Amazing Amsterdam

Wednesday, August 19

I successfully navigated myself back to the airport and got on the flight (very late) to Amsterdam. I also successfully got myself from the airport, on a train and walked to my hostel. My hostel in Amsterdam is called The Bulldog, but as I was walking I saw….3 Bulldog facilities. The first one was the Bulldog Coffee Shop, which notoriously is the first coffee shop in Amsterdam, which you can smoke in. Second one was a cafe that serves food, where you can also smoke in. The last one was my hostel, and a bar on the bottom, which you can drink and smoke in.

When I got into my room I met some cool Brit girls who were super enthusiastic to be there. I ended up going to the coffeeshop down the street to you know, have some coffee and stuff and then walked around. I was wondering WHY THERE WAS SO MANY PEOPLE WALKING THE STREETS. It felt like Disneyland, where you couldn’t walk anywhere without being in a hoard of people. I found out that it was SAIL and Canal Festival. I guess Sail happens once every 5 years and is the biggest Maritime Festival in the world. Old sail boats from all over the world come to Amsterdam to show off their antique-style ships, fleet boats (with sailors), and other ships come into port where the sailors off-boat for a few days in Amsterdam, no wonder it’s crazy as hell. I ended up getting some Dutch fries and sat on the pier just watching all of these massive ships go by. The Dutch also seem like a huge boating community, because so many families were out on the water, eating, drinking, and just having a good time.

After a little me-time, I went back to the hostel where I met more girls. One girl, Elle, is from England and she was solo traveling for the first time. I could tell she was a bit nervous to be by herself but she was very sweet and polite. Two other girls from America (New York) were also in the hostel, and they invited us to explore with them. So we got a few drinks and other smokable stuff and just explored the town. I forgot to mention that our hostel is right in the middle of the Red Light District, which is amazing. We walked around this area amazed at the prostitutes. Amsterdam must be the Mecca, Holy Land, for the prostitutes. They have no shame because they worked hard (with all of their plastic surgery and all) to get a coveted spot in the Red Light District. I mean no shame, there’s just families with kids and old people walking around and they’re standing their banging on windows and looking…slutty. After that I went to bed.

Thursday, August 20

I woke up early today because I had booked a 10am canal tour. I got some free breakfast downstairs before heading out. I found this boat tour on TripAdvisor, it was rated #1. However, the tickets were twice as expensive because of the Sail event going on. I booked it because, hey, when am I going to be in Amsterdam next? There was an older couple and two guys from Montreal on the boat (and the tour guide). We went through the Canals and we asked him a lot of questions since he is Dutch and our tour guide. The main part of the tour was going through the Sail festival and seeing all of the big cool boats. it was like a big party on the water. We also saw that they were having a Canal Festival with floating stages and seating areas. It was pretty cool. The only thing that the tour lacked was a tour guide that actually wanted to tell us interesting stuff, not just answer our questions. He sometimes would not even answer my questions…and I’m a very curious person. But it was very relaxing and pretty nonetheless.

For lunch I ate this delicious sandwich from this cute cafe. I went back to my hostel to chill and then my godsister/cousin, Rachel hit me up because she lives in Amsterdam and was back in town! She met up with me at my hostel and we got some coffee and sat by the canal and just talked. That was the first time we’ve really seen each other in about 5 years. And, now that we’re older we can talk and relate at a different level. It was really good seeing her and catching up and just talking to someone so close. It was so easy and fluid, I just love those type of days and conversations. We ended up talking for about 4 hours haha. I went back to my hostel and me and Elle decided to go out. We got some coffee, walked around, ate some fries, looked at prostitutes, and got more coffee.

Amsterdam is absolutely beautiful and has been by far my favorite place. It’s truly unique and unlike any other place in the world. It has a unique character to it that is genuine and historical. I can see why so many foreign people want to move there, it is a GREAT place that I hope to visit sometime soon.

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Bangin Berlin

Tuesday, August 18

After an interesting night in a 10-bed mixed dorm, I woke up pretty early to get my day started. I wanted to take a free tour called the “Alternative London” tour. They advertise it for free because they know a lot of backpackers are on limited budgets and the tour guide only gets paid what we give him in tips.

With that said, I believe free tours are THE BEST! This means that the tour guide is driven to give a tour based off of his passion for the city and what he wants people to know, not off the conventional informational tour, where the tour guide recites a script of very mainstream sights. This tour was definitely different and so amazing. The tour guide was awesome and started explaining the street art of Berlin. There are TONS of street art here, mostly because it was a way to rebel against the government and unite in a way that explained their political views and backgrounds. I can completely understand why this place is so important in European history, and why the people here are amazing. Our tour guide brought us to strange areas that you wouldn’t think had a lot of history (mainly because Berlin is a pretty poor city and their buildings and areas aren’t always nice), but ended up having some crazy back story that always had a main theme. The point was that the people of Berlin are a very political, left-winged, creative, and boisterous community of people who found their voice through art and music. We ended up at this Jamaican bar, since he said it was his favorite place ever. I just admired his passion and the knowledge he had of Berlin. I ended up giving him a 20euro tip, because that’s how much I thought it was worth and he deserved it!

At this Jamaican bar or YAAM (Young African Art Market), is a beach bar on the river bank of the Spree. They’ve imported sand to have a nice beach bar with basketball, table tennis, football, dancing, art, concerts (Ty Dolla $ was going to perform there this weekend), and food! I decided to stick around for a while and had a drink and decided to get some jerk chicken–my favorite. As I went to sit down, a young African man who is one of the many Africans that hang out there decided to eat next to me. He was very nice and we started to have a great conversation. His name was Omar he’s from Gambia and he came to Berlin to have a better life. He said that he loves it here and that it’s where all of his dreams come true. He was very friendly and I can see why the tour guide loves this place: the people are so friendly, it has a great vibe, and you can just sit there for hours and not realize that you’re spending time there.

After an hour or two, I finally left to see a part of Berlin wall still up. The tour guide had explained a lot about the divide the wall had on the city, and I wanted to see it for myself. This part of the wall had of course graffiti all over it. It was a very bland wall (other than the beautiful art spray painted on to it). After checking that out, I hung out, walked to the Holocaust Memorial, and went to bed early. In the morning I had to get onto a flight going to Amsterdam!

"Little Lucy" is this character modeled after a communist era cartoon character, who didn't do anything exciting but walked around with her pal cat. There are dozens of Little Lucy's all over the city where she's doing something evil to her poor cat.

“Little Lucy” is this character modeled after a communist era cartoon character, who didn’t do anything exciting but walked around with her pal cat. There are dozens of Little Lucy’s all over the city where she’s doing something evil to her poor cat.

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"Nothing Lasts Forever", this area is known for one of the biggest underground punk venues. Gentrification is now threatening this area's culture.

“Nothing Lasts Forever”, this area is known for one of the biggest underground punk venues. Gentrification is now threatening this area’s culture.

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The Bethanien was built in the 17th century as a children's hospital. They were going to destroy it but artists decided to move it and made it a free gallery for artists.

The Bethanien was built in the 17th century as a children’s hospital. They were going to destroy it but artists decided to move it and made it a free gallery for artists.

This Tree House was built by a Turkish man who, during the communist era, lived in a plot that was neither communist nor capitalist. People saw this abandoned area and dumped a ton of trash. This Turkish man cleaned up this area, created a garden, and used all of the trash to build himself a tree house. Government offered him over a million euro for his plot of land, he said no. This tree house stands for standing up to the government and not giving into money. Btw, we saw him, he's 90 yrs old and sits in front of it every day.

This Tree House was built by a Turkish man who, during the communist era, lived in a plot that was neither communist nor capitalist. People saw this abandoned area and dumped a ton of trash. This Turkish man cleaned up this area, created a garden, and used all of the trash to build himself a tree house. Government offered him over a million euro for his plot of land, he said no. This tree house stands for standing up to the government and not giving into money. Btw, we saw him, he’s 90 yrs old and sits in front of it every day.

Where the Berlin Wall once stood.

Where the Berlin Wall once stood.

"Fuck off Media Spree", the area to the left of this building is considered the Media Spree because when the city started to become economically lucrative, big companies such as Sony, Mercedes, and other big businesses bought up land by the Spree (the river) and started to put up their fancy buildings and ugly corporations. This pays homage to the fuckery that is corporations, and basically the attitude of all of Berlin.

“Fuck off Media Spree”, the area to the left of this building is considered the Media Spree because when the city started to become economically lucrative, big companies such as Sony, Mercedes, and other big businesses bought up land by the Spree (the river) and started to put up their fancy buildings and ugly corporations. This pays homage to the fuckery that is corporations, and basically the attitude of all of Berlin.

Entrance to the YAAM

Entrance to the YAAM

My AMAZING jerk chicken omg

My AMAZING jerk chicken omg

East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall

East Side Gallery of the Berlin Wall

Holocaust Memorial

Holocaust Memorial

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Paris and Berlin

These past couple of days I have been solo traveling around Europe. Since it’s my first time in Europe, I have to see the most popular destinations. I want to get out of my comfort zone and do things that are memorable and expose myself to different cultures and ways of life.

Sunday, August 16

Today was my first full day in Paris. Despite my awful AirBnb, which I’m requesting a refund because that place was a piece of shit, I got up pretty early to explore this infamous city. My first stop was the catacombs, something I really wanted to see. But, when I got there I noticed that the line was a tad long, and when I say a tad, I mean wrapped around the whole block and back up. Because only had a day here. I decided it wasn’t worth it, since the line was going to take a good few hours. I headed to the Notre Dame, another place on my itinerary. I looked at the building, it was so cool and reminded me of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Gargoyles, you know classic cartoon/movies I used to watch as a child, naturally. After spending sometime in that area, going on Love Lock Bridge and seeing the book sellers by the canal, I decided to take a Big Bus tour, since Paris is really only good for sightseeing and museum hopping.

The Big Bus tour was ok. I mean they drive you around to all the important places in Paris, which is better than walking on foot to all of those places. Nothing was really interesting other than learning about the history of the buildings and of France. After spending two hours on the bus I finally got off at the Louvre. It was crowded (like every place in Paris that day). I wanted to see the Mona Lisa, she was cool. The building itself had some great architecture and design inside. I found Napoleon’s Apartment to be quite interesting, but for some reason I was not feeling Paris. The people are unfriendly, there’s nothing quite interesting other than the art, and it’s incredibly crowded.

After the Louvre I went to this plaza where a cluster of violinists were playing some great music of popular classics. I decided to eat at a café overlooking this plaza, which was quite relaxing and nice. After that I walked along the Tuileries Garden before I finally decided to go in (which was only about 7-8pm). I guess I’d had enough of the overrated city.

Monday, August 17

My flight to Berlin was at 1pm, so I left the awful apartment quite early. It is very true what people say about the French, to put it in light terms, there assholes LOL. I knocked out on the plane because I guess that’s a normal thing for me now. When I got to Berlin I of course had to buy a Bratwurst first thing out of the airport. I then took a train to Alexanderplatz, a central station in Berlin. I met a really nice guy from Saudi Arabia p, studying chemistry in Germany. He could speak 4 languages (Arabic, German, English, and Spanish), which definitely put me to shame. I only know one language, which is also the problem I’m America, so embarrassing. Most of the people I meet can speak like 3-4 languages. Anyways I finally made it to my hostel, which by the way has a bar in its reception area and a pretty big one at that.

I had a tour at the Riechstag building at 745, their most famous building. Here I toured the dome, a really big glass dome that sits on the very top of the building and overlooks most of Berlin. There was an audio guide that narrated the political history of this building and the surrounding areas. After this short tour I took a walk around and saw Bradenburg Gate. By this time I was exhausted and went back to the hostel to get an actual decent night of sleep.

I’m going to stop right here, since this is probably a really boring post to write and since I don’t have any pictures to illustrate it’s probably an even more boring post to read, sorry yall I’ll add what I did today (Tuesday) on another post, since this was actually a really great day in an awesome city.

Paris

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A really cute farmers market that was right outside my apartment.

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Berlin

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Reichstag Building

Goodbye, London

Well, yesterday (Saturday, August 15) was moving day…such a bittersweet moment. So many memories made, skills learned, and life lessons developed. These past 2 months have gone by extremely fast, and while I was very much aiching for it to end, I know I’m going to miss the shit outta London.
This week was spent doing a lot of last minute things. Monday, I had work, and that felt like my last day of normal routine. Tuesday I went to work again, but at night I went with Pally and Paige to a tiki club called Mahiki. We got in for free and was supposed to get free dinner. The promoter that Palky contacted sat us in an individual table for free (which apparently is different than the other times Pally has gone since she had to sit at communal tables). We got free champagne and were waiting for the food to come to us. As food is passed out to the other tables, we are noticing that the waiters aren’t looking at us and ignoring us. After waitresses are picking up the empty plates, we finally ask the promoter where our food was. He said that he would check on it and that we were supposed to get it. He comes back and tells us that the kitchen is closed and that the cooks left, but that we would get more alcohol for the mistake. We were pretty pissed and felt as tho they didn’t give it to us because our table wasn’t as white as the others (I’m Asian, Pally’s Indian and Paige is white). So we ended up leaving right after to actually get food.

Wednesday I had work off, so that was my day to pack and clean. I realized I needed another bag since I had bought a lot of stuff in London (lol sorry Mom) and mom had taken one of my suitcases home with her when she visited. So I went to Oxford Street for the first time to check out the bags. My first stop was getting lunch at this Japanese place me and mom went to when she came here, and then I got boba at my favorite boba spot. I wanted to go to these places one last time before I left. I then checked out the huge Topshop on Oxford. That bitch is 3 floors with everything from a cupcake stand to getting extensions, nails done, coffee, a restaurant, SOS (store-within-store), vintage, independent brands, literally EVERYTHING was compact into this Topshop. I didn’t find a bag there and finally opted for a River Island men’s bag ahah. I wanted to find something small but big, so I can fit it on the plane with me, and something I’d use again. Then I went home to meet up with my roommates for our last dinner. We picked this place called Opium (haha coincidence? Prolly not since I picked it), a cool bar in Chinatown. It had some yummy dim sum and delish cocktails. I got some red bean soup for dessert at another place.

Thursday was interesting. For work I had to drop off some garments at a customer’s house, who happened to live in Hamstead Heath, and discovered a beautiful urban jungle. I didn’t realize green spaces existed in London, but this place was beautiful and the breath of fresh air I needed. It was peaceful and tranquil, I could have stayed there all day if I could (but good thing I didn’t because right when I got on the bus it starred to pour). After work my supervisor, Kristina, brought me to a place called Shake Shack, where they apparently have good shakes, burgers, and fries. I have never heard of it before but I guess it’s American. We met up with our other coworker Charlotte, as part of a goodbye dinner for me. After that I had to go home and pack more.

Friday was my last day of work. I am so grateful to work with such a company (while I was there they just made clothes for their 3rd TV show, Scandal). I learned from an inspiring and powerful woman designer/boss/CEO. We exchanged gifts, they gave me a lovely notebook set from Liberty. After that I went home to packed and cleaned like a maniac. Realizing that I was the only one deeply cleaning, I finally understood why my dad drilled those cleaning skills into my head. People aren’t going to clean and if you want shit done, you just gotta fucking clean it and when you clean you gotta clean that shit good (that’s the lessons I learned from him). Me and Carly tried to go to a Cat Cafe but it was closed for a private event (booooo).

Saturday we had to be out by 10am. I was woken up by someone outside blasting the fuck outta their music at 730am. The morning was chaotic, everyone was last minute cleaning and packing. Our other brilliant roommate had the fucking brilliant idea to cook 30 minutes before we had to be out. Me, Laila, Drea, and Carly were all sad to leave each other. We helped everyone take out the trash, clean the fridge out, and bring their bags downstairs (amazing us 4 out of 5 got along so well!) We gave each other a group hug in the kitchen (mostly bc Carly doesn’t like human touching). Finally, when my Uber pulled up, I gave everyone a huge hug and headed to the Cavenish. Since me and mom stayed here about a month ago, we thought it would be smart if I asked them if they could store my luggage for me while I travel during this week—I will be staying there for a night next week anyways.

After arriving there, I had about 2 hours to kill, so I went to Green Park to bask in the sun and eat my crossiant, and people watch, that’s the best thing. There were a lot of people out, some sitting on the grass like me, some doing boot camp or crossfit or whatever in the shade, and a shit ton of people walking to Buckingham Palace, but hey it’s a Saturday during one of the busiest weeks of tourism. Oh yeah did I mention I was sitting right next to a Bachelorette, or should I say Hen Party, what they call it here. Apparently it’s a super big deal here. They were just having a cute picnic in the park with bubbly (Champange). BY THE WAY, they were all brilliantly dressed as Disney Princesses!!!! It was fantastic. They went all out. The bride-to-be was Elsa, her mom in law or mom (some older matronly figure) was the Fairy Godmother, her maid-of-honor was Maleficient, and there was every Disney princess in attendance with SPOT ON costumes (I’ll upload a picture once I get back to my hotel so check back in on Saturday). They had Anna from Frozen, Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Ariel, Pocahontas, Tinker Bell, Mulan, Merida from Brave, Rapunzel from Tangled, Jasmine, Esmerelda from Hunchback, Megara from Hercules, and I think that’s it. It was quite entertaining.

After I had enough of that, I walked to Buckingham Palace to walk around the pond again, however, this time I saw a bunch of people standing around the entrance as if they were waiting or looking at something. So I waited around, just to see what the commotion was about. Well at about 12-1215, the police yelled at us to get on the sidewalk. Little did I know that the QUEEN OF ENGLAND was making her way to Buckingham Palace. I SAW THE QUEEN OF FUCKING ENGLAND IN HER CAR!!!!! Like my time in London was sealed as complete after that. Later I found out that it was VJ Day, 70 year celebration of when Japan surrendered in WWII. The news said that the Queen rarely comes down from her summer home in (some place in Britain idk) unless it was for a good reason.

Then I was headed to Heathrow, where I got a beer and nachos to wait for my flight to Paris! Once in Pairs i navigated the metro like a pro, finally found my airbnb and visited the Champs Élysées and the Arc de Tríomphe where I got a nice hot baguette to snack on.

I will be adding more pics when I get back to my computer on Saturday so be sure to check back in!!! It’ll better illustrate my posts (:

Just princesses in Green Park, no big deal

Just princesses in Green Park, no big deal

They're having an adult tea party, with Prosecco

They’re having an adult tea party, with Prosecco

THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND YALL!

THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND YALL!

She's in there if you zoom in really closely.

She’s in there if you zoom in really closely.

And the amazing Guards

And the amazing Guards

Cute shindigs in the park

Cute shindigs in the park

I guess VJ celebration was today, 70th anniversary of the surrender of Japan in WWII

I guess VJ celebration was today, 70th anniversary of the surrender of Japan in WWII

I spontaneously came during the best day ever

I spontaneously came during the best day ever

British Slang (Vocabulary, Jargon, Lingo, etc.)

  
Since I’ve spent a little over a month here in England, I have been paying close attention to the English vernacular. While London isn’t totally English (I mean it is and it isn’t, it’s a more global city than anything), they do have a lot of interesting vocabulary or sland that took me a little while to understand. And, while America is from British settlement, there are a lot of words that are a bit different from American slang.

Terms-

Toilet/Loo – Bathroom/Restroom; In America, we think the term toliet is a little derogatory or gross to describe a bathroom and that it only describes the literal toliet that you use in the bathroom, but here in London they call it the toliet which also includes the sink and washroom so I don’t quite understand it. “I need to use the toliet”

Cheers – Thank you/Your welcome/See you soon; This term almost always is said at the end of the sentence at a parting of ways between people. It’s almost like a fond farewell, good tidings, blessings type response. “Thank you for my coffee, cheers!”

That’s alright/okay – No worries/no problem; This term is used when someone doesn’t want you to feel bad for asking for help or said immediately after you say thank you. So for example if someone says, “thank you so much for your help” their response would be “Ah, that’s alright”

You alright? – How are you? Are you doing okay?; I’m usually asked this while getting serviced somewhere. At first I thought they were asking me because I looked as though I was unwell or lost or obviously American. But, alast, if I’m waiting to get served at a coffee bar or pub, to get my attention they will say “You alright?”

Cheeky – smart-ass/cunningly rude; This word is used to describe someone who is sarcastically rude or cunningly insults you. This term was said to me when I accidentally told the coffee barista to “put her stamps onto my card” when he was stamping her card (I meant the other way around, to put my stamps onto her card) and he responded “well that’s quite cheeky”.

Dodgy – sketchy; A verb used to describe a not so good situation, place, person usually unsafe or bad conditions. “Melissa, becareful when you go to _____ it’s a really dodgy area.”

Bloody – hella (in Bay Area Terms)/extremely/horribly; An adverb used infront of a noun, verb, adjective used to intensify how bad/good/extreme a situation is. Can use it infront of the terms “bloody hell” (most often) “bloody awful” “bloody marvellous” or “not bloody likely”, basically to over empahsize something like we do in the Bay Area with the use of “hella”. “Melissa, that use of your business ideas were bloody genius.”

Blooming – same use as bloody in that they use it before another word to exaggerate or intensify it “I need that bloomin’ dress”

Dim/Daft – stupid; just another slang term to call people stupid

Fancy – want/desire; If you fancy something that means that you want something. It usually is followed by “a” since they use “a” before a lot of verbs. “Fancy a walk, fancy a look, fancy a chat”

Piss off/Fuck off – Fuck you; Piss off is a more PG term but it basically means fuck you or get the fuck outta here. I’ve heard it once said by a drunk man when I said something shocking he replied “fuck off” like “Really?!” but in a drunken ramble. Another time someone said piss off was when someone was getting angry that we weren’t sure which way to go, he told us to piss off but I also think he was quite crazy. In other terms, it’s not usually a nice phrase and you say it when you’re mad or insulting someone.

Posh – high-mainteanance/upper-class/high-society; Now I understand why Posh Spice was callled Posh Spice. It’s a term used to describe rich people, high-class, and high-mainteanance. In America we call them “yuppies” but here they use the term “All of the posh people live in that nice area.”

Rubbish – trash; Rubbish is the stuff you put in the trash can/waste basket/litter etc. Sometimes when people describe something that is horrible or disgusting they sometimes will use the word “Well that’s quite rubbish“.

Films – movies; “Do you want to watch a film tonight?”

Cinemas – the movie theater; the place where you go to watch films “I went to the Cinemas yesterday and the tickets cost me 15£”

Queue – line/to stand in line/to wait usually in a line or pecking order; This term can be used as a noun (“You need to stand in the queue to go into the store”) or as a verb to say you’re waiting in a particular order (“Did you have to queue for that restaurant?”  or “I didn’t want to wait because people have been queuing for 3 hours”)

Quid – pound/bucks; It is a slang term for pounds like how in America we say “Aw man I lost 5 bucks to the lottery” they say “Man I paid 5 quid for nothing”

Lift – elevator; “Take the lift up to the 5th floor”

Plaster – band-aid/bandage; This one was very confusing for me, since it came up when me and my coworker were talking about how flats really hurt the back of our foot (where girls usually put band-aids to stop the rubbing). She had said “Sometimes I think plasters don’t really work for me, I still end up getting blisters”.

CLOTHES
Jumper – sweater/sweatshirt

Trousers – Pants

Trainers – sneakers/athletic sneakers

Pants – briefs/underwear

Knickers – panties/girl undies

FOOD

Porridge – oatmeal

Chips – fries

Crisps – chips

Biscuits – cookies   

Harry Freaking Potter (Last official weekend)

Welp, alas, my last weekend (officially in London). As bittersweet as it is, I’m definitely going to miss this unique place. There is no better way than to end my London weekend with a trip to the Harry Potter Studio! Hayley, a girl in my program, organized a group of us to go on Saturday at 9:30! But I guess I’ll start with what happened on Friday first.

Friday, August 7

So, I had work today. I didn’t do anything productive at all, in fact, all I did was run around London going to different manufacturers and crap. So lets not talk about it. My roommates had planned to go out somewhere that night so we were getting ready. I pregammed and stuff, waiting for my roommates to get ready. Lalia’s friend didn’t end up coming until like 11pm, way past the time that we were going to go out. I didn’t want to go out because I had to wake up at 7am the next day. So, Carly, Drea and I decided that we should instead stay home and watch the Spice World movie! Since I was basically already drunk, we also decided to have a drinking game accompany the movie. Well, I guess I was the only one drinking because Drea is on antibiotics and can’t drink while Carly was drinking Cider but was bloated. So I was the only one getting completely hammered off of Buzzfeed’s Spice World Drinking Game . It was basically a shit show because I was Sporty Spice (as usual) and had to drink when she was wearing a track suit, rolled her eyes, exercises, or talks about sports. We also decided that out of all of our roommates, I of course am Sporty Spice, Drea is Scary Spice, Carly is Ginger Spice, Laila is Baby Space, and Madina is Posh Spice.

Ha nothing interesting happened, well I guess other than me who was ridiculously waisted cos I basically drank a half bottle of Vodka to myself. Spice World is too amazing not to get utterly hammered to, I mean come on, “I’m giving you everything, all the joy can bring, this I swear!” Then after the movie, I somehow took a shower, and I somehow washed the dishes, and made it in to bed at 2am in the morning LOL.

Saturday, August 8

So I had to wake up at 7 to be downstairs at 715, which I was still late to. I met all the girls downstairs and we took the tube to the train station. The train was only for about 20-30 minutes and once we got there, Harry Potter had a bus designated for people just going to the tour; the outside decorated with Harry Potter decal surrounding the bus.

When we got there, the anticipation was growing! “Harry Potter” was on the entrance of the building, and people were waiting for the doors to open. We got some coffee since we had some time before the tour started. We got in line once our time came, they even had “Harry under the cupboard” set as we waited in line. Our group was then led into a room where digital movie posters hung. Here they describe how the Harry Potter series was first discovered by producers and how it became to be such a huge phenomenon. Then we went into another cinema-like room, where Daniel Raddcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint explained the building that we were in and the significance of all the people involved in the making of this film. It gave us a little insight as to what we were going to see and that the movies wouldn’t be what they were today if it wasn’t for the amazing team that worked to make the movies successful.

Once the movie was over, the screen rolled up to the “Entrance of Hogwarts” and the door led to the Grand Hall where all the eating and hat sorting took place. After that everyone pretty much took the tour at their own pace. There was so much to look at and watch and read about. It was really interesting learning all of the details and discrepancies that went into creating the film. They went through each main set and explained what the set builders, artists, costume designers, prop buyers had to go through when conceptualizing the set. The job seemed so fun especially for a world like Harry Potter/ I got butterbeer, sat on a simulated train like I was going to Hogwarts, and even saw a mini version of Hogwarts itself. IT WAS JUST SO AMAZING I CAN’T DESCRIBE EVERY LITTLE DETAIL TO YOU OR I’LL BE HERE ALL NIGHT. Just know that it took 3 hours to complete.

After that I went home, me and my flat mates decided to check out Borough Market. They sell a shit ton of bread and cheese there. So I got the best of both worlds and got a grilled cheese sammie. We then decided to check out a number of names pop-up shop, mostly known for selling the brand BBC–or Billionaire Boys Club. I got some clothing there and then we walked around Brick Lane, went to some vintage shops, got some street food, went to Box Park for some boba, and headed home.

Laila wanted me and Carly to come out with her and her cousins. So when I got home I took a nice hour nap. I then got some pho. Ate and got ready. Then went out. We went to her cousin’s apartment which took a long time, and if you didn’t know I was so fucking tired. We ended up going to some bar in Shoreditch. They had a dance floor and a ping pong table, but me and Carly were tired so we left early (she had to be up at 7am). Then I went to sleep

STUDIO TOUR HERE WE COME AT 830 IN THE MORNING

STUDIO TOUR HERE WE COME AT 830 IN THE MORNING

"The Cupboard Under the Stairs" is their smallest set

“The Cupboard Under the Stairs” is their smallest set

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Entrance into Hogwarts!

Entrance into Hogwarts!

Grand Hall

Grand Hall

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Yule Ball costumes, my favorite part of the 4th movie (even though I think the 4th movie was my favorite movie)

Yule Ball costumes, my favorite part of the 4th movie (even though I think the 4th movie was my favorite movie)

YAY I'm here!

YAY I’m here!

The boys dormitory

The boys dormitory

Prof Snape's Office

Prof Snape’s Office

Creepy part in the last movie

Creepy part in the last movie

Ministry of Magic fire stalls

Ministry of Magic fire stalls

Umbridge's office...so pink...soo many kitties

Umbridge’s office…so pink…soo many kitties

I'm on my way to Hogwart's yall!

I’m on my way to Hogwart’s yall!

Where it all started, Privet Drive

Where it all started, Privet Drive

Butterbeer!

Butterbeer!

Diagon Alley!

Diagon Alley!

Mini (but quiet big) model of Hogwarts

Mini (but quiet big) model of Hogwarts

The rest of the day

Me n my grilled CHEEESE

Me n my grilled CHEEESE

a number of names* pop-up shop

a number of names* pop-up shop

All the Bape was sold out tho

All the Bape was sold out tho

Sunday, August 9

HAPPY 21ST BIRTHDAY PATRICK!!! (My baby brother if anyone didn’t know). The first thing I did this morning when I woke up (naturally at 1130am because why not) I FaceTimed him and my mom who is visiting him for his birthday. After that I got ready, went to Brick Lane again to try to go to the pop up shop again, but it was so freaking crowded today compared to yesterday ( like 5x more crowded) and there was a line out the door. So I said fuck that and went to a vintage shop and found a cute skirt and pants for cheaper than I would buy at that popup lol. Sorry this is a bit rushed but I’m hecka tired and its already 130 here. Anyways, it was so fucking hot today I almost passed out on the Central Line (tube) going from Brick Lane to Nottinghill. They don’t have AC in the tubes which can be quite bad since the tubes can be really crowded at times.

I ended up going to Portabello Road to check it out but there was nothing to really do, plus I was hot and tired so I went home and now I’m here trying to write this rushed blog. Ok goodnight.

Only 2 Weeks Left

Two more weeks left here, for my time in London. It’s going by so fast, I know I’m going to miss the bloody shit outta it, but alas all good things must come to an end. Monday I had a day off from work, Tuesday I had work, and today I had work half day then I had a fun activity after with my program.

Monday, August 3

Today I got the day off. The first thing I did was look for my phone. I called their nonemergency number and they let me know it was unlikely I was going to get it back :(. So after that I ddin’t want it to ruin my day, so I got some coffee and went to the Imperial War Museum to pick up where I left off. Ok, so in my last blog posts, I wrote how I’m incredibly interested in history, welp that’s why I spent 3 in a half hours at this museum (and I had already spent an hour another day with Carly but we had to leave since the museum was closing – and it was only on 1 floor). The amount of time I spent on each floor was basically an hour each. The second floor was about WWII and how the civilians and families were effected by the fire bombings. They also had a special on D-Day and quickly went through the war, since they have another museum dedicated specifically for WWII. The third floor was basically exhibits that you had to pay for. The fourth floor was the floor I spent the most time on and it was about the Holocaust. This is something that interests me the most because 1, I took a class solely about the Holocaust, 2 I’ve already seen the D.C. Holocaust Museum, and 3, since I know so much about it learning it from the perspective of another country is even more interesting since they focus on different things. Something like that is so fascinating to me because it’s crazy to me how a civilized, developed country would commit such a horrible, disgusting, inhuman act of cruelty. I will never fully understand it…

After that I had to somehow navigate myself somewhere else. I chose Covent Garden because well I haven’t been there yet and I don’t want to go to far to where I can’t find my way back (because remember I don’t have a phone). I walked to the famous market where there were a shit ton of tourists and people. I was trying to find out where the best shopping was when I came across “Galeria Melissa”. I mean, come on, if you see a store with your name on it, of course you’re going to go in. I walked in and realized it was a designer shoe store. I spoke to the ladies working there and they informed me that they were having a sale and that all of the shoes are made out of recycled plastic (even fucking better). I guess Melissa is a pretty renown designer who has worked with all of the top celebrity designers. The ones that she’s worked with just this past collection (and I’m sure there are more) are Karl Lagerfeld, Vivienne Westwood and Disney. I had to buy shoes with my name on it, so I settled for some sale shoes that were a collaboration design with Melissa x Jason Wu (even better cos they have my name and a collaboration with an azn who’s last name starts with a W LOLOL). After I bought my shoes, I went downstairs to their exhibition of the new collection. It was some cool walk through with lights and music and psychedelics.

Ok, ok, enough about how awesome it was to finally have a designer with my name on it, and a cool one at that. Next I got some pizza from this street food Italian place, and it was the best pizza I’ve had in London! I walked some more and ended up in Chinatown (which is literally 2 blocks wide) and got some boba. I finally felt at home because that was the most concentrated asians I have seen in one area in London. After I went home!

Imperial War Museum

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These pamphlets were apparently dropped by US planes, urging civilians to get out of the cities and move to the countryside (I didn’t know that so that’s why it was interesting)

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The biggest dishonor was losing your sword in Japan and because of their heinous war crimes this was the perfect punishment.

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Melissa

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Foooood & Chinatown

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Wednesday, August 5

Today I had to go to work, but luckily it was only for a couple of hours. I finished my research project that I’ve been working on for the last 3 weeks or so, which I am really proud of. Then I went back to the apartment since we were having an exit orientation around 2pm. All of the girls (I say girls because there are only like 3 guys in the program) met up in this tiny room where our program directors went over what we learned and how to apply it to the outside experience. They made us share our cover letters, which of course I’m a pro at because I’ve already written like 3 or 4 at my time here in London, so I shared mine since people were too scared to share theirs.

After that we met up again in Shoreditch to go on a Street Art Tour/Workshop. Here they taught us the history of the area and why street art was so important to the people who lived there. He mentioned some famous street artists like Bambi, Stik, Pez. He even showed us a Banksy painting. The best part was when we got to spray paint our own murals. Mines was beautiful because all I did was paint my name “MEL” everywhere to the point that the dude that was teaching us how to graffiti called me out multiple times LOL. But, hey, that’s what I do best.

Me, Carly, Laila, and Drea were starving after we finished, so we went to this K BBQ place that was HOMG amazing. I got some awesome kimchi fried rice, chicken wangs, and SOJU!!!! Now I’m at home with a headache…

The end.

Street Art Tour

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Stik's simple art represents homeless people, since they're usually in discreet  places, this is because we cast homeless people out in unwanted places and the stick figures don't have a mouth because homeless people don't usually have a voice.

Stik’s simple art represents homeless people, since they’re usually in discreet places, this is because we cast homeless people out in unwanted places and the stick figures don’t have a mouth because homeless people don’t usually have a voice.

Bambi

Bambi

Banksy, protected by glass. The guide didn't seem to like him/her very much (or at least the hype surrounding him/her)

Banksy, protected by glass. The guide didn’t seem to like him/her very much (or at least the hype surrounding him/her)

I forgot the artist's name, but he always paints this character with a house somewhere in it. This is represents how this area will soon be destroyed and in it's place will be a 5 star luxury hotel since this area is being regentrified.

I forgot the artist’s name, but he always paints this character with a house somewhere in it. This is represents how this area will soon be destroyed and in it’s place will be a 5 star luxury hotel since this area is being regentrified.

I forgot the name of this artist, but he is Brazilian. He often paints the indigenous population of Brazilians in very Western attire and attributes. This is reflective of the Brazilian gov't trying to make the Brazilian people conform to this society that they're obviously are not.

I forgot the name of this artist, but he is Brazilian. He often paints the indigenous population of Brazilians in very Western attire and attributes. This is reflective of the Brazilian gov’t trying to make the Brazilian people conform to this society that they’re obviously are not.

OUR TURN TO PAINT

Carlyyy bein Carlyyy

Carlyyy bein Carlyyy

"MEL" WILL BE REMEMBERED BY EVERYONE SINCE THAT'S ALL I WROTE THE WHOLE TIME (AND ON EVERYONE'S BOARD).

“MEL” WILL BE REMEMBERED BY EVERYONE SINCE THAT’S ALL I WROTE THE WHOLE TIME (AND ON EVERYONE’S BOARD).

I wrote Mel a thousand times on Laila and Drea's board. The guy teaching us to spray paint drew lines over them, saying that this is the biggest insult someone can do. Then he nicely outlined my name on the very right hand corner.

I wrote Mel a thousand times on Laila and Drea’s board. The guy teaching us to spray paint drew lines over them, saying that this is the biggest insult someone can do. Then he nicely outlined my name on the very right hand corner.

My kimchi fried riceeeee was amazing

My kimchi fried riceeeee was amazing

DOOBLIN PT2

Sunday, August 2

So, my day was so eventful on Saturday that I had to break this down into two blog posts. Today I woke up and got some OK sleep. I had to check out by 1030am but they kept my luggage. I first stopped at this place called The Bald Barista and had some good coffee. I then walked to the Guinness Factory, which is really hard to navigate when you don’t have a phone and it’s raining and you’re in a foreign country. Luckily, my good sense of direction got me there in one piece even though it decided to POUR down rain on my way there.

It was really crowded once I got to the storehouse since the Guinness Storehouse is the #1 visited place in Ireland. It wasn’t that special. They just showed you how they make beer. The most interesting part was watching an old tape of how they used to make the beer barrels, since they did it by hand without measuring tools (only a compass to check the circumference of the lid). Since I’m a geek I watched that whole process from the start to the end, which was about 15 minutes. They also had a taste testing room where you first enter into a dark corridor with strange lights and sounds and then an empty white room with barrels of smelly stuff. The lady said it was to stimulate all of your senses since that’s the best way to taste beer (or so they say). So they give you this cool mini pint and tell you how to taste it.

Blah blah blah, I skipped basically everything else and just went to the top so I could get my 16 euro pint of Guinness. I drank the whole thing in less than 5 minutes cos I wanted to get buzzed and I was bored all by myself and wanted to go walk around.

I somehow navigated back to the area I was in before to go to the Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It cost me 9 euro to get in, UGH, but I saw the Book of Kells and it was pretty amazing. The guide the day before gave me more of a history lesson than the actual exhibit (just kidding but he explained it in the way where I would actually listen). The Irish Monks had written it on Vellum Paper or calfskin. They used different kinds of ink suggesting that trade was seen even back then. It was written in the 9th or 10th centuries and is one of the most popular books. The Irish should be very proud of this book.

I walked around more after the college but I was getting bored so I went back to the hostel, chilled for a bit, then took an hour long bus ride (since it was the public bus) to the airport. So many technical difficulties happen when I travel. First off, I was 20 cents short on the bus faire from the Hostel to the airport but the bus driver told me next time I know when I come to Ireland how much the bus costs, and let me come. Secondly, I bought a train and a bus from the airport but it was from the wrong airport so I had to book another bus but realized I booked the bus to the wrong station and at a later time. I also had to get my bag checked in since the flight was full. I didn’t bring my oyster card so I had no way of getting back home on public transportation since the stations were going to be closed by the time I got back into London, giving me no time to buy a bus ticket (the buses don’t take cash anymore which is stupid).

So, when I finally got to the London Stanstead airport, I kindly asked one of the bus drivers if he could take me even though it was for the wrong stop at the wrong time, he graciously let me come with no problem. When I got to the bus I kindly asked the bus driver if he could take me 3 stops to my stop even though I forgot my oyster card, he graciously let me in his bus without paying. I guess he would have felt bad knowing that it was 1am in the morning and I had a huge bag with me. He probably also saw that some random dude was talking to me at the bus station (who at first I thought was sketch but it turned out he just wanted to talk to me to keep me company since the buses take so long to come around during the night time). I’ve concluded that the people of London (and Dublin) are SOOOO NICE and I wish people in America were this nice. If people showed some kindness every once in a while, maybe less people would end up hating the world and wanting to kill everyone. We are the only developed nation where this amount of mass-shooting happens, and I believe it’s due to the lack of genuine and sense of community in our nation (and the obvious gun-laws).

Overall, my first experience traveling alone to a different country was a success! I made it home in one piece and that’s all that matters [:

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The Guinness Storehouse

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A random church that I forgot the name of
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Trinity College (I couldn’t get a pic of the Book of Kells cos it said no photography :[ )

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My Trip to DOOBLIN (Weekend….??) PT 1

I don’t know which weekend it is anymore, I’m only counting the weekends I have left for my program, which are two. Thank you to all who’ve read my blog and hopefully liked my random thoughts and sometimes tangents of weird things I find interesting and also my strong opinions. I hope there are a lot of you (but it might just be my parents) and I hope this blog has provided some interest.

Friday, July 31

Today, I lost my phone. A sad, sad day. I was traveling for work and I guess it fell out of my pocket in the bus. This sucks because I almost always look back on my seat to see if I’ve forgotten anything and I never keep my phone in my back pocket, but I didn’t do both of those things and low and behold my phone is lost. The sucky part about it is that I was not in a very nice neighborhood so the chances of a good samaritan giving it to the bus driver was zero to nilche. Also, today I was traveling to Dublin, and I wouldn’t be here for the weekend, so I was SOH.

My work was nice and they let me leave early to prepare for my flight. I took a train, then a bus, to Luton Airport. It was my first time doing all of this by myself, but I got the hang of it. My flight was only 55 minutes (if that). I took a public bus to my hostel, where I checked in. It was a nice hostel, very young and trendy, definitely for the young traveler like myself. I went into my mixed dorm room and realized I would be sharing a room with a guy who wasn’t there. For safe measure, I took the closest bed to the door on the top bunk, this was my first time at a hostel afterall. Then I tried to go to sleep but realized that the guy had come back and turned the fucking light on and left it on all night. I was trying to sleep early since I had to wake up at 6am to make it to a tour bus.

Saturday, August 1

Since I had lost my phone, I have to find new ways of living life (literally) like my alarm clock. I put it on my iPad, thinking that my iPad was going to wake me up…well it didn’t. Luckily, the dude I was sharing the dorm with left the lights on all night, so my body I guess woke me up at the time I was supposed to. I got ready, realized that the place I had to meet the bus was 15 minute walk (I left the hostel 8 minutes before I had to be there) so I hauled ass to the meeting spot where I was supposed to take my tour. We were going to the Cliffs of Moher, and I guess I got there late and the bus with all the normal people left. I was stuck with the bus load of Spanish High School students. This didn’t prove to be annoying until later on but I’ll get to that. There was another solo girl who ended up sitting next to me from Canada. She has lived in Dublin for 3 months for work.

Now, the bus driver was great. He was a local Irish man from Cork (the second biggest town with only like 500k?) His interests were history (YESSS), music, anything Irish, he was very proud of his culture and I was extremely excited to learn (cos I’m a Geek who loves culture, history, and learning – and I actually appreciate culture and the “old fashion way” but maybe it’s because I’m so curious). As we got into the bus he was talking about things and asking people to respond, but since these were students who were too cool for school, no one wanted to participate. He said maybe he can talk later since maybe people are sleepy.

I slept cos I only got maybe 3 hours of sleep the night before. I awoke to him saying that we were at our next stop, a place called Barack Obama Plaza. Literally in the middle of nowhere, is this Barack Obama gas station pit stop. I guess Barack Obama visited this place since his mom is some Irish. They dedicated this place in his name and they even have an exhibit upstairs (which I’m really bummed I didn’t check out but I didn’t even know until I got back on the bus). I got coffee and breakfast and then we headed on our way. Our nice guide started to talk about Irish history (YESSSS). He was so freaking knowledgable, I was impressed. He seriously knew everything about Ireland, his country, and all the small details. Basically anything you needed to know about Ireland, he knew it. However, while i was trying to listen and while he was talking, some rude young girls who were too cool to listen were talking really loudly about some random shit (I’m not sure since they’re Spanish and I was listening to the guide. I kept glaring at them but they were in their own world. Other people around them were also glaring at them. Finally at one point, when I had it, I looked at them and said “Can you please be quiet” and they stopped talking. He started from the really early settlers, to the Kells (people who settled here), to them being bullied by the Brits.

As he spoke he would point out some cool things out on the road, like the different cows, the horses, the sheep, the stone fences, the types of stone, the types of castles, the types of abbeys and churches, and towns. It was amazing, I loved every part of the trip. Our next stop was Limerick (like the poem), where he was trying to find a stone that some important Irish people signed with the Brits to keep peace. I thought they carved it in the stone but no, they signed it on a piece of paper that was on top of a stone (DUHHHHH?).

Our next stop was finally the Cliffs of Moher, we were to spend an hour and a half here. When we got here the cliffs were AMAZING. They were beautiful, and I  can’t really use words to describe this breathtaking view. I was very speechless. I guess people have fallen off the cliffs because they tried to get to close or they were very close to the edge and lost their footing (there was significant wind as well) but there weren’t any precautions to keep you from falling so you had to be really careful. They had an awesome visitor’s center that is made inside the cliff. This is probably best since a big building would have ruined the beauty of the landscape.

After the Cliffs of Moher, we went to this small town for some lunch. It was a local town that the guide knew very well. He recommended this pub and I was totally smitten with this culture, so I went and checked it out. I first got a pint of Smithwicks, and I finally found a pint of AMBER ALE! It was the best pint I have gotten since my time here abroad, and the best part was that the waitress lady spilled the little bit I had left so she gave me another half pint for free. I also ordered Irish Stew, which was AHHHMAZING. If you don’t know me I’m obsessed with gravy, meat, and mashed potatoes, and that’s what it was. The guide was eating next to us and he ordered the same thing as I did, he literally licked his bowl clean.

On the road again, we stopped at this area that the guide called Lunar Landscape. It’s actually called the Burren, but since it looks like you’re standing on the moon, they call it a lunar landscape. The guide also mentioned that the British rulers moved all of the Irish to this area of the land, since you couldn’t really grow any crops, have any cattle, and it was the worst place in Ireland to live. This place was pretty cool and it made for some awesome pictures.

Our guide also took us to another small town, the only interesting thing about that was this little shop I went into had a fairy exhibit on the upper floor. This felt extremely Gaelic to me for some reason. We also stopped at an old Abbey.

After the tour was done, the group with the students thought that they were going to be dropped back off where they came (some 45 minutes away from Dublin) since they got picked up. But, the bus driver had been with us for over 12 hours and I’m sure his shift was ending. It also said that pick-ups and drop-off were not included in the tour. This man had just driven us around all day and they were extremely angry. The students were also angry in that they had to pay for a train ticket home. Who ever organized the tour for them didn’t get the full information and that wasn’t the driver’s fault. In the end, he kindly dropped them off at the train station so they didn’t have to walk from the drop-off point. None of the students gave him tips, not even the teachers. I was very angry by this since I thought he was amazing and he put so much effort into making our trip awesome. By the end I gave him 10 euro tip (that’s all I can afford) because I felt so bad for him and I wanted to show him that I appreciated all of his effort and his stories and knowledge.

I walked back to my hostel where I met 3 other people who were in my room. Two of them were from the states and one was from Sweden. By the time I got back to the hostel, it was already 9 almost 10pm. I went to get some food and had a chat with some of the kids in the lounge. They were all very cool and in the same boat I was–they were traveling abroad for a long time hopping from place to place. I guess it’s very common, especially in Europe. There was a girl from England, a guy from England, a girl from Australia, and 3 guys from the States, one was even from San Jose and went to Cal. They invited me out but by the time they got going it was almost 1am and I was POOPED from my day trip, so I had to pass. I went to sleep and literally passed out.

Barack Obama Plaza

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The Barack Obama Plaza, guys

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It just literally looks like this

The City of Limerick

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The city of Limerick

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How picture-esque is this place? Straight out of a movie

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Castle + Swan = SWAN PRINCESS

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The stone that they used to sign the treaty (but didn’t actually sign on it)

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Random Scenic Views while Driving

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Refurbished Castle bought by the O’Brien’s. There are hundreds of castles like these and most of them are ruins unless they’ve been bought and restored like this one.

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What once was a castle

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These stone fences were common, they use the stones from the burren

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MOOOOOo!

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So lush and green

THE CLIFFS OF MOHER EVERYBODY

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Inside the mountain in the Visitor’s center

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The Burren

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Little Random Local City (with a hidden Fairy Exhibit in a small shop)

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