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Leg 6.1 – SPRING BREAK – We Begin in Belfast 04/24/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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Between the end of the semester and its impending due assignments and the fact that I have managed to contract ANOTHER unneeded cold/flu/pain in the neck this semester, I have been slow in many things blog related. Particularly because the next posts will surely have to be for the EPICNESS that was SPRING BREAK!

So I first had to motivate myself to get all of my photos off the memory card and onto the computer. No easy feat, as I took truck loads of them! And then I had to upload them onto Photobucket, which I like even less than putting them onto my computer. Photobucket: if it weren’t so gosh-darn useful, I’d have metaphorically punted it out the metaphorical window by now. But it keeps my pictures linkable, so I put up with it.

And THEN, of all things, I had to actually START WRITING about break itself! Oh horror of horrors! It felt like sitting down to write the condensed War and Peace*: it was just such a daunting task in my head, I often said to myself, “SELF! Do it later! You have homework now!”

*Warning! To assume that my blog is on par with any piece of classical literature is a dangerous assumption! You want classics…well…I suppose you could read War and Peace. :P

Anywho, for the safety of you the reader and the sanity of me, I’ve decided to carve this trip down into more easily managed parts. Today, we start with…the start! In Belfast! Yay!

Because I am a huge ninny and booked my flight to Cardiff at around 10:00am on Sunday, I realized almost too late that I would almost inevitably have to go into Belfast the day before and stay overnight so I could wake up and make the flight on time. Meh. So I booked a hostel and, since my friend Declan was heading to Newry that same day (a trip that involved him practically taking the train to Belfast anyway), I decided to tag along with him and take the train to Belfast at around noon.

Easier said than done, unfortunately. I forgot just how horrid I am at packing and ran around like a certain farm-yard bird who has misplaced its cranium trying to get everything ready. Things I didn’t think about suddenly loomed enormous: that curry chicken I had in the fridge would most DEFINITELY be rotten after two weeks! So after clearing the fridge, turning off all of my electrical sockets, and marveling at just how FULL my suitcase was (I thought I had packed light–apparently NOT), I ran madly down the stairs and to the bus stop.

And waited. And waited. Until, glancing at my clock, it seemed more likely that I had missed the bus. Oh. Em. Gee.

So I had to call a taxi. Like you do. And that taxi had to take me school first to print some important travel documents. And because it was close to 12:00 now and time was running short, I had to take ANOTHER taxi to the station. Ugh, big sigh, money go bye bye. But I MADE IT and caught the train to Belfast without further incident.

Except for…perhaps…OCTOPUS ATTACKS!



Declan and Otto.

Heh, well maybe not an attack so much as a...face cuddle? Sure, why not. Here's my friend Declan with Otto on the train to Belfast.

So, anyway, Declan got off at the stop before me to switch to the Newry train, and I rode on to Victoria St. Station to figure out the location of my hostel, thus starting what would become a trend for the rest of the trip: after studying the map thoroughly, I exited the station…and went the EXACT opposite direction up the road. Yeah. I didn’t stop until I got to a hotel which, according to my mini map, was the EXACT opposite direction from the location of my hostel. Awesome.

So I turned my giant suitcase back around and dragged it back to Victoria St. Station and then continued to drag it back the other way to my hostel, which I checked into without further incident. It wasn’t a bad hostel, either, especially for £12.00 a night! So after securing my luggage, I decided to go explore.

Here's a picture of a pub from out the window of my hostel!

Here's a picture of a pub called The Royal from out of the window of my hostel!

Well…kind of. See, I don’t know that much about Belfast, and like a fool, I left all of my “Belfast brochures” that I’d grabbed the last time I was at the airport at home in my haste to leave the house. So…I mostly wandered. After studying the map, I decided it might be nice to go over to Victoria Square, a huge shopping center with a glass dome roof, and look around.

So I started walking…and realized I was STARVING. Lucky me, though, the route I took appeared to go through China Town, and I quickly found a delicious looking Chinese restaurant called The Water Margin.

Otto and a RAINBOW!

Though, on my way to the restaurant, I encountered my VERY FIRST IRISH RAINBOW. Can you see it over Otto's head?

The inside of The Water Margin had almost definitely been a church, at some point. Now, however, it had been made up like a very nice restaurant: there was even a koi pond at the front! So I sat down at a table, a solo diner in a COMPLETELY DESERTED restaurant, and waited patiently for my food to come.

Otto with the chicken sticks I ate.

Otto can be seen here with the chicken satay skewers that I ate. Yum!

In the meantime, I was texting some of my friends in Belfast. I didn’t know what I wanted to do that evening, and the more I looked at my mini map, the further away Victoria Square looked, so I decided to call around and see if anyone wanted to do anything that evening. The idea of a movie came up; Kick-Ass had just come out, and we, of course, HAD to go see that one. So after I finished my meal, I headed back over to the movie theater…sorry, the CINEMA to grab tickets for Kick-Ass.

Otto with a mural.

And on my way back to the movie theater, I snapped a photo of Otto with this mural here. This is a mural for the Ulster Volunteer Force, a Unionist organization that is fiercely loyal to the Crown. South Belfast is an interesting place, lol.

Unfortunately, one of my friends was unable to attend, and the other simply never texted back. Oh well. More movie for me!

But to kill time before the movie started, I wandered around a bit more in what turned out to be the city center. Awesome!

Otto at City Hall.

Here's Otto at Belfast City Hall. See the ferris wheel?

I went back and saw the movie and it was EXCELLENT! REALLY quite good! Violent as all get-out, and very funny! It was a fun movie to watch! ^_^!

And then I left the cinema…and I looked around. And…there was not much around to do. Mostly everything had closed by then except for the pubs, and I didn’t feel like drinking with strangers that evening, as there would be enough of that in the two weeks to come, surely. So I did what any other nerdly character would do: I went back to the cinema.

And I saw I Love You, Philip Morris, which was…eh, it was okay. It reminded me a lot of Catch Me if You Can, but with a love story attached. It was one of those movies which I’m sure could have been great with some minor tweaking, but it just didn’t sail off for me. Ewan McGregor, though, was great as always in it, so if you’re a Ewan McGregor fan…go. ^_^!

Weird store front.

I don't know what the heck was up with this store front, but I wanted a picture of it. ^_^!

And after that, it was just about time to go back to the hostel and sleep so I could get up early and head to the airport! Unfortunately, Daylight Savings Time made it complicated: would my phone reset automatically? When did the change happen? It made sleep very difficult that evening. But it would all work out anyway, and the next morning I DID get up in time to make it to the airport…sort of.

See, I DID get up, and I DID walk to the station with an Australian backpacker named Frank who was heading to Dublin. BUT! I had forgotten the curse of Sundays in Ireland: CRAP. SHUTS. DOWN. And that airport shuttle I had been banking on to whisk me away to Belfast City Airport every 20 minutes? Wasn’t coming again until 9:30. My flight was leaving at 10:40. It was far too close a margin!

So…I had to take another taxi. Grrrr. But at least this was an experience in and of itself! I got to take one of the famous UK black taxis to the airport!

Otto in the black cab.

Not that you can really tell from the interior, but we are INSIDE a black cab here! Neat, huh?

And thus, I made it to the airport on time, I got on the plane on time, and I arrived in Cardiff about an hour later ON TIME. YES! But Cardiff is a tale for another day, because NOW I have to go write one of several papers that are due by the end of next week! But I will try to have the Cardiff tale done as soon as possible! Thanks!


Leg 4: St. Paddy’s Day and Other Pre-Break Shenanigans 04/13/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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Wow…I suck at updates.

Sorry folks! Didn’t mean to leave you hanging! As it is, it’s been nearly a month with no real updates (outside of my apologetic Filler note last time), and likely now that I have a bit of time to sit down and do it, you’ll be completely inundated with the things in the coming days, due in large part to the massive number of pictures I took over Easter break!

First though, important business must be addressed: I don’t believe I’ve yet blogged about St. Patrick’s Day here in Northern Ireland. I can’t simply skip Paddy’s Day to fill you in on all the Easter break goodies, now can I? No, definitely not. ^_^!

I will try to keep this brief…but you know how THAT normally turns out. :P Anywho, it goes down like this:

On Monday the 15th (still sore from all the surfing from the day before) I gave a presentation for one of my classes, which went pretty well overall, I felt. I had a paper I needed to work on…but instead I napped. Like you do. And when I was done napping…yeah, I didn’t work on the paper then either. I went to the Anchor to see Idil sing!

Idil and Otto at the Anchor.

Here's Idil hosting her now customary Monday night open-mic at the Anchor!

And, of course, I had a squiffy good time there, having met up with Anita, Owen, Grace, Michelle and several other people I knew (including the roommates I went there with, lol)! Good times!

Tuesday the 16th was a lazy day. I felt a bit under the weather (not because of drunken shenanigans…just under the weather) and spent the day indoors, working on paper sources and piecing together some bits of my essay that was due Thursday. But by that evening, I was feeling better and, of course, had to go celebrate Grace’s birthday!

Grace with Otto at Club Aura.

Here's the birthday girl Grace with Otto at Club Aura! (That's the upstairs club part of the Anchor pub you've heard me yak about so much.)

...oh no.

...No. Just...no. **goes off to weep for poor Otto's tentacles!**

Here's Grace and me!

Here's Grace and me!!

Group at the Club.

Obligatory group shot! (Anita is conspicuously missing from the shot!)

So that was also quite fun, but did little in the way of “me finishing my paper due Thursday”. And if that did little to help…then you KNOW what the next day was, yeah?

Wednesday March 17th. St. Patrick’s Day. In NORTHERN IRELAND. Oh yeah. ^_^!

Actually, my day was significantly quieter than most everyone else I talked to, probably because of that spooty paper! My roommates went to Dublin for the festivities there, but my celebration was a little more local, and still quite fun!

A couple of friends of mine had rented, of all things, a bouncy castle for the day. Can you believe it!? I hadn’t been on a bouncy castle in YEARS! So the grand plan for the day was load up on beer and spirits and play in the bouncy castle while wearing funny hats. Good times! But I’ll just let the photos speak for themselves, shall I?

Chris in a shamrock hat.

Here's Chris in a WKD shamrock hat.

Here's Mark!

Here's Mark in his frosty Guinness hat inside the bouncy castle!

Otto on the castle.

Otto in the bouncy castle!

Anto and Otto.

Anto offers Otto some chartreuse...I'd say he respectfully declined!

Otto and me.

Here's Otto and me (in a funny hat, no less!) inside the bouncy castle!

Otto with his surrogate parents.

Here's Otto with his surrogate parents, Chris and Mark. ^_^!

Otto with the group!

Here's Otto with Chris, Mark, and Andrew!

Maria, Steven and Otto.

...No comment I make here will do this picture any justice. :P

Otto and Anto.

Here's Anto (now in a funny hat) still offering Otto some chartreuse...still don't think he drank it! That stuff is quite odd-tasting, and the Admiral is an octopus of a very singular taste.

Helen and Otto.

A nice picture of Helen and Otto.

Otto and his Daddies.

Here's Otto again with his two daddies, Chris and Mark. (For the record, no they're not dating. They just both seem to love Otto, lol.)

Otto drinking a Desperado.

Admiral Otto! What a lush you've become!

Shauna and Otto.

Here's Shauna with Otto!

So we played on the bouncy castle for several hours in the afternoon, until the time came for us to order food. So after some delightfully tasty Chinese food, it was, unfortunately, time for me to go back home to work on my essay.

But I napped instead.

But it was a very short nap! Only about an hour! And then I had to buckle down and do that paper! So, in my usual fashion…I pulled an all-nighter and had it done by morning. Yes. I realize I suck for having pulled an all-night essay writing session on St. Paddy’s Day, but in my defense, that professor of mine, awesome though he is, was completely horrid for scheduling the papers to be due that day. Had it been the week before, or the week after, it would have been completely doable! But meh, I got it done anyway, and I even had a nice breakfast and went to class the next day. So yeah.

And that evening we had dinner with Joan again! She made a delicious Irish stew and, as per usual, we were stuffed like geese by the end of the evening. ^_^! It was a splendid time, and afterwards, I went back home and slept for the first time in about 36 hours.

Friday the 19th I did NOTHING of note, and Saturday and Sunday fared little better. Sorry, but my life cannot always be a fantastic whirl of activity. I’m just boring that way. On Monday the 22nd, I went to class and watched Kill Bill at Mark’s (the RA) flat. Tuesday Declan and I attempted to watch “A Very Potter Musical” on YouTube, but the connection was slow and I was sleepy, so that didn’t last long.

Wednesday, though, I woke up early (early for me being like 8:30am or so) and went to go get my hair done in Portstewart. What a great day! The lady who cut my hair was very nice! After we picked out a color for my hair (about that same as it’s been for the past while, in case you wondered) I told her that I honestly didn’t know what to do with my hair at that point. I want to grow it out a little, but I don’t want it to look like a mullet while it does.

As if reading my mind, she said that the look would be much easier to pull off if my hair wasn’t so cursedly thick, so after cutting my hair into a reasonable style and location, the darling woman went through with thinning scissors and removed roughly a small Pomeranian’s worth of hair from my head without doing a THING to the length. I had REALLY thick hair. But it’s thinned out a bit now! Huzzah!

One problem I encountered was that of eyebrows; she said she wouldn’t dye them. I knew, vaguely, that some stylists won’t put dye on eyebrows, but no one has ever NOT done it before, which left me at something of a loss. Lucky me, there was a beauty salon next door who did! Woot!

After killing time for a few hours wandering around Portstewart and eating lunch at a tasty place called The Harbour Cafe, I wandered back to the beauty salon (conveniently located RIGHT next to where I got my hair cut) and signed up for the full package: eyebrow and eyelash tint and an eyebrow wax.

Now…I have never had my eyebrows waxed before this. And let me tell you…it wasn’t half bad. It was actually way less painful than yanking the suckers out one at a time! So this may just have to be the way I do things when they get too unruly in the future. The eyebrow tinting really only darkened them a bit (didn’t make them red, unfortunately) but the eyelash tinting was probably the coolest thing EVER. My eyelashes are usually blonde, and therefore invisible until after applying mascara. Not so with tinted eyelashes! This is awesome! It gives me an excuse to be EVEN LAZIER in my makeup regimen! YES! ^_^!

So Wednesday was a good day, particularly because after this pamper-fest, I went out for coffee with Ruth and John from International Friends. They’re both quite nice, and they’re both huge golf fans and wanted to hear all about Augusta. That was a nice day.

Thursday the 25th would prove to be fairly interesting! Katie and I went to the Student Union to catch the student election results and meet up with some folks, after which time we headed back to Mark’s for pre-Anchor cocktails. I had a few, but Katie had A LOT, which was immediately evident upon our arrival at the Anchor later that evening. We had been there something under fifteen minutes when it was clear that she needed to go home and rest, and so we did just that.

Friday was a laid back kind of fun. I slept in, I packed a bit, I walked to the clinic to check for strep throat (I didn’t have it, my throat was just scratchy from the seasonal change) and I had the most delicious chicken sandwich from the Superfry! It was delightful! After returning, Declan came over and we watched crap on YouTube and swapped music! Good times!

And now we’re homing in on the big event: Easter break. THAT post is definitely going to have to be broken down into chunks, and I don’t really want to start that process this evening. It will be an epic three parter in the tradition of Lord of the Rings, I fear. (Well, nowhere as cool as Lord of the Rings, but arguably just as nerdy.)

Anywho, I can’t really get into Saturday without starting the Easter break post, so I think this is where I stop for today. Suffice to say that Saturday morning I packed for real, having had to get to Belfast the night before in order to catch my early Sunday flight. But more on that in the next post! Farewell! Sorry for my laggy updates, but be prepared for a flood over the next week or so! Thanks for reading!

Leg 4: Filler!! 03/30/2010

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Hi there!

No, I haven’t forgotten about the blog, I promise! I’ve just been busy getting ready for the big Easter break trip! (I’m currently on said trip–viva Cardiff!)

Anywho, this is just a quick update, because the computer at the Ibis Hotel terminal is not letting me access Photobucket and therefore share my fun pictures of Otto on St. Paddy’s Day!

I just wanted to get you back up to speed–with the exception of St. Patrick’s Day, I’ve largely just been chilling out and preparing for this Easter break trip. So since I can’t share my pics at the moment, I will just tell you a bit about what’s to come on the Easter trip update!

CARDIFF! How many good things can I say about Cardiff? Not nearly enough. But I’m starting off in Cardiff, playing Torchwood tourist and generally soaking in all of the awesome. I kind of love it here so far.

Tomorrow I’m off to Oxford for just the one night to see the college and view the many fabulous pubs where J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to go and be brilliant together. Should be a good time!!

After that, it’s off to London for ODYSSEY 2010!!! Yup, five days of sci-fi con AWESOME where I plan to have an awesome time. I’ve even signed up to be a volunteer for a bit while I’m there, which should be a pretty great way to meet people and really get into the convention spirit! I’m totally excited about this!

After London, I’m off to Edinburgh…assuming I can get a train ticket! The railways are supposed to go on strike that day…yikes! Well, hopefully I can make it up there anyway! I’ll be meeting up with my friend Rachel (you’ll remember her from the London trip!) and it should be pretty excellent!

At long last, it’s back to Cardiff again for the evening before I fly back to good ol’ Norn Iron for a little unwinding and relaxation…before I have to write a paper for one of my classes. *le sigh* Oh well.

Should be great! Stay tuned!

Leg 4: Glorious Activity at Last! 03/18/2010

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VIVA LA UPDATE! I have finally done some things and taken some pictures worthy of updating this silly, silly blog!

I believe I left off on Friday? Good, well Saturday I did not a whole lot else, but I did go to Coleraine to get some quality shopping done. I had just found out I was going to a sci-fi convention for spring break, you see, and needed to update my wardrobe accordingly.

Anywho, and that evening anyway I went to Shenanigans with my roommates. Good times!

Sunday I SLEPT IN! AGAIN! GET OVER IT! I SLEEP A LOT! Actually, I’ve been sleeping an increasing amount since I got here…possible Irish sleeping sickness…will look into it. :P No, but we (Roomies, Brendan, and I) got up and went to McDonald’s in Coleraine (a treat, as it’s too far to walk to, even from Coleraine) and then went up to Portrush to have coffee at 55 North, a nice joint overlooking the sea.

Katie, Brendan, Otto, and Erin.

Here's Katie, Brendan, Erin and Otto wearing their 'hangover' faces in front of 55 North in Portrush. Gorgeous beach, yeah? But far too cold to swim in!

I stopped in Coleraine briefly on the way back to pick up a few things I’d missed on Saturday, and then headed back home to play on the Internet…until it froze and died on me. *sigh* I love my computer, but occasionally she does show her age. This will not stop me from stuffing more RAM in this baby and continuing to use and love my laptop. Just so you know.

Anyway, since the computer was essentially useless for the rest of the night, Katie and I dropped by Mark’s house (our RA, as a reminder, and because I know more than one Mark now), and watched some TV and relaxed. However, whilst there, I did sample this:

Absinthe and Otto.

Absinthe. And Otto. Hoboy.

Martin saw fit not to inform me that this particular brand of absinthe was 89.9% alcohol until AFTER my throat was on fire. Nice, Martin. Nice. But all whining aside, it was quite nice in a horrible sort of way and I would definitely try it again sometime! Although the lack of green fairies that evening was rather disappointing. :P

Anywho, I have made an attempt to have a busy week so as to entertain blog readers (as well as myself) so here goes!

Monday was a mixed blessing: I woke up early and got ready for class only to slowly and horribly remember that our teacher canceled class for that week so we could work on our essays. Bummer, but in the good way. I went back to sleep…and pretty much did nothing all day. Yeah, pretty much nothing. I did do some laundry…and I went food shopping.

That evening, however, I was double booked! What a wrench! I was meant to go see Idil perform in the Anchor Bar that evening, but I ended up at Anto’s house instead, and hence ended up in Shenanigans instead. I meant to leave around 11:00 to see Idil…but that was before I realized that Mondays at Shenanigans are pub quiz night. For those of you completely unacquainted with me, I LOVE trivia. Love it. Love. It.

Needless to say, I stayed in Shenanigans until closing. ^_^! And Otto made a new friend!

Chriss and Mark with Otto.

Here's Chris and Mark with Otto on his head...as per usual. ^_^!

Chris and Mark with Otto.

Thumbs up!

Otto and beer.

...this whole "Otto and beer" thing is becoming something of a theme in my blog. :P Maybe one day I'll put all the pictures of Otto with alcohol together in a slideshow...it would be a LONG slideshow, lol.

Otto on a beer and Anto on a stool.

Otto on a beer and Anto on a stool--meanwhile, pub quiz going on in background. Good times!

Otto on Anto's head.

You know, when I first started this blog, I wondered to myself. "Self!" thought I, "I wonder how many people I can convince to wear Otto like a hat." Silly me, I thought it'd be more difficult. ^_^!

Chris, Otto, and Mark.

Can you even see Otto poking his head up in the middle there? Here's Chris and Mark again. ^_^!

Kiera and Anto with Otto.

Here's Kiera and Anto with Otto!

Otto with pub food.

Here's Otto atop the complementary pub nibbles they gave us that evening! ^_^!

So Shenanigans was a good time, even if we didn’t ultimately win the pub quiz…there is always another pub quiz. *rubs hands deviously*

Anyway, went to class on Tuesday with no small measure of reluctance…that film class just isn’t doing it for me, unfortunately. But I did skip the film showing and I walked home that day, as it was a fine sunny day and relatively warm.

Went up to Anto’s again that night for a massive BBQ! And when I say “massive” I mean TRUCKLOADS of food, and when I say BBQ…well, I actually mean “lots of cooked food because the grill didn’t work out”. Anyway, delicious anyway you slice it. Anto is the oven and stovetop god of meaty foods! Just look at this bounty!

Otto with the BBQ.

I mean, LOOK at it! And that wasn't even ALL the food! HOMG!

There were burgers, and chicken, and ribs, and even SQUID (which I absolutely at loads of because YUM), and I ate a little of all of it. Everything was fantastic! And then after that, it was off to Havana with the roomies!

Now, this was the first time I’d actually gone upstairs to Havana, but it was a pretty nice place over all! I DID have to pay a cover charge (which sucked and has been the primary reason I’ve avoided the clubs here in the first place), but as it was Ladies’ Night, I received a voucher for a free drink and was privy to a whole host of super-cheap drink specials. So I sat myself down with my Jagerbomb slurpee (they MAKE those! and they’re GREAT!) and took some pictures!

Otto at Havana's.

Here's Otto at Havana's with my Jagerbomb slurpee!

Roommates and Otto!

Now this picture was supposed to be all cute, with all of us going in and giving Otto a wee peck on whatever passes for octopus cheeks, but unfortunately, my camera is strange and I'm bad at self-photos, so it actually just came out off center and kind of dark. Still, fun times!

This night was actually a pretty action packed one, not that you can really tell from the pics, unfortunately. After a stay at Havana to the point that we felt like we’d had enough cheap drinks to excuse the sky-high cover charge, the three of us headed over to the Anchor, where everyone else was said to dwell that evening. Turns out it was karaoke night–I didn’t sing, so you know, but one of the other girls there, Sierra, won a t-shirt and was invited back to sing for 500pounds! NEAT! I actually DID sign up for a song, but it was too late, though the nice karaoke man took pity on me and gave me a Corona keychain for volunteering. ALSO NEAT!

After that, I was ready to go home and go to bed, but everyone else was heading to a house party.

*sigh* Peer pressure. Gets you every time. So off to the house party we went, where we largely sat around and schmoozed with a bunch of other people until around 3am, when we finally got the taxi to whisk us back home. It was a pretty good time anyway.

Wednesday (the 10th) I did quite little for much of the day (as I have no class on Wednesday), but went out to Havana again to watch the Man U vs. AC Milan match with Declan that evening. (No pics, sorry.) Afterwards, we headed over to his friend Jodi’s house before heading back to my place…

…which was full of Americans! Yes, roomies had over Austin, Steven, and his friend Charlie (visiting from Germany, where he’s studying abroad), which was a pretty good time. We watched Dr. Horrible and other things on the Internet until the wee hours of the morning, at which point the taxis had stopped running and so they crashed in our living room. But I suppose that’s the point of a living room, and anyway our couch is pretty comfy. ^_^!

Direct and horrible consequence of staying up entertaining until about 4:30 in the morning is that you generally don’t want to go to class the next day. So…I didn’t. But before you judge me, it was a class on sport, and I don’t watch sports, and since I’m not doing my paper on sports, it will never be relevant to me EVER. So there. I slept in. AGAIN. Hah. ^_^!

But Thursday was not devoid of activity, no no! That was Marten’s going away party at the Anchor! Marten is the wonderful dude who used to live in my room, and on Tuesday he left Portstewart. *tear* But his send-off was an admirable one! Thursday was a pretty great night!

Marten, Michelle, and Otto.

Here's Marten and Michelle with Otto at the Anchor!

Bartender and Otto.

Our friendly neighborhood Anchor bartender with Otto! ^_^!

So we stayed at the Anchor until closing…at which point we moved promptly upstairs to continue the reveling until the UPSTAIRS bar closed. And as it happens, it was Otto’s biggest fan’s birthday (that would be Mark :P) that day, and we just happened to run into him!

Otto at the Aura.

Otto gets his groove on at Club Aura.

More dancing!

And more dancing!

Bob and Otto.

Bob gets cozy with Otto!

Mark, Otto, and Jess.

O_o;;;;; ...oh sweet Jesus. *goes off to scrub Mark germs off of Otto's plushy plush* Jess looks positively scandalized! (As was I!)

Otto, Mark, and Jess.

A far more appropriate form of mouth-Otto contact. Kissing Otto is encouraged! ^_^!

Otto in Jess' shirt.

Here's Otto in Jess' cleavage. Meh, it happens. ^_^!

Catherine, Jess, Bob, Sheena, and Otto!

Catherine, Jess, Bob, Sheena, and Otto at closing time!

And then after that we adjourned back to Jess’ house for a bit before Sheena and Bob so kindly walked me home!

Woke up next morning to discover that Erin was making french toast for everyone. YUM! And she said she didn’t see maple syrup, so instead got something called golden syrup…it was quite good actually! I may get a few cans of it to bring home! ^_^!

Anyway, wasted much of the day on the computer, but went out with Joan to Irish music night, which turned out to be more than that anyway! We heard some songs, we were encouraged to sing songs, and we even had a visit from St. Patrick himself!

St. Patrick

Here's St. Patrick, come to tell us his life story! He's actually not Irish--he's WELSH, and he wants you to know that. ^_^!

So it was quite a fun night overall! ^_^!

And then Saturday, I just hung out with Declan and watched movies. He’d managed to get hold of an X-Box with a region free DVD player built into it, so I got him to watch some of the movies I brought with me (Coming to America, Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle, My Best Friend is a Vampire, and the first episode of Breaking Bad) and he brought out Empire Records, which horrifyingly enough, I’d never seen before. But it was REALLY good. ^_^!

On Sunday I went SURFING. Yes. You heard me. I surfed at Portstewart Strand with Marten and James! (I don’t have any pictures, but trust me, I plan on harassing Marten until he mails me the one he took of me in the ill-fitting wetsuit, lol) I wiped out a fair bit, largely owing to the fact that the shoes were infinitely too big and filled up with heavy water…making it hard to jump up on a surfboard. Still, it was pretty fun! I’ll try to include the picture in a later post somewhere.

Anywho, I was just going to trudge on and do the first two days of this week so I could devote a whole post to St. Paddy’s day…but I think this long, LONG post has stolen quite enough of your time, so I will include them in the next post instead. Thanks for reading! Later!! ^_^!

Leg 4: Two Weeks of Utter Sloth 03/06/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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I knew this was going to happen. I knew I’d get lazy and not update the blog! But, in my defense, not a great deal has happened in these past two weeks since returning from London…ESPECIALLY this past week. Does that make me a slacker? Probably. But you knew that already, so it really is silly to be surprised by this. ^_^! Also, it’s REALLY hard to top London in sheer terms of awesome. So…this will be a rather boring post, with not a lot of pictures, and not a lot of fun. But…at least I updated! That’s something…right?

Anywho, let’s take this two-week down period list-style, since I lack a great deal of pictures and interesting information. We left off on Sunday, Feb. 21, as that was when I got back from Ireland. So…let’s start with Monday.

Monday, Feb. 22, 2010
-Skipped lecture in the morning to go eat an Ulster fry with host mom Joan and her son Mark. Before the lectures about skipping class roll in, Mark was going back to Poland the next day, where presumably we may never meet again. I’m here for the experience as well as the classes, and in this particular instance, experience won out over class. So nyeh. Also, I copied the notes from Heather and made it to seminar later in the afternoon…double nyeh. :P

Otto and the Fry.

Otto and the Fry. YUM!

Roommates with Otto and the Fry!

Roommates Erin and Katie with Otto and their own respective Fry!

-Went home after class and essentially chilled out until around 7pm or so. Then went over to Anto’s and spent the next two hours or so doodling on ourselves with UV paint for the Student Union’s UV party.
-And then the UV Party itself! It really is better if the pictures just speak for themselves:

Andrew and Conor at the UV Party.

Here's Andrew and Conor at the UV Party. They were both painting themselves for HOURS before this!

Devin at the UV Party.

Here's Devin (hope I spelled that right) at the UV Party. He worked forever on his paint as well!

Here's me with my UV devil paint.

Somewhere along the course of the night, after I had finished painting really cool designs on my hands (you'll see! they're cool!), it entered my head that I wasn't nearly painty enough. So I painted on a mustache...and then added a goatee, some spooky eyebrows, and even UV paint eyeliner. The result? UV Orange Mephistopholes. My face paint was AWESOME. ^_^!

Anto with spooky red UV eyes.

Alright, I have no idea where Anto got red UV-reactive contact lenses, only that when the light hit them right, they looked really, really cool. Or really, really scary, depending on the perspective, I suppose. And it didn't help that he painted his hair with UV blue paint so it glowed grey. :P

Anto and Otto at the UV Party.

Here's a somewhat less demonic-looking Anto brandishing Otto (who was also UV reactive--who knew?) for the camera. ^_^!

My left hand and Otto.

Remember those cool paint designs on my hands I told you about? Here's the one on my left hand (and Otto).

My right hand.

And here's the one on my right hand (which was A LOT harder to do, but still turned out pretty nicely) with Otto. ^_^!

Mark with Otto on a crotch balloon.

Here's Mark (who would probably be first in line were I to start a cult of Otto--seriously, he loves the little guy) with Otto on his...for lack of a better word, his UV crotch balloon. I think someone actually stole that balloon later that evening. But that's a strange tale to haunt someone else's imagination, not mine. :P

Me and Otto at the UV Party.

Well, I HAD to get a picture of me and Otto! And by this time, someone had whipped out the UV orange Post-It notes, so I had little horns as well. Whee, glowy orange devil! That was an interesting night, lol.

Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010
-Slept in. Did laundry.
-Went to class…was boring. This Film class is getting increasingly boring, while the other ones are only getting cooler.
-“Skipped” film showing (I say this because I didn’t go, assuming I’d missed it, but found out that the professor hadn’t actually shown up to show the film…so I didn’t actually miss anything, bwa ha!) and went home to watch the OTHER film I skipped on YouTube.
-Considered going to Anchor…went to Tesco’s instead. Played on computer and fell asleep.

Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2010
-Did VERY LITTLE during the day. No class, so I made research notes for my two papers coming up and generally didn’t leave the house. (It was cold and yucky anyway.)
-At about 8pm, though, took a taxi to Portrush for Maria’s going-away party (she was going back to Germany the next morning). Had a handle of absolutely disgusting rum and then went to Kelly’s.

Kelly's in Portrush.

Shot of Kelly's in Portrush, so you know what it looks like. This is but one of Kelly's many, MANY rooms and floors. The place is kind of massive, lol.

Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010
-Woke up hungover. You expected different? A handle of absolutely disgusting rum? But I got to class on time anyway, even though back of mouth tasted, inexplicably, like rotten milk. Am swearing off rum.
-Did more research after class for upcoming paper. Found some interesting books as jumping off point. Good times.
-Began love-affair with the Student Union sandwich bar’s paninis after taking a chance and ordering one instead of simply grabbing one of the ready made sandwiches. They’re almost too delicious to be allowed, and this is coming from a person who doesn’t care for sandwiches.
-Went over to Heather’s house later that evening to watch Harry Potter 6 and hang out. Ended up watching neat crap on the Internet until about 1am, when the hour and the drama (there were folks having a very interesting night popping in and out of her house) facilitated a return home.
-Roommates got home kinda drunk about 15 minutes after me with takeaway. Shared chips and stories, and then went to sleep.

Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
-Weather sucked, so woke up and did little else for the entirety of the day.
-BUT! It was Erin’s birthday (one of my housemates, for those of you out of the loop) and at about 10 or so we got dolled up and went to Shenanigan’s for celebratory birthday drinks.

Erin, Brendan, and Otto.

Here's Erin and Brendan making nice with Otto at Shenanigans!

The lot of us with Otto at Shenanigans.

Here's everyone (except Sam, who I think was taking the photo) at Shenanigans with Otto on Erin's 20th birthday! ^_^!

-Returned home for more celebration (and only the slightest touch of drama) until I ushered the last of the guests out at about 4am. And then sleep. GLORIOUS sleep.

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2010
-Slept in. For reals.
-However, weather was far too glorious to remain indoors all day, so called Declan and went into Coleraine to wander around. Bought an electric kettle. Happy days.
-Went home, had pizza for dinner. Mmmmm.
-Hung out with Declan and watched Eddie Izzard stand-up DVDs. Made it through first one okay, but we were both falling asleep by the second one, so went home with a stack of comic books Declan let me borrow and slept for real.

Sunday, Feb. 28, 2010
-SLEPT IN. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)
-Nothing of note occurred, unless you count me devouring the first five volumes of Transmetropolitan. That is an AWESOME comic!
-Tested new electric kettle. It works! And it makes awesome tea.
-Had a quesadilla and updated blog.
-The end. :P

NOW MARCH, and the beginning of the week I didn’t do ANYTHING. For those of you who’ve stuck with it thus far and are starting to go, “HOMG, boring! Didn’t Jenn do ANYTHING cool?”, be warned: the answer is no. No, I did NOT do anything cool so far in the month of March. If ye be weak of constitution, turn ye back now. Yaaargh.

Monday, Mar. 1, 2010
-Class in morning. Research afterwards.
-Panini for lunch. DELICIOUS.
-Went home and stayed home for remainder of evening. Talked to Jerry and read cracked.com for HOURS. For those of you unfamiliar with cracked.com, I recommend you go there, because it’s awesome, but I recommend that you NOT go there if you have a lot of work to do…because it will eat your brain for several hours AT LEAST. ^_^!

Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2010
-Slept in. Like you do.
-Barely made it to class, due to desire NOT to go. But stayed for film showing this week: The Boxer. Took place in Belfast. Interesting movie…still don’t know if I liked it or not.
-Went home.
-Thought about going to Anchor…didn’t. Went over to Mark’s instead and watched Knocked Up. Then bed.

Wednesday, Mar. 3, 2010
-Paper for Television and Popular Culture due Thursday. Decided to make huge breakfast to prepare myself, an attempted an Ulster fry, complete with sausages, bacon, potato bread, beans, and eggs.

My fry and Otto.

Otto with my fry!! (Well, this is actually the fry leftovers I had for dinner the next evening...which is why there's no potato bread on the plate. But that's ABOUT what it looked like. And it was pretty tasty!)

-Too much food for one person, so had Declan over to share sausages and beans. Breakfast was good, even though it was more like lunch at that point.
-Declan got out iPod and showe me the UK Mr. T Snickers commercials. If you haven’t seen them yet…go. Watch them on YouTube. They’re FABULOUS.
-Watched Mr. T Snickers commercials on YouTube instead of writing paper. Talked to Jerry instead of writing paper. WASHED the DISHES (ALL OF THEM) instead of writing paper. Pretty much did everything EXCEPT write paper due the next day. For some reason, it just seemed less important than cleaning a pan I never use anyway. Funny how brains work, huh?
-Finally STARTED paper at about 2am. Was on a good roll until roommates came in from pub. Said hello, then returned to paper. Finished around 4am, then sleep.

Thursday, Mar. 4, 2010
-Woke up before alarm, despite tiny amount of sleep. I think I may store sleep like a camel–all the sleeping in I do adds up, and I can wake up early on days I need to. Awesome!
-Went to make tea only to find we had no electricity. Bummer. Had to wait to get to school for caffeine fix. Had a Hammerhead, which is basically coffee+espresso+espresso. Awww, yeah.
-Made it through the day with remarkable ease. Had yet another panini for lunch. Delicious, delicious panini. Thinking of starting SU sandwich bar panini fan club…don’t think I’d be alone in this endeavor.
-Went to the wrong seminar (early one by accident) but didn’t matter. Got to go home early, anyway. Day was beautiful, so I walked home–took about 40 minutes.
-Had nap. Like you do. Maybe I should reconsider that “storing sleep” thing. :P
-Woke up and realized I’d slept through dinner. Oh well. Talked to mom on telephone and Jerry on internet. Had leftover breakfast for midnight dinner–good times! Then went back to bed. :P

Friday, Mar. 5, 2010
-LITERALLY did not leave the house the WHOLE day. Spent the whole day either on the Internet or on the phone with people. On the plus side, though, I’ve got my flight booked for spring break, and I’ve got my tickets for Odyssey 2010 booked! Sci-fi con here I come, baby! ^_^! Ask me about my nerd obsessions!

And that, ladies and gents, is my recap of these past two weeks where I didn’t do ANYTHING. And if you stuck around to read all of this…I pity you. Sorry. Blogs are supposed to be fun and exciting! I have done surprisingly little that is fun OR exciting over the past two weeks. So…yeah.

I hope YOUR past two weeks were a little more interesting! Stay tuned! I’ll try to actually DO crap for the next post! ^_^! Have a great week!

Leg 5: Fun in London, Part 2 02/28/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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So! Onto day two of the proceedings in London. If you thought day 1 was good…day 2 rocks harder, I assure you. However, this post is also OBSCENELY LONG, so brace yourself. :P

Woke up early, largely due to the fact that there was a window right next to my face. Awesome. But it turned out to be for the best because I managed to get a shower in before most of the other hostel-dwellers were awake. And that really WAS awesome.

Went down to the breakfast room for a drink of water before jetting down to the extremely convenient laundry room where I briefly dried my towel, because a wet towel, even a rolled up one, in a backpack all day with the rest of your clothing and other belongings is a Very Bad Idea. So that turned out well for me also. Makings of a good day already.

The consensus from the day before was that Rachel and I would meet up at the Camden Road Tube Station at 10:00, and until I was actually ON the Tube, I had no reason to suspect that this would be a problem. It was only when I looked at my phone (bearing a missed call from Rachel) and heard the train announcement blaring something along the lines of “Camden Road Station is closed, we won’t be stopping there at this time, naner-naner-boo-boo” that I realized something was amiss. So I grumbled a bit under my breath and got off at the stop BEFORE Camden Road called Mornington Crescent and waited for Rachel to return my text. She’d gotten off at the PREVIOUS station, Euston, which was rather bigger than M.C. stop. However, I talked to the nice gentlemen at the train window and they assured me that the Camden Road Markets I sought were a mere 10 minute walk up the road. Not bad, not bad at all.

But it was right around this time that I realized that apparently weekends are London’s favorite times for closing EVERY SINGLE SUBWAY LINE AND STOP THAT COULD EVER BE USEFUL ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Something in the ball-park of eight of the Tube lines were either partially closed, had stops out, or were shut down completely. *le sigh* This was especially disappointing as most of these lines were the ones that would take us to Baker Street, which was where we intended to go later in that afternoon. Oh joy, improvisation! But soon after that, Rachel arrived at the station, and we both walked up the road to the Camden Road Markets, ironically arriving at right about 10:00am as originally planned. Yay for leaving early!

For those of you unfamiliar with Camden Market…this is tragic. No, really. Camden Market is one of the coolest outdoor markets I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to my fair share of outdoor markets. It’s actually several markets sort of loosely linked with each other, but it was a jolly good time. Here are a couple of pictures from it (sans Otto, mostly, because it was PACKED and I couldn’t be bothered getting him in and out of my backpack all the time while there.)

Heh, Super Bowl.

Saw this restaurant and giggled. Therefore had to take a picture to share. This is for the football fans, lol.

Camden Market from the bridge.

So, what happened was that Rachel and I had wandered down a street where all of the shops seemed to specialize all in the same thing: smoking accessories, tourist paraphenalia, and body jewelry. This was not necessarily a bad thing, given my desire to procure tourist paraphenalia, but made me think that everyone had lied to me about Camden Market being home to all sorts of other really nifty things. So imagine my relief at getting to the bridge across the river and looking out over a ton of shops that seemed to have OTHER things. Oh yeah. ^_^! And it was kind of pretty to look at as well. I think this was the Camden Lock Market, but don't quote me on that.

Scooter seats at Camden Market.

So we get into the cool market across the river, and what is lined up all against the walls and serving as a seating and dining area for the multitude of food stalls in the area? Little scooter seats. They're seats that look like scooters. And you get a river view and everything! Pretty cool, eh?

Camden Market Stalls.

And here are some of the market stalls themselves. All sorts of stuff from clothes to jewelry to some of the most random stuff you can think of was all over this market, as well as the one across the street that we also visited (don't know what that other one was called, but it was mostly indoor, and I didn't get any pictures of it.)

Right, so the idea was to spend a “normal” amount of time in Camden…which we didn’t realize would end up being several hours. There was simply too much to look at! Anyway, we ended up spending about three hours looking around before wandering back to the Mornington Crescent stop around 1:30pm and asking the nice train man which would be the quickest way to Baker Street, after he caught us poring over a map of the Tube closures with very considerable consternation. He gestured out the door and said that the 27 bus would take us straight there…as we watched the 27 drive away. “That’s okay,” he said, “There’ll be another one along in a few minutes.”

So with that we abandoned the concept of switching Tube lines 90 times just to get to flippin’ Baker Street and decided to take the bus instead. A big, shiny, red double-decker bus. My day was really starting to rock now. ^_^!

Me taking an awkward self-shot in a red double decker bus.

Here's me doing an awkward self-shot inside of one of London's famous red double-decker buses. (Not that you can tell from this picture what color the bus is, lol.)

So we got off of the bus and saw THIS:

HOMG, Baker Street.

HOMG, Baker Street.

And we knew we were in the right place. ^_^! We immediately set off in search of the Sherlock Holmes museum which, given our horrid sense of direction and the amount of times we seemed to get lost already that morning and the previous day, we found with relative ease. Since I took a CRAPTON of pictures here, I think I will start to let them speak for themselves from here on.

Here's the museum, as well as Miss Hudson's restaurant.

Here's the front of the museum, as well as Miss Hudson's Restaurant. (Note: not really a restaurant, as Rachel and I found out the hard way while searching for a place to eat lunch.)

The literary world's most famous address.

The literary world's most famous address, and bearing the name of its famous occupant.

Otto chills on the museum sign.

Here, Otto chills on the museum sign, which I was perfectly content to stick with until a couple of guys standing nearby (you can probably see them in the background of this picture) encouraged me to get his picture taken with the bobbie at the door of the museum.

Otto with the museum bobbie.

So I asked the nice door-bobbie and he said yes! So here's Otto with the museum's resident bobbie (or police officer) and if you'll look above both of them, you will note that, as the door to the house itself, it bears the famous address also.

The Sherlock Holmes sign.

The Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective sign. Awesome. ^_^!

Otto with the VR.

Otto poses with Sherlock's famously unique display of patriotism, the initials VR (which stand for Victoria Regina, or Queen Victoria) shot into the wall.

Now this was just too perfect.

Now THIS was just too perfect. ^_^

MORE perfection.

MORE perfection.

The violin.

Otto with the violin.

Desk of tools.

Otto and the desk of tools.

Doctor's bag.

Otto with the doctor's bag.

The desk.

Otto on the desk.

Bronze statue.

Otto on the bronze statue of Mister Holmes himself.

Jack the Ripper notice.

Otto with a wall-hanging of the Jack the Ripper notice for the Whitechapel area. Neat!

A Scandal in Bohemia (plus Otto).

So the way the museum is set up is this: The first floor has the main Holmes set up, what the rooms at Holmes' house at Baker Street must have actually resembled in Sir ACD's mind, but the floors above that are home to some rubber dummies reenacting some of Holmes' most famous cases. This is the big diorama they had set up for A Scandal in Bohemia.

Professor Moriarty.

Professor James Moriarty (plus Otto).

Holmes and Watson and Otto.

Holmes and Watson (and Otto).

Holmes, Watson, Otto and me.

Me with Holmes and Watson! (And that scary looking lady in the coffin behind me is related to the case of the Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax, if you were wondering.)

Otto and Holmes.

Otto and Holmes.

Rachel Watson and Jenn Holmes.

Rachel Watson and Jenn Holmes! *bwa ha ha ha ha ha*

Awkward self-shot of me as Holmes.

Another awkward self-shot, this time of me in Sherlock Holmes attire.

So, I really do think that the Sherlock Holmes museum speaks for itself in terms of awesome and, BONUS, admission was fairly cheap. So the museum tour concluded, and Rachel and I exited and realized something very important: we were starving. Sure, we’d had a bit of street food in Camden, but that was HOURS ago, practically breakfast. It was well past lunch time by this hour, and so we set off in search of a restaurant that was nearby that I’d been told about.

…and after a good fifteen minutes of searching, where my feet were positively screaming at me to stop, we said, “that’s it! we’re done!” and settled into the first likely looking eating establishment: The Globe. We (and by we, I mean I, for I can’t really speak for Rachel on this front) did not realize that The Globe is actually a fairly famous London pub, but upon reading that they had a Fish and Chips special going on, I was most definitely game. Eating fish and chips in a famous London pub? That’s like one of those things you can cross off of a list of “things to do before you die”. I don’t really have a list like that at this time, but if I did, I would feel fairly accomplished by this turn of events.

Fish and chips and Otto.

So here it was: Fish and chips, a pint of London ale, and Otto at The Globe in London. Awesome. And pretty tasty as well!

So we get out of The Globe, pleasantly stuffed and a bit buzzed from the novelty (and, also, the alcohol) of having a pint in the afternoon, we thought we would head over to Buckingham Palace and the associated sights in that area so as to play tourist some more. After all, it was nearly four in the afternoon by this time, and we were burning daylight. We look at the Tube map. It is incomprehensible how we are going to make it to Buckingham Palace without switching trains about fifty times, and we instead decide to take the bus. But a thought occurs: what do we do AFTER that?

The day before we had gone to see a movie in Leicester Square which, while cool, was not cool enough to do twice in one trip. And neither of us really wanted to go to a club or anything. So once the daylight was up…what would we do?

The answer came surprisingly easily, given the amount of posters and show booking places around the area and the fact that I was essentially living in the West End: we would go see a show.

So we abandoned the bus and went over to the ticket kiosk, where a nice woman named Bernadette helped us look for a show. Ideally, we would have loved to see a musical, so we immediately asked about the big ones going on at the time, Oliver and Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Bust on both, unless we wanted to shell out 90 pounds each for Priscilla tickets. Nay, we said, and wandered back to the bus stop to ponder our next move. Buckingham Palace anyway? Meh. It didn’t seem so exciting anymore. Also, the buses we thought would take us there seemingly did not, and I think we were both pretty sick of getting turned around on confusing London streets at that point. So we looked through the brochure of all of the shows that Bernadette had given us and decided to give the show thing another go.

We headed back to the window to ask about Chicago. Another bust. Musicals were out, it seemed. So we put that notion aside and decided to look at the plays instead. I’d been seeing posters for Six Degrees of Separation (with Anthony Stewart Head!) at the Old Vic all over the place, so we looked at that one. We also found Waiting for Godot (starring Ian McKellan and Roger Rees) was playing right off of Piccadilly Circus. So we looked into getting tickets for some of these shows. Bernadette, bless her, checked the ticket availabilities on the phone for us and found some very surprising, very awesome news: there were two tickets left for Waiting for Godot that evening, and not only were they floor seats, they were a mere 28 pounds each, which is apparently unheard of.

Oh, did we buy those tickets up SO FAST. And so jubilant were Rachel and I at our apparent conquest of the London West End theater circuit that we took Bernadette’s picture with Otto in celebration. And here she is!

Bernadette with Otto.

Bernadette, our savior of the evening, with Otto.

By this time it was nearly 5:00pm, and the show started at 7:30pm, so we set about the task of getting back to Piccadilly Circus, doing some last minute souvenir shopping, checking that the Haymarket Theater had a coat-check while picking up our tickets, and generally killing some time until about 6:45 when we would be allowed in the theater. Having just inhaled a sizable portion of fish and chips only two or so hours earlier, we instead grazed at Pret a Manger (which is like the London Starbucks, it seems–they were everywhere).

They didn’t allow photographs from inside the auditorium, but I took some photos outside the theater before we went in. Here’s the one that turned out!

The Haymarket Theater in London.

The Haymarket Theater in London, with the big poster for Waiting for Godot outside of it.

So we went in and sat down, a mercy at that point, having been walking pretty well constantly for the past two days, and we waited for the play to start. The set was really great: it looked like the ruin of a building, all gray brick in the background and a warped floor with a bare tree growing out of it. Even the arch at the top (I think they must have built this part, because I can’t see them damaging the theater itself that badly simply for one performance) was all ripped up with bare boards and plaster hanging down. Very cool looking.

I’ve read Waiting for Godot before. I never really analyzed it, but I read it and thought it was pretty alright, as far as plays go. Perhaps even a little slow, though I understood the whole Theater of the Absurd and there being about as many readings of the play as were were people reading it. So I don’t know what I was expecting out of the play, but whatever it was, those expectations were exceeded.

The play was AWESOME. And I don’t mean that in like the modern parlance of awesome where everything ranging from a new car to a new pair of shoes is awesome. Everyone in it was just dead on and they brought the play to life in a way that was infinitely more satisfying than simply reading it (which I suppose is the point of theater anyway). So it was a great, GREAT performance, and I was blown away. I pretty much couldn’t clap loud enough when the curtain call came.

Afterwards, I was all set and ready to head out, but Rachel stopped me. Did you know that you can go around to the stage exit and wait for the actors to leave? Because I sure didn’t! But Rachel is a seasoned vet when it comes to finding actors at stage doors (having seen Les Mis several times and being a giant fan), and quickly asked the man at the front where the stage exit was. And we went back. And we waited.

And then Sir Ian McKellan, still wearing his stage makeup, popped out of the door. Holy. Crap.

I don’t think I managed to say much other than “the show was great” because I was definitely, definitely star-struck. Too star-struck to ask for a picture, more’s the pity, but he DID sign my playbill (he had played Gogo that evening). Very, very cool. And then he commenced to see people he knew and hold about a ten minute conversation with them two feet away from me. Very surreal situation. Anyway, it was a highlight of the evening to meet him.

Not long after, Roger Rees (Didi) came out the back and also signed playbills and the like. If you don’t recognize his name, you’ll definitely recognize some things he’s been in: he was the Sheriff of Rottingham in Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and he was Robin Colcord on Cheers. He was also excellent that evening, and signed me playbill as well. Oh, but Rachel and I were in it for the long-haul: we wanted to meet the whole cast. Granted, the “whole cast” was only about four people, but that didn’t stop us from waiting.

And waiting. The rest of the cast was a bit slower getting out the door than the first two had been. But it was all worth the wait when Matthew Kelly, who played Pozzo, came out. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely spiffy to have met Ian McKellan and Roger Rees, but they had that aura like they were tired and in a hurry to get out of there, though they were very polite. Not so with Mr. Kelly. He was just pleased as punch to be there, and was joking and laughing with everyone as he signed the playbills. I told him I adored the play and he shot back, “You’re lovely,” which I’m pretty sure Rachel giggled at (though I could be wrong–Rachel, did you laugh? Because I did, lol.)

Matthew Kelly is mostly famous in the UK for being a television announcer, most notably for Stars in their Eyes, a show where people dress up and perform as their favorite singers, but was also in the BBC’s Bleak House miniseries. Otherwise, he’s done largely stage work, so I don’t know if that will help you out any. :P

But since the crowd had thinned by that time (Sir Ian having driven off by then) and he seemed like he wasn’t in a huge hurry, I turned to him and told him I had a rather strange request. He quickly cracked a joke and I pulled out Otto, whom he quickly mocked (but in the fun way). I told him my roommate made him for me and he retorted, “Your roommate must HATE you.” (Again, all of this in a joking manner–he was very nice!) But he seemed willing enough to hold Otto in the photo, provided I was in there with him. And here’s the result!

Matthew Kelly with Otto and me.

Here's Matthew Kelly around the back of the Haymarket Theater, holding Otto directly in front of my face as Rachel snapped a photo. ^_^!

And afterwards he insisted that we take a proper photo, since he’d held an octopus in front of my face in the first one, so here’s the second one. (Although, I admit, you can probably see my face better in the first one–I was getting a hug in the second one and kind of turned away from the camera a bit, lol.)

Matthew Kelly, Otto and me.

Here we are again!

So he headed off down the street a bit and we waited for the last member of the cast, Ronald Pickup (Lucky), to come out. He wasn’t much longer, but he also seemed pretty tired and eager to be off, so after signing the playbills, he departed. Ronald Pickup is most famous for his parts in British television shows and TV movies I’ve largely never heard of, but I liked the fact that his first role EVER on TV was in an episode of Doctor Who in 1964.

Success! The whole playbill signed, with the exception of The Boy, who pretty much just left quietly without much fuss. We waved goodbye to Matthew Kelly (who was just down the way talking on the phone, presumably to his ride home?) as we left, and we uttered fangirly squeals of delight for having thought to go to a show this evening. Psh-haw on Buckingham Palace, said we. We just met Ian friggin’ McKellan. AWESOME! And just so you can see the awesome for yourself, here’s the playbill!

The playbill for Waiting for Godot.

Here's Otto with the signed playbill from Waiting for Godot. (Yes, I took this photo later, but it makes sense to put it here anyway.)

And here’s a close-up of the awesome:

The signed playbill.

Otto with the playbill. *squee*

But by the time we’d finished stalking the actors it was coming up on 11:00pm, and I had an early plane to catch back to Belfast. It was time to say goodbye again, it seemed. So before Rachel headed back to Kensington, we decided that an awkward smooshy-face self-shot was in order.

Rachel and me.

Aaaaaaaaand here it is, the awkward smooshy-face self-shot. It would probably have turned out better in a more well-lit area, not by the edge of a Tube exit, and had my hair not been behaving badly by that point in the evening, but I still like that it exists. ^_^!

So after all of that was said and done, we said goodbye, and I headed back to my hostel to turn in for the night.

Which I most definitely WOULD have done, if the same night club promoter I ran into my first night here hadn’t bumped into me. Moe, his name was (I don’t think I mentioned him in the first post, but he helped me find the hostel the first night, as long as I would go to a night club sometime while I was there…which I didn’t). He was kind enough to give me directions on the first night, and now that he ran into me again was fully intent on getting me to a night club for a drink so he could get a commission. *le sigh* So I let myself be directed to a sports bar, where I had an obligatory pint, watched women’s curling, and then headed back to my hostel by about 1am. So Moe, wherever you are, thanks for letting me catch up on the Olympics a bit, but I will never forgive you for getting me stuck with the 5 pound door entry fee. Seriously folks, I am too freakin’ nice for my own good, I tell ya. :P

Anywho, that’s about the extent of cool things that happened to me in London! The next day was largely devoted to me getting up early to dance the dance of the lengthy-transportation-shuffle back to Belfast and then back to Coleraine where I promptly collapsed and fell asleep after unpacking my bags. It was probably one of THE coolest trips I’ve ever taken. Aww yeah.

So, in conclusion, London = flippin’ awesome. Would love to go back sometime…heck, would like to live there, if that wasn’t a statistical improbability. It was flat-out groovy. So yeah. ^_^! Tune in for my next post, where I play catch-up for the last week or so because I’ve been so lazy updating on the London weekend via blog. Later!

Leg 5: Fun in London, Part 1 02/24/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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Quick note: I’ve separated the London trip and surrounding bits into two parts, because otherwise this post would have been OBNOXIOUSLY long and ABSOLUTELY NO ONE would have read the whole thing. And since I’ve wanted to go to London since I was a kid, I didn’t want to botch the big reveal of all the pictures and fun bits by slogging on and on all in one post. So for all of my readers with short attention spans, this one’s for you. :P

So, first things first! I believe I mentioned something about dinner with my host family last post? In fact, I’m fairly certain I did. ^_^!

On Wednesday evening (Feb. 17th) we (and by we, I mean me and two housemates) headed over to Joan and John’s house to meet their son Mark and have dinner. Good times! Mark teaches English in Poland, and was visiting for the week, so it was good to get to meet him while he was here.

Of course, I had to get Otto pictures. Here they are:

Mark, Erin, Otto, and Katie.

Here's Mark, Erin and Katie with Otto.

John and Joan with Otto.

Here are John and Joan with Otto after dinner!

Mark, Erin, Katie and me with Otto!

Mark, Erin, Katie and me with Otto!

Wednesday was loads of fun, but it is Thursday where the Great London Adventure actually begins…sort of.

Made it to lecture on Thursday morning, but I knew I would not make it to the seminar in the afternoon–I had a plane to catch. And when I say “I had a plane to catch,” that’s like a short way of saying, “I caught the bus to the Coleraine bus center, where I took a train/bus to Belfast, where I took an airport shuttle to Belfast City Airport, and then waited to board the RyanAir flight where upon my arrival I would be subject to even more public transportation interchanges ranging from the airport train to the Tube, and all of this vice versa on the return flight home.” And now that we’ve established that, we can save the exhausting tale of how I got from Coleraine to London for just this wee paragraph here and get on with the juicy bits.

Anywho, I missed the bus I’d intended to take to Belfast, but I ran into Anto, who was heading to Belfast on the train. So I joined him and tagged around with him and Conor until my flight. They were good tour guides! I hadn’t seen a great deal of Belfast, and since Conor goes to Queen’s University, I decided to take this opportunity to take wacky pictures of the place.

Otto in front of QUB.

Here's Otto at the front of the Queen's University Belfast main building. Gorgeous, no?

Otto in the QUB great hall.

Queen's has a great hall. No, really, they do. I can prove it with this picture here. :P

After that, there was dinner, followed by more transport. Long story short, waited for plane, got to London Stansted Airport by 9:45, got to hostel by 11:30ish and was able to check in and all that happy jazz. My roommates were French (or possibly Swiss?) and didn’t speak much English, but that mattered little to me at the moment because I was BEAT! I put the linens on the bed and pretty well crashed for the evening.

Now, a quick word about this hostel: it was really cool. It was still very obviously a hostel, with all the lacking amenities that word implies, but it was a REALLY snazzy hostel. And BONUS, it was RIGHT on Piccadilly Circus (hence the name: Piccadilly Backpackers, for any interested parties). Could I ask for a better location? I doubt it. This hostel was seven floors worth of internet cafes, a breakfast room with a tiny restaurant, laundry facilities, a travel guidance center, and a front-door guard who won’t let you up the lift without your little hotel key card. Very secure, very funky–this was a cool hostel. Far cry from five star accommodation, but it did the trick for all the time I spent in it. After all, I was in LONDON! What the heck did I need to pal around the HOSTEL for? But here’s an example of some of the funky hallway murals.

The walls in the staircase of my hostel.

Some of the walls in the staircase of my hostel.

Another hostel wall.

Another mural on the walls in the staircase of my hostel.

Anywho, the next morning (Friday) was when the real action started. I got up bright and early and packed my backpack (which I would carry around with me all day, and which contained ALL the stuff I brought with me–yes, you can call me paranoid, but I didn’t want my stuff jacked) and headed out to Piccadilly Circus near the statue, where soon I would meet up with my friend Rachel.

Rachel and Otto in Piccadilly Circus.

Here's Rachel and Otto by the statue in Piccadilly Circus right before we started our day!

Rachel, for those of you who don’t know (and I assume that’s most of you), was my fellow archive intern over the summer when we were at the Navy Yard, and it just so happens that she’s studying/working in Edinburgh this semester and was able to pop down to London for the weekend. Happy days! ^_^! It wouldn’t have been half as fun without her!

So we promptly went off in search of a full English breakfast, which we found at a wee cafe right off of Piccadilly and as we noshed we discussed our plan of action for the day. What first? What’s most important to see? What can we just rule out up front?

The wall in the Piccadilly Circus Tube station.

Here's the wall in the Piccadilly Circus Tube station. I know it's random to put it here, but it would be even more random for me to put it anywhere else, and since we're talking about Piccadilly now, I'm putting it right here. Don't argue with me--I make the blog. :P

The verdict was in: Tower of London first. It was the furthest away from where we were, and it felt prudent to start outwards and work in. So it was off to the Tower we went!

Otto and me at the Tower of London.

Here's Otto and me in front of the Tower of London!

Sir Otto!

Brave, brave, brave, brave Sir Otto...in the gift shop.

Otto at the Bloody Tower.

Here's Otto by the pointy looking gate of the Bloody Tower. (Not lying--that's actually what it is called!)

Otto by another tower.

Here's Otto by another tower. I can't remember the name of it, but this is the tower that housed both Sir Thomas More and Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth I) while they were being held prisoner. Neat stuff!

Otto on a wire sculpture knight at the Tower of London.

Otto is seen here on the hand of a wire sculpture of what I believe is a knight or guard of some kind. Whatever it was, it looked pretty cool.

Otto and me wearing a helmet.

Here I am (with Otto) wearing a heavy, heavy helmet. Also, British guards back in the day must have had very tall skulls, because if I didn't hold that thing out of my eyes, then it came down right over them.

Rachel in a helmet.

Here's Rachel with the helmet on as well, lol.

What a weird building!

Okay, can anyone tell me what this building is? It is a weird, weird looking building that we found looking off the Tower of London, and we can't figure out its purpose or why it looks like a rocket ship with swirlies on it.

Otto and the Tower Bridge.

Otto with the Tower Bridge.

The Tower Bridge.

Here's the Tower Bridge on its own.

The Tower of London was a pretty cool place, but let it be known to confused parties out there who read Goosebumps when they were kids that the Tower of London is NOT the same as the London Dungeon. I learned this the hard way when I realized that the Tower of London was not full of gooey torture dungeon reenactments. It was, however, still pretty cool, as our yeoman warder tour guide was to prove.

Barney, our Yeoman Warder tour guide, with Otto.

Here's Barney, our Yeoman Warder (or Beefeater) tour guide, looking quite professional next to Otto at the Tower of London!

Pretty cool, eh?

Pretty cool looking place, eh?

After the tower, the next stop was obvious–Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. I know they’ve been in pretty much every movie about England EVER and I’ve seen them before on film, but it really was quite pleasant to see, in person, that a clock that big actually exists. It was GINORMOUS. And we had the good fortune to arrive there at about two minutes till 3–just in time to hear the hour chimes. Nice. ^_^!

Big Ben

Ta-daaaa! Big Ben. VERY Big Ben. This picture is an inaccurate representation of just how big this clock is.

Otto with Big Ben.

Here's Otto with Big Ben. Unfortunately, we arrived when the sun was BEHIND Parliament and Big Ben, so this is one of the few pictures that turned out, with or without Otto. But hey--at least is WAS sunny.

Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, and a Double Decker Bus.

So we have Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, and a double-decker red bus all in one photograph. All we need is a telephone box and Buckingham Palace, and that would make the most British picture EVER.

Toyed with the idea of going up in the London Eye, but the queue was outrageous and the prices more so, so we decided instead to walk past Westminster Abbey and onto Trafalgar Square. We spent much of the rest of the evening doing the tourist equivalent of window shopping. We walked to Trafalgar, we walked through Chinatown, we walked through Leicester Square and down Shaftesbury Avenue and all of the really neat places in Central London that we could.

Otto with a horse guard.

Otto with a horse guard near Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square.

Trafalgar Square!

Gate thing near Trafalgar Square.

Big gate thingie right off of Trafalgar Square.

Giant pedestal thingie.

Here's the giant pedestal thingie in Trafalgar Square. I don't know if you can tell from the picture, but that pedestal was pretty much the tallest thing in the area. Huuuuuge pedestal.

Otto by the tall pedestal.

Otto by the really tall pedestal in Trafalgar Square.

Chinatown in London.

Though it's a bit dark (the sun was getting a bit lower by then), this is Chinatown in London, still decked out with all the lanterns from Chinese New Year.

The Tube wall at Leicester Square.

The Tube wall at Leicester Square.

The West End at night.

Here's London's West End (I believe this was Shaftesbury Avenue) at night.

Marquee at Piccadilly Circus.

The Marquee at Piccadilly Circus at night. Not a great shot, but I wanted to include it anyway. There was a lot of construction going on in the area anyway, so the view wasn't optimal, but whatever.

Our feet were SORE, but it was kind of worth it. ESPECIALLY when we inadvertently stumbled into a store called Forbidden Planet…

Otto with the USS Enterprise.

Why yes, that IS Otto with a giant Enterprise. Forbidden Planet = awesome, awesome store.

We ran around in circles for awhile trying to find this department store I’ve heard so much about…no, it was not Harrod’s, but Fortnum and Mason’s, allegedly the oldest and fanciest department store in the world. After finally locating it and looking around inside, it is not a claim I contest. I have never been in such a posh department store in my life! Macy’s looks like K-Mart in comparison to this place, no lie.

After leaving Fortnum and Mason’s (being possessed of no ridiculous sums of money with which to buy anything within the store) and heading past this FANTASTIC book store…

Otto and the Bookstore.

You can't see the sign well from out here, but right underneath the big Union Jack is the sign for the bookstore that said it'd been operational since the late 1700's. Whoa.

…we ended up wandering back to Leicester and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our evening. Rachel suggested a movie; we were, after all, surrounded on three sides by cinemas. After perusing the offerings, we were between Invictus and Sherlock Holmes. Guess which one we chose?

If you guessed Invictus…you’re so wrong. In honor of our impending trip to the Sherlock Holmes museum, we just HAD to go see Holmes on the big screen. Though I had seen the movie before, Rachel had not, and the movie is just spiffy enough that I considered that a problem. So Sherlock it was! And then it was off to bed, because the next day was bound to be action packed!

Alrighty, so that was Day 1 (well, technically Day 2 if we’re counting Thursday’s transit, but since I did absolutely nothing cool that day, we’re not counting it). Tune in next time as we maneuver through the streets of London on Day 2! It gets EVEN MORE COOL, I promise. ^_^!

Leg 4: Of Sligo and Sickness 02/17/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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So the good weather persists, for the most part. With the exception of one moderately rainy day (and even then, sprinkly at best), it has been riotously sunny for nearly the past week. This fantabulous weather would come in quite handy on the big surf trip to Sligo!

A bit of background before I launch into the grand Sligo adventure–I signed up for a couple of sports teams waaaaay back at the Orientation, and finally heard back from the surf team. The girl in charge (Lauren) was extremely kind and helpful, and when I e-mailed back to confirm my interest, she responded that, though it was quite short notice, the surf team was going on a trip to Sligo for an island-wide University surf invitational, and if I wanted to come along I was more than welcome.

Pssh…yeah! Portstewart pretty much shuts down on weekends, so I was very appreciative of the opportunity to see a bit more of the country.

We piled into the two vans Friday afternoon for the four hour or so trek to Sligo. I was in the car with Lauren, Emmett, Roisin, James, and Charlie, and we all played the Name Game (except for Emmett, who was driving) where we put the sticky notes on our heads with a celebrity and tried to guess who it was. Good times!

Now, this will excite anyone who went on the Wesleyan Ireland Trip in 2008…of ALL the hostels in ALL of Sligo for us to end up in, which one do you think we got?

Otto on the bed at Harbour House.

Otto on the bed at Harbour House hostel in Sligo.

You guessed it. Harbour House. Same one as in ’08. I nearly died when I found out.

Anywho, that first night was pretty quiet (for me, anyway). I had started feeling a little under the weather that day, and turned in early. And as I tried to sleep, I realized that that weird crackly noise keeping me awake was COMING FROM MY LUNGS. And by the next morning? Lo and behold, a brand spanking new chest cold. Ew.

But the surf competition itself was pretty great! We got there at about 8:45 in the morning to get the competitors ready for their respective “heats” (15 minute windows where the surfers go out and compete). The name “heat” is kind of ironic, however, considering how FRIGGIN’ COLD IT WAS OUT THERE! Sure, if you were surfing you got to move around and had a nice wetsuit, but for me? Fuh-reezing.

Otto and the waves.

Otto and the surf off of Strandhill beach in Sligo. I doubt you can see them, but there were surfers on those waves behind him.

Anyway, to kill some time between events (and to ensure I didn’t lose the circulation in my toes due to FREEZING COLDNESS), I went for a walk along the beach. It was pretty nice! And no walk on the beach would be complete without a completely random hike up a giant sand dune for no other reason than “it’s there.” Which is exactly what I did. Here’s the view from the top:

Otto on the beach.

Here's Otto (ground-level here) on the Strandhill Beach in Sligo.

Otto from the top of the sand dune at Strandhill beach.

Otto from the top of the sand dune at Strandhill beach.

Most of the surfers stayed at the beach for a bit longer, but around 2:00, Lauren, Emmett, and I went back to the hostel to have a bit of a lie-in, me because I was sick, and Emmett and Lauren because of late-night driving and the accompanying worry, respectively.

When the rest of the team got back, we all made a pasta bake, which was pretty tasty, and then got ready to head to The Dunes, the pub that was kind enough to host the final awards from the surf competition. We, of course, stayed for a few drinks once the awards were done. ^_^!

Lauren, Roisin, Otto, and Thomas at The Dunes.

Here's Lauren, Roisin, and Thomas with Otto at The Dunes, a pub in Sligo. Fun note: Lauren was selected (with another surf club leader) to host the invitational for NEXT year, and Thomas got, I think, second place in the longboarding! Yay!

Otto on Roisin's head.

Otto on Roisin's head!!! ^_^!

Emmett and Otto

Though you can barely see either of them in this low light, here is Emmett with Otto at The Dunes.

Craig and Otto

Though I'm having trouble telling for sure because Otto is up by his face, I do believe this is Craig in this picture.

Again, because of my spooty, spooty cold, I returned to the hostel to sleep while another chunk of the team went out to a night-spot that was open a little bit later than The Dunes. Blargh. Sickness.

Woke the next morning…still sick and gross. But despite the sick, I was still able to wake up pretty early of my own accord and was therefore able to snag a shower before the others were awake. Score!

We had until 10am to pack our stuff and get out, so once we hit the road at about 10:30, we decided to look for waves.

And we found…none. Sunday was completely flat just about everywhere we looked. But because we were looking for waves, we ended up taking the scenic route back home, which was rather nice! We stopped in a town called Letterkenny to eat at a fast food restaurant I’d never heard of before called Four Lanterns. It was…alright. I ordered the chicken bites, though, and they were a huge rip-off! They were so tiny! But we made it back to Coleraine without a fuss, and I pretty much collapsed again and fell asleep the minute I got back home.

But Sunday was not completely over! No, no, no! Sunday was Valentine’s Day, and also, horrifyingly enough, my fifth anniversary with Jerry. *le gasp!* This was, however, pretty anti-climactic when you consider how sick I was and how busy he was: he was gone most of the day drafting MtG, and by the time he got back, he had to go to tutoring. But we DID chat for a bit, which was nice. ^_^! And then I went to sleep…like you do.

And thus, because of my spooty, spooty sickness, I have very little else of interest to report for this week, as I’ve largely been lying around sleeping and trying to kick this ridiculous cold. Monday I barely made it to class for having to drag myself out of bed, I lost my voice in the middle of seminar, and though I did go into town to buy a backpack for this weekend (and also cold medicine!), the minute I got home, I pretty well collapsed into a weird fever coma for the remainder of the afternoon. Unfortunate, as I had homework due…but I finished it anyway. And then I slept some more.

Mardi Gras, or as they say here, Pancake Day was similarly uneventful. I DID get a package from my parents for Valentine’s Day, but given the amount in postage it cost to send here, I doubt I’ll be getting another one. EVER. :P I DID eat pancakes though!

Otto and pancakes.

The pancakes come pre-packaged at Tesco's! You can just BUY them! Like you were picking up a pack of pita bread or something! AWESOME!

Otto with the jammy pancakes.

One of the coolest things I've seen here so far? Pancakes as DESSERT. I've lived so long in the US, where pancakes are solely a breakfast food, only to be eaten with a variety of syrups, or with whipped cream and fruit. But after the ceildh dancing night, when dessert largely consisted of cold pancakes with butter and jam on them, I realized pancakes could be more than simply breakfast food. They could be conduits for jam and butter, to be eaten at any time. Like toast! BRILLIANT! Try it next time, folks. Make some pancakes. Let them cool. Then put butter and jam on them and eat them up. They're CRAZY good. ^_^!

Me, Otto, and a jammy pancake.

Mmmmm, pancakes. Not a King Cake, perhaps, but it will suffice.

And then there was class in the afternoon. And napping. And then Anto called and asked if I wanted to go the _The Wolfman_ with him and some others. So I saw _The Wolfman_…meh. A far cry from fabulous, but I wasn’t expecting greatness anyway. And after this I, you guessed it, went home and slept.

And I woke up today (Wednesday, for those of you playing the home game) and am STILL SICK! *grrrrr!* But it is much better, anyway. Lucky I had no class today and could sleep for much, much longer! ^_^! But that has been my boring, boring week thus far. Tonight I have dinner with my host mom–so at least that should be fun!

But tune in next time for Otto’s adventures in–are you ready for this?–LONDON! Yup, I’m going to London tomorrow! ^_^! Stay tuned!

Leg 4: Dinner, Mystery, and Glorious Weather in NI. 02/11/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.
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At my last catch-up, I believe I had tempted you all with the tasty notion of international food…and here it is! (I made chili to bring, btw!)

Otto and the Food Table.

Here's Otto with one of the two food tables at the Greeks' (no, not fraternity Greek--they're actually FROM Greece) house where the big international food swap shindig went down. Tasty stuff!

Otto and Me!

Here's Otto and me! Yeah, pic is dark, but it was in the hallway, lol.

Otto with some people and a guitar. ^_^!

So as the night wore on, some of us ended up in the nearly abandoned living room and decided to have a jam session. Since neither me (nor possibly Marten, but I'm not 100%) could play, we mostly just listened to Idil and Richard pass the guitar back and forth and sing. They were both quite good! ^_^! (P.S. Idil is the girl, Marten is the guy in back, and Richard's the guy with the guitar. And then there's Otto. ^_^)

So that dinner party was a lot of fun! And as luck would have it, that was Sunday night, and I got back in plenty of time to catch the last half of the Super Bowl on BBC! (Unfortunately, no awesome Super Bowl commercials made it over here, but I got to see both The Who and the Saints win hardcore-like, so it was nice anyway!)

So Monday was a little bleak because the Super Bowl didn’t end for quite awhile and I have a 9:15 class. Ew. It’s a good thing the class is interesting, or I’d be DOOMED. But anyway, as I was doing my reading for seminar, I ran into another girl from my class called Heather, and we ended up chatting and eating lunch together. She’s a Harry Potter fan! Yes! ^_^! And she was kind enough to give me a lift home as well, which ups her already admirable cool quotient by a considerable margin.

Later that night, I ended up back at Uni (everyone here calls University of Ulster “Uni”, so for the sake of brevity, I will also adopt this, lol) for the Ann Summers party! Now, I did not know what an Ann Summers party was before Monday, but it was interesting! We played games and talked about the products (lingerie!) and generally had a pretty great time!

Otto and Chantal

Otto with our friendly neighborhood Ann Summers lady, Chantal and her bulletin board of lingerie!

And after that was…The Full Monty! Yes, a couple of guys from campus stripped to their boxers and danced for Haiti relief. It was pretty funny! I have no pictures of that though; sorry folks!

Anywho, as I was about to leave, I instead ran into a huge group of people I knew and instead sat with them for the evening. Hilarity and odd times ensued!

Cat, Quigg, Otto, and Cat.

Here's Cat, Quigg (with Otto and his head) and...also Cat. ^_^!

Otto and the Duke.

Here's Otto with the giant poster of John Wayne that is inexplicably on the wall of the Uni-Bar.

Mark, Otto, and Cat.

Here's Mark and Cat hanging out with Otto!

Mark making Otto dance.

Here's Mark making Otto dance. But if you thought THAT was good...check the YouTube videos below. ^_^!

And Mark wasn’t the only one making Otto dance!

And finally:

Me, Otto, and Mark.

It made sense: I think the only person on earth who is more enamored with Otto is Mark, lol. Here's Mark and me posing with Otto for the camera. Funny story: Mark wore Otto on his head for nearly the full night, lol. And he kept calling him "Tim", even going so far as to "baptize" him as Tim with his beer. Still, he's OTTO! :P

So that was a really fun evening! But as for the Mystery part of the title…that would come the next day.

Tuesday night (well, really, there’s stuff going on all week, but Tuesday was the big one) was the Raise and Give (RAG) Mystery Tour put on by the Student Union. Basically, we bought a ticket, and they would put us on a bus and drive us to a random club somewhere in Ireland for the evening to make with the dancing and the merry-making.

Erin, Katie (my roommates), and I all went over to James’ house to meet up with other people we were taking the bus with, and then we all went to the Student Union to wait for the buses to load!

Maria and me.

Here's Maria and me waiting for the bus. Yes, I know Otto isn't here, but it's a fun picture anyway. :P

Otto in the Student Union.

Here's Otto and the big crowd of students milling around the Student Union waiting to hop on the buses!

And after that, we all got on the bus. The bus ride itself was probably about as good as the club itself! You got to meet new people, chat and have fun with the old, and drink “fruit juice” or “water” out of plastic containers, lol.

Anyway, we got to the club and it turned out to be a nightclub called The Elk in Toomebridge in Co. Antrim (about an hour or so drive away). I don’t even like dancing that much and I still had a good time!

Otto at The Elk.

Here's Otto on the dance floor at The Elk!

Otto at the club.

Here's Otto off the dance floor! ^_^!

Maria and Otto.

Here's Maria with Otto! It was kind of dark, so you can't really see him--except his cheeks glow in the blacklight! ^_^!

Otto and the club.

And here's ONE MORE dance floor shot before I pack it in....

…okay, I lied. Here’s video of Otto at the club! (Although, just so you know, the last 30 seconds is totally unnecessary film, so unless you like watching club scenes, you can just skip the end bit, lol.)

Maria, Otto, and Me.

Here's Maria, Otto, and me. Look really close between our heads--see his cheeks? ^_^!

Jessica and Otto

Though you can barely see them both because of the darkness (and I HATE using my flash because it ruins pictures), here is Jessica with Otto at The Elk!


This is sort of an odd shot--I have no idea what I was doing when Jessica took this picture, but I look appropriately happy enough that I wanted to include it. ^_^!

So that was the Mystery Tour! And it was excellent, even though I didn’t get back until nearly 3am!! And then the fire alarm went off because Erin tried to make pizza and our oven is stupid and hates to cook pizza! ^_^! So I was just overjoyed that I didn’t have class on Wednesday and got to sleep in pretty late, lol. Actually Wednesday I didn’t do a whole lot during the day, though at night I went over to Declan’s and we watched _Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog_ and an episode of _30 Rock_, which I had never watched before, but really love now, lol.

So about the only real thing of note other than that is…the weather. For the past three days or so, the weather has been…good. Suspiciously good. Like…something is waiting around the corner, good. But while I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop, I will enjoy the nice weather of the past three days (and hope that it continues for at least a little while longer!)

Otto and the view.

Here's Otto with the view from one of the balconies at my Uni in the background. Isn't it sunny? And beautiful? And gorgeous? And you can see fields and the river? This is making me really, really nervous...like the weather's going to go bonkers at any minute now that it's lulled us into a false sense of security.

Otto and the view of the river.

Otto may be a little blurry here, but if you look behind him there is a gorgeous shot of the River Bann. Freakishly good weather! ^_^!

Alrighty, I think that’s about all I have for the moment! Although, I am going to Sligo with the Surfing Club this weekend! Should be a blast, and there should be lots of opportunities for some Otto-shots! Will keep updating! Thanks everyone! ^_^!

P.S. Also, as of this Sunday, Jerry and I will have been together for five years. I say this not because you all care, but because I think it’s kind of awesome. And it’s my blog, and I can put what I want on it. So nyeh. ^_^! Love you all! Keep reading!!

Some Things I’ve Learned So Far 02/10/2010

Posted by Jenn in Uncategorized.

Since I’m far too lazy to upload photos today, I will share with you instead some things (good, bad, and strange) that I have learned over the past three weeks in Ireland.

1. There is broken glass EVERYWHERE, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to fix it. So don’t fall over, EVER.

2. “Tomato ketchup” here is anything but, and is actually a little gross.

3. If the United States started making “gravy chips” (i.e. steak fries covered in delicious beef gravy), our obesity rates would skyrocket even MORE than what they are now. Yes, they ARE that good.

4. Tesco’s. Is. Amazing. That is all.

5. I lied–that is not all. Tesco’s is awesome, and full of great and easy to make food with easy to follow directions RIGHT ON THE LABEL. Even my Tesco’s, which is much smaller than the epically more awesome Tesco’s in Coleraine, is the best grocery store I’ve ever been in.

6. Let it be known that the weather here is NOT as bad as I thought it was before I came here. That being said, it’s far from good, either. But these past two or three days have been sunny…maybe I’ve just gotten lucky!

7. There is almost no homework in Irish universities. I will repeat that for those of you paralyzed in shock. There is ALMOST NO HOMEWORK. Some classes will have reading, but even that reading is about 80% shorter than any reading assignment you might have in the US (at least for me as a history major, lol). However, before you start rejoicing too much, this means that a much higher percentage of your grade is dependent on one or two assignments. I have a presentation for one class worth 45% of my grade…and the other 55% is my final essay. Bomb one, and you bomb for good. It’s a trade-off, I suppose.

8. You have to turn on the light switches here, and I think that’s a really good idea. That way electricity only runs in them when you actually need it. Neat!

9. Leggings. They are obnoxiously popular over here.

10. Take a chance and talk to interesting looking people; I’ve done it a few times so far, and it’s worked out pretty well over all!

11. Boots is a REALLY cool pharmacy, if only for the fact that they have the hippest looking “generic Boots brand” products I’ve ever seen.

12. I have to use change to do my laundry now. I have learned that the 20p piece, while useless in the real world, is proving extremely handy come laundry time. Seriously, that’s the only time I use 20p coins, and when I get them, I put them in my laundry coin stack, lol.

13. Built-in cabinets, desks, and shelves = awesomely convenient. Benedum has got the right idea, am I right, Wesleyan folks?

14. There is a bookstore here called Waterstone’s, and it is awesome.

15. You don’t have to tip here. Anywhere. It’s offputting, but strangely awesome.

16. Bars here are not necessarily for going to get drunk in. They also have food! And they’re a good place to go talk with friends, at least until they put the music on…then you can’t hear much, lol.

17. Ovens that are permanently set to broil cook bad, bad pizza.

18. Buses, buses, everywhere, but never any when you actually NEED one.

19. If our nutritional content on food packaging in the US was anything near as helpful as the stuff here, we’d all be skinny. Or at least we’d know why we were fat. ^_^!

20. Always ask the bus driver if your bus is going where you need to go if you are unsure. Otherwise, who knows where you could end up?