Greetings from Victoria.

Hi Everyone!

It’s been a while since I arrived home from Norway, almost six months in fact, and a lot has happened since then! My everyday life isn’t as interesting as my adventures abroad were so I have been debating on whether or not I will start a new blog. I haven’t made my decision yet, but for now I will give you an update on the past six months.

I spent the holiday season with my family and we spent New Years at Silver Star Ski Resort. We spent most of the trip downhill skiing (and snowboarding for Nick and Jamie) but one day Jamie, my Mom, and I decided to give cross-country skiing a go. We tackled a black diamond on our first run! It wasn’t intentional, we may have read the map wrong…but we made it and could definitely feel it the next day.

After the holidays I began my final co-op semester at Fortis BC in Burnaby. I worked with the Billing Operations group and spent the majority of my term working on a marketing campaign to promote paperless billing. Nicholas completed the first co-op semester of his Mechanical Engineering degree at an engine parts manufacturing plant in Guelph, Ontario. In March I gave a presentation at UVic to promote studying in Norway as a part of my Student Ambassador to Norway position. I also completed my first Sun Run (10K Run in Vancouver) during the spring!

I am currently writing to you from Victoria as I am back on the island to complete the final semester of my degree. This semester I am taking my specialization courses for the international business component of my degree. I am really enjoying my classes thus far, which include: International Strategy, Cross-Cultural Management, International Finance, International Marketing, and Business Law. Jamie has joined me for the summer in Victoria and just last month we adopted a bird! His name is TimTam (named after the Australian biscuits) and he is a black capped conure. We adopted him from a bird rescue in Vancouver, Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary. He is an adorable little guy and loves to cuddle and play with us. He definitely has a big personality and loves to explore. If you are interested in learning more about Greyhaven click here. You can also read TimTam’s successful adoption story by clicking here (his previous owners called him Zaynee).

Just recently I wrote a blog post for the UVic Business blog about my undergraduate experience at UVic. Among other things it explains what my plans are post graduation, so if you are interested in reading it click here.

As always, thanks for reading! I’ll be sure to let you know if I decide to start a new blog.

TTFN.

Sara

 

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Goodbye Oslo!

Apologies for the delay in this post, but for some (well maybe just one) it was a surprise that I came home on the 15th. Originally I was scheduled to come home on the 21st, but when I found out that my last exam was on the 13th I switched my flight so that I could be home in time for Jamie’s 21st birthday. Everyone but Jamie knew I was coming home early and it was a pretty hard secret to keep because if you know me well you will know that I am the world’s worst liar. I’m glad that I was able to keep this one a secret, because the look on Jamie’s face when he thought he was opening a giant present from Home Depot and expected some sort of power tools instead of me inside was absolutely priceless!

My exams and term projects all went well (unfortunately I will not receive any marks back until January) and I survived the exam that was worth 100% of my grade in one course. After my final exam on the 13th my friends from Fadderullan and I had a pancake dinner and said goodbye. On the 14th I attempted to do some packing in the morning before meeting two Norwegian friends from class for ice skating and hot chocolate. In the evening Hannah helped me pack up the rest of my things, because I needed some motivating, and we said our goodbyes. Sunday morning the taxi picked me up at 7am to head to the central station to catch the airport train. It was pouring rain, so luckily my wonderful roommates had set their alarms to help me with my luggage and say goodbye. The taxi driver decided that he didn’t want to put any of my bags in the back seat of the car, so it took him quite a while to shove all of my bags into the trunk. When we arrived at the central station I ran to find a luggage trolley, which sadly all of my bags did not fit on, so another cab driver helped me adjust them the best we could. The train ride was pretty smooth sailing, a nice lady helped me with one of my bags, but I had a bit of trouble getting my bags onto another trolley once I got off of the train. While riding the elevator up to the departures level a man asked me if I was a professional athlete with all of the luggage I had. I owe the lady at the SAS check in counter dinner if I ever see her again, because I was technically only allowed two checked bags, and I had three which were all over weight (the heaviest weighed in at 30 kilos!), and she said “Consider this your Christmas present.” She did ask me how many years I had been living in Oslo, and I was quite embarrassed to tell her that it was a mere five months. Security had to inspect the Norwegian brown cheese in my backpack, and the lady at duty free didn’t believe I was old enough to buy alcohol, but besides that not much else to report before the first flight. Once I arrived in Copenhagen I dashed to the airport Starbucks to purchase the last city mug for my collection. It sound a bit ridiculous, but there wasn’t a Starbucks close enough to downtown Copenhagen when we visited, so when I changed my flight home I made sure it was through Copenhagen so that I could complete my mug collection. The flight from Copenhagen to London left a bit late so I had to dash to my gate when I arrived at Heathrow. Coincidentally another UVic student was on the same flight as I was from London to Vancouver. After the long journey I was very excited to arrive home. My parents picked me up at the Vancouver airport and I dashed home quickly before heading to Jamie’s house to surprise him for his birthday.

I’m very glad to be home, but I will definitely miss Oslo. I am glad to be home to my family and friends, but I will surely miss all of the new friends I have met along this journey. I am happy to have sushi and my mom’s home cooking again, but I’ll miss brown cheese and all of the other new foods I tried. I’m happy to be back in a familiar place again, but I’ll miss the excitement that comes from exploring a new city. I am very fortunate to have had this experience as it has broadened my outlook on life and provided me with valuable learning experiences. I am so lucky that I have such a supportive family behind me, and to thank them for their love and support I created a special project for them throughout my trip. The pictures below were taken in every city I visited and spell out ‘Thank you for giving me the world!’ Sometimes the best gifts don’t have the biggest price tags on them. I’ve never seen my parents so happy when receiving a gift before, and that itself was the best gift I could have asked for!

Thank you very much for following my journey by reading my blog! I have really enjoyed all of the comments you have left for me along the way. As I have been asked by quite a few people lately, I thought I would give you a quick update on what my plan for the next year is. This January I will be starting my final co-op semester with a company called Fortis BC. From May through August I will be completing the final semester of my specialization, international business, at UVic after which I will be graduating! Taking the advice I have received from many friends and family members, I have decided to take some time off from school once I graduate to gain some further work experience before I go back to do my Master’s degree. The only Master’s program I have found thus far in BC that interests me is at UBC, so I am considering the option of going abroad to study again. If I do choose to do so, I’ll be sure to start another blog and invite you all to follow my adventures.

TTFN.

Sara

Ps. I would love any comments or feedback you might have about my blog, so if you have any please leave a post below. Thanks again for reading and I wish you all the best in the new year!

Tourist in my own town – Part 2.

This past weekend my friend Diana came to visit me in Oslo. Friday evening I had drinks and appetizers with my friends Hannah, Simon, and Jesper before heading off to the bus terminal to meet up with Diana. We didn’t arrive back at my house until quite late, so we headed straight to bed so that we could be ready for sightseeing the next day.

Saturday morning Diana met up with Hilary, the UVic student who is studying at BI, and they explored Frogner Park. I edited a paper while Diana saw the Vigeland Sculptures, and met up with her later in the afternoon. Diana wanted to buy herself a Norwegian sweater, and since everything is closed on Sundays we declared Saturday our shopping and Christmas market day! Hannah also really wanted to see the Christmas markets so she accompanied us on our excursion. We found Diana her sweater, and I bought a pair (or two…) of socks, because wearing rubber boots in the cold with thin socks wasn’t exactly the smartest decision. We decided to warm up with some hot chocolate at the Freia store on Karl Johans and then window shop at the fancy stores. Our next destination was an area of town called Grünerløkka where a few Christmas markets are located. We stopped at a pottery market first and had some fresh Norwegian waffles from their makeshift concession stand. Although there was no brown cheese to put on top, they were still delicious and very reasonably priced. Next we headed to an indoor marketplace called Mathallen. Diana and I had sjokoboller (buns with chocolate pieces), we tried a bunch of cheese samples (man, there are some stinky cheeses out there!), and Diana and Hannah bought some fancy licorice. After Mathallen we headed to another Christmas market in Grünerløkka called “Blå.” It was in a super artsy area, in a building covered with neat graffiti. The market closed at 5pm so some of the vendors were packing up, but I was able to find a beautiful pair of red and black Selbu mittens. The final Christmas market we visited is located on Karl Johans Gate and is called “Spikersuppa.” Because it is in the city center it is a bit more commercialized but we were able to find some interesting things. My roommate told us that we needed to try reindeer sausage, so we hunted some out at this market. The indigenous peoples of Norway, known as the Sami, live up in the far north of the country and many herd reindeer. There was a large tent at the market that had all different types of handicrafts made by the Sami, as well as many different types of meats for sale. A friendly gentleman running a stall selling meats allowed us to taste test a bunch of different types of sausage and smoked meats. We tried reindeer, moose, elk, and…horse. Can’t say horse was my favourite, but the reindeer was actually pretty tasty.

Sunday morning we headed up to Holmenkollen to see the ski jump and the amazing view of the city that the hill provides. After Holmenkollen we spent the rest of the day ‘museuming.’ Our first stop was the Munch Museum where we had some lunch and did some souvenir shopping before seeing the exhibit. A new exhibit was just opened called “Munch on Paper.” I really wanted Diana to be able to see the Scream and luckily two of the four versions were on display in this exhibit. Next we visited the National Gallery where there was a room displaying the highlights of the “Munch 150” exhibit. Here we saw the third version of the Scream, so now I can proudly say I have seen all three versions of the Scream that are on display to the public. The fourth version was sold last year for a whopping $119,922,500 which is the highest a painting has ever been sold for in auction! We ended our afternoon with chai lattes and snacks at a cafe in the Majorstuen area.

Monday morning Diana did some last minute shopping and we had lunch at a nice vegetarian cafe next to city hall. We spent the afternoon exploring the Aker Brygge area and visited the Opera House (this was the first time I had climbed to the top!) before Diana’s bus left for the airport. I was also surprised on Monday with a bouquet of flowers delivered to my place from Jamie for our anniversary!

I am quite looking forward to coming home to see everyone, as I am starting to really miss you all! I am pleased to report that I have now finished all of my assignments, so the only things that I have left to do before I can come home is studying for and writing my finals. I believe I forgot to mention, but sent in an application a while ago and was chosen as a Student Ambassador to Norway. I will be responsible for hosting information sessions about studying in Norway when I am back home in order to promote this beautiful country. Next Monday I have been invited to the Canadian Embassy in Oslo to learn about what my ambassadorial duties entail, which should be quite exciting seeing as I have never been to an embassy before.

Can’t wait to see you all!

TTFN.

Sara

 

Christmas Market

 

Above: Diana and I at the Spikersuppa Christmas Market.

Below: Wearing a traditional Sami hat (and my new mittens!)

Sami Hat

 

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Above: One of the versions of the Scream on display at the Munch Museum.

Below: Diana and I on top of the Opera House.

Opera House

 

 

Beautiful Bergen.

Friday evening Hannah and I headed to the central station in Oslo to catch a train to Bergen. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Bergen, it is the second most populous city in Norway and is located on the west coast of the country. Although it is a very rainy city, averaging 202 rainy days per year (to put that in context, Vancouver averages 161), we were told by our friends that we hadn’t experienced Norway until we saw the beauty that Bergen has to offer. We arrived in Bergen around 6:45 am on Saturday morning and made our way to our B&B. Although our check in time was not until the afternoon the owner was very hospitable and allowed us to drop off our bags early. We decided to find a cafe to have breakfast at, but seeing as it was 7 am and the low season, nothing seemed to be open. We settled on Deli de Luca, which is what I would consider to be a very upscale convenience store. We sipped warm drinks and munched on rosinboller (raisin buns) until the sun came up. We stopped at the tourist information center and purchased Bergen Cards, which is discount card for all major sights in Bergen. Because we are students we got a really good rate, and since it is the low season the card included even more offers that normal. We looked at the little information booklet that came with the card and decided to head to ‘VilVite’ (Bergen’s version of science world) because it opened the earliest. The Bergen Card also includes unlimited use of public transport, so we took the tram to VilVite because it is located outside of the city center. We arrived a bit before it opened for the day so we decided to walk around the area and happened to stumble upon the Bergen campus of BI. After walking around a bit it was finally 10 o’clock. We had fun being kids for an hour, playing with all of the fun interactive activities. After VilVite we headed to the KODE museum to see an Edvard Munch exhibit. Bergen holds the second largest collection of Munch’s work so this was something that was on our list of ‘must dos’. After KODE we headed to the famous Torget Fish Market for lunch. Although recently revamped in 2012, the Bergen fish market has been around for over 700 years and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Norway. Hannah and I both had fish and chips for lunch. At first I was searching around for the tartar sauce, but after one bite I realized that it definitely was not needed because it was so fresh and amazing! After lunch we decided to do a bit of Christmas shopping along Bryggen. Located along the eastern side of the fjord entering Bergen, Bryggen is home to a series of Hanseatic commercial buildings and since 1979 has been on the UNESCO list for World Cultural Heritage sites. Whilst we were doing some shopping along Bryggen it started to rain, so we had another hot drink before heading back to the B&B for a rest. We took shelter inside until dinner when, upon recommendation of the owner of the B&B, we decided to try an Italian restaurant called Da Stefano. Hannah and I shared a ginormous veggie pizza, which we were unable to finish and ended up taking back to the B&B to save for Sunday’s lunch. Since we got so little sleep on the train Friday night I passed out around 9 pm like the party animal I am.

Sunday morning we awoke to a city freshly covered in a thin blanket of snow. The sun was brightly shining so we decided to take the Fløibanen funicular up mount Fløyen. When we arrived at the top we were extremely lucky to have a perfectly clear view of the city while the sun shone down on us. After soaking in the gorgeous view we picked up a few more Christmas gifts at the most reasonably priced souvenir shop I have encountered in Norway, which was strange considering mount Fløyen is such a large tourist destination. There is also a restaurant atop mount Fløyen so we decided to warm up and try waffles with lingonberries and brown cheese. I am really going to miss the brown cheese when I come home as I have become quite accustomed having brown cheese on toast with raspberry jam for breakfast. After our waffles we took the Fløibanen back down the mountain and headed to see the Rosenkrantz Tower. It is considered to be one of the most important renaissance monuments in Norway. Sections of the tower were built in the 1270s, but it has been extended on multiple occasions for fortification and other such purposes. Inside the tower the stairs are very narrow and steep (almost fell on my butt multiple times) and they lead up to the roof which apparently has an amazing view of the city, but due to the slippery snow was closed during our visit. After the tower we visited Håkon’s Hall, a royal residence and banqueting hall built built by King Håkon Håkonsson almost 750 years ago. When his son married a Danish princess in 1261, 2000 guests were invited to the hall for the wedding. During that period Bergen was the largest and most important city in Norway and the hall was the site of many major events.

After our sightseeing we headed back to the B&B to warm up and eat our left over pizza. Again, the owner was very hospitable and allowed us to store our bags there during the day and said that we were allowed to come back to warm up and have some tea. After we were full and warm again we headed to the University of Bergen’s cultural history museum. We took the ‘scenic route’ to the museum and arrived 30 minutes before it closed so we took a fast paced tour of the building. Next, we headed to the world’s largest gingerbread city called Pepperkakeby (Norwegian for Gingerbread City). Every year since 1991 residents of Bergen put their baking and creativity skills to the test and create impressive gingerbread cities for the world to ogle over. I was amazed at how creative some of these children were with their creations. We saw gingerbread versions of buildings such as the Eiffel tower, a Taj Mahal, Big Ben, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, recreations of famous sites from Bergen such as mount Fløyen, the fish market, and Bryggen, the Holmenkollen ski jump in Oslo, and many other creative creations such as a CT scan machine, airport, viking ship, Doctor Who police call box, and much, much more. (There is a pretty neat video of the creation of the 2012 Pepperkakeby on youtube if you have the time to check it out!) After the Pepperkakby we decided to head back to the B&B to figure out where to go for dinner. Our train didn’t leave until 11:10 pm so we had a lot of time to kill before heading to the station. After humming and hawing we decided to go back to Da Stefano to try the pasta this time. I had the gnocchi, which was excellent, and Hannah and I chatted away a for a couple of hours before heading back to the B&B to collect our things. We lucked out and had no one sitting across from us on the train so we spread out and took two seats each. I can’t say I had the greatest sleep, or much sleep at all for that matter, so when we arrived back at our residence this morning I went back to sleep until it was time to leave for my group meeting later in the day.

I am sad that my last trip is over, but my friend Diana is coming to visit me this weekend so I still have another ‘stay-cation’ before I return to Canada. In other exciting news: I just recently found out recently that I was selected as a Student Ambassador to Norway! The title includes the responsibility of promoting studying in Norway to my fellow Canadians through info sessions at UVic. I am really looking forward to have the opportunity to promote this amazing country and school as I have truly loved the time I have spent here.

Stay tuned for the last few installments of my adventures!

TTFN.

Sara.

When in Wien.

This past week I visited my friend Jennifer in Vienna (or Wien as it is called German). Jennifer studies business with me at UVic and is on exchange right now at WU (Vienna University of Economics and Business) so we decided to plan trips to visit each other (Jen visited Oslo in October).

Wednesday afternoon I flew to Vienna on Austrain Airlines via Oslo Gardermoen. Two parts of that last statement made me very happy. 1. Flying out of Gardermoen versus Rygge makes for a much shorter trip. It takes one hour by bus to get to Rygge from Oslo central station, but only 19 minutes by train to get to Gardermoen. At first Rygge doesn’t sound so bad, but the buses to Rygge are scheduled to leave Oslo S 3+ hours before flight departure time and you really only need to show up 45 minutes to an hour before your flight since it is the tiniest airport ever (seriously, it is on par with the North Bay airport). And on your way back to the city the buses don’t depart until 40 minutes after the flight’s arrival, and when you don’t have any checked bags that 40 minutes seems like forever. 2. I didn’t have to fly Ryanair! This means I didn’t have to discretely hide my purse under my jacket (to comply with the strict one bag policy), I didn’t have to sprint to the gate when it was announced to ensure a comfortable seat on the plane (because Ryanair doesn’t assign seating), and I was actually fed on the plane (I decided to pass on the free booze on the 10:30am flight home though). I arrived at the Vienna airport at 4:20 pm and took the train to the city centre to meet Jen. We headed back to her place to drop off my bag and then headed out for dinner. We decided to try a restaurant near her house called Centimeter and I had what I think was probably the largest schnitzel in existence (but apparently there is actually a restaurant in Vienna that holds the record for serving the largest schnitzels). After dinner we rolled our comatose bodies out the door and went on a mini walking tour of the city. We walked through Heldenplatz and saw the Hofburg Palace before heading over to Stephansplatz, which is the main square in Vienna. It is home to a lot of swanky stores and Hotel Sacher which is where a famous Austrian cake called sachertorte originated. We decided that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have sachertorte at the place where it was ‘born’ so we sat down for an evening slice of cake. I quite enjoyed it, but Jen found it a bit dry.

Jen knows I like to run so she told me to pack my running shoes so that I could join her on her morning runs. Thursday morning we went on our first run around the city. I didn’t see as many people out for a run as I do in Oslo, but perhaps there are some running trails we weren’t aware of, or maybe the Viennese just aren’t as into fitness as Norwegians are. After our run we set out to explore the city, with the first stop being a chocolate shop for some homemade hot chocolate, which was basically bitter liquid chocolate. We headed to WU next as Jen wanted to show me around campus, which was very modern looking (they have a building that they refer to as ‘the spaceship’). The Prater amusement park is quite close to campus so we decided to head over to see the Wiener Riesenrad, the famous ferris wheel in Vienna. The afternoon was spent at the Schönbrunn Palace before heading to naschmarkt to pick up some fresh pasta for dinner.

WU is a bit different from BI so Jen has some ‘block courses’ which run all day for a few days instead of a few hours once a week. Unfortunately Jen had a block course on Friday and Saturday, so I used those days to explore the city on my own. Friday morning I set out for some museum-ing. I arrived at the doors of the Kunsthistorisches Museum at 9 am only to realize that it didn’t open until 10 am, so I decided to find a coffee shop to pass some time. I was told that I had to try a certain Austrian pastry called “Topfenkolatsche”. It is kind of like a squarish croissant filled with sweet cheese. Sounds a bit strange, but it was very tasty! At 10 am I headed over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum and realized that it wasn’t what I thought it was, so I decided to visit the Museum of Natural History instead. The first three rooms were filled with neat rock samples from around the world so it is definitely a place I would recommend to geology nerds like my Dad. I spent a little under three hours exploring the museum, which reminded me a lot of the ‘dead museum’ in Dublin, but seems a bit fancier and more well kept. I spent the afternoon wandering around Mariahilfer Straße, another major shopping street, before heading back to Jen’s apartment to rest my feet. In the evening we went to back to Schönbrunn to see a performance of Mozart’s work. It was a small group of performers, a pianist, 2 violinists, a violist, a cellist, a clarinet player, a bassist, and 2 opera singers. They were all very talented musicians and did an amazing job of performing Mozart’s work. I really enjoyed the size of the room the performance was in, which sat less than 100, because it was a very intimate setting for such a performance, and apparently Mozart himself performed in the very room as a young boy. After the performance we ate at a stir-fry buffet restaurant called Bamboo near Jen’s house and then headed to the Chirstmas market near her house for our first glass of gluhwein (aka mulled wine). We decided on ingwer punsch (ginger punch) instead and the warm mugs kept our hands toasty as we explored the Christmas market.

Saturday morning I headed out to Zentralfriedhof, which is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, with over 3,000,000 interments. There are quite a few notable people buried in the cemetery, such as Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert. It was incredible to see how large the cemetery was and very interesting to see the different styles of graves and tombs from different historical periods. On the way back to the city I stopped at Stephansplatz to pick up some souvenirs and an overpriced chai latte before heading to the Belvedere. I visited the museum in the Upper Belvedere which houses Gustav Klimt’s famous painting: ‘The Kiss‘. The Kiss, and Klimt’s other work from his ‘Golden Period’ is very fascinating as he uses gold leaf on the canvases. After the Belvedere I wandered around Museumsquartier (a giant square filled with museums) for a while before heading back to Jen’s for a rest. In the evening we went to two Christmas markets with some of her friends from school and then out to an Italian restaurant for dinner.

Sunday was our Christmas market day! We started our day by going for another run around the city followed by some delicious homemade banana pancakes. The rest of the day was filled with adorable Christmas markets, berry punch, warm rum and eggnog (delicious), Bailey’s waffles, gingerbread cookies, and Christmas present shopping. We also stopped at a McCafe (McDonald’s Cafe) because I wanted to experience one before I leave Europe. The chai latte was decent, and quite cheap, so overall it succeeded my expectations. In the evening we had some leftover pizza before heading back to the Christmas market close to Jen’s house (my favourite market) for one last hurrah.

Monday morning I flew back to Oslo and spent the afternoon unpacking and relaxing. Today I had my last day of class! Only 1 more trip, 2 more papers, and 3 more exams until I can come home!!

TTFN.

Sara.

Kraków.

Last week I hopped on a plane to Kraków to visit my friend Diana who is on exchange at the university of economics there. I arrived at the airport on Tuesday evening and took the bus to the city to meet up with Diana. I took some złoty (Poland’s currency) out of the ATM but unfortunately it only gave me large bills so some friendly Polish girl paid for my bus fare as the machine only accepted coins. I was very thankful, and felt a bit guilty, but when I met up with Diana she told me that it was the equivalent of less than a Canadian dollar, so I didn’t feel quite as bad.  I met Diana at the Galeria Krakowska, the mall near her house, so we stopped and got some groceries before heading back to her apartment.

Wednesday morning we embarked on our day tour of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps. It was a very emotional tour as it is hard to even begin to wrap your head around what went on at theses awful places; however, I am very glad I went.  Learning about WWII in social studies in high school it is easier to remove yourself from the horror but seeing it in person it hits you much harder and on a much more personal level. I think walking through the gas chambers and seeing the piles of suitcases that the hopeful people had packed their entire lives into upset me the most. It was a long and thought provoking day, so when we returned to Krakow in the evening we were ready for some more happy thoughts, and some food. We were starving since there was no lunch break on the tour so we walked into one of the first restaurants we saw. Coincidentally, Diana’s room mate was in the restaurant with her sister and neighbour so we joined them for a pierogi dinner. After dinner we had a few drinks at Diana’s place before turning in for the night.

Thursday Diana had class until 1pm so when she headed off to school I headed to the ‘old town’ to explore. But only less than a minute after I said goodbye to Diana I bumped into another UVic student who is studying at UKE and he showed me around town for the rest of the morning. We walked around the market square for a bit and then headed to Wawel. Next we decided to get some Starbucks (cheaper here than in Canada!) and sit in Planty Park. After we parted ways I decided to head back to the main square, which is the largest medieval town square in Europe, to check out St. Mary’s Basilica. Next it was time for some shopping so I headed to a local skate shop that was recommended to me.  I had a bit of trouble finding it so I stopped at a handmade soap shop and got distracted, but they explained to me where the skate shop was and I eventually found it. By that time my morning had vanished and it was time to go meet Diana. We decided to go for sushi for lunch since neither of us could remember the last time we ate sushi. It was better than I had expected it to be, but sushi made by a Polish guy just doesn’t taste the same as Vancouver sushi does! I was on a shopping roll, and Diana didn’t mind, so we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping. Kraków has some pretty unique shops so I definitely took advantage of that, and the cheap prices.  When ‘dinner time’ rolled around we weren’t very hungry, so we decided to stop at a chocolate café instead. I had a cold chocolate drink and my first macaroon. I have to say, I’m not exactly sure what all the hype is about, because macaroons aren’t anything special, in my opinion. We decided to head home after our desert because we were pretty tired and we had a late dinner of pierogies.

On Friday morning we headed up to Wawel to see a Leonardo da Vinci painting, Lady with an Ermine, that is currently on display there. Diana had to head to class soon after, so I stuck around Wawel for a bit before heading back to the old town. I walked around a bit and took in some more sights before heading back to the mall near Diana’s house for some lunch and gelato. After lunch I met up with Diana and her friend and we headed to the Wieliczka Salt Mine for a tour. The tour was quite interesting, as it is not everyday that you get to explore an underground mine and lick the walls! The mine contains a large number of chapels, of which we saw three, and a cathedral, all of which have been carved out of the rock salt by the former miners. After the tour we sat and waited for the bus for a while before a friendly local informed us that it wasn’t coming to that stop due to construction. Luckily she took us to the correct stop that would take us back to the city. When we arrived in the old town we went for dinner at an Italian restaurant that Diana had been wanting to try. The food was delicious! I had a little starter of home made gnocchi and a pizza for dinner. We felt that we still had a little room for desert after so we found a cafe on our way home.

Saturday morning I headed to the airport to fly back ‘home’ to Oslo. I did a little happy dance when I arrived home because that was my last flight with Ryanair! I unpacked and had a quick bite to eat before heading to my friend William’s house to help him serve at his parents’ cocktail party. They have an extremely beautiful home up in Holmenkollen (the area of Oslo where the ski jump is) that overlooks the city so I had no complaints about spending my Saturday night there.

I am off to Vienna on Wednesday to visit my friend Jennifer from UVic.  I can hardly believe it, but only 2 more trips, 3 papers, and 3 exams left until I come home!

TTFN.

Sara

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Above: “Arbeit macht frei” the German phrase meaning “work makes you free” hangs over the entrance to Auschwitz.

Below: Piles of suitcases at Auschwitz.

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Above: Inside Auscwitz.

Below: At the choclate café.

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Above and below: Wawel.

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Above: St. Mary’s Basilica.

Below: Main Square.

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Above: Wieliczka Salt Mine.

Below: Inside the cathedral at the salt mine.

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Above: A table full of delicious pizzas!

Life at BI.

On Halloween I went on a tour of the Freia chocolate factory which is located in a part of Oslo called Grünerløkka. My school has an international student association that plans events throughout the semester for the exchange students, this tour being one of them.  The tour began with a sneak peak inside the factory floor where the chocolate bars are made.  It reminded me of the show ‘How It’s Made’.  I was shocked at how many piles of ‘defective’ or aesthetically unpleasing chocolates there were – what a waste!  Next we headed to the factory store and bought tons of chocolate (because it was much cheaper than it is in the regular stores). We were then taken to a room that looked like a mini version of the factory where we made our own chocolate bars.  We also got to decorate our own chocolate bar boxes, which yes was likely aimed at elementary school children but was fun nonetheless.  The final part of the tour explained the history of chocolate and of the company.  And at almost every stage of the tour they gave us samples, so needless to say I was quite full by the end.  On our way out of the factory we passed through the employee lunch room which is home to the second largest commissioned collection of Edvard Munch’s art still located at its intended site.  It is called the ‘Freia Frieze’ and is comprised of 12 paintings. In honour of the 150th anniversary of Munch’s birth this year there are special Freia chocolate bars with paintings from the Freia Frieze on the wrappings.

After the tour I headed home to get ready for Halloween. The night before I carved my pumpkin, which aren’t easy to come by in Oslo to tell you the truth. Sadly, Halloween isn’t very popular here so not only did I have trouble finding a store that actually sold pumpkins, but I got some pretty strange looks carrying it home.  And when I got home my room mate asked me what I was going to do with the pumpkin…so they all had a ‘cultural experience’ watching me carve it (because they were curious to find out what was inside the pumpkin).  I decided to be Pikachu for Halloween because with the lack of crafting equipment in my dorm room it was the simplest, but yet most universally recognizable, costume I could create.  Hannah and I headed to school for the pre-party which was hosted by our friends from Fadderullan at the school pub.  Now when I say school pub you probably think of something kind of dingy but this pub is magnificent.  I was told that it was just recently built, but still, it exceeds my expectations for a school pub.  Most people at the pub were dressed up which was great and we had fun hanging out with all of our friends from Fadderullan that we hadn’t seen in quite a while.  Hannah won the ‘most innovative’ award in the costume contest for her ‘Starbucks Cup’ costume. After a while we all decided to go downtown to the club where the actual school Halloween party was taking place.

I realized that I have been mentioning my university here in Norway in quite a few of my posts but I haven’t actually told you much about it, or shown you any photos, so here we go! For starters, BI Norwegian Business School is a private university.  Most universities in Norway are public and do not have tuition fees, and students merely have to pay a nominal semester fee of approximately 300-600 NOK ($50-$100 CAD). And if you think the difference between tuition in Quebec and the rest of Canada is outrageous, the difference between a public and private university in Norway will knock your socks off: tuition at BI is roughly $12,000 CAD a year.  Luckily the deal that UVic has with BI allows me to pay UVic tuition fees, so it isn’t quite as expensive for me, but still nowhere near as cheap as $100 a semester. Before coming to Norway I didn’t realize that BI was a private school but I sure realized quickly once I stepped foot inside. BI has six campuses in Norway, but the Oslo campus is the largest, so naturally the most impressive.  Instead of a bunch of different buildings that collectively form a campus as I am familiar with in Canada, BI is one humongous building.  The building was designed by award-winning and renowned Norwegian architect Niels Torp and one of my professors said that the building itself is considered a work of art which is why there isn’t any art hanging on the walls.  It is very high-tech, clean, and very intuitive to navigate (unlike the Cornett building at UVic which was designed to resemble the structure of a human brain and has staircases that lead to nowhere…).  Not only is the building fancy but all of the students and staff are extremely well dressed. I guess if you can afford to pay 115 times more than public school fees you can afford to wear designer clothing.  It is nice to see people dressed more professionally than some of the people at UVic who come to school dressed like they just rolled out of bed; however, as Norway has a very collectivist culture it seems as if that influences their fashion choices because they all dress very similar.  So needless to say I have gotten a few strange looks at school for my more individualistic clothing style.  The course format is also much different than what I am used to at UVic.  Many classes I have taken at UVic have a small assignment due every week or multiple larger assignments throughout the semester as well as a combination of quizzes, midterms, and finals.  However, at BI it is not uncommon for a course to be comprised of only one or two components. For example, one of my courses has a 100% final exam, another a 100% final paper, and the other two are comprised of a 60% term assignment and a 40% final exam. A full course load at UVic is five courses but at BI it is only four (no complaints!) which I assume is because the courses run a few weeks longer per semester. Somehow these four courses will magically transfer into five courses on my UVic transcript (don’t ask me how, maybe it is the work of the mythical Norwegian trolls).  I guess they assume that the assigned readings will take up a lot of your time, but they obviously don’t understand the copious amount of reading we are assigned at UVic (on top of all of those weekly assignments), so I think if I wasn’t travelling so much I would have knit about 10 sweaters by now or started training for a marathon.

Speaking of travelling, I am off to Krakow tomorrow so it is time to get packing.

TTFN.

Sara

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Above: The Freia tour! (Hairnets are oh so attractive.)

Below: Some of the photos from the ‘Freia Frieze’.

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Above: Helene and I on Halloween.

Below: Me in front of the BI sign.

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Below: Different shots of BI, inside and out. There is a neat video on the university’s website if you are an architecture geek and interested in seeing more of the building.

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Be(a)rlin.

I arrived at the Berlin-Schönefeld airport late Thursday morning and took the S-bahn to the city.  This was my first encounter with a ticket machine that didn’t take VISA, and obviously didn’t accept kroner either, so I had to quickly search for an ATM  before my train came.  The trip to the city was simple and I arrived at the apartment before the scheduled check-in time, so I found a little bakery to have lunch at.  Sadly it was my worst meal in Berlin (soggy quiche isn’t all that great), but I was so hungry that it really didn’t matter.  After refueling I headed back to the apartment to pick up the keys.  To give you some background, Diana and I decided that we would rather pay a little extra and stay somewhere a bit fancier than a hostel so we found a nice travel apartment on airbnb, a website that I would highly recommend to other travelers.  The owner’s friend (Verda) met me at the apartment to give me the keys and show me around (the fridge was stocked with beer and breakfast!) and then offered to show me an out door food market on the way to one of her other rental apartments.  The food market was really neat and it also had some artisan booths.  I wasn’t quite hungry yet though, so I hoped on the s-bahn and traveled to the heart of the city.  After a quick Starbucks I headed to the Ritter Sport store to create my own chocolate bars! I’m not going to lie, I kind of wish I would have tried to pass as a child so that I could have made it myself, but it was still pretty neat to watch them make the chocolate bar in front of you.  Next, I attempted to find a tourist information center but no one seemed to know where one was, so I settled on the Hilton and got myself a map of the city from the friendly concierge. I passed by Checkpoint Charlie on my way to the Topography of Terror museum which was the next stop on my agenda.  Their are a lot of museums in Berlin about WWII but this one focuses mainly on the SS and the police in the Third Reich.  There was so much to read and so many photos to look at that I lost track of time and before I knew it almost three hours had passed and the sun was setting.  I decided to head back in the direction of the apartment and stopped along the way to pick up some snacks for Diana’s arrival.  Next stop was an Indian restaurant Verda had shown me on the way to the food market. They had a pumpkin curry as their October special and it was amazing! After dinner I headed back to the apartment to wait for Diana’s arrival.  When she arrived we snacked on wine and cheese and chatted for a few hours before we realizing how late it was.

Friday morning we headed downtown for a walking tour of the city.  We saw the Brandenburg Gate, The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the site of Hitler’s former bunker, Checkpoint Charlie, The TV tower, and lots more.  It was hard to imagine that standing in a random parking lot we were right above the location of Hitler’s former bunker.  The tour ended on ‘Museum Island’ and Diana and I decided to have some crepes and a coffee break before checking out the museums.  We decided on the Alte Nationalgalerie, the Pergamonmuseum, and the Neues (Egyptian) Museum. After a long morning of walking and an afternoon of museum hopping our feet were a bit sore, so we headed back to our area of town and found a nice Thai restaurant for dinner.

Saturday morning we did some shopping near the apartment and stopped for some delicious cake before heading downtown to see a museum Diana’s Uncle had highly recommended.  When we arrived at what we thought was the museum we were informed that it had closed earlier this year.  We had another tour planned for the afternoon so we decided to check out the Ampelmännchen store to pass some time.  Ampelmännchen is the little traffic light man at pedestrian cross walks and is a beloved surviving icon from the former East Germany that has an almost cult like status in Berlin.  Next we decided to check out the Brandenburg Gate again and the Reichstag building before our tour.  Saturday’s tour was called the ‘Alternative City Tour’ and was all about street art in Berlin.  Berlin is the street art capital of Europe so there was tons to see.  The highlights for me included a neat little court yard covered wall to wall and floor to ceiling with art and the East Side Gallery.  After the tour we decided to head to Vapiano, an Italian restaurant someone had recommended for a nice sit down dinner. I guess we got kind of confused because there are two styles of this restaurant, one ‘fast food’ and one presumably with white table cloths.  We ended up going to the ‘fast food’ version, which definitely is not what I would consider ‘fast food’, but more cafeteria style.  Even though we had to stand in a line for a while it was worth it because the pasta was delicious!

Sunday morning we awoke well rested because of the extra hour of sleep thanks to daylight savings time (if you’re confused, it happens a week earlier in Europe than it does in North America).  We decided to head to a Sunday flea market that Verda had suggested we go to.  Flea markets here seem to mean something else than the image that comes to mind when I hear the phrase, as it was more similar to Camden Town in London or the Richmond Night Market.  Diana and I both bought neat shirts from a man who used a silk screening and paint splattering method.  There was tons of cool knick knacks and lots of delicious smelling food being sold in the market but it was extremely crowded, so after a while we decided to walk to a cafe for some lunch.  I decided on a waffle and a chai latte for lunch, because you’ve got to enjoy yourself on vacation, right? After lunch we walked to a park near our apartment and sat by a pond where we watched the ducks swim and parents chase their kids around.  After a while we decided we should probably head back to the apartment to pack our bags before going out for a ‘reverse dinner’.  First, we stopped at a nice cafe for desert and drinks.  Next, we headed to the Indian restaurant I went to the first night because I couldn’t stop raving about that pumpkin curry to Diana.  After dinner we made our way back to the apartment to pick up our bags and headed off to the train station where we said our goodbyes before going our separate ways.  I am very glad that Berlin was my last evening flight because I was completely exhausted when I arrived home and my alarm came far too quickly for class the next morning.

This week it’s Halloween and I am excited to carve the pumpkin that I  was finally able to find today!  Next week I am off to Krakow to visit Diana.

TTFN.

Ps. In case I totally lost you, I was attempting to be punny with the title since Berlin’s coat of arms has a bear on it.

Tourist in my own town.

This past week I hosted my first visitor in Oslo.  Monday and Tuesday were consumed by group work for a project, but from Wednesday to Saturday I toured around Oslo.  Jen (a friend from UVic who is studying in Vienna) arrived downtown Oslo around lunch time on Wednesday and from there we embarked on our sightseeing mission.  Our first stop was Holmenkollen, the area of the city that is home to the ski jump, Holmenkollbakken.  It is up atop a large hill so you have a beautiful view of the city, if the weather is right of course.  We were lucky and arrived just as the sun was starting to shine on the harbour and had an amazing view.  If I haven’t already mentioned, it is getting quite chilly in Oslo now, so after taking in the view we decided to head back to the t-bane before we froze our toes off.  Our next stop was Mathallen which is a fancy food market that reminds me of Granville Island.  I had never been there before, but my roommate recommended it so we thought we would try it out.  It was very posh, and very pricey, but we were hungry so we decided to try some traditional Norwegian baked goods.  We each had a sjokoladebolle, which is basically a little bun with a cinnamon-y flavour and chocolate bits inside. After Mathallen we decided to head home to cook some dinner.  We took the tram back, which randomly stopped half way to the t-bane because someone had parked their car on the tram tracks.  Jen laughed and told me this happens quite frequently in Vienna so we decided to sit and wait.  To our surprise a bunch of burly guys decided to get off the tram and pick the car up and move it off of the tracks!

Thursday morning we woke up early, ready for another day of sightseeing. Our first stop was Frogner park to see the sculptures.  The leaves have been falling from the trees for a few weeks now so the park was so beautiful and autumn-esque. Next we went for lunch at Egon and after lunch we stopped at the Freia store for hot cocoa (with real whipped cream – yum yum).  We walked along Karl Johans Gate with our drinks in hand and headed in the direction of the Opera House.  We sat at the Opera House for a while, since Jen wanted to soak up the feeling of being by the ocean, before heading to catch a ferry to Lindøya, one of the tiny islands just minutes away from downtown Oslo.  We explored the island and took lots of photos but decided to catch the first ferry back to the mainland because it was very windy and cold.  We finished off our day of exploring with some shopping and I bought myself a Norwegian sweater. In the evening we decided to go to the trivia night at the student pub next door.

Friday I had a field trip to the port of Oslo in the morning so Jen decided to do the viking ship museum on her own. The field trip was really cool because they took us on a bus tour around the port and we got to see all of the cranes unloading containers up close (yes, yes, nerd moment). After the field trip, one of my Norwegian friends invited me and another classmate over for lunch, and it was delicious! After lunch I hurried back to National Theatre to meet Jen and we took a walk to Aker Brygge, a swanky area of town with lots of new hotels and shops. We were pretty tired from our long day of sightseeing the day before, and quite cold, so we headed back to my place for tea and lefse. After dinner I went to my friend Ira’s place for a small birthday get together, but sadly Jen was feeling a bit under the weather so she stayed home.

The next morning I went with Jen to the train station to say goodbye and then headed to Grønland to go grocery shopping with my friend Nickolas.  After Grønland, Hannah and I went Halloween costume shopping and later I went running before it got too dark outside. On Sunday Hannah had me over for a nice home cooked meal of chicken and mashed potatoes (see Dad, I am eating some meat).

This week almost all of my classes have been cancelled so I have been studying and running and hiding inside from the gross weather. We had our first little bit of snow on Monday, but it didn’t stick and now it is just raining (oh joy…reminds me of home). On Thursday I take off for a trip to Berlin with my friend Diana from UVic who is studying in Krakow. Can’t wait to update you on my trip to Germany!

TTFN.

Sara

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Above: View of the city from our trip to Holmenkollen.

Below: Mathallen.

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Above: Playing in the leaves at Frogner park.

Below: Frogner park in autumn.

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Above: Lunch at Egon (my shrimp sandwich was delicious!)

Below: A little light house in Aker Brygge.

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Lovely day for a Guinness.

Tuesday morning I woke up bright and early to make my way to the airport. The perk of early Ryan Air flights is that they aren’t always full, so I was lucky enough to have an entire row to myself. I spent the flight writing a post for UVic’s sustainable exchange blog, which I will post a link to once it is published.  The flight landed at the Dublin airport around 11am, and arrived downtown at about noon.  I was pretty hungry since I didn’t have time for much of a breakfast, so I stopped at the tourist info centre to get a map of the city and then made a b-line for Starbucks.  After my salted caramel hot chocolate, which lasted an all of 5 minutes, I decided it was time for some real lunch, so I stopped at a thai take-away restaurant for some green curry with prawns.  After refueling I began my sightseeing adventure.  On my walk to the Guinness Storehouse I passed the Christ Church Cathedral, as well as…a Tim Hortons! (There is this 7-11 type chain store in Dublin called SPAR and some locations have mini Tim Hortons stores inside!)  Since I’m not much of a beer drinker I didn’t know very much about the process of making beer beforehand so I spent quite a few hours touring the building and learning how Guinness is made.  I also now know how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness! Included in the admission is one free pint of Guinness which you have the option to pour yourself and to be taught how to do so properly.  Obviously I had to do this. I lined up and was placed with a group of random strangers to learn how to pour my pint.  I was extremely surprised that only myself and one other person in the group were able to pour the pint correctly (although the instructor did give everyone a graduation certificate…)!  I really wanted to learn how to make the little shamrock in the foam, but to my disappointment they didn’t teach us how.  I noticed that another girl in the group had a Canada flag patch sewn on to her bag so we got to chatting and enjoyed our pint together.  We decided to head up to the Gravity Bar which is on the top level of the building and has an amazing view of the city.  After drinking most of my ‘bread in a cup’ as Jamie calls it, I realized that it was probably time to get going.  The Canadian girl, Sam (from Kitchener), joined me on my walk back to the city center.  Unfortunately I had a little incident with my VISA… so I wasn’t able to buy any souvenirs from the Storehouse, but luckily almost every gift shop in Dublin sells Guinness stuff so I was able to pick some goodies up later.  After saying good-bye to Sam I did a bit of shopping and then made my way to the train station.  I arrived with lots of time to spare and successfully hopped on my train to Wicklow.  Unfortunately the sun set quickly so I didn’t get to see much scenery while on the train.  When I arrived in Wicklow, I was picked up by one of the very few cab drivers in the town and dropped off at The Bridge Tavern where I met my Dad and his co-workers for dinner.  I had some fish and chips with mushy peas, a pint of cider, and an amazing Ferrero Rocher cheese cake for dessert.  After dinner his co-workers decided that we should go to a pub next door.  They were all very friendly and reminded me of my old roommate Laura with all of their Irish expressions.  We were both pretty exhausted so after a pint we decided to head back to the hotel.  Wicklow is a really small county, with a population of about 10,000, so there are very few hotels.  Our hotel was called the ‘Tinakilly Country House’ and is an old Victorian Italianate mansion that was turned into a hotel.  I was quite exhausted from the long day of travelling and sightseeing so I was out like a light!

Wednesday morning we had a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading down to the office.  My Dad had meetings all morning so I took the opportunity to explore Wicklow.  I went for a walk up and down the river next to the office (River Vartry) and walked along the banks of the Irish Sea.  Next I decided to go for a stroll through the ‘downtown’ area to have a look at all of the little shops.  I walked past a tourist info centre so I grabbed a map and made my way towards the ruins of the Black Castle.  It was quite windy by the water so I after seeing the castle I decided to make my way back to the office. On the way back I passed by the Wicklow Gaol (jail) and browsed in a ‘Fancy Dress’ (aka Halloween Costume) shop.  Being in Wicklow reminded me of home because everyone I passed smiled and said hello or good morning.  When I got back to the office I went next door with one of the girls to pick up some sandwiches for lunch.  After lunch my Dad was ready to go, so we borrowed a car and headed out to Glendalough.  It was only about thirty minutes away from the office, but my gosh…it was the scariest ride of my life.  It is tricky enough just to drive on the opposite side of the road, but when the road is windy, hilly, and barely wide enough for the car, with thick hedges on both sides…it makes for an interesting ride.  We made it to Glendalough in one piece, although I nearly had a heart attack multiple times (when we encountered a one way bridge and a large tractor). Glendalough is famous for its Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin.  We walked around the grave yard and saw the round tower and ruins of the settlement.  It was really interesting to see tomb stones from centuries ago right next to tomb stones that are only a couple of years old.  After visiting in settlement, we decided to go for a walk along the lake.  After our walk it was getting to be quite late in the afternoon so we decided to make our way back to the hotel before it got dark (because that road would have been 10x more…fun…in the dark).  When we arrived back at the hotel we decided to rest our feet for a while before heading downstairs for dinner.  Dinner was…amazing! I had a sea trout with mashed potatoes and vegetables.  On a side note, I think I probably ate more meat on my trip to Ireland than I have since I moved to Oslo.

Thursday morning we checked out of Tinakilly and headed to the office to return the car. From the office one of the other taxi drivers of Wicklow picked us up and drove us to Dublin.  At this point we were considering booking a day trip for Friday to Cork, the Cliffs of Moher, or the Giant’s Causeway.  Our taxi driver talked us out of it and said that we would be spending almost the entire day on the bus and be exhausted when we got back.  We took his advice and spent the next day and a half exploring Dublin at a more relaxed pace.  When we got to our hotel (The Temple Bar Hotel) it wasn’t quite time to check in yet, so we dropped off our bags and headed out to do some sightseeing.  Our first stop was Trinity College to see the Book of Kells.  If you are unfamiliar with the Book of Kells, Wikipedia does a pretty good job of explain what it is, and its history. It is simply amazing how much work went into the creation of the books and how well they have been preserved.  After our lesson in history and book preservation it was time for lunch so we headed to a pub in the Temple Bar district for some food. We decided to stop back at the hotel next to check in before heading to the National Gallery of Ireland.  After the national gallery we walked around Merrion Square Park and saw the Doors of Dublin.  My Dad had a conference call in the afternoon so I decided to go shopping while he made his call.  Strangely enough I bumped into three girls from UVic on O’Connell Street.  I knew they would be in Dublin but I had no clue what their plans were so it was such a coincidence that we happened to run into each other.  After my shopping spree at Penney’s (the Irish version of Primark) we relaxed in the hotel for a while before heading to a great little Italian restaurant (called the Italian Corner) along the River Liffey near the Ha’penny Bridge.  After dinner we decided to go to an Irish pub to hear some live music.  It was super loud and cheery in the pub even though it was only 8:30 on a Thursday night.  We had fun listening to the performers and people watching.  I witnessed a man who was about 6ft7in pick up a glass of Guinness with his mouth and proceed to drink the whole pint in one go. I think I saw him do that about three times. Bachelor parties seem to be pretty crazy in Dublin!

Friday morning we stopped for breakfast at a cute little cafe we had passed by the day before.  After a quick bite to eat we headed off to the Irish Natural History Museum, or as one of my Dad’s co-workers calls it ‘The Dead Museum’.  And that is exactly what it is: A taxidermy museum of the animals of Ireland as well as animals from around the world.  Next we went to the Archaeology Museum.  It was interesting to see all of the tools, weapons, and jewelry that were made thousands of years ago, but my favourite part was seeing the ‘Bog Bodies’.  In 2003 two bodies from the Iron Age were discovered buried in bogs in Ireland.  The peat in the bogs naturally mummified the bodies, and they are so well preserved that they still have hair on them! (Wikipedia does a good job of explaining bog bodies if you are interested in learning more.) Ok, so these museums might be a tad disturbing for the squeamish… so on to some more happy topics! After our morning of museum-ing we checked out of the hotel and decided to go walking in a shopping district before heading to The Elephant Castle for lunch.  After lunch we went to the Dublin Castle and the Chester Beatty Library.  Next we sat down for some afternoon tea and baklava before walking around Saint Stephen’s Green.  By this point we were pretty tired, and dreading our early flights the next morning, so we made our way back to the hotel to pick up our bags and hopped in a taxi to the airport hotel.  We had a minor scare where I thought I had lost my purse…but after ripping the room apart, asking reception, and having them call the cab company…we found it slid between the night stand and the bed…and hid from the front desk employee for the rest of the night to avoid embarrassment. We decided to have a light dinner at the hotel, and we bumped into someone my Dad used to work with! We had a drink with him and then called it a night so that we could get some rest before our 4am wake up call.

The flight home, although early, was great because once again I had an entire row to myself so I slept the entire flight. I arrived back at my residence around 11am and had some lunch before heading out to get some groceries with Hannah.  I spent the afternoon doing laundry and went to my friend Ira’s place for a party in the evening.  Today I went for a run, studied, and am now writing to tell you about my adventures. Now it’s time to go bake a pumpkin pie for my first Thanksgiving away from home.  I am so thankful that I am on this adventure, and that I have a loving family who cares for me.

TTFN.

Sara

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Above: My first pint of Guinness, ever!

Below: The Black Castle ruins in Wicklow.

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Above: Glendalough.

Below: The Tinakilly Country House.

 

 

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Above: What would a post be without strange food! This is probably the cutest little glass jar of yogurt I’ve ever seen.

Below: Some of the Doors of Dublin.

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