Friday, December 30, 2005

planes, trains and automobiles

The flight from Dublin to Chicago was good. I happened to sit next to a couple from Northern Ireland. The woman was a speech language therapist who trained in the states but moved to Northern Ireland to be with her husband. It was interesting.

On the 16th, John and I took the train from Chicago to Columbus WI where his brother and sister-in-law met us. That sounds uneventful. It took us about 45 minutes on the EL to get to the train station. Then we had to wait for the train to leave. While waiting to get on, there was an Amish family in front of us trying to give the ticket taker their tickets. Problem was that they didn't buy a ticket for their four year old son. Apparently they were told that the son didn't need a ticket but the lady wouldn't let them on. They got sent out of the line. On the train we saw three of the 5 so we don't know what happened to one adult and the boy. The train also left about half an hour late. They were waiting for another train that had people trying to connect to this one. After half an hour, the staff decided not to wait any longer. Once we finally got moving, the train got behind a local passenger train so we had to go really slowly. Then we also had to stop if a freight train was passing in front of us to let the freight train go first. Apparently the US government has determined freight trains have the right of way over passenger trains. We got to Columbus an hour late. That also made what would be a 2 1/2 hour car ride a 6 hour journey in total.

While on the train, the employees made periodic announcements. Some were relevant to people, others were them talking to each other. I guess Amtrak can't afford a private employee intercom/walkie talkie system. All the passengers get to hear whether doors are secured or if they are ready to stop, who is supposed to do what task, etc. It made the ride more interesting.

The train seats were OK. They had a lot of leg room, had some psuedo leg rest things that came out from the bottom of the chair to make it more like a recliner leg rest, and the seats were wide. You'd think with this design they'd be comfortable. Wrong. They were not. I don't know how the girls going all the way to Seattle were going to stay comfortable.

So in Columbus, John's brother and sister-in-law were waiting with John's old Mustang. The mustang does not have very much trunk space. Well, it doesn't really have much space of any kind. We got one of the suitcases in the trunk, the other his brother and I had on our laps in the back seat while we rode the 15 minutes to his brother's house. I guess I should have actually packed light for the week at my sister's.

Monday, December 12, 2005


On the way to Germany, I rode in a very nice plane. The seats were wider than most planes and had some sort of leather type seats. It was very comfortable. They also had a good amount of leg room. On the way back from Munich to Dublin, the plane was old. The seats were narrow, the leg room was lacking, and they looked worn. The seats also had a little hook for a coat! Hopefully I will get a nice plane on the ride to and from Chicago.


In Munich, they serve a beer called Radler. Well, it is sort of a beer. It is lemonade mixed with beer. It is surprisingly tasty and we had it at the oldest pub in Munich. It was quite tasty. The Hofbrauhaus also has really big and tasty pretzels. John wanted to take my picture with a whole pretzel and the litre of beer (yes, I drank the litre) but I was too hungry and started eating the pretzel. :)

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Munich is a beautiful city. It has really tall buildings and quite a few of them are pretty ornate, like the city hall. Here are a few pictures of the city.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


In Ireland and the UK, quizzes appear to be very popular. The last two trainings I was on, they used the quiz format to test our recall of information. Pubs also have them on a pretty regular basis. Some pubs that is. Here is how they work.
1. Get into teams of about 4 people.
2. Either one team or all teams are asked a question.
3. If all teams are asked, each team writes their response down on a piece of paper. Usually about 10 questions are asked at a time in this format. The papers are then collected, scored, and answers given.
4. If each team is asked a question, the team members confer and then a spokeperson gives the team answer. If they get it wrong, usually another team can try to answer for fewer points.
5. There seem to be at least 5 round of questions per quiz. If the teams are writing down answers, there seem to be many more. Basically, they can go on for hours with a break in the middle (these are the ones at the pubs).
6. A variety of questions are asked during the quiz on a variety of topics but usually there is a theme. For example, the one at the pub I went to had a lot of Irish history and geography.
7. People really get into the quizzes and quibble over points and correctness of the responses.
8. Oh, there is an official "quizmaster" who asks all the questions. Usually at least one person (not quizmaster) is the judge.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Lions in Munich

A few years ago Chicago had decorated cows all over the city in the summer. This winter, Munich has lions all over the city. I didn't get a picture of the one in a big tank of bubbly water. The picture wouldn't turn out. :( These are some of the lions we found interesting.

Monday, December 05, 2005

dogs in Munich

I got back from Munich today. It was a good weekend. The flight was a couple hours late leaving Dublin because there was a "blizzard" in Munich. By blizzard, I think they meant it was snowing and they didn't know what to do about it. By the time we got there it was raining and the majority of the snow was gone.

As we walked around, I noticed lots of dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, all kinds of dogs. They are allowed on the trains and in stores! Today when shopping, I saw a couple dogs in stores. I even saw a guy walking his dog and holding a briefcase so he may be allowed to take his dog to work. How cool is that? I suppose not so great for the people who have allergies but they probably wouldn't be able to breath due to all the others smoking anyway.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

doctor's visit

On Monday I went to the doctor because I have been sick for about three weeks. I asked a couple mates for names of their doctors to figure out who to go to since I don't have insurance yet and haven't gone to the doctor here. One mate gave me the name of her doctor who has an "extended absence" greeting on her voicemail so you can't leave a message. I guess she must have gone out of practice, changed practices or is just on a really long vacation. Hmm.

Another mate recommended the practice he goes to and it is close to work. I called and got an appointment the same day! It was for 5:45 and since John is in London, I had to go home from work and walk Caineal and then catch the bus back to the doctor. So, I am waiting for the bus and take one of the 4 my mates told me would take me to Glasnevin. Well, at 5:43 I asked someone on the bus where we were because I didn't recognize the area in the dark. They told me I was in Drumcondra. Drumcondra is a little east of Glasnevin I think but busses do not go to both. So I got off the bus and started walking and looking for a taxi. I turned left on a street that seemed to be a major street. It wasn't for long. It was long and windy but headed in the generally correct direction.

Since I didn't have the doctor's office phone number with me, I called information to get the number and then called the doctor's office to tell them I was running late and was lost. The lady on the phone asked me where I was and what street I was on. I tried to explain to her that I didn't know: that was why I was lost. Finally, I saw someone in their car so I asked them what street I was on. They lady told me (I think she was a little freaked out but people tend to be helpful when they hear my accent). The lady at the doctor's office gave me directions from where I was and I got there about 20 minutes late. The doctor still saw me. The visit cost 50 Euro (same price citizens pay).

The doctor was very nice and looked younger than me. She asked me a few questions, asked if I had a fever. I said I didn't know since I don't have a thermometer. She didn't take my temperture, though. She then asked if I had been pushing on my cheeks because they were all red and swollen. I explained, no but I was walking outside for 20 minutes and they hurt a lot. It hurt to eat anything, even bananas! So she pushed really hard on my sinuses and agreed I had a sinus infection. We then discussed which antibiotics I was sentitive to and tried to figure out what they are called here. She prescribed a "really strong one that will get the infection out of the bone." It doesn't look seem as strong as others I have taken and I will be on it for 10 days. She also gave me a script for my migraine medicine since mine expired.

So I went to the pharmacy to get my drugs. They gave me the antibiotic just fine and asked how I usually take my Imigram (Imitrex). Apparently the script was only written for one dose! I told the pharmacist that sometimes I need two doses and am used to getting the whole box of 6 at a time. Since everyone except the poor pay for their own prescriptions, he gave it to me after a bit of convincing. He was concerned about the price: 19.50 per dose. I explained it was cheaper than in the states and it was fine (about $25 per dose). He also told me that there is a scheme in Ireland that no citizen has to pay over 85 Euro a month for medicine. If you do pay more, you fill out some forms and get your money back! I may not qualify since I am not a citizen, though. However, a mate told me that if I don't qualify for that scheme, I can get tax back for the cost of medicine over 85 Euro a month!

Today I am home sick. I am feeling better than Monday but it still hurts to eat food that requires chewing and I am getting tired of eating soft foods. My cheeks aren't constantly burning anymore but still hurt. I realized my mates were probably right that I should take a couple days off work to rest and get better. After all, I am going to Munich early Sat. morning and need to feel better for that. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Belated Thanksgiving

Today John and I made Thanksgiving dinner for some of my mates. I know that Thanksgiving was on Thursday but I had to work so I couldn't make dinner then. So we got up about 6:00 AM to continue thawing the turkey by putting it in cold water. Since I was exhausted and have a cold, I made John get up to put the turkey in cold water in the sink. As he started running the water, he realized that the turkey was too big for he sink (it wouldn't get covered). Since we didn't have a big bucket that was clean, we decided we had to use the bathtub. We ran lots of cold water to cover the turkey but it started to float so we had to use the new glass baking dishes to put on top of the turkey and keep it covered. Finally, we got the turkey covered, changed the water regularly and got the turkey thawed.

About 10:00 AM I started cooking and John started cleaning the dishes as I dirtied them. He was very helpful. The meal was done about 3:30 and we ate about 4:00 because a couple people were late (I told them to be at my place at 3:00). We had turkey, sweet potato/regular potato garlic mash, stuffing that I made from scratch, squash, bread, green bean casserole, corn, turkey, and pie. Lots of pie. Last night I made pumpkin and apple pies. I bought a pecan pie this morning because it was cheaper than making it. A mate made a lemon meringue pie that was also tasty.

I think everyone had a good time and we ate lots. Tomorrow I will buy a bigger pot or a slow cooker and make turkey soup so I can use some of the left over turkey. We have a lot of leftovers that I get to eat all week.

On Friday John got offered a 2-3 week contract in the London area so he will be flying out tomorrow. He is still looking in Dublin but there doesn't seem to be anything right now and having a European contact/reference should be good. He should be able to come home for Christmas also. :)

Friday, November 25, 2005


On Wednesday I went shopping to try to find gingerbread cookies and/or a gingerbread ornament/stuffed thing for a lesson. I couldn't find either. When shopping in Marks and Spencer and looking at the cookies (biscuits), a lady asked out loud but seemingly not to me what the sticker "5 for 4" meant. When I didn't respond she looked at me as asked, "What does that mean?" So I told her that if you buy 5 of the little chocolates, you only pay for 4. She didn't really seem to understand but said "OK" and I walked away. As I turned around, another lady looked at me and said, "Are you Irish?" I responded that I was not. She then asked if I spoke English and I responded that I did. She explained she was French and had a voice mail message that she didn't understand because the lady talked too fast and wondered if I would be willing to listen to it and explain it to her. I said OK because what else was I supposed to say? So the message was basically a lady calling the other one saying her name and asking the recipient to phone her back. The French lady asked me what the lady calling wanted and I said I didn't know since she didn't say. After a bit, she processed that she knew the lady who called and she just wanted the French lady to phone her back. She still seemed confused as to why the lady called to begin with but I couldn't help her with that. I then continued my shopping in a different store.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

mistaken taxi

So this morning, the taxi that I ordered was 12 minutes late. This made my whole day late since it was on a very tight schedule. So, I was calling the taxi company to try to get them to come pick me up and take me to the train station when this guy pulls up who looks like a taxi driver I have had twice before. He waves at me so I go around to his car, see there is a child seat in the back, and get in the front seat. I tell him that I am sorry that I am late and he looks confused. Well, he wasn't the taxi driver. He was going to the school and wanted to know if that was it. But he offered to take me to the train station and did! Because of his kindness, I made my train and got to where I needed to go on time no less!

John asked how I mistook a normal car for a taxi. That is easy. Taxi's in this town aren't labelled with a little "taxi" sign. They look like normal cars with normal liscence plates. Sometimes they have an extra antenna, sometimes not. Oh, the car the guy drove was also similiar to the one the taxi driver I thought he was drives.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Christmas season

The Christmas season is in full swing here in Dublin. There are Christmas decorations on the streets and in the malls. The shopping centres are quite decorated. The one we went to today had a Santa thing that looked pretty realistic and went up and down rope. He was carrying a sack of toys that many were falling out of. There was also a display of 3 Santa helpers (figurine things) that were life sized and pretending to play instruments. There wasn't any music coming from the display, though. Just the sound of motors making the things move.

Friday, November 18, 2005


Ok, chips here are "french fries." Chips as Americans know them are called crisps here. So, last night we took John's cousins T and J to an Italian restaurant. Tom got the lasagna and he had a choice of baked potato or chips with his meal. He ordered the baked potato but due to an error, the table got chips, too. Chips come with almost any meal here. Before I moved, people told me to expect potatoes with my food. I guess chips are a type of potato but not really what people meant. When we were in the North, we were served chips with mayo on them. It is more common to eat them with mayo or vinegar than catsup here.

Monday, November 14, 2005


When we went up to the North, I was surprised at how cheap some things were. I had forgotten how expensive food is here. Here is a list of prices of some items we get frequently. All prices are in Euros.

store brand tortilla chips: 33 cents (large grab bag size, the size you usually get in gas stations)
Petrol (car fuel): 1.17 a litre (that is about 4.45 a gallon)
Grapes: varies but usually over 2.00 per pound
Pineapple: 2.99 each for Costa Rican free trade
Skim Milk: 90 cents for a litre (3.42 a gallon)
Apples: usually about 1.70 a pound
Cheese: 8.00 kilogram (about 4.00 a pound)
store brand large semisweet chocolate bars (the big hershey size): 95 cents
Movie at the movie theatre: 8.75
Bell Peppers: 99 cents each

Dinner out is usually at least 15.00 Euro a person. We have discovered early bird menus which usually end at 6:30 or 7:00 where you can get some two or three course meals for 10-20 Euro depending on the place and number of courses.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Chieftans concert

On Thursday evening, John and I went to the Chieftans concert at the National Concert Hall. It was a very similar concert to the last time we saw them in Chicago but still a good show. The president of Ireland was there. There was a special "VIP" section that appeared to just have different color seats and that is where she sat. There were also three dancers: two from Canada and one from New York. All in all, it was a great concert and people who I talked to at the concert were quite surprised that I had already seen them multiple times in Chicago.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


On Thursday I was informed that it was now winter. The soltices are the middle of the seasons here, not the beginning or end. I looked on line and the scientific seasons are with the soltices. It did feel like winter last night, though. I guess I have to stop teaching about autumn now but can still do my lessons on leaves. The seasons here are:
Spring: Feb, March, April
Summer: May, June, July
Autumn: August, September, October
Winter: November, December, January

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Because it rains so much here, rainbows are fairly common. Some people don't even notice them anymore because they happen so often! I still like to take pictures of them and here are some of them. This weekend I even saw a double rainbow. This is the first one I have seen in real life and I guess they are pretty rare since some of my (Irish) coworkers have never seen one. John wouldn't stop the car to take the pictures of the double rainbows because we were on the highway. He didn't even slow down. I still got some ok shots but that is why they are a bit blurry.

Dunluce Castle

On Sunday we went to the Bushmills area. We tried to go to the old Bushmills Distilary in the morning but they didn't open until 1:00. Guess we weren't supposed to drink before noon on a Sunday. So we went to the Dunluce Castle first. It was a haven for me to take pictures. As usual, I took a ton but will only post a few. :) I love my digital camera.

Giant's causeway

So Sat. we hiked to the Giant's Causeway. Since I have already posted pictures approaching it, here are some of the Causeway. Legend says that an Irish giant built the causeway as a bridge to Scotland (there is an identical formation there) to go kill some Scottish giant. However, when he got to Scotland, he saw that the giant was much bigger than he was so he got scared and ran back to Ireland. The Scottish giant's wife knew/found out that the Irish giant was there, so she sent her husband over to Ireland to kill the Irish giant. So the Scottish giant walks accross the Causeway. When the Irish giant's wife sees him coming, she decides to dress her husband up in baby clothes and put him to sleep. When the Scottish giant sees the "baby," he gets scared because if the baby was that big, surely the adult would be really huge. So, he runs away, tearing up the Causeway bridge with him. Thus, Scotland and Ireland were separated.

Monday, November 07, 2005

more hiking pictures

The scenery was so beautiful I had to post more pictures of the hike.

hiking on the north coast

This past weekend John and I hiked along the northern coast of Northern Ireland. We started at a castle's ruins and then walked about 5 miles to the Giant's Causeway. It had amazing scenery and was a pretty good walk. There are lots more hills than in Chicago but that doesn't take much. We pretty much hiked on the edge of farmer's fields between the edge of the field and the cliffs' edge! It felt good to hike for a few hours. It took us a long time because we stopped to admire the scenery so much. I am not going to include the giant's causeway pictures in this post because I can only post 5 pictures at a time. :(

Sunday, November 06, 2005


This weekend, John and I went up to the north coast in Northern Ireland. We walked about 8 miles on Saturday through the countryside on our way to and from the Giant's Causeway. While walking, the sheep ran away from us. When one started to run, they all started to run. I was able to take some pictures of them grazing before they ran way. The cows posed often, though.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

hallmark, the crime show channel?

Tonight John found "Law and Order: Special Vicgtim's Unit" to watch on tv. It was on the Hallmark channel! During the show, they advertised other law and order shows/episodes on different nights. After the show was done, they showed clips from "Diagnosis Murder." Basically, all the shows they advertised were murder mysteries. So, that leads me to wonder if the Hallmark channel isn't the touchy feely channel here but the murder, crime show channel!

Today I had to go back to work after 6 days off. It was hard.  John relaxed at home all day and walked the dog a lot.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

aren't they cute?

Christine had fun taking pictures of Darshin and Caineal when she was here, so here are more pictures of our furry companions.

Monday, October 31, 2005

More pictures

Since I have been lax the last couple weeks in posting, here are yet more pictures.


These are pictures of us during our trip to the west coast. :)