Update – WorldCon

Hey all!

Quick personal update. Everything is pretty much booked and ready — I’ll be at Worldcon this year in San Jose! Super excited — I’ve never been to America before.

If anyone happens to be there, I don’t have a dealer’s stand at all, but you can message me on Facebook or Twitter if you want to catch me while I’m there.

That, or look for the one with the purple hair and the look of existential confusion.

I’m looking forward to the trip!

Travel Update part 2

OK, so here goes part 2.

Part 2 begins with heading to Galway.

Getting out of Dublin, this is what I see:


The rolling green hills, everybody.

So, that wasn’t exactly what I expected of Ireland first up.  Never mind!  Adventures!

Of course, first thing we did was stop at a castle.  It was a pretty castle.


At first, we thought the castle was closed (because the sign out the front said it was closed, which is generally a dead giveaway), but it was very kindly opened for us, and we got to look inside.
Mostly at stairs and murder holes.  Seriously, those stairs were brutal.


They say they curve to the right so you can swing a sword more freely defending downwards than attacking upwards. I’m just impressed at anyone using a sword in that space.

I learned quite a lot about castle defense while I was there, from the strategic placement of murder holes (which is still one of my favourite phrases of all time), to the shape of the outside wall, so missiles dropped will bounce off towards the enemy (which is frankly kind of ingenious).
The banqueting hall is no longer there, but at the time, it was situated over the river.  The Chieftain was said to have had a trap door, over which he seated people he didn’t really like and through which he could drop them into the river if he so chose.
It’s the little perks that make being chieftain great.

Photo break!


We saw this guy just on the side of the road. We couldn’t read the sign to see the exact story, though.


Slightly greener and more rolling hills.


Sheep! They colour-code their sheep here, with different coloured splotches on different parts of the sheep, so that you can always tell whose sheep is whose.


This is what we like to call “a vista” or “impressive” or “damned hard to get a photo of which properly conveys the size of this mountain”.


OK, back to it… 

Kylemore Abbey.  Built by a man for his wife, with the money he inherited from his father, who was a businessman in America.

It looks like this.


“I love you. Have a castle.”

Unfortunately, she didn’t get to enjoy it for very long; she died of dystentery in Egypt three years later.  He kept the house, though, with its huge gardens and all its staff, and was buried next to her in the mausoleum thirty-six years later.  Apparently, he tried to sell it to King Edward, who refused because the upkeep of the castle was too expensive for a King.
It was bought as a wedding gift for a duchess, whose husband gambled and lost it.  Later, it was bought by the Benedictine nuns, who used it as an abbey and school.  It’s still in use as an abbey today, though there are very few nuns left, and the school has been closed because of this.
The gardens look like this.


Imagine this in Spring, when all the flowers are blooming…

There used to be 21 greenhouses, kept warm with a hot water irrigation system, so the couple could have exotic fruit any time of the year.

And then, we went to the Cliffs of Moher.

I have no good photos of this, and this makes me very, very sad.  Dad has some, but I do not.
Here’s the best one I have right now.


I feel ashamed of this photograph

I’ll have to try and post another one when Dad e-mails me his.  Because oh wow.
And we saw puffins.  Puffins are cute.

But really, the highlight of this trip wasn’t the castles or the history, really.
It was the second night of the trip, when we were in the pub having dinner.  Suddenly, musicians started filtering into the pub.  We came around and bought a drink and sat at a table, feeling tired after a long day of gallivanting, and just having one more before we headed home.

Except then, the musicians started playing.  We’d stumbled into the first night of a music festival in Spidéal, and the middle of a trad session.  We proceeded to listen to traditional Irish music, played live by a group of people just sitting around in a pub.  A group of highly skilled and talented people just sitting around in a pub.
And we got to join in the singing.
Currently, this has been my favourite part of the whole journey, because it’s the unexpected, human things that make a trip amazing.

Travel Blog Update

Whoo.  So, I haven’t done one of these in a while, mainly because I’m not very good at getting out of the house.  However!  I now have Stories, from the parentals coming to visit me and making me leave my dorm room.

So, two weekends’ worth of anecdotes crammed into one blog post.
I got this.

On the first weekend, we went around places on the Saturday – around Dublin.  Dublinia – a museum experience not unlike Scienceworks for history, featuring Vikings and medieval Dublin.  It had always confused me that the English word for the beautiful city in which I currently study is “Dublin”, but the Irish name is “Baile Átha Cliath”.  Well, I found out where Dublin came from!  When the Vikings landed in the river a bit inland, they named Dublin “Black Pool”.  Dubh Linn.
And now I know.

Other than this, there was the Jameson distillery.  This is where I learned what malt was (germinated barley), and I learned that Jameson is aged in port, brandy and bourbon barrels, then mixed for the flavour.
They also gave me a special stick.


My Tube of Special

This, later, allowed me to compare Jameson whiskey with both Johnny Walker Black and a JD.  After which I got a piece of paper saying that I was “a qualified Jameson Whiskey taster”

I never knew how far having tastebuds would get me in life.

We also visited Christchurch.  Wow.  Just … wow.  I have no pictures of this, because I kind of didn’t dare.  Think cathedral.
Underground, there were the crypts (which we missed), but also exhibitions of clothes from movies shot in Christchurch, and the communion plates and cups given to the Church by King James I.  I think they might actually be the most lavishly decorated pieces of crockery I’ve ever seen in my life.  I’m actually fairly sure they are.
Also, there was a cafe with free Wifi. Underground, next to the crypts, under Christchurch.
Ladies and gentlemen, society.

And in the evening …  the Ghost Bus Tour.  Run by a very entertaining man who remained chirpy in the face of many obstacles, such as the Robed Doorman not being quite ready for us to open the door yet.  There were a whole range of stories told that day, from the teacher of medicine who dismembered the cadavers he was supposed to be teaching students with (“And this is the liver!  No, wait, it’s the spleen.  That’s the liver over there, stuck to the window where I threw it a minute ago.”), to the prostitute who refused to give up her child to the police, and hanged herself outside Christchurch.  It was entertaining, haunted-house-at-a-carnival scary, rather than actually scary-scary.  Nevertheless, great fun was had by all.

Also, seeing stuff like this:


Suddenly, a Wild Architecture Appears!

Sorry about the crappy lighting – I blame my phone camera.  But yeah, this happens.  Gotta love Dublin.

And then … then, there was the Book of Kells, and this library.


No caption does this justice.

63m long, 13m wide, 14m tall.  So.  Many.  Books.
On the list of places I need to go back to and just stare at, before I leave.

…you know what, I don’t got this.  I’m splitting this into two.  Adventures in Galway begin next post.