Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Well that was fun...

So, I have now been home in the US for over a month and I thought it would be a great time to wrap up this blog. First, I want to thank all of you who read a post or two of mine over the last year. I was fortunate enough to be a blogger for CIEE and I hope you learned something, or at least was entertained, while exploring my blog. Now, on to the final post, which will be broken into Final Days in Spain, Last Days of traveling, and the big surprise.
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That is me eating snails.

My last week in Spain led me to trying many different tapas with my uncle. This included chicken heart, pig liver, and snails. My last night in Algeciras we went out for snails, and I had no choice but to try them with my family. You basically take the snail, and if the head is sticking out, you grab it with your teeth, pull, and slurp it out. If the head isn't sticking out of the shell, you take a toothpick and pull it out, then repeat the previous steps. They are a seasonal delicacy here in Spain, and they are eaten by the plate load (as you can see in the picture). Honestly, they were a little too slimy for me, and of those three foods I tried my last week, the chicken heart tasted the best (it really was actually pretty good, after you get past the fact that it is chicken heart...).

The toughest part about leaving was saying goodbye to friends and family. I already talked about saying bye to Motril, but it was tough saying bye to my family. The Monday morning (!?) I left Spain I went to Daniel's school to say goodbye. Picture? Picture.


I then hopped in the car with my uncle and headed towards Malaga and the airport, taking in my last drive along the coast of Southern Spain. Once arriving, we said our goodbyes and I was off... to Dublin!
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Dublin, you may be asking? Yes, Dublin. Morocco = Bogus. I really didn't go there, so you can completely disregard the below post. Why? Story time...

Many of you know my girlfriend Rachel, who I missed dearly while in Spain. The Morocco post was for her, to misguide her into believing that I was coming home on June 17. I actually traveled to Dublin, Ireland for two days and flew home to the United States on June 15, successfully surprising Rachel two days early, who I successfully led into believing that I was, in fact, in Morocco. More on that below, but first Dublin...

I arrived that Monday (June 13th), checked into my hotel, and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. Later that night I got a map from the front desk and using the power of the internet found sites throughout Dublin that I wanted to visit and planned out the next day.

I woke up the next day and caught the bus to the center of Dublin. I could go into a lot of detail about where I went, but this is already a long post, so I'll summarize.




The first place I went was an old prison called Kilmainham Gaol. It is perhaps Irelands most famous prison and has a rich history involving the many revolutions that took place through Ireland. U2 even filmed a music video in the prison.


I then made my way to the Guinness Storehouse, the museum Guinness has made out of the old and original brewery. Guinness still brews on site, but the Storehouse is all things Guinness for tourists to check out, including a top floor, 360 degree glass inclosed bar that overlooks the city of Dublin. I enjoyed my complimentary pint and the view...



I then walked through parts of the city and grabbed lunch in the famous Temple Bar district. I returned to this area later, but took off towards St. Patricks Cathedral after lunch, passing by Dublin's castle.




From there I walked down to Trinity College and enjoyed the beautiful campus, which unfortunately had some construction...




Next (packed day I know, it ended up being just over 9 hours of exploring the city), I went back down to Temple Bar and stumbled across THE Temple Bar where a guy was trying to break the Guinness World Record for consecutive hours of playing guitar. He did it. I was there for the 50 hour mark.



After enjoying another pint and taking in the live music, I took off for the center of town and snapped a few pictures, including the famous Spire of Dublin.



From here I hopped on a bus back to my hotel and prepared for my flight back to American the next morning.
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As mentioned, I led Rachel into believing that I was going to be in Morocco the 13th-15th and that I would have only minimal contact with her. It was all part of the plan to go to Dublin and fly home early to surprise her. All went as planned, and I even arrived in Chicago one hour early, which allowed me to go home, shower, and freshen up before surprising her for dinner. In short, she thought she was meeting my good friend Phil for dinner, but when she arrived she found me sitting there, waiting for her. She. was. speechless. I even had to leave my booth and walk up to her to give her a hug because she was so shocked and confused that I was really there.

That I was in the United States.

That I was home.

Home.
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It has now been over a month and I am enjoying my summer back in Michigan. I have been busy preparing for my new job (!) that I start this fall, teaching US History and Government at a charter school in Grand Rapids. It is hard to believe that it has almost been a year since I left for Spain. Unreal and what a year.

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