Friday, May 30, 2008

fota photo

Friday morning we woke up and it was whoa gross outside. According to the box on my Google homepage, it was supposed to thunderstorm and heavy shower all day long, so we decided that it was perfect weather to go to an outdoor wildlife park.

Fota wildlife park is not like any other wildlife park I've ever been to- it was mostly all free-range and animals roamed free, mostly behind fences, etc. but some of the animals could go wherever they wanted. For example, the lemurs mostly stayed on their island, but some came over to say hi and this one really liked Kym:

video

But from the beginning... we took a 15 minute train ride to Fota, which was weird because I didn't know that it was so close to where we lived. We started out on the monkey island walk, where there were lemurs (left), gibbons/baby gibbons (right), and squirrel monkeys (below).

There were a million other kinds too I don't remember all their names. I averaged about 740 pictures per animal, so when this one lemur came over to us with 2 babies on her back, my camera got a good workout. Actually I don't think I stopped taking pictures the whole time I was there. My favorite monkey was the gibbon baby who was adorable, but he was kind of far away on his island.



We passed by some seals, who were very boring, and so were the swans and ducks, who acted just like all the swans and ducks I've seen over the course of my lifetime. What was really cool, though, was the cheetah run. At 4 they let out 2 cheetahs and attached this dead chicken on a zipline, which flew across this stretch of land, where the cheetahs chased after it, mocking a hunt. It kind of reminded me of playing with Kobe (our cat) and trying to get it to attack the fake thing that we're bouncing around her face. The cheetahs would be really interested in the chicken as it zoomed past them, feathers and bobbing neck and all, but if they couldn't catch it then they lost interest. The zookeeper would then bring it back and zoom it past in the other direction, where the cheetahs would run and pounce again, until finally they caught it, and ripped it apart in a very not children friendly kind of way and then ate it. It was fun but the first chicken got ripped in half and the the little girl next to me was not a big fan of this. Fota, though, has raised over 100 cheetahs, who have been born in the park. It's apparently really hard to breed cheetahs in captivity, but since they try really hard to keep them in a natural environment, they have been really successful. The other really cool part of the park was the huge open are where giraffes, ostriches and zebras hung out and ate lots of grass . This one ostrich was crazy. It spotted us from a far and came charging. It really was kind of scary, because all that was separating us from the very intense ostrich was this little wooden fence. Luckily, it couldn't jump the fence (even though it tried), so it gave up the chase, and proceeded to just stare at us from a few feet away.
We saw a lot of other animals too, including this one called a 'mara' or something that is half guinea pig and half hare- from South America I think. They were cool, and very weird looking but definitely half rabbit half rodent (left).

Overall, very good day. And turns out the weather was beautiful the whole day. Goes to show that Irish weather is completely unpredictable and never follows the forecast.

Kym, Johnny, and me. I'm going to miss these roommates!! ...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

munster

(left) A giant Munster jersey hung over one of the pubs in Cork

Last Saturday, we all met up at a pub downtown to watch the Heineken Cup- Munster vs. Toulouse (a French team). Munster is the area of Ireland that includes something like the south western part- including Cork. It was a really big deal because it would be the second time in 3 years when Munster won it, and I don't think they won it before that (maybe they did but it was a while ago?). Idk. But either way it was a big game.
The pub was whoa crowded and everyone was really excited and we had such a good time. We got there at like 3 and the game didn't start until 5 but we wanted good seats, so we had a while to sit around and hang out.
The game itself was really exciting- it stayed close the whole time. By the first half we were up by 4 points and then we stayed tied for a while. The second half though we got back ahead again, but not by much so we were all really tense and waiting for the French team to score at the last second, but luckily it didn't happen.
Munster won 16-13 and at the end of the game, when Munster lifted up the Heineken Cup the pub went crazy and for the rest of the night everyone was in a good mood.

Me and 2 of my friends at the pub:


Mostly just a lot of people yelling:

video


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Ok this part is random and nothing to do with Munster, but I wanted to include another building in Cork that I didn't go look at on my tour of Cork. Well, technically I have a really far away picture of it but this is St. Fin Barre's Cathedral up close...
This is by far my favorite cathedral in Cork and I walk by it almost every day, but never have a camera with me.

Back view:


Front view:

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

so this is cork

It's finally summer here in Cork and it's beautiful. Earlier today Kym, Johnny, Denis and I laid out in a park next to the lake, both Kym and I in tank tops, and made daisy chains. Or at least Kym and I made daisy chains. Then, I decided to see what would happen when I took mysteriously large flower petals which had fallen from a tree, peeled off the top layer and adhered them to my leg. Turns out this is not a good idea. I now have very mysteriously large and permanent flower-petal-shaped orange stains on my leg. It kind of looks like fake tanner, but if I had just slapped some on my leg and decided not to even out all the streaks. This is not related to anything I am about to write about, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

So, I realized when I bought this chocolate bar with all of Cork's famous buildings on it (it was an impressive chocolate bar) that I hadn't seen hardly any of them. And if I had, it was in passing and no photographic documentation had been made. I guess in whatever city you live in, you end up taking it for granted and don't go around being all touristic like you would if you were vacationing there. Probably the same reason I haven't been to many of the major exciting attractions in Raleigh. I'm not really sure if there are any exciting attractions in Raleigh, come to think of it. Then again, the Inner and Outer Beltline are pretty cool...
So what my friend Paula and I decided to do was explore Cork and take a camera with us this time. It felt really weird whipping out a camera and taking pictures of stuff I walk past every day. We started out by walking to St. Anne's cathedral (left). On the way, we walked past many really cool colored houses, which I walk past all the time but realized that I never stopped to pay any attention. It's crazy here how houses are colored. Unlike Cary, where if a business buys the wrong shade of magenta the city flips out, houses right next to each other are painted completely different colors. Actually it was this way in Prague too. But it's kind of drastically noticeable in Ireland. Even the stone walls outside of the homes have separating colors, despite the fact they share the same wall. I think it makes the city streets look cool, but I can't imagine Cary ever agreeing with me. Next to St. Anne's was another cathedral- I think that one was just called the Catholic Cathedral (left). We passed by some other cool churches and more pretty houses, and I took many many more pictures to remember my time in Cork. Then, we headed into City Center, which is my favorite part of town and the part that I will miss the most. I took pictures of all the important buildings such as Tesco and Hillbilly's Fried Chicken Express. Both of which are very important parts of my life. On the way home was St. Fin Barre's cathedral, which overlooked the river Lee. Across the river was the Beamish Brewery. Beamish is Cork's Guiness. I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but Guiness is not the stout of Cork- in fact, you're not 'supposed' to order it here because it's brewed in Dublin. Walking past the Beamish brewery on my weekly run to Tesco is a very interesting experience. It's kind of like walking past a giant yeast factory or something. It smells like bread all the time. Which I guess is normal since I'm pretty sure yeast is an ingredient in beer/stout? Idk.
When I get to the fork in the road just after the river, it is a sign that home is near. Except it is a very long uphill walk from there. But still, after every trip to city center, it is always exciting to get to this fork (below).

And here are some more landmarks that are also just really sweet buildings...

Raleigh's Rent-A-Bike. Maybe I just like it because it has the word Raleigh in it, but it might also be because there is a very intense painting on the front:


Barrack St. book store Co-op. Because any building is cool with clouds painted on it:

And then is our house. Of which I have already posted a picture.
And that's it for today. I think later this week we're going to try and hit up all the other cool parts of Cork but now I am going to go play a game called Does Fingernail Polish Remover Also Remove Plant Pigment...

the one about food

I was reading back through some of my old blogs and some of it made me laugh. For example, Kym and Johnny are not married- in fact, they are both a year younger than me and that would be weird. I'm not sure why I thought two of my roommates were married in the first place. Also, the part about all guys wearing track suits is not true. Turns out like a whole lot of them do but it is a certain type of person who wears track suits, and I'm not going to get into that right now because I'm not entirely sure how politically correct all that is.

But anyway, food. I have been making a lot of food since coming to Ireland for two reasons: 1. We don't have a living room so if I get tired of my 7 sq. ft room I have to go to the kitchen and 2. All of my roommates are crazy good cooks. Ok well maybe not like 3 of them but everyone else is. Kym and Johnny are really into vegetarian health food and Laura and Robin are really into crazy extravagant meals that include doing things like making pasta from scratch before making spaghetti.
Every once in a while, we will make a meal that is impressive enough that I'll go take a picture of it because I'll probably never do it again (similar to the fresh Italian food that Veronika brought back from Italy earlier).

Here are two of them:

1. Smoked salmon bagel. We got up early in the morning and walked to the Quay Co-op health food store in city center and bought fresh bagels. They had just been cooked, so they were warm and fresh. Amazing. We then went into the English Market to the fish center and bought fresh smoked salmon- caught and made in Ireland (I think actually our whole idea came from the fact that Ireland was known for its smoked salmon and we wanted to try it). Then we bought fresh sundried tomatoes from another shop in the English Market which were super expensive but super good. The cream cheese and sprouts came from Tesco, the best grocery store ever, but those were like normal food items. Best sandwich ever. Probably cost like 7 euros per bagel but still. Best sandwich ever.


2. S'mores. Haha these were ridiculous. They probably speak for themselves...

Oh and the yellow marshmallows? Leftover Peeps from my Easter Basket that my mom mailed me from home. Poor peeps didn't stand a chance in our grill.