Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tourists in our own city

On Thursday I celebrated my second birthday in India. I'm officially too close to 30. Matt and I tried a new restaurant called Forresta. It was a little far, but I'd defiitely go back. The food was really good, and we even had a bottle of wine with an ice bucket! Pretty fancy.  But the table next to us had  one of those giant meter beers at their table, so maybe it's not that classy.

Matt and I had planned to go somewhere over the weekend for my birthday and sightsee in Jaipur.  (I like to celebrate my birthday over multiple days.) We ended up doing just about the most touristy thing here. We rode an elephant to the top of Amer fort in the Pink City.  If PETA knew about this place, they'd be very mad  Actually, if they knew about all the wandering, starving animals everywhere, it would not be pretty.

 I was really excited to go, and I did have a really good time.  But I do feel bad that these elephants have to carry people up and down a hill all day in the heat.  I'll have to make up for this by visiting Dera Amer which I just heard about, outside of the old city.  Apparently you can take care of an elehant for the day, feeding and bathing it.  I'd rather give an elephant some fruit and a good shampoo.

Our driver Ajay works for a tourisit company that hires out drivers as well as tourist guides.  He set us up to meet a tour guide at the top of the fort.  When we got there, he was able to take a few pictures of Matt and I on the elephant.  Her name was Bacaina which means "restless."  This is the one picture where we don't look extremely uncomfortable.  There wasn't anything to lean back on, and it was a very bumpy ride. 

Also, I've noticed when I transfer my pictures from my ipad into my blog it shrinks them and makes them look fuzzy.  I don' want anyone thinking I take blurry pictures! I blame the Blogger app.

Below is a view of the fort entrance.  This is where the royal family used to live. 

Matt felt the need to try out the old Turkish bath.

All of the paint for the art was made from natural dyes of fruits, veggies, and plants.  I'm impressed it has lasted so long.

These photos with the mirrored walls was the Winter Palace.  The sun would heat up the glass and the mirrors would reflect the heat to make it warmer.

This is a view of Jager fort.  We will visit here soon, too.

When we were done visitng the fort, we went to some village with a huge store where they still make rugs by hand and use natural dyes to do block printing.  We watched a guy make a block print of an elephant which I got to keep, but the colors look suspiciously like Crayola tempera paint...

By 1:00 we were over the whole sight seeing thing, and we made a stop at HSBC bank. They had told us our PIN number would be waiting for us so we can actually use our bank account and pay for our phones and internet from home instead of going to the Airtel store every three days.  But, of course, they did not have it.  Three business days will apparently mean 3 more weeks.  Remember how I complained about the bank earlier? We are going on 11 weeks of STILL not having a bank account.  Oh well. I need to learn to not have any expectations. Ever. I will be a lot happier that way.

Despite the bank being super annoying, I did have a great few days celebrating my birthday.  Thanks to everyone who sent back so many goodies with Matt! I really liked receiving lots of comfots from home.  Matt had to vaccuum seal all his clothes so he had enough room to bring back all my birthday gifts! :)  I'm off to learn Cribbage which Matt claims is the best two person game ever.  If it has too many rules though, I'm not playing.  I also don't like to play if I don't win, so we'll see how this goes.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Girls trip to Ireland!

I just got back from an amazing trip to Ireland with my friend Casie! We met in Dublin last Saturday, and were able to get flights that arrived within an hour of each other, so we met at the airport. We stayed in the Temple Bar area which is an old area of the city with cobblestone streets lined with pubs, restaurants, and Starbucks. While we were in Dublin, Casie and I visited the Guiness Storehouse and the Old Jameson Distillery, as well as many churches and castles.

The first thing we did after dropping our luggage off at the hotel was get some lunch at a pub down the street.  We both had Guiness Stew which was delicious! Perfect for a chilly, rainy afternoon.

Our second morning we had lattes and walked along the River Liffey.  I was very dissapointed that Starbucks didn't have pumpkin spice lattes!

The Famous Temple Bar

Christ Church Cathedral

Dublin Castle

St. Patrick's Cathedral

We aren't dark beer drinkers...sadly this is all we could manage. I've been asked if it tastes different/better than in the U.S., but I can't really say.  It's still a meal in a glass!

View from the top of the Guiness Storehouse

On our third day in Ireland, we took a tour bus to go see the Cliffs of Moher.  This is what we saw...

A whole lot of nothing! It was SO foggy we could hardly see a few feet in front of our faces!  We spent most of our time in the gift shop, and lots of peope were taking their picture in front of the giant poster of what it should look like...maybe next time I go to Ireland I'll see them :)

This is what they look like according to Google:

However, on the bus ride back to Dublin, the driver did take us past a few sights as consolation.

(Yes, I know. We pose the same way every time.)

After Dublin, we rented a car for two days to drive to the west coast of the island. I know what you're, driving a car on the left side in a foreign country on tiny roads hanging off cliffs! It was scary and intimidating, but I think we both handled it pretty well.  It's scarier as the passenger because it always looks like we're about to run into a wall or off the edge of a mountain. Luckily there were only a few bumps in the road. :)  The tricky part was managing all the passing cars and tour buses coming past us on a road barely wide enough for one car! Luckily all the tour buses were going the opposite direction of us so we didn't get stuck behind them.

The first day we went to the town of Killarney and drove The Ring of Kerry.  It is about a 4 hour drive around a penninsula .  Most of the drive is through mountains, alongside the ocean.  There are signs that point out all the good places to stop.  

This is where the leprechauns and ferries live.

After we finished our drive, we went back to the town of Killarney and got a hotel at the Best Western.  Driving really made us tired! We went straight to dinner. I had Guiness stew (again). After an early night to bed, we got up and drove the Slea Head drive on the Dingle penninsula.  This penninsula was just as difficult to drive, but there were way less tour buses passing.

Scary roads!

The town of Dingle.  It is famous for its one dolphin named Fungi who lives in the bay.  He has been there for years and I read that scientists think he may have lost his mate in this bay and because dolphins are faithful to their mates, he has always stayed hoping she comes back.  They have boat tours every day to see him, unfortunately the timing did not work for us.  Fungi even catches fish and brings them alive to fisherman.

We stopped here for lunch and had the freshest fish 'n chips! Some hake that was just caught that morning.  Doesn't get any better.

The Slea Head drive took about an hour and was probably my favorite part of the trip. It was so beautiful! I'd like to go back sometime and see Northern Ireland and Belfast.
I feel so grateful that Casie and I had the opportunity to pick up and go to Ireland with about one month of planning.  Travelling the world is what I hope to continue to do these next few years, and I am truly thankful for these opportunities. 

After such a great trip, I had a nightmare getting home.  My flight in Abu Dabi was delayed several hours, so I missed my next flight in Mumbai.  Then I had to go from Mumbai, to Delhi, then to Jaipur.  It was a long 24 hours of travelling.  Luckily, my longest flight from Dublin to Abu Dabi was only about 1/3 full, so I had lots of room to myself and they were generous with the pop and food!  On my next flight they offered me the exit row because it was empty and they needed someone sitting next to the door.  It's a good thing for me to have space because I slept both flights and I know I'm a mouth breather.  Matt has also informed me my eyes stay half open when I sleep, so I don't need to creep anyone out!

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but getting in line, or que, is non-existant in India.  On two of the flights I took with mostly Indians, people were getting up to go to the front of the plane literally before the wheels even touched the ground!  It always causes a scene because the flight attendants have to get up and yell at them.  Getting off a plane full of Indians is the most annoying thing - there's no such thing as exiting front to back or letting the people in front of you go first.  I saw the man who was up before we landed waiting with me at baggage claim.  We ended up waiting at the same place, so what's the point?! Geez!

This week it is bach to reality in Jaipur.  It is going to be 100 degrees every day this week! I'm sure that it will be challenging to teach outside in the heat tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to seeing all the kids!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.