Monday, January 31, 2011

Day twenty-one: Back to London

My flight back to London was at 3:30pm, so that meant I had to leave by 1pm to get to the airport on time. It was already 11:30am by the time I ate breakfast, showered and packed, so I quickly went over to my cousin, Brian's, house (walking distance from Joan's place) to say my final goodbyes to the kids:

Seamus, Joan and I were on the road by 1:05pm. We made it to the airport by 1:30pm.

It was sad saying goodbye to Joan and Seamus, but I promised to come back in the summer or fall...when it's WARMER. Jesus.

I made it back to Shane's place by 7:30pm. Aaron and Shane were waiting there for me with big smiles. Shane made a reservation at a great Japanese restaurant down the street. He'd been raving about this place for-EVER, so I was pretty excited to finally go there. Shane's (awesome!) friend, Rob, also joined us.

By 8pm we were sitting in this very traditional-looking Japanese sushi restaurant. Sushi is hard to come by in England. It's very *very* expensive here, so when we walked in and it was jam packed with people I knew the food was gonna be good.

Rob used to live in Japan, so he picked up quite a bit of the language while he was there. Here he is giving the waitress our order in JAPANESE:

They were talking to each other in Japanese and having a grand ol' time.

Rob ordered a wide variety of stuff. I hadn't tried 95% of it before, so I told myself that I would eat whatever was brought to the table, including a PORK dumpling. (If any of you know me at all you know that I usually don't eat meat...let alone pig meat, so this was quite a big deal and Rob took a photo to properly document the moment):

In addition to living most of my life as a vegan, I also grew up keeping kosher, mother probably turned in her grave when I took the first bite of pig flesh. How did it taste? Pretty good. Like chicken. I honestly wasn't THAT impressed with pork. It was ayyite. I found the doughy dumpling part to be tastier, actually.

The other food, however, was freaking AH-MAY-ZING. Here's a shot of this fried tofu dish that was super-yummy:

Rob and Aaron did a super-gay clap to let the world know how much they were enjoying their food:

Actually, Aaron just looks like he's praying, but trust me, he was clapping...gayly.

Here are some more shots of the evening:

I have no idea what they're gesturing about. The size of their "sushi?" (I'm terrible.)

And here's a shot of my ice cream. It's ginger (on the right) and banana (on the left). Yes, the banana ice cream was brown:


We said goodbye to Rob (who, BTW, is my BIGGEST blog fan of all time) and Aaron and Shane and I went back to the cousin's place to chill. We all watched a plethora of vampire themed shows/movies: True Blood (which might be my new favorite show) and Interview with a Vampire (I couldn't take Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt seriously in this flick at all). He are the fellas engrossed super-sexy True Blood:

It's 1:04pm right now (the next day) in London and I'm about to got to Whole Foods to eat a huge salad and get a couple shots of wheatgrass juice.

Healthy eating will now resume.

And then guess what Aaron and I are doing later this evening? We're meeting our half-brother, Adam, for the first time!!! Neither one of us have ever met him. Adam hasn't met *any* of the half-siblings yet. I found Adam on Facebook and emailed him and now...we're going over to his place in East London for dinner. Amazing amazing amazing. Very excited.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Day twenty: Bus (from hell) to Galway

Why am I going to Galway? My dad grew up there. I'd been to Galway once before with my mom when I was eleven, but I hadn't remembered much. So I wanted to see it again as an adult.

I got up at 5:30am (holy mother of God) and made my way over to the tourist bus station/souvenir shop. I left the house at 6:30am and it was still dark out! It was cold. Brutally cold. My bones felt like they were made of ice. Seamus and Joan drove me. Even when I got to the darned bus stop it was STILL dark. The sun didn't come up until 8am.

Okay, so as soon as I got to the pickup area there was an exceptionally large and shiny Mercedes Benz type bus waiting in front with a bunch of attractive people standing outside the door waiting to board. I immediately joined the line with confidence. Everyone was very friendly. I stepped inside the warm womb and gave the driver my ticket.  He looked at the paper with a crinkled brow (uh oh). He then all of a sudden understood that I was on the wrong bus and told me to get off and wait for the "Paddywagon" and said it would be arriving in  less than 15 minutes. So I stepped out of the toasty beauty and went back into the cold dark morning and waited for the Paddywagon to arrive. I waited more than 15 minutes. All of a sudden i see a little tiny green turd on wheels rounding the corner. A bus that looked like it fell out of the ass of the other bus. The guy driving it looked weathered as all heck. He was wearing stone wash jeans and smelled of Doritos. I was hoping that he'd look at my ticket and tell me to get back on the beautiful bus with all the beautiful people, but no. This was my bus. So fine, I got in. There were four other people on it all dressed in black and huddled together in the back staring at me. I sat near-ish to them and tried to be friendly. Turned out they were French and didn't speak much English at all. They actually had no clue what the driver was saying when he was telling jokes and pointing out landmark/touristy stuff. They never laughed or even looked in the direction of what the tour guide was pointing out. Anyway, I was so tired and there was nothing to see at that point, so I just tried to close my eyes and take a snooze since I'd only slept about four hours. But as SOON as my eyes were beginning to shut, Dorito Man started blasting Irish Folk music. I whispered under my breath, "Fuck you. Fuck you, Dorito Man."  Oh and did I mention that there was no HEAT on the bus? Okay, it gets better (I'm being sarcastic). As soon as we got to Galway (2 1/2 hours later) the roads were starting to get pretty bumpy. It was actually fun at first, kinda like a ride at Great Adventure. But then the fun turned bad fast. This loser was going about 70 miles an hour over what felt like speed bumps, so when we went over the hills we all went flying up into the air. I'm not even exaggerating. My ass was 2 feet in the air at one point. The French group and I actually bonded at that point. Every time we were thrust into the air, they'd look at me and smile and we'd all laugh. Good times for 20 minutes, but when you're on a Great Adventure ride for 90 minutes straight, it becomes...uncomfortable. I was green. I felt like I was literally going to throw up all over the French people. I was very close to yelling for the driver to pull over and let me out, but he stopped right  before I had a chance. Luckily as soon as I got off the bus, I was fine, but then I had to deal with the cold! The scenery was so beautiful, but I was so COLD, I just wanted to be indoors and warm. (Wehhhhh!) There was nothing open but a bar and a gas station, so of course I chose the gas station 'cause what the hell am I gonna do in a bar. I took my time looking over all the candy (I don't eat it) and canned goods (yeah, I'm gonna bring back some canned peas from Galway and take it back to the states). I studied ingredients of curry sauce labels and looked at Enquirer type magazines. I know the word was probably out to security about me. I totally fit the description of a shoplifter. I had two big bags with me (New York style! Wut wut) and a suspicious pensive look about me. I still had 30 minutes to kill before I was supposed to get back on the bus. Fuck. I couldn't find anything else to look at in the store and I didn't want to go out into the cold and I didn't want to get back on the turd bus with the Dorito guy who was now being quite flirty with me. (GREAT!) I decided to just get back on the bus and tell him I needed to warm up and was feeling a little nauseous (all sort of true). He told me if I sat in front of the bus I wouldn't feel the bumps as much. He also suggested I look at the horizon in the distance when the bus was moving and that would also help. So I moved all my stuff to the front seat. I was feeling much better about things at that point, so at our next stop I finally I relaxed and started to enjoy myself and actually started taking some photos:

Here's me earlier in the day (in the bathroom) being weirdly dramatic about my nausea:

Here's the good anti-nausea seat on the bus (and Dorito Man's finger):

Here's Dorito Man:

He actually turned out to be very nice. : )

The ride home was the polar opposite of the trip there. He stopped playing the Irish folk songs and started playing music that was a cross between Green Day, U2, and The Clash. More U2 than Clash or Green Day, actually. Also the nausea completely disappeared and the French people stopped talking so much. It's funny, I *love* the French language. It turns me on, actually. If someone I'm attracted to and/or in love with speaks French, watch out! Dane-jah! But...I wasn't attracted to these French people or in love with 'em, so their voices just sounded like noise. But anyway, they shut up and were sleeping, so there was just the sound of the music and the beautiful scenery, so my trip ended on a positive note.

Tomorrow? I head back to London. My flight leaves at 3:30pm...

Friday, January 28, 2011

Day nineteen: Uncle and cousin and me

Met my uncle, William, at his office today. (He's a lawyer.) He was very stressed out preparing for a court case that was in less than an hour:

 Once he realized I was taking his photo, he took off his coat and posed for me:

We quickly ran over to a nearby Italian restaurant to have lunch. He felt bad that he didn't have more time to hang out with me, but I understood. His daughter (my cousin), Sarah, also joined us. I'd never met her before. She's very sweet. She makes a living as an architect. When William left, she hung out a bit longer and chatted it up with me.

And of course, I took a photo:

I made her laugh:

When I left I told her to expect a "friend request" on Facebook when she got home.

I planned to hang out with Marion and Jimmy again tonight, but I decided to just come back to Joan's and get myself ready for my big day trip to Galway tomorrow. I have to get up at 5:30am!

Good night!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Day eighteen: Marion and Eimer

Very easy day. Hung out with the aunt for most of the day. She shared more details about my dad. We both cried at least once. It was that kind of talk. Good, but... No but. It was good.

I then met Eimer for dinner. We hung out for a couple hours and shat the shit (shit the shat?). I showed her the YouTube video of that Indonesian 2-year-old smoking baby. She'd never seen it. Eimer had a look of horror on her face for a good 5 minutes. We also talked about what male celebs we find hot. She ADORES Jeff Bridges. (To each his own.) She actually started moaning when she spoke his name. I mentioned Channing Tatum, of COURSE. I mean, hello.

Here's Eimer:

Tomorrow afternoon? Meeting my uncle, William, for lunch. At night? Get ready for this! I'm going to a Psychic Society meeting with Marion and Jimmy. It'll be entertaining for sure. I'll explain more in the next entry...

Love! Love! Love!

Day seventeen: The castle and another aunt and more cousins

At 2:30pm, I met my aunt, Marion (Joan's sister), at Bewley's. (I'm told my mom and dad used to go here a lot back in the day.) Marion was just as friendly and warm as when I first met her two years earlier. We chatted for a bit while she drank her cappuccino. She paid the bill and made our way over to her "house." 

When I was in Ireland in 2008, I was shocked to find out that my aunt lived in a castle. I mean, the thing has over 35 rooms. Actually...they don't even *know* exactly how many rooms it has. Can you imagine living in a house for many years and not knowing how many rooms it has?! Weird. Marion lives there with her husband, Jimmy.

Here they are in one (of many) living rooms:

I'd already explored the castle when I was here two years ago, so I didn't feel an urgency to see it all again right away, but I did want to get pics of the outside...which I didn't get to see last time because we arrived at night. Anyway, here are some pics of their land:


And here's the castle:

I ran back inside after 5 minutes because it was absolutely freezing.

The kitchen was warm.

Marion, Jimmy and I drank tea and ate raw snap peas and carrots and talked. Well...Jimmy talked and Marion and I listened and laughed. Jimmy likes to talk. : )

Here's a better look at Jimmy:

And here's Marion:

(Don't worry, she's just pretending to be annoyed.)

I was starting to feel a little wheezy and couldn't figure out why until I saw this:

And this:

Jesus! Have you ever seen such a fat cat in your LIFE?

In case you don't already know, I am deathly allergic to cats. I knew they had cats, but I was told that they spent most of their time outdoors, so I didn't think it would be a problem, but I guess because of the cold weather, the furry monsters were spending more time indoors. Oh well...that meant I had to leave and couldn't spend the night. Marion made a call to her daughter, Eimer (my cousin), who only lives 15 minutes away and asked if I could spend the night at her place. (Of course she said I could.) So for the next hour, I tried to ignore the fact that my lungs were constricting at a rapid rate. Luckily my other cousin, Colum (and his gorlfriend, Sophia) arrived about 45 minutes before I had to leave. 

Here they are:

Marion prepared some roast chicken, potatoes  and sauteed carrots. I ate quickly and then said my goodbyes. 

Marion drove me to Eimer's house:

I'd met Eimer once before, so it wasn't a complete shock when we saw each other again. We hung out and talked for a few hours about random stuff. She's awesome. Very fun. Time flew by. It was  already 11:30pm and Eimer had to get up at 5am for work, so we made our way upstairs to the bedrooms and went to sleep.

I woke up the next morning and took a few more photos of her place:

Here's the guest bedroom where I slept:

Here's a pic (of a pic) of my two cousins Colum and Eimer (brother and sister):

And that's it...for now: