Tuesday, September 23, 2014

J and K's Excellent Adventure: Day 4

Day 4 took us to Scotland! Cheryl, Kate, and I left Cheryl's house around 8:30 in the morning to head up to Edinburgh. It was a beautiful drive, so it really didn't matter that it was a four hour trip. The only sad part was that we barely missed the fact that we had entered Scotland. There are no signs or anything indicating that you're approaching the border (at least not on the road which we were traveling). So suddenly as we were taking a turn we noticed a "Welcome to Scotland" sign off to the right. Thankfully Cheryl is a quick draw with her camera, so she captured the sign. The town that was on the border (on the Scotland side) is called Coldstream, and it was gorgeous. It totally wins you over, and helps you instantly fall in love with Scotland. Seriously.

Anyway....we arrived in Edinburgh late morning/early afternoon, and it is one of the most beautiful cities ever. I think I may be in love with that place. It's a major city, but doesn't feel that way, and still actively celebrates it's history. I don't know, I just really like it.

We parked and then started wandering around. We first went to an old cemetery that is right across from Calton Hill. It was lovely. However, there were random drunk guys hanging out in there, which was unfortunate. Who is drunk at noon? ...okay, probably a lot of people in the world. But just kickin' it in a cemetery? What is that?

After that we bought tickets to go on a bus tour of the city. It was grand. It was the type of tour that you could get off at a stop, go explore, wait for another bus to arrive (they came frequently), and then continue on the tour right where you left off. On the first leg of the tour we just rode around and learned cool things about Edinburgh. Plus, our tour guide lady totally complimented my shoes. I totally passed as being fashionable---even if it was only once whilst in Europe. :)

The first time we got off the bus was to go to the Edinburgh Castle. We didn't tour inside of it, just walked around the grounds a bit. We also did a bit of shopping, and then got back on a bus. We got off again soon after though, because we were starving by that point and needed food. So we found a lovely little pub (Maggie Dickinson), and ate lunch there. Oh my goodness, it was so good! I ordered sausages and mash (so did Kate), and it tasted heavenly. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. We also ordered dessert, and the pudding that Cheryl ordered may possibly be the best food we tried the whole trip. I'm not even joking.

We were at lunch for about an hour, then went to catch another tour bus. Normally you don't end up on the same bus twice in a row, but we totally did. The tour guide was funny about it. However, I don't think the bus driver was thrilled. See earlier, when we first rode on that bus, I could not find my ticket anywhere. But he waited until I found it, but it took a good three minutes or so for me to locate it. But don't worry, I totally had my ticket ready the next time we got on the bus. I'm sure he was thinking, "Great. These ladies again."

When we were riding on the tour busses we always sat on the top deck so that we could get a better view of the city, and take pictures with less obstacles in our way. However, sometimes the bus turns before you take the picture, so you get random things in the way anyway....especially when you're turned around trying to capture the site which you just passed. Hence, on my camera there is some guy who is in the majority of my pictures. The funny thing is that he was on the first bus with us, and somehow we ended up on the same last bus. I think by the end of the tour, the people sitting by him thought it was funny, and were trying to photo bomb my shots. The pictures I have seriously look like I'm just taking pictures of him, instead of the sites, just because of the angles. It's kind of funny.

Anyway, after we were done taking a bus tour we headed over to Calton Hill. It's one of the many hills in Edinburgh which you can climb to get a better view of the city. This hill has fun sculptures though. There is a big pillar sculpture, and Kate and I did a little "model shoot" on it. It is high up, so you have to climb quite a bit. There was a nice German guy who saw us getting ready to climb, and leant us a hand. Basically he pulled us up...it was nice of him. Then as we were finishing our "shoot", we met a couple from Manhattan, Kansas. Such a small world. They were going to be in Scotland for 12 days, which is awesome. It is such a great place!

After we were done at the City Centre, we drove to the LDS Mission home in Edinburgh. Cheryl and I are related to David O. McKay, and we wanted to see the replica of the stone he saw while serving his mission in Scotland, that had a huge impact on his life it. It's a stone that reads, "What-e'er thou art, act well thy part." I will be honest, before we went there I seriously thought it was the original stone. I was wrong, it was just a replica. The original one is actually at the Church History Museum. Had I known that, I would have just gone to Utah instead of Europe. ;)

After seeing the stone, we headed north through some of the highlands to our Bed & Breakfast in Inverness. The city was right on Loch Ness, which is cool. We did not see Nessie (the Loch Ness monster) though. And the highlands of Scotland are stunning.


The random guy who appears in a plethora of my photos.

The delicious dessert pudding. 

Workin' it. 

By the replica outside of the mission home. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

J and K's Excellent Adventure: Ireland to England, Day 3

Sunday morning, we went over to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It was AMAZING. Also, after the Book of Kells section, you go upstairs to an incredible Library. Books from the floor to the ceiling, for a whole huge room. It was awesome.

After that we hailed a taxi, and went to Church. The taxi driver didn't know where it was, so we got lost. We were only a couple of minutes late to Church though, so that was nice. Church was really good, and everyone was super nice. Also, we have a friend who served his mission in Ireland/Scotland, and we met the Elder he trained. Small world. When Church was done, we caught a bus back to the City Centre, and got ready to head to the airport. It was sad to leave Dublin. I really love that city.

For our flight from Dublin to Leeds, we were flying the airline Ryanair. It's a European airline, and the tickets are really cheap. However, they will get you with fees in any way that they can. So Kate and I had stressed before we left that we needed to keep our carry-on super small. They charge you lots for checking a bag, and your carry-on has to be certain dimensions and can only weigh 10kg (22lbs). We probably re-packed about 7 times trying to get everything to fit the airlines specifications. But we did it! ...so we thought.

When we got to the airport, we went to the bathroom to put on more clothes, to help our suitcases weigh less. I had on two pairs of pants. ....not my finest moments. Maybe one of my funniest though. :) Then we went up to the counter, and they didn't even look at our bags. And as we were waiting at the gate, nobody said anything about the size of our bags. However, I kept looking around and noticing how small all of the other suitcases were, and thinking we were going to get charged 50 euros for them having to check our bags at the gate. Their website says something along these lines: "We'll be pleased to charge you for any over-sized luggage at the gate."

Anyway, the time came to board the plane, and still nobody had said a word to us, even though our bags were clearly larger than the rest of the suitcases. As they checked our boarding passes, we were told we needed to gate check our bags. However, they didn't charge us! It was lovely. In fact, we felt such a sense of anxiety depart us that we were almost euphoric. We were kind of ridiculous. We wrote silly letters to Ryanair, expressing our gratitude/feelings.

Dear Ryanair, Thank you for not charging me extra for my clearly over-sized bag. ~Janae, wearing 2 pants

Dear Ryanair, The anxiety you brought into my life caused me to throw away my Digestives. Not Cool. ~Janae   (Digestives are a type of cookie, which are incredible. However, they weigh a lot, so I threw like half of the package away, because I thought it would make my bag too heavy. They never even weighed our bags.)

Dear Ryanair, I love that I did not have to pay 50 euro for my over-sized bag. However, I do not love wearing athletic shoes with my skinny jeans. Fashion faux pas. Best regards, Kate

Dear Ryanair, Thanks to your strict guidelines I am now wearing denim on denim. This presents a slight problem as I am single, and will remain so as long as I am wearing this attire. ~Kate, 29 and desperate (but not really).

Dear Ryanair, Thank you for bringing us to a level of euphoria that has brought us to tears. #dyingoflaughter  ~K8 & J'Nae       ....Seriously, we were laughing so hard. We're pretty sure everyone else on the plane thought we were crazy.

Anyway, it was a fun flight. And the first thing I said to my sister Cheryl at the Leeds airport was, "I'm wearing two pairs of pants." Not even joking.

Day 3 photos:
Day 3 selfie.

Library at Trinity College.

Leaving Dublin. :(

J and K's Excellent Adventure: Ireland, Day 2

Saturday morning, we had a lovely traditional Irish breakfast---sausage, bacon (ham), eggs, and a tomato. Well, I had a tomato. ...or as the proprietor of our hotel said, "toe-mah-toe". We found that his Irish accent was rather difficult to understand. But between the two of us, we could usually figure out the gist of what he was saying.

After breakfast we headed out for our Day 2 adventure. Our ultimate destination was the Cliffs of Moher, and it was suggested to us that we stop and see the Bunratty Castle along the way. We did, and it was really pretty. It cost a ridiculous amount of money to go see it though, so we opted to just walk along the outside instead. Then we continued west to the cliffs. There was a really beautiful/charming town on the drive there, but we can't remember the name of the town---Lahinch? Who am I kidding? There were beautiful towns EVERYWHERE. Also, we saw some awesome Golf Courses. Something that I love about Ireland (and the UK as well) is that they just incorporate the natural landscape as part of their developments. So this particular Golf Course was built on tons of hills, and it was awesome. Finally we got to the Cliffs of Moher, and they are just majestic. It was a beautiful and clear day, so it was nice to be able to see all around.

After the going to the cliffs, we headed up north to Galway, Ireland. We drove through "The Burren", which was beautiful. ....lots of natural rocks. We got to Galway that afternoon, and walked along the main shopping area. Then we went to the Galway Cathedral. After that, we walked around the University for awhile. It was a lovely campus. Then we headed back east to Dublin.

Sadly, returning our rental car took longer than expected, and so we missed our Dublin by night bus tour.....by two minutes. So since we missed our tour, we found our hostel, and then went and explored Dublin by night. There was a girl in our hostel (Esther), who was super nice and let us borrow her map, so we had somewhat of an idea of where we were going.

First we wandered around Trinity College, which is awesome. Then I really wanted to see the Dublin Castle, so we set off to find that. Eventually we did, but it was a let down. A. We couldn't really see it, since the gates were closed., and B. It was not as grand as other Castles we'd seen. ...or so we thought. It didn't look spectacular in the dark, it just looked like a regular building. However, if you do an internet search for the Dublin Castle, it actually looks cool. We just didn't get to see it in the daylight. Oh well. We found a really cool old Church though, so that was nice.

Also, Dublin is one happening city. It comes alive at night, and is really cool. I really like Dublin a lot. We wanted to find an Irish Pub to sing some karaoke in, but we weren't successful in our efforts. That's okay though. We just eventually went back to our hostel around 11 PM, got ready for bed, and chatted with Esther for a bit. She is from British Columbia, Canada, and is going to be a nanny in Dublin for a year. Awesome.

Here are some pictures from Day 2:

The Bunratty Castle.

A beautiful view as we were driving.

A view of the hilly Golf Course.

The Cliffs of Moher!

Most of our drive was under intense tree covering--it was beautiful. This picture doesn't do it justice.

Another gorgeous view as we were driving.

A Castle we saw along our drive---we don't know the name of it.

Day 2 selfie. 

Us at Galway University. 

Kate modeling in a cool piece of art at the University.


A view of Galway. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

J and K's Excellent Adventure: Ireland, Day 1

My friend, Kate, and I went to Europe for a couple of weeks. It was absolutely fantastic. Here is an overview of all we did.....at least for our first day. WESTERN IRELAND!

Day 1 (Thursday and Friday)

We flew out of Kansas City (to Charlotte, NC) around 2 PM on Thursday. We bought our tickets in February. The very next day Kate called the airline to get our seats switched so that we were next to each other,  and the airline confirmed that the switch had been made. However, when we got to the airport, that was not the case. Thankfully the people at the desk by our gate were really helpful, and so we got our seats switched for that flight, and got to be next to each other. Unfortunately, they said for the next flight we wouldn't be able to swap seats....the flight was already full. We just figured that we would ask the people around us to possibly switch when the time came. Anyway....so we departed Kansas City, and the most eventful thing that flight was that the change in air pressure caused my water bottle to turn into a fountain, and water went all over my pants. The beautiful thing about water is that it dries, so by the time we got to Charlotte all was well. :)

After our layover, it was time to head to Dublin! We boarded the plane, and then after talking to the lady next to me, she agreed to switch seats with Kate! Don't get me wrong, the lady was really nice, and it would have been fine sitting by her for 7 hours, but it is always nice to sit by the person with whom you're traveling. The other person in our row was a nice man from Ireland. He had come to the States to go to some San Francisco Giants baseball games....he was randomly a huge fan of that team. The flight was good overall. Our earphones wouldn't work (tons of static), so we didn't get to watch the in-flight movies. And we couldn't fall asleep because the stewardesses were in the aisle like every 15 minutes, and the kids behind us were kicking our seats. Oh well....we survived.

We landed in Dublin around 7 AM, Dublin time. Which meant it was about 1 AM back in Kansas. We were ready for bed. However, that was not a possibility. Also, when we left Kansas it was about 90 degrees, when we landed in Dublin, it was 40 degrees there. SO COLD! Anyway...we rented a car, and headed West. So little known fact about me: I have never learned how to drive a manual car. It was just never a priority, even though we had manual cars in which I could have learned. I took a few lessons from one of my brothers when I'd visit him in Utah, but I haven't attempted to drive a stick shift in 10 years. Thus, Kate got to do all of the driving in Ireland. She rocked it. Not only do you have to drive on the opposite side of the road, but you also have to shift with your left hand. Plus, the roads were crazy narrow and windy! However, Kate did a really great job. And after a few hours, it wasn't so weird to be on the opposite side of the road. From Dublin, we drove about 4 hours across the country to a little town called Dingle. It was so beautiful. We were absolutely exhausted, but the amazing scenery helped us stay awake.

When we got to Dingle, we found some lunch---Fish and Chips! It was so delicious. Then we walked around the town for a little bit, and had some ice cream. It was divine. After a bit, Kate went back to the car to take a quick nap, and I continued to wander around for another hour. Then we drove the Dingle Peninsula....about a 30 mile loop. In a guide book Kate had, it suggested biking the peninsula. That was our original plan, but since it was cold and quite blustery, we decided against it. And after seeing how narrow the roads were, and cars coming quickly around curves, I was glad we didn't ride bikes.

The peninsula loop was absolutely gorgeous. We stopped at a beach area, and touched the Eastern side (for us in the States) side of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately by halfway through the loop, I could not stay awake anymore. I definitely kept dozing off. But I still got to see a lot of beautiful views anyway.

On our way to Dingle, we drove through a small town called Adare. When we were passing through, we noticed some really pretty ruins. So on our way back East, we stopped in Adare to find those ruins. ....we maybe trespassed on a Golf Course in order to get some pictures. There was no way to get good pictures from the road (like nowhere to stop), so we went to the Golf Course instead and walked to them. Then after that, we went to our hotel in Limerick, and completely zonked out.

Here are a few pictures from Day 1:

 Ireland is absolutely beautiful! Just green everywhere. This is one of the views as we were driving from Dublin to Dingle. But really it looks like this everywhere. It is just stunning. 

The town of Dingle! I love it. One of the best parts: Even though it is on a harbor, it doesn't smell strongly of fish. 

Another picture of Dingle. 

An area we stopped at whilst driving around the Dingle Peninsula. 

 The ruins at the Golf Course in Adare. 


Another view while driving around the Peninsula.

A beautiful train bridge, and view, outside of a really rundown gas station. 

Us at the Atlantic Ocean. 

There are so many rock walls all across the landscape. It is awesome. 

Another pretty view while driving around. 

Another picture from the Golf Course.