Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Magical Fairy Leprechaun Day

My final full day in enchanted Ireland was indeed overflowing with magic and merrymaking. Dancer friend and I had two artistic achievements in sight for the afternoon. I had gone to Ireland with the preconceived agenda to work on a creative scheme I have been concocting for a while. I packed my old pirate wench costume, constructed by my mother circa ten years ago for a pirate themed going away party I was thrown before moving to NYC after college. The costume has served me quite well over the years, from piracy to medieval times and now to princess fairyland adventures. I found some extensions in my favorite store ever (Penney's or Primark, depending on the country) and I was ready to go. You may have taken note that on the Aran Islands I had the extensions in my hair as well, mainly because my original plan was to use Inis Mor as the backdrop. Due to inclement weather and ferry (not fairy)-induced nausea, I put the idea on the back burner until we made our way back to the shining sun-scape of Limerick where I knew there was some beautiful old abandoned ruins nestled in a woodland alcove. The project will someday soon culminate in a bit of a photo-saga with song, but I have attached a sneak preview of pics below to whet your appetite. After this fancy and free photo session, I accompanied Dancer friend to her university dance studios where I was so fortunate as to watch her work on some of her final masters solo performance. Stunning to be sure, and apparently Colin Dunne was lingering in the adjoining studio at one point, so I felt very certain that the creative gods and goddesses were smiling down upon our day's pursuits. 

After a rigorous afternoon of artistic delight, we ventured back to the apartment to rest and get ready for an evening about town. We ordered some yummy thai food, sipped on some wine, and prettified ourselves to go meet friends for live music at a local venue. Now, let's be honest, I had a little bit of an agenda here. I'm sure we have all noticed thus far that wine plus mission equals Angela on fire. There is very little that can stop me when I get a notion stuck in my silly soul. The hair was curled, the cheeks were rouged, and we frolicked across town to Cobblestone Joe's, which was surprisingly busy for a Monday night when all was said and done. Not too long into the proceedings, a lovely little Irish leprechaun struck up some conversation with us slash me, noticing that none of us had native Irish accents. We chatted for a while until the girls decided to migrate elsewhere in the bar, though I managed to make my way back once more for more drinks and twice more for more conversation. Now, I'm certainly no Carrie Bradshaw, I would rather allude than detail, but when a girl wants some attention a girl can easily get some attention. I snagged this Irish rogue and had him trailing after us for the next three bars we paraded around over the course of the night. Despite the fact that my fervent intention to feel spry as a lilting Lady of the fields for my travels home the next afternoon, I will say that was the one thing I failed miserably to accomplish. However, one has to feel rather slightly embarrassed slash much more proud when asked back in your hometown post-holiday if your face is peeling because you got too much sun on vacation, but you have to honestly answer that no, it was from too much man with a face of stubble... Yes, high school, amazifying, absurd, let it go...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Lounging And Limerick

The morning after our spirited jaunt to the Aran Islands was spent in relaxing recuperation. Our sunlit loft was the perfect sanctuary for a morning rest after two full days of running around. Once we finally got ourselves ready for the day, we spent a final few hours in Galway on a much sunnier afternoon than the one before. More than once we were referred to a nearby café that boasted some of the best coffee and breakfast in town and when we finally submitted to the siren call, we were not at all disappointed. The exterior is all stone, reminding me of a medieval shanty in some old castle town. Inside there was a sassy waitress trying to find tables for the many guests who wanted to alleviate their Sunday hunger while also taking orders from those lucky patrons already seated. There was a shelf of amazing homemade baked goods that I unfortunately never tasted because I needed by savory snacks first and was far too full after to keep going. I ordered some sort of healthy hipster dish, but it was exactly what I needed on that sunny morn. After our delicious brunch, we let the sun saturate us by the harbor for a bit before packing up and heading back to Limerick.

After so much craziness the past few days, plane rides, bus trips, ferries, bicycles, music and booze, I offered to cook my friend dinner in her apartment as a thank you for hosting me and so she could work on her thesis for a couple of hours. We picked up some groceries at the local market and embraced our evening at home. I was actually incredibly excited at the thought of using an oven, since I have had only my lonely little hot plate for so long. And while I am quite proud of the dishes I concoct with such limited resources, I was even more proud of the cooking skills I was beginning to develop before leaving NYC last year. I made a simple dish involving chicken, asparagus, tomatoes and rosemary, followed by some Betty Crocker cupcakes for dessert. All in all, just a little bit of heaven on an Irish Sunday eve. The following day would prove to be quite a conglomeration of classic ridiculousness, so we certainly needed the lounging interlude.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rothaíocht ar Inis Mór

Day two on the Emerald Isles brought us to the even smaller Aran Islands off the coast of Galway. The night before, when we met our gaggle of guys, we were told that there is actually an airplane that goes to the islands every day, takes only 7 minutes, and costs about €44. Since I am not a fan of planes in general, I can't imagine I would love a tiny contraption that seats only 8 people or so. However, I did not anticipate that mild hangover plus insanely choppy ferry ride would leave me so nauseous that I almost lost it on the hour trip after an equally lengthy bus ride. The plane wasn't looking quite so bad for twice the price. Tragically, it took me a bit of time to let go of the deathlike grip on my stomach, but riding around an Irish Isle on a bicycle as the wind blows through your hair and a light mist of rain brightens your face can certainly change your outlook to the positive. While it was not the clearest of days, Inis Mor is a sight to see and many tourists take the opportunity to rent bikes just off the docks and follow the curves of the luminous cliffs around the land. This is a place where the world seems to have stood still and the natives are lifers who cling to their traditional Irish tongue. The paths are speckled with endless ruins of old abandoned shacks or cottages, the occasional modern dwelling besmirching an otherwise idyllic scene. 

We saw a beautiful beachside, though much too cold to dance in the waves, and chatted with a variety of creatures from horses to cows to seals lounging in the distance. We ventured into an old fort, once defending the coast of this beautiful land and now home to a variety of travelers who walk on its terrain each day. Unlike the Cliffs of Moher, which are so overpopulated with tourists that you cannot walk right up to the edge due to safety precautions, the cliffs here were free from any such impediment, ready to sweep away any unsuspecting soul in the treacherous wind. But the best of all was a naturally occurring structure a bit further down the line fondly referred to as the "Worm Hole". The men we had met the night before claimed they were venturing to the island to jump into this otherworldly swimming pool. You can ride your bicycle only so close before having to foot it the rest of the way, over the winding cliffs, as pockets of water grow deeper and deeper and a brilliantly lime green algae begins to appear. As fate would have it, just as we were making our way from the road to the desert of rocks peppered with wildflowers and litter, we ran into the man who had found me so charming the night before! Apparently his mates had chickened out about the jump, but he at least wanted to see the anomaly before joining them down the pub. It's always a crazy coincidence when you meet a friend or acquaintance in an unexpected location far from where you both live and exist. That was the end of our brief encounter, but a lovely anecdote nonetheless.

As we approached the Worm Hole, I noticed two men in front of us carrying a large white bucket, and to be honest, it took me a while to realize that they were planning to engage in the currently famous ice bucket challenge before taking the plunge into the watery ravine. Quite a backdrop for ALS awareness and I was rather glad to see someone actually participate in the cliff-diving this pool is known for. If I hadn't been fully recovered from the morning nausea before this, I certainly was by that point. We finally cycled our way back into "town", or the closest thing that could be described as such. Once again, I was left with the desire to own and use a bicycle, though knowing that until I live in a slightly less populated metropolis it really isn't possible. Before the ferry back home, we stopped by the pub for a pint or two, and I can happily report that I slept most of the ride home rather than profusely vomiting.

When we made it back to Galway at last, we were bent on food first and foremost, followed by some live "trad" music, an abbreviation I didn't realize existed until my friends kept referring to this as yet unknown form of musical stylings. A local bar called The Craine is famous for their attractions, so we spent a bit of time listening to the sounds of traditional Irish folklore before fully and completely crashing for the evening in our heavenly loft.