to IRELAND (and beyond)

IRELAND
So, you want to know about Ireland huh? Well, I want to tell you, but you’ll have to wait, because first I’m going to tell you about the Charles de Gaulle airport, and Poland, and the Charles de Gaulle airport again. Tricked you didn’t I? heh heh.
 (Bet you want to know what this is…)

This trip took place over my “Winter Holidays” in France.  From February 27th through March 11th. Hillary came over just for the occasion and so we decided to make this a trip about our ancestral orgins. It lasted about two weeks and if you needed one way to describe the two weeks: I did a lot of walking.

A lot. I’m not just being cute when I say the soles of my shoes can speak for me. We covered a lot of ground, uneven, hard, and diversified ground. Look at my boots:

I bought these boots for this trip. Now an inch of heel is gone. I’ve actually worn through about three layers of synthetic/corkish material, making an ideal surface for skidding down rainy cement. I was reminded of this fact when I wore them again for the first time today and proceeded to skate down a stretch of sidewalk. I kept my balance and my cool during the whole 3 seconds. Whoop whoop. Boot-slidin’ cement-skatin’ fun.
If I chose to believe my beloved old roommates that I used to stomp around our house like a giant (you know who you are), I would blame this on myself.  Instead, I’m siding with the far likelier conclusion and blaming this on shoddy shoemanship (coupled with lots of impressive amounts of walking).
(This blog is turning less into a recounting of my adventures and more of my ongoing misadventures with gray boots.  My love of the aforementioned footwear always leaves me feeling disappointed and used. They never last. )
The trip started for Hillary a full 24 hours before me since she had to fly from Spokane to get to Nantes. When I met her at the airport she was radiant and fresh, not looking at all like the road-weary traveler who had just spent over 30 plus hours awake. Putain.
We didn’t have much time in Nantes before we rolled out to Paris to catch our plane to Krakow. However, we did spend a lot more time in the Charles de Gaulle airport than I wish.  We caught the last train into the airport (getting us there around 10pm) and stayed until the plane took off at 7 am, NINE HOURS LATER.
I was worried we’d be the only people staying in the airport and get kicked out or something, but that was completely false. Almost every chair in our wing of the airport was occupied. Some of the early birds had even staked out what little turf grass there was on the raised platforms and made camps there for the night. Lucky bastards.  At least they got to lay down. The rest of us had to try to sleep sitting up in hard airport chairs.
Home for NINE HOURS.
Not that sleeping was much of an option. Hil and I read or watched Arrested Development most of the night.  Then, a few hours into our stay we realized that we had chosen seats closest to the home of the friendly airport mouse. Before our discovery, we kept noticing people react strangely as they walked by, even shrieking “souris!!!” as they passed. Hillary doesn’t speak French and I couldn’t see anything so it just didn’t register.  Finally the mouse got a little more adventurous and starting making loops around our bench. I tried scaring it off by throwing food in different directions but it just huddled near my backpack or tried getting into my boots.  So we spent the night awake and watching that our little visitor didn’t find its way into our possessions.
The home of the mouse. Did he roll up the tin foil? or is he still just trying to get inside?
We arrived in Poland the most tired I’ve been on a trip. Poland was freezing but we had sunny skies for four whole days. I got to re-experience a lot of the stuff I wrote about already and made it to new places as well.  I also got to partake in fine Polish cuisine again:
Delicious and cheap.
The biggest difference this time around was the night life. Short on funds and freaking exhausted from all of the walking we did in below freezing temperatures all day, Hillary and I were in bed by 9 almost every night.
I love Mosquito Hotel.
Highlights of the trip:
Delicious and vegan friendly.
Hil and I found the most delicious vegetarian restaurant where we ate copious amounts of veggie masterpieces.  If I had one of these restaurants in Nantes I’d probably be considered a vegetarian by default. My only complaint? The same I have for all “salads” in Poland. Shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, shredded other things all scooped onto your plate in shiny globs. Do me a favor Europe, stop deconstructing your vegetables and calling it “fancy.” It grosses me out.
 We visited the medieval museum under the market square. Hundreds of years of garbage and mud has raised the ground of the original market square by two meters. Below the cobble stones we looked at the garbage that only five hundred years could make so truly fascinating: pointy shoes, crumbling tools, broken jewelry, etc. And the best part? Hillary and I were for no apparent reason, let inside for free. The woman at the counter charged everyone before us. Then to us she simply said, “For you today it’s free,” and we were kindly ushered inside. Fantastic, I’ll take it.
Another highlight: running into French tourists in stalls and understanding exactly what they were saying. They thought they were being so sneaky in French.  “Look at this hat?” “Oh, so stylish.”  “Margot looks funny.”  Etc, etc. Looks like I’m actually the sneakier one. Operation-become-sneakier continues successfully.
Another highlight: being mistaken for natives or people who spoke Polish. Our first day walking around we were approached by a Polish girl asking for directions (I think). We responded, “Sorry, we only speak English!” and she looked embarrassed, said her goodbyes, and hurried off. This happened a couple other times in Krakow.
Can you spot me or Hillary in this crowd of Polish people? Me either. Sneaky aren’t we?

We went to Kościuszko mound just outside of Krakow. This was a cool monument, with steep winding paths carved up the face of a grassy man-made hill. When we reached the top we were given a spectacular view of Krakow and the surrounding countryside and forests. We were also barraged by a very strong wind.

However, what was most memorable on this particular journey was that I lost my newly bought hat (a necessary purchase because of the freezing weather!).  We spent an extra hour or so retracing our steps and walking up and down the road and paths (precarious with ice traps). I eyed nuns suspiciously as they walked past as they were the main pedestrians on the road. Luckily, we found the hat around the base of the mound. Then, I found my style. Check out that picture.

Stylin’ in my winter accessories
Downsides of the trip:
IT WAS COLD!
We left way too soon. We didn’t have nearly enough time, just like the last time.
My French debit card became locked (you can only enter 3 false pins over the lifetime of your card). This would prove problematic for the rest of our trip in Europe.

Read my next blog to see just how problematic that debit card problem becomes.

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