Dublin Castle as well as many of the night hot spots around the city. We even saw a small time rapper doing a budget music video -we're talking Youtube production. I thought it was a really interesting trip and definitely helped with my sense of direction. As one could imagine, Dublin isn't really a planned city - New Yorkers curse the place often. If you're into Boston's layout, you'll feel much better about Dublin for sure.
After a nice lunch at Bewley's cafe on Grafton street, we ventured west towards St. James Gate - the beloved brewery of the Black Gold: Guinness Stout. This was such an improvement to the old facility that they don't even compare. The Guinness Storehouse is an amazing facility that's part museum, part amusement park. Starting on the ground floor, visitors make their way up 7 floors to the gravity bar - a 365 glass bar on the very top of the facility - looking at, touching, smelling, experiencing all of the steps to the brewing process. It was a really great trip and the post tour pint was scrumptious.
Sunday was another action packed day here in the Emerald Isle. After an early wakeup, it was off to the Leopardstown Horse Track for the AIG championship hurdles. It was a really nice location, professional security, catering, etc. Top notch for those that can afford it. I wonder if this is just a small version of the Kentucky Derby? Anyways, it was to the pub to get a pint (required for all school sponsored trips) then to register with the bookies. 40 Euro later, I was scouring the reports, the breeders notes, the critics and all just hoping to be able to pick out the horse that would make my fortune. The whole day reminded me of Mrs. Knight telling me how she used to be top notch at picking horses at the races back when she was younger - I definitely could have used her skills that day, haha.
Oh! I should note that when I got there, a structure on the far side of the field was burning - that was different. Apparently one of the TV camera stands caught fire and burned to the ground. Soon after, a bunch of large corporate helicopters came swooping in dropping off their precious cargo. At the end of the day I walked away with 36 of the 40 euro... I consider it a success.
Well, that's the bulk of the news from me this week. I'm hoping to get a newsletter sent out in the next couple of days - I'm trying to get out and enjoy the nice weather while it's around and get these posted up when it's crummy outside. Friday, we're going to Belfast with the other BU program so stories from that trek will follow soon after.
I hope all is well with you all - I'm missing you!!