Disoriented and Dehydrated by Day 3

Emily Bernstein
May 5, 2017

Hello! It has been almost three weeks since spring break, so yes, I am behind in my blogging. (And if you missed it, you can read about Mom and Dad’s visit to Ireland and my trip to Amsterdam here.) There are multiple reasons that I’m behind: 1) I recently turned in my last paper this week so I finally have free time and 2) there are so many memories from break that I wanted to remember them all, but here goes.

We started off in Milan, staying in an AirBnB in Seregno. We explored Milan for a day, seeing the duomo and wandering the city. The next day, we took the train to Venice – which I think we all enjoyed a lot more than Milan. Venice is a beautiful city to wander in and explore all the small shops you may stumble on. You have to be willing to get a little lost in Venice to really see everything you have to.

It’s beautiful there! 10/10 would recommend.

Pro-traveler tip #5: If you have strict dietary restrictions, be patient with whatever international city you’re in. It can be difficult to find good food, but not impossible.

Highlights from Italy:

Guy: “Eating gelato in the sun along the canal.”

Kim: “Every facet of Venice, especially seeing it for the first time.”

Kaitlin: “Every meal and the first moment getting off the train in Venice.”

Emily: “The guy in Venice making masquerade masks along the canal.”

Duomo in Milan.


Pro-traveler tip #6: You don’t have to be fluent in the language of the place you’re visiting, but it’s always an advantage to know a little bit of it.

From Milan, we took the train to Nice. Nice was nice – oh come on, I had to say it! But actually, I think we all really liked Nice. It was the part of our vacation that was actually just vacation. We spent one day on the beach, reading, listening to music, relaxing, joking with each other. It was really wonderful. We also took the bus to Monaco one day, so check that country off the list! Monaco was beautiful – I felt a little out of place just because everyone there looked like they were coming off a night at a charity ball and they were just heading out to brunch on the beach.

Being in Nice was also a great way to brush up on my French skills before next fall when I take French 201. Conversationally, I did pretty well, but I still need a little more refreshing.

Highlights from France:

Guy: “The pastries, not getting sunburnt, and Monaco.”

Kim: “Reading my book wrapped in the quilt in the AirBnb, laughing in the park, playing 20 questions on the beach.”

Kaitlin: “Reading a new book on the balcony, finding beautiful paintings, the view from the AirBnb.”

Emily: “Wandering the streets of Nice just exploring, the beach.”

Kim at the beach.
The streets of Nice.

Pro-traveler tip #7: Always figure out train schedules, ideas for food, making plans before leaving a wifi spot.

We flew from Nice to Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city and it’s nothing like I expected. It is so modern and active and contemporary. There are, of course, old, authentic European corners of Barcelona, but I think what is so endearing about the city is how mixed up it all is with the modern. We visited a market in Barcelona and were surrounded by fresh fruit and seafood and corn tortillas filled with salsa and meat and vegetables and I could eat almost everything in the market! It was wonderful.

We also visited a lot of old churches, and we visited the old Jewish quarter of Barcelona. I made everyone take a break from churches so we could have a short introduction to the first synagogue in Barcelona and it was so small but beautiful. While we were leaving, a family from Jerusalem came in and it made me nostalgic for Israel, but how could I be missing that country when I was in an amazing country too?

Eating in Barcelona was a breeze. We all loved the sangria and the paella. And honestly, who doesn’t love paella? It’s so good.

All of us loved Sagrada Familia when we visited. It’s quite an amazing building, and I can’t even imagine how wonderful it will be when it’s completed. Maybe we’ll all have to go back and visit when it’s completed as a reunion.

Highlights from Spain:

Guy: “Sagrada Familia and paella.”

Kim: “Paella, churros (it was her first one!), and our adorable only family photo.”

Kaitlin: “Sagrada Familia and walking the pier with sangria at sunset.”

Emily: “Paella, wandering along La Rambla street, the old synagogue, sangria, Sagrada Familia.”

(Can you tell we all loved Sagrada Familia?!)

Until next time, Europe. We all had an amazing time.


In The (Edited) Words of 10 Year-Old Me: “I Didn’t Know Edinburgh Was So Bumpy!”

Emily Bernstein
March 15, 2017

When I was 10, my dad and I rode our bikes across California. During this ride, I was interviewed for, and later featured on The FredCast Cycling Podcast. During the ride, I discovered that the state of California was not as flat as I had formerly believed it to be. And thus, the much quoted “I didn’t know California was so bumpy!” quote was said (you can hear it on a special episode of The FredCast from 21 May 2007). And yes, Dad, I did search through the backlogs of The FredCast to ensure I quoted myself correctly on this.

All this is quite a long digression to say: California has nothing on Edinburgh, Scotland (or at least, that’s what it felt like when we were walking around). When Kim and I left Dublin on our flight to Edinburgh early Saturday morning, I don’t think we were expecting to arrive in a city that is quite hilly. But we persevered, dragging ourselves up a hill (and then down one) to our hostel, which was conveniently located right under Edinburgh Castle. (And really, me talking about the hills in Edinburgh is partially just a ploy to use this blogpost title because I just couldn’t pass it up.)

When in Scotland, you’re bound to hear a bagpipe or two (or a hundred).

On Saturday, Kim and I headed through New Town of Edinburgh (down a hill) to the Royal Botanic Gardens. Not a lot was blooming, but it still was quite beautiful and I’m definitely glad we made the trek down there! I’m not sure Kim or I had ever seen that many rhododendron trees in our lives. But despite some of the plants still in their winter dead mode, it was worth the walk.

Kim at the Botanic Gardens!

After the Botanic Garden, we headed to Edinburgh Castle. While walking there, we passed through amazing neighborhoods and cute parts of Edinburgh that Kim and I speculated to be expensive living (though we still talked about how glorious it would be to live there).

Edinburgh Castle is amazing. I mean, for starters, it’s a castle, so what’s not to love? It’s also beautifully kept up and tells a lot about the history of the castle and who lived there. There’s also a war memorial there, which very recently held an event and honored people from every war that Scotland, and thus England, has been a participant in. There were books all around with names of those lost, so I can only imagine how personal it must be to go there to commemorate a loved one. It was all very cool. There’s also whisky tastings on Castle Mount, but Kim and I did not partake. Something to remember for the future though!

So, two princesses walk into a castle…

It sounds like a short day, but that concluded our Saturday (I didn’t describe dinner but it was Mexican food!).

Sunday morning, we got up, walked down to Holyrood Park, and hiked Arthur’s Seat. This is the main mountain in Edinburgh, its height is 251 meters (825 feet) in height, so not too tall in the scheme of my Utah life, but it was a steep hike to the top. But oh man was that view worth it. Basically, at the very top, you can see all of Edinburgh, Scotland, including all the cute suburbs, the castle, the monuments, and all such things.

Trail up to Arthur’s Seat!
On top of the world at Arthur’s Seat!
Kim on top of Arthur’s Seat!
View from Arthur’s Seat!

After we got back down to the bottom of Holyrood Park, after petting adorable pups, and calming our shaking legs, we headed to the Palace of Holyrood House. This house (no pictures allowed) is where Mary Queen of Scots lived, and where the Queen of England stays now when she goes to Scotland on official business – hence the no photos. The audioguide is free at Holyrood, and I would 100% suggest you take it because there are not too many explanatory signs throughout the house.

We stopped for a much earned lunch at a local pub after that, and then went to the National Museum of Edinburgh to enjoy interesting facts about animals, engineering, space, fashion, and everything in between.

We went on a ghost tour Sunday night (yes, went on a ghost tour), and it was actually really interesting about ghosts, but also the history of Edinburgh. The only time I felt the shivers was when we walked into a cemetery at night which goes against every single superstitious bone I have in my body. The woman giving the tour was very nice and wonderful.

After our ghost tour, we had dinner at a great pub, and then went to try Scottish whisky. The bartender helped Kim and me pick out a whisky, and Kim really liked hers! I…might not be a whisky person, but perhaps I’ll grow to like it with age.

We returned to Limerick with quite a few assignments to complete, but a ton more memories to keep. Thanks to Kim for such a great trip!


Remarks On School and Other Such Musings

Emily Bernstein
March 2, 2017

It’s odd to already be turning my calendar to March. The time is, for lack of a better word and I promise there is no pun intended, marching forward very quickly. If I were at home, I’d be gearing up for midterms, and subsequently, Spring Break. Here, though, I’m writing papers, reading lots, and spending a lot of time trying to make travel plans.

When school began, I was unquestionably excited. I still am. I’m that kind of person that gets excited about school. But, for some reason, I was so worried about my schoolwork (read: exceedingly worried, as I’m always just plain worried about school).

My literature classes demand at least two or three hours on Saturdays and Sundays so that I can, at the very least, begin to read the novels and pieces of literature that we’re reading for the following week. It is a lot of reading and the stack of books in my room looks quite aggressive and daunting. But they’re just literature classes. What was stressing me out about them?

I thought maybe it was because my law class terrified – and still is quite scary and confusing – me. My law class is for third year law students because, in Europe, students enter straight into law school. My peers in that class are my age but they’re gearing up to take a few exams this summer and this fall and then begin their work as solicitors (or at least their interns – these students aren’t being thrown straight into the courtroom). Add on the fact that we’re studying a political system in which I do not partake, and to say that the lectures confuse me would be a vast understatement. But human rights law is the law that fascinates me the most, so I’m struggling, but trying to manage.

I’ve just turned in my first law paper, and I’m gearing up to write three literature papers for the next two upcoming weeks. And they’re just papers. My lit papers are being written in MLA format – a format I’m so familiar with I could do it in my sleep. The books we’re reading are just literature, able to be analyzed and looked at in the same way I look at books at home. I can research to understand my law class (that’s what Google is for, right?).

It’s taken me, now, a month and a half to come to this conclusion: studying abroad is just school.

It might be silly, committing a whole blog post to this. But it’s something that a few friends have remarked upon as well. Until we all really settled in to work, school was something that we didn’t really think about. We went to class, listened in lectures, etc., but I think we all expected school to be so different here than it is at our home universities. And while the classes are run differently, school is just school. 

I don’t have much to say that’s more than this, but just a personal note to remember (and for future study abroad students).


In The Words Of Joey Tribbiani: London, Baby!

Emily Bernstein
February 25, 2017

Last weekend, the crew and I finally got out of Ireland and traveled to the beautiful London, England. I say finally because, although we’ve only been here for a little over a month, it feels as though we’ve been here for quite longer than that.

When Meghan studied abroad, her blog was quite the rave about London, and she still swears that it is her favorite city in the entire world. I’m not going to lie, from my very brief visit when I was younger (maybe 10-years-old?), I didn’t think it was that great. Maybe it was because we were rushing around, or I was too young to appreciate the city. Still, I went into the trip with a positive attitude, thinking, I’m older, and we have more than a few hours to see the sights. 

And Meghan, I get it. 

London is quite the city. You can be staring at Westminster Abbey, appreciating the old architecture and beautiful windows, and then turn around and see modern skyscrapers. It’s hard to put into words what I was so enamored with in London, but I definitely liked it a whole lot more this time than the last time.

Pro traveling tip #1: Even if you look super cute, bring your comfortable shoes anyway for walking. 

Friday, I wandered the city by myself and saw Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, Daunt Books (a store that is so cool and chock full of really amazing books – and also a store where Meghan got me a subscription where I got a new book every month that was tailored to my novel and poetry preferences), and I got to have lunch with one of my sorority sisters, Cameron! Then, we had dinner at Wahaca (Meghan’s suggestion), a Mexican restaurant. I was a happy camper.

Saturday, we went to Westminster Abbey and spent quite some time there. Before we went in, we took our obligatory photos of Big Ben. It’s so cool and totally beautiful. We saw Charles Darwin’s grave, Isaac Newton’s, Queen Elizabeth I’s, Queen Mary’s, Mary Queen of Scots’, Richard II’s, and many more. It was actually quite difficult to walk through the Abbey without walking over a grave. My superstitions were going wild. On our way out of the Abbey, we saw people heading into Saint Margaret’s Church (the church right in front of Westminster Abbey) for a wedding. It was very fancy, and the people attending were clearly very rich, and I very much wanted to go in and see it.

Pro traveling tip #2: Download the app Citymapper to use as a map. It works so well, and has the maps of the tube, the subway, the metro and bus schedules as well. 

After the Abbey, we headed to Borough Market, a very busy but fun market full of raw ingredients, spices, fruits, vegetables, and good food to eat. We had lunch there and it was so so good. From there, we headed to King’s Cross Station to take our obligatory Harry Potter photos (spoiler alert: you can’t actually get through the wall to Platform 9 3/4).

From King’s Cross, we went to Hyde Park and saw the sunset there. We went to dinner at really good restaurant called The Minories (good find, Kim!). I had the El Mariachi burger (sans bun), which was basically a (really good) burger with jalapeños, guacamole, pico de gallo, and lettuce on top. I thought it would be best to keep with my Mexican food dinners in London. Everyone else (Guy, Kaitlin, Kim, and Conor) had more traditional British food, but as most of it is fried and/or very bready, I did not partake.

After dinner, we walked to the Tower of London to see it all lit up, and to see the Tower Bridge at night. It was very beautiful and we were all very glad we walked down to see the view. Then, we explored an area called Covent Garden – very touristy but very beautiful at night – again at Meghan’s suggestion.

Sunday morning, the boys left really early for Ireland, so the girls and I headed to the British Museum to explore for a short time before we headed to the London Eye. This was a totally touristy experience, but the views were cool! Mom would not have enjoyed it – even I had some trouble looking at the top!

We all really liked London, so I call the trip a success. Now we’re back in Ireland looking forward to our next few trips, and really settling into school (because midterms, you know?).


P.S. I didn’t take too many photos on the trip, and I am sorry for that, but my friends did so I’m sure I could get you all copies if you’d like.

In Which Kim Talks To (And Names) Trees and We All Kiss Rocks

Emily Bernstein
February 6, 2017

After a full week of classes (and lots of reading), we were all ready for the weekend to begin.

Kim, Kaitlin, Ian, and I all bought tickets to take a bus down (up?) to Blarney Castle and Cork. As a writer, I felt obligated to go kiss the Blarney Stone so that I could have the gift of gab – or rather, eloquence.

The castle is surrounded by miles of walking trails and gardens and beautiful greenery. The castle itself is under construction but it is still really pretty! The castle is smaller than I would have imagined it would be, but, come on, it’s a castle, so if I was living there, I wouldn’t be complaining. We wandered through the castle for a while and Ian guessed which stone was the Blarney Stone (considering they were all technically stones of Blarney, or so we joked). Then, we climbed more steep steps (see last week’s post about King John’s Castle) and got in line to kiss the stone.


Ian guessing which stone was the Blarney Stone.

The views from the castle were so beautiful. The countryside was somewhat misted over from the morning’s rain and, wow, was it amazing! While we waited in line, there were funny little signs explaining about the Blarney Stone and why it is so important (which I’m still not 100% sure how the myth around it started).

Just an example of the funny signs we saw.
The view from the top of Blarney Castle.

To actually kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to lie down, kind of scooch down, while someone holds your legs. The Blarney Stone is very far down (for someone of my height – Ian had no troubles at all). I’m not even sure I kissed the stone itself – I might’ve grazed one resting on top of it. They’ve added steel bars in case of someone falling, which Kim and I were very worried about, so it’s fundamentally safe. But that doesn’t really help when you’re lying down on your back and trying to reach a stone that’s about a foot lower than where you’re lying. It’s hard to describe, but let’s just say that Mom would not have liked it.

Kaitlin kissing the Blarney Stone.
That little whole in the top is where we were to kiss the Blarney Stone. This is the view from the ground.

After we kissed the stone, we wandered around the Poison Garden, where they grow things like wolfsbane, juniper, and merijuana (which is very safely fenced off from people trying to take its leaves). Then, we wandered around this beautiful green area that just felt magical (which according to our tour guide, people feel magic all around Blarney Castle). We went to a fern garden, where there was a really pretty waterfall. 

The gyst of the sign says that, while this plant was big in Harry Potter, it was also big in poison back in the day.


The much protected Merijuana plant.
So pretty and green! I couldn’t believe it.

Kim found this amazing tree that has branches that are huge and look like strong arms. Something you must know about Kim is that she loves plants. The way she loves plants is kind of the way I love poetry, so clearly she loves them a lot. She kept talking to the wonderful tree, and later decided to name it Atticus. Then we went to the Rock Close, and there we find the Wishing Steps. If you walk down these steps backwards with your eyes closed, and then walk back up with your eyes closed, all your wishes will come true. We all know how superstitious I am, so obviously I had to walk them.

Kim with Atticus.
The Wishing Steps!

After Blarney Castle, we went to Cork, a city bigger than Limerick, but still very quaint and beautiful. I didn’t take too many photos there. But, while there, I found an amazing bookstore called Vibes and Scribes. Alas, I bought no books there because of all the previously mentioned books (see this post for all the nerding about books). I would like to go back to Cork to spend more time there exploring all of the small shops and churches we saw.

Then, we went home and had a quiet night in. Sunday, we all did homework. Then, Kaitlin, Kim, Guy, Ian, Lilly, and I all headed to a pub in Limerick to watch the Super Bowl. It started very late here, around 11:30pm, and two of us (Guy and me) had a 9am class today so we left after Lady Gaga performed. I was so into the football, and very impressed by the Falcons, and we even explained the game to a few Irishman. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but the pub we were at was packed with Irish and Americans alike. Part of me wishes we had stayed for the whole game considering the fourth quarter was such an upset, but I didn’t get to bed until 2:30am as is, so it’s probably best that we left when we did.

Until next time!