Friday, December 13, 2013

News and Updates from Ireland

Standing at the top of Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh
By: Kevin Marthinsen, Humber's Study Abroad Student

Let me first start off by apologizing to those of you who been following my tales around Europe, and for my lack of published content this past month and half. It’s amazing how little time you have to write such noteworthy pieces of literature when you’re getting two Irish guys thrown off the bus (that story to come later, I promise).

Let’s start by talking about October.

I was quite busy last month as I organized all my weekend getaways for seven weekends straight, which have now, sadly, come to an end. Early in October, I got to visit my parents and my cousins in Shipley, UK, where in typical Canadian manner we stayed up to midnight on Saturday and streamed the Toronto Maple Leafs game via my LIVE subscription.  Nothing says Canadian than Hockey Night in Canada. Family bonding at it’s best. The following weekend I was in Amsterdam seeing the Amsterdam Music Festival.  Between October 25th and November 4th, I had a midterm break, a welcomed excuse to travel and drink more beer after a long month and a half of drinking beer.

View looking towards the North Sea from the Edinburgh Castle
To start my break, I flew to Edinburgh for two nights and met up with a long time friend from Canada. I was quite impressed with Edinburgh, the architecture is stunning and you won’t find tall, glass and unpleasant looking apartment buildings like you do in Toronto. The Friday I arrived in Edinburgh we decided to hike up Arthur’s seat, an unseeingly muddy expedition that caused me to impersonate a figure skater trying to regain his balance, but ultimately barreling hard down the muddy slopes of the mountain. That same Friday evening, we decided to take part in our hostels pub-crawl, where funny enough we were able to meet several other Canadians who went to same university and high school as my friend. Our night continued as any pub-crawl night does, with the exception of this last bar we went to, the name of which I forget. The theme of the bar was a mix between burlesque and what the French would call, a maĆ®tresse theme. The bar was a good time until a dwarf dressed in full dominatrix attire kept running between people’s legs and whipping them with a leather whip…

Oh waiter? Check please. I typically end my night at dwarfs with leather whips.

Visiting the other Humber Exchange students from Aberdeen
My midterm break continued with a trip up to Aberdeen on Sunday for two nights to visit friends from Humber College, all of who write for  Aberdeen was a real treat to visit especially with the girls showing me around. I don’t think my time in Aberdeen would have been as enjoyable as it was without the company of Angela, Brittany, and Shelby. It was also nice that one of them (who shall remain anonymous) enjoys late night McDonalds as much as I do!

Beach in Aberdeen
Midweek I continued down to Nottingham for a night to visit the same friend who had accompanied me to Edinburgh. Following Nottingham, I spent a day visiting my old house, school, and teachers from the days when I lived in Cobham, a small town southwest of London. This day I had by myself was probably the most memorable part of my trip since it brought back so many memories from when I was a child.

I ended my 10-day midterm break in London and Rome, where the beginnings of a 3-day long pizza and pasta diet ensued. I was able to get the names of some local Italian restaurants where I could enjoy the authentic Italian style of cooking without paying the tourist price. Didn’t end up saving me any money though because I would typically order two pasta dishes a night since the serving sizes didn’t meet my North American standards. Flying into Rome was entertaining as well because as it turns out, there are in fact people that DO still try and smoke in the lavatories while on the plane. Turns out our friend Mr. Smokey in aisle 9 couldn’t wait 45-minutes to land and decided to light up in the toilet. Needless to say, his flying experience ended like that of a Shakespearean novel: a tragedy (minus the death part). When we landed, police were waiting to escort Mr. Smokey off the plane. Not the best start to a vacation I’d imagine.

Paris, France

The following weekend (this brings us to the weekend of Nov. 8-10th) I flew to Paris where we were greeted for the better of two days with overcasts and showers. Luckily, on our last day, there it was, clear skies, and I was able to get those sweet touristy pictures. One thing that I learned while in Paris is that everyone expects you to speak French if you’re from Canada. Luckily I was travelling with a friend who is fluent, and tried to explain that only residents of Quebec speak French, and that all other provinces primarily speak English. I also learned that it is possible to get scammed out of 100 by a seemingly sweet little old French lady. In the words of Llyod from the movie Dumb and Dumber, “I got robbed by a sweet old lady on a motorized cart. I didn’t even see it coming.” That quote had never been so relatable until now.
The Eiffel Tower at sunset

This past weekend I was in London again with other Erasmus/International students from Waterford, and this marked my final weekend getaway. I’m not too sad about that though, I couldn’t be happier to stay put in Waterford for my remaining five weeks here. Seven weekends in a row of travelling (many of which required me to take the 1:30 a.m. bus to the Dublin airport, a 3 hr. journey in itself) is quite tiring. Moreover, this week marks the third last week of classes before exams, and I think everyone in Waterford is started feel the consequences of severe procrastination which has led many students very recently to spending all day in the library, or, finding peace of mind by drinking themselves into a Rob Ford stupor.

The Colosseum

If you’ve kept reading until this point, I applaud you in sticking with me. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to read a little further? I promised at the beginning of this post a story regarding two Irish guys and a bus.

Let’s begin:

There were eight of us on a bus that takes you from Waterford to the Dublin airport, a three-hour journey that stops at several other small towns along the way. Our group all sat towards the back of the bus, each having their own two seats to themselves. In the very back of the bus sat our protagonists of this story. Let’s call them Irish 1 and Irish 2. Both Irish 1 & 2 looked to be between the ages of 19 and 22 and had pleasantly brought with them, a set of very portable, and very loud speakers on the bus. About thirty-minutes into our quiet journey, Irish 1 & 2 decide it would be a great idea to start playing loud, crude, ear torturing music for the back half of the bus to listen to.

Thanks Irish 1 & 2. I’m so happy you decided to play that golden oldie classic, My Heart Will Go On: Titanic Techno Remix for the back half of us to hear. After about 5 minutes of this torture, and realizing Irish 1 & 2 didn’t plan on stopping the music any time soon, I turned around and asked them in a polite yet stern voice if they could put on headphones if they wished to listen to their music (a sensible request in my opinion). Irish 1 & 2 responded to me in a manner like that of an angry sports fan when he disagrees with a call the ref has made (hint: uncalled for swearing). It took me no more than two seconds to realize I wasn’t going to reason with Irish 1 & 2. I moved to the front of the bus where it was quieter. At the next stop, with the music getting increasing louder and obnoxious, the bus driver finally was able to hear the music from the front of the bus and went back to exchange a few words with Irish 1 & 2.  This exchange of words happened twice, with our bus driver having to pull over the second time to go back and tell Irish 1 & 2 to turn off their music or they’d be thrown off the bus. Finally there was silence. Irish 1 & 2 had finally been reasoned with and couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to turn the music back on… oh waitwhat’s that I hear?

Turns our Irish 1 & 2 had now decided to play an assortments of percussion instruments with an App on their iPhone (over the loud speakers). Unfortunately this noise wasn’t loud enough for the bus driver to hear. At this point, I had had enough of Irish 1 & 2. I had decided it was time for them to leave.  The story finishes like this:
Me: (to the bus driver) Um, excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you while driving but Irish 1 & 2 have now switched from playing music to playing what I think are percussion instruments with a music App on their phone.
Driver: Do you have a flight to catch?
Me: Yes, I do… (pause)… but it’s not for another 4 hours, we have lot’s of time.
Driver: (turns left blinker on and make a HARD left towards the near missed exit taking us off the highway. Driver continues off highway towards The Middle of Nowhere, Ireland)
Irish 1: (Sensing something is terribly wrong due to the fact we’re not on the highway anymore, approaches the bus driver quickly) OYE! What’s going on! What’s going on!
Driver: I told you once, I told you twice, to stop playing that bloody music the bus, you’re gone!
Irish 1: I wasn’t playing music! What did he tell you (pointing at me)! I WAS PLAYING A GAME!!! A GAMMMEEE!!!
Driver: A game, music, don’t matter, you’ve been warned twice out! Out!!
Irish 2: But how are we going to get to Dublin!!! How!?! We’re in the middle of bloody-f’ing-nowhere!
Irish 1: At least drop us off at the next bus station!
Driver: You can get out here, or I’ll drop you off in the arms of the Garda Station (police station).
(Irish 1 & 2 exit the bus… in the middle of nowhere)
Kevin sits, smiles, and waves goodbye to Irish 1 & 2…
Justice is sweet.