Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The final days...is it really over? #justfornow #squadreuniontour2020

Well, I guess the downside to being the last student to blog is that...
1) all of the cool greetings/introductions are already taken, and
2) it means our Irish adventure is coming to an end

I cannot believe how quickly these two weeks have flown by. It feels like we just arrived in Dublin yesterday (well to me at least). Before anybody gets too choked up though, you should know we already have a 5 year squad reunion tour planned for 2020. Right now we are thinking Nashville, but I guess we have a little bit of time to figure that out.

Our last two days in Galway, which I believe turned out to be the squad's favorite city by unanimous decision, were fairly laid back and not scheduled. Everybody kind of did their own thing. We started out the mornings right eating the most important meal of the day together at our bed and breakfast. Every little thing seemed to be talked about/remembered as the last time for something. So these were our last full Irish breakfast meals that I'm sure everyone will miss having every morning back home (I am really going to miss the tea). After breakfast on sunday, most of the group besides Cierra, Carissa, and I went to mass at the Galway Cathedral at 11. The other three of us got ready and then set off to explore the city a little and revisit some places we wanted more time at. The main place we went to was the Prom (no, it's not a dance but that confused us at first too), and we took the long path along the seaside to enjoy the beautiful view and take pictures. After this, groups of us just explored Quay (key) Street and the local market to try to finish up most of the shopping/gift buying we wanted to do. Sadly, for all of the girls, this included making our final pilgrimmages to Penney's.

In the evening, we all met in the lobby where we were staying to go out to dinner and explore and conquer the night life in Galway/Ireland for the last time. We ate a great dinner at Daile's (a number of us enjoyed a steak special) and then some of the places we went to after dinner included the Quay's, The Front Door, The King's Head, Skeff's, and Karma.

Despite our late night on the town, everybody still made it down for our final breakfast by 9:30 Monday morning. We did not want to waste away our last day in Ireland. After breakfast, we again set off for Quay Street to pick up final things that we needed and either didn't have time to get or couldn't find on Sunday. For AJ, this included mailing out a million post cards. Meanwhile, Jaclyn, Carissa, and I gave in  and treated ourselves by each getting one of the famous Claddagh rings that originated in Galway. The squad ate at The Front Door for lunch, which was both tasty and reasonably priced(: 

After lunch, those of us that didn't revisit the Prom on Sunday went there. When everyone was finished with their sightseeing and shopping we went to the hotel so everyone could strategize their packing before we had to meet for our farewell dinner at 6. This took some serious skill and for some (namely myself) this included exploring the definite possibility of needing to buy another bag to fit everything. In the end, we all persevered and found a way to make it work. For a couple of us that even meant having American Airlines staff on our side this morning to let bags that were a little too heavy through without charge, but still it all worked out! 

Our farewell dinner was at Monroe's Tavern, and we all got to enjoy an appetizer, main course and dessert (I think most of us tried the Bailey's cheesecake and icecream. YUM!). Everything was delicious and a great start to our final evening in Ireland. After dinner we hung out at a pub for a little while and then ventured back to the hotel for a more relaxed night of playing cards and hanging out as a #squad for the last time! (it was a little disappointing that Jaclyn did not put on a concert of her newly acquired tin whistle playing skills as promised, but she brought it in her carry on so she might still break it out on this 7 hour flight).

This morning, we had to meet in the lobby at 7 to start our long travel day back home. We traveled to the Shannon Airport, and everyone made it through security and customs with no problem (though we had a couple law breakers sneak some food through). Now, we are midflight headed to our layover destination in Philadelphia. Hopefully, there are no complications and everyone makes it home safe and sound tonight(: 

I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so blessed/thankful for the opportunity to have embraced and experienced all that we have these past two weeks!

Cheers (to an absolutely incredible trip) and Happy Days!
#MCATandUWFrunIreland2015 #squadforlife

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Day 11 - #letthegamesbegin

We ate breakfast at 9 in our bed and breakfast in Galway and got ready for the scavenger hunt that Jaclyn and Amber had set up for us. We were split up into two teams: Aj, Carissa and Nikki were on one team while Todd, Marlee, Cierra and I were on the other. We set off around 10 AM and went all over the town of Galway. We found Lynch's Castle, the Promenade, The Spanish Arch, the Galway market, and much more. We talked to several locals and did some goofy stuff along the way. In the end, Carissa/Aj/Nikki pulled off the win, beating us by 4 minutes to the final clue; McDonough's.

We ended our hunt around 12:00PM and then all enjoyed some great fish and chips (minus the picky ones who chose to eat chicken). As we finished up our meals, Marlee decided to jump up and knock a pigeon off the awning. Unfortunately, she literally scared the crap out of the bird and paid the price.
Next, we took a walk over to the National University of Ireland, Galway. We toured the campus, but were restricted in getting into several buildings since the academic year just ended.

We then walked back into town and split up to find different shops. Carissa, Nikki and Cierra walked back to through the market while Aj, Todd, Marlee and I enjoyed some awesome gelato.
We then managed to get lost in the city of Galway for about an hour! Once we found our way back, we took some showers and naps and got ready for dinner. We walked to Garvey's for some pizza, burgers and soccer and then found our way to some popular pubs. Nikki got proposed to and Todd even found himself a German hunny to dance with! 


Galway Scavenger Hunt with pics from each group!!

1. Find the Galway hooker (not to be confused with the popular beverage by the same name!) as well as one other point of interest in this museum. Be prepared to share that interesting tidbit upon completion. ;) 
2. Located on a long street, this popular weekend market sells all sorts of local goods. Purchase something unfamiliar to you that is local to the Irish people and eat it! 

3. We know this word as a dance you might attend senior year of high school while dressed up to the nines. Locals know it as a popular tourist attraction on the seaside.
4. Built in 1584, this popular attraction stands on the left bank of River Corrib. 

5. Find the inner-city public park that houses a bust of a popular former US president and get your photo op on with Mr. Prez
6. Located on the site of a former city jail, this was the last large church in Ireland to be made from stone. Take your picture with the octagonal dome in the background!
7. This princess travels down the river offering scenic views and information to its passengers. No need to take a cruise, but find the launch point. 
8. Find the largest medieval parish church in Ireland! The earliest sections of the church date back to 1320 and Christopher Columbus prayed here in 1477 before embarking upon his search for the new world. 
9. The favorite store of the females on this trip can also be found in Galway! Find something absurd that you likely wouldn’t be caught dead in and throw it on over your clothes for a quick photo op. Don’t get arrested in the process. 
10. Locate a musical entertainer in a pub or on the street and get a photo with them. Be sure to tip them, because nothing in life is free.  

11. Find someone wearing a Claddagh ring for this photo op! Figure out the significance of which way the ring is pointed and get the scoop on the love life of your new Claddagh ring-wearing friend. 
12. A fine example of the fusion of new and old in Galway, this building gets its name from a man who hanged his own son because everyone else refused to participate. Find the infant being held by a popular animal hanging on the wall. 
13. Find your way to the Claddagh Village and take a swan selfie!
14. This small house was the home of the wife of a famous Dublin writer that we learned about on day 1 in Dublin. Take a picture with the door, and if it’s open, go on inside for a look!
15. If you were flying out of Shannon Airport tomorrow at noon, what time would you have to leave to get there, how would you do it, and how much would it cost?
16. Get an Irish local tosay yea yea yea, a common phrase heard in the group.
Not McDonalds,meet at this popular fish restaurant to end the hunt.
1st place
 2nd place