Thursday, September 25, 2008


I had a fantastic weekend away in Edinburgh.

I had been to the city once before, and really loved it. Its so close to Ireland that my flatmate and I decided on a whim to visit.

We arrived late on Friday night, dumped our bags and headed off to some of the city's bars. I was suprised by how much cheaper it is than Dublin, and everything is just so... pretty. We spent most of the evening wandering around the old town pubs, which have a backdrop of a lit Edinburgh castle. The bars were great and we ended up finding some cellar rock bars, frequented by heavy metal fans and students enjoying the music and cheap Absinthe.

We got up early on Saturday, feeling too well the effects of the Absinthe and went for a wander around the city in daylight. Edinburgh has a very arty feel to it which is probably why its host to some of Europe's largest festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

We walked around the Castle for a couple of hours, checking out the crown jewels, tiny chapel and tunnels. Its easy to imagine how it was a few hundred years ago, minus all the tourists.

After a terrific meal of haggis we headed up Carlton Hill with whisky and Iron Brew for a real Scottish experience and checked out the city skyline by night.

We ended up at a Judas Priest tribute band near the end of the night before heading back to the hostel for much needed sleep.

We had a few hours left in the city on Sunday before our flight home and its a great place just to wander around, especially in Autumn through the tree lined streets and parks.

I'll be back!

Friday, September 05, 2008

A Very Irish Weekend

Ever felt like you were living in a movie? Last weekend was definitely one of those moments, where every good Irish stereotype came together in the form of Banagher town, County Offaly. Banagher is a very small town, population 1636, with 6 pubs, several churches and a very bad takeaway store and where everyone knows everyone.

I was invited as part of my friend Agnieszka's birthday celebrations. Her flatmate, Ger, from a family of 10, hosted us. We stayed next door to the family run pub, which has been in the Hough family for 4 generations and is really a spectacular pub. Famous for its nightly renditions of songs like 'It's a long way to Tipperary' and 'Danny Boy', sung by a wonderfully eccentric woman playing the piano, its something of an institution in Banagher.

The Hough family own a plot of land in Offaly countryside, so we checked out their bog where they collect and sell peat logs. I had never seen anything like it- it was quite strange holding something which was thousands of years old. Apparently one of the daughters found an ancient shoe once, which is now in the National Museum.

We stumbled on a medieval fair and game show while we were there. I managed to accomplish one of my 100 things-I-have-to-do-before-I-die.... I had a falcon on my arm! It was really amazing.

One of Ger's friends works for a boat touring company on the river Shannon and took us for a twilight cruise. It wasn't quite the bikini-clad, champagne glass in hand sunset cruise, but we had a great time.

Saturday night was another party night, celebrating Aga's birthday with yet more renditions of 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary.'

We left very tired and full from Mrs. Hough's home cooking. Definitely an Irish experience to remember!